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Issue Home June 23, 2010 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

The Courage To Run

Buck Bridge reopened in 2008 with a ribbon cutting and “photo op.” The event was attended by county and state officials along with members of the Starrucca Borough Council.

Last Monday, June 7, with the Starrucca General Fund almost empty, not one of the people in the dedication photo showed up with a plan to pay this year’s $9,300 installment on the Buck Bridge loan. Council members, Robert Buck, Anthony Palonis, Arthur Kopp and Mayor Mary Ann DeBalko were no-shows for a 2nd consecutive month… avoiding pointed questions from new members of council and the public.

Wayne County and state officials likely wanted to distance themselves from that old photo after PA Auditor General, Jack Wagner, released the Buck Road Bridge Special Investigations Report in August 2009.

The entire report is available online: www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/.../invStarruccaBoroughFinalReport080309.pdf.

The report made a repayment recommendation: “The Borough should seek reimbursement for the costs of the project from the parties who benefited from the bridge improvements.”

Former Borough Council President Kirk Rhone and current councilman Robert Buck, the two councilmen named in the report as primary beneficiaries, have not indicated if they are willing to repay or negotiate with the Borough on repayment of the costs of the Buck Bridge project. Without repayment from Mr. Rhone and Mr. Buck, Starrucca Borough will continue to spend over 60% of it’s yearly tax revenue until 2017 to retire the loan.

The new council is attempting to shift the annual payment date to September, after most taxes are collected. The change of date is a stop gap measure that doesn’t address the basic problem, the Borough can’t afford the loan.

Prior to it’s adoption many people spoke out against this loan, 68 residents signed a petition to stop it, the former mayor and others asked that the loan be put on a ballot and many statements were made that the Borough couldn’t afford to repay it. None of these actions were heeded or made the least impact on the council. The decision to not put the loan on a ballot is the clearest indication that the old council was not interested in the will of the voters. The voters spoke last November turning out the Council President, Vice President and two other councilmen, preferring to elect four write in candidates.

We wish to thank new council members Jack Downton, Robert Martin, Barbara Glover and Michael Martin for their courage to run as write in candidates last fall… and then stepping into the financial mess created by the 2006-2009 council. We also applaud them for their decision to follow the repayment recommendation made by Auditor General Jack Wagner.


Paul & Loreda Everett

Starrucca, PA

Problem With New Milford Authority

During the June 2010 Hallstead Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority (HGBJSA) meeting I was informed that New Milford Municipal Authority (NMMA) had made a partial payment for the amount billed just for May 2010, but not the past due balance. This is commendable and a good start in the right direction, but one of the concessions HGBJSA has made since the October 2008 bill is not adding the Wall Street Journal prime rate to the past due balance for each quarterly bill. At what point does HGBJSA remove this concession, July or after September? July will be the eighth quarterly bill issued but September will be the twenty-fourth month that NMMA has had past due balance if it goes that long. As of now there is about $8,000 in interest already accumulated, over $10,000 in interest for the July 2010 billing and $12,000 in interest for the October 2010 billing if the prime rate stays the same and just the past due balances are not paid.

I would like to point out that Councilor Rick Ainey of New Milford Borough, during the October 2005 borough meeting, had a question for the NMMA representative that attended that meeting. This is part of that was reported on October 19, 2005 in the Susquehanna County Transcript, New Milford To Readdress,By Sandra Kazinetz: “What happens, councilperson Rick Ainey asked, when people don’t pay their bill? The authority representative said the authority could put a lien on their property. Ainey reported that he believed that Hallstead, Great Bend and Montrose, through an agreement with the water company, have ordinances that allow that a non-payer’s water be shut off.” That statement remains correct, but NMMA has not started construction on the new NMMA building so that HGBJSA cannot send a letter for NMMA to shut off their water. The other option was to put a lien on the properties and assets owned by NMMA, then who is going to buy the properties at the sheriff’s auction if it goes that far. This would also cause the holders of NMMA loans to become involved. If there is a lien on the property, would NMMA be able to finance a new building through a bank? NMMA may be able to self finance after another attempt to lease its properties to Cabot for oil and gas drilling operations. The first attempt failed but NMMA was going to advertise for bids for oil and gas leasing at the June 2010 NMMA meeting. These are not the only two options, available to HGBJSA to resolve this dispute.

During the February 2010 NMMA meeting I informed NMMA that the reduced rate that is deducted from each unit is in danger of being lost. This would have increased each homeowner’s bill by $3.86 a month. I do not know if this $10 rate increase was planned or was in part caused by me informing NMMA of the conditions for the reduced rate in the contract. With the rate dispute I could not let the customers of NMMA lose the reduced rate if NMMA did not know that it was in danger of losing a total of over $900,000 over the next thirty-five years from losing the reduced rate.

My concern is why did NMMA not use the dispute resolution for the rate changes since October 2008 or use the method defined in the Municipal Authorities Act for challenging a rate. HGBJSA is bound by the contract and the associated laws within the Pennsylvania Code on how to collect from, a non-payer as Councilor Rick Ainey put it. For resolving the past due balance, any amount offered that is less than the full past due balance cannot be accepted since it would show that the customers of HGBJSA are paying for NMMA share of the operation and maintenance expenses, but HGBJSA has made a concession of not demanding the interest so far. If HGBJSA decides that enough time has gone by without payment of the past due balance, then HGBJSA may demand the interest as set in the contract. If the full bill issued for July 2010 is not paid in full, then the past 22 months of interest and partial payments by NMMA will cost each home owner in New Milford Borough over $17.50 extra just for interest and about $110 in past due balance.


Bret A. Jennings,

Councilor, Great Bend Borough

Urge Farmers To Read It

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has recently released a 36 page report outlining a multi-faceted “roadmap” for a new direction in United States dairy policy called “Foundation for the Future,” www.nmpf.org. I strongly encourage any dairy farmer interested in the future of dairy policy to read this since NMPF has huge political pull in Washington, DC, claiming to represent over 80% of the nation’s dairy farmers.

NMPF has basically a four pronged approach to dairy policy:

1. Revise Federal Support Programs by eliminating the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) and the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program and shifting funding to the Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program (DPMPP).

2. DPMPP (Margin Insurance) Margin is defined as all milk price minus feed cost calculated from the Chicago Board of Trade futures contracts for corn and soybeans plus market price for alfalfa hay with rations determined by approved dairy nutritionists. 90% of production base is eligible for insurance. Base level of margin insurance would be 100% government subsidized but the estimated $4.00 margin is so low that only nine months in the past 10 years would have triggered payment from the base level of insurance. Farmers would have the option of buying additional insurance coverage. As the level of coverage increases the percentage of premium subsidized by the federal government decreases. High levels of insurance (an extra $4.00 margin) would be very expensive. The margin guarantees and terms of coverage would be fixed for the duration of the Farm Bill and severe penalties would be levied for opting out of the supplemental insurance program, once enrolled.

3. Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP) When actual national margin is below $6.00 for two consecutive months, producers will receive payment for 98% of base milk marketings (base defined in this case as average milk marketings for the three months immediately preceding USDA announcement of implementation of DMSP) maximum reduction of payment equal to 6% of current milk marketings. When actual national margin is below $5.00 for two consecutive months, payment for 97% of base with a maximum reduction of 7% of current milk marketings. When actual national margin drops below $4.00 for one month, payment on 96% of base with a maximum reduction of payment equal to 8% of current milk marketings. Monies from the DMSP will be collected by the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) and used to “stimulate consumption of dairy products both domestically and internationally.”

4. Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) Reform-Class I differentials remain in place, Class I mover would be based on national weighted average Class III competitive pay price on all cheese from all plants processing more than 500,000 pounds per day. Class II would equal Class III plus $0.30 and Class IV would be determined by present formula with an indexing feature for energy cost. Balancing transportation pools would be funded by Class I processors. No net gain here for farmers.

NMPF’s “Foundation for the Future” has come very revealing quotes. Among them “The MILC program . . . has often provided a payment to producers when margins were in fact relatively high.” Found on page 4. Objective. . . “To achieve an end result that is as revenue neutral to producers as possible.” Found on page 30. Though NMPF says farmers need to be fairly compensated, their definition of fairness is in question. Though NMPF’s goal is to have a stable milk price this level would be below what is necessary for most farms to maintain profitable operations.

The programs outlined in “Foundation for the Future” will have a dramatically negative impact on small and mid-sized dairies since milk prices will remain low but rarely low enough for base margin insurance to kick in but with no MILC payment. Large farms will not fair any better then now. And lenders may require that producers purchase expensive margin insurance. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich ruleth over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Financial servitude, unsavory as it may be, has become an accepted fact of dairy farming and will become even more deeply institutionalized under NMPF’s plan.

MILC and the DPSP have not been effective in delivering a fair price to dairy farmers. But the money is certainly in the marketplace to provide farmers a fair price. Canadian farmers get paid about twice as much for their milk as their US counterparts, yet Canadian consumers pay about and equal amount for dairy products as US consumers do.

Rather than enslave farmers, The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2009 (S1645) would restore a sense of dignity and financial freedom to farmers that they so desperately need by pricing milk based on total economic cost of production. To find out more about S1645 check www.supports1645.webs.com for more information.


Gerald Carlin, Dairy Farmer

Meshoppen, PA

Gasland - Watch It

On Monday, June 21, HBO aired the movie “Gasland.” It is a one-sided story about the negative effects of fracking on the water table in every state where it has been used. Halliburton and the various gas companies refused to be interviewed for the movie, hence the one-sided story. The gas companies hope few watch it. I would urge everyone to watch it, including children old enough to comprehend what is happening to their future.

I’ve heard many say, “I’ve already signed a lease, so it doesn’t matter now;” that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many changes being pushed by the gas companies that would change state laws and regulations. One example is a proposal in from of the P.U.C. (Public Utility Comm.) that would allow the use of “Eminent Domain” for all gas pipelines. Meaning if your house, woodland, church, etc. are in the way, you’d have to sell; gas lease or not, another proposal would allow forced pooling. In other words, if enough of your neighbors have leased, you’d have no choice, they could take your gas and pay you what they said it was worth.

Most of the proposals for a severance tax would send most of the tax money to areas such as Philadelphia, rather than areas such as ours that will suffer the consequences of the gas boom.

Gov. Rendell has already taken away the one bit of local control we had, oversight by our Conservation Districts.

The gas companies and state officials have rightly promoted all the economic benefits of the gas boom. What we must remember are the economic benefits of the coal boom a century ago and all the jobs and development that brought the state. When the boom was over the owners skipped town with their millions and we’re still paying to clean up the mess left behind. This time they’ll leave with their billions and I fear our children and grandchildren will be left to clean up the mess.

How may of you were offered $50.00 or $100.00 per acre and were told you better hurry and sign up, all your neighbors have, it’ll never get better? BP said it had all the resources to handle any accident. No problem, trust these people.

I urge you to call, not only friends and neighbors to watch, but also state officials. I also urge you to contact County Commissioners, Township and Boro Officials. They have no say over what the gas companies do, but they do have effective state association that can lobby for positive changes at the state level. It’s better to do it right the first time than try to clean up Dimock or the Gulf afterward.


Bill Bayne

Hallstead, PA

Respect The Facts

That address from the Oval Office could’ve been delivered by Mary Poppins. This ain’t no time for a “spoonful of sugar.” I fully expected the alleged crypto-Muslim, for whom I voted, to come across with the straight skinny.

I would feel a lot better had President Barack Hussain Obama Junior gone into detail about the blow out preventer. Call me “nerd,” if you must. But I want facts. I respect facts far more than I do even the most authoritative opinion. In this instance, we are fortunate in the failure of that particular piece of equipment (BOP).

As I understand the situation, the damage extends far down along the conduit pipe. Had the BOP gone on line, preventing flow at the top, the cracks in the conduit would have led to several leaks. What’s more, weeks would’ve elapsed before those leaks appeared.

As bad as the catastrophe is now, well, lem’me put it this way: “bye bye, Eastern Seaboard.” Chesapeake Bay can still be saved.

Even knowing what I know now, I’m still glad the “Hanoi Hilton” war hero lost to the alleged crypto-Muslim. Please note the word “alleged.” Incidentally, well, that particular suspicion is for another time.

And then there’s the gut-deep hunch, about which I’ve so far kept to myself. Six months after Arizona Senator John McCain had become President John McCain, he would be witnessing Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman take the oath of office as Vice President.

Facts are nice. Sometimes when they’re lacking, there’s no avoiding going along with a hunch.


A Alexander Stella

Susquehanna, PA

Free Hot Dogs!?

You many have noticed those Mormon Boys are at it again. This time with Free Hot Dog Friday! Every other Friday this summer the boys are firing up the grill down at the Mormon Monument on route 171 between Oakland and Great Bend to bring you free franks, no strings attached. The event begins at 4 p.m. and goes until 7 p.m.

Come join us for some great food and lemonade on the following dates: July 2, 16 and 30. Whether you're passing through on your way to the races or just want a bite to eat, we'd love to fill your belly. We'd also be more than happy to answer any of your questions regarding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in this area and around the world.

This isn't the only activity these boys are participating in this summer!

As the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence fast approaches, we will begin to see the signs of summer celebration. Flags lining the streets, watermelon overflowing the boxes at the grocery store, and the smell of your neighbors barbecue are a few of these signs that stand out in my mind. Along with these come the gathering of our community for special events celebrating our land and liberty.

On Saturday, June 29 please join us in a night of free, fun, family entertainment in celebration of our life, our land, our liberty and our God. The event will take place at the Susquehanna United Methodist Church beginning at 7 p.m. The featured guests are "The Mormon Boys." They will sing and perform many of your favorite patriotic and religious songs. The best part is that you are invited to sing along! So come on over and feel the spirit of patriotism with us.


Elder Patrick Ulrich

Susquehanna, PA

Death In The Fast Lane

From the beginning, the government and BP have conspired in a cover-up. Days after the BP oil platform sank, the head of the White House's Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, Carol Browner, told Obama that the downed rig would cause an unparalleled disaster.

The administration and BP were well aware of the voluminous amount of oil gushing from the torn pipe. As the public became more knowledgeable, the government upped its estimate (April 28) from 1,000 barrels to 5,000 barrels of crude erupting into the Gulf every day, a number that both parties knew was a gross understatement.

But their deceit, for such it is, is unraveling.

Weeks after the spill BP reluctantly released a video clip of the undersea torrent. Academics expert in flow-rate analysis viewed the clip and questioned the 5,000-barrels figure given by the government. It was closer, they said, to 12 times that.

The government was forced to revise its estimate. It assembled the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) for a second “official” estimate. The FRTG gave their findings to the government. The government, in turn, released (May 27) the now well-known range; it was between 13,000 and 19,000 barrels a day.

But two scientists from the FRTG told PBS that this was only the bottom range. So what is the uppermost range? BP and the government did not provide the scientists with enough information to determine the maximum flow-rate range.

BP's latest effort to contain the flow was a chancy cut-and-cap operation; cut the riser pipe making the opening 20 percent bigger, then capping it with a pipe siphoning the oil to a tanker.

Taking BP at its word - risky business that - they are collecting about 15,000 barrels a day. But according to BP, the total flow is 15,000 barrels. That's an unbelievable 100 percent of the gusher. (As was said, risky business.)

BP's extravagant claim has forced a third reevaluation of the flow rate (June 10). The government jumped the output of the gusher to 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day. But this does not take in to account the larger opening created by the cut-and-cap operation.

The discharge is now “way more [after cut and cap],” according to Dr. Ira Leifer, a member of the FRTG. He continued, “and by 'way more' I mean multiple factors.” (Google “spill cam WKRG” for a live feed.)

So how much oil is streaming into the Gulf? Independent estimates by recognized authorities cite 70,000 barrels as a good midrange estimate.

The magnitude of 70,000 barrels of crude dumped into the Gulf every day is mind boggling. The Exxon Valdez spill was surpassed April 25, thereafter add another one every 3.7 days. The largest oil spill on record is 7 million barrels. The Gulf gusher will surpass that July 30.

In effect, it is a lake within the Gulf, a slimy, odoriferous lake thick with the corrosive vapors of gasoline, kerosene, benzine, hydrogen sulfide, and methylene chloride. It swirls clockwise, edging ever closer to the western coast of Florida, then into the loop current. Its speed increases to one to two mph; it will round the tip of Florida in a week or so.

The “lake,” will stretch out to form a river of oil, flow up the eastern coast to North Carolina, then veer off to the east and enter the Gulf Stream.

Here it will hitch a ride on the current's endless circuit around the Atlantic. Its speed will increase to four mph - death in the fast lane. In three months it will complete a round trip. In that time, portions of the polluted current will begin to branch off into the earth's five oceans and seven seas.

Along its wanderings it will tear holes in the very fabric of life, disrupt the food chain, and breed environmental, economic, social havoc.

And all the while, the Gulf continues to bleed.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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