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Issue Home October 20, 2010 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Inaccurate And Uninformed

The inaccurate and uninformed claims in a recent letter (“What Is Their Source of Water?” October 6, 2010) questioning the quality of drinking water supplied by Lake Montrose cannot go unanswered. Specifically, the letter’s assertion about “contaminated lake water” could not be further from the truth. Since the author is not served by our system, we would like to present a few facts about the local water service provided by Pennsylvania American Water.

First and foremost, Lake Montrose is governed under the same environmental and water source regulations as any other lake, river, or stream designated as waters of the commonwealth. To enhance public health protection, the Surface Water Treatment Rule was enacted in 1989 as a provision to the Safe Drinking Water Act, requiring all public water systems using surface water to provide both disinfection and filtration.

The processing of Lake Montrose’s source water includes pre-treatment, filtration, post-treatment and disinfection at our treatment facility prior to being delivered to our customers. Water quality testing is conducted on a daily basis throughout the process from source to final treatment, as well as continuous monitoring of the filtered water.

What’s more, our Lake Montrose Water Treatment Plant has earned the prestigious Directors Award under the Partnership for Safe Water program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and American Water Works Association. The award honors water utilities for attaining operational excellence and achieving more stringent performance goals than those required by federal and state drinking water standards. This year, our Lake Montrose certified operators and water quality experts earned the 10-Year Directors Award, which signifies that the plant has gone above and beyond regulatory standards for 10 consecutive years.

Furthermore, it’s erroneous to suggest that other residents will be “forced” to connect to the proposed water line. Pennsylvania American Water is extending service, at DEP’s request, to provide a permanent solution for the affected Dimock families. If anyone else along the 5.5-mile pipeline wishes to be connected, our water service will be available to them - strictly on a voluntary basis.

Unfortunately, too many Pennsylvanians and too many Americans take their water service for granted and fail to take the time to understand what it takes to convert raw source water to potable tap water. We only realize its value when a Dimock-type incident occurs. We are proud that DEP turned to Pennsylvania American Water to provide the capability and expertise to assist these Dimock residents who understand the value of quality, reliable water service.


John J. Yamona

Water Quality Manager, Northeast Pennsylvania

A Simple Yes Or No

On May 20, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed a joint session of Congress, where he berated and insulted Arizona and the U.S. for “... introduc[ing] a terrible idea that uses racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.” He told the joint session that drug trafficking on the border was caused by the U.S. and criticized the U.S. for its Second Amendment rights. For that assault, some members of the House and Senate gave him a standing ovation.

After this speech, I e-mailed Rep. Chris Carney’s office twice and then phoned his office in D.C., asking if he was among those who stood and applauded. I did not receive an answer. In mid-August, I received a form letter from the congressman, thanking me for my “interest,” but still not answering my question. I ask it again: Did Mr. Carney, while other Congressional members gave the Mexican president a standing ovation as he accused our citizens of being racists, and called on the U.S. to reform its immigration laws so that they would be more favorable to illegal immigrants from Mexico, also stand and clap?

The Congressman took an oath of office as a member of the military and as a Congressman of the 10th District of Pennsylvania. It is the same oath. In part, the oath states that he will “... support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” If Mr. Carney did not stand and applaud the Mexican president, then why won’t he or a member of his staff answer the question? (See YouTube for the video of Calderon’s speech and the members of the House standing and applauding.) Please tell me, when does giving a standing ovation to a foreign president as he berates, insults and accuses American citizens of racial profiling, and complicity in drug and gun smuggling, by any one of our elected officials, constitute bearing “full faith and allegiance” to the United States and our Constitution?

If the Congressman did participate in a standing ovation for the Mexican president, it is my opinion that he violated his oath of office (so did the rest of them) and, to put it succinctly, doesn’t have the “integrity” or deserve the “honor” of “service” as a congressman from Pennsylvania because he stood against his country and for a foreign government.

The answer is a simple “yes” or “no.”


Edna K. Paskoff

Montrose, PA

School Bus Safety Week

October 18 through 22 is National School Bus Safety Week. Most people do not realize that school bus transportation continues to be one of the safest forms of ground transportation. In fact, a school bus is eight times safer than a passenger car. This is no accident. It is through the efforts of hard working and dedicated professionals, particularly the drivers, that makes this so.

Our tremendous safety record is due to tough federal and state regulations, extensive school bus driver training and review and our commitment to safety. School busing is a much more complex and demanding job than most people realize or appreciate. It is supported by an extensive network of personnel including mechanics, dispatchers and driver safety trainers. The vehicles are designed, built and equipped for the safety of the children they are used to transport. They are operated during the busiest travel periods of the day and in all types of road and weather conditions.

School bus drivers are justifiably held to a higher standard as professional operators. We feel we attain that goal with superior driving habits and skills. The problem is that our best efforts can only deliver a part of the results. An awareness of the law and behavior of the driving public remains a critical element in the safety of the children we transport to and from school. When a motorist feels they can’t remain behind a school bus and will go through stop signs, make u-turns in the middle of the road or pull directly out in front of the bus because they are in a hurry, they are not doing this just to the bus driver, they are doing this to all the children riding on the bus. These types of actions put the children in unnecessary danger.

Too many times school bus drivers report motorists passing stopped school buses when they are picking up or discharging students. School buses are equipped with an 8-way lighting system. The amber (yellow) lights will begin flashing between 300 and 150 feet before the school bus stops. During this time, the motorist must prepare to stop. When the school bus stops, the red lights will begin flashing and the side-stop arm will be extended. All motorists meeting or following the bus must be stopped at least ten (10) feet from the bus and are not to proceed until the red lights are no longer activated and the students have reached a place of safety. Pennsylvania law is quite simple to remember - a motorist must always stop for a school bus when the red lights are flashing. There are no exceptions. This includes fire engines, ambulances, police cars and funeral processions. If a motorist fails to stop for a school bus, it is an automatic 60 day suspension of their driver’s license, 5 points on their driving record and a $100 fine.

School bus safety is also influenced by activity on the bus. The driver has to contend with weather and road conditions and maintain an awareness of all activity around the bus, driveways, intersections, people, pets and wildlife. While a driver has all this to consider outside the bus, he need not be distracted by misbehavior inside the bus. Rules are provided for students to follow while riding the bus and are there to maintain a safe and orderly environment. Parents/guardians should serve as role models and instruct their children in appropriate and socially acceptable behavior on a school bus as well as everywhere else. The driver should be accorded the respect he has earned and deserves.

Even more so in today’s busy world, with the increasing volume of traffic on the roadways, please observe School Bus Safety Week, every week - it could save a life.


James M. Ainey

Montrose, PA

33 Miners; Not Heroes

Waking up this morning was the usual for many; brush the teeth, make some coffee, and put on one of the national news stations. To no surprise, the world witnessed today’s top story about 33 miners being rescued in Chile. Flipping through other news stations, there was no way around it; we were all stuck listening to news about this rescue mission.

American television news has once again let us down.

I, nor most Americans, have any association with the miners who were trapped in Chile. They have been labeled as heroes but for what reason; because they survived, or were it because some of the trapped miners actually had marital affairs?

This morning, we did not hear about true heroes such as the 12.3 million persons fighting for their survival that have been abducted and trafficked into forced labor, bonded labor, and or forced prostitution. We didn’t hear about any of the American fathers and mothers who failed to sleep because they continued to search for their abducted babies who are part of the estimated 260,000 children taken from their homes annually inside the U.S.

We did not hear about the Multiple Sclerosis patient who stood up today and actually walked her children to school. We did not hear about the woman who lost both of her breasts yet keeps smiling knowing that she just defeated her killer, breast cancer. We do not hear about the baby who lies quietly with tubes running through her nose and mouth in the hospital fighting to survive a radically premature birth.

We didn’t hear about any of the four coalition heroes killed just this week in Afghanistan. We did not hear about facts such as 54% of the entire DOD workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan are civilian contract heroes; most of which when injured get completely left behind due to an extremely corrupt Defense Base Act. We did not hear about anything at all related to American heroes.

Today, we heard about thirty-three miners in Chile. We heard terms like heroic, heroes, survival, etc. Sure, these people should be elated knowing they have been freed and yes, I too am happy for them.

The real heroes in America today are those who have been fighting for our freedoms like our military and contractors. Others such as our law enforcement, EMT’s, and firefighters too should be recognized for risking their lives so others may live. Along with these, maybe we should begin to recognize and pay closer attention to the mommies and daddies in this world who refuse to sleep until they find their loved ones who have been abducted. Our heroes should be those who fight and defeat cancer and other horrific diseases as well.

In the end, an international news story broke today about thirty-three men. This story has filled the airwaves conditioning the masses to believe how wonderful and exceptional a day it is seeing them freed; making them out to be heroes. Sadly, these men are not heroes; rather, they are simply survivors.

Note: Kerry Patton served in the U.S. Defense and Justice departments, and as a contractor within the Homeland Security and State departments. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies.” Currently, Mr. Patton teaches for Henley Putnam University.


Kerry Patton

Susquehanna County

The Round Table Of Power

How did we get to the point where safe drinking water can no longer be taken for granted? To answer this question we need to understand the power of the most influential men in Washington - the lobbyists.

A lobbyist is a person hired by a special interest group to influence legislation. Last year there were 780 oil and gas lobbyists. They spent $154 million and that bought a lot of influence.

No. 1 on Big Oil's wish list was an exemption from a particular piece of legislation that was hampering their drilling, the Clean Water Act of 1972. In 2006, the “influence” of the lobbyists among the legislators and the election of two oil men, Bush and Cheney, gave them what they wanted. The oil and gas drillers got their exemption.

This exemption is based on the outrageous premise that oil and gas are more valuable than clean water. And this is the core of the problem that is plaguing thousands of communities across America: clean water taking second place to drilling.

The method used for gas drilling, hydro fracking, is criminally irresponsible. Unfortunately, not legally criminal - thanks to the exemption - but morally criminal.

An average gas well requires 5.5 million gallons of water. This water is infused with toxic chemicals and injected into the ground. Some of it flows back up the well and is collected. The disposal of this highly toxic water presents enormous problems. But it's the water that's left in the ground, the unrecoverable part of the 5.5 million gallons, that poses a greater threat.

Some estimate the unrecoverable water at 90 percent. Consider that a drilling pad might have ten drilling sites. That's equivalent to 75 Olympic-sized swimming pools - a sea-sized plume of contaminated water spreading underground. And that's from just one drilling pad.

Who, then, is monitoring the safety of the fresh water aquifers? The Clean Water exemption passed the onus of responsibility from the federal EPA to the states. In Pennsylvania, it's the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

It is from this point on that circumstances provide fertile ground for suspicions. But suspicions are not facts. Whether they are justified is a matter of individual judgment.

The head of the DEP and state Homeland Security (HS) were appointed by Gov. Edward Rendell. Is the governor, himself, and these two appointees on the side of the drillers? Let's see.

Hydro fracking has been going on in Pennsylvania for three years. Yet the DEP is still holding hearings to establish gas drilling regulations. Drawing out the process benefits no one except the gas drillers.

Last year the DEP cited the drillers for 638 violations. This year they're up to 565. Nevertheless, the drilling accelerates without sufficient oversight while drilling regs play catch-up. Why?

Gov. Rendell's HS head, James Power, issued a thrice-weekly, in-house bulletin listing groups that threaten public safety. In a recently exposed e-mail he wrote, I want to “continue providing support to the gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against drillers.”

In an August bulletin, Power listed those “fomenting dissent against drillers” with terrorists.

Gov. Rendell said he was not aware that the agency was tracking anti-drilling groups. Really? The publication had been tracking protests groups for the entirety of his eight years in office. Either the governor is woefully ignorant of what his own administration is doing or he is guilty of being less than forthcoming.

And what happened to HS's head, James Powers? Nothing. The governor refused to fire or discipline him. However, Power did resign. Think that will help?

Even Gov. Rendell's predecessor, Tom Ridge, apparently favored the drillers. Last July, Ridge signed a one-year contract for $900,000 to act as “adviser to the Marcellus Shale Coalition,” a pro-drilling group. One wonders if Rendell will also sign-on as an “adviser.”

The Round Table of Power seats only five: Big Oil, the White House, sympathetic legislators, the governor, and the director of the DEP. And us? There's no room at the table. The people stand and watch from separate shores.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript

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