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Issue Home November 17, 2010 Site Home

Youth At Risk Of Failing School
Diabetes Top Cause Of Blindness Among Adults
Farm-City Week November 19 - 25
Flu Shot OK When Donating Blood
Foster Assumes PAESSP Presidency
FSA Announces Loan Program
Major Elected Caucus Chairman
Photo Contest Winners Announced

Youth At Risk Of Failing School

Children in Susquehanna County are at moderate to high risk of school failure, according to a new state report, and nearly 80% of those children live in economically at-risk households. The 2009-2010 Program Reach and Risk Report released by Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning finds that while the Commonwealth has made progress in serving young children, gaps remain.

Susquehanna County has the highest percentage of children living in economically at-risk families when compared to all other counties in Pennsylvania. 79.6% of youngsters live in families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level compared to the state average of 58.3% “This is a significant factor affecting families who want to provide quality early education for their children,” explains Stephnie Thornton, Program Manager of Susquehanna County CARES. The non-profit group is dedicated to enhancing quality early learning in our rural county. “After paying all the bills, there is little or nothing left over to cover the costs of childcare.”

Thornton adds there are quality early learning initiatives making a difference for many families. According to the report, of the nearly 2000 children under the age of five living in Susquehanna County, 41.5% participate in publicly funded programs such as Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, Nurse Family Partnership, Child Care Works, Head Start and Early Intervention.

Children in four of Susquehanna County’s six school districts participate in some type of quality pre-k classroom. Forest City Regional School District and Susquehanna Community School District provide full day experiences, Blue Ridge School District provides a half-day program, and Mountain View School District hosts a full day Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts classroom for 20 children. School assessments show children involved in these programs are better prepared when entering Kindergarten.

For more information about the report or early learning programs in Susquehanna County, contact Susquehanna County CARES at (570) 465-5040 or

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Diabetes Top Cause Of Blindness Among Adults

HARRISBURG, PA, - In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) and American Optometric Association (AOA) urge Americans living with diabetes and diabetic eye disease to schedule dilated, comprehensive eye exams on a yearly basis.

According to recent studies, diabetes is responsible for eight percent of legal blindness, making it the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age. Each year, 12,000 - 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes. The key to successful eye care is to monitor the disease, including vision, which is why the POA recommends those with diabetes have a dilated eye examination annually. More frequent exams may be needed if you have diabetic retinopathy, or if you notice a change in your vision.

During a dilated exam, an optometrist will look at your retina for early signs of diabetic eye disease, such as leaking blood vessels, swelling and deposits on the retina. Optometrists often serve as the first line of detection for diabetes, since the eye is the only place on the body that blood vessels can be seen without having to look through the skin.

Results from the AOA's new American Eye-Q® consumer survey showed that only 36 percent of people realize that diabetes can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam. In addition, 47 percent didn't know that a person with diabetes who does not wear corrective lenses should still receive an annual eye exam.

Diabetic retinopathy often has no early warning signs, so changes in vision may not be noticed. Therefore, early detection is critical in maintaining healthy vision.

By the year 2020, the number of people suffering from diabetic eye disease is expected to nearly double. However, monitoring and maintaining control of diabetes through regular visits to the doctor along with adherence to the doctor's instructions can lower one's risk of developing diabetic eye disease by as much as 76 percent.

Several factors influence whether someone with diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy. These include controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels, the length of time with diabetes, race and family history.

In regards to race, both African-Americans and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. According to the American Diabetes Association, on average, about 2.5 million, or 9.5 percent of Hispanics and 3.2 million, or 13.3 percent of Africans aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Be sure to see an optometrist if your vision becomes blurry, if you have trouble reading, experience double vision, feel pressure in your eyes, encounter straight lines appearing wavy or if your side vision is limited.

To find an optometrist in your area, or for additional information on eye health, and diabetic retinopathy, please visit

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Farm-City Week November 19 - 25
By Susan E. Gesford

At their public meeting on Nov. 10, the Susquehanna County Commissioners continued a long tradition of honoring the ties between rural and urban communities in the county by designating November 19 through 25 as Farm-City Week. The week recognizes the value of cooperation among the county's rural and urban populations, as both rely on an essential partnership to supply, sell and deliver finished products. On November 20, the annual Farm-City Feast will be held for the 44th time at 7:30 p.m., at Mountain View High School, Kingsley. Those attending will enjoy a Roast Beef dinner served by the Harford Willing Workers, followed by a ragtime musical program by Rick Pedro. Pedro is known around the country for his blend of Dixieland Band and Chicago-style Ragtime melodies. There is seating available for those with special needs. Contact the Susquehanna County Extension Office, 81 Public Avenue, Montrose, for more information at (570) 278-1158.

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Flu Shot OK When Donating Blood

The American Red Cross Blood Services would like to remind donors that receiving a flu shot does not make a person ineligible to donate blood as long as they feel fine at the time of their donation. Eligible volunteer blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to find a blood drive and to make appointments. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in PA), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood. Positive identification is required at the time of donation.

Throughout the month of November, the American Red Cross Blood Services Northeastern Pennsylvania Region is encouraging people to not be a turkey and donate blood. Daily presenting donors can enter to win a $25 Visa gift card to be used towards their holiday dinner.

“By donating blood or platelets this November, you are providing not only a patient but their family and friends with a reason to be thankful,” stated Tony Ferlenda, CEO of the American Red Cross Blood Services Northeastern Pennsylvania Region. “The Red Cross greatly appreciates every one of our blood donors. We are extremely thankful of their generous, potentially life saving donation.”

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. The Red Cross Blood Services Northeastern Pennsylvania Region provides lifesaving blood to 29 hospitals and must have 351 people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

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Foster Assumes PAESSP Presidency

(Harrisburg, Pa.) - Margaret S. Foster, principal/chief academic officer of Bear Creek Community Charter School in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., recently assumed the presidency of the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP), headquartered in Summerdale, Pa.

PAESSP’s membership of approximately 3,800 is comprised of elementary, middle level and secondary school principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders and is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Ms. Foster took over the association reins from 2009-10 President Rebecca L. Stanfield, a middle school principal in the Troy Area School District, following the association’s annual business meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26, during the 18th annual PAESSP conference in Pittsburgh.

“I am humbled and honored to represent principals across Pennsylvania as President of PAESSP. Our signature services of quality staff development including PIL offerings that are second to none, combined with Act 93 meet and discuss support, legislative influence and prompt legal support, make our organization unique as we champion the cause of our members. As President, it is my duty to continue the mission and to bring the voice of our members to the decision making table in Harrisburg and in Washington D.C. I look forward to my year of service and to advancing the great work that principals do in their schools for kids every day,” said Ms. Foster.

Ms. Foster began her career as a 9th-11th grade Applied Science teacher at Monroe City Vocational-Technical School. She then became the dean of students at Susquehanna Community School District from 1997-2000, followed by the elementary school principal at Mountain View School District.

Ms. Foster has been a member of PAESSP for 10 years. Most recently, she served the association as the 2009-10 President-Elect. Before taking this position, she served as the PAESSP federal relations/legislative co-chair, elementary division (2006-2010). She was also the East I Elementary Regional Representative on the PAESSP Board of Directors (2003-2009).

In addition, Ms. Foster served as a reviewer for “NSTA Recommends®” (National Science Teachers Association) and wrote several articles for the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association (PSTA) newsletter, “Exchange,” from 1998-2003. Since 1997, she has been an active member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Ms. Foster received a bachelor of science degree from Slippery Rock University. She received a master’s degree in education and her principal certification from East Stroudsburg University.

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FSA Announces Loan Program

Many farmers who need and want to implement conservation measures on their land do not have the “up front” funds available to implement these practices.

The goal of FSA’s Conservation Loan (CL) program is to provide farmers access to credit to implement these practices.

Unlike FSA’s traditional farm ownership and operating loan programs that are targeted toward smaller and less financially established farmers, eligibility requirements are expanded to permit the agency to provide assistance to some applicants who may be large and financially strong.

CL funds can be used to implement a conservation practice approved by the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS), such as to reducing soil erosion, improving water quality and promoting sustainable and organic agricultural practices. This would include installation of conservation structures; establishment of forest cover; installation of water conservation measures; establishment or improvement of permanent pastures; transitioning to organic production; manure management, including manure digestion systems; adaptation of other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques or technologies.

Interested applicants who do not already have NRCS-approved conservation plans should work with the local NRCS staff to develop a conservation plan, including all applicable conservation practices. New or existing conservation plans must be NRCS approved before FSA can provide financing.

Those interested may apply for direct CLs with loan limits up to $300,000 at local FSA offices. In addition, guaranteed CLs up to $1,112,000 may be available by applying with lenders working with FSA to obtain a guarantee.

Interest rates on guaranteed CLs will vary, but may not exceed the rate charged the lender’s average farm customer. For direct CLs, the interest rate will be the direct loans rate in effect (for farm ownership loans) either at the time of loan approval, or loan closing. These rates are available at the local FSA office.

Terms will vary and will be based on the life of the security offered, but not to exceed 20 years for real estate security and seven years for chattel property. CLs must be fully secured and can only be approved for those who have the ability to repay them.

Additional information may be obtained by calling Keith or Sherry at 570-265-3146 extension 2 or through the FSA website at

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Major Elected Caucus Chairman

HARRISBURG - Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) was re-elected to her third term as Republican Caucus chairwoman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

"The support I have received from my colleagues is overwhelming and I look forward to continuing in my position as caucus chairwoman," said Major. "I have always considered it a great privilege to serve the people of the 111th District and all of Pennsylvania during my time in office. In a leadership position I have an even greater charge that I take very seriously. We face many challenges ahead and I will continue to serve with diligence and dedication to help better position Pennsylvania on the path to success."

The responsibilities of Caucus chairwoman include conducting all Republican Caucus meetings, informing members of the session schedule, informing members of legislation scheduled for floor votes, notifying members when bills they are sponsoring are scheduled for a House vote and also if amendments are posted to their legislation. In addition, Major also participates in leadership discussions and helps to set the House agenda.

In addition to Major, other House Republicans elected to leadership positions for the 2011-12 session include Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), Majority Whip Stan Saylor (R-York), Policy Committee Chairman Dave Reed (R-Indiana), Caucus Administrator Dick Stevenson (R-Mercer/Butler) and Caucus Secretary Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) . Rep. Sam Smith (R-Jefferson/Indiana/Armstrong) was also nominated for Speaker of the House, which will be voted upon by the full House when it convenes session in January.

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Photo Contest Winners Announced

Tunkhannock PA - The Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau has chosen the winners of its 2010 photo contest.

The contest kicked-off in January of this year and ended September 30. It was open to anyone - local residents and visitors alike - who wanted to send a photo of a special memory, scene, or time spent in the Endless Mountains. First, second, and third place winners received monetary prizes in each of the six categories and may have their work published in future visitors bureau promotional campaigns.

Winners in the animals category are: first place William Maile Jr., Forest City; second place, Carol Brotzman, Laceyville; and third place William Maile Jr.

The winter category winners are: first place Lee Shelly, Landsdale; and second and third places Daryl Quentin, Canton, Ohio.

Winners in the spring category are: first place Maryanne Miller, Gilbertsville; and second and third places Barbara Grace, Simpson.

The summer category winners are: first place Lee Shelly, Landsdale; second place William Maile Jr., Forest City; and third place Barbara Yavorosky, Hop Bottom.

Winners in the fall category are: first place Lee Shelly, Forest City; second place Gary R. Bates, Little Meadows; and third place William Maile Jr., Forest City.

The state park adventures category winners are: first place Mike Chernesky, Forest City; second place Kathleen Montella, Waverly; and third place Nicholas Puza, Tunkhannock.

A grand prize winner was chosen out of the six first place winners. That award went to Lee Shelly, whose winning photo was of relaxing view of a dock overlooking a lake.

The Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau is the state and locally recognized tourism promotion agency for Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The 2011 photo contest has exciting new categories and opens for photo submission on January 1, 2011. Anyone can send a photo as usual. Details and an online submittal form will soon be on the bureau’s website, For more information, contact the visitors bureau at 570-836-5431 or 800-769-8999.

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