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Issue Home December 29, 2010 Site Home

100 Years Ago
From the Desk of the D.A.
The Healthy Geezer
Library Chitchat
Rock Doc
Earth Talk
Barnes-Kasson Corner

100 Years Ago

FOREST CITY: Earle W. McHenry is here from Peeksville Military academy, Peeksville [Peekskill] N.Y., spending the holidays with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. McHenry. The young man is an athlete, captain of the football team, as well as a commissioned officer in the school military organization. We judge, from his size, that he would be a tough proposition to tackle on the gridiron.

CLIFFORD: Mrs. Hannah E. Day, one of Clifford Township’s oldest residents, died on Saturday, of asthma, aged 81 years, 11 months. Deceased was a widow. She came of old New England stock. Interment was made at Herrick Center.

HOP BOTTOM: Fred Brown received the $100 prize offered by the D. L. & W. for the best-kept section.

SUSQUEHANNA: Stanley Birdsall, who recently purchased the ice business of Mr. Stack, of Susquehanna, went to the pond Thursday to harvest ice when the ice broke and let the team, which weighs over 2,600 pounds, into the water, which was 16 ft. deep at this place. After hard work the harness was cut off and with the assistance of several men, ropes and horses, the outfit was rescued. The horses were cut badly and had to be sewed up, but Mr. Birdsall thinks they will come out all right. ALSO, The Star theatre, on Main Street, formerly conducted by George J. Taylor, of Elmira, has been purchased by Leo Benson and Joseph Dolan. Both of the new proprietors are well known here, Mr. Dolan being the proprietor of the Main Street restaurant, and Mr. Benson has been electrician at Hogan Opera house for some time.

NORTHERN SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY: Thirty-three inches of snow have fallen in the northern part of the county since the first of November and sleighing has been fairly good most of the time.

MONTROSE: The Montrose High school basket ball team is composed of the following: center, Guy Peck; right forward, Arthur Ralston; left forward, James Stroud; right guard, Paul Sprout; left guard, Horace Birchard; manager, George Horton, Jr. This team defeated the Baracon Class team, of the Baptist Sunday School, Christmas afternoon, by a score of 13 to 12. The high school team is endeavoring to schedule two games a week for the season, and it is hoped that the patronage of these games will be liberal. ALSO, Ice on Lake Mont Rose is being cut for storing, which is about 14 inches thick and of fine quality. The filling of ice houses at the lake has not yet been started.

GLENWOOD: The entertainment “In Santa Claus Land,” held at the chapel Xmas Eve, was well attended. The characters were: The Mother, Jeanette Conrad; Cook, Marion Conrad; Mother Goose, Lucille Wilson; Santa Claus, Walter Conrad; Santa Claus’ Wife, Julia Medlar; Santa Claus’ baby, Geo. Conrad; Brownies, Five Boys; Fairies, Five Girls. Recitations and songs were also rendered.

EAST RUSH: Friends of Frank Underhill presented him with a beautiful invalid wheel chair on Christmas.

BROOKLYN: Justice Ely married a couple a few days ago, it is said, free of charge, it being his first attempt. The clergy are up arms, not so much that our esteemed justice should marry couples, but that he cut the rate.

LITTLE MEADOWS: Early Wednesday morning, several people were startled by the ringing of the M. E. church bell. The barn belonging to the house occupied by Mrs. Bump had caught fire and soon burned to the ground. C. M. Garfield owned the barn and the loss is covered by insurance. The origin of the fire is about as mysterious as was that of J. M. Russell’s barn, which burned last spring for, to Mr. Garfield’s knowledge, no one had entered the barn for several days.

HARFORD: Miss Maud Robbins, Superintendent of Dr. Burns’ hospital, has returned to Scranton after spending Christmas with her parents here.

BIRCHARDVILLE: The whereabouts of Mrs. Rose Maynard is a mystery. Mr. and Mrs. Maynard went to Binghamton, Tuesday, with two loads of apples. They spent the night in the city and Wednesday morning she left the boarding house saying she would be back soon. Not returning late Wednesday, a search was started by the husband and police, but she has not been found. She is described as short, slender, with brown eyes and brown hair. She is 30 years old and of German parentage. She has a scar on the palm of her left hand, and has three stiff fingers on the same hand. She wore a black skirt and light colored waist.

BRIDGEWATER TWP.: Joseph R Beebe, one of Bridgewater’s best known farmers, received notice this week that he had been appointed to clerkship in the office of Secretary of Internal Affairs Henry Houck, at Harrisburg. Mr. Beebe will move his family to Harrisburg.

DIMOCK: George B. Felker and son, of Montrose, caught 45 pickerel through the ice at Cope’s pond, Wednesday, and it wasn’t much of a day for pickerel either.

RUSHBORO: Mrs. Rugg, an aged lady who lives at the poor asylum, fell and broke one of her ribs recently.

UNIONDALE: Mrs. Burns Lyon, a prominent young woman here, died suddenly at about 3 o’clock Tuesday morning from Bright’s disease. Mrs. Lyon had spent Christmas with her parents in Hallstead and returned home Monday evening, was stricken, and died a few hours later. She was a bright young lady of 30 years and for 13 years was a teacher in the county schools. Before her marriage her name was Miss Jennie Watson, of Hallstead. A husband alone survives.

NEWS BRIEF: The phrase “dead as a doornail” originated in this way. In early days, when door-knockers were common, the plate upon which the knocker struck was sometimes called a nail. In the course of years it was struck so often that all life was supposed to be knocked out of it; therefore when it became necessary to refer to anything hopelessly lifeless it was merely an emphatic expression to say that it was “as dead as a doornail.” ALSO, Some people never repeat bad stories about their neighbors. They just start them and let ‘em go.

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From the Desk of the D.A.
By District Attorney Jason J. Legg

A few columns back, I discussed some of the factors that prosecutors consider when making plea offers to defendants. One of the things that I talked about was the input that we received from victims concerning any reduction of charges, sentencing recommendation, or any other item of a plea agreement. After a few people commented on that column, I thought it would be helpful to expand a little bit on that part of the plea negotiation process.

The law actually provides victims with the right to be heard concerning their thoughts about any proposed plea offer. In order to assure that victims are afforded the opportunity to provide input into each criminal case, we have a victim/witness coordinator who sends written notice to every crime victim of all of the different stages of the case. Part of that process includes a written victim impact statement, which solicits input from victims concerning their thoughts, feelings, and views about the criminal conduct. When the victim impact statement is returned to the office, a copy of it is placed in the criminal file so that I have it available to me when reviewing the file.

Last year, we provided victim services for approximately 400 crime victims. Obviously, this is a substantial number - and unfortunately I do not have the chance to personally discuss every case with each victim. If a victim calls to speak with me or requests a meeting, I always accommodate that request. Those meetings provide a tremendous opportunity to discuss the different options available, the potential differences in a sentence, and the reality of where the case is headed in terms of sentencing resolution. I always make it a point to show victims the sentencing matrix and explain how a defendant is sentenced under that matrix. In other words, we can actually look at the different sentencing options that the court will have available based upon a variety of different offenses. While the matrix only provides a sentencing range, it still gives victims some idea of what the sentencing prospects are going to be for each offense.

During these conversations with victims, we always have a discussion about the risks that are inherent in any criminal trial. Any good litigator will tell you that you never know what a jury is going to do. Victims often want to know what the “chances” are at trial - and I generally tell them that I do not make predictions on what a jury will do. We have a candid discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the case, but there is no prognosticating on how a jury will react to the evidence.

We discuss some of the more notorious jury acquittals that made the headlines. A jury acquitted Michael Jackson even after he admitted to providing kids with alcohol and showing them pornography - and he even showed up to court in his pajamas. O.J. Simpson had the both victims’ blood in his motor vehicle and led the police on a long (and televised) chase prior to apprehension - and he was acquitted after a trial that became less about the evidence and more about wild conspiracy theories. There are no certainties in even the strongest criminal case - and the defense need only conjure up a doubt and convince a jury that it is reasonable, i.e., if it does not fit, you must acquit.

Victims want certainty - and should be entitled to it - but the criminal trial process lacks the type of precision from which certainty arises. I have found that most victims are more interested in assuring that there are consequences that arise from the criminal behavior than seeking to maximize the punishment to the offender for the criminal conduct. When victims get to see the sentencing matrix, there is a sense of certainty there - and real cost/benefit approach to plea negotiations that most victims appreciate and understand.

Likewise, defense attorneys will tell you that similar conversations occur between the defense attorney and his or her client. A defendant also wants to know what the punishment will be as a result of the criminal conduct. Defense attorneys have to weigh the case and give similar advice to the client as to strengths and weaknesses of the evidence, the “chances” at trial, and the potential sentences that could result if the matter proceeded to trial. In the plea negotiation process, a criminal defendant is generally seeking some certainty as to the potential period of incarceration or supervision. Oftentimes, the actual charge itself becomes a secondary consideration to the punishment.

The only way to get absolute certainty in a criminal case is through a guilty plea - and that is one of the reasons that such a high percentage of criminal cases are resolved with guilty pleas as opposed to trials.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801 or at our website or discuss this and all articles at

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The Healthy Geezer
By Fred Cicetti

Q. My wife just turned 70 and her hearing isn't what it used to be. Do you have any suggestions to improve my communication with her?

About one in three Americans over 60 suffers from loss of hearing, which can range from the inability to hear certain voices to deafness.

Presbycusis, one form of hearing loss, occurs with age. Presbycusis can be caused by changes in the inner ear, auditory nerve, middle ear, or outer ear. Some of its causes are the aging process, loud noise, heredity, head injury, infection, illness, certain prescription drugs, and circulation problems such as high blood pressure.

Tinnitus, also common in older people, is the ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ears frequently caused by exposure to loud noise or certain medicines. Tinnitus is a symptom that can come with any type of hearing loss.

Hearing aids can help your wife. It’s important to explain that a hearing aid will not restore normal hearing. With practice, however, a hearing aid will increase awareness of sounds and what made them.

A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations. Larger vibrations are converted into signals that are sent to the brain.

There are limits to the amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into signals.

If your wife's hearing is a problem, she should get it checked by her personal physician. If her hearing is diminished, the doctor will probably refer her to an otolaryngologist or audiologist.

An otolaryngologist is a physician who specializes in treating the ear, nose, and throat. An audiologist is a health professional who conducts hearing tests to define your loss. Many otolaryngologists have audiologist associates in their offices.

Meanwhile, here are some tips that can help you get your words across to your wife: Be patient. Avoid background noise when conversing with your wife. Enunciate well without distorting your speech. Make sure she can see your face before speaking. Be expressive. Hand gestures and facial expressions are clues to what you're saying. When talking, try to position yourself four to six feet from her. Ask your wife to repeat what you've said to make sure you're communicating accurately. Speak at a normal tempo. Not too fast; not too slowly. Speak more loudly, but don't shout. Shouting distorts your words. Don’t mumble. Make sure you don't drop the volume of your voice at the end of a sentence. If you are misunderstood, try rephrasing what you said. Avoid chewing or covering your mouth.

If you have a question, please write to

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Library Chitchat
By Flo Whittaker

No Library Chitchat This Week

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Rock Doc
By Dr. E. Kirsten Peters

Energy’s Bottom Line

I’m trained in geology, but I don’t work in the energy industry. That means I’m an interested bystander on the sidelines of the energy game, more eager than most to see the execution of the next play on the turf - but I’m not on one of the teams actually touching the ball.

The people who are out there on the playing field have to make complex judgments about what will power us through tomorrow. American business people make educated guesses all the time about whether to invest in what may be emerging energy technologies. And members of Congress also make some similar decisions. That’s because the government both supports basic energy research and subsidizes all the forms of energy I know about.

One of the ways our collective tax dollars help make energy cheaper in the marketplace is the subsidy of ethanol made from corn. Ethanol is the time-honored chemical that’s in whiskey and wine. Today, on an enormous scale, ethanol is blended into the gasoline we buy at the corner gas station. If you read the fine print on the gas pump, you’ll see how much ethanol is blended into what your car burns.

The tax subsidy on ethanol destined for gasoline was small in the 1970s when it began. But it’s grown over the decades. The cost of our ethanol subsidy is now measured in the billions of dollars per year. At the same time, ethanol used for energy accounts for a lot of our corn crop. According to recent news reports, we’ll plow about 41 percent of our nation’s corn into ethanol this year. That’s a lot of tortilla chips we are burning on our highways.

Corn-based ethanol has become more controversial as the industry has grown bigger. In the most recent twist of the debate about the fuel, former Vice President Al Gore has changed sides in the argument. At a gathering in Greece this fall, he publically reversed his support for ethanol made from corn. The switch means he has joined people like the editors of the Wall Street Journal in their plea that we end the corn-ethanol subsidy. It’s not everyday that Mr. Gore and the Wall Street Journal agree on stuff.

But it’s not the muck and mire of politics that are important to me as a geologist. What’s really at stake is the bottom line. Do we get more energy out of corn-ethanol than we put in?

Making corn into ethanol takes work. We plant the crop, then harvest the corn from the field. Next we must process it, and then ferment the grain. After all that we have to extract the ethanol we want from the thin soup of the stuff we have made.

How much energy do we actually get out of the ethanol we burn in our gas tanks compared to the energy we put into making the fuel from corn?

The scientists and engineers I’ve read on this subject down through the years have mostly said we gain very little energy from our work. Basically, we put a unit of energy into the process and get just a little bit more back out than we put in. The fancy way of describing it is what’s called “energy conversion ratios.”

Speaking of ethanol made from corn in his recent speech, former Vice President Gore said, “The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.”

That quotation indicates quite a change from Gore’s earlier public sentiments. I’m not criticizing him or anyone else when I say that we all need to set aside our politics and look critically at energy sources.

We Americans need to diversify our sources of energy, and some forms of biofuels will be part of the mix that can help us in the coming decades. But we’ve got a variety of choices to make and more research to do. In the end, we’ve got to keep our eyes on what makes good sense for the next round of energy innovation. Big energy conversion ratios are what we need from biofuels in the coming years. That’s the bottom line no matter your politics.

Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. Follow her on the web at and on Twitter @RockDocWSU. This column is a service of the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

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From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Can you explain what “fracking” is with regard to natural gas exploration and why it is controversial? -Jonas

Fracking is shorthand within the oil and gas industry for “hydraulic fracturing,” a process in which drillers blast millions of gallons of water, sand and hazardous chemicals at high-pressure into sub-surface rock formations to create fractures that facilitate the flow of recoverable oil or gas. According to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, 90 percent of all oil and gas wells in the U.S. are “fracked” to boost production. Fracking usually occurs just after a new well is drilled, but many wells are fractured numerous times to get as much production out of a profitable site as possible.

But after a series of accidents in Pennsylvania and elsewhere over the last few years, fracking has come under attack as dangerous to both human health and the environment. The most common problem involves the disposal of the toxic sludge that results from fracking. Texas-based XTO Energy, for instance, racked up 31 fracking-related pollution violations at 20 wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale in 2010 alone. But the fact that between 20 and 40 percent of the chemicals remain stranded underground - where they can contaminate drinking water, soils and other features of the environment that plants, animals and humans rely on - is perhaps even more troubling. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a least nine different chemicals commonly used in fracking are injected into oil and gas wells at concentrations that pose a threat to human health.

With Americans getting half of their drinking water from underground sources, it’s no wonder that people are concerned about the risks of fracking - especially since 2005 when George W. Bush exempted oil and gas companies from federal regulations designed to protect our drinking water. Meanwhile, most state oil and gas regulatory agencies don’t require companies to report the volumes or names of chemicals being used in extraction (benzene, chloride, toluene and sulfates are among them). The result, according to the non-profit Oil and Gas Accountability Project, is that one of the country’s dirtiest industries enjoys an exclusive right to “inject toxic fluids directly into good quality groundwater without oversight.”

There are other potential issues with fracking as well. The non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns that beyond contaminating drinking water with toxic and in some cases carcinogenic chemicals, fracking could trigger earthquakes, poison grazing livestock, and overburden our wastewater systems - especially since drilling expanded during Bush’s tenure in the White House.

In response to public concern about the potential risks associated from fracking, the EPA recently commenced a comprehensive study on the topic. Oil companies and environmentalists alike hope that the study puts to rest any debate over the environmental impacts of the process. In the meantime, the city council in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently voted to outlaw fracking there, while New York governor David Paterson extended a moratorium on fracking in his state through July of 2011, citing concerns about whether the technique is safe enough to allow it at all moving forward. Other municipalities and states are waiting to see what the EPA finds before making their own decisions on fracking.

SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E - The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; E is a nonprofit publication.

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Barnes-Kasson Corner
By Cara Sepcoskiw

No Barnes-Kasson Corner This Week

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