June 30, 2008. Celebrating anniversaries today are Jerry and Donna McMichael, Frank and Rebecca Beishline, Jim and Ramona Bonham and Tami and Kris Letteer. It is the birthday of Shirley Hittle and Tanner Lenhart.
Didja ever think that leaders don't create followers?
They create more leaders.
• On this day in 2005, The Northside Beat, a Tuesday feature of the Press Enterprise, was "retired," according to the latest author, Chris Krepich. Over the years, Pete Kendren and Chris Krepich authored the column with Susan Swartz contributing to the column. Today, the column is alive and well and a great source of information to the upper Fishingcreek valley. Gary Pang coordinates the column now. Gary can be reached at 387-1234 ext. 1343 and by email at gary.p AT pressenterprise.net.
• Every time a new report comes out on the Marcellus black shale, the report seems to enlarge the amount of reserves over what was previously thought. The latest estimate indicates that the Marcellus could deliver up to five times the yearly consumption of natural gas worldwide. What the U.S. currently produces is nothing compared with where it could head!
• An article in Saturday's Dallas Morning News described Cathy Beck, our local fly fishing writer, photographer and consultant, as one of the most "efficient fly casters in the business." The article noted that she has "cast 105 feet of 5-weight line and seems effortless in doing it."
• With a high temperature of 79° today, possibly with a thundershower this afternoon, it should be a great day to spend at the Kutztown German Festival. We'll tell you about it Tuesday.
• A new Firefox extension promised to tweak the program and so I thought that I would try it. Not only did the program not work as promised, but it wiped out all the Benton News photos and two photo articles I was working on. Mother always said, "be satisfied with what you've got!"
• The Holcombe family had a grand old time at the Eagles Mere Country Club over the weekend as 62 family members gathered to honor R. L. Holcombe, 92, and Ann Holcombe, 90, and to see the first editions of the V. B. Holcombe catalog. (See the Archives from June 7, 2008)
• A reader wrote, "Many, many years ago there was a dance hall along Fishing Creek @ Forks. The train would go in front the hall and one of the buildings was for loggers. Wondering if there is any information on this since all of my relatives are gone and I was very, very young when my Aunt owned the property but believe the dance hall was not in operation @ that time (1955)." Can anyone help?
It was nice to see some of the Grillbillies back in town in preparation for the annual OATS bluegrass festival which begins Thursday. The Grillbillies come from all over the East coast of the United States. They are a group of bluegrass musicians and fans who love to camp and go to bluegrass festivals. Picking and eating are high on their list, too! They even registered the name "Grillbillies" as a trademark in 1996. The "grill" part of their name comes from the group's love of cooking while they're camping. People who come to bluegrass festivals love to visit the Grillbillies big silver canopy, called "Grillbilly Grove."
Some of the Grillbillies have their own bluegrass bands and some don't play music, choosing instead to follow along to all the festivals. The ones who do play are the "house" band with no leader or hierarchy or constitution, and there are no rules for joining.
All the events starting Thursday are posted on the Benton News web site and on www.oatsfestival.com/.
Didja ever think that when we criticize another person
we aren't so much saying something about that person
as we are expressing our own need to be critical?
We'll finish with some of the entries in the Day Book of John Christian Laubach. Christian (the early Germans tended to "throw away" the first name) Laubach moved into the northern end of Columbia Country about 1794.
One entry noted that he was going to Schimmoki (possibly Shamokin) on May 20, 1792 to buy 30 bushels of rye. For reference, this is the year when the Buttonwood Agreement started the New York Stock & Exchange Board (now known as the New York Stock Exchange). This agreement was signed by twenty-four stock brokers outside of 68 Wall Street in New York under a buttonwood tree. President George Washington laid down the law that year to his Secretaries of State and Treasure to bury the hatchet. Alexander Hamilton was at the helm of the Treasury and Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State. Folks in Pennsylvania were upset about the whiskey tax. A French architect by the name of Pierre L'Enfant came up with a plan for broad avenues radiating from public buildings.
Entries from 1793 show that John Christian received payments for items supplied to others. Rather than being purely a day laborer, he took on entrepreneurial characteristics. On November 26, 1793, he wrote: "I have gotten the cow of William Hess into winter fodder." William Hess had preceded the Laubachs into the Fishing Creek area. William Hess married the daughter of Johannes Gotthart who was said to be the grandfather of John Christian's wife Maria. Gotthart, eventually known as John Goddard, came to live with John Christian and Maria in the fall of 1794.
On November 26, 1793, John Christian reported having made a deal for 34 bushels of corn for 3 shillings 6 pence per bushel. With the turn of the year, he sold four pounds of pork for 1 pound, S shillings, and 10 pence. Two bushels of potatoes brought 6 shillings 6 pence.
In May of 1794, Jacob Frutsche came to work a half year for 4 pounds. In June, Jacob obtained a pair of shoes from John Christian for 10 shillings. Added to that was a yard and a quarter of cloth for 2 shillings 9 pence. A pair of stockings cost Jacob 6 shillings 6 pence. Two and one-quarter yards of fine cloth cost 5 shillings. Another pair of shoes tallied 9 shillings.
On November 17, 1794, John Christian reported having paid Edward McHenry 9 pounds, 7 shillings, and 6 pence. McHenry is reported in printed editions of the history of that family to have been a surveyor. The family which preceded the Laubachs into the area also owned much land. McHenry probably did some surveying for John Christian, and he may have sold him some land.
This event coincided with the arrival of Johannes Gotthart who, according to the entry of November 18, 1794, came to live with John Christian. Gotthart was the source of finance for some of the neighbors. Zeke Cole (Sik Kohl in the diary) borrowed the staggering sum of 22 pounds according to the entry of December 24, 1794. (In German, an "s" that begins a word is pronounced as a "z." Hence, the German "Sik" would be pronounced "Zeke.") There were additional references to "Sik Kohl" in August, 1795, when John Christian worked for Zeke Cole in connection with corn, perhaps the milling of corn. John Christian noted that William Hess owed Gotthart 19 shillings 5 pence spendthrift money."
The diary entries ranged from 1782 until 1795, the year in which Alexander Hamilton resigned as Treasury Secretary. John Christian continued to live in the area into the second decade of the next century. He was buried in the cemetery of the St. Gabriel's Church of which he was a founder. It was within a mile or so of Fritz Hill where John Christian's homestead was located. John Christian settled near the crest of what is now Kearcuff Road, near Camp Lavigne
John Christian tended to write things according to German phonetics. However, since so many of John Christian's associates were German immigrants, they probably did use the German spelling in their early days. The time period was from 1782 until 1795. We hope that you have enjoyed this early look at the northern Fishingcreek valley from 213 years ago and we hope that you appreciate the many hours that John Herbert Laubach spent translating the Day Book.
June 29, 2008. Happy birthday to Richard Kriebel who turns 65 today. He says he is feeling more positive about his knee issues than he has in a long time. Dick sums up his birthday by saying, "I've made it this far and I'm grateful for that." Marjorie and Dick Shoemaker celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary today. The couple were married at Saint James Church, Fishing Creek Township, by the Rev. Henry Meiss. Dick cast a loving glance at his bride, smiled, and said "she still puts up with me!" Keep Bill Hess in your prayers as he recovers in the Bloomsburg Hospital.
Take the time to read the article in Sunday's New York Times entitled Gas Drillers in Race for Hearts and Land. Although the article is about the impact of the Marcellus in New York state, the words of author Peter Applebome ring true from the local area. He wrote, "You would have heard an overheated mix of fear and greed, caution and paranoia, of million-dollar gas leases that could enrich struggling farmers, of polluted wells, pastures turned to industrial sites and ozone pollution at urban levels. You would have heard anguished landowners" (snip) "present their cautionary view of an environment dominated by huge energy companies where some will get rich while their neighbors might just see a hundredfold increase in truck traffic without much else to show for it." The article can be found here.
The Sunday Press Enterprise includes an article about GFI Oil and Gas. This is the company which removed its leases, rental agreements, maps, and pictures of its two file drawers following release of a Benton News article about the company.
A web-based program now in limited beta testing is known as Dial2Do. With this system, simply dial a number, say what you want done, and then the service takes care of it for you. Use your voice over the phone to set reminders, send email and text messages, even have an RSS feed read to you. If nothing else, Dial2Do is a fun tool.
Morning coffee with the boys is in a tailspin. We have traveled the gauntlet from the size of stone to spread on our driveways, to debating who the good guys and who the bad guys are in gas drilling, to buying American, to the electability of either a black person or a woman to the highest office in the land. But recently, our discussions have been spiraling downward faster than the U.S. economy. Subjects like the floods in the Midwest, skyrocketing gas prices, plummeting home values, wars without a foreseeable end, who is telling the truth about ANWR and whether Saudi Arabia is our friend are monopolizing the conversation.
Didja ever notice that the pursuit of truth
is a lot like picking huckleberries?
You are going to miss an awful lot
if you only go at it from one direction.
A comment Karl Rove made about Barack Obama as quoted in the New York Times was interesting: "Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by." I haven't liked cigarettes for 25 years and now that they are making snide comments I like them even less.
Definition of the day: "Hackle."
A comb-like instrument for separating the fibers of hemp or flax. (The coarse part of hemp is separated from the fine by drawing it through the teeth of this gizzie, which is sometimes known as a "hackle.")
When we were last together we were chatting about John Christian Laubach (June 30, 1762-March 15, 1825), the earliest Laubach settler near the Borough of Benton. He was the son of Christian who was the son of Reinhart Laubach. He married Mary Frutchy (Anna Maria) (February 3, 1773-June 8, 1823). They had eleven children. When we left off, we were listing some of the superstitions expressed in the Day Book of John Christian Laubach. We'll continue at that point...
. "If you want to prevent someone from sleeping in the house, take the feathers from the right wing of a blackbird. Bind them together and hang them by a netting thread from the beam. Then nobody will be able to sleep."
. Concerning the sanctity of a wagon, the diary advised that "lard could be smeared on a wagon tongue to prevent someone else from hitching a horse to it."
. "When a horse appears lame, take a toad and cut its foot off on the same side as the lameness in the horse, but do not do any other harm to the toad. Do not touch the toad with your bad [left] hand, but take the foot and using a piece of wood, sew the foot in a cloth. Tie it above the horse's knee for three days."
. For a mother cow, the diary recommended a preparation which might not have been on the apothecary shelf: "Take boar's testicles and desiccate them into a powder. Give to the cow what can be measured on two knife tips."
The diary is very inconsistent in the spelling of names. John Christian married Mary Frutchy, but the diary also spells her last name "Fritzl, Frutzj, Frutche and Frutschi." Throughout this article, spelling as used by John Christian will be used, such as "Friderrich Labach." Hannes (Johannes) Frutschi frequently hired John Christian and probably became his father-in-law.
The financial transactions listed in the Day Book lists the types of labor engaged in by John Christian Laubach. The earliest entry was dated 1783 when he hauled a load of boards from Friderrich Labach. Three years later he plowed for the same person. For Jacob Kunwedel, he "hackled" hemp for one day. For Hannes (Johannes) Frutze he mowed two days.
His payment came in pounds, shillings, and pence. (There were twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling, and thus 240 pence to the pound.) His normal jobs of mowing hay, hackling hemp, breaking flax, chopping wood, threshing and splitting rails earned him from 2 shillings 6 pence to 3 shillings. He received more for digging. In 1788, he referred to mowing of the "Ummet Gras," a year in which farmers were able to harvest a second crop of hay. He spent two days of hay making for Willem Frutzi at a total of 5 shillings.
Mowing buckwheat for a day brought 2 shillings, 6 pence. He mowed second-crop hay for Friderich Laubach. For Willem Frutzi, he mowed hay for five days, accumulating 12 shillings 6 pence. From Adem Mart he received 10 shillings for digging an acre. An entry of March 22, 1790, reported having dug an acre for Jacob Brinker at the rate of 20 shillings (one pound) per acre. He then worked four days making fences for Jacob at 3 shillings per day. An entry of 1791 noted a day and a half of digging for Jacob Weinrich at 2 pounds 6 pence. His prime employer in 1790 continued to be Hannes Frutzi for whom he broke hemp for five days and one day of threshing. An entry of June 7, 1790, noted that Hannes Frutzi's wife made him two shirts. In March 1791, entries show more work for the Frutzi family. The following entry of March 16 reports a variety of jobs for Willem Frutche: "For Willem Frutche I made 325 cross braces, chopped and split a hundred for 2.6 - 0.8.0. Split 425 for 18 pence per 100. makes 0.6.4 200 stakes split for twenty pence per hundred - 0.5.0.'
An entry from the summer of 1791 offers the first entry referring to John Christian's wife who spun fourteen days for Hannes Fruchtchi, presumably for her father. And then she spun 40 cards of wool at 1 pence per card.
Bear in mind that John Herbert Laubach translated these entries and hundreds more from the original German. We'll conclude this early diary in Monday's edition.
Robert Taylor "Bobby T." Vincent, III (June 8, 1947-June 28, 2008), Benton, died Saturday at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville. He had been in ill health since December. He was 61. He was born in Bloomsburg. Bob was a son of Esther (Shannon) Vincent, Distillery Hill, and the late Robert T. Vincent, Jr., who died July 20, 1983. Bobby T. was associated with his father’s business, “Robert Vincent Construction,” and developed 36 golf courses in the eastern United States. He was later a self-employed contractor and owned and operated Vincent Construction and Stillwater Asphalt. "T" was a 1965 graduate of Benton High School and attended Wilkes-Barre Business College and Penn State University. He was also a US Army Veteran of the Vietnam War. Bob was a member of the West Creek Rod and Gun Club and the Benton V. F. W. An avid pilot he was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Association of Flight Instructors. At the time of his death, he was the manager of the Benton Airport. He enjoyed racing and operated Vincent Racing. Surviving are his mother, Esther, and his daughters Shannon T. Hartkorn (Jim) and Taylore C. Shires (James). There are six grandchildren: Clayton, Brayden, Landon, Emma, Rylan and Ava; brothers Rod and Doug Vincent, both of Benton; a sister, Cindy Vincent, Harvey’s Lake, and a special friend, Connie Foust, Bloomsburg. Funeral services will be private and at the convenience of the family at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., Benton, with burial in Benton Cemetery. There will be no public viewing. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the American Cancer Society, Columbia County Unit, 1948 E. Third St., Williamsport, PA 17701.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the Sunday edition of the Press Enterprise.
Larry Lamont Hess (August 17, 1943-June 27, 2008) was stricken at his Mill Street home in Benton shortly after finishing his evening meal Friday. He was taken by ambulance to the Bloomsburg Hospital where he was pronounced dead in the Emergency Room at 8:04 PM. He was 64. He was a son of the late Clever B. Hess who died March 12, 1980, and Leah B. (Ash) Hess, who died March 28, 1977. He attended Benton High School and served in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War. Larry was a 40-year employee of Kawneer Company, Inc., Bloomsburg, where he worked from 1966 until his retirement in 2006. An avid sports fan, he especially enjoyed NASCAR, baseball and all Benton High School sports activities. He was a noted hunter. He volunteered for the Benton Area Little League and although no longer an active member of the Benton Volunteer Fire Company he volunteered a great deal of his time to the betterment of the fire company, including helping to prepare the monthly firemen's breakfasts. At one time, Larry served as captain for the Columbia County Fire Police.
Surviving are his sons Douglas A. Hess (Denice), Millville; Brian J. Hess (Tracy), Orangeville; Randall S. Hess (Vicki), Orangeville; five grandsons and a granddaughter. He was preceded in death by a son, Eric Scott Hess, four years prior to the day on June 27, 2004; and by siblings Robert O. Hess on January 4, 1990; Ethel B. Davis Dietterick on June 6, 1983; Doris H. Appleman on November 27, 2005, and by Betty Shultz on January 3, 2006. Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 2 PM with viewing beginning at noon at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., Benton, with burial in the Benton Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the American Heart Association, 1704 Warren Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the Sunday edition of the Press Enterprise.
June 28, 2008. It is Jan Laubach's birthday and the 85th birthday of Ken Kelsey. It is the wedding anniversary of Carl and Ann Spiece and John and Diane Laubach. On this date in 1914, World War I began. Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated while at (what is now known as) Sarajevo, Bosnia. The Archduke was chosen as a target because Serbians feared that after his ascension to the throne he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the Austro-Hungarian empire. Exactly five years after it began, World War I ended with the signing of The Treaty of Versailles on this date in 1919.
In need of prayers...
. Robert T. Vincent, at the Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.
. Jeanne Walters, continuing her stay at HealthSouth, Geisinger Medical Center.
. Richard Sutliff being monitored for a heart problem in an Illinois hospital.
Larry Hess, 64, Mill Street, the youngest son of Cleaver Hess, passed away Friday evening in the Bloomsburg Hospital from an apparent heart attack. More information will be provided when known. Larry died exactly four years to the day that his son, Eric Scott Hess, 19, (December 14, 1984-June 27, 2004) was killed in a two-car accident in which R. Gregory Notestine, 43, Central, was also killed. That accident took place between Maple Grove and Stillwater following a head-on automobile accident. Eric graduated from the Benton Area Schools in 2003 and was employed by Haddon Craftsmen, Espy.
A reader inquired whether I had seen the pictures from Iowa, the ones of the people looting the liquor stores, carrying away televisions from retail stores, sitting on the roof begging for someone to take care of them, collected in the baseball stadium complaining about the food and shelter being provided. Almost immediately he answered his own question by saying "Neither have I."
From the deep archives of "Whatsa the Government Thinking Now" comes this...
The federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on land ideally suited for solar energy. The government wants to study the environmental impact of stealing energy from the sun, and that project is expected to take the government about two years. The Bureau of Land Management wants to determine how large solar plants could affect millions of acres it oversees in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Companies are asking to lease public land to build solar plants and then sell the energy to utilities. The applications for more than one million acres are for projects that have the potential to power more than 20 million homes. The next hurtle will be federal solar investment-tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews them. Have these birds bought a gallon of gasoline or filled their oil tanks lately? Don't they understand developing alternative fuels?
Oh, no! Here is more discussion of gas leasing!
We continue to encourage landowners to check out and undertake the necessary due diligence background checks on the company and people with which they may be dealing on oil/gas leases. Do as you wish, since it is your money, but my suggestion is if you cannot check out the terms of the lease and the company with which you believe you are dealing, hire an attorney to do it on your behalf.
A term frequently used in conjunction with gas-drilling operations is "Landmen," the men and women who conduct the business side of the oil and gas and mineral exploration and production team. Landmen from various companies negotiate deals and trades with other companies and individuals, draft contracts (and administer their compliance), acquire leases and ensure compliance with governmental regulations.
Landowners should inquire (and may wish to insist upon) that the leasing agent or landman they are dealing with is a card-carrying member of the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), and/or that the oil/gas company that the landman "represents" is an actual drilling company with drilling rigs (not just another speculation outfit pooling leases to then present to a gas company). Stopping by the business office as suggested in yesterday's edition is recommended, although sometimes legitimate landman work out of their homes and in their car as they travel. Take the time to visit www.landman.org/inner.asp?id=3&mid=1&sid= and learn more about landmen.
It is interesting to note that in yesterday's edition of the Benton News, the lease and contract forms for GFI Oil & Gas were referred to on the company web site. Friday morning, the forms and maps were taken off their web site. A reader noted that he could not find "GFI" or "similarly-named outfit on the internet yellow pages such as yellowbook.com, yellow.com, and yellowpages.com." According to www.betterwhois.com, GFI's domain name appears to have been registered this month to registrant Christopher Suzadail in Buffalo, New York, as opposed to Montoursville.
No native of the upper Fishingcreek valley is better known around the world than the man who contributed his entire life to religion in the twentieth century. The man transcended his boyhood home, his state and his nation. He devoted his life to literacy, to working with disadvantaged people around the world, teaching them to read and to become part of the civilized world. But what you'll read over the next few days is not about Dr. Frank Charles Laubach, but goes back in time much earlier to when a man of 70 decided to leave his native Germany, come to America and start a new life in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. The man was Reinhart Laubach, who left the German town and center of Moravian influence known as Buedingen.
This is not an attempt to tell the story of the Reinhart Laubach family. But what we will tell you has come from a variety of sources, primarily the translation of the Day Book of John Christian Laubach, which Dr. John H. Laubach translated from the German and completed in 1987. The "day book" was simply a record of daily activities and events. Direct quotes are taken from the Day Book with the permission of John Herbert's wife, Diane Laubach. Much will be omitted, some of which you might consider essential to the telling of the story.
John Herbert found the 1769 will of Christian Laubach in the courthouse in Easton, Pennsylvania. He knew that Reinhard, who died in 1768, and Christian 39, and his wife and four childrenhad had arrived on board "ye Ship Queen Elizabeth" in 1738 with a shipload of passengers, predominantly Palatines. The ship carried 104 "qualified persons," a way of saying there were 104 men on board. There were 220 women and children on board with a total on-board of 324.
Not until John Herbert visited Ethel Laubach (Mrs. J. Paul Laubach) in Benton did he realize that she had the "Tagebuch," a sort of German diary, written by John Christian Laubach. The "Tagebuch" or day book was a sort of diary written as an autobiographical documentation in chronological form. One might think of it as the modern equivalent of the blog. It was written in German in an "old-style German script" that John studied during his college years. The earliest entries began in 1783 when John Christian still lived in Lower Saucon Township, near Bethlehem.
John Herbert recalled that "little by little" he produced a translation and was able to sift out some words and expressions. The diary is interesting, but tells little about the family, concentrating instead on day labor by the young John Christian ending with "financial transactions after he became a property owner in the Benton area."
Familiar Biblical passages begin the diary, with excerpts from the Old and New Testament, perhaps written by his mother. The diary notes that "the local teachers" were qualified to baptize. Words relating to superstition followed, including...
. "In order to have good luck at games, catch a bat and chop its head off."
. "Carry it with you, and you will lose nothing when playing games."
. "A tried and true remedy for pains in the side or if a person has fallen and his blood turned green. take the glowing soot from above the stove hole. Pulverize it with about 30 to 40 barley grains. Swear over it and let it be. Thereafter dissolve it in warm water and give it to the patient to drink repeatedly every 4 to 6 hours."
When we return to this subject in Sunday's Benton News, we continue with more superstitions from the Day Book of Christian Laubach, the first family settler in the Benton area.
June 27, 2008. Happy birthday to Cindy Hose, Mary Ruth Krygier and Jane Ackerman.
Thought for today...
Believe nothing that you hear and only half what you see.
An appropriate thought for some politicians in Washington, D.C., who claim to be for a stronger dollar and lower oil prices, but are doing nothing to support the dollar or increase oil supplies.
In recovery, but in need of prayers.
. Richard Sutliff, a patient in the Midwest Heart Hospital, Naperville, Illinois, following a blood clot.
. June Hartzell, now at home, but returning to the hospital July 9 for aneurysm surgery. She is still weak from everything that had been done: one kidney artery stent, carotid artery stent, one open-heart bypass. The doctor is hoping to do her other kidney artery while she is in for surgery.
. Bill and Dorothea Mather, both at home, but both in need of your prayers during their recuperation from hospital stays and other ailments.
The annual McHenry Reunion will take place on Sunday, August 10, in the recently revitalized Benton Park. The group will play bingo at 2 PM and have a short business meeting at 3 PM. Door prizes will be gift certificates. There will be 50/50 tickets sold. Raffle items are being supplied by the committee: a gallon jug with block print and a brown McHenry Distillery bottle. The meal will be served at 4 PM. Meat will be provided. Attendees should bring a covered dish, place settings, non-alcoholic beverages and a small-bingo prize. All McHenry descendants are welcome. Please RSVP by August 1 to Vinnie Hippensteel, 1805 Steel Street, Berwick, PA 18603-2553, 752-1761, or Barbara McHenry, 106 McHenry Hill Road, Benton, 925-6641.
There are a number of questions about the company known as GFI Oil & Gas, which apparently acts in the capacity of a broker for gas leases. This company publishes their terms and conditions on their web site. In order to convince landowners of their business experience, they publish on their web site...
. pictures of two drawers of files.
. maps of Bradford, Columbia, Sullivan and Lycoming counties with arrows pointing in various directions for unknown reasons.
. that they are the Lessee of "approximately 600 leases" of "oil and gas" of 26,750 acres in Bradford, Columbia, Sullivan and Lycoming counties.
. a section where they disclose they are updating their records to make them acceptable to gas companies.
. several pictures of a gas-drilling operation, but do not identify the owner of the drilling rig or the location of the rig.
. that "a disruptive person" came to their Williamsport office, but provided no other explanation of why they mentioned it.
. in a sentence or two that a "a publically traded company" (gas-drilling company) is encouraging citizens to commit fraud.
. that potential landowners should "not believe everything you hear" about the company.
Here is a clause in their standard "addendum suppliment" that might make you hate yourself in the morning: "Lessee may, at its option, pay $25 per net mineral acre up to five (5) years after the expiration of the two year Extended term on the leasehold not included in a production unit to continue all its rights in and to the leasehold or surrender such leasehold not included in a production unit."
Signing a gas-drilling lease should not be a risky, speculative venture. A landowner signing with an company which does not provide full disclose should at least drop by the company office to determine if the company has either offices or drilling fields. There is a new saying which goes something like "Let the Lessor beware!"
G. Nevin Dressler helped coordinate a bus trip last year for World War II veterans to the WW II Memorial in Washington DC in honor of Nevin's deceased dad, who landed on Utah Beach during the second wave of the Normandy Invasion. A full-bus load of men and women made that trip and all shed some tears as they shared their experiences. The people who went fondly remembered James Cunningham's stories about spending months in a German prison camp where he and other prisoners were served rutabagas for every meal until they were liberated.
Nevin remembers the response of others visiting the memorial as they provided hand shakes, salutes and requested pictures with our local heroes. One glitch with the trip last year was that it was scheduled for Veteran's Day, and many of the veterans were busy in local activities.
To provide those who missed last year with an opportunity to see their memorial, the Columbia County Commissioners and Nevin are organizing another trip to Washington, D.C. on Monday, September 15, 2008. If you are a WWII Veteran who has never seen the memorial and would like to make the trip, please contact the Columbia County Commissioners at 389-5608. The cost of the trip will be solely covered by donations. If you are financially able to help defer the cost of the trip, please send a tax-deductible contribution to the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, 309 Vine Street, Berwick, PA 18603. Please write "WWII Bus Trip" on the check.
Many readers will remember the saga of Dick McHenry, formerly of Stillwater whose home in Enterprise, Alabama, was devastated the day he retired after 43 years in the aircraft-simulation business. A tornado packing winds of 165 mph cut a swath through Enterprise and Dick's wife, Janet, had to dive under their dining room table as sheetrock, glass and insulation flew around her. This week on Tuesday, Dick and Janet were told they could move back into their home in approximately three weeks.
The monthly meeting of the Benton Area School Board was held on Monday, June 23. At the meetings, the School Board...
. Approved Tina Walters as chairperson of the Science/Technology department.
. Approved hiring Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and Geisinger Medical Center to provide athletic trainer services for the 2008-09 school year.
. Approved the budget without a tax increase for the third year.
. Approved Cathy Williams and Kim Todd as Pre-K Remediation Program teachers. Approved Michelle Correll and Mary Lou Stancavage as Extended School Year teachers. Approved the hiring of Lynne Watson as an elementary teacher. Approved Elizabeth Schultz from a part-time aide to a full-time middle/high school aide. Approved the hiring of Kenneth Reiner as a part-time technology assistant. Approved Melissa Chivers-Hare as team leader for 8th grade.
Didja know that more than 2,500 handmade quilts will be featured at America's largest quilt sale, June 2 -July 6, at the Kutztown German Festival. The week-long event is where the family can learn about and enjoy Pennsylvania Dutch folk life. Pennsylvania-Dutch dialect and folklore will fill the Kutztown fairgrounds as blacksmithing, weaving, woodcarving and metalworking are demonstrated daily by more than 200 unique artisans. Other highlights of the festival include:
* George Washington, portrayed by Carl Closs, and Benjamin Franklin, portrayed by Dean Bennett, will entertain audiences as they reminisce about the nation's history at 11 AM and 4 PM Saturday, June 28.
* Wine enthusiasts can enjoy a sampling at the Pinnacle Ridge Winery booth. Pinnacle Ridge received multiple awards at the 2008 Pennsylvania Farm Show and secured a silver and bronze medal at the 2007 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition.
* Each day, craftsmen will demonstrate the timber-framing building process and show how to raise a small frame. Timber-framing is a historic building method that uses local timber to construct the durable buildings commonly found on Pennsylvania German homesteads. For more information about the Kutztown Festival, visit www.kutztownfestival.com, call (610) 683-1537, or read the Benton News on Tuesday, June 29. I plan to attend opening day.
June 26, 2008. It is the birthday of Joshua Jackson Fritz and the wedding anniversary of Ruth and Don Whitenight and Rich and Sherri Plocinski. It was on this day in 1926 when the Bloomsburg and Sullivan Railroad terminated its rail service to Jamison City. Track crews at work the following day tore up the tracks beyond the Benton Borough limits. On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin and at the City Hall announced "Ich bin ein Berliner." The Soviet Union had erected the Berlin Wall to stop the mass exodus of people fleeing East Berlin for West Berlin and the non-Communist world. Ironically enough, the word "Berliner" in German means a particular kind of jelly-filled pastry as well as a citizen of Berlin. Twenty-four years later, President Ronald Reagan in the same city said, Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. ["I still have a suitcase in Berlin."] The wall was taken down in 1989.
Mark Fritz has taken on an ambitious project of compiling letters written by "Benton boys" who sent letters back to the Argus during their service in World War I. The letters are divided into three groups; i.e., letters from camp, letters from "Over There" (arrivals and first impressions), and letters from the war front/in the thick of it. Mark would like to profile some of "the Benton boys" in a book he is writing. He needs to find family members who can tell him something about them. Any reader with any information is asked to contact M. K. Fritz at markfritz AT intergrafix.net.
Here is the list of writers of letters Mark has collected from the pages of the Benton Argus written during or about WW I.
J. F. Brink
Willie T. Farver
Larue (Sonny) Hess
Frease O. Kile
E. J. McHenry
Myron Savage (Savidge?)
• The nonstop flights from Harrisburg International Airport to Pittsburgh end at the beginning of September when US Airways eliminates its two daily nonstop flights from HIA to Pittsburgh. United Airlines still offers five daily flights to Chicago from HIA. Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and U.S. Airways have 19 weekday flights from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport. These flights are expected to be closely looked at over the coming months.
• A special meeting of the Benton Area School Board of Directors was held on Monday, June 2. Vanna Cleary was hired as school psychologist. A contract was awarded for the general construction, HVAC, electrical and plumbing for the Biomass project. The regular monthly meeting was held Monday, June 23. We will provide information on the June 23 meeting in tomorrow's Benton News.
• Benton Rodeo Association meets tonight at 7 PM at the rodeo grounds.
• The annual McHenry reunion has been rescheduled from Saturday, August 9, to Sunday, August 10. Details will follow.
• Columbia County landowners north of Interstate 80 are welcome to join the Columbia County Landowners Coalition and can sign up on-line. For further information you can call Bruce Anderson, 458-4337. The terms are $2,700 per acre with an 18.75% royalty. Costs are a one-time flat fee of approximately $1 per acre. It appears that some people are signing up with GFI Oil & Gas because of an advertisement in the Press Enterprise. Some groups have said landowners are outside a certain area. Some landowners are not aware of the Landowner's Coalition. GFI appears to be acting in the capacity of a broker for $2,150 an acre, with a 16% royalty, payout in two weeks.
• Some email readers of the Benton News accidentally received stock recommendations sent by me but intended as a service to an organization outside of the Benton News organization. The error is regretted.
Of all the issues related to drilling for gas--environmental, liability, property rights and payment--few issues worry people more than water. The subject was addressed Monday night at the local high school and will be the subject of a Penn State discussion July 2 (see upcoming events for that date). As each of these issues surface, someone seems to find a quick resolution to the problem. For example,
. Quick thinking landowners are transferring "clean and green" tax issues to the drilling company by requiring drillers to pay rollback taxes.
. Valuable topsoil is set aside and saved during the excavation process, although not specifically required by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Compensation clauses for crop loss and land damage are being considered where appropriate.
. Clauses for sound pollution from heavy machinery are appearing.
. Clauses transferring cost from the landowner to the drilling company for getting the gas to market are being considered pending passage of state legislation to make the drilling company responsible.
Clauses relating to water are increasingly being reviewed at several levels. A well drilled in the Marcellus will produce a large amount of waste fluids during drilling, fracking and even during its operational lifetime; i.e.,
. The fresh water encountered in the first few hundred of feet during the drilling is known as "top-hole fluids."
. The brine found deep underground is from old deposits of salt water. These fluids are known as "bottom-hole fluids."
. The stimulation fluids used to recover the gas from shale during "hydrofracturing," which are subsequently returned to the surface, include materials mixed with water and include oils, acids, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
. Fluids chemically similar to bottom-hole fluids that come out of the ground with the natural gas during the production phase are known as production fluids.
Fluids that are produced depend on a number of factors including location and depth of the well, but in the Marcellus the total amount of water to deal with is a million or more gallons per well, and most of it is contaminated enough that it would affect drinking water. Methane gas can also escape from gas wells into nearby water wells and create an explosion hazard in confined spaces.
The Oil and Gas Act of 1984 regulates permitting, construction and abandonment of gas wells in Pennsylvania. The act requires that before drilling a gas well the operator must obtain a permit which shows, among other things, the location of the well and distances to nearby surface water and water supplies. The bond is $2,500 for a single well or $25,000 for a number of wells. The permit requires notification to all drinking-water owners within 1,000 feet of the well. Gas wells must be at least 200 feet from any water supplies, unless the setback is waived, and must be 100 feet from streams, springs, or wetlands more than an acre. The actual language of the act is more restrictive than this short explanation and must be consulted prior to drilling.
Operators of well-drilling companies must restore or replace any water supply determined by the DEP to be polluted as a result of nearby gas well drilling. The gas well operator is presumed to be responsible for pollution of any water supply within 1,000 feet of the gas well IF it occurs within six months of the completion of the gas well.
Gas-well drillers are required to hire an independent, state-certified water testing laboratory to conduct water testing. A representative of a certified laboratory will collect water samples from homes within 1,000 feet of a proposed gas-well site.
Water and gas drilling are complicated, interrelated subjects and require your full attention.
June 25, 2008. It is the birthday of Jill Pascale, Manassas, Virginia. Jeannie Walters, Elk Grove, is now a patient at Heath South, Danville, following her release from Geisinger Hospital. Rebekah Robbins, a graduate of the Benton Area Schools in the Class of 2008, is in the Geisinger Medical Center Bush 6th floor, room 644, with kidney stones. It was on this date in 1950 that North Korea invaded South Korea, thus beginning the Korean War.
Three Benton high school students and three former Benton students are showing their skills in Moss Point, Mississippi. Jeremiah Cedeno, Cody Shadle, Jared Kline, Miles Cole, Jen Ross and Dillon Tyree spent Monday painting the exterior of a house in the 96° heat and humidity of the Golf Coast. Tuesday morning as a reward for the hard work of Monday the group led by Doug McCracken and chaperoned by retired educator George Fetch the group went for an early morning swim in the tepid waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Dolphin Island where the group learned first-hand the problems associated with running into jellyfish. Tuesday afternoon, the FFA group cemented down the linoleum in a kitchen for a disabled man.
. There is an interesting (?) article for sportsmen in the current edition of Field and Stream Magazine, entitled, "You Don't Know Crap...Or Do You?"
. With the need for gas lines to feed the Williams pipeline it is natural to look at a proposed interstate natural-gas pipeline, a portion of which would cross farmland, woods and a national historic district in southern Lancaster County, part of an 88-mile pipeline from Sparrows Point, outside Baltimore, to distribution pipelines in Chester County. Whether approval will be granted to build the pipeline is unknown now, but look for significant pockets of resistance to built in the coming months.
It would be a most interesting day if we could transport ourselves to the rural schools of our area and spend the day in the one-room schools of yesteryear. Many readers will remember them.
When viewed with the vision of today, the buildings were dilapidated and crude. Today's schools are arguably far in advance of the schools of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The schoolhouses are bigger and better equipped; the teachers are younger and better educated; the curriculum is better adapted to the needs of child life; the school term is longer. The uncomfortable and unhygienic furniture of our forefathers is gone. The painted blackboard and the slate blackboards are gone.
Many of the rural schools existed because someone donated land for a site and the school was positioned so that the school district could save $50 or so. Cheapness and usefulness were important considerations. Many of the schools took years before there were two closets in the same building and the same happened in some schools before there was an outhouse for each sex. Cracks in the walls provided the ventilation system for the schools--air conditioned in the winter and heated during the warmer weather.
The one-room schools were generally near the center of an area, but there were other considerations, too. It had to be near a public road, in an area where grass, flowers and trees would easily grow. Hill tops and marshy ground were generally avoided. In Derrs, a one-room school became known as the Chestnut Grove school house, so called because it was in a grove of native Chestnut trees near the Jackson Baptist Church and Jackson Cemetery.
Games like "ante-over," black man" and "tag" required a lot of space. Often space was needed for the horses which sometimes were taken to school and many schools needed space for the growing of various agricultural products. Schools were often placed near a crossroad and positioned on a corner of the lot with a path of coal cinders and salt leading to the road. The well was usually close to the front door.
Heating in early schools was provided by a common stove set in the middle of the room. Some children had to be too warm, while others were always too cold. The stove provided a good hiding place from the eyes of the teacher and made seats back of the stove at a premium.
Most readers have enjoyed the fish suppers held from time to time in the Sugarloaf school house and are familiar with the general layout of the building. Using that school as an example, there were several features of many schools. The building served as the social center of the community. Rooms were laid out so that all rooms were in full view of the teacher. The rooms used benches and tables for study and for woodworking and sewing. Cloakrooms were by the main entrance to prevent inappropriate mingling by the two sexes and to keep them under the watchful eye of the teacher. The entry was small, just large enough for overshoes and rubbers. The inner door often swung both ways. A platform served as a stage and the room doubled for manual training. The library area had some shelves for books, and served as a place for maps, charts, gloves and was used as a 'teacher's room.
The school rooms were fitted with single seats, the small ones in a row on the side near the light, then the next larger, moving to the largest in a row on the opposite side of the room. Light normally came from the left side or the back of the room. Light from both sides of the room created cross shadows and was hard on the eyes. A bookcase which could be locked was in the room. The building needed a closet for apparatus such as maps, charts and a globe. A cupboard was needed for material. The building needed a good clock and a bell on a tower on the outside was needed.
Teachers in early schools were often hired "sight unseen." Many were selected on the basis of "A sound mind in a sound body." While those who have no experience teaching might disagree with how mentally and physically draining it is to teach, it appears that many teachers had to leave their assignments in the middle of the school year because of ill health. The teachers often walked over a mile to school, they ate a cold dinner, they were both teacher and janitor, building fires on cold days when the wind and the snow blew, cooped up in a close room five days a week with up to thirty students breathing impure air. It took a good constitution to withstand these pressures.
Herman Pennington attended the one-room school at Pine Grove for three years where his first teacher was "just like an old chicken to a bunch of peeps."
For additional information about teaching in one-room schools, read former Bentonian Edgar Baker's report entitled Harmony and Discipline in School, written for Pastor Brad Spangenberg as part of a project involving former teachers who were parishioners and friends of Rev. Spangenberg at the Millville United Methodist Church. Excerpts from the manuscript are provided on the FEATURES section of the Benton News with permission.
Edgar taught in the one-room school at Upper Pine, where each day the Scriptures and the Lord's Prayer were read in unison as the school day began. Songs were sometimes sung, and poems, sometimes religious in nature, were read. At Upper Pine, Edgar never had more than twenty pupils in any one year, and one year had only thirteen. Edgar's own one-room school days were very different, with about fifty students and prior to Edgar's school days about 90 students in that same school.
Edgar noted that the appointment of teachers was nearly always made by school directors, although the County Superintendent of Schools also had a voice in these decisions.
In 1915 there were 10,606 one-room one-teacher rural schools in Pennsylvania. More than half of these were closed by consolidation or by abandonment between 1920 and 1940, because of declining rural population. In 1935, a state law held that schools having fewer than ten pupils must be closed.
Take the time to read the article on one-room schools in the FEATURES section..
June 24, 2008. Please keep Ronald Knouse, Register, in your prayers. Mr. Knouse has stage 4 cancer.
The FFA group from the Benton Area School is staying at the Safe Harbor United Methodist Church, 4102 Fairhaven Dr., Moss Point, Mississippi, a neighboring town just north of Pascagoula. The group set out Saturday morning and spent the first night in Marion, Virginia. They arrived between 4 and 8 PM Sunday night in Pascagoula. The phone number at the church is 228 475-4833.
. Thanks to Chris Dawson of the Old Filling Station who donated two cans of nacho cheese for the nachos and cheese for the teen dance Friday evening.
. Resident and nonresident hunting and fur-taker licenses can be purchased at The Outdoor Shop on the Pennsylvania Game Commission web site. Licenses also are available at all commission offices. You will need your Social Security number this year to get your license because of federal- and state-welfare reforms and child-requirements. Fees are unchanged from the 1999-2000 license year.
. The Friends of the Columbia County Traveling Library will sponsor its annual fundraising book sale to support the bookmobile Saturday from 9 to 5 PM and Sunday from 1 to 4 at the library's headquarters at 15 Perry Avenue, just off of Route 42. Books donated for the sale may be left on my front porch at 237 Market Street, Benton, through 3 PM Friday.
Gas prices are soaring, there is flooding in Iowa, salmonella is striking from an unknown origin, a global-food crisis is threatening and U. S. inflation is surging. Wait! I am not done yet. Vehicle sales could drop to the lowest point in 15 years. S&P dropped GM, Ford and Chrysler to "credit-watch negative" status. General Motors Corp is forced to offer zero-percent financing for 72 months on most of its 2008 models. Twenty airlines have declared bankruptcy and pre-tax losses of an estimated $18 billion over the next two years is a possibility for many of the remaining airlines. Is there a bright spot in this dismal picture?
There is a bright spot, and it is here in our own area. There appears to be an improved economic outlook in portions of our state because of the natural gas deep below us. One local group signed last evening for $2,500 an acre, and others are close behind. Pennsylvania could increase its state output by billions of dollars and produce thousands of new jobs in three distinct waves; i.e., the first would be in up-front lease payments such as the $2,500 signed last night, the next would come as the infrastructure for drilling materializes, and the big chunk of change in the form of royalties would come last. Each of these could result in big bucks to the local area.
Whenever local landowners gather they become brutally honest; after all, it is their money that is at stake in the Marcellus shale natural-gas drilling. Landowners come right out and tell you that they are in it for the money. You don't hear anyone say they are in it for the sake of weaning Americans off their dependence on foreign oil or gas, or for the economic boom that local drilling will bring to the people who are not large landowners. The landowners are simply, unequivocally in it for the money!
For people who will not benefit by virtue of land ownership from drilling for gas, Penn State University estimates that for every billion dollars in royalty income in our state, nearly eight thousand jobs will be created annually. Disposable personal income will hover around one billion dollars annually. The population will increase by thousands each year through 2011. Estimates of the value of the shale below Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York have been put around one trillion dollars--give or take a billion. Our state should prosper with landowner royalties and improved worker's incomes in the state and more workers to the state. Things are really looking up, except that a lingering item of concern involving water remains...
Monday evening at the Benton Area School facility the Columbia County Landowners Association presented a session on water and its importance to the drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus. Water has taken on a significant importance following the citing of Chief Oil and Gas and Range Resources-Appalachia by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for drawing water from creeks to use in their drilling operations. The citations led to a conference of natural gas operators to insure they had permits to suck water from streams. They were told they could find themselves in "willful noncompliance" with the interstate commission's regulations. DEP then posted a new permit application to determine water use requirements anticipated for each drilling site--from water taken from the streams to wastewater treatment of the fluids after fracturing. DEP warned operators that random and routine inspections of wells would take place.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
--The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
DEP enforces the laws relating to drilling in Pennsylvania as specified in the 1984 Oil and Gas Act, which prevents municipalities from regulating anything covered in other regulations. DEP also regulates the Clean Streams Law, the Oil and Gas Conservation Law and other laws.
Water issues can be addressed by clauses that requires all water needed to do fracturing of the shale must be obtained off site and disposed of properly. The landowner should be reimbursed for damages to well water. A hold-harmless provision for liability and environmental harm should be included.
At last night's meeting at the school, Bruce Anderson again made the point that property leasing to a gas company is a complicated legal procedure which should be reviewed by competent legal authority experienced in that field. The group voted by show of hands to go with a negotiator to be named at a subsequent meeting with a goal of $2,700 an acre.
Additional discussions on the subject of water and gas drilling will come up July 2 during the "Natural Gas Wells and Drinking Water" Seminar from 7-9 PM at Lycoming College, Academic Center Room D001, Williamsport. Advance registration is required by calling 570 433-3040. Admission is $5 per person payable at the door.
June 23, 2008. It is Midsummer Night's Eve, sometimes called St. John's Eve. It is the eve (meaning the day or the evening before a holiday) of celebration before the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist. In the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:36, 56-57) we find that John was born about six months before Jesus. The feast of John the Baptist falls on June 24, six months before Christmas. Tuesday will be Midsummer Day.
Sheri ( Sharon) Fowler, Russ Castrogiovanni and actress Frances McDormand, daughter of Rev. Vernon McDormand, celebrate their birthdays today. Kayla Savage turns 20 today. David and Angel McHenry celebrate their wedding anniversary, as do Mark and Peggy Seward and Matt and Kathy Seward. Mark and Matt are brothers and both married on June 23 but with five years between.
Please keep the local FFA kids in your thoughts and prayers as they head for Mississippi to help with that state's clean-up efforts. FFA is an American youth organization centered around agricultural pursuits. It was previously known as "Future Farmers of America."
On this date in 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for a prototype of the typewriter known as a "blind-writer" because its design prevented easy viewing of the typed characters. It only had capital letters and it took up as much room as a large table.
Sholes was quite an inventor. His first gadget only typed the letter "w," but, hey, that is no reason to quit! He continued to improve the machine and by the time he was 48 he had made the first workable typewriter complete with keys the size of those on a piano. Initially its only use was to write letters to friends pleading with them to invest in his business. One of these letters so intrigued a friend that he invested $600 for a quarter interest in the company without even seeing the typewriter. When the investor finally saw the machine for the first time, he was reported to have said, "You'll have to make a dozen more till you get it right." Actually, Sholes made 50 more and sold each of them for $150 each.
The investor was the one who went to Remington and collected royalty payments on each typewriter until he ran up income of $1.5 million. Sholes had asked for and received a one-time payment of $12,000 for his patent in order to help feed his ten children. Sholes had sold the rights for $12,000 in 1873 to the Remington Arms Company who later marketed the machine as the Remington Typewriter. Mark Twain was the first author to submit a typewritten manuscript, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," to a publisher.
Sholes was born near Mooresburg, 32 miles from Back Home in Benton, PA, in Montour County. He began his career as a printer's apprentice at the Danville Intelligencer, then moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, with his family when he was 18.
Sholes is credited as the U.S. inventor who developed the typewriter. He became a successful editor, state senator, postmaster, and a customs collector in Milwaukee.
Our state gets the credit for a lot of "firsts," too many to list, but some of the more interesting "firsts" include the first...
. woman to be licensed as an undertaker, an owner of a furniture store and a funeral parlor, whose employees made their own furniture and their own coffins. Her name was Nellie Sweeny Hayes and she owned the Sweeny-Hayes business in Houtzdale, just west of Osceola Mills, PA.
. celebration of placing flowers on soldier's graves, in 1864, in Boalsburg. A declaration was issued as General Order #13 which began, "The 30th day of May, 1968, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their county..."
. first petroleum jelly, initially found when a man was injured at an oil rig near Titusville. A chemist extracted wax from crude oil, then to demonstrate the product burned his own skin and helped with the healing using his new product. People were scared of the product and didn't buy it. The chemist knew that crude oil was formed when water in the ground united with hydrogen and carbon. Using "Wasser," German for water, and "Elaion," Greek for olive oil, he came up with "Wasserelaion" and later "vasserlaion" until he decided to use the name "Vaseline."
I came across my copy of a poem that I once memorized and eventually forgot. The poem is Seein' Things by Eugene Field, better known for Wynken, Blynken and Nod. I suspect others will remember it from their childhood. It goes like this...
I ain't afeard uv snakes, or toads, or bugs, or worms, or mice,
An' things 'at girls are skeered uv I think are awful nice!
I'm pretty brave, I guess; an' yet I hate to go to bed,
For, when I'm tucked up warm an' snug an' when my prayers are said,
Mother tells me, "Happy dreams!" and takes away the light,
An' leaves me lyin' all alone an' seeing things at night!
Sometimes they're in the corner, sometimes they're by the door,
Sometimes they're all a'standin' in the middle uv the floor;
Sometimes they are a-sittin' down, sometimes they're walkin' round,
So softly an' so creepylike they never make a sound!
Sometimes they are as black as ink, an' other times they're white
But the color ain't no difference when you see things at night!
Once, when I licked a feller 'at had just moved on our street,
An' father sent me up to bed without a bit to eat,
I woke up in the dark an' saw things standin' in a row,
A-looking at me cross-eyed an' p'intin' at me - so!
Oh, my! I wuz so skeered that time I never slep' a mite -
It's almost allus when I'm bad I see things at night!
Lucky thing I ain't a girl, or I'd be skeered to death!
Bein' I'm a boy, I duck my head an' hold my breath;
An' I am, oh! so sorry I'm a naughty boy, an' then
I promise to be better an' I say my prayers again!
Gran'ma tells me that's the only way to make it right
When a feller has been wicked an' sees things at night!
An' so, when other naughty boys would coax me into sin,
I try to skwush the Tempter's voice 'at urges me within;
An' when they's pie for supper, or cakes 'at's big an' nice,
I want to--but I do not pass my plate f'r them things twice!
No, ruther let Starvation wipe me slowly out o' sight
Than I should keep a-livin' on an' seein' things at night!
There is a Columbia County Land Owners Coalition meeting tonight at the Benton High School at 7 PM. The topics will include how gas drilling may affect your private water supply, and moving forward towards a lease. The average lease values in Columbia County are approximately $2,300 and increasing. Percent royalty is also increasing from 15% to 16% and shortly we should see 17% to 18%. All contracts/leases should be reviewed by a lawyer that specializes in oil and gas leasing. For information you can call Bruce Anderson, 458-4337.
June 22, 2008. Jim Remley, Shawn Lowe and Bernie Shultz celebrate birthdays today. Happy wedding anniversary to Carl and Crystal Faust, Orangeville, and a very happy 50th wedding anniversary to Ray and Gloria Mincemoyer, celebrating from water-clogged Iowa.
The time is rapidly approaching when we head off to what I always called the Kutztown Folk Festival, but which in modern terminology is known as the Kutztown Pennsylvania German Festival, Kutztown. This year, it will be held June 28 to July 6. The festival is known for traditional crafts and Pennsylvania Dutch and early American folk art and crafts. Over 2,500 traditional quilts, handmade by local quilters are on display. There are ox roasts, sausage sandwiches, pies, pastries and lots more. 888 674-6136.
For those who want to know the Berks County community of Kutztown, you would have to start with George Coots or George Kutz--the same guy with variations of spelling of his name. Way back in 1755, George purchased 130 acres, and named the area on Easton Road "Cootstown." In 1815, it became a Borough and today the town of Kutztown has somewhere around 5,000 residents. The Borough became the home of the Keystone Normal School, which is today the stately Old Main dormitory and classroom. Kutztown State Teachers College became its name in 1928, following a similar path as a sister school, Bloomsburg State Teacher's College. In 1983, the college was elevated to university status. Benton Area Schools' graduate Dr. David Laubach is a member of the English Department of Kutztown University.
Music is provided in the area by bands like the Sauerkraut Brass Band. The former Kutztown Bottling Works, Inc. makes unusual drinks like Kutztown Sarsaparilla. and a Dutch Ox Roast proves that "hunger makes the best chef."
The Pennsylvania Dutch strive to only eat three square meals a day, eating them generally at specified times during the day. Breakfast is served in the main dining room at 6 AM with a cheery "Goot morning, C'mon insite and haff breakfast." The meal often consists of coils of fresh and smoked sausage and I wonder what a doctor I see from time to time would say about that. Gravy is part of breakfast, liberal amounts of gravy. Eggs are sunny side up and "dippy," carefully laid beside the raw-fried potatoes and onions that had recently been in close personal contact with lard. Round-topped pan loaves of freshly made bread loaded with cold squares of butter with droplets of water on them with jelly that looks like elderberry completes the first meal of the day.
Dinner is served at noon and supper at 6 PM. With the twelve-hour stretch overnight, breakfast becomes the biggest meal. Obviously the hardest work of the day comes in the two six-hour stretches between dinner and supper, and when the dinner bell is clanged the men in the field quit what they are doing and head toward the house. In the winter when the men aren't working the field, three square meals are still provided, vunce all morning, vunce all afternoon and vunce all evening. The three vunces make three mealtimes. These folks are not afraid of eating!
The clear, star-filled skies of the Kutztown area once prompted someone to write, " Blinzel, Blinzel, Glaenel Schtarn," which I am told means "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
Horses are a staple of each farm. This is a lovely part of Pennsylvania, but it would seem strange not to be able to watch the evening news or turn on enough lights to be able to read by or... Perhaps our paths will cross this year at Kutztown.
Didja ever think that when a problem has no solution,
it may not be a problem--but a fact?
It is not to be solved, but is to be coped with over time.
A British site I enjoy visiting is known as World Wide Words written by Michael Quinion. In the latest version of WWW, Quinion explains a word I frequently use when my back arches about something--soapbox.
Quinion writes, "Useful things, soapboxes. In quantity, bars of soap are rather weighty and they used to be packed in stout wooden boxes or crates for transport. Once emptied, the boxes were in demand. The indigent turned them into improvised furniture; children loved to put old pram wheels on them and make them into mini-racing cars, so they could run soap-box derbies. They were also just the ticket to stand on so you could be seen more easily when haranguing an audience in the street."
An example that Quinion used to illustrate the term came from author Jack London who wrote in The Road about his hoboing experiences of 1894, "I get up on a soap-box to trot out the particular economic bees that buzz in my bonnet." But not-to-worry. I am not going to climb on my soap-box this fine Sunday.
Didja ever think that those who aren't being criticized
probably aren't doing much?
A local lady once returned from a vacation in Las Vegas, where she exercised the slot machines. It was her first time in a casino, and she wasn't sure how the machines operated. She asked a casino employee how the slot machines work. The worker showed her how to insert a bill, hit the spin button, and operate the release handle, but didn't explain where the money came out. Responding to her question, the casino employee smiled and motioned to a far wall, "Usually at the ATM."
June 21, 2008, the 173rd day of 2008. This year, today is the longest day of the year and tonight will be the shortest night. Jeff and Sandra Kelsey and Fred and Florence DePoe celebrate wedding anniversaries today. On the birthday side are Joseph Robert Pascale, Don Miller, Sheila Thompson, Helen Steinruck (her 87th) and Max Hartman. Thunderboomers lit the northern Fishingcreek valley last night. Get used to the flashes of light and the thunder. We should have more of the same for at least the next four days. Reports are that Roy Evarts is gaining daily following heart surgery at the Geisinger.
A title of dubious honor could come to Pennsylvania if city officials and residents of Center City's Logan Square neighborhood approve the construction of the nation's tallest skyscraper at 18th and Arch Streets. The American Commerce Center, 1500 feet of office space, hotel rooms, retail and entertainment, would be higher than the tallest building in the United States, the 1,451 foot-high Chicago's Sears Tower. Philadelphia's current tallest building is the 975-foot Comcast Center.
The Columbia County Traveling Library sponsors a used book sale each year which is manned by the "Friends of the Traveling Library." A used-book sale will take place at the headquarters of the library June 28 and 29. The facility is located at 42 Perry Avenue, Bloomsburg. In prior years, the book sale took place at the Buckhorn Mall. Residents of the upper Fishingcreek valley can pile books on my front porch at 237 Market Street and I'll deliver them to the sale. I need them anytime before Friday afternoon at 3 PM.
Didja notice that grain generally comes from North America and oil mostly from the Middle East? West Texas light crude for July delivery was up $3.85 Friday at $135.78 a barrel. The price of OPEC oil stood at 129.44 dollars a barrel on Thursday, compared with $128.45 Wednesday. So why isn't what is good for the goose good for the gander? In 1970, a bushel of wheat could be traded for a barrel of oil in the world market. It now takes nine bushels of wheat to buy a barrel of oil. Look at the price that OPEC nations pay for U.S. grain. The world supply of wheat is down to 55 days. Lets simply sell grain to OPEC for $136.00 a bushel. Can't afford it? Tough! Eat your oil!
And then there is the age-old question, what is bluegrass, anyway! Al Lumpkin, a fine man, minister and musician, provides that answer in the following paragraphs...
Oatsfestival, Inc. presents its ninth annual OATS ("Out Among the Stars") Bluegrass Festival from July 3- 6 at the Benton Rodeo Grounds. The festivities begin on Thursday evening at 4 with a covered-dish dinner sponsored by the "Grillbillies" which is open to ticketholders who bring dishes to share. Music begins at 6 PM and continues until Sunday noon. Twenty groups will be performing at this year's festival. But what is this "bluegrass" music that is growing in popularity so much that there are numerous festivals every week of the year here in the United States and, for that matter, all over the world?
Bluegrass, as a musical style, derived its name from innovative sounds first heard on country-music radio from "Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys." Monroe's earliest work emerged as merely a variation in the country music of the 1940s and 50s. Things changed when Earl Scruggs joined Monroe in 1945 with the sound of the three-finger style banjo (called "Scruggs Style"), complementing the rhythm guitar and Monroe's mandolin. The fiddle and acoustic bass rounded out the band. One other instrument often heard on the festival stage, though somewhat less common, is the "resophonic guitar," or "dobro," which is played by sliding a steel bar on the strings.
Bluegrass performances are filled with American roots music that preserves traditions from more than a century ago. Many songs played by bluegrass groups even today derive from Scottish, English and Irish music planted in America by people who settled in Southern mountain communities. Ralph and Carter Stanley's earliest songs, for example, had been passed down through several generations. There is also a rich-gospel tradition in bluegrass which sometimes includes four-part a capella renditions of African-American and white spirituals. Energetic fiddle tunes from the 1800's dominate the instrumentals played on all the instruments.
You'll hear Carter Family songs at every festival. During the 1930s and 40s the Carter Family produced the most popular recordings in America. A.P. Carter arranged melodies his family had learned in this folk tradition and published them--hundreds of songs like "Wildwood Flower, "Faded Coat of Blue" and "May the Circle Be Unbroken."
Bluegrass is recognized as one of America's folk music styles, one that has maintained its connection to the roots from which it grew. Some of its earliest artists, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman, and Jesse McReynolds, and "Doc" Watson, continue to perform in the festival circuit.
So why is this music increasing in popularity? First, enthusiasts enjoy the sheer quality of the instrumental performance, where these musicians weave guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle breaks through the upbeat songs. The music is alive! Some people are fascinated with the vocals that are often woven with the melancholy or wistful "high lonesome sound." The tenor lead singer and tight three-part mountain harmony produces sounds that are often chilling. Secondly, bluegrass is singable music. Many of the folks in the audience know and play these songs themselves. A third attraction is that bluegrass songs are drawn from Americana. People identify with the history and remember some of these songs from childhood years. And finally, much of the music picks up common themes from the lives and struggles of common people, so that folks identify with the stories in the songs. Even with the human turmoil it depicts, bluegrass music is very often uplifting.
One frustration for bluegrass fans is that, even with hundreds of festivals held in the US each year, bluegrass is rarely heard on commercial stations. It doesn't fit the music industry, with the incessant need for a turnover of "hits." Bluegrass recordings are created by small labels like "Rounder," "Rebel," "Skaggs Family Records" and "Flying Fish" and sold in specialty stores or by the performers themselves at festivals. That is changing as bluegrass has become more readily available on XM and Sirius satellite radio dedicated channels. The Coen Brothers' film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" popularized this music several years ago.
A word about bluegrass fans. The bluegrass festival replicates the American "melting pot," with people from many walks of life who are drawn to and are extraordinarily loyal to this music. Many will travel hundreds of miles to camp in a field like the local rodeo grounds and listen to the sounds. When you attend a festival, there's a warm and friendly spirit. The audience is made up of people across the spectrum. Rural and small-town folk might be drawn to the "early country" sounds of bluegrass, and many festivals like Wind Gap, Grey Fox, and Delaware Valley draw heavily from urban areas. Some years ago, a popular Boston band was named, ironically, "Southern Rail." Their music is made up of mostly new compositions that sound as though they come from a century ago. All the members of that band teach at MIT.
With most music forms, people will go to a concert performed by a single popular artist. Only in the folk and bluegrass festivals that people come to stay for three or four days, listening to music continuously from 10 in the morning until midnight. Why bluegrass? In the final analysis the proof is in the hearing. You catch the spirit of this community when you attend a festival like OATS. It has to be the greatest bargain you'll ever find in entertainment. The gate price for the entire weekend, Thursday to Sunday, is per person, and that admission includes the cost of camping in a picturesque setting.
The OATS Festival at the Benton Rodeo Ground is well marked with "bluegrass festival" signs. Tickets are available at the gate for all four days, including rough camping, or for individual days. For more information, please head to www.oatsfestival.com.
David L. Good, Chief Assessor for Columbia County, tells us that the county policy on gas leasing is as follows:
• Signing an oil or gas lease does not violate the Clean & Green contract.
• Drilling a well on a parcel enrolled in Clean & Green will be considered a violation and rollback taxes will be levied for the seven most recent years and the parcel will be removed from the program.
• Taxpayers may re-enroll in the Clean & Green program by June 1 to be eligible for the next tax year. This application must exclude the surface acreage used as the drill site.
• The application must include documentation clearly identifying, by map or survey, the acreage being used as a drill site.
• Clean & Green eligibility will not be affected regardless of any royalties received for parcels adjacent to drilling sites. The Clean & Green status only affects the surface.
June 20, 2008. Happy anniversary to John and Jessica Geffken. Happy birthday to Ed Vandergrift and Gerri Newhart. I don't have an age for Gerri, but husband Jerry Newhart indicated that "If there is a storm and a power outage, the candles on her (would be) cake could light up the room!"
Didja ever notice that nothing fades quite as quickly
as yesterday's vision of the future?
Chris and Amy Vincent's son, Joshua, received the President's Education Honor Award for maintaining over a 3.5 grade point average for the last three years of Middle School. One of the elder members of the family, with a knowing smile, said "You know what side of the family he gets that from."
Didja ever notice that we never seem to be prepared for what we expect?
Art Christie's surgeon, Dr. Mark Williams, did an "awesome job repairing the damage" on Art's elbow Wednesday night. Miemi described the elbow as "broken into about 20 pieces. Some of those pieces he was able to pin and wire together and others had to be removed. The head of the ball and socket was also broken into five pieces and that was replaced by an artificial, titanium head. As you can imagine, he is in a great deal of pain and can't really do anything for himself." Please continue to keep Art in your thoughts and prayers.
Didja ever notice that the man who wants to lead the orchestra or win the race must turn his back to the crowd?
Quote of the Day:
"Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket."
--Quoted by Bob Maynes, talking about daylight saving time.
Didja ever notice that to carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee?
An abbreviated history of the Benton Cemetery.
Elders John Ellis and John Sutton organized the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Benton on December 6, 1836--one hundred and seventy-two years ago, the same year that the Alamo fell. There were 32 original members who decided that the church was not to have a formal name or title but to be like the followers of Christ in the New Testament. Services were conducted by elders or visiting preachers for twenty years from 1836 until 1856.
In the early days of Benton, Daniel Hartman owned the tract of land from West Creek on the west to the Colley property on the east. He donated a plot for a church. He also gave a plot for a "grave yard" which is the lower third of the cemetery. Interestingly enough, the cemetery slowly spread east and today is partly in the original "Colley Hill" parcel.
The Church has occupied three buildings:
. The early church gathered in a schoolhouse near the east end of the present Route 487 bridge crossing Fishing Creek, described at that time as near the "Benton to Bloomsburg Road." Used from 1836 to 1856, the building stood about 60 feet from the creek bank facing east. It was about 40 feet long by 35 feet wide. The building contained an entrance hall and one classroom. When the pupil population exceeded the capacity of the building, the building was abandoned as a school building and was used as a barn by the owners of the grist mill nearby. The building stands today. Some names of the charter members included McHenry, Kile, Golder, Steadman, Appleman, Coleman, Keeler, Mendenhall, Heacock, Colley, Albertson, Kline, Hess, Bangs and Styles.
. The second "meeting house" was used from 1856 to 1896. It was built on a lot located west of the Benton Cemetery donated by Peter Appleman, son of Mathais Appleman, the original Appleman settler in Benton Township. Peter was the father of Lloyd Appleman and grandfather of John O. Appleman. Peter lived on the farm south of the cemetery known for many years as the Hiscox Farm, currently owned by Chuck and Kay Chapman. Peter Appleman's Sugar Grove, called "Camp Fishingcreek" and also referred to as "Appleman's Bottom," was directly below Benton and was the spot where 1,000 ( a number probably somewhat inflated for unknown reasons) of "Lincoln's United States Troops, Cavalry, and Mounted Artillery with two cannon" tented, posed for the arrest of about 70 local residents.
Appleman donated the land on which the former Christian church on cemetery hill was built. The building was about 40 feet deep by 50 feet wide seating over 100. The entrance was by double doors in the center of the east end of the building. The pulpit was in the middle of the west end with a place for the choir beside it. Seating took place in three sections, separated by aisles with the center section the widest. An aisle ran across the rear of the church and a similar one was at the front of the church, separating the pews from the pulpit and choir place. The church cost $687.75 to build. This Christian church was dedicated Sunday, December 14, 1856. This building was dismantled about 1897 and rebuilt as part of the Appleman wagon shops, located on the west side of the railroad-freight depot. It was later dismantled. A private home now occupies the former church lot at the intersection of Hill and Cemetery Streets. This is the church where Mae McHenry wasted no words when she wrote, "The illegal and unwarranted military raid upon Columbia County during the Civil War frequently has been miscalled "The Fishing Creek Confederacy." She described how prisoners were marched to this church and " taken before an officer who blasphemously occupied the pulpit. The proceedings were hurried and summary. About one-half of the prisoners were discharged with no reason given for either their arrest or discharge." During the Civil War, J. G. Noble, Elders Rodenbach, Rutan and Harvey filled the pulpit.
. In the spring of 1894, a lot was purchased in Benton Borough for the third and present building at Third and Church Streets. The church was built for approximately $3,000. Reverend H. L. Maltman was credited for guiding the construction from 1894 to 1896. The church building was dedicated on June 21, 1896. There have been several renovations to the property from 1934 forward. IN 1935, for example, the seating in the church auditorium was rearranged and a new baptistery built. Jennie Brewington, now Mrs. William Warren, was the first to be baptized in the now baptistery. A parsonage was purchased adjoining the church and the mortgage retired on this property in 1926.
--Thanks to the research of L. Ray Appleman for much of the detail in this section. For further detail, please refer to the Annals of the Benton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Benton Cemetery is located in both the east side of Benton Borough and contiguously on the west side of Benton Township on a hill overlooking the Fishingcreek valley and the Borough of Benton. The area is frequently referred to as "Cemetery Hill." From Route 487, turn east on Sunny Hillside Road, then left on Hill Street. The oldest portion of the cemetery begins at the intersection of Hill Street and Cemetery Hill Road.
In April, 1912, the Benton Cemetery Association laid out seven acres which it purchased for use as a cemetery. This section immediately became known as the "new" section of the cemetery, billed as the "most model burial grounds in the state" when it opened. Landscaping was provided with 50 young spruce trees, then about three feet high, to mark the earthen driveways and the avenues. It is worth a drive through the "new" cemetery today in order to marvel at the height of these trees. The promise was made that "crushed stone" would be added "in time." The caretaker of the cemetery was A. H. Follmer and he sold the burial plots. He had a large blueprint of the grounds which showed every lot, walk and driveway. Each purchaser received a receipt and a deed to their lot. The Benton Cemetery remains an active burial site.
Boyd Trescott, a civil engineer, laid out the "new" portion of the cemetery. He laid the cemetery out in a design of a fourteen-foot driveway around the whole lot and a sixteen-foot avenue through the middle with twelve-foot drives running crosswise at intervals. The lots were 10x20' and each lot was separated from the others by four-foot paths running north and south and five-foot paths running east and west. Evergreen trees were planted along the driveway. The entrance from what was then called "the public road" was bordered by trees and shrubbery. Space was provided for a chapel in which services could be held by funerals coming from a distance. There are nearly 800 lots n the whole plot.
In 1937, "nearly forty men" worked on street projects in the Borough, primarily rebuilding the road to the Benton Cemetery. Harry Knouse provided the "foremanship."
Today the cemetery is a beautiful tree-lined cemetery which is well maintained by Bob Hess, Third Street, Superintendent. Memorial Day parades usually proceed up Cemetery Hill to the VFW Memorial at the Benton Cemetery where local dignitaries and politicians speak.
A list of those buried in the Benton Cemetery is contained in the publication of the Columbia County Historical & Genealogical Society, Cemeteries of Northern Columbia County Pennsylvania. The latest edition is copyrighted November, 2000.
In recent years a third section was added thanks to the gift of the land from Dayne and Ruth Kline. This section of the cemetery is east of the other two parcels in Benton Township and was part of the Colley tract of land.
June 19, 2008. Happy birthday to Sherry Jones, Judy Paul and Ricky D. Karns. Happy anniversary to Barb and Bill Repko and Debby and Charles Ross.
Details of the tragic accident involving a local businessman, John Watson, Total Look Landscaping, are given in the lead story in the June 19 Press Enterprise. John and Howard Bowman were wearing seat belts when a Hunlock Creek teenager, Elizabeth Hildebrand, daughter of Harold and Janice (Barchik) Hildebrand, Hunlock Creek, pulled onto Route 487 in front of the oncoming-flatbed truck. The teen was killed instantly; Howard Bowman was treated at the hospital; John Watson suffered minor injuries. According to details in the article, the teen was talking on a cell phone when she pulled onto the main roadway. Janice Barchik Hildebrand and her daughter, Elizabeth Hildebrand, 19, grew up in Cambra and spent many a moment at the Benton dam and hanging out at the Benton carnival. Elizabeth's aunt, Irene Barchik Schindler, asked that we stress to readers how important it is that they not talk on their cell phones while driving and that they hug their children a little closer today. "You never know when they may be taken from you and don't sweat the small stuff in life--the small stuff 'really' isn't that important." Our prayers go out to everyone involved.
I have decided to run for President. You can, too! Go here for details.
Keep Art Christie in your prayers as he recovers from a fall from a ladder. Memie Christie took her husband to Bloomsburg Hospital Wednesday for a total joint replacement which will involve a " long and painful recovery." I thought of the painfully slow recovery time of Max Hartman following his fall from the top of his motor home while washing it. I almost picked up the phone to tell Memie about it after she emailed that they were painting their front porch. She has asked the question why so many houses in Benton had green-porch ceilings, which resulted in me pecking out a whole bunch of hogwash about why that is true. When I finished and read it I realized that I had convinced myself that I really didn't know why so many ceilings were green in the Borough. Do any readers have ideas?
Last night was a full moon. From my years of spending time in Ocean City, Maryland, I know of the considerable influence of the moon on the earth in the form of ocean tides. But over the centuries, many believed in much more sinister events occurring on the full moon. Early physicians felt that a crucial period occurred when a patient might not survive longer than until midnight. In India, many thought that a patient would never live to see the moon rise again. One early writer whose name I long ago forgot held that two or three days before and after each full moon there were twice as many deaths of there were during any other four to six-day period. The influence of the moon lead the Italians to coin the word "influenza." "Moon blindness" has been attributed to the defeat in battle of whole armies. In waters of the southern hemisphere, sailors sleeping on the open decks of ships would pitch their hammocks under some kind of an awing so they would not lose the temporary use of their sight during a full moon. An old-family tradition was that corn and wheat should not be planted during a "new" moon. Others said that brush cut after the full August moon will not regrow.
One of the first stories I remember Mother telling me was about the "man in the moon." I don't remember the details of her story, but I suspect that other mothers told their children curious tales like that which are never forgotten. The Ottawa Indians put a different spin on it. They believed that the face seen in the moon on bright, clear skies to be that of a woman. The Ottawa Indians said it is the fair face of the sister of the dog star. Navajos in New Mexico claim it is a man riding a mule.
Didja know that the former Fairmount Spring Hotel has been called by numerous names, including "The Old Stone House," "Smith's Tavern," and "The Stage Coach Inn?" It is a private residence today.
. Email versions and an early edition of the web edition of the Benton News neglected to mention the Wednesday birthday of Sugarloaf Township Tax Collector, Shirley Lockard. The omission is regretted.
. Email versions of the Benton News sent to readers using chilitech.net as an internet service provider are now bouncing, apparently because of a spam filter set up by ChiliTech. Readers will have to solve that problem with ChiliTech Internet Solutions, 866 662.4454.
• Want to know where your economic stimulus payment is? Go to https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/irfof/IRServlet?app=IRACTC.
• Our thoughts and prayers go to the family of William F. Covert, Sr. (June 7, 1949-June 15, 2008), Muncy, whose family-owned and operated band, Covert Action, played its first gig in Benton.
• The Vesper Services scheduled for July 27 will be held in the Benton Park, according to Shirley Kitchen, President of the Council of Churches. The carnival has been changed to a two-day event on August 1 and 2.
• There is still a faint hope that a firemen's parade can be held, even though the carnival will be a two-day event this year. The firemen need a Fire Police Captain and more fire police in order to hold the event. If a captain can be named in the near future, the firemen will possibly reconsider and hold the popular event. This would be a good time to volunteer your services to the fire company. The firemen's carnival has long been held at the end of July and beginning of August. For the past several years, the firemen have not been able to attract a large crowd to the rodeo grounds and would like to return in the future to the Benton Area Park. The upper Fishingcreek valley looks forward to the return to the traditional carnival and firemen's parade.
• The Center needs adults to chaperone the teen dance Friday night, June 20, from 7 to 10 . Please call Rob Hutchison, 925-0163, if you can help. Cost for teens is $3 for members and $5 for non-members.
The summer hours for The Center--July 1 until Labor Day, (except special events and holidays)--are:
Monday – Thursday…………6 AM to 8 PM
Fridays……………………………………6 AM to 6 PM
Saturdays………………………………8 AM to 2 PM
Sundays…………………………………11 AM to 4 PM
Didja ever think that diplomacy gets you out of
what tact would have kept you out of?
From the flow of email from readers of the Benton News it is evident that a love of the local area is a common theme and a continuing thirst for a summary of the history of the region important. When a book is published that meets those objectives, getting immersed in the details of it is a pleasure.
John Orlandini, former president of the Board of Directors of the Luzerne County Historical Society, emailed that the book Indians, Settlers, and Forgotten Places in the Endless Mountains is complete. Copies are available from Gisela at the Mountain View Barn Antiques, 958 State Route 118, Seeet Valley, and from Monica at the Brass Pelican Restaurant, Elk Grove. I immediately headed for an overnight stay in the Endless Mountains of Sullivan County, stopping at the Brass Pelican to buy a copy. Monica was in the restaurant, but not tending to her kitchen duties. She was in a corner of the restaurant intently reading the book. I then headed up the road (remember the sign that once said "You can go up this road a long ways before you'll find better prices!) and into the Endless Mountains where I could spend the night reading.
Coverage in the book is extensive. A few of the articles of local interest includes...
. the former 2,000 acre game refuge on state game lands #57 north of Jamison City intended as a "safe harbor for big game" as well as for small game.
. the last house east of Jamison City on state game land at the site of the present game commission storage buildings. The game commission acquired the house from the Donaldson family and it became the home of game refuge keeper Ed Carpenter who walked the single-strand wire around the mountainous preserve every day.
. the former North Mountain Bible Conference facility at Red Rock run by the Reverends Robert and Arden Lancaster. Many readers have been in the present-day antique shop run by John and Linda Bachman, Honolulu, in the former tabernacle building .
. the former ten-acre Red Rock Game Farm which operated from 1957 to 1967 under the direction of Henry Vonderheid a half mile east of Ricketts Glen State Park near the Fairmount Springs Fire Company building.
. the former Wiant Museum on the Harveyville-Bethel Hill Road with its extensive collection including over 6,000 arrowheads, mounted specimens, tools of the early settlers, and much more.
John will host a book signing at the Wyoming County Historical Society at Tunkhannock on Founders' Day June 21, from 10 to 4.
A magazine article now in preparation by former Bentonian James Laubach and by Kurt Bell of the PA State Railroad Museum includes information about the former Bloomsburg & Sullivan and the Bloomsburg Branch of the Reading. The engine number would be helpful to run down photos of the locomotive. Do any readers know the engine number of the "old camelback steam engine" that came to Benton during WWII and until 1948 when the first diesel appeared.
Didja ever notice that most of us ask for advice when we know the answer
but want a different one?
June 18, 2008, two days until the official start of summer at 7:59 PM EDT June 20. Happy birthday to Shirley Lockard and happy anniversary to Michelle and Allen Turner. Keep Jeff Watts in your prayers. He is having back surgery today in Bitburg, Germany. Bill Mather and Richard Sutliff remains patients in hospitals.
• The Benton Volunteer Fire Company voted to downsize the week-long carnival into a two-day block party to be held at the station. The dates are Friday, August 1, and Saturday, August 2. Until a Captain of the Fire Police is named, it will not be possible to hold the annual firemen's parade.
• The Pennsylvania DEP regulates oil and gas exploration and drilling under the state oil and gas laws, and also under federal laws such as the Clean Streams Law, the Dam Safety Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Water Resources Act.
Whoever wrote the line, "Summertime, and the living is easy," didn't live in the northern Fishingcreek valley where last week a blast of hot air greeted most of us as we entered our homes and cars. While the hot and humid temperatures are temporally gone, some cooler weather sweeps in from Canada, "Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait!" Summer will be back with a vengeance. I never notice it in the winter, but in the summer light bulbs heat me up much too much. Some suggest using energy efficient bulbs when replacing light bulbs. Several power companies recommend Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs that use 70% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. These lamp types are typically 4 to 5 times more efficient than the lamps in use today. Colors available range from garage and laundry use where a cooler "whiter" color will be more acceptable to bedroom where a "warmer" creamier color is preferable to most people.
The Guv announced the state will pay a little over $1 million to replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, which over the next decade should save the state an estimated $25 million.
CFL lamps start slowly and take a minute or two to produce their maximum light output. They are good for most uses but don't measure up for places where you need light quickly or for a short time, places like bathrooms, cupboards and storage spaces.
But we would be remiss if we didn't give you the other side of the story.
Rachel McKeel lives near the County Fresh Market and works in Kingston from 8:30 to 5 daily. Is there anyone else working in the Wilkes-Barre/Kingston area who might like to carpool?
Didja ever think that exercising an hour a day
is far better than being dead 24 hours a day?
Those of us from an older generation remember singing songs like In the Good Ole Summertime and nonsense songs at Camp Lavigne about people like John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmitt and listening to the Beach Boys go on about their Endless Summer.
John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt,
That’s my name too,
Whenever I go out,
The people always shout,
John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt
When I was growing up, I was free to swim at the Benton dam or at the rock hole, I could play baseball or haul my butt onto the bleachers at the park and watch former high-school baseball players whiz around the bases. It was a time for making hay and watching as Dave Floyd's combine swept from farm to farm and field to field daylight to dark, his flashing eyes always glancing at the sky watching for any signs of rain. It was a time to make a little money and to put some away for college. It was a time I dreamed of nine months out of the year and rejoiced when it arrived. It was a time to cut and stack wood and a time when Mother's garden always needed weeding, and that always fell on my shoulders. Mowing the lawn was a chore and no fun--and has remained so into my senior years.
All the chores that were piled on our shoulders prepared us for the difficult road of life that lay ahead. We were busy and we didn't always like it, but we can sit back today and observe that it is an element that is missing from many children of this generation. Watch how busy the workers are at the Sub Shop or the Taste Crème and I betcha if you were to talk to the people who have to pay the bills and keep those restaurants running they would say finding enough good people to work is one of the hardest parts of the restaurant business.
When I was growing up, summer didn't begin at this time in June. Summer began when school was over for the year, which meant that our friends from Millville celebrated the start of summer on a slightly different day than our friends from the Bloomsburg area, and much of that depended on the number of snow days--those popular winter breaks from school that turned not so popular in the summer when the end of school could be delayed if we had too many of them. Usually by the "old start of summer" I had taken my first swim in Fishingcreek, pretending all the while that it was not as cold as my shaking made it out to be. I also had friends who started their summers much earlier, electing to start to coincide with their father's need for summer help on the farm.
Summer meant taking off our shoes until school resumed. I can proudly say that I could run along the path beside the old Bloomsburg and Sullivan railroad tracks in my bare feet. Today, I immediately feel a pebble under the leather of my shoes! Summer was a time for dreaming, a time to count the hours until the carnival and the beloved fireman's parade arrived in town. I would sit under a buttonwood tree along Fishingcreek talking about girls with my friends, but would be too shy to talk to girls in person. I would wait each day to see the train slowly making its way into town. I would always stop what I was doing and watch it sway its way up the tracks, doing exactly what it did every day it came to Benton. I still do the same when I see a train or a bear in the wild or a deer in a field or a flock of turkeys ready to take cover.
June 17, 2008. Richard Sutliff is again back in an Illinois hospital following a weakened leg condition in which he was unable to stand on his own. Please keep Donna Hayman Fritz in your thoughts and prayers. Happy birthday to Allan Harvey. Today is the 58th wedding anniversary of Harry and Ellen Angle and the 44th wedding anniversary of John and Margaret Wharton, although when people ask John how long he has been married he goes back to the line of Detective Fish from the sitcom Barnie Miller and says "All my life!"
Harry & Ellen Angle live at Lot 23, 5063 St Route 487. Harry was born in Shippensburg, Ellen in Chester, PA. Their sons are Hank, 57, (Lenore), Chester County and Keith, Benton. Harry and Ellen moved to Red Rock Road after he retired from driving tanker for Sunoco Oil in 1980. Harry gave his niece, Margaret, "away" to John at their wedding in 1964 in Philadelphia. Harry became a second father to John teaching him to archery hunt in Elk Grove area and then to hunt with muzzle loader in 1973.
John is originally from Philadelphia, went to college at Philadelphia Textile, now Philadelphia University. The couple lived in Carlisle while he was a sales manager in Eastern Pennsylvania for a concrete chemical-mixture manufacturer which sold and serviced most of the concrete plants in Eastern Pennsylvania. He finished his working career with Dow Corning Corporation, Midland, Michigan, in 2006, and moved to Malaysia the same year. John and Peg come back to the United States once each year, and plan to be in Benton over Columbus Day weekend this year and hope to return to the US for good by 2010 or so, depending on how their health holds out in the daily 90° heat. The couple has visited Bali twice Phuket, Thailand and numerous beautiful islands around Malaysia. They plan to visit New Zealand in January of 2009.
The couple currently lives in Kota Damansara, a suburb of Kuala Lumpu, a city of two million. There are excellent roads. Low-cost airlines serve the numerous new airports around the country. The country is about 300 miles long and about 120 miles across with steep 6,000 ft mountains running in the middle of the peninsula for the length of the country. Malaysia is the most stable government in SE Asia and has had the same elected party since independence from the British in 1957. The population is 55% Malay; 35% Chinese; and 15% Indians--all Malaysians, which is not too different from our cities of Irish, Italian, and German heritages.
Here is an easy quiz. If yesterday was Monday's tomorrow and tomorrow is Friday's yesterday, what day is it today? Answer at end.
On this day in 1972, Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord and Frank Sturgis skillfully jimmied the lock on the service stairs of perhaps the most expensive office complex in the city. They climbed the stairs and under the cover of darkness entered the offices of what they considered to be the enemy. The scooped up data and planted bugs so often they had to run up and down the stairs and in and out through the door. They placed duct tape over the face plate of the lock. No alarms were set off, no surveillance cameras picked them up, and they avoided the security team patrolling the office floor. It was about 99% perfect, except for the part about the part-time watchman routinely checking doors. One door opened when he pulled on it. A piece of tape kept the lock mechanism from working. He asked the D.C. Police to come to the Watergate building beside the Kennedy Center and the Potomac River. The police raced to the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Five burglars were arrested at 2.30 AM as a result of the break-in at the Watergate, one of whom was James W. McCord, security director for the Committee for the Re-election of the President (CREEP). Within two years, one of the largest electoral landslides in history turned to dog do-do and a president resigned under threat of impeachment.
Residents of the upper Fishingcreek Valley always worry a little about their own precious dam when they read things like the impending demolition of the dam on Mahoning Creek near Beaver Place near Danville. The dam will probably be removed this fall by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Didja ever think that in order to recapture your youth,
you should cut off his allowance?
Didja know that last year the United States developed and used less than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Penn State University researchers estimate the Marcellus shale holds anywhere from 169 trillion to 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
--State Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty, as quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazett
On Monday Wilson Ferguson told a capacity crowd at the North Mountain Historical Society about the history of the hamlet of Emmons and prefaced his history of the Civilian Conservation Camp with information about the area.
The town began on the north side of Bloody Run north of Elk Grove and continued to Painter Run along the existing Elk Grove/Nordmont road. The hotel was just north of Bloody Run on the east side in what is today a large, open field. The former CCC camp was located at the juncture of Painter Run with the West Branch of Fishing Creek.
Still confused? Emmons was located in Davidson Township, Sullivan County, five miles west of Central on the west branch of the Fishingcreek between Bloody Run and Painter Run. George W. Baum had erected a sawmill and called the area Baumtown. In 1850, a flood destroyed the mill property and the business was abandoned. In 1882, Parvin Kile of Elk Grove purchased several acres of land and erected a hotel near the state road just north of Bloody Run. Within the next two years, a general store and an acid factory opened. The town was renamed Emmons after the son of E. M. Peck, the majority owner of the lumber company. On February 7, 1894, a post office opened and remained open until April 15, 1910. The maximum size of the lumber town was between 150 and 300. The Pentecost Lumbering Company, organized in 1890, located its mill at the mouth of Painter Run, extended the railroad up the west branch of Fishing Creek from Central and conducted an extensive lumbering business employing 300 men. The bark and lumber was shipped to Jamison City. Logs were brought down Painter Run via a tram railroad in 1892, according to the Sullivan Review. The lumbering operation also extended into the headwaters of Cherry, Bloody and Elk Run. After twenty years of logging, operations ended in 1910 and all the acreage of the company was sold to E. M. Peck for $1. Emmons Post Office was in service from 1894 to 1910.
Dr. Ferguson based much of his talk on the writings of Don Emanuel Hughes, a King's College (now Columbia University) graduate from Dushore who decided on a whim to teach in the back-woods community of Emmons.
The one-room school teacher began his great teaching experience by taking a train to Nordmont, then proceeded "in a slow and deliberate manner to the top of the mountain by horse and buggy." Here he was able to look toward Emmons and Elk Grove where his "eyes were filled with a scene of wonderful beauty." He was especially attracted "cross the way, shutting all else from view, a great mountain, broad at the base, rose straight from the floor of the valley to a lofty peak."
When the wagon reached the valley, they arrived at a clearing where "stood a tavern, a store, and an acid factory." There were a number of rough, unpainted houses, and the schoolhouse where he was to live for the next seven months. It was, as he described it, a "hole in the woods." He bedded down at the tavern where his room and board was two dollars a week. His salary was $28. Financially he felt that he was on "top of the world."
The schoolhouse was small and painted white. There were eighteen or twenty children ranging from the age of six to sixteen and "abounded in high spirits and good health." They were "lively and a bit untamed." By the second day, the new teacher realized that he had to assume "an air of preternatural severity" in order to command the liveliest of the boys who were beginning to show signs of making trouble. He took the loudest of the boys and "laid his face downward over the stool of the organ, behind the organ where he could not be seen by the other pupils, and unobserved by the school and the boy, who was too apprehensive to notice anything, placed a board over his fanny, and proceeded to whack the board lustily with a sturdy stick. This made a frightening noise and the panic-stricken boy responded beautifully with howls equally frightening." The punishment worked. "From that day on there was good order in the school. In those days, corporal punishment was routine and expected in rural schools."
The schoolteacher's landlord was the proprietor of the hotel, a man by the name of Parvin Kyle (or Kile). As he described the landlord, Parvin was a "character straight out of ancient England. He was stunted, a dwarfed, wizardly sort of man, just as one would imagine a serf of England might have looked." Dr. Ferguson told of Parvin asking the schoolteacher if he believed the earth was round. The schoolteacher replied that he did. Parvin immediately responded, "It ain't' so. I have been around a lot and never found it round anywhere."
The schoolteacher once asked Mrs. Kile if he could borrow the washtub in order to get a bath. She glared and said, "never heard of such tomfoolery, won't stand for it." The schoolteacher had to be content with a sponge both from the small tin basin in the privacy of his room.
The first contingent for the C.C.C. camp left Fort Meade, Maryland on June 5, 1933. They arrived in Benton by train on June 6, 1933 and were transported by truck to the site of the camp. The first night a heavy wind and rainstorm tore down many of their tents, Eighteen men quit the camp the first night. But after a rough start Camp Morton, as it was called, grew and prospered. They won several contests with other camps in the state. Their work projects included building roads, bridges and fish dams, stream improvement, fire and truck trails, reforestation, etc. The camp lasted 4½ years. At that time most of their work in the area was accomplished and the draft was calling many of the young men of that age into the army. There were several people present who had relatives who were employed at the camp as foremen or leaders and one woman who attended dances at the CCC Camp.
Such were the days in the life of the town of Emmons and the CCC Camp known as Morton.
After the meeting, many accompanied Dr. Ferguson to the site of the camp where they saw what is left of roads, foundations and memories.
The answer to the quiz is Wednesday.
June 16, 2008. Happy anniversary to Scott and Karen Edwards, Fran and Harry Baker and Ed and Alice Allegar. Happy birthday to Nancy Joan Hess and Melanie Gordon. Bill Mather, a young 88 turning 89 in August, is a patient at the Bloomsburg Hospital. Please keep Bill and his wife, Dorthea, 89, Jamison City, in your prayers for the next few days. Expect thunderstorms this afternoon and evening, with temperatures probably not making it to 80°.
On this date in 1973, the autos and carriages from the Magee Transportation Museum along Millville Road had been cleaned of mud from Hurricane Agnes which occurred the previous year and most of the vehicles sold. The trolley-car museum was hard hit when flood water swept across the Magee property, destroying track and overhead wires beyond any hope of repair. Harry Magee, possibly overwrought by the devastation of the flooding and possibly the result of a childhood spinal injury, began to have his health slip. On October 9, 1972, Harry Magee died, and the museum died with him.
The combined ages of Damon and his son, Darius, is 55, and their ages are reversed. How old is Darius? If you come up with an answer that is difficult biologically--such as Darius being 23 and Damon being 32--we won't be able to accept that as correct. Answer at end.
One of the most beautiful views of the upper Fishingcreek valley--whether it is from Colley Hill, Distillery Hill, O'Brien Hill or any of the other hills that look down on our peaceful valley--is from the home of Bill and Nancy Fricke on Distillery Hill, an extension of Market Street in the Borough. It is in this beautiful setting and from a former home in Arizona where Eric (with no middle name) Fricke, 15, has been playing piano since he was "this high." Eric has mastered both the theatrical and concert organ and plans to travel Europe and Asia as his life occupation playing the "fifty or so" classic organs available in those continents, plus doing the same in the United States. He has a good start on the ones in this country.
Eric has played in the Princeton university chapel and loved the acoustics in that setting and said that the organ in the chapel "is one of the finest in America. The large organ was built in England and seems to create perfect tones in the stone cathedral building. He has played many of the great organs in the United States.
Eric takes playing the organ very seriously, routinely spending four to six hours a day in practice and about five hours a week for lessons on classical organ, theatre organ, piano and two hours of theory lessons. He was a theatre-organ student of Lew Williams while he was a resident of Arizona. He studied classical organ with Dr. Craig Westendorf and piano with Jenny Weatherwax. He studied solfege and music theory with Professor Snezana Radojevic of Belgrade, Serbia.
This fall Eric heads off the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, ,Winston-Salem, where he will finish high school and commence his college-level program in music. For the summer, the Christian Church, Church Street, has the honor of having Eric as guest organist for the church. Eric has even moved his own organ into the church. The Sunday morning worship service at 10 produced some excellent music and the congregation responded with gusto!
Eric wants to be a traveling organist playing concerts around the world, especially in Europe and Asia where the organ is very popular. There are about 50 theater organs in Asia, but few organists. Theater organs were invented to compliment silent movies to play the music of the 20s and 30s. Theaters felt it was more cost effective to accompany a silent film that to pay an entire orchestra. Eric loves to play for silent movies.
I asked Eric about his musical ability and whether he got it from his mother or his father. Eric responded, " Mom can play piano and dad can't play anything." Wherever his musical ability came from it is certainly a gift!
• Readers will remember that Colton Albertson, 10, Buck Road, Stillwater, recently tangled with a riding lawnmower driven by his brother. Colton lost a big chunk out of his heel and lost most of the tissue up to his ankle. He was taken by life flight to Geisinger Hospital. Colton has now had three good weeks without too much pain. There is only one small open area that needs to heal closed at this point. His next appointment is the beginning of July right after eleventh birthday. He is hoping that the doctors will allow him to bear some weight on his foot. He and his parents were hoping that he would be able to attend Boy Scout Camp the third week of July, but it may be too soon. Colton and his parents were to Washington, D.C. last week and saw miles of the city as he was rolled around in his wheelchair by his Dad. He even received piggy-back rides into restaurants.
• The folks at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the IBM Corporation are boasting that they have the world’s fastest computer which can calculate some 1,ooo trillion calculations per second. Think about that! Here is a computer, named Roadrunner, that can actually calculate the number 1,000 trillion, and do it in a second. To put the computer’s speed in perspective, if every one of the 6 billion people on Earth used a hand-held computer and worked 24 hours a day, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner computer can do in a single day. The computer will be used primarily on nuclear weapons work, including simulating nuclear explosions.
• The excitement around Microsoft involves what is currently being called "Windows 7" and "Office 14." Windows 7 should be out in two years to replace the operating system Vista, which is often compared to Windows ME.
• UCLA researchers reported in the June 27 edition of the journal Neuroscience Letters that people with sleep apnea show tissue loss in brain regions that help store memory. The disorder may afflict an estimated 20 million Americans. Sleep apnea takes place when a blocked airway repeatedly halts the sleeper’s breathing, resulting in loud bursts of snoring and chronic daytime fatigue. Memory loss and difficulty focusing are also common complaints. Prior studies have linked the disorder to a higher risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
Darius was 14. Damon was 41.
Today is the Third Sunday in June, 2008. Happy birthday to Allen Turner III and David J. Baker. It is June 15 and Father's Day, a day of honor for those men who taught us to fish, to give an honest day's work for the wages received, who were smart enough to marry the most perfect woman on the face of the earth, and who, despite a couple of very shaky events, produced kids who turned out darn nice. We trace it back to Sonora Smart Dodd who was inspired during a Mother's Day sermon to think of her father who had raised the family after her mother died. Her minister agreed to deliver a sermon honoring fathers on her father's birthday in June, and the concept slowly caught on. Father's Day became an official holiday in 1972.
There are two states that each touch eight other states. Which are they? Here is a hint. Both of the states takes its state motto from its seal. Answer at end.
Keep John Herbert Laubach in your prayers on this Father's Day. John is a patient in the Geisinger Hospital.
Sunday's Press Enterprise includes a front-page article about the controversial Christopher M. Robinson, President and Founder of a hard-to-get-information-on company known as Raegayle, LLC. Robinson is also listed in his references as Vice President and Co-Founder of Ardent Resources, Inc. and Vice President and Co-Founder of Lynx Drilling, LLC. Robinson fielded questions at a recent Columbia County Landowners Coalition meeting at Benton High School.
According to Robinson's qualification sheet, Ardent Resources, Inc. is "a privately held oil and gas exploration and development company that is primarily focused on the Appalachian Basin and Eastern Canada. Ardent was established in July of 1987 for the primary objective of exploring and developing hydrocarbon throughout the Appalachian Basin by targeting specific development opportunities with a large emphasis on Exploration and of the seismic driven plays." Robinson's role in the company is in "acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures and marketing. With over 26 years experience in the oil and gas industry, Robinson has been successful in exploring hydrocarbons in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Eastern Canada."
Lynx Drilling, LLC is a "privately held oil- and gas-drilling contractor formed in 2006 for the specific purpose of contract drilling in the Appalachian Basin. Robinson’s responsibilities as Vice President are to oversee all contract negotiations and implementation of drilling procedures in the Appalachian Basin." "Raegayle, LLC is a consulting company formed in 2003 by Robinson for the sole purpose of providing high-level negotiations for joint ventures, acquisitions, divestitures and marketing for various groups/entities in the Appalachian Basin and Canada."
In the June 9 edition of the Benton News I reviewed an "engagement contract" prepared by Robinson for the purpose of establishing an agreement between an "exclusive advisor" to landowners "regarding soliciting and obtaining beneficially favorable-lease terms" from a "third party interesting in leasing land" for "oil and gas purposes." The specific agreement was titled an "Engagement Contract." In that article, I wrote about the "fat and the voids in the agreement."
Take a look at Jay Leno's tribute to Tim Russert on The Tonight Show on Friday the 13th. You'll find it here.
For those who don't like either Firefox or Internet Explores as a web browser, you might head toward the program known as Opera. Opera is open and up-front about wanting to be the fastest and most powerful Web browser available. Opera 9.5 is quick to start, fast at loading Web pages and excellent at running your favorite Web applications. New features include Quick Find, which remembers not only the titles and addresses, but the actual content of the web pages you visit, and Opera Link, which lets you access your favorite Web sites everywhere you go on all your computers and cell phones. Download it at www.opera.com/.
There was a young girl of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She drawled, "When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez."
To listen to the old boys over morning coffee, it would appear that a movie on the subject would not be necessary, but never-the-less Hollywood has teamed Krysten Ritter with Josh Meyers and Ian Somerhalder in what the movie industry is calling How to Make Love to a Woman. To make sure the story is told from experience, porn star Jenna Jameson also stars in this "romantic comedy." Meyers plays a music executive with no idea how to keep his girlfriend (Krysten Ritter) happy. He turns to advice from his musician pals as well as Jameson who plays herself. He soon finds that time is running out when her handsome childhood friend (Somerhalder) appears. "Make Love" is shooting in Los Angeles. For more on making love, go here.
It was only three miles from the White House, but it was a place of solitude for Abraham Lincoln, a place to beat the heat and the humidity of the nation's capitol, a place where in 45 minutes by carriage the man could escape from the political pressures of his job. President Lincoln spent an estimated quarter of his time as President in a 34-room brown and white stucco building on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. Lincoln struggled with the concept of the Emancipation Proclamation in this house. Today, the restored and recently opened home displays a signed copy of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. You can make reservations on-line to tour the home by visiting www.lincolncottage.org.
President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home provides an intimate, never-before-seen view of Abraham Lincoln's presidency and family life. Designated a National Monument in 2000, President Lincoln's cottage served as Lincoln's family residence for a quarter of his presidency and is the most significant historic site directly associated with Lincoln's presidency aside from the White House. President Lincoln's cottage is located on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in northwest Washington, D.C. and has been restored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Lincoln used the cottage as his retreat from the pressures of wartime Washington, a quiet spot where he could relax with his family. It also served as a place where he conducted important business, met with his generals and members of his Cabinet, and did much of the thinking that shaped the Emancipation Proclamation.
President Lincoln's cottage three miles from downtown Washington was the Camp David of its day, serving as an escape for Presidents Buchanan, Lincoln, Hayes and Arthur. But it was the time that Lincoln spent here that gives the site its vital place in American history. In addition to developing his policy of emancipation here, Lincoln plotted Union wartime strategies. He also decided to include the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the Republican platform of 1864 while staying at the cottage. Life at the Soldiers' Home offered Lincoln both a respite from some of the pressures of war, and direct contact with the soldiers he met on his daily commute between the White House and the cottage. The Education Center at President Lincoln's cottage includes a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the pen Lincoln used to sign it, the inkwell he used to draft it, and a signed copy of the 13th Amendment. For more information on President Lincoln's Cottage, please visit www.lincolncottage.org.
To learn more about the history of the location where the cottage is located, I turned to an 1873 newspaper, the Little Rock Daily Republican, in its edition of April 25. The writer noted that the "home was originally a farm of 300 acres, nearly on a line directly north of the capitol."
It is at this location that veterans spent their last days, and on that spring day in 1873 there were soldiers in residence from the "campaigns of the revolution," from the campfires of the war of 1812, from the Indian wars under Zachary Taylor, from the Mexican war, and one from the army of Napoleon. The veterans took great comfort in fighting their great battles again and again. They were able to recall the details of conversations held in the flickering light of campfires as if it had happened the previous day.
The front of the home overlooked the towering dome of the capitol from its perch near Fort Totten and in the view south looked past the capitol toward Mount Vernon. The view to the north was of a valley thirty miles wide that looked in the direction of Baltimore
At the close of the Mexican war, General Scott proposed taking some money and add a tax of twenty-five cents per month on the wages of every soldier to the fund and establish a home. Three were established--all in the south. All of the buildings, except the old hospital--the house in which Lincoln lived--were built of clear white domestic limestone known as Sing Sing marble.
There is an interesting story about the Soldier's Home which I found in the Biloxi Daily Herald of February 27, 1902, as a reprint from a Washington Star article about a man by the name of John Billings, a man the paper described as a "grizzled old artilleryman from the soldier's home." Mr. Billings told the reporter that "I was sittin' on my bunk in a ward out in Leavenworth, and thinkin' it was a darn poor business just waiting for every day to get by. Then I get up and bought me 29 cents' worth of calico and a spool of cotton. And I've been sewing from that day to this. I can sew as straight a seam and as neat a seam as was ever sewed by man or woman."
John Billings sewed a large quilt and offered it to the Smithsonian Institution. For three years, this man of battle worked on that quilt, carefully cutting out and fitting 1,000 or more slender diamonds, working designs with the care and skill of an embroiderer, and hunting out insignia to render the completed product of the fullest possible significance.
The edges were sewn three seams of satin--red, white and blue. In the corners were figures representing the four arms of the service--crossed guns for the infantry, crossed cannon for the artillery, an anchor for the Navy, and so forth. The flags of eight nations--Mexico, China, Morocco, Cuba, Spain, England, Turkey and Greece--were shown. The craftsman justified the flags by saying "Exceptin' alone for the Turks and the Greeks," he said, "the United States has licked the tar out of every one of those nations."
The central figure of the quilt--the feature which gave it its value in the maker's eyes--was a star of eight points, composed of small varied-colored diamonds and arranged to serve as a frame for pictures of Washington, Lincoln, Grant, Garfield and McKinley. They were sewn into place with such care that the line of the seams looked like the true edge of the photograph. "Those five men represent my sentiments," said Artilleryman Billings, "and the rest of the quilt won't amount to a darn without 'em."
Quote of the Day:
"War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible."
--A. Lincoln, 1864
Tennessee and Missouri each touch eight other states.
June 14, 2008. Happy anniversary today to Don and Barbara King and to Will and Sherry Jones. Happy birthday to Ruth Ann Allegar. Donald Trump was born on this date in 1946. Today is the day we proudly display the American Flag, a symbol of freedom first celebrated in 1877, on the flag's 100th birthday. Why not get your flag up today! Black Bear Pottery & Fine Art opens its Main Street doors today at 10 AM and will maintain the same hours--10 AM to 5 PM--as the two nearby antique shops. The proprietors are Frank and Sandy Tranor.
Today's quiz has made its rounds on the internet, but is probably worthwhile retelling. If you have heard the question before, skip to the end. The question is simple: what is the age of the grandfather, based on the following facts...
A grandson talked to his grandfather about current events and was amazed to find that his grandfather was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. There were no credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens. Man had not invented pantyhose, air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and man hadn't yet walked on the moon. The man and his wife were married before they lived together and both families had a mother and a father. The grandfather reminded his grandson that until he was 25, he called every older man "Sir." He was before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy. Their lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment and common sense. They were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for their actions. Serving his country was a privilege and living in this country was a bigger privilege. People of his generation thought fast food was what people ate during Lent. Thanksgiving was established as the fourth Thursday in November.
Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins. Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started. Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends-not purchasing condominiums. The man never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings. He and "his intended" listened to "Big Bands," Jack Benny, the President's speeches on radios and the year he was born the New York Yankees win with the World Series for the fourth year in a row. Anything with "Made in Japan" on it was junk. The term "making out" referred to grades on the school exam. There was no Pizza Hut, McDonald's or instant coffee. The 5 & 10-cent stores were where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail a letter and two postcards. You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but few could afford one and the gas to go in the car cost 11 cents a gallon.
If we are too vague, lets get specific about local things. Chimney Stack clubhouse burned the year he was born, the Benton baseball team went after their first Tri-County pennant, Benton boosted its number of fire police to 15, hauling ice from Lake Jean was winter employment for many. Little League was founded in Williamsport the year the grandfather was born. It was a time when "Grass" was mowed, "coke" was a cold drink, "Pot" was something your mother cooked in and "rock music" was your grandmother's lullaby. Aids were helpers in the principal's office, "hardware" was found in a hardware store and "software" wasn't even a word. The grandfather lived in the last generation to actually believe that a woman needed a husband to have a baby. How old was the Grandfather? Answer at end.
Have you bought your Father's Day present yet? Possibly not, since the American Retail Association says that Americans spend about $2 billion less on gifts for Dad than we do for Mom on Mother's Day. AT&T once said that more collect calls are placed on Father's Day than on any other day of the year. Americans purchase approximately 95 million greeting cards for dad's special day, making Father's Day the fourth largest card-sending holiday. But only 50% of those cards are actually purchased for our dads; 20% are given to husbands, and the remainder to go grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and "special someones."
The property tax-relief fund for Pennsylvania has received $613 million in slot-machine revenue to-date, according to the Patriot News and most homeowners will pay less in school taxes in 2008-09 as a result. The average savings will be an estimated $190.
A list of 1,145 state-owned bridges slated for repair in the next three years under the "Rebuild Pennsylvania" initiative is now available for viewing. Our state leads the nation in the category of "worn-out bridges." The list of structurally deficient bridges comes to almost 6,000. Columbia County has 14 bridges on the list, including the West Creek bridge in the Borough.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials met Friday with gas-company representatives to make sure they understood the rules for drilling following the shut-down of several drilling operations in Lycoming County because of illegally diverted water from small streams. The permitting chief of the Southwest Regional Office, Pittsburgh, told me Friday by telephone that Franklin Manor Utilities, Ltd. (''Franklin Manor''), Franklin, Pennsylvania, is licensed by DEP for "fluid treatment" following the fracking process. The local sewage-treatment plant is reviewing if they will be able to accept the millions of gallons of "fluids" which could be generated locally. Some accounts of Friday's meeting with EPA indicate that there are "no adequate treatment facilities located within the Susquehanna River Basin."
Water consumption is a critical aspect of extracting gas from the Marcellus Shale. Wells are drilled horizontally through the bedrock and require high-pressure blasts of a million gallons of water or more to fracture the bedrock and release the gas. Water permits are one of the first things that need to be approved.
Rep. Karen Boback and Rep. Sandra Major have co-sponsored legislation that will "update the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Conservation Law to clarify landowner and environmental protections that owners of mineral rights in the Marcellus Shale region should know." The bill would amend current law to extend to development within the Marcellus Shale deposit. It would also define a lease under the act, exclude production costs from being deducted from royalty payments, and ensure that horizontal drilling is not conducted under any lands where a lease between a landowner and a well operator does not exist. You can follow House Bill 2453, now with the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for consideration by following this link.
In a jaunt through the mountains of North Carolina, it is not unusual to come upon a type of mountain known as a "bald," a top of a peak that historically is devoid of trees and covered with thick, wild grass. One of these mountains is Gregory's Bald (or Gregory Bald), 4,949 feet in elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, between Blount County and Swain County. The name "Gregory Bald" was given to the mountain in honor of Russell Gregory, an early settler in the area. The Gregory family grazed cattle on the bald during the spring and summer. Gregory's home was in a circular stone house near the top of the mountain. Gregory and many of his neighbors supported the Union during the U.S. Civil War. He was murdered by Confederate raiders in 1863. Several of his eight children remained in the area, raising large families of their own. The bald was purchased cooperatively by several residents in 1853, and eventually was purchased by Kitchen Lumber Co., which logged it in the early part of the 20th century.
This subject comes up because reader Thomas Puckey wrote "Your article [on what is sometimes called the 'Fishingcreek Confederacy'] mentions how a Union loyalist was shot in pursuing what he perceived to be his duty.
"About 10 years ago, while touring the Great Smokies National Park in eastern Tennessee," Tom ran across an old church with a cemetery behind it.
It seems that there were differences of opinion about the Civil War wherever people lived.
Note that the union loyalists in the south took direct action.
Thomas later emailed, "I am from Trafford, Pa. and a long time ago formerly from Orbisonia, Pa. and if you aren't sure where they are that's OK. I'm not exactly sure where Benton is either but I think it's near Buckhorn." Actually, I remember Trafford as being due west from Altoona, about 225 miles from Back Home in Benton, PA.
This grandfather in the quiz of the day would be 69 years old.
Within the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Bureau of Oil and Gas Management is responsible for statewide oil and gas conservation and environmental programs to facilitate the safe exploration, development, and recovery of Pennsylvania's oil and gas reservoirs while protecting the Commonwealth's natural resources and the environment. The bureau develops policy and programs pursuant to the Oil and Gas Act, the Coal and Gas Resource Coordination Act, and the Oil and Gas Conservation Law. It oversees the oil and gas permitting and inspection programs. The office develops statewide regulations and standards and works with the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and the Technical Advisory Board. Here is information from that office on the subject of gas-drilling in the Marcellus shale...
For answers to questions frequently asked by landowners about oil and gas leases and drilling, go here.
To see the Application Addendum for Marcellus Shale Wells--required with New applications--go here.
For the workshop handbook from Penn State Natural Gas Exploration and Leasing for Landowners, go here.
Want to drill a well in Pennsylvania? You will need to see the operator's manual, developed for oil and gas operators and service companies, but also useful for landowners with the possibility of a gas well on their land. Go here.
To learn more about the subject of Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management, download from here.
Howard J. “Jack” Cashman (February 7, 1935-June 11, 2008), formerly of New Britain, CT, died Wednesday at his home at 5063 State Route 487, Benton. He was 73. Born in New Britain, CT, he was a son of the late Harry and Elsie Bergdahl. He was a 1953 graduate of New Britain High School and served in the U. S. Navy and the Naval Reserves. Mr. Cashman had been employed as a tractor-trailer driver for 40 years. Following his retirement he drove motor coach for four years for Dattco. Surviving, in addition to his wife, Helene (Ronczka) Cashman, are a son, John Michael “Jack” Cashman (Barbara), Granby, CT, and grandchildren Megan Rose, Beckett, Ani, and Harrison Cashman. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Dawn Marie Cashman, on October 22, 2004. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 3 PM with viewing preceding at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home
Friday the 13th of June, 2008. Happy birthday to Dianne Laubach and Shirley R. McHenry.
During a job interview, the question was asked abut the applicant's age. Sensitive to the subject, the woman replied that she was 35 years old if Saturdays and Sundays were missed. How old was the female job applicant? Answer at end.
Dr. William T. Neese, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Marketing, College of Business, Bloomsburg University, commented on the planned events during August, 2009, to commemorate the Civil War reenactment of what many called "the Fishingcreek Confederacy. Dr. Neese wrote, "The more I experience 'different' parts of this great country, the more I realize we're much more alike than different--saying 'yous' instead of 'yall' isn't really that different. Neither one is correct."
He continued, "When Alabama seceded from the Union, Walker county in northwest Alabama seceded from the state of Alabama. Residents in that area were mostly poor share-croppers who didn't own slaves, and they didn't take kindly to the wealthy plantation aristocracy dragging them into a conflict they did not believe in to start with. I understand the entire state of Arkansas was split in half by secession as well, going with the Confederacy by only a slight majority."
For years, geologists have suspected that beneath the pastures and woodland of the upper Fishingcreek valley lay significant natural gas deposits in the Devonian black shale called the Marcellus. The deposits are not close to the surface, and only with advances in drilling technology and the rising cost of energy has the area become attractive to drillers. The bonus offered to landowners had also climbed.
The black color makes the Marcellus shale easy to spot and its slightly radioactive signature makes it a very easy pick on a geophysical log. Companies are willing to pay a sizeable amount per acre for the right to make exploratory drilling above the deposits of natural gas. Ask any local landowner and you'll be told there are sizeable deposits of natural gas deep under his land. And if the drilling companies are correct, landowners will receive 15 to 18 percent royalties for each well. Each well could produce several million dollars worth of gas. Cash-starved landowners are understandably anxious to jump on the bandwagon pointing out that natural gas is cleaner than either coal or diesel fuel.
Like the presence of second-hand smoke in a room full of people, there are risks. Environmental problems of water quality are real issues. Extracting the gas involves the insertion of chemicals, water and sand under enormous pressure during the "fracking" process. The water can be obtained from surface water, ground water, municipal sources and recycled-fracking water. The natural gas comes to the surface along with much of the water pumped into the drilling shaft. The water, which is a mix of underground materials containing salts, naturally radioactive material and man-made chemicals, is planned to be stored in large sludge pits.
For an explanation of the use of water during the fracking process and the disposition of the waste water in the Barnett Shale, turn to and read more about the Barnett Shale Energy Educating Council formed after Texas drinking water supplies were poisoned with benzene, xylene and other carcinogenic compounds.
Stormwater runoff from clearing four or so acres for each drilling site could increase sediment in streams and rivers. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's regulations require only one drilling well for each 640 acres on state-owned land, but does not limit how many drilling pads can be on private land. This earth has a finite amount of both energy and water, and we have to take care not to destroy that. The earth is covered with about 75% water, but over 97% of the water is saltwater. Much of the water is frozen at the polar ice caps and glaciers. Groundwater makes up about 20% of the freshwater which is what we use for wells, and then about 1% remains for surface water--the lakes, streams and rivers. And did I mention that for years our world has been dumping chemicals, fertilizer, sewage and other unusable materials into our water? Lets be good neighbors and worry about the safety of our water supplies, if not for us then for our children and grandchildren.
For more on this subject, join in the Natural Gas Forum for Landowners.
The job applicant was 49. Five out of seven days times 49 years equals 35 years.
June 12, the 164th day of 2008. There are 202 days remaining until the end of the year. Hobe Whitenight celebrates his birthday today along with the 41st President, George Bush. Tom and Denise Kline celebrate 32 years of marriage today.
It isn't necessary to listen to the fiction writers of Hollywood to find drama and intrigue.
Turn to the end of 1862 in the upper Fishingcreek valley of Columbia County and listen to the private meetings critical of Republican war policy and the draft. Many of our distant relatives applied the test of constitutionality as they believed it to be and many chose to resist the draft. Defiant men argued that young men should not report to the draft and not to pay taxes. Many of the meetings arguing these issues were held in secret with clandestine signals--such as three knocks on an outer door--used to communicate.
The opposition to the Civil War and policies of President Lincoln applied to at least one minister who held Lincoln responsible for the war.
During those difficult times, being a Democrat meant that the draft was opposed, the government was hated, and the objectives of the Democratic party were held in higher regard than the objectives of the Union. Not all residents agreed, and the pot began to boil as diametrically opposing viewpoints of the war surfaced.
Into this background an event of significant importance occurred in the upper Fishingcreek valley, which was often referred to as the Fishingcreek Confederacy. Under the sponsorship of the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center, the valley will once again come alive with Federal troops in the form of Civil War reenactors, dissenting viewpoints will be aired on the streets of the Borough, historians in the form of speakers will educate and amuse. There is a lot to report on this subject which is going by the title of Fishingcreek Heritage Days and will take place over the weekend of August 8-9, 2009. The planning for the event is in full swing at the moment. Those who would like to be part of this organization are welcome to call 925-0163 or email me for more information.
We the People of the United States is the way it begins. The United States Constitution--written in 1787, adopted in 1788, and effective in 1789--is the basic law of the federal government of the United States. The Constitution has evolved into "We the Politicians" and "We the Lobbyists" who are guiding the nation. A case in point is the economy and the price of petroleum-based products.
Gasoline is now in excess of $4 per gallon. It is an election year and politicians are trying to act like they are doing something about the climbing prices. A 27-year-old federal moratorium prevents offshore drilling in most coastal waters except parts of the Gulf of Mexico. A House subcommittee on Wednesday rejected a Republican-led effort to open up more U.S. waters between 50 and 200 miles off shore for drilling. The plan failed yesterday on a 9-6, party-line vote in a House appropriations subcommittee, which was considering the proposal as part of an Interior Department spending package. Democrats lock-step stance is based on statistics furnished by the Minerals Management Service, part of the U.S. Interior Department, claiming that 82% of the known offshore reserves of natural gas and 79% of the known reserves for oil are in areas already open for drilling.
Both Senator Obama and McCain support windfall profits changes to some degree. Sen. Obama wants the big oil companies to pay a tax on their windfall profits, and would use that money to help pay for skyrocketing energy costs for families. This tactic was tried by former President Jimmy Carter without great success. It was terminated in 1988 during the administration of President Reagan when it did not bring in the anticipated revenue and made the county more dependent on foreign oil.
Sen. McCain thinks somewhat along the same lines noting that he doesn't like "obscene profits" to be made, and suggests that incentives be examined to see if they are "distorting the market." The Senate's number two Democrat, Dick Durbin, warned the oil companies that there is "a limit on how much profit they can take in this economy."
Instead of plans which would decrease domestic production, the country needs to better develop its own resources. Punishing the oil companies isn't the answer. The companies should be allowed to drill in areas where there are known reserves. Isn't it strange that the very politicians who yell the most about our dependence on foreign oil are the very same politicians who want to restrict domestic production?
But what Sen. McCain and Sen. Durbin proposes doesn't make a lot of sense, either. Limiting the amount of profit a business can make and defining as "obscene" a large profit is not the definition of capitalism I know. After crude-oil costs, taxes are the second largest contributor to the price paid at the pump. Together Federal and State excise taxes on fuel account for an average cost of approximately 62 cents per gallon. Part of the "obscene" comes from the .507 cents added by the state of Pennsylvania and the Federal government to the price of a gallon of gasoline. The government tacks on $.636 on diesel. You can learn about these taxes by going here.
Oil companies do make a lot of money, but every gas station owner I know bends my ear about how hard the business is right now. Take Uni-Marts, for example, no longer able to make it without the protection of the bankruptcy court, and the decision of Exxon Mobil Corp. to get out of the retail service station business by selling the 2,220 service stations it still owns across the U.S. The oil companies headquartered in this country are owned by stockholders, but something like 95% of all the oil produced is owned by foreign governments. Our congress has little power to control the world price of oil! The only way it can affect the price is to authorize drilling off our coasts and to lift the moratorium on producing oil from shale.
This is an election year. Let the politicians know that they need to support legislation to drill for oil and to allow the building of refineries to enable this nation to become “energy independent.” Oil production will be around for another 30 or so years until the country can make the transition to alternative fuels. The question is will we be able to afford it.
According to columnist George Will, the Chinese have a deal with Cuban leader Fidel Castro to explore and tap into massive oil reserves almost within sight of Key West, Florida. This assertion is probably false, since China seems focused on onshore oil extraction in Pinar del Rio province through its state-run China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation. Another allegation is that France is drilling there. So is Canada. But no American companies are allowed. Why? We send $500 billion or so each year to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other nations that are not our “friends.” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who controls the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, is making deals to sell his country’s oil to China, oil that is currently coming to the United States. Keep the dollars at home and create employment for our own people! While Washington dithers over exploiting oil and gas reserves off the coast of Florida, China has seized the opportunity to gobble up these deposits, which run throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and along the U.S. Gulf coast.
"We the people" flooded Congress with protests last summer when they tried to pass the immigration “Amnesty Bill” which rewarded illegal entry into this nation. "We the people" can stop this energy crisis if we all do our part by raising hell with the people we elected to represent us! Lou Dobbs recently said on CNN that there are more than 40,000 lobbyists in Washington, about 77 for each congressman. You will have to get vocal on this one!
I will now get down from my soapbox.
June 11, nine days until the official start of summer, the 163rd day of 2008. Alanna M. Bath, Bendertown, celebrates her birthday today and Paul and Joan Franklin celebrate their wedding anniversary. There was hail the size of quarters and wind that trimmed the weak limbs off most trees and heavy rain--but the aftermath was generally worth it. Cooler air has moved into the area and we can return to spring again with a high of 84° today. Many email readers will receive this late. I do not have email in or out following the storm.
Jonestown was especially hard hit. There are trees down at Eulalia Bogart's house and at the old McCallister place. The Crist family, owners of the Kunkle house, were not so lucky. Two trees came down in their yard, one went through the roof. It looks worse from the outside. From the inside it looks like the roof was used for a dart board with a really big dart. Screen doors were ripped from the hinges. Dawn Dominy's dog, Emily, saw her dog house thrown through the yard with the family mailbox in pursuit.
On the Mend...
• Jeannie Walters is being treated for colitis in the Geisinger Hospital. She is under careful watch and does not have a telephone in her room at this time.
• Richard Kriebel came home from the hospital Tuesday and was resting comfortably last night, although with some discomfort from the anesthesia. Janet says she hopes "this time will be the charm!" For those who don't know, Dick is the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, a position for which he is eminently qualified. Dick and Janet started with nine cows 44 years ago and over the years had a lot of help on the farm from their children Faith, Scott, Wendy and Kristen and from their grandchildren Regina, Alicia, Harry, Nathan and Dallas. Dick is a member of the Columbia County Farm Bureau and has served as the Columbia County Dairy Herd Improvement Association Chairman, Columbia County Planning Commission Chairman and Columbia County ASCS Chairman. He has served as the Columbia County 4-H Dairy Administrative Leader, on the Columbia County Extension Executive Committee and on the Pennsylvania Junior Dairy Show Committee. Dick served on the Board of Directors of AgChoice Farm Credit and its predecessor for 27 years and served as its Chairman of the Board. Dick serves on the Board of Directors of the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center. Dick and Janet are members of the Benton Christian Church. We wish Dick a rapid and lasting recovery.
There is a common thread in this group of words: spoons, mug, drawer, rats, devil. What is it? Answer at end.
The eastern tent caterpillar and the forest tent caterpillar, the little bugs we know and hate, are back and their silky tents can be seen all over the area. The eastern tent caterpillar are usually found in wild cherry trees and ornamentals, while the forest tent caterpillar prefers maples. Otherwise, their tents look pretty much alike. Probably the best solution is to give them a little time to grow into little moths and fly away.
The use of pesticides, cutting the branches or burning them out would damage other insects, honeybees and nesting songbirds. Don't try to burn the caterpillar tents off your trees. This can be both dangerous to you and harmful to the trees. You might try removing the occupied, caterpillar tents and egg masses by hand, or you might try wrapping tree trunks with sticky paper.
Many will remember the late 1950s, when a gypsy moth invasion was so dense that spray was used, which killed many gypsy moths, but did the same for other insects, birds and fish. There are insecticides currently available today that are supposed to be caterpillar specific without a threat to other species.
Fly fishermen know that trout will frequently strike at caterpillars that fall in the creeks. Why not simply "tie" a fly to look like a tent caterpillar? That way you'll get rid of a caterpillar and enjoy a day of fishing too. There are no guarantees that it will work, but won't it be a fun day! A Yuengling would be an ideal stream companion.
• Ruth & Edward Schmidt, Stillwater, celebrated the baptism of their second great grandson, Austin Edward, Sunday. Their other great grandson is Aaron Edward. Ruth is the daughter of Francis Letteer and a member of the VFW ladies aux. Francis' son is Edward Francis Schmidt.
• The "smoking bill" is finally heading to the GUV for signature. It will take another three months after his signature for the law to kick in.
• The summer hours for antique shops in Benton are now extended. Both the Benton Bakery Antiques and the Benton Antiques, Etc., are now open seven days a week, from 10 AM to 5 PM.
• The Heritage House Restaurant, between Orangeville and Lightstreet, should open under new management within the next ten days.
• The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act of 1984 puts the burden of proof regarding groundwater contamination on the gas company within six months after drilling is completed. After six months, the burden of proof is on the landowner.
• The Susquehanna River Basin Commission coordinates water resources in the river basin that covers about 27,500 squares miles in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The SRBC notified natural gas operators in the Marcellus Shale formations in the Susquehanna watershed that they must have approval on water-related matters from SRBC. The drilling of natural gas wells in the shale formation includes using water for drilling, for storage in on-site impoundments and subsurface rock fracturing (known as hydrofracing). Companies without prior water-use approval will be considered in willful noncompliance if they continue to operate after receiving SRBC’s notice. Unregulated withdrawals of water, known as consumptive use," refers to water taken from but not returned to streams. Reduced flow rates and depriving users of water could result.
Didja ever wonder why we have no ownership of water under our property?
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns that water,
although you are allowed to access it.
The numbers are in, and they are great! The Pennsylvania State Tourism Office has just completed and released its economic impact study for 2006. Spending by "travelers in Pennsylvania totaled $26.97 billion in 2006, representing a 5.1% growth over 2005’s tally. In 2006, travelers spent $3.87 billion on lodging, $6.24 billion at restaurants, and $16.86 billion on a broad range of goods and services including transportation, entertainment, and shopping. Here in Columbia and Montour County in 2006, travelers spent $166,986,527, representing a 6.2% increase from 2005. This growth outpaces increases seen across the state and in other regions and is expected to continue through 2008 and into 2009 as our region welcomes the Comfort Suites at Buckhorn, and a remodeled Key Motor Inn, Danville. Events such as the Bloomsburg Fair, Covered Bridge and Arts Festival, 4-Wheel Jamboree, Iron Heritage Festival, the O.A.T.S. Festival and the Benton Rodeo, and the Rod & Custom Cruise-In will again take place in 2008 and 2009, continuing to bring millions of visitors to the area. For more information on this study, please contact the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau at 570 784-8279.
Didja know that all the words spoons, mug, drawer, rats, devil can be reversed to make new words?
June 10, 2008. Mitchell Worley, Debbie Antanitis, Carrie Flynn and Shirley Wodrig celebrate birthdays today, along with Prince Phillip of England. Eric and Kelly Kocher and Dale and Deanna Ruckle, Plato, Texas, have wedding anniversaries today. Watch out for the thunder-boomers this afternoon and evening.
On this date in...
. 1809, the 100-foot long Phoenix paddle wheel steamboat set sail taking 13 days to sail from New York City to Philadelphia, the first steamboat to navigate open seas (since at that time no canal existed). The steamboat become involved in a stagecoach and boat service connecting New York and Philadelphia. The Phoenix sailed between New York Bay and New Brunswick, and on the Delaware.
. 1854, the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, graduated its first class. The Naval School, established in 1845 at Fort Severn, Maryland, was renamed the U.S. Naval Academy in 1850.
. 1988, Louis Dearborn LaMoore, the writer of the Old West, died of lung cancer at age 80. Nearly 200 million copies of his books were printed and his works translated into 20 languages. Writing under the name Louis L'Amour, he published 101 books, nearly all Westerns. L'Amour personified the early frontiers of North America. More than 45 of his novels and short stories were made into films. L'Amour was the only novelist in America to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, both awarded to him by President Regan. L'Amour never smoked, and his lung cancer may have come from his work as a coal miner when he was young.
. 1935, surgeon Dr. Robert Smith and stockbroker William G. Wilson founded A(lcoholics) A(nonymous). After completing one full day without a drink of alcohol, Dr. Robert Smith, better known as Doctor Bob, an alcoholic surgeon from Akron, and his friend William G. Wilson, an alcoholic stockbroker from New York, founded AA. This was the beginning of a lifetime without booze for the two and for thousands more throughout the years. Bill got sober through a set of principles that he felt had saved his life, ideas that later evolved into the Twelve Steps of AA. He shared those principles with Dr. Bob and this date is officially counted as AA's founding.
A quiz last week in the Benton News had the right answer but the wrong question! We won't ask any more decaffeinated coffee questions! Anyway, here is another quiz. I had some fruit trees in my backyard. The apple tree grew to be 1¼ times as high as the peach tree. I cut off three feet from the tops of both trees. Now the apple tree is one and a third times as tall as the peach tree. How high was the apple tree before I cut it? Answer at end.
Didja ever think what a great dental plan the presidency must have?
Candidates will blow over $250 million for a job that pays $400,000.
Keep Jeannie Walters and Richard Kriebel in your prayers for a rapid recovery. Jeannie fell at her Elk Grove home Thursday about noon, but was not found until about 8 PM. She is in the Geisinger Hospital. Dick is recovering from his latest knee surgery. Our best to both of these fine people.
Planning a weekend jaunt? Try the Sones Farm & Home Museum, 92 Industrial Park Road, Muncy. It is a step back in time. The displays are in an early 1868 overshot, hand-hewed timber and wooden pinned, bank barn. The walk through the museum is on 1800' of carpet walkways. In the lower part of the museum are primitive to early horse and oxen equipment, butchering and fence-making equipment, railroad memorabilia, logging equipment (saws, sleds and log stamps), an operating horse-tread mill belted up to a threshing machine, Valley Farms Milk Wagon, milk- and butter-churn equipment, and an operating-water wheel powering a pea huller, corn sheller, butter churn and a Sprout Waldron corn-cob crusher. In the upper part of the museum is Doc. Lundy's veterinary clinic, old-general store, antique furnishings (kitchen, family room and bedroom), wash machines (wood, stove top and wringer, some operating), sled and toboggan display, cobbler's shoe-making area, horse harness and collar-making benches. Peter's meat-packing display is there, as well as a local memorabilia, 1700 and 1800 Lycoming County record books, 1903 Millville Mail Sleigh and a Claster Lumber Co. delivery wagon. For information on hours and admission, call 570 546-6334. From I-180 at the Pennsdale exit, turn on Lycoming Mall Drive for ¼ mile to next light. Turn left onto John Brady Drive. Go one mile to Industrial Park Road. The museum is on the right.
Didja ever think that two tools in life are really important?
They are WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should,
use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
Two wrongs don't make a right; but three rights make a left.
--told by Garrison Keillor, who somehow forgot to mention that two wrongs don't make a right, but two Wrights make an airplane
Didja ever wonder why some people have enough memory
to recall the tiniest detail, but not enough memory
to recall they told us six times.
We love to hear about happy marriages and were pleased when a loving couple was told that it is essential that husbands and wives know about the things that are important to each other. The man was asked if he could describe his wife's favorite flower, to which he responded, after gently touching his wife's arm, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn't it?"
Before pruning, the apple tree was 15 feet and the peach 12 tall. After pruning, they were 12 and 9 feet tall, respectively.
June 9, 2008. Happy birthday to June Hartzell; Christopher Stephen Michael Diltz, Pelicanville; Fran Adams, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Heidi Kline, Santa Ynez, California; and Betty Fritz Victory, Fritz Hill. Borough Council meets for its June meeting at 7 tonight at the Fire Hall.
Didja notice Sunday that with the new, high gas prices,
many drivers were on the road as if they were rehearsing for a funeral?
Weight Watchers in Benton now has a leader who has been approved. She now has to be trained. The organizer says "We hope to get started by September, 08."
Bob Black, Jr. a paramedic working on oil rigs out of Greenwood, Louisiana, and his wife, Katherine, are the proud parents of Danielle Guzzardo, who graduated May 16 from St. Amant Academy, Hammond, LA, and Robert Black, III, who graduated the same day from Walker High School in Walker, LA. Bob Black, Jr. is the son of Robert Black, Sr. and F. Elaine Dressler Black, Greenwood. Elaine is the daughter of Nevin and Betty Dressler.
Didja hear about the lawyer who helped a woman
lose about a hundred pounds of fat? He got her a divorce.
Sunday I took the time to review a contract prepared for the purpose of establishing an agreement between an "exclusive advisor" to landowners "regarding soliciting and obtaining beneficially favorable-lease terms" from a "third party interesting in leasing land" for "oil and gas purposes." The specific agreement was titled an "Engagement Contract." There was enough fat in the "agreement" and enough voids in the "agreement" to result in a divorce. It was a document that needed the advice of a lawyer before signing. Let me explain.
The contract was fairly standard; i.e., Party "A" agrees with Party "B" to have Party "C" sign a gas-drilling lease with the "most favorable terms" that are "acceptable to the Landowner." The "agreement" would have produced favorable terms, but not necessarily favorable to the landowner. Party "B" was incorporated as a "limited liability corporation." The LLC would provide "Party B" protection from personal liabilities like a corporation while having the tax advantages of a partnership.
The contract included "mutual consideration." It included a blank to describe the property, including the state in which the property was located. It asked for the county, township, tax-parcel number and acres.
At this point I should mention that I was reviewing the contract to see how the treatment of water would be handled. There is no question that I am not an attorney, but I know that the law often favors "the other guy." I am not fond of getting skizzled. The land I am concerned about borders Fishingcreek. I bought that land so that I could disappear from the rest of the world from time to time. I did not buy the land for the purpose of having anyone scar up the countryside. I needed to review the agreement.
My concern was that the same thing would happen here that happened to Range Resources and Chief Oil & Gas when they diverted water from streams to large-scale drilling operations in adjacent Lycoming County. DEP partially shut down that operation. Cabot Oil leaked what Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency described as a "large" number of gallons of diesel fuel dyed bright red near Meshoppen Creek. Emergency responders cleaned up the spill. Last month in Texas a sink hole the size of a stadium opened following intensive drilling in that state. There won't be any heavy construction equipment swishing through Fishingcreek or dyed diesel killing fish in any streams on my property! I am not signing away my property on an "agreement" where environmental and safety risks are not even addressed!
Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus uses millions of gallons of water to crack open gas-bearing rocks. Contaminated water must then be disposed of, often underground. Each well requires an average of a million gallons of water to crack open ("hydraulic fracturing") the shale with high-pressure injections of water.
Back to the contract... Party "B" would "attempt to secure the most favorable oil- and gas-lease terms" as "Party "B" deemed "reasonably possible from a third party." Some key terms were mentioned, but not defined. Reading from the contract, "Some of the key terms include 1st year bonus and rental payments, subsequent delay rentals, production royalties and term." Excuse me! In English, what does that mean? The agreement stated that "Party B" would be the "exclusive agent with full authority to negotiate all oil- and gas-lease terms affecting the Lands." So lets see if I understand that. The owner would get what the "exclusive agent" got for him, but what the owner wanted might not be incorporated into the lease agreement.
Many of the terms and conditions in the agreement appeared to be acceptable. The language containing the reimbursement to "Party B" was clear and exact. Remuneration to "Party B" was spelled out in a paragraph strangely titled "Minimum Lease Criteria." The next paragraph was titled "Obligations of Landowner." That paragraph required the landowner to execute an oil and gas lease approved by the Landowner and "Party B" so long as the "Minimum Lease Criteria" (so long as Party "B" gets his share of the revenue) is met or exceeded. Near the end of the contract, Party "B" disclaimed the "completeness or accuracy of its written or verbal reports."
Why would anyone sign an agreement for the sake of money which would erode the landowner's rights to his own property? Signing a bad lease then expecting an attorney to get the landowner out of clauses he doesn't like won't work. Remember that a lawyer is a man who prevents somebody else from getting your money! The landowner must be the guardian of his own land, beginning with the lease agreement. Don't count on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to safeguard your streams if you don't include adequate safeguards in whatever you sign!
Understand what you are signing. Attend the Columbia County Land Owners Coalition Meeting this evening at the Benton High School auditorium at 7. Mason Dixon Energy, Inc., representing Samson Resources Company has now moved into the area and is becoming active in gas-leasing.
All contracts/leases should be reviewed by a lawyer specializing in oil and gas. What you sign today could affect you in the future. No one should pressure you into signing a lease. Contact Bruce Anderson, 458-4337, who can provide additional information on tonight's meeting.
A final thought. A simple Google search failed to locate either the company or the man who was "Party B" in the agreement. Normally, a Google search turns up more than an anxious child looking for fish worms in rain-soaked ground before a day of fishing. Take my name off the list of those expected to fall into lock-step with gas-lease signing. I am not about to give away my rights to Party "B" or to Party "C" when I know nothing about the person or his intentions.
I am now getting down from my soapbox.
June 8, 2008. Charles Ross, Mary Lou Buckalew and former First Lady Barbara Bush celebrate birthdays today. On this date in...
. 1789, the American Bill of Rights was first proposed by James Madison.
. 1947, Lassie debuted on ABC radio, a 15-minute show about a collie. Animal imitator, Earl Keen, provided the whines and other dog noises. The sponsor was Red Heart dog food.
. 1968, Don Drysdale, pitcher for LA Dodgers, lost his major league streak of scoreless innings pitched, when it was stopped at 58-2/3 by Howie Bedell, of the Philadelphia Phillies, who hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. Drysdale won 209 games as part of five pennant winners.
. The Sullivan County Historical Society Museum, Laporte, Pa., is now open for the summer. The museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1 PM to 5 PM. Further information can be obtained by calling 570 946-5020.
. A reader is looking for pictures of the former Elk Grove Hotel when it was under the ownership of Joe Griffith. Can anyone help?
. Marcia Kay and I were truly honored to be in the presence of Lynn and Carolyn Watson Saturday night at the Watsontown Hotel in Watsontown as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The Watson Inn was built in 1857 when it was known as the "Cooner Hotel." Horseback riders would race from the hotel down Main Street through Watsontown. Today, the Watsontown Hotel is a joy to visit, especially with hosts like Lynn and Carolyn.
• Lynn and Carolyn Watson were married when gas was $.29 a gallon, a far cry from Saturday night! When we left town last evening, the local price for regular, unleaded was $3.909 a gallon and when we returned it was $4.129. The national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline was $3.988 a gallon Saturday night and $4 when I woke Sunday morning. If you can remember when Benton had the lowest gas prices in the area, raise your hand!.
. Big Brown finished dead last to Da' Tara, the longest shot on the board, in the Belmont Stakes Saturday.
Wouldn't Alvin and Betty Sutliff have been proud this weekend at the people who turned out at their old barn to attend the grand opening of the Benton Farmer's Market! Bob & Deb Antanitis glowed at the close of business Saturday. Deb said, " Small towns are the BEST--that's why we love it here and want to help it grow and support our local small farmers and crafters." She continued, "Only in a small town could I have a brainstorm idea and ask some community members for help and they did gladly so without thought of compensation. Only in a small town would everyone turn out and show their support and give encouraging words on a blistering hot day in June." The winner of the $20 gift certificate for the market was wascally David Moss. He guessed every one of the farm tools correctly.
The OATS ("Out Among the Stars") Bluegrass Festival began its life as the "Jerseytown Bluegrass Festival" in the Pennsylvania village of that name. During the 1990's, Danville's Walt Laubach founded the family festival where folks camped on a beautiful hillside and listened to many of the most popular and prominent performers in bluegrass. Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, Jim and Jesse McReynolds--Walt knew all these musicians, and he brought them to our back yard in Central Pennsylvania. The booking, planning and arrangements required to create such an event are daunting, but Walt made it seem effortless.
When Walt Laubach announced there'd be no festival in 1999, many people were terribly disappointed. A group of bluegrass fans who had enjoyed the stage performances and the around-the-clock "field picking" at Jerseytown, some of whom had appeared on the festival's stage, decided to have their own Independence Day Weekend celebration that year at the Danville farm of Dr. Mary Hermann. They were joined by the Grillbillies, an informally organized group of bluegrass enthusiasts who attend festivals throughout the summer to listen to bluegrass and create elaborate feasts. It was that gathering that convinced a core group of bluegrass fans to revive the festival for 2000.
It wasn't a terribly difficult decision. Folks decided to invest time and the finances to continue the music. The festival was revived with a new name, the OATS ("Out Among the Stars") Bluegrass Festival. That first festival in 2000 took enormous work. "We needed people willing to work hard," says Mark Doncheski, OATS vice-president, who plays banjo in Stained Grass Window. "It was a lot more complicated than it seemed." "One of the challenges," says OATS Secretary Mark Barone, "is the fact that we're not close to urban centers, so we have to work hard to get the word out about the festival."
In 2002 OATS moved from the picturesque hillside in Jerseytown to the Benton Rodeo Grounds. We are all familiar with the spacious location at the rodeo grounds, nestled in a beautiful valley alongside West Creek. On a warm summer day, folks can wade into West Creek and listen to the music. The rodeo grounds provides an ideal location for people to bring motor homes, campers and tents to stay for a long weekend of great music. Many people look forward to preparing their meals at their campsites, while others enjoy the offerings of the food venders.
"People like the festival, so now we're doing our ninth year, but it certainly hasn't been easy," says Matt McBriarty, a New Jersey contractor who is president of OATS. "You always take a chance on the weather. In 2006 we were hit with heavy flooding, and many of the crowd who're always here didn't think they could get through. We did have a solid crowd last year, and this year's festival will be a crucial opportunity for us to continue our recovery." Over the past year, the OATS Festival organization became a federally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of this traditional form of American Music. The 2008 OATS Festival is itself a tribute to Walt Laubach, who single-handedly began this. Walt died this past year.
The 2008 lineup includes 20 different groups, some from our area and some national bands. Lonesome River Band has been performing its very lively music for 25 years. James King is a master of traditional bluegrass music and ballads about the struggles of common people. Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show provides vintage acoustic country music reminiscent of what you might have seen in the old-time radio jamborees in the 40s and 50s. The Doerfel Family is a 12-member family-bluegrass band, the core of which is made up of four brothers and a sister from ages 12 to 19. Dan Paisley and the Southern Grass is an OATS favorite and has appeared in seven of OATS' eight festivals with high-energy performances of traditional bluegrass. Chris Jones and the Night Drivers features the singer/songwriter named IBMA Broadcaster of the Year for his work on Sirius Satellite Radio." Newfound Road won "Contemporary Gospel Group of the Year" honors by SPBGMA. David Davis and the Warrior River Boys is an Alabama band fronted by a man whose father was the first of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. Pine Mountain Railroad, a Knoxville band that was created simply to make one performance at a conference, has become one of the most sought after groups in the country.
Jim Cram, a Danville contractor who serves on the OATS Board, attends the IBMA each year to listen to performances of many different groups. "It's not just the national bands people like to hear," he says. "Local and regional bands have people who follow their music, and many of them come to the festival." Stained Grass Window appears at OATS each year as a kind of unofficial host band. The 2008 festival will also present Marc Silver and the Stonethrowers, Hillbilly Gypsies, Hillbilly Water, and Aimless Pursuit.
Each year, Sunday morning has featured religious music that has always been an integral part of bluegrass. The Rev. Al Lumpkin, his wife Jean and friends begin Sunday's lineup at 9:30 AM with their presentation of Music of the Spirit. Al and Jean Lumpkin are backed by Mark Doncheski and Mary Hermann. This year's festival activities will continue Sunday until 4:30 PM, including the music of Raven Creek, The Grasscutters, Stained Grass Window, and Folk Spirits.
The festival features numerous workshops about playing various bluegrass instruments and singing this music. For the first time, this year's festival will initiate The OATS Bluegrass Academy for Kids. Students from ages 8-15 who are attending the festival with an adult-ticket holder and have a bluegrass instrument are welcome to participate. On Friday instructors will meet with the group and go over music. A total of four hours of instruction and practice on Saturday will prepare these kids to perform on the main stage during the Sunday show.
Stage performances are only the beginning of OATS festivities. "Parking lot" jams continue late into the night. "Danny Stewart's Jam Tent" is one of many locations where groups of musicians play and sing familiar songs. People come from far and near to camp out at this remarkable festival. "We set aside a quiet area for those who want to settle in early," remarks Jodie Fishbein. "There's music going on all night, and often the stage performers sit in on the campsite jams." Matt McBriarty also organizes "Grillbillie Hall" at each festival. "We want people to feel the hospitality that's here, so we'll begin the festival on Thursday with a potluck dinner for everybody."
This bluegrass festival is quite a bargain. OATS is a family event with something for just about everyone. Rough camping comes free with a four-day ticket. Children under 12 are admitted without charge. The OATS Festival is held at the Benton Rodeo Grounds from Thursday, July 3, through Sunday, July 6. Tickets are available at the gate for all four days or for individual days.
June 7, 2008. It is the birthday of Donald Hess, Michele Gould and Richard Lehet. Happy 50th wedding anniversary to Lynn and Carolyn Watson. Happy anniversary to Craig and Janet Merluzzi.
It will be hot today. It will be hotter Sunday. It will be hottest Monday. Go fishing or swimming. End of advice. The price of crude oil surged nearly $11 Friday to $138.54, bringing on more worries about the economy. The Dow industrials plunged 394.64 points and if the closing bell hadn't rung would probably have dropped more. Try to have a nice weekend and as always read the upcoming events at www.bentonnews.net/events1.htm.
Two man walked into a restaurant and asked the cost of the regular coffee and the decaffeinated coffee. The waitress replied that the regular coffee was $.50 and the decaffeinated coffee cost 45¢. Both men their money on the table. The waitress asked the first man which coffee he wanted, but filled the cup of the second man with decaffeinated. Why? Answer at end.
Congratulations to the 46 members of the graduating class of 2008 of the Benton Area Schools. Friday night, scholarships and awards totaling $187,000 were passed out to the members of the class.
You say you have some extra time on your hands and you would like to watch some animation? Go here.
Many readers will remember the Holcombe Funeral Home, located on Two and a Half Street, at the current location of the Dean Kriner Funeral Home. P. J. Holcombe, Dushore, a man we'll identify as "Si" in this article in order to have some uniformity, bought the Chapin Funeral Home from Ivin S. Chapin about 1947, and began doing business as the Holcombe Funeral Home. Si Holcombe remained in business in Benton until 1965.
The Holcombe family had an excellent reputation in the undertaking business at their Dushore funeral parlor, where the family maintained a "motor hearse" and other modern-funeral equipment. The eventual move to Benton by Si to open a funeral parlor was openly welcomed in the local area.
We'll revisit the Holcombe family as they are today, but first we'll head back to 1898 when Vell Burr Holcombe, a native of Bradford County who lived in Dushore, began his career of providing American craftsmanship and service by opening and serving as the Chairman of the Board of the Holcombe Furniture and Undertaking. V. B. Holcombe was joined in 1934 by his three sons, Pierson (Si), Vell and Richard Holcombe. The store provided complete furnishings for homes. (V.B. also had a daughter, Pauline, a naturalist, high-school teacher in Mansfield, Canton and Towanda and principal of Dushore High School. Learn more about Pauline and the entire Holcombe family by going here). The store also sold Frigidaire electric refrigerators. The company reorganized under the name V.B. Holcombe and Sons. V. B. Holcombe was also chairman of the Dushore Furniture Manufacturing Company, which was established in 1928 in a former silk-mill building. Si Holcombe became its secretary.
Picture courtesy of Pierson Holcombe, Advance, North Carolina
V. B. represented Sullivan County as assemblyman in the State Legislature from 1921 to 1933 and had a long history of working for the public welfare. Sullivan County can thank the number of improved roads in the county to V. B. Holcombe.
V. B. and Jennie Holcombe
Picture courtesy of the excellent Endless Mountains web site here
and used with the permission of Robert Sweeney.
As time passed, American manufacturers have dwindled and inexpensive overseas imports have flooded the US marketplace. The price of this shift has been the loss of American jobs, the loss of quality products and the loss of patriotic pride in purchasing habits.
Four male Holcombe cousins (Two brothers and one sister of Si Holcombe each had two girls and one boy) own a third-party logistics business in the outdoor-, sports-, and casual-apparel market. The company is now seeking to establish their own catalog business with the central theme being all products and materials entirely "Made in the USA." The quality levels will target the high end of the market. A good example is of the target market is seen by going to www.jlpowellusa.com, one of their current customers. This company however buys its products from all over the world.
The hunger for durable, well-crafted, American-made products still remains strong. Companies continue to outsource their manufacturing. The challenge is finding "Made in America" merchandise. And that is the void that V.B. Holcombe and Sons hope to fill. V.B.’s four grandsons have restored the family tradition to bring back to America what America does best. Made in USA means a product contains no–or negligible–foreign content. And that’s what V.B Holcombe and Sons promises in every product they sell. Every fabric. Every button. Every nut and bolt.
The company seems to have found the best that America has to offer. Apparel. Home furnishings. Luggage. Pet supplies. Eco-friendly items made from organic cottons, bamboo and reclaimed timber.
V.B. Holcombe and Sons will primarily sell to the consumer through direct mail catalogs, e-commerce and a retail location known as the Birch Creek Store (570 928-2050) in the former Endicott Johnson Shoe Factory, Mildred, in a brick building owned by "The Holcombe Group." The target audience has been identified as middle- and upper-class men and women 35+ years of age who live in the fly-over states, small towns and midsized cities of America. They are American-born citizens who are patriots and/or veterans. They are the union workers, the self-employed entrepreneurs and the managers of our businesses. They are the men and women who have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by the freedoms of this country.
V.B. Holcombe and Sons plan that a portion of the distribution of their products will be made available through wholesale channels, utilizing the V.B. Holcombe and Sons name as the "Mark of Authenticity" for "Made in USA" products.
We'll tell you more about this ambitious company and their plans to bring employment to Sullivan County in coming weeks.
The waitress didn't pour the decaffeinated coffee because she was out of regular coffee or because the second man was a "regular." The reason was that the first man laid down 50¢ in two quarters. The second man laid down 45¢ in small change (nickels and dimes) which indicated he wanted decaffeinated.
Izora Viola (Hosler) Ertwine (August 10, 1921-June 5, 2008) died Thursday at the Orangeville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was 86. Mrs. Ertwine was born in Berwick. She was a daughter of the late William Woodin Hosler and Leana (Grasley) Hosler. She had been employed by the former Roy Evarts Dairy and the Benton Area School District as a cafeteria worker. She and her former husband, Warren A. “Farmer” Ertwine, Sr., operated a family farm in Maple Grove for many years. Her former husband passed away March 19, 2000, ending a marital span of 59 years. She was also preceded in death in childhood by a brother, Frederick Hosler. Surviving are children Warren A. Ertwine, Jr. (Mary Ellen), North Centre Township; David C. Ertwine, Harrisburg; William W. “Woody” Ertwine (Alice), Benton; Darlene K. Moss (David), Raven Creek; Donna L. Stiger (Marvin), Waverly, NY; Cynthia E. Howey (Peter), Stroudsburg. There are 13 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren; 4 step grandchildren; 2 step great grandchildren; a brother, George Hosler (Anna), North Centre Twp; and a sister, Betty Good (Clifford), Lock Haven. Funeral services will be Monday at 11 AM at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc. Burial will be in the Pine Grove Cemetery, Walnut Street, Berwick. A viewing will be held Sunday from 6 to 8 PM at the McMichael Funeral Home.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the Saturday edition of the Press Enterprise.
June 6, 2008. Will Jones celebrates his birthday today. Nina and Ralph Ford have completed 35 years of marriage today. Happy anniversary. It is the last day of school today and graduation at the Benton Area Schools takes place tonight.
The official start of summer is June 20. In reality, it feels like it is here. Temperatures and humidity will start to build today, with mostly sunny skies and a high near 86°. By Saturday afternoon, a Bermuda high-pressure system will pump warm, humid air of about 91° into the area. The plus-90° heat will stick around through Monday. A few showers and thunderstorms will blast the area.
The Poinsettia debuted at the first Pennsylvania Horticulture Society exhibition on this date in 1829. On this date in 2004, Laptop Larry was down and out and ready to enlist in the Armed Forces as a General Failure! Larry had made more mistakes than any other invention known to man, with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequilas. Larry did ask if he could leave a parting message. He wrote, "UP grade me to XT and run me on 220v! I'l work greO?_|" The period of grieving was short...
Here is a one-question pop quiz. Answer at end. There is a seven-letter word you probably think of daily. It begins with "R" and ends with "E." Its interior five letters make up two words which are antonyms. What is it?
Congratulations to the following students at Bloomsburg University for the spring semester who achieved the honor of making the Dean's List. We apologize if we missed any of the students...
Edward L. Cole
Caleb J. Fritz
Joshua C. Fritz
Sarah J. Fulmer
Casey D. McHenry
Jessica N. Motto
Stephanie A. Spiece
Alexandra E. Wasell
Shannon K. Yarnell
• On June 3 at approximately 9 PM a tornado destroyed the Moscow Covered Bridge, IN-70-07, in Rush County, Indiana. The tornado caused much destruction to the small community of Moscow, population 42. Their beloved covered bridge was the site of an annual covered-bridge festival held the last weekend each June. The bridge was a 2-span, 334 ft. Burr truss span across the Big Flat Rock River. It was built in 1886 by Emmet L. Kennedy and featured fancy scrollwork on the portals, a characteristic of the Kennedy-bridge builders. The large bridge was painted white and was last rehabbed in 2002. It was reported in one article as being the longest covered bridge in Indiana still open to traffic. It is a huge loss to the small community. It is not yet known if the bridge will be rebuilt. It is estimated to cost $3-5 million to replace it.
• Congratulations to the Christ United Methodist Church on raising over $758 at their Election Day Soup, Sandwich and Bake Sale. The enthusiastic group will be "back in action on the second Monday in September."
• Keep these people in your thoughts and prayers: Elanore Kocher, Orangeville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; Beverly Stackhouse, P.O. Box 104, Benton; and Dorothea Mather, 185 Jamison City Road, Benton.
A reader asked for the URL for the Progressive Farmer article on Columbia County. The web site is www.progressivefarmer.com/farmer/bestplaces/articles/05columbia.html
Want to stay in the state this summer?
• Longwood Gardens’ spectacular tree house exhibition will inspire the nature lover, craftsperson and kid in everyone. Guests can climb and explore large-scale tree houses made by the country’s best designers. The exhibition began April 25 and continues through Sept. 1. Longwood Gardens is located on US Route 1, about three miles northeast of Kennett Square.
• "Once Upon A Nation" introduces storytelling at the Free Quaker Meeting House and Signer’s Garden in Historic Philadelphia and Varnum’s Quarters at Valley Forge, along with 30 brand new stories. This free program continues through Labor Day weekend.
• Visitors can immerse themselves in the story of the Underground Railroad by participating in a self-guided tour of Philadelphia’s Quest for Freedom sites. Just steps away from the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, these sites and their heroic tales illustrate Philadelphia’s pivotal role in the anti-slavery movement. Free.
• Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah — This exhibition at The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., tells the compelling true tale of a real pirate ship that started out as a slave ship in 1715. Real Pirates features more than 150 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor wreckage, including its bell, massive anchor, cannons, jewelry, swords, pistols, personal belongings, and gold and silver coins. The recovered items helped shed light on a tumultuous period in history. The exhibition opened May 31 and continues through Nov. 2, 2008.
The word that starts with "R" and ends with "E" and contains two antonyms is "Rout ine."
Izora V. (Hosler) Ertwine, formerly of the Benton area, died Thursday, June 5, 2008, at the Orangeville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was the widow of Warren A. "Farmer" Ertwine, Sr., who died March 19, 2000. She was 86. Arrangements will be announced by the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., 4394 Red Rock Road, Benton.
June 5, the 157th day of 2008. There are 15 days until the official start of summer. Happy birthday today to Edd Sidinger, III, along with Kenny G (without a period).
. Bryan Getz started his employment with Benton Borough May 23 as the Maintenance Supervisor. Bryan is a native of Benton, and a graduate of Benton High School. He makes his home in Sugarloaf Township with his wife, Stacy, and two sons. Bryan's background and experience should enable him to become an asset to Benton Borough.
. The Pennsylvania Game Commission concluded its gypsy moth spraying on May 28 of 42,731 acres of its more than 1.4 million acre State Game Lands system.
. We have to give credit to the Bradford County Conservation District for creating a brochure telling people who are considering moving to Bradford County that they may face noise and odors from farms and slow-moving farm vehicles. The brochure has a number of purposes, including stopping the phone calls to the County Agent telling him that the spreading of manure doesn't smell good.
• PennGrade crude oil prices dropped $3.50 overnight to $118 a barrel, but that figure is nearly double what producers were getting a year ago, and down from the $127.50 per barrel of May 22 when prices spiked $4.25 over a 24-hour period.
• While we tend to think of the natural gas industry and Marcellus shale as a strange new bedfellow, actually there are nearly 47,000 active natural-gas wells in Pennsylvania. Natural-gas prices have steadily risen in the last six months, moving from $7.50 MMBtu (million British thermal units) to more than $12 MMBTU on May 31.
Didja know that the post offices in Columbia County in 1901 were at Almedia, Aristes, Asbury, Beaver Valley, Bendertown, Benton, Berwick, Bloomsburg, Briar Creek, Buckglen, Tie, Trimills, Cabin Run, Canby, Catawissa, Central, Centralia, Coles Creek, Derrs, Divide, Buckhorn, Elk Grove, Fishing Creek, Espy, Forks, Evansville, Fowlerville, Eyers Grove, Glen City, Mifflin X Roads, Greenwood, Guava, Hetlerville, Iola, Jamison City, Jerseytown, Kulp, Lightstreet, Lime Ridge, Mainville, Rohrsburg, Rupert, Rupp, Sereno, Stillwater, Talmar, Taurus, Mifflinville, Millgrove, Millville, Mordansville, Newlin, Numidia, Orangeville, Pennsyl, Pine Summit, Raven Creek, Rhodes, Roaring Creek, Vancamp, Waller, Welliversville, Wilburton and Willow Springs. You say you don't recognize all those places? As always when you don't know where a Columbia County location is, we refer you to the book by Walter Brasch entitled Columbia County Place Names.
In the Borough of Benton, the Burgess in 1901 was Ira Hess. The General Borough Act was reenacted in 1927 and revised and reenacted in 1947 as the Borough Code. The latest reenactment of the Borough Code came in 1966. The title of "Burgess" was changed to "Mayor" in 1961. In 1968, the new judicial article of the Pennsylvania Constitution removed all judicial powers from the Mayor. The president of council slowly became recognized as the chief elected officer of a borough. Todd Butt held the title of Chief Burgess at one time. Karl Fritz was the last "Chief Burgess" of Benton and went on to become "Mayor" of Benton Borough.
The President of the Town Council in 1901 was Russell Karns. John Heacock was Treasurer. The Chief of Police was T. E. Brown. The Tax Collector, known simply as "Collector," was J.D. Lewis. T.E. Brown carried the title of High Constable. The office of constable is mandated in the Pennsylvania state constitution. All constables in Pennsylvania are elected Officers of the Court, as are all state court officers in the state system. We don't know what the "High" Constable did, but today the majority of the work of a Pennsylvania's Constable is to watch the polling place during elections.
For almost 140 years, Patterson Grove has been a camp-meeting ground of the Methodist Church. In an old sugar-maple grove between Fairmount and Huntington Townships, five miles southeast of Ricketts Glen, is the campground named for the mother of a wealthy businessman of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Ezekiel Montgomery Patterson. The mother, Mary Denison Patterson, supported the churches in that area for fifty years, and on August 26, 1878, the Headley Grove campground was renamed the Patterson Grove Campground.
By 1885, the grove had 160 tents or cabins and other buildings, each from two to six rooms each. Some had verandahs and other "outward adornments." The grove had from 1,000 to 1,500 residents during the two weeks at the camp meetings and on Sundays some say the numbers grew to 10,000.
By the time of the grove's 100th anniversary, Patterson Grove consisted of 134 frame cottages, an open-air auditorium, a boarding-hall, a recreation hall, a picnic pavilion and a pool.
A fire broke out at Patterson Grove in 1893 and almost everything--including something like 200 and 300 cottages--burned to the ground except for the boarding house. For additional information about the Patterson Grove Campground, consult the Patterson Grove Centennial book published in 1968, edited by Richard S. Patterson,
The 2008 United Methodist Camp meeting takes place July 28 to August 11. Many other activities open to the public are planned, such as the pig roast, Friday, June 27, serving from 4:30 To 7 PM. Another event is the auction Saturday, June 14, at 9:30 AM, at 1154 Bethel Hill Road. Read the list of sale items by going here. Head to the Upcoming Events on the Benton News for a complete list of activities in the area and at Patterson Grove. New listings are added daily.
June 4, 2008. The 19th amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote was passed by Congress on this date in 1919. In 1942 the Battle of Midway was waged in the Central Pacific Ocean. Happy birthday today to Calvin Follmer, Pam Andrezze, Amy Remley Vincent and Helen Harvey.
Helen June Deiter Harvey was born on this date in 1918 in Laurel Run, north of Wilkes-Barre. Helen is number five of six siblings: Thelma, Harold, Robert, Doris and George. Helen was the daughter of George and Daisy Harrison Deiter. Her father worked at the DuPont Powder Mill. After graduation from the Johnson School, Scranton, in 1935, she finished hair cosmetology at "Madame Fenwick's" in Scranton. She opened a beauty salon in 1937 in the home now owned by Mayor Jan Swan at North and Main Streets, Benton, after she, her mother and younger brother, George, moved to Benton. A young man by the name of Carl Harvey met Helen as he delivered coal to the house--and as love stories often report, the rest was history. Carl and Helen were married October 12, 1939, at George Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge. The couple had two children: Diane Harvey Laubach and Keith Harvey. There are five grandchildren: Rob, Brian, Laurie, Hope and Judy. There are three great grandchildren: Erica, Nolan and Robyn. Helen has lived an active life helping with the Laubach Library and Stillwater Christian Church clothing. She was a Sunday School teacher, taping sermon ministry and ministry for children. Helen was trained as a Laubach Literacy tutor and achieved Master Tutor status within 300 hours.
Didja ever think that a single lawyer in a small town
will starve to death, but two can make a pretty good living?
One of the main jobs associated with having a garden is the hoeing of the ground. All of the gardens in my life have been gardens as long as I can remember. The ground has always been soft and pliable, especially after a spring rain like we received last night. As the ground gets turned, the fish worms squish their way out of sight, heading deep into the soil allowing the water to soak into the ground. A garden is easy to hoe as long as you don't let it get unhoed! Hanging the hoe on the garage wall where it can be a trusted companion during walks through the garden helps.
But life has a way of letting us take weekend breaks during the week, of not doing our hoeing, of not tending to business. When we get behind, the weeds get ahead! Eventually it is hard to even get into the garden and it isn't until the hoeing begins that the feeling of satisfaction returns. The simple job of turning over the ground is a lot like doing a good deed for a neighbor. Besides, all kinds of problems can be solved when the noise of the world is shut out and full concentration turns to getting rid of weeds and letting the vegetables have some air. Each tug of the hoe gets easier. At first, hoeing between the onions was tough, but as you get to the cabbage the weeding becomes easier. The intentional jabs with the hoe as you think of your least favorite politician releases all sorts of tension.
It seems as though we'll never solve the problems of illegal immigration or the high cost of fuel and energy or what to have for dinner. Our only consolation is that there are only two more rows to hoe and if I concentrate I should be able to solve these problems and more besides. It is always best if you don't take your troubles out of the garden.
Towanda Borough Council is advertising for companies that want to bid on oil and gas rights on properties owned by the Borough of Towanda with the proviso that the borough would not be obligated to accept the bids that are submitted if they are too low. The Borough of Benton needs to make a decision on gas-drilling leases, but in order to make that decision they need to know the feelings of the residents. Sides are lining up over the issue of gas drilling. In informal discussions with borough residents, some spoke against and others spoke in favor of allowing drilling companies to begin drilling for natural gas on vacant municipal property. Most seemed to be championing their own cause in picking the side they chose.
The borough is not permitted to regulate gas and oil drilling, but must follow the state Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). Any drilling that would take place in Benton borough would be governed by the MPC.
The effect on homeowner's property values must be considered, specifically those properties within the borough limits that are too small to derive benefit from gas-well drilling. If these owners have no chance of receiving any monetary remuneration, it would not be appropriate to take any actions which would potentially affect the equity in their property, especially for the older residents of the community. While the Benton News takes no stand on the pros or cons of gas drilling in the borough, it is important that the residents stand together on this issue. The costs and benefits need to be explored while at the same time the downside risk from exploration on the roughly 61 acres in the Benton Park, on the airport, on the rodeo grounds and at the lookout need to be highlighted.
June 3, 2008. Catlin Curtin celebrates her birthday today, and it is the fifty-eighth wedding anniversary of Harry and Shirley Ritter, North Street.
A long-awaited trip to Laquin, a ghost town in Bradford County, took place Monday when John and Charlotte Sibly and Edd Sidinger and I headed due north of Forksville on roads I had never before traveled. Heading into the mountains is one of my favorite pastimes and forms of entertainment. My favorite pastime, however, is eatin'.
A trip into the mountains often requires a refueling at the Brass Pelican. I never know anyone at the Pelican these days, outside of Monica, Jackie and Becky. The people who come are from as we say "away from here." They are often uneducated about the finer foods of the mountains, and so they often leave astonished when they find instead of a BLT sandwich a BLT salad. Crab pearls are on the menu now--and only a few months ago I was blaming the oysters for producing pearls! You can often get milk gravy, turkey gravy or beef gravy, corn bread, side meat, souse meat, dandelion greens and if there are no dandelions wilted lettuce with a bacon dressing fills the bill. Many come for the buckwheat cakes--usually shortened to "bucks" by Jackie and Becky. There are the home-made pies baked in the fluted tin-pie pans. Rhubarb pie was a best seller Monday.
We learned during a recent trip into the mountains of North Carolina that the difference between a southerner and a northerner is that a southerner won't sell anything he can eat, and a northerner won't eat anything he can sell.
Anyway, the trip was a hoot. This was my first trip to Barclay Mountain and to the ghost town of Laquin (once pronounced "Lay-Quin with a long A as in "La-di-da), and now pronounced Lay-Quin, as in "Frito-Lay"). We explored the former Civilian Conservation Corps, the former lath mills, cooperage company, hub and veneer company, kindling-wood plant, chemical company, the Carbon Run Coal Company, Tannerytown and a whole bunch more.
In 1906, the estimated population of the town was 1,200. Laquin once had a hotel, two churches, a school, a boarding house, store, depot, town building and several homes. The last building disappeared sometime in the 1960s. Former Benton resident Joe Sutliff was born in Laquin in 1915 when his father, Joseph Sutliff, ran the lumber business there. Joe was the father of Ann Sutliff Ganshaw and Joe "Brooks" Sutliff. Charlotte Sibly's father worked for the CCC in Laquin. The town is about 51 miles from Back Home in Benton, PA, about straight north of Route 154 from Forksville.
I'll mention some specifics of the trip in an upcoming edition when I contrast some of the details of the Jamison City/Emmons areas with the Laquin area. In tomorrow's edition, I'll briefly mention the CCC at Laquin and tell you the topics that Dr. Wilson Ferguson will cover in his discussion of the former CCC location at Emmons on the third Monday in June at the North Mountain Historical Society.
Every other day
Take a drop in water.
You'll be better soon
Or at least you oughter.
The shutdown Friday by state environmental officials and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission of some natural gas-drilling operations in Lycoming County for not having permits for collecting water from nearby streams brings to mind certain water cautions to keep in mind; i.e.,
. Those who plan to lease their land and allow drilling should have their water tested before, during and after the process.
. Insure that the lease spells out who is liable for the water, who is going to return contaminated water to pre-drilling status and how long will it take.
. It is important to know where the water will come from when water and sand is forced into a well's bore hole in order to fracture the shale beneath the surface. It is equally important to know what happens to the "brackish" water which results from the fracturing process. What happens to the chemical additives and sand that was used in the drilling process? The water is either hauled off to treatment facilities or disposed of in an impermeable container, but the basic lease should spell out the details. Extracting gas from the Marcellus Shale requires drilling horizontally through bedrock, sometimes for a mile, and forcing cracks open with high pressure blasts of water. Each well requires an average of 1 million gallons.
. The Energy Act of 2005 exempts oil and gas producers from certain requirements of the "Safe Drinking Water Act," "The Clean Water Act," "The Clean Air Act" and the Right-to-Know-Act." Keep that fact in mind as you enter the signing phase of a gas-drilling contact. To borrow from an old phrase, "Let the Lessor beware!"
There was a young man near Dunowen,
Who strolled by himself all alone
He's a face like a hatchet,
I defy you to match it,
Said he, "I don't mind it's my own."
One of the most scenic drives in Sullivan County is on a road known as the Grassy Hollow Road, which meanders as an extension of Jamison City Road from Jamison City as it climbs the steep side hill until it reaches the Cherry Ridge Road above Heberly Run. The road was improved in part and constructed in places by a crew from the Civilian Conservation Corps at the Emmons camp, north of Elk Grove and has been a passageway into the mountains for hunters since that time. The Northeast Region of the Pennsylvania Game Commission advised the Benton News Monday that the PGC "is not planning to reopen the road as a through road. The cost estimate to repair the damaged sections of road versus the benefits do not justify the cost. It will be open a portion of the way on both ends, but will not be a through road." For readers who disagree with that decision, here is the address and phone number for the Dallas office of the PGC: 55 Memorial Hwy., Dallas, PA 18612. (570) 675-1143
Susan Curry is now a Care Services Liaison with the Bloomsburg Health System. She will focus on quality patient care, physicians services and community outreach to facilitate healthy internal and external communication so the Health System can better meet the needs of the community. She is located on the third floor of the Professional Building, 387-2095.
The Grand Opening of the Benton Farmer's Market is Friday and Saturday. Open Friday, June 6, from noon to 6 PM. Saturday, June 7, they will be open from 10 AM to 3 PM. A partial list of vendors is provided under Upcoming Events. Additional items are added to this list daily.
June 2, 2008. Happy birthday to Kendra Everitt and happy anniversary to Allen and Dorothy Hess. The Civil War came to a formal end on this day in 1865. Confederate Major General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, surrendered, and the last Confederate army ceased to exist. Six hundred and twenty thousand American lives had been lost. The war was over.
Most readers have never heard of Stephen Wiltshire, a disabled, genius, autistic savant, a person somewhat like the part played by Dustin Hoffman in the Hollywood film, Rain Man. Stephen has the ability to look at a building, capture it in his mind, and then make a drawing that is astonishingly accurate. He has been doing this since he was a child when he only had the understanding of a six-year old unable to a cross a road on his own. Go here and be amazed!
Two of the major gas-drilling companies operating from the Pennsylvania line north to Binghamton and Hancock, New York, are XTO Energy, Fort Worth, Texas, and Chesapeake Energy, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Last year the two companies collectively earned $3.9 billion in profits. The depth of the wells and the high cost of extracting the gas are separating the boys from the men, so to speak, but both companies are doing just fine! Both companies are offering between $2,400 and $2,500 an acre for a five-year lease and both offer a 15% royalty pay-out, but note that a similar gas-drilling Texas operation known as Barnett in twenty northern Texas counties is resulting in leases of $24,000 per acre! Companies may be willing to invest more locally later, but that depends largely on how well the Marcellus produces. And that is anyone's guess...
XTO energy, Inc. (Friday's close: $63.62) has the objective to achieve a 23% production growth in 2008. The company is the third-largest owner of domestic-gas reserves among the independents and is currently producing more than 1.71 billion cubic feet equivalent per day (Bcfe/d) of gas, has $12.9 billion in assets, $1.9 billion in profits and a 20% return on invested capital. The company is listed as the seventh largest growing American energy company by Platts Gas Daily. Gas drilling dealmaker Jackie Root has been quoted as saying that after an expected contract signing in the near future, XTO will have access to about 47,000 acres.
Chesapeake Energy (Friday's close: $54.77) is ranked 70th of the 250 largest energy companies, with $24.4 billion in assets, $2 billion in profits and a 10.3% return on invested capital. Daily production increased 27% from the third quarter of 2006. Management seems to be making a huge bet on high natural-gas prices; if it's right, returns should be phenomenal. The CEO of the company, a man by the name of McClendon, has an uncanny grasp of the natural-gas industry and is one of the best in the industry. Chesapeake commits about 20% of its rigs in use to Barnett Shale, with plans to drill 400 to 500 wells per year during the next four to five years.
Didja ever notice that a lot of people want to serve God--
but only in an advisory capacity?
Firefox is going to try for a Guinness World Record when the next version of Firefox becomes available for users. To promote Firefox 3, Mozilla is seeking participants for a Firefox 3 Download Day in June (the day has not yet been announced). Mozilla will try to pull in a world-record number of downloaders for the newest browser in a 24-hour period. The Beta version of Firefox 3 was recently reviewed on the Benton News.
Putting new words to an old and often told story isn't the easiest thing to do. For a senior project at Mercersburg Academy in 1948, Harvey Andruss, Jr. penned some words which originally came from a WPA Project, in which he described "the valley of the Fishing Creek." With permission from Mr.
Andruss, his description follows...
"The locality of the valley of the Fishing Creek, which for romantic scenery, beautiful landscape, purity of its waters, health of its climate, and the richness of its soil, is not surpassed by any of the many valleys that abound in Central Pennsylvania. It is situated in Columbia County, and derives its name from the stream that pass through its entire length. Fishing Creek rises in the North Mountain, and, after passing through the country from north to south, empties into the Susquehanna a short distance below Bloomsburg.
"The farms of the valley lie on both sides of this beautiful steam, while the valley is bounded, on either side, by high ridges. Along the northern part of the valley lie four townships--Sugarloaf, Benton, Fishing Creek and Jackson. These townships (snip) demand this further notice: Sugarloaf lies north along the mountain, and is bounded on the east by the line of Luzerne County; Benton lies south of Sugarloaf; Fishing Creek, south of Benton; and Jackson, west of Sugarloaf and Benton.
"The people are mostly farmers, with merchants, mechanics, etc. necessary in a rural district. They are a hard-working, industrious people, and instead of waiting for the crumbs that fall from some lordly table, they carefully nurse the earth, and she rewards them bountifully for their labor. They are hospitable and kind; and the weary and needy are never turned from their doors empty. They contribute cheerfully and liberally for the support of their schools, their poor, their rods and their churches. Like their own mountains and the steams that flow though them, they are free and independent."
In a few days when we get into a longer article, you'll learn why we happened to pick these words today.Paul Wright provided a picture of a fawn hunkered under a tree near Waller, which reminded me of an article I read in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader in its edition of October 13, 1922. A Saranac Lake, New York, boy was riding a bicycle through the outskirts of the village when he ran into a party of deer at a sharp curve. In the group were a large buck, two does and two fawns. One of the fawns ran into the bicycle. The boy was not thrown, but the fawn was hurled to one side. The buck instantly lowered its horns and charged the boy and his bike. There was soon a frantic race down the road with the boy pedaling madly and the enraged buck at the rear wheel. The race ended when the boy arrived home and turned into the safety of his door yard.
June 1, 2008. Joshua Vincent and Sandy Kogut celebrate their birthdays today. Becky Stoneham Green is home from her stay in the hospital, but it will probably take a few days of recovery before we see her in the Sub Shop.
Didja know that Catherine Laidacker Harrison moved to Benton in 1939, moving into the former home of Dr. Frank S. Laubach? With her husband, Horace Harrison, they opened a Fairlawn Super Market, which later became an IGA grocery store
Didja know that...
. there are two theories about arguing with women? Neither works.
. It was two years ago when Whittier and Joyce Letteer had a large maple tree land on their Stillwater house?
. From now through the first two weeks of June are the peak times for doe to have their fawns? The rule is "See a fawn alone, leave it alone."
The State College-based Uni-Marts, LLC has filed for chapter 11 protection. The company operates 283 convenience stores and gas stations under the "Uni-Mart" and "Choice" names in PA, NY and OH. The company employs approximately 1,200 people and listed between $50-$100 million in assets and liabilities. According to a Benton Uni-Mart employee, the Bloomsburg store will close June 3. The same employee said there is no indication at this time that the local store will close.
Russell Castrogiovanni, one of our local artists, will have his work displayed in the Bloomsburg Public Library, on Market Street, for two months from Wednesday, June 4, to Monday, July 28. "Meet the artist" is scheduled for Saturday, June 14, from 12 to 3 PM. Library hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9 AM to 8 PM; Wednesday and Friday 9 AM to 5 PM; Saturday 8 AM to noon.
There was a young lady named Florence
Who for kissing professed great abhorrence,
But when she'd been kissed,
And found out what she'd missed,
She cried till the tears came in torrents!
"Penny Suppers," also referred to at times as "penny party" and "box suppers," date back many years in the upper Fishing Creek Valley. The Central M.E. Church had its ham and eggs and meatloaf "penny suppers." The Grange Hall had its ham and egg penny suppers, as did the Stillwater Church, the Christian Church and the Ladies Aid Society of the Central M.E. Church. "Penny Suppers" were very popular at the local churches and at the Grange. Years ago, people would pay a penny for a fork, a penny for a knife, a penny for a plate, etc. and a penny for a serving of each type of food that they wanted.
It would be hard to beat a 1937 penny supper as described in the March 30, 1937, edition of the El Heraldo De Brownsville, a Brownsville, Texas, newspaper published from January 12, 1936, to February 29, 1940. Two women, Nannie Bourne and Della Bollinger were in charge of the supper. Their menu for the Wednesday night penny supper consisted of chicken, oysters, Swiss steak, assorted fresh vegetables, home made pies and cakes, fresh dewberry cobbler and strawberry shortcake. In addition, there were biscuits, cornbread, iced tea, milk and coffee.
A 1913 edition of the Duluth News Tribune advertised an upcoming penny supper saying that "any article on the menu may be secured 'for one measly copper,' and the whole card, making a meal 'fit for a king,' for about 20 cents. Those preparing the supper claim that this is one chance for the citizens of Superior (Minnesota) to reduce the high cost of living, and urge that every one take advantage of the opportunity."
The penny supper reminds us of a time when we were young and went to a church service and a man with a little boy about my age complained that the service was too long, the preacher was dull and the singing was off key. We remember the confused little boy looking up at his father and telling him, "Daddy, it was really pretty good for a dime."
Penny suppers are all for a good cause. In some cases that we have heard of, contributions to the church benefit only the person making the contribution. A case in point was when an Internal Revenue Agent called on the minister of a church and told the minister that one of the parishioners, according to tax returns filed, had made a contribution of fifteen hundred dollars to the church. The IRS agent wanted confirmation that this was true. The minister thought for a second and then replied, "If he didn't, he will!"