On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

It’s amazing to me that we are closing out 2015 with this week’s edition. Week after week the Mountaintop Eagle staff contributes to the overall completion of our paper. The editorial department including Managing Editor Kathy Flower and correspondents Marcia Thomas, Andrea O’Neill and Nicole Fay Barr comes up with new original content all year long. Their stories are often illustrated by the superb contributions of our Photographer John Wengrzynek and often the correspondents will do some on the scene photos too.

The advertising salespeople, Denise Manosky and Cheryl Weyrauch keep in touch with the Eagle’s advertisers throughout the year. Some businesses are seasonal and others run year round. We are fortunate to have a loyal customer base. Our success is dependent on their success and I want both to thrive.

The third essential component for a successful newspaper is circulation management. The USPS delivers the Eagle every Wednesday direct to our subscribers’ homes. Post office local delivery options have changed drastically in the past few years. The Eagle has a periodical permit and we are fortunate that all of our locally delivered papers are dropped at the North Main Street Bulk Office on Tuesdays for next day delivery. Depending on the day of the week local first class mail delivery can be two to three days or more. The Eagle’s bags are not trucked to Allentown for distribution, as is the other first class mail.

Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1737 establishing free and nominal fee postal distribution for newspapers. He was a newspaper publisher who knew how important keeping the colonists informed about their relation to Britain was. I think of Franklin with gratitude to this day.

The Mountaintop Eagle’s Samantha Laskowski is a multitalented graphic artist, who also handles most of the business tasks including billing customers and subscribers and keeping those accounts current. Samantha also makes all of our ads and her imagination and skill are the best we have ever enjoyed.

Solid teamwork for the past 30 years brought us to our 30th Anniversary in 2015. The Mountaintop Eagle is unique among small newspapers in Pennsylvania. We continue to reinvent and to grow every week. A subscriber recently called to renew and he paid us a great compliment. “It is a miracle what you do every week.” That it is and we are going to continue the miracle on into 2016 and beyond.

Christmas in Brooklyn

Charlie and I travelled to Brooklyn to share Christmas with the Dicus family, Mark Grubert and many members of the Grubert extended family. The house was so beautifully decorated by Lara, who also made many sweet treats for the holiday. Cookie baking took place several times. I contributed my chocolate covered peanut butter balls; a no bake version that I have been making since I first participated in an FBI wives cookie exchange more than 40 years ago. I like to eat no more than two or three different cookies every day or two. A little goes a long way.

The gifts were placed under the Dicus tree and there was great anticipation from the youngest grandchild, Maggie age 7, for Santa’s visit. Luckily Maggie got a huge assortment of Shopkins, tiny little tradable pieces of food, fashion and toys. You never know what will be the hot toy for the little ones.

Patrick Dicus, who told me he always takes good care of his electronics and has never had a mishap, asked for a GoPro, a tiny camera that mounts on a bike helmet, the handlebars of a bike and other places. The GoPro is a toy for all ages. It is not on my bucket list, although I always enjoy the Apple products, so I can learn something from Patrick.

Kate asked for a microscope and was busily looking at slides of skin and saliva. She reported that she say “things moving” on the slides. That’s how future scientists get their starts.

Charlie Dicus is 14 and a freshman in high school. His requests were age appropriate and in his quiet way Charlie enjoyed getting to know them too.

Our family went to the 5 p. m. Christmas vigil mass at St. Augustine’s Church in Park Slope Brooklyn, where the Dicus children processed up the aisle to the crèche. Patrick was entrusted to carry the Baby Jesus, which he said was fairly heavy. Our grandchildren led the bell ringing during the Gloria too. I love the Christmas mass with the singing and traditional readings.

Mark Dicus prepared a delicious meatball and sausage pasta Christmas Eve dinner. He used the tomato sauce we canned in my 40-year-old water bath canner in August for his old family recipe. The ripe tomatoes were from my abundant 2015 tomato crop. Rich and red, I could taste the freshness.

Each child opened just one gift on Christmas Eve. They enjoyed guessing what was in each package to choose just the right one. Charlie and I loved experiencing the excitement.

Christmas Day dawned almost as warm as the record-breaking day before. We opened our gifts, enjoyed an ample “big breakfast” of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon and bagels and the Dicus family’s special heirloom Parker House Roll Cinnamon Buns with delicious candied pecans. Several of us dashed out for a Christmas Day walk in Prospect Park before departing for the Grubert Christmas at Aunt Peggy’s house in Eastchester, NY.

There were 13 adults and 7 children at the family event. One branch had been exposed to a serious virus and thankfully stayed away. Aunt Peg and her daughter Meg and son Michael made a wonderful dinner and there was lots of conversation throughout the afternoon. The youngest child was 2 and the oldest adult was 69. Three generations were represented. Each child got one gift and Maggie happily added to her Shopkins collection.

With our bellies full we departed back to Brooklyn and watched a family friendly Christmas classic movie. The holiday was coming to an end.

Mark Grubert departed for his flight back to Charlotte and we packed our bags to return to Mountaintop the day after Christmas. The Dicus family bought tickets to see the new Star Wars movie and Charlie and I headed west to Mountaintop. We had experienced the warmest Christmas week in 83 years and although the Pocono ski slopes were bare for now, they could be white and inviting in days. I loved our green Christmas of 2015.

2015 Highlights The end of the year usually

calls for a year in review story in the Mountaintop Eagle. We are writing the history of our town in each edition. Some of the stories I remember well include the May 2015 Gypsy Moth Infestation. That led to Luzerne County partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to plan a spray program for 2016. Applications were due in August and by November applicants were advised of the cost to spray their properties. A fraction of the applicants paid the county something, often less than they had been billed, and the joint Luzerne County-DCNR program left many residential applicants out of the final plan.

Those Gypsy Moths are just waiting to hatch again in May, just after the weather warms and the new leaves have furled out on the trees. We need to think about alternative plans now. Rice Township was ground zero for the greatest concentration of gypsy moth infestation and egg masses. Township supervisors are formulating a plan to hire a private spraying company and Nuangola Borough discussed that option at length at their December meeting. The alternative is defoliation once again and the probable death of affected trees.

Another troubling issue surfaced in August when the Upper Ice Lake at the Rice Township Ice Lakes Park started draining and the banks receding. A faulty discharge pipe valve under the water level at the dam was identified as the probable cause.

Township residents expressed alarm to us at the Eagle and to their elected public officials to address the problem immediately. Day after day the shoreline became more exposed until the handicapped accessible floating dock was grounded.

DEP was called in and their assessment was that the Ice Lake water level was not an emergency and the faulty pipe would be examined in July 2016 after the lake had naturally drained. The stumps that now were prominently exposed on the shallow pond grew by the day.

By October natural rainfall began to fill the lake again. The upstream creeks were once again flowing and the Ice Lakes water filled up covering the stumps. The Rice Township engineer offered several remedies for repairing the faulty pipe and valve. All of them came with a cost from $53,475 to $84,525. Those are considerable costs for a solution. A better option is to wait and see how nature takes its course. I would rather see the money spent on Gypsy Moth spraying in Rice.

The Mountaintop Eagle’s year in review touches on many more people, issues and events. Happy New Year to all of our readers, customers and newsmakers. 2016 will be a whole new chapter for all of us.