On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

We are coming up on the holiest week of the year in the Christian tradition beginning with Palm Sunday April 9 and ending with the Easter Sunday resurrection of Jesus. Easter also coincides with the birth of spring. Day by day the earth wakens with greening of the grass, blooming of early spring flowers and the ever lengthening of the days. After the gloomy miserable March in Mountaintop a change is due.

Then we also have the last 10 days to get our income taxes filed. Those looking forward to refunds file early. Those that must pay file later. I am very interested to watch the tax reform process in the US Congress this year. We haven’t had a meaningful tax cut in 30 years since the Reagan administration.

Corporations and individuals who keep more of the money they earn can plow it back into the economy through job creation and spending. The US Economy has been stuck in a holding pattern for eight years. The stock market is up but the average wage earner has not seen increases. Gross National Product (GNP) has been flat.

Local Property Taxes

I would also add some facts on our local Mountaintop property taxes. The average bite for a residential property assessed at $200,000 is about $3,000 per year. That is paid to the Crestwood School District, Luzerne County, and the municipality location of the property. The county/municipal total is 35% ($1050) and the school district share is 65% ($1950). Crestwood’s budget cost per pupil is about $14,000 per year and the board is proposing a tax increase this year to finance $4.5 million Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) facility. The top earning teachers are paid about $80,000 per year and benefits including retirement, Social Security and Medicare, and health benefits add another $28,400 or 35% on to the overall cost per employee, adding up to a total of $108,400. Property taxes to pay for education and services are big-ticket items for taxpayers.

Any decrease in federal income taxes is crucial to taxpayers keeping more of their money. Property taxes for local education and services are not declining. Our elected representatives at all levels of government need to do a better job managing our money.

Federal Impact

President Trump is making daily decisions to fulfill campaign promises about healthcare, taxes, immigration, job creation, and expanding business. I find his energy and enthusiasm to be amazing. Career politicians work through their agendas in slow motion compared to Trump. He has not yet reached the magical 100 days, which is often mentioned as the best time to achieve goals in a new administration.

It is a shame that the Russians get so much press. Growing up in the 1950’s the Russians and Communism were our greatest fear. As children we participated in air raid drills, where we crawled under the desks or the lunchroom tables at school to somehow shield ourselves from harm.

When the Russians launched Sputnik, into elliptical low Earth orbit on October 4, 1957 the world was shocked. It was a 23-inch diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae that broadcast radio pulses. Sputnik was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses were detectable. It orbited the earth for 20 days until its batteries wore out and burned up in January 1958, when it reentered Earth’s orbit. America hunkered down at the Russians achievement and the Space Race was born. By 1969 the US had landed on the moon.

Any historian of the Cold War knows that the United States and many countries around the world spy on each other. The surveillance is in the interests of national security for them and us.

The US has long tangled with the Russian threat and the Russians have been meddling in the business of their neighbors for decades. I have to conclude that the Russian influence in our recent presidential election was nothing more than publishing emails to embarrass one candidate or another. As we all waited hours to vote at Mountaintop polls on Election Day November 8, 2016 none of us gave any thought to the Russians.

It’s too bad there is so much energy “investigating” ridiculous contentions. Government at all levels is a slog. There are too many bureaucrats and too much money spent on justifying their existence. I doubt that our Founding Fathers meant the process to be so complicated. It’s time to make the campaign promises a reality.

Springtime My review of the weekly weather

report that we publish each week thanks to retired Meteorologist Tom Clark on our archives at mteagle.comindicates that the 60’s will not arrive until April 15. We are in for 50’s this week, but the nights will still be cold and sweaters and light jackets are needed to keep us warm until the real spring arrives.

Blue Ridge Trail and Mountain Laurel golf courses both announced their openings last week. Play is on if it is not snowing or raining. The Blue Ridge Ladies League was set to begin their season Tuesday April 4 terming it the “ice breaker”, an apt description given the changing weather. The weather forecast was for rain so the league may wait another week to get their first game in. New members are always welcome. Call 570-868-4658 (GOLF) for information.

March Madness The March Madness basketball

tournament was settled with the championship game between Gonzaga and North Carolina Monday April 3. I had Gonzaga winning their first NCAA title in the 78 years since the tournament started in 1939. My team had a thrilling final four finish over South Carolina last weekend. It’s “only a game” but don’t say that to the excited rabid fans. Our family pool was won by our “Commish” (commissioner), Jeanne Grubert, who studies the seeds and outsmarted everybody in our 23-member pool. Even without Gonzaga, and there were five of us betting they would win, Jeanne stands alone at the top. Lots of fun for all of us.

Happy Hunting There are five Easter Egg hunts

coming up this weekend and next, including 3 on Saturday April 8. The Rice Township hunt begins at 10 a. m. and Wright/Fairview Joint Egg Hunt is at 2 pm so happy hunters can enjoy two events that day. In the middle of that time frame the Mountain Top Small Business Partners are holding their first Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt from 11 a. m. to 2 pm. Sunday April 9 the Christ UMC Community Egg Hunt begins at 2 p. m., And on Saturday April 15th the Mountaintop Family Church is hosting their Easter Eggstravaganza at 10:00 a. m. Details on all the hunts and the map for the scavenger hunt are in this week’s Mountaintop Eagle. Happy Hunting!