On and Off The Mountain - Stephanie Grubert

We have just passed our special “leap day”, Monday February 29, 2016. February 29 occurs every four years, and is called leap day. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days. If you are born on February 29 you only have a birthday every four years. By that logic a 40-year-old person will only be 10 on their special day.

The Leap Years so far in my lifetime are: 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. I graduated from elementary school in 1960, high school in 1964 and college in 1968. I also got married in 1968. My daughter Amy was born in 1976 and married in 2004. My daughter Lara graduated from high school in 1988 and from college in 1992. We celebrated the Millennium in 2000. Four years ago in 2012 gas was selling near or above $4 per gallon. In Mountaintop it was $3.75. This week in 2016 it is less than half that price at $1.82 per gallon. We’ve also had a Presidential Election every Leap Year since our country was founded. Yes, there is significance, personal and historic attached to all the Leap Years.

Super Tuesday

At this writing the “Super Tuesday” presidential primary elections in 15 states have yet to be settled. The Republican field has thinned to five and the two Democrats are still battling for delegates around the country.

The tone of the Republican candidates has escalated into shouting matches and name calling unprecedented in modern times. With television chronicling every sound bite and comment and researchers finding statements made years ago by some candidates in other circumstances, the fracture in the usual march to the White House is especially raucous. There is no accusation or conclusion that is off limits.

As a student of political science from childhood on I watch with fascination. We all have a close view of the candidates in action and then the media commentary talks it up for hours of analysis. There is no compulsion to watch every episode, but then it does spice up the months of the year we spend mostly inside.

There has been a lot of fantasy about building a “wall” between the US and Mexico. Our southern neighbors do not enjoy economic prosperity and millions of them come to the US to build a better life. US Citizens pay taxes to keep our government running for us. Legal paths to immigration have been the foundation of our country since it was founded in 1776. The southern states use of black African slaves two hundred years ago has left the south with economic problems that have been slowly improving. A “wall” is not the answer. Remember the Berlin Wall?

Hillary Clinton is going after the “black vote” in the south. Donald Trump is going after “all the votes” wherever they are. White, black, Hispanic and other ethnic designations lose when they hold onto their positions and fail to embrace all citizens. The white vote in the United States elected Barack Obama, the first American black president. He was thin on experience and his administration has failed the majority, citizens from all ethnic and religious factions.

Our choices are career politicians and a billionaire businessman. Which one will carry the standard of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the future? The answer is in the voting booth.

School Taxes The Crestwood School Board

accepted a preliminary budget for $37,986,982 at their February meeting. The budget includes a 4% tax increase and a “troubling shortfall of $1.6 million dollars,” according to Business Manager Al Melone. If approved a property assessed at $200,000 will pay $2012 in annual school tax in 2016, an increase of $86.

School budgets are expensive. Based on the current enrollment of 2866 students in the Crestwood School District, the cost of educating one student is $13,254.35 for one school year. That amount is more than many colleges charge for one year’s tuition. Bloomsburg University tuition is $7,030 per year. Penn State Hazleton tuition is $13,012 for lower level undergraduates. Penn State University Park is $16,572 for freshmen and sophomore undergraduates. And taxpayers are paying part of the expenses for public universities statewide.

Private universities have higher costs, as their public tax support is minimal. Education costs are a complicated equation. Taxpayers have every right to demand solid financial management for the services they pay for.

Spring in the Air The spring that arrived on March

1 is called Meteorological Spring. It is based on temperature, not the Earth’s tilt. In March, temperatures begin to warm away from the cold of winter. Our winter has had its highs and lows, and the highs have it. We are easing to the real spring in less than 3 weeks. It happens every year.

The Mountaintop Garden Club, now in its fourth year will “blossom” with a Welcome Spring Social on Tuesday March 8 at 6:30 p. m. at the Rice Township Municipal Building. Dues are $20. The Club is planning field trips and planning their annual plant sale. Seed planting can begin as soon as the ground is tillable. For me that is late April. The club did some beautification projects in the community in 2015. There are bound to be some new ones this year. Email them at mtgardenclub@gmail.com.