On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

I am writing my last column of 2017. I wrote the first one in 1981 and have not missed a week in 36 years. Many have been full of political excitement. Many more simply reflect what I am experiencing with you of our beautiful day-to-day life in Mountaintop.

The political crises, large and small, and mostly small on the world stage of importance, meant something to the major players at the time. School board, municipal and borough issues always had fervent champions for their positions. The Mountaintop Eagle has always strived for fair and balanced news reporting. No “fake news here”. We all know each other, or at least we are always ready for a conversation.

We close out this year on a positive note. Newly elected officials will be seated in January. Crestwood School Board candidates were sworn in earlier in the month. Township, Borough and District Magistrate office holders are ready for their new responsibilities. We participate in a civil orderly change of order for political office as scheduled. Whenever you have something for us to investigate call us 570-474-6397 (NEWS).

With the early sunsets in December I have enjoyed many a dark ride home from work and the beautiful light displays in many yards along my route. This time of year it is so much fun to take a leisurely drive in the early evening just to see the lights. We have just endured the shortest days of the year. I am an early riser and a late morning for me is 6:45 a. m., which is almost an hour before sunrise. I have the lights on my Christmas tree timed for a 6:40 a. m. wake up. So if I wait long enough I am greeted with brilliant color as I descend my staircase before the dawn.

The coat collection in our office as exceeded all previous years. Our box was overflowing before we went to print on Friday December 22. We are still collecting until December 29. Thank you for your support of this amazing idea. All donations are distributed to those who need it most.

Thank you to all our loyal readers and advertisers for another year of support. As we look forward to 2018 raise a glass and toast the future, that our tomorrows will be happy, healthy and prosperous.

Theoretical Frog Habitat

Our reporter Rebecca Sodergren wrote what could be the final chapter of the Rice Township Ice Lakes dam repair project for our final 2017 edition. After 2 ½ years since a leaky pipe in the dam holding the upper lake water was discovered to be the cause of the lake slowly shrinking, Rice Township Supervisors awarded a bid for $179,500 to repair the dam this month. The 100-year-old dam must be partially drained and then repaired according to state Department of Environmental Protection specifications. The delays are listed in Rebecca’s story and they show how overregulated government can be a costly and probably unnecessary pill for the taxpayers.

Most of the “repairs” that were ordered by the DEP and the Fish and Game Commission are absurd: Draining the lake because of the possibility that the Northern Cricket Frog, an endangered species, is indigenous to this area and “could” be living in the lake and the frog’s habitat “could” be compromised by the repair process. The presence of the tiny frogs has never been confirmed. The dam repair project escalated to the $179,500 final bid price over the presence of a theoretical frog. Over regulation has forced Rice Township officials to condone the worst use of public money ever in Mountaintop over the presence of a theoretical frog and a leaky outlet pipe in a dam. We have ludicrous government overreach with this project.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the state level counterpart of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has been described by the current administration as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. DEP is also guilty of this description. Bureaucrats always want to justify their jobs at whatever cost and their ranks and spending shows it. 700 Federal EPA jobs have already been eliminated this year out of a total 15,376 employees on staff in 2016. The current EPA chief aims to eliminate another 3,000 jobs to reduce the EPA numbers by 20%.

I could not find an employee number for the Pennsylvania DEP, but I know that agency continues to complicate and overreach on many items they get in involved in. The Ice Lakes dam project is one of them.