Tired of chicken talk?

When asked for a reason why the Wellsboro Borough Council voted against allowing chickens in the Rural Residential Zoning District last month, Council Member John Sticklin replied, “Because it’s the ordinance.”

He also noted that we’ve been talking about chickens for months now — I am glad he noticed. We are still talking about chickens because the Keeping of Animals Ordinance enacted in 1993 is outdated.

Mr. Sticklin fails to see why this conversation continues.

For six months, we’ve maintained a willingness to work with council members to amend this ordinance. A well-crafted ordinance can allow residents to keep animals as well as address concerns others may have about nuisances.

It is absurd to ban chickens on any property in a rural town. Urban areas and cities all over the country are successfully adopting ordinances allowing low-impact animals such as chickens, goats and bees on properties where virtually no acreage exists. The borough council has yet to provide a legitimate reason as to why this can’t happen here.

In the times we are currently living, supporting residents who wish to be self-sustaining makes more sense than ever. A few chickens can supply eggs, fertilizer for a garden, bug and pest control, and mental health benefits, as they are fun to be around. When presented with the opportunity to improve the lives of residents asking for change, three council members and our mayor have chosen to do nothing.

Doing things the way we’ve always done them will not serve this community forever.

Raquel Rogers


Poll workers upheld oath

I am writing on behalf of election poll workers in Pennsylvania. I have been a poll worker for four years.

In Pennsylvania, there are close to 50,000 poll workers, (Republicans, Democrats, Independents), and election officials who worked for a minimum of 14-15-plus hours on election day. They put their health on the line as they worked through this pandemic so that their fellow citizens could vote.

I have heard stories in our community, in the media, from our Pennsylvania legislators and even our President, insinuating that poll workers and election officials are dishonest and the results of the election are suspect. I am insulted that poll workers and the elections officials are being accused of theft and fraud with no evidence to support the Republican lawsuits. (Who is paying for these lawsuits?)

Poll workers and elected officials take an oath to provide a fair, honest and safe election process. They upheld their oath.

People are suspicious of the amount of time that it has taken for the various types of ballots to be counted. There are several factors that impacted the time to count the votes. We had a record number of voters who participated; there were 2.6 million mail-in ballots and 94,000 provisional ballots.

I heard President Trump encouraged voters to vote by mail as well as go to the polls and vote in person. This confusing, inaccurate advice contributed to the time-consuming processing of almost 100,000 provisional ballots. Pennsylvania is one of only four states in the union that did not allow early processing of mail in ballots.

The state government committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the same committee that buried the gerrymandering reform legislation after the majority of Pennsylvanians said that they were in favor of it, and the leadership in the Pennsylvania Senate, are now concerned with sowing confusion and encouraging unfounded mistrust of the Pennsylvania election process.

The citizens of our state and country deserves better. Trump lost. Let’s move on.

Janet M. Gyekis


It’s time to lead by example

On Friday, Nov. 13. the Wellsboro Home Page Network ran a story about the recent local rise in COVID-19 cases. Representative Clint Owlett and County Commissioner Erick Coolidge were the featured speakers. The stated purpose of the broadcast was to urge the public to take serious steps to prevent the outbreak from becoming even worse.

Representative Owlett could not bring himself to utter the word “mask,” not even as a suggestion.

We all know there are plenty of people in the 68th District who do not want to wear masks and who get angry at the idea that they should, but sometimes real leadership requires saying things people do not want to hear.

No one could be in a better position to lead the way here than Representative Owlett. He has just won re-election by an enormous margin. Clearly he has the confidence of the public.

If only he thought he had a duty.

Karen Myers


Let the fresh air in

Thanksgiving is a most important American holiday; one we revere as a time for gathering. So sadly, this year, due to risk of COVID-19 transmission, we face making decisions about whether and how to gather for Thanksgiving dinner. Many will cancel our plans and dinners. Others will gather regardless because we so cherish spending the day with loved ones.

So let us make a plan that will at least reduce somewhat the risk. Let us employ our commonsense to come up with strategies and to authoritatively insist our guests stick to them.

At the risk of being redundant to a previous letter, how about we make planning for opening windows first and foremost. As essential as our mask-wearing, hand-washing and distancing are, once we sit down to eat, those measures all go out the window, so to speak. But bringing old-fashioned fresh air into our dining rooms can be a powerful counter to those flying germs. We do not need science to tell us that old-fashioned fresh air is a really commonsense means for reducing germy aerosol.

Look around you where you sit right now. Whether you are at home or work, in a restaurant, or in a store or salon, or at your dentist or doctor’s office, I am willing to bet that you are surrounded by windows and that not a one of them is open. There you are among potentially contagious people in the middle of this surge of a virus that transmits largely through indoor congregation. In fact, it is mightily frustrating to me that our officials and scientists have not added “open windows” as a fourth prong of our basic precautions. I have now begun to ask folks if we could open some windows.

However, opening windows has become foreign to us because over the last decades we have focused upon structurally airtight houses and buildings, energy efficiency and saving HVAC utility costs by keeping our houses and buildings shut down.

Sure it is cold, but let us be flexible and get creative. Consider opening your windows for five or 10 minutes every hour. And perhaps keep some air flow by cracking windows on multiple sides of the room. At first it will feel awkward because we are so habituated to keeping shut down. And have some extra sweaters, lap robes or shawls on hand. And plan for higher utility bills. Prioritizing this protection of our health over those costs takes precedence.

Kathryn Sheneman


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