WELDON C. COHICK JR.
This letter concerns the pay raises for Lycoming County government row officers who are getting a 2 percent increase to catch them up to the sheriff by 2021.
I had the honor of meeting Commissioners Jack McKerman, Tony Massare and Rick Mirabito when they were elected. The three of them contacted me and paid me a personal visit at my home in Linden. I respect these three commissioners and this letter to the editor is not intended to humiliate, condemn or disrespect them in any way. The purpose of this letter is to voice my opinion concerning the pay raises which they and other officials have received, as well as the school teachers and others paid by taxpayers.
My philosophy is plain and simple. If anyone regardless of their status in life needs and receives a yearly wage increase, then everyone including we retired senior citizens should also receive an equal percentage every year as many others do.
Here is an example of the problem which faces the elderly in our country. In 2016, my social security check was $898 per month. It went up in 1918 to $919, and up to $945 for the year of 2019. That was an increase of $47 a month in my social security checks over the past four years.
Last winter my highest monthly heating oil bill was $700 for the month of January. After paying that, I had $200 for my food, medication, light bill, phone bill, TV cable bill, gasoline for my van, my property taxes, school taxes, and insurance on my van and on my home. I am 86 years old and have recently had open heart surgery, which I am now trying to recuperate from. I had to give up being a DCNR Volunteer for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on the Pine Creek Rail to Trails that is roughly 60 miles long and runs from Jersey Shore to Route 287, just north of Wellsboro, Pa.
I was the first DCNR Volunteer for this rail trail, and for 10 years I greeted approximately 90,000 visitors on this trail. I made my first trip through the canyon in my life raft in 1960.
Since then I have made 308 trips by raft and canoe. In the year 2000, I was chosen as the DCNR Volunteer of the Year from among 25,000 volunteers across our state of Pennsylvania.
The moral of the story isn’t what I have done in my life, it is how and why I did what I did. I did very little for money. I drove over 100 miles a day round trip from my home to the Information Center at Ansonia at the head of the Pine Creek Rail-Trail in Tioga County every Saturday and Sunday to operate this center, for 10 years in the spring, summer and fall. I did it for enjoyment and love, nothing else. I also enlisted in the United States Air Force during the Korean War and served four years on active duty as well as four more years in the Reserves from 1951 to 1959. Military pay wasn’t much more than a hundred dollars a month at the time. I had the government send half of my monthly check to my mother and brother and sisters who were still in school. My mother worked at Weldone Pajama factory in Williamsport for 50 cents an hour. She was paid $18 a week and she had to pay property and school taxes out of that money and raise her six children.
This was nothing less than catastrophic and inhumane, but it happened and the memory is still embedded in my mind. This was the way life was when I was growing up and I still resent the very thought that school teachers, politicians and others living on easy street continue to suck every dollar they can from the unfortunate, the poor and the retired elderly of this country so they can live a life of leasure.
We the retired elderly are trying to survive on our Social Security checks. We paid this money in all of our working years, so we could survive and remain independently on our own. Being taxed by the thousands of dollars every year like the working class in this country is deliberate robbery. I agree that our country is the greatest country in the world, but some of our local, state and country policies leave a lot to be desired. The most severe is the abuse which 90 percent of the retired Senior Citizens in this country are taken when they receive their monthly Social Security checks. Will the day come when our Social Security checks will be automatically mailed to our school districts instead of our local banks? This policy would be about as ridiculous as the one that is being used at the present time.
Why must many individuals in our townships, counties, states and country receive yearly wage increases in the thousands of dollars a year, when much lesser amounts are received by the lowest paid individuals which include the retired citizens of this country? This unequivocal policy is clear and plain, unmistakable in meaning and most of all it is unessential. This subject is unexceptionable to any objection or reproach by we who are deliberately affected by such unfair practices.
I may be wrong concerning some of my views of what is happening in this county, state and country, but I’m not wrong in how I feel towards this particular subject which I am writing about.
I am 86 years of age and a Korean War Veteran and I have been around the block a few more times in my life than any elected state or federal official in office today, and that includes our President.