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Issue Home November 21, 2001 Site Home

Marcho: "I have my priorities!"
Susky Council Appoints Officer In Charge
Cyberschools: Focus Of Legislative Meeting
MASD Compliments Servants
Gibson Barracks Report
Court House Report
Blue Ridge Doesn't - Yet
Oakland Approves Slight Tax Increase
New Milford Twp. Discusses Taxes
Clifford Leaning In Favor Of Sewers
Academics, Driving Privileges At Elk Lake
FC Board Told To Repeal Tax
Routine Reigns In Harford
Mt. View Board Hears Reports
Clifford Police Report
Many Sentenced In County Court

Susquehanna County Commissioner Gary Marcho said last week that at age 60, he has his priorities. Apparently one of them is his grandchildren.

Mr. Marcho, who is chair of the Board of Commissioners, elected to take his grandchildren trick or treating on the morning of October 31, rather than attend a public hearing on a request that the county underwrite a refinancing of the debt owed by Endless Mountains Health Systems for the purchase of Montrose General Hospital.

When a concerned taxpayer questioned his decision, Mr. Marcho became disturbed and, in fact, almost irate.

"Concerning your absence at the last meeting," Jim Jennings of Brooklyn Twp. inquired, "we were told you were trick or treating and could not attend. I wonder if you would explain that?"

"I have no problem explaining it," Mr. Marcho replied. "I was out trick or treating with my grandchildren."

"You don’t think that was wrong?" Mr. Jennings asked.

"Not at this point," Mr. Marcho answered.

"I understand about duty and family," Mr. Jennings said. "I spent my life in public service. I worked a lot of Christmases, worked a lot of trick or treats, but I understood. If a family member of mine was injured or seriously ill…"

"Jim," Mr. Marcho interrupted, "I am 60 years-old. I have my priorities in my life. I left my home at quarter after seven yesterday morning and got home at 11 o’clock last night serving the county. I had the information beforehand on that meeting. I knew what was going on. I knew all about it."

"You were not there for the vote," Mr. Jennings said. "I think what you did was inexcusable."

"That’s your opinion," Mr. Marcho said in an angry tone. "My opinion is that I have my priorities, OK? Does anyone else have anything?"

In response to a question, Mr. Marcho said he would have voted in favor of the motion that the county underwrite the refinancing program requested by EMHS. At the hearing, Commissioners Lee Smith and Cal Dean approved an ordinance supporting the refinancing plan but their first vote on the issue was a tie.

In another matter, the commissioners were advised of a proposed State Senate Bill that would appropriate $18.5 million in state funds to help finance ways to solve staffing problems in long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth.

The bill provides for what has been labeled as "wage pass-through" which is an appropriation of funds distributed by the Department of Public Welfare directly to nursing homes to be used only for increases in wages, benefits or recruitment of direct care staff.

Harold Wegman of Montrose, who sits on the Advisory Council of the State’s Area Agency on Aging, said Senate Bill 305 is intended to upgrade the quality of care to residents of nursing homes. Wegman said another goal of the bill is to curb a heavy employee turnover in long term care facilities.

However, under questioning, Wegman said if the bill is passed as written, it will only appropriate the $18.5 million for one year. He said it is not yet known whether the money will be made available on an annual basis.

The county commissioners and some members of the audience expressed concern that the state may finance the pay raises for the first year and then pass the responsibility to the counties.

In another matter, the commissioners accepted the resignation of Jo Ellen Adornato as a court reporter.

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Susky Council Appoints Officer In Charge

Susquehanna Boro Council met for their regular monthly meeting on November 13. All council were members were present, with the exception of Ron Crawford. Also present were Mayor Roberta Kelly and Secretary/Treasurer Margaret Biegert.

The first item of discussion was in regard to the 2002 contract for fire protection. Next year’s contract reflects an increase of $500, to $16,550. A motion carried to approve.

Next year’s fees for auditing will also increase, by about $100; a motion carried to retain Zavada Associates for another year.

Mrs. Biegert has been putting together a chart, showing how county real estate taxes are portioned, and what percentage goes to the boro, the county, and the school district. She suggested that it be published upon completion, to answer questions from boro residents who have been under the misconception that boro taxes have risen dramatically; in fact, it has been county and school district taxes which have shown large increases in recent years. Boro increases have been small, usually only half a mil. Mrs. Biegert is also working on a chart showing how boro taxes are broken down. Publishing the charts, she said, might answer some questions people have had. Council agreed and will discuss it further when the charts are complete.

Council has received an appraisal for the (old) boro building, which has been put out to bid. Also received were appraisals on two lots the boro owns, on Front St. The state allows municipalities to sell property valued at under $4,000 without putting it out to bid; it was agreed to accept a bid from Shane Lewis, for $400, for both lots. After some discussion it was agreed to accept Mr. Lewis’ bid, with the proviso that the buyer will be responsible for all closing costs. As Mr. Lewis’ bid letter stated, once the transaction is complete the property will once again be on the tax rolls.

During a related discussion later in the meeting, it was noted that if the old boro building is to be sold, there is an accumulation of items, including bicycles in the building basement, that have been there a number of years. Some were police evidence items, others were abandoned. Several organizations had been contacted, over the years, asking if they would be interested in refurbishing them for children of low income families; however, the bicycles remain. Several options were discussed, such as offering them for the taking, at a specified date and time, to (adult) residents on an "as is" basis. After some discussion, it was agreed that in the meantime, an inventory should be done, and the bikes that are too deteriorated should be disposed of.

Mayor Kelly’s report included an update on the new boro building; hopefully, it will be completed in time for the next monthly meeting to be conducted there. The outside is complete, and work is progressing on the inside. "Everything is coming together nicely," she said. An open house is planned for some time in January, so that residents can see the new facility.

Demolition is set for the week of November 20, for three condemned structures, one each on East Main St., Franklin Ave., and East Church St.; funding had been obtained through a grant. Mrs. Kelly said that an application has been submitted for a 2002 CDBG grant, for demolition of four more condemned structures.

Police officer Phil McDonald will be retiring from his full-time position at the end of this year. He has expressed an interest in remaining on the force, in a part-time capacity. Mrs. Kelly asked council to consider appointing him officer in charge; his duties would consist mainly of seeing to the department’s paperwork and court cases. A motion carried to approve.

The Susquehanna Community Development Association, the local merchants’ association, will be handling the Christmas tree display and downtown celebration, scheduled for December 7, at 6:00 p.m. Fifty trees will line Main St., and the school chorus will be participating in the lighting ceremony. Other activities include a breakfast on Saturday, December 8, at the fire hall. The next association meeting will be November 28, 7:00 p.m. at the Legion; anyone interested in attending is welcome to do so. Mrs. Kelly said that the meeting will also be to plan other community-involved projects.

The streets committee reported that they are still working on bids for a new truck; figures for a trade-in on the older boro truck have been lower than expected.

The parks committee has received a letter of interest from a candidate for a summer program director. A portion of FJR Drive has been blacktopped, and fencing has been installed along one area of the parking lot. The committee is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the party(s) responsible for vandalism at the park, to the scoreboard and concession stand. In a statement read by council member Tom Kelly, the committee stated that the parks belong to the people; a small group has been working hard to improve and maintain the park. "It wastes time and money to address vandalism," he said. "Any help (information) would be appreciated."

The next meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council will be a special one on Tuesday, November 27; it will be to work on the 2002 budget, and to vote on amendments to two ordinances, one regarding the number of unregistered vehicles allowed on a property, the other authorizes council, rather than a committee, to oversee the police pension fund.

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Cyberschools: Focus Of Legislative Meeting

Five of Susquehanna County's six school districts were represented last week in Montrose High School at the fall meeting of the Susquehanna County Legislative Action Council, sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA). Cyberschools, funding, and COLAs (cost of living allowances) for state and school retirees were among the topics discussed by Tim Allwein, Director of Legislative Services for the PSBA.

Susquehanna Community School was the only district from the county that was not represented. Lackawanna Trail, which is also invited to the semi-annual meetings, was also not there. Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Forest City, Montrose and Mountain View were each represented by their Superintendents as well as school board members from two districts, Blue Ridge and Elk Lake. The business manager from Mountain View also joined the meeting.

Allwein had two main items on the agenda. First he discussed issues of general interest, then asked the group to select five (it ended up being six) priority legislative platform items that were of greatest concern to these schools. These would be brought back to the state level and tallied with other districts' choices to determine where efforts would be focused for the coming year.

Cyberschooling is indeed a hot issue for school districts. The PSBA has come out against indiscriminate funding for those schools which use the Charter School Act as their basis. A survey of all school districts early in the school year indicated, according to Allwein, that 2750 children were registered in cyberschools costing approximately $18 million.

Allwein indicated that the figures were based on a "snapshot" as of a certain date, and the numbers the PSBA came up with were "a lot less than the Department (of Education)." PSBA submitted a lawsuit in April to the Commonwealth Court since the Department had withheld state subsidy from school district who refused to pay the bills from the cyberschools. The judge, however, ruled against the injunction to withhold the subsidy saying it would adversely affect the cyberschools more than the districts.

PSBA is also saying that cyberschools are not allowed under the Charter School Act and therefore, are acting illegally. Other cyberschool issues include funding and the formulas used to determine dollars paid to cyberschools, since, according to Allwein, these schools have no buildings or transportation costs and the school districts pay the total amount per student. They also have no start-up costs, he said.

PSBA is seeking is to have the state pay all of the costs (which he thinks is unlikely) or a good amount of the costs, such as half. PSBA also believes the state should provide oversight, not just oversight given by one school district or one region.

Accountability is another issue in cyberschools, since only one district, where the cyberschool is "chartered," gets to review the records. But cyberschools draw students from the whole state, with the rest of the districts, other than the chartering district, not allowed to see the books.

Notification is another concern. Districts that got bills from cyberschools got the bills after the budgeting process was over. "No one put money aside." There was one cyberschool, and now there are six.

Verification of student information was also discussed. Allwein asked if the Department verified the information. "We think the Department is making decisions based on cyberschool operations," adding that no one is sure that the kids billed for are from the district, or that some of them are actually sitting in the public school, and in a few cases, bills were received from two cyberschools for the same kid.

Allwein said that young kids in cyberschools are on-line a minimal amount of time, and the curriculum is sent to the parent to teach and "that's home schooling." Homeschoolers are not paid for by the district, Allwein said, and there must be a distinction between the two. They must say, "this is cyberschooling," or "this is homeschooling." Allwein said districts can't have a situation where homeschooling is being paid for by the district and called cyberschooling.

He encouraged those present to keep the issue in front of legislatures, and "keep the pressure on," so it doesn't get set on the back burner. "We blanketed the Senate, and now need to start on the House." He urged school representatives to talk to their Senators and Representatives, since "districts are losing a lot of money."

He doesn't expect a court resolution until March or April. Another court case will determine in the future whether a charter (bricks and mortar) school, which serves several districts should have a regional charter with review from each district, rather than a charter from an individual district. It's outcome may have implications for cyberschools also.

Allwein also suggested that the school district which gave the charter to at least one cyberschool has "financial dealings" with the cyberschol, "so you can wonder what kind of oversight" is being done. He said they "essentially bought the charter."

Extracurricular activities and the lack of plans given to the local district "so the district will know what we are responsible for" was presented by Mountain View Superintendent Vincent Rizzo. Sports participation should bring in the PIAA and eligibility requirements, which, it was said, requires notification by principals that a kid was in school that day.

After cyberschools, other issues discussed included general funding, and how it is generated. A proposal was introduced as a House resolution earlier in the week, Allwein said, which would raise personal income taxes. Allwein said it "never will happen." To fix the whole funding situation, he said some will see the need to raise more dollars, to guarantee property tax cuts, to limit spending and perhaps to offer a referendum on school budgets. But he said, "I think this is a poor year for funding," citing the general economy.

Increases in COLAs for state and school retirees were left out last year when pensions were increased. Various officials made commitments for COLAs during 2002, but with the "economy in the tank" it may not be a priority item. The school retirement system is also down, and will probably increase the need for employers' contributions, and with a COLA, it would increase costs even more. Blue Ridge School Board President Alan Hall expects those costs to affect his district by $150,000-200,000.

"The catalyst to get the legislature to do something about school funding is the property taxes."

Priority platform items selected by the group included the following:

The Association:

(1.) "Supports amendments to Act 22 of 1997 that would: allow school boards to operate charter schools; require full state funding to school districts to reimburse all net additional costs created by charter schools; ensure that transportation of charter school students is governed by local school board policy; require that any proposed charter school with significant enrollment from more than one district be organized as a regional charter school; and ensure access to all charter school records by any district with children enrolled in the school.

(2.) "Supports and will continue to provide leadership for the coordinated efforts of the basic education community in seeking an equal partnership between local school districts and state government in the funding of public education. The association believes state funding must appropriately reflect actual pupil enrollment and cost of instruction, the needs of small districts and the number of students living in poverty and it must be equitably distributed among school districts.

(3.) "Supports legislation to increase the state contribution for special education services based on actual costs incurred and students served.

(4.) "Supports legislation that would increase state financial incentives for alternative education programs as well as for programs for at-risk students.

(5.) "Supports the adoption of statewide academic standards and assessments, provided that school boards retain primary authority to regulate curriculum. Further, the Association supports legislation stating that local school boards have the sole authority to determine what will be affixed or denoted on high school diplomas, transcripts or other student records.

(6.) "Supports legislation to revise the method of funding vocational-technical education to remove current disincentives to student enrollment and supports adequate state funding of vocational-technical education."

Alan Hall will continue to be the County Coordinator of the Group. The Spring meeting will be in April.

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MASD Compliments Servants

The monthly meeting of the Montrose Area School Board held on November 14 at the Choconut Valley Elementary School once again took time to honor members of its audience. Not student volunteers, as in last month’s meeting, but 10 District bus drivers who have each contributed 20 years of service ensuring that students safely got to school and back home again, through weather both fiercely inclement and made for playing outside.

Together, noted Superintendent Mike Ognosky, this score of dedicated people brought close to 300 years of experience to the meeting. "One of our biggest worries – the safety of our children – is not a worry at all because of you," he told them.

Transportation Committee Chairman George Gow led the honors for the following bus contractors: James Ainey, Janis Bunnell, Thomas Conaty (who was unable to attend the meeting), William Goff, Gerald Legg, Beverly Legg, Everitt Lowry, Ivan Payne, Harvey Rosenkrans and Calvin Smales. Each was individually recognized and thanked by Board members and school administrators and received a plaque of recognition for their service.

Another highlight of the meeting involved other members of the audience. High school student Matt Fearnley, together with Superintendent Ognosky, Student Council advisor Eric Power, and fellow student Thera Sousouris, reported on their recent attendance at the PSBA (Pennsylvania School Board Association) Leadership Conference in Hershey. Matt sincerely gave the Board his heartfelt thanks for inviting him to the meeting, and reported how the Conference gave him "the honor of learning about advances being made in Pennsylvania education. It was a great educational time to bond with school board members and with Mr. Powers," Matt said, adding his opinion that Powers – absent from the meeting because it conflicted with coaching the wrestling team – is a "very instrumental man in our school system and should be greatly appreciated."

Thera Sousouris, still dressed in gear from gymnastics practice, later related her involvement in discussions with students from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on gun control, the topic her group was assigned to address. "I heard how dangerous their schools are compared to ours," she reported, and passed along her conversation with a probation officer who told her that school cafeterias are a "primary place where bad things happen." Thera described to the officer the design of the Montrose cafeteria, and reported that it was of a type that discouraged "bad things" happening.

Ognosky reported on Powers’ impressive participation in a mock school board meeting, and the pleasure it was to "hang out with Matt and Thera," where they toured many booths in the Conference’s exhibit hall and "picked up a lot of giveaway pens – almost enough to stock the school district for a while," he smiled.

Both Matt and Thera were presented with certificates acknowledging their participation in the Conference, and will be given Hershey sweatshirts by Ognosky to further remember the event.

Board member Celeste Ridler, who also attended the Hershey Conference, reported on what she gleaned by meeting with board members and administrators from other school districts and from attending various educational sessions. One in particular focused on a school district that uses data analysis to improve its curriculum, and Ridler noted how interesting it was to hear first-hand how board members, teachers and administrators worked together.

Motions were made to approve minutes of the Board’s November 14 work session, last month’s board meeting, its October 22 Safety Committee Meeting and October 29 Transportation Committee Meeting. Drafts of the minutes of these last two meetings were available. According to the minutes, discussion during the Transportation Committee meeting included a review by Superintendent Ognosky of the District Safety Plan, including situations no one in the school district wants to see but which is relieved there’s a plan for, such as evacuation, accidents, suicide threats, and bus vandalism. Board member Jean Hollister also reviewed District policy on what actions contractors should take should they come in contact with a person that may have hepatitis or HIV.

The draft of the minutes of the Safety Committee meeting report on discussions about students stung by bees, which prompted suggestions of screening windows or spraying; avoiding student collisions with the brick walls in the Choconut school’s gym by permanent or moveable padding; who should have a confidential list of students either in a class or on a bus; the development of procedures for dispensing medicine to students while on a field trip and with the permission of their parents; an uneven sidewalk at the high school; and the District’s preparedness for biological problems. In response to this last, the District decided it needed to provide accurate information to concerned parents. Judy Ochse noted that, currently, the District relies on the Department of Health for direction, and that the website of the Center for Disease Control maintains up-to-date information.

Several concerns discussed at the Transportation Committee meeting were followed up at the Board meeting. Ognosky reported on his conversations with a PENNDOT representative about several District concerns, the first being obstruction of traffic on High School Road by tractor trailers unloading at a local supermarket. Because this is an enforcement issue, the PENNDOT rep suggested contacting the local or state police, or the store owners. Ognosky opted to contact store management about this serious traffic concern and request their cooperation in eliminating it. Should that fail, other appropriate enforcement means will be pursued.

Ognosky also addressed a risky situation at the intersection of SR 706 and High School Road. One option is to install signals, although PENNDOT acknowledged that it already identified this intersection as one that required further study. The representative also noted that the Department has not undertaken a formal study on the intersection of SR 267 and the entrance road to the Choconut Valley Elementary School.

The superintendent also contacted administrators at the Lathrop Street school about cutting back or removing trees on Lake Avenue, a state road, that also pose a traffic hazard. He found out that Penn Electric donated the trees to the borough and as such, it will come in and take care of the trees and the risk they pose.

Board president Gould reported that the golf course managers at the Montrose Country Club have been very receptive to District concerns about patrons parking on Lake Avenue, and noted they’ve already put up a sign in the clubhouse about members’ not parking there, and will have permanent "No Parking" signs up along the route before the next season begins.

Mr. Wilcox was unavailable to give his Administrative Report because he was working on a Middle States Committee meeting evaluating the Bangor, PA, School District. However, Ognosky reported that Wilcox wanted to extend his special thanks to Jan Ross and Sandy Kaub for the hard work on, and beautiful results from, MASD’s recent Veterans’ Day program (reported in last week’s Transcript). Ognosky said it was "one of the most emotional programs I’ve ever been a part of. It was a very emotional day, a wonderful day, and the kids – Grades 10-12 – were terrific." He noted that, after the 40 or so, and many older, veterans rose several times during the program, they got up one last time to thank the students in the auditorium by way of a standing ovation.

Wilcox’s involvement in the Bangor School evaluation led to an informative discussion about what it means to be a Middle States School. Ognosky noted that MASD is the only Middle States School-accredited junior/senior high school in Susquehanna County. When asked why this was so, Ognosky replied that it takes both time and a financial commitment to be a Middle States School. For instance, about 15 people from the accreditation body initially visit a school to evaluate it, and MASD budgeted about $8,000 to feed and house them while they went through their checklist. Annual dues of $600 a year are required to maintain accreditation.

This is money well spent, said Ognosky, because of the rewards. "Accreditation creates a network with Middle States Universities (a higher-education branch of the Middle States concept), and this assists MASD students with getting into their first choice of educational institutions at the next level, although it does not guarantee it.

Once given, accreditation lasts ten years, but in the meantime, any school district that participates has to respond to a three-year progress report and recommendations made by the organization in order to maintain accreditation. "We just finished our first three-year report of progress this fall, and we received word that our accreditation was extended," said Ognosky. He also noted that MASD was accredited in the Seventies, but lost it. Middle Schools representatives revisited in 1987, gave the school back its accreditation, which was extended for another ten years in 1998.

Ognosky noted that the majority of schools in the state belong to Middle States Schools, while Board member Mary Homan added that the organization feeds back positive things about a school, and not just negatives, which, in turn, have a beneficial effect on the school and its administration." For instance, the latest visiting committee commented on the remarkable openness and impressive conduct of students, with its consensus being that it had not seen a more well behaved student body.

Choconut Valley School Principal Placko noted the observance of American Education Week from November 12 –16, as well as the positive experiences that came out of well-attended Parent Conference Night at the high school and in Choconut. He noted that time is being set aside during the week of November 12 to accommodate parents who couldn’t attend the prior week’s meeting.

Placko reported on other student activity that included after-school Spanish and French classes that draw about 19 students; a penny drive at the Choconut school that raised more than $660 that will be donated to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund for those left without parents after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center; and a similar collection of almost $95 for the American Children’s Fund for Afghan Students, a donation accompanied by a letter written to President Bush by Placko on behalf of the students at Choconut Valley.

He also reported on an organization of student advisors (three from 5th grade; three from 6th grade) who were elected by their peers to meet with school administration about matters that concern them. These concerns include recess, problems with the buses (Placko reported that the kids "love the buses but some kids don’t behave"), lunch and the lunchroom. These student representatives are going to survey their fellow students about lunch for their December meeting with Mrs. Robinson.

For his part, Lathrop Street Principal Adams also thanked teachers for a successful Parent Conference meeting. "A principal couldn’t feel better about a building than I did of ours that night," he noted.

He also reported on the faculty meeting held earlier in the afternoon that was devoted to the topic of retention. Some venting went on, which Adams observed can be a positive thing, and noted that he’s e-mailed various research, data, and trends on the subject to faculty. "The best thing – is that it gets teachers to talk about it," Adams stated. He also informed the Board about meeting with a panel of six teachers about the revised report card. "There was a lot of discussion about it on Parent Conference Night," he said, "and we’re also sending an explanation to students’ homes."

Lathrop Street Elementary School teacher Karen Ricci and her husband addressed the Board about their upcoming trip to Ground Zero in New York City to deliver needed supplies enabled by donations from the school’s faculty and staff, including hand-made quilts that Ricci will hand-deliver.

Lathrop Street Elementary School librarian Natalie Hawley told the Board of a very special visit by Lindsay Barrett George, noted children’s book author and illustrator, on November 16 to speak with every class, spend time with students and autograph books for them. George keenly and realistically writes about and illustrates the world of nature as close as her home and backyard, in books such as Box Turtle at Long Pond.

Speaking of artwork, Board president Gould requested that someone with a camera attend the Board’s December meeting to take photos of Board members for the Administrative Section of the yearbook, as requested by junior Audrey Norris.

Gould also reported on the results of the prior week’s elections that saw George Gow, Linda LaBarbera, and Gould himself reelected. Philip O’Malley of Montrose Borough was elected in a write-in vote, and on December 5 will replace Dr. Stephen Kielceski who chose not to run for reelection. On behalf of the Board, Gould personally thanked Kielceski for "all the time you’ve put in to move the District forward, and for all that you’ve done for the students."

For his part, Kielceski expressed his appreciation, noting, "we haven’t always agreed on everything, and that’s a healthy thing, because it, too, moved the District forward." Looking back three years, Kielceski recalled with pride that "we brought technology into the curriculum," and thanked the District and its administration for all their support.

Motions were made and passed by a vote of 8-0 to pay the bills on the agenda (the bills are a matter of public record and available at the Business Office), approve the September 2001 Treasurer’s Report, as well as transfer funds from one special education function to another – namely to cover the increased cost of BOCES on behalf of a student who transferred there from the Jefferson Center in Dunmore. Members were especially pleased with the savings generated by the District’s current auditors – whose invoice totaled $12,100, or almost half that charged by the former auditors.

Gould then asked Plauny to report on the District’s state audit, which Plauny said covered school years 1998-1999 and 1999-2000. He noted that the audit report makes its way through a chain of reviews by Harrisburg auditors, that there was a question on some of the District’s transportation records, that he didn’t know if this was significant, and that the District won’t know the results until he, Gould and Ognosky are notified by the State via letter.

The local audit went very well, Plauny reported, and showed a good fund balance of a bit more than $1.5 million. In most instances, he said, "there is very little margin between what we budget and what we expense." A workers’ compensation audit and a TSA audit also went well, he concluded.

In new business, and passed by motions of 8-0, were the following: approval of project refinancing of general obligation bonds; approval of the PSBA Tax Advantage Benefits System Contract; approval of three BOCES contracts for the 2001-2001 school year for three special education students at a cost no greater than $61,500; the immediate employment of Kathy Adams as an elementary teacher and Alison Newman as an emergency substitute teacher, contingent on completing employment requirements; the granting of an honorary high school diploma to any honorably discharged veteran under the terms of the Pennsylvania law called "Operation Recognition;" approval of the Developmental Counseling Program curriculum; approval of an Assurance Statement for the adoption of IDEA policies (regarding students with learning disabilities); and to pay an annual stipend of $600 to a Head Teacher in each school who would be called upon to lead any emergency response in the absence of the principal and in accordance with written job responsibilities.

Also passed without dissent were the hiring of the following for the 2001-2002 school year: Barry Wheaton as head Junior High Boys Basketball coach at a salary of $1,350; Jamie Smith as assistant Junior High Boys Basketball coach, $1,010; and John Walker as assistant Junior High Wrestling coach, $1,300.

Before adjourning, the Board unanimously gave its approval to a revised KOZ on a piece of property owned by a Mr. Hayes. The revision is needed to make right an inadvertent mistake and clarify title of the property by the sellers. Secretary Plauny and Board member LaBarbera were emphatic that the change would have no impact on the District.

The next monthly meeting of the Montrose Area School District Board is scheduled for 7 p.m. on December 12 at the Junior-Senior High School, where a public work session is also slated for December 5 immediately following a 7 p.m. special board reorganization meeting to which the public is invited.

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Gibson Barracks Report


Between November 10-18, someone "paint-balled" a garage, damaging the vinyl siding, belonging to William H. Hackbart, Vestal, NY. The garage was at Heart Lake, New Milford Township.


Five buses operating for the Mt. View School District had their windshields smashed between November 18 at 4:30 p.m. and the next day at 6:30 a.m. One bus belonged to Sonia Buberniak, State Route 2023, Uniondale (Clifford Township); one belonged to John L. Tompkins, State Route 92, Gibson Township; and three belonged to Maureen Warren, State Route 2063, Lenox Township.


Someone slashed three tires on a car belonging to Pauline Gerchman, Uniondale. The tires were slashed at the Lift Inn, Lenox Township, on November 13 at 7:30 p.m., and were valued at $195. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the barracks at 570-465-3154.


Janke Edwards, 53, RR 1, Springville, was making a left turn onto State Route 29 from State Route 2017 (Springville Township) and pulled out in front of Michael Morreale, 26, Pittston, who was north bound on State Route 29. Both were wearing seat belts when a collision occurred and received no injuries. Both vehicles sustained severe damage. The incident occurred on November 17 at 9:00 a.m.


Irene Noble, Springville, was driving a 1992 Dodge Caravan south on State Route 3004, Springville Township. Her vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree on November 14. No injuries were noted.


Jeffrey Ivanitch, 40, Mehoopany, received moderate injuries and was treated at Tyler Memorial Hospital following an accident on State Route 3013 at Township Road 320, Springville Township. Ivanitch failed to negotiate a curve, resulting in his 1998 Ford Escort leaving the roadway and hitting a utility pole. A citation was filed, according to the police report, for driving at an unsafe speed. The incident occurred on November 12 at 6:15 a.m.


Between October 27-28, someone attempted to pry open a door to gain access to a residence belonging to Mary Jane Verboys on Township Road 737, Schoolhouse Rd., Ararat Township. The burglar did not gain access and fled undetected.


A 17-year old juvenile was arrested for starting a fire in a garage on Johnston Street, New Milford. The garage belonged to Allen Sydlosky, New Milford. The fire started around 6:00 a.m. on November 4 and was discovered by neighbors. The garage sustained heavy fire damage, and the contents were destroyed.

The juvenile was placed and will remain in detention, pending an adjudication hearing.

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Court House Report


Herbert E. Roe Jr., 25, Silver Lake Township, and Patricia A. Sigirci, 29, Applachin (sic), NY.


Geraldine Phipps to Norman T. Phelps in Ararat Township for $102,000.

Nelson N. Rhodes, Successor Trustee under Land Trust Agreement known as Northeast Land Trust, and Julie A. Lepre to Julie A. Lepre in Harford Township for $1 ogvc (two parcels).

Julie A. Lepre and John Lepre to Julie A. Lepre in Harford Township for $1 ogvc.

Nelson N. Rhodes, Successor Trustee under Land Trust Agreement known as Northeast Land Trust, Julie A. Lepre, Nelson N. Rhodes and Michaelle Rhodes, and Alan Rhodes and Margery Rhodes to Julie A. Lepre in Harford Township for $1 ogvc.

Julie A. Lepre and John Lepre to Charlene McGraw in Harford Township for $1 ogvc.

Misty Hosley and Michael Hosley and Jolene West and Daniel West to Darlene Sheffler in Auburn Township for $1 ogvc.

John Onyon and Bonny Onyon to South New Milford Baptist Church in New Milford for easement agreement.

Don William Carey aka Don W. Carey and Kevin D. Carey to Norman N. Norton, Sr. and Tammy Norton in New Milford Township for $222,000.

Wesley P. Atkins and Patty H. Atkins to Herbert C. Evans and Lois J. Evans in New Milford Township for $145,000.

Garry W. Herring and Joan L. Herring to Steven R. Edwards in Springville Township for $112,500.

Charles R. Zayleskie and Althea N. Zayleskie to Charles R. Zayleskie and Althea N. Zayleskie in Choconut Township for $1.

Robert E. Kinney and Judith Ann Kinney to Robert E. Kinney in Hop Bottom Borough for $1.

Pauline M. Keelen to John J. O'Brien in Jackson Township for $225,000.

David Bosnick and Lizbeth Rosenberg to Christine M. Pelto in Apolacon Township for $18,000.

Thomas L. Miles and Nettie J. Miles to Nettie J. Miles in Montrose Borough for $1.

Robert Aiken and Patricia Aiken to Robert E. Aiken and Patricia O. Aiken in Franklin Township for $1.

Faith Louise Higgins to Faith Louise Higgins and John Longo in Auburn Township for $1.

Gerald J. Jud and Georgeanne B. Jud to Gerald J. Jud and Georgeanne B. Jud in Rush Township for $1.

Marjorie Jean Empett to Harold Lamont Empett and Kristi Lynn Empett in New Milford Township for $1.

Lavone R. Cosentino nbm Lavone R. Lewis and Frederick D. Lewis II to George A. Lipovsky and Carolyn J. Lipovsky in Jackson Township for $135,000.

Joseph V. Mroz and Laura M. Mroz to Michael Mroz, Thomas Mroz and Terrance Mroz in Great Bend Township for $1.

Lester A. Carter to Christopher G. Kane and Kelli R. Kane in Susquehanna Borough for $10,000.

Harold Washburn and Joyce Washburn aka Joyce Elizabeth Washburn and Carolyn Hallisey and Gerald Hallisey to Carolyn Hallisey in Oakland Borough for $1.

Rush Township to Michael A. Yanchulis and Diane R. Yanchulis in Rush Township for $25,000.

Vivian Grant and Jurek Ugarow to Thomas J. O'Reilly and Lawrence T. O'Reilly in Middletown Township for $67,500.

Rafael J. Mattey, Jr. and Evenlyn Mattey to Michael H. Shields and Jill T. Price in Ararat Township for $20,000.

Steve Mikloiche and Eva Mikloiche to Nicole E. Mikloiche in Clifford Township for $1.

Ray G. Osburn and Mary Kay Osburn to Ralph J. Osburn and Kathleen M. Osburn in Franklin Township for $1.

Florence M. Rollo to Richard Pfahl and Susan Pfahl in Lenox Township for $10,000.

Robert J. Derosier and Elizabeth Derosier to Vincent Simone and June Simone in Ararat Township for $30,000.

Allen P. Hayes to Dennis W. Hayes and Pamela J. Hayes in Choconut Township for $1.

Charles Banko and Sophie Banko to Maryann A. Wee in Auburn Township for $1 ogvc.

Francis E. Rutledge and Margaret M. Rutledge to Rebecca R. Schmidt in Harford Township for $32,900.

Denise P. Rashidi nka Denise P. Lightell to Denise P. Lightell in Forest City Borough for $1.

William H. Rosser to Jason Paul Horn in Lathrop Township for surface mining activities.

Ronald Morcom and Ellen Morcom to Ronald Morcom and Ellen Morcom in Lenox Township for $1.

James W. Park to Reuben Everitt and Elizabeth Everitt in Silver Lake Township for $20,000.

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Blue Ridge Doesn't - Yet

"The District had a great year." "Under control." "The District has made great strides." "Great job!" Thus did Michael Dougherty praise the financial performance of the Blue Ridge School District to open the Board's business meeting on October 12th. Mr. Dougherty is the District's new auditor, representing Murphy, Dougherty & Company. He reported his findings for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and his comments were unreservedly positive.

Mr. Dougherty took special notice of the positive fund balance for the general operating accounts. For the first time in years, Blue Ridge ended up with a surplus -- some $761,000. The previous year finished up with a deficit of over $200,000. "It always helps to have a strong fund balance," said Mr. Dougherty. The State recommends that school districts maintain a positive fund balance of between 5 and 10 percent. With Blue Ridge now nearing the low end of that scale, there will be funds to handle major stresses through the year.

Considering the recent increase in meal prices at the school, it is interesting to note that, according to Mr. Dougherty's audit, the cafeteria fund ended last year with a slight profit. He pointed out, however, that the District shifted some $25,000 to the cafeteria during the year, and that many, if not most, school districts end up subsidizing the cafeteria from the general fund.

Mr. Dougherty also reminded Board members that, starting in 2003, school districts will have to accurately appraise the value of their buildings and other capital assets, and begin a depreciation program. For now, the District's insurable assets are valued at about $27 million, but that figure is not considered accurate enough under the new rules.

The meeting was fairly well attended by the public this time, and most of them were there to respond to agenda item 13. Most of the other 17 items were routine personnel actions, but they included the appointment of Paul Victor, Jr. as a Middle School and High School English teacher. Mr. Victor accepted the Board's warm welcome in person. The Board also welcomed 2 newly-elected members, Dawn Franks and Denise Bloomer, who will take their seats next month.

Agenda item 13 was a recommendation by Superintendent Robert McNamara to approve the "dissolvement [sic] of the sewer connection agreement with the New Milford Municipal Authority due to the lack of approval for construction of the system." Nearly 3 years ago, the District signed on to the proposed new sewer system with the understanding that it would be completed within 18 months or so. That hasn't happened, of course, so now the District wants out, declaring the agreement "non-functional." "Everything that was submitted [by the Municipal Authority] in that agreement hasn't happened," said School Board President Alan Hall. "It's been 3 years.... Nothing's been done yet," he said. Mr. McNamara recommended dissolving the agreement because, he said, a pool of grant money may be available to allow the District to upgrade its own sewage system, and being part of an existing sewer compact -- whether or not the sewer system actually exists -- may hinder chances of getting some of the money.

On the other hand, according to representatives of the Municipal Authority who attended the meeting to plead their case, if Blue Ridge pulls out, the rest of the community might not be able to take up the slack. "We can't afford to lose the school system," said George Houghton. "We need the money." Under the original agreement, the Blue Ridge campus would account for 87 EDUs (Equivalent Domestic Units), for each of which Blue Ridge was to pay $800 to connect to the system (a total of $69,600), and another $37 per month (totaling $3,219 monthly) in perpetuity. According to Mr. Houghton, financing and subsidy of the new system depends heavily on the participation of the School District.

Mr. Houghton, together with Jack Ord representing the Hallstead-Great Bend Sewer Authority and others from the two groups, were at the meeting to offer the latest proposal to solve the long-standing sewage problems. Under a "gentlemen's agreement" concluded just days before, the two authorities decided to join the communities by a sewer line along U.S. Route 11. The legal paperwork was not yet completed, but the pact would ultimately tie together 3 boroughs and 2 townships in what was termed an "inter- municipal agreement," whereby New Milford would pump its sewage ("product" or "effluent" in industry jargon) to the Hallstead-Great Bend sewage plant in Great Bend Borough. According to Mr. Ord, the plant has sufficient capacity, but would have to be "upgraded" as part of the project. The representatives of both municipal authorities urged the School Board to at least postpone a final decision to pull out of the sewer project. (A representative of the Pages Lake area offered that, should the sewer system reach his community, the flow could be stabilized because the lake area is most active in the summer when the schools are closed.)

With an aging system of its own, the District has 2 major concerns about the new twist in the sewer project: (1) will the cost to Blue Ridge remain as originally promised? and (2) when will the system be ready? None of the representatives could give a firm answer to either question. Mr. Houghton said they were "hoping" for completion by 2003, but he didn't seem too sure of that; and mention was made of monthly fees of $39 per month, $2 higher than called for in the original agreement. He said that the project financing depends on the 597 EDUs originally committed. The full system, including Hallstead and Great Bend Boroughs and parts of Great Bend Township is estimated to stabilize at 2,000 EDUs. Mr. Houghton estimated the total cost of the New Milford project at $5.5 million. The New Milford Authority has already spent some $250,000 on engineering. Mr. Houghton said that this latest change might cost an additional $60,000 before construction can begin.

All agreed that laying the pipe to join the communities along the Route 11 corridor would provide some infrastructure that could "open up a stretch of 6 miles for economic development." Mr. Ord said, "We think that [this proposal] is the best thing [for everybody]." And Mr. Hall responded by calling development along Route 11 a "key" to the strength of the school district. The plea was, "We need the school to work with us." And to help provide an incentive, Mr. Ord agreed to draw up a plan that would truck sewage material from Blue Ridge to the Great Bend plant if necessary before the new system is completed.

Mr. Hall then asked his colleagues on the Board to agree to table the recommendation to void the old sewer agreement until the first meeting in January 2002. That will give the two sewer authorities time to develop a comprehensive plan to meet the District's needs and concerns.

Before the meeting could adjourn, Mr. Hall called on a parent who described difficulties his child was having in 6th grade history. It seems that when he wanted to help with homework and asked to see the child's textbook, he was told "we don't have a book." Apparently there aren't enough textbooks for every student to have one to take home. Mr. Hall said that the administration is trying to locate 10-12 reconditioned books. "We'll do what we can," he said. He also said, "We're not going to spend $80,000 for books that we'll throw away in 2 years," referring to new state standards that will change the history curriculum, and therefore the textbooks needed to teach it. When asked if it isn't policy to send a book home with every student, the response was "Until somebody says they have a problem, we don't." Following the meeting, Mr. Hall and Mr. McNamara clarified that neither of them was aware that there were insufficient textbooks until just before the meeting. Middle School Principal John Manchester was directed to find a solution.

A short supply of aged textbooks might have been a depressing close to the meeting. The Board, however, had been tremendously pleased to hear Mr. Dougherty's audit report. And, in closing the meeting, Board President Alan Hall thanked everyone, while asking that they keep their "belts tightened." "Job well done, administration, employees, Board," he said.

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Oakland Approves Slight Tax Increase

Oakland Township Supervisors met on November 15, with all present, as well as Jim Davis, a representative of the township’s insurance carrier, DGK. Mr. Davis and the supervisors reviewed a list of property owned by the township, as well as items covered by the policy, in preparation for renewal.

During the roadmaster’s report, a water problem on Columbus Ave. was discussed. An old concrete pipe runs through a ditch, which would have to be at least partially removed to deepen the ditch. It was believed that GPU, which owns the property adjacent to the area in question, may have done some work that would alleviate some of the problem. GPU will be contacted for more information.

Supervisor Glasgow reported that a resident had contacted her with concerns about a part of SR92S; there is brush obstructing the sight distance. Ms. Glasgow had contacted PENNDOT, and was told that the problem would be taken care of.

The supervisors reviewed several reports relating to remediation of the SOLIDA property. In a related discussion, there is still some question as to when the terms of the township’s two representatives on the board of SOLIDA began, and when they end. One reason for the uncertainty might be that some terms have been subject to resignation; in this case, Mr. Cowperthwait said, the bylaws state that if someone were appointed to fill a seat left vacant before a term had expired, the appointee’s term would end when the original appointment was scheduled to end, and would not be extended as though it were a full term. It was agreed that the matter should be addressed at the January reorganization meeting; in the meantime the township’s two representatives will be contacted for some clarification of their terms.

A subdivision for the Wanatt property was approved and the necessary paperwork completed.

A bid for repairs and improvements to the township garage was accepted; the existing doors will be extended higher to allow easier access for the truck.

The 2002 contract for fire protection was improved; there will be a four percent increase, to $8,140.

Information received from the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority was discussed. The authority is developing applications for block grant entitlement funds, the purpose of which is to benefit low income families (homeowners), and the township has been asked to submit proposals for projects meeting requirements. There was some question as to whether the grants it discussed were for home improvements for low income families, or for municipality projects that would benefit low income areas. The authority will be contacted for further information.

During discussion of the 2002 budget, Supervisor Cowperthwait noted that the township has lost about $200,000 in assessed property valuation due to the Clean and Green program. Three versions of the budget were presented for review. After a lengthy discussion it was agreed to accept one which will increase taxes by one-tenth of a mill. This will translate to an increase of $1.65 per household.

The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a codes violation.

The next meeting of the Oakland Township Supervisors will be on Thursday, December 20, 6:00 p.m. in the township building.

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New Milford Twp. Discusses Taxes

All supervisors were present at the November 14, 2001 New Milford Township meeting. Franklin Gulick, Roger King, and Robert Alexander had an important discussion about local taxes according to Gulick who shared the evening's events.

Gulick noted a possible tax raise was a serious issue. Citing that the township was taxed enough through other local tax sources, the supervisor chairman maintained they would continue to have the lowest taxes in the area, as "long as we can".

Carol Smith, secretary/treasurer for New Milford Township reviewed a proposed budget for next year with the supervisors. Gulick remarked that the township has the lowest budget in the State.

Correspondence from the Planning Commission indicated a review of a few subdivision proposals were given approval in the township.

Also present at the meeting was Jack Conroy, Roadmaster. It was noted that the Ford truck discussed in the last few meetings came back from the garage and is now in good repair. There is a fresh coat of paint on the plows that will service the roads in the area during winter storms. It appears that all equipment is road-ready.

The New Milford Township Supervisors meet on the second Wednesday of each month in the township building on Route #11 at 7:00 p.m.

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Clifford Leaning In Favor Of Sewers

Residents of Crystal Lake, who have been trying for ten years to have their homes tied into a sewage treatment system, may have found a new ally in Clifford Township.

If all goes according to plan, Clifford and Greenfield townships may file grant applications to finance a study into the feasibility of installing sewer lines at Crystal Lake and tying them into Greenfield’s sewer system.

Of course, there are some contingencies attached to the proposal but nothing that is insurmountable.

Time is of the utmost importance. Applications for the grant applications must be postmarked no later than January 9, 2002.

The Clifford Township Board of Supervisors also wants township residents who live in the Crystal Lake area to petition the board for the feasibility study. Board Chairman Randy LaCroix said the petition would show the township that there is a need for the sewer system and that the township residents living in that area want it.

And while the Greenfield Twp. Sewer Authority has previously noted that its facility can treat sewage from the Crystal Lake area, undoubtedly township officials will want to sit down with Clifford and pound out a proposal that would make a Crystal Lake Sewer Project acceptable to all parties.

Perhaps the biggest handicap will be Fell Township, which may have the lion’s share of homeowners in the Crystal Lake area. Township officials have been reluctant to participate in any discussions relative to the installation of a sewer system at the lake.

"I sent a letter last month to Fell Twp.," said Paul Peterson, Clifford Township’s solicitor, "indicating Clifford’s willingness to participate in a study. Fell said it did not receive it yet so I will send them another copy of it."

Frank Zazzera. who has been one of the strongest proponents of a sewer project for Crystal Lake, said he has been bucking head with Fell Twp. officials for years. But Mr. Zazzera said he and other supporters are not giving up.

"We are pressing the issue in Fell Township," Mr. Zazzera said. He is one of about 95 homeowners in the Crystal Lake area that reside in Fell Township.

"Greenfield said it would go along," Mr. Zazzera told the Clifford supervisors. "If you people go along with it, we could be looking at 100 percent funding for the study."

Mr. Zazzera said the Greenfield sewer plant could be easily expanded to accommodate the Crystal Lake area. He said tying into Greenfield’s system would be the least expensive approach to installing sewers in the lake area. He said that in 1992 the cost to have the Crystal Lake area tie in to Greenfield’s sewerage system was estimated at $670,000.

An unidentified man in the audience said homes along the lake are contaminating it and that it is only a matter of time before the Commonwealth demands a sewer system around the lake.

Prior to the start of last week’s meeting, John Regan was sworn in as a supervisor to finish the unexpired term of Michael Andzulis who resigned in October. Mr. Andzulis’ term ends December 31 and in the November 6 election, Mr. Regan was elected to begin his own term as a supervisor on January 1.

Mr. Regan, who is a Democrat, lives in the Elkdale section of Clifford Township.

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Academics, Driving Privileges At Elk Lake

Academic success and driving privileges are now officially linked at Elk Lake School. At Monday night's school board meeting approval was given to modify the current student driving policy. The policy will become effective at the beginning of the spring semester which is at the end of January.

Currently, only eleventh and twelfth grade students are permitted to drive to school, but must secure a registration sticker based on supplying a driving permission form, a copy of their driver's license and a copy of the registration card for each vehicle.

Certain restrictions result in privileges being suspended or removed. Three days of tardiness in a marking period result in loss of privileges for the remainder of the marking period or 10 days, whichever is greater, and action which is considered unsafe operation, on school property or on the way to or from school, can mean removal of driving privileges.

But soon, academic standards will become part of a student's responsibility for continued privileges. According to high school principal, Kenneth Cuomo, the purpose of the stricter policy is to encourage students to keep up with studies, so they don't fall behind and jeopardize graduating on time.

Each year several students fail to meet the requirements of graduation. If they have failed two subjects, they can "walk" on stage during graduation exercises, but will receive their diplomas only after completing those subjects in summer school. More than two subjects makes it almost impossible to complete requirements during the summer.

The updated driving policy will penalize driving students who fail a major subject (English, math, science or social students) for a marking period, revoking their privileges for the following marking period. The impetus to keep passing grades will begin in earlier grades, however, since anyone failing a tenth grade subject and not making it up during the summer, or who owes credits in any of the major subjects when they enter the eleventh year, or will not be allowed to drive to school the following year. Privileges may be reinstated if credit is obtained through a professional tutor.

Arden Tewksbury asked what the sports requirements were. The answer revealed that drivers will be penalized more than athletes for lack of academic success. Someone asked what would happen if a student had to work, and therefore, needed to drive to school to get to his employment, or was needed at home immediately after school for family reasons. Working on a farm was an example. Cuomo said that in exceptional cases allowances could be made, as has always been the case.

The new requirements for drivers will begin at the start of the second semester. Cuomo said that progress reports will be issued around December 9-10, giving students fair warning. It will also allow adequate time to make up deficiencies before the exam period in late January.

Cuomo told this reporter that he has been warning the student body since the beginning of the school year that this policy change could happen. He said he told each student individually again when they registered to drive to school, that they might expect this added requirement, so that they would know from the beginning of the school year.

It is not a punishment policy, but one that will, hopefully, make students more focused on working year round to insure passing grades, for which they will earn the privilege of driving to and from school. Cuomo estimated that 90 percent of seniors are licensed drivers, and maybe 80 percent of juniors, but that only about 40 percent drive to school at any one time. Sometimes they take turns, bringing other family members or friends with them.

In other school business, the board approved hiring Pam Staats as Special Education Coordinator at a salary of $55,853.20. Her hiring passed by a slim margin, 5-4. One dissenting board member offered the explanation to this reporter that they supported her, but their first choice had been a current staff member.

Debbie Tyler was hired as a life skills associate for the remainder of the school year only, as it is expected that her student will not be in the district next year. An in-school suspension half time position was filled by Mike Kipar at a salary of $7,811.50.

Correspondence revealed that John Thompson resigned his custodial position, saying the rate of pay and distance from home was not in his family's best interest. Brenda Cooley, who has run the play group program for pre-schoolers, notified the board that she will not be renewing her lease after June 2002. She notified them at this time, so that the board would know that the space would be available and so she could notify parents who might wish to consider other options.

The next school board meeting will convene at 7:00 p.m. on December 3 for its required reorganizational meeting.

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FC Board Told To Repeal Tax

A drop in the student population in the Forest City Regional School District prompted a woman to ask the Board of Education to consider abolishing the wage tax.

Mrs. Edna Mendez of Pleasant Mount asked the board for a breakdown on the cost-per-student and suggested that, since the number of students has been steadily going down, the district might be able to give the taxpayers a break by eliminating the wage tax.

Mrs. Mendez said the practice of collecting real estate taxes and wage taxes to support the school district is "double dipping."

"How long is it (wage tax) going to last?" Mrs. Mendez asked.

"Until we vote it out," Director Tom Baileys replied.

"Where does this money go?" Mrs. Mendez continued. "I want to know where every dollar is going."

Board members said the figures were not readily available but they would have some semblance of a financial report for Mrs. Mendez at the December meeting. They also pointed out that the wage tax pumps more than $300,000 a year into the school district and by abolishing the tax, the lost revenue would have to be made up by increasing the real estate tax.

Last year’s enrollment figures were not available but the 2001 K-12 student population of 889 is 34 less than the total enrollment of 923 in 1999 as reported by Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services.

Director Fred Garm blamed increases in school taxes on the Commonwealth. He said the state’s share of education costs has been shrinking annually and has gone from 50 percent to 35 percent in recent years.

Director Henry Nebzydoski also pointed to "unfunded mandates" which have become a favorite Commonwealth practice in recent years. Unfunded mandates are programs that are initiated and financed by the state. However, after a period of time, the state withdraws the financial support but compels the school districts to continue the programs and to finance them.

Motions approved by the board are as follows:

– Accepting the resignation of Liane Anselmo, elementary aide.

– Appointing Kathy Jones and Sue Price as part-time instructional assistants in the learning support program.

– Approving the formation of an elementary basketball program for Grades 2, 3, and 4.

– Appointing Board President Ken Goben as the representative to the Career Technology Center for a one-year term.

– Disposing of damaged computer equipment and software and donating usable computer equipment to individuals who do not have one and qualify for the district’s free lunch program and who are designated as part of Title 1.

– Extending the sabbatical leave for Jerry Chervanka for the remainder of the 2001-2002 school year.

– Approving Albert Wildenstein as a substitute bus/van driver for the 2001-2002 school year.

The board also announced it will conduct a public work session on Monday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. in the high school library to discuss possible refinancing of the current bond issue and a proposed building/renovation project.

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Routine Reigns in Harford

The boundary between Harford and New Milford Townships crosses Interstate 81 just south of Exit 219 (Gibson, old Exit 66). It seems that as far as the Emergency Management Center is concerned, if an accident is reported at mile 219 or beyond, the New Milford Fire Department is toned out, because the mile 219 marker is inside New Milford Township. That's unfortunate for someone seriously injured, particularly in the northbound lanes, because a crew from Harford can get to anywhere in that 2-mile northbound stretch between the Harford and Gibson exits a lot quicker. Coming from New Milford, an ambulance would either have to cross the median, or come all the way to the Harford exit just to go north again. Why doesn't someone explain this to the 911 center and fix the problem?

That was the first item at the meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors on November 14th, and nobody seemed to have a clear answer, not even Terry Van Gorden, a Township Supervisor and Chairman of the Board of the Harford Fire Department. Some time ago, the Harford company asked its parent township to contact the New Milford supervisors to see if something couldn't be done to work out this kink in the system. Now Harford has received communication from New Milford to the effect that the two fire companies should be able to work this out amongst themselves. Mr. Van Gorden seemed to think that a letter from the Supervisors to the emergency center could help to set things straight. He didn't seem to be able to explain clearly why the two groups of volunteers themselves couldn't work out a clear plan to present to the 911 call center. His colleagues, Jim Ketterer and Rick Pisasik adopted New Milford's position, and simply suggested that the two fire companies themselves find a way to resolve the question.

There was a lot of discussion about plumbing in the township garage, where to put what kind of sink, and what kind of eye-washing station could be placed where. Garry Foltz has agreed to put a second bathroom in the garage area for approximately $2,000.

Presiding Supervisor Rick Pisasik directed Township Secretary Sue Furney to find a suitable place to put some $8,000 in pension funds for Township employees. A state program will reimburse most of such pension payments once an approved program has been in place for 3 years. Mr. Pisasik is concerned that a proper pension program be in place before the end of this year.

There was a lot of confusing discussion about a relatively complex subdivision for which the county has asked the Township's opinion. The subdivision, as discussed at this meeting, involved a divorce, a barn with a loft, a sand-mound septic system, and the possible sale of some parcels at some time in the future. The Township, of course, has no official authority to approve or deny a subdivision. The Township role is to advise on whether sewage disposal is properly provided for on whatever parcels come out of the subdivision. According to Ms. Furney, the Township's Sewage Enforcement Officer has worked out plans with the property owner, so, in the end, the Supervisors passed along the subdivision with no objection.

Mr. Van Gorden reported that he has been pricing overhead garage doors for the shop area. He told his colleagues that the existing doors were leaking heat, and "it seems like every time you turn around, the propane truck is coming in." He said that the Township has spent about $2,200 on propane since last February. (The only place the Township uses propane is in the garage.) He was not prepared to make a definite proposal, but prices for 2 door systems so far are in the range of about $6,000.

Along with a couple of routine building permits, all of this took nearly 2 hours. You can share in the work of your Township. Harford's Supervisors meet in public session on the second Wednesday of each month, at 7:30 p.m.

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Mt. View Board Hears Reports

The Mountain View School Board had a full agenda that was covered in record time after a very brief break for an executive session. The Treasurer and Cafeteria Report was given by Kevin Griffiths with disbursement confirmation/ratification in the amount of $1,471,286.77 approved by the board for General fund bills, cafeteria fund, employee payroll, transportation contracts, fringe benefits and fund transfers covering October, 2001. The November General Fund Bill and Cafeteria Fund list in the amount of $197,653.86 was also given the nod. The bill for the work being done on the new addition was approved and the report given by BCK, architects on site, was brief.

Administrator notations from the Elementary, Jr. High and High School Levels proved interesting and of particular note since the September 11, 2001 tragedy that hit the nation. On the Elementary School Level, Margaret Foster, Principal, reported a special Veterans Day Program took place on November 9, 2001. The program organized by Mrs. Linda Whitney and Mrs. Cheryl Kerr included patriotic musical selections performed by the entire student body, readings by Bill Whitney and Mrs. Linda Whitney, words of wisdom from Ms. Foster and vocals by Robert Fisher. Guest speakers included Eddie Arnold, past post commander of the Hallstead VFW, Michael Stewart, Dennis Getz and Mrs. Jan Price. Foster was particularly impressed with "Taps" being played by 16 sixth grade trumpeters, citing the program was "awesome". Among her notes were the first and fourth grade students taking the COGS achievement tests, an in-service day on October 31 and the Halloween parade that continued despite inclement weather that christened the band with its first take of playing in the snow.

On the Junior High Level, David Kovelski's Assistant Principal’s report included a number of items that proved the effectiveness of Mt. View programs. Junior High and Senior Students represented Mountain View at the County Chorus Festival at Susquehanna on Friday, November 9, 2001. Under his Fall Sports Update Kovaleski shared that the Cross Country team had a better season with recruitment bringing up numbers for next year. The Golf team had a good season even though the young team which comprises 2 freshmen, 5 sophomores and 2 juniors had only one victory. The girls' varsity soccer finished the season well with a 5 - 7 - 2 record and the boys' varsity finished the year at 15 - 5 capturing their first LIAA Division II championship. Girls' varsity volleyball finished this year with a 10 - 4 record in second play in league place and second in districts to Blue Ridge, who went undefeated this year.

Kovaleski shared the Assistant Principal's student council elected Bridge Zick as President, Andy Granick as Vice President, Courtney Cannon as Secretary and Josh Eshelman took the post of Treasurer.

Colin Furneaux's High School Principal's report included information regarding Junior's fee to take the PSAT's has increased the seating from 60 in 2000 to 114 this year. All juniors taking an academic English or social studies class were required to sit for the exam. A logical extension of this strategy would be to extend this to the sophomores next year. Regarding the building project he shared 80% of the new outdoor lighting has been activated. He noted there have been heating problems because of numerous shutdowns. Report cards were distributed on November 8 under the new program. The math department is looking very hard at the test format and the rubric used to score the PSSA exam. He asked every faculty member to include at least 21 discriminating multiple choice questions and at least one open ended questions in the their tests or quizzes.

Mr. Furneaux's report highlighted students have requested a homecoming dance over the Thanksgiving vacation. Although that meant pushing schedules, the dance has been scheduled for Friday, November 3. In addition, he distributed the High School Newsletter giving particular attention to the students reactions to September 11.

Mr. Vincent Rizzo, superintendent, reviewed trends in PSSA scores with the faculty at the In-service on October 31. This was an important day at the Mountain View facilities as many issues were examined. Rizzo shared that another edition of the new Mountain View Newsletter is in the works.

Letters of commendation went to many students for activities as far reaching as attendance at Rotary Camp and inclusion in an 8th grade poetry anthology.

The Steinway piano refurbishing bid went to Roger C. Hayden of Clarks Summit. It will take a year for the work to be completed.

The Mountain View School Board meets on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month in the Board room at the elementary school starting at 8:00 p.m.

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Clifford Police Report

The Clifford Twp. Police Department has issued the following report for the month of October:

Accidents, 5; Impounded vehicles, 2; Hit and run, 1; Assists to other departments, 11; Thefts, 1; Quad complaints, 9; Traffic Citations, 15; Non-traffic, 9; Criminal mischief, 3; Domestic disputes, 2; and, Alarms fire/burglary, 5.

Also, Assaults, 2; Miscellaneous complaints, 14; Dog complaints, 4; Telephone harassment, 1; Assists to fire and ambulance, 12; Child custody disputes, 2; Criminal arrests, 1; Burglaries, 1; Assists to motorists, 6.

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Many Sentenced In County Court

A Lackawanna County man was sentenced to serve from 14 months to 36 months in a state correctional facility for his part in the break-in and theft from a trailer home in Herrick Twp., Susquehanna County.

Mark James Stone, 26, of Taylor, was also fined $500 by Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans and was ordered to make restitution to the homeowner.

State Police said that in July 2000, Mr. Stone and three other suspects, Mark Wagner and two juveniles, broke into the trailer owned by Fred McGregor and made off with a television set, microwave oven, VCR, a tool box and tools, circular saw, binoculars, bed linens and towels, and some small appliances.

The other defendants said Mr. Stone entered the trailer through a rear window. Once inside, he opened the front door for his friends and they all carried some of the stolen merchandise to a waiting car.

Other sentences handed down by Judge Seamans include:

Brian Hird, 19, of Susquehanna, two months to 23 months in the Susquehanna County Jail for breaking into the Starrucca House in Susquehanna on May 27. Mr. Hird will serve his jail term on weekends. He was also fined $500 and ordered to make restitution.

Richard Lee Saab, 19, of South Montrose, two months to 12 months in the county jail for damaging the jail when he was a prisoner last Christmas Eve. He was also fined $250 and ordered to pay the cost of repairing the damage he caused.

Joshua Daniel Calby, 19, of Montrose was placed in the jail’s work release program for a term of four months to 23 months for delivering a controlled substance on March 30 in Montrose. Mr. Calby was also fined $500.

Kenneth T. Saul, 38, of Forest City will spend 30 days to 15 months in the county jail on weekends for driving under the influence. Mr. Saul, who was arrested February 6, was also fined $500 plus court costs.

Charles W. Babcock, 36, of Lafayette, NY received a suspended jail term and was placed on probation for five years for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in Great Bend Twp. last March. Mr. Babcock was also fined $1,500. His probation period was transferred to New York.

Joseph Bonavita, 23, of Montrose was placed on probation for 12 months and fined $250 for theft by unlawful taking. Authorities said Mr. Bonavita made off with about 40 assorted trees in Auburn Twp.

Michael Allen Bauer, 20, of South Montrose was sentenced to serve from four months to 22 months in the county jail for possession with intent to deliver at the Livestock Music Festival in Gibson Township on July 20. He was also fine $500.

Mathew B. Manning, 40, of Montrose, 11 1/2 months to 23 months in the county jail for possession with intent to deliver at the Livestock Music Festival in Gibson Township on July 20.

Melissa S. Sharer, 22, of Binghamton, NY, was fined $250 for issuing a number of bad checks in Susquehanna Borough last February.

James R. Moran, 22, of New Milford, 48 hours to 11 months in the county jail plus a $300 fine for driving under the influence and driving while is operating privileges were suspended or revoked.

Chad Eric Groover, 20, of Susquehanna Borough, four months to 12 months in the county jail suspended to 12 months probation for possession of drug paraphernalia in the county jail on November 18, 2000. He was also fined $250.

Michael F. Crowley, 47, of Montrose, three months to 15 months in the county jail for driving under the influence on June 5 in Franklin Twp. He was also fined $500 and was placed in the work release program and assigned to the county recycling center.

Shane Michael Repsher, 18, of South Montrose, 30 days to 15 months in the county jail, suspended to 15 months probation, for criminal trespass. He was also fined $500 and ordered to make restitution to his victim. On May 25, Mr. Repsher entered the residence of Pamela E. Kelly in Bridgewater Twp.

Edward Douglas Payne, 24, of Susquehanna Borough, 48 hours to 12 months in the county jail plus a fine of $300 for driving under the influence and $200 fine for driving while his operating privileges were suspended or revoked. He was arrested May 5 in Lanesboro.

Brian Alan Potter, 30, of Endicott, NY, three months to 12 months in the county jail, suspended to 12 months probation for retail theft at Indian Joe’s Smoke Shop in Great Bend last Dec. 12. Mr. Potter was also fined $150.

Todd Conroe Jr., 20, of Carbondale, 30 days probation, $250 fine for possession of a small quantity of marijuana, and one year probation for possession of drug paraphernalia in Hop Bottom on October 16, 2000.

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