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Harrisburg Inspector General Albert H. Masland announced that welfare fraud charges have been filed against two Susquehanna County residents. The individuals, in unrelated cases, allegedly collected more than $5,100 in public assistance benefits for which they were not eligible.
"Welfare fraud is a serious crime against Pennsylvania taxpayers," Masland said. "The Office of Inspector General is working hard to safeguard the funds for citizens in need and to punish individuals who abuse public assistance monies. I thank Susquehanna County District Attorney Charles Aliano and his staff for their help in bringing these cases to prosecution."
Claims Investigation Agent Jon D. Carpenter from the Office of Inspector Generals (OIG) Northeast Region Office filed the charges against the Susquehanna County residents.
The individuals against whom charges were filed are:
Barbara I. Kenny, 33, of Lenoxville faces felony welfare fraud charges for allegedly receiving more than $3,100 in cash assistance and food stamp benefits to which she was not entitled at various times, from April, 1998 to December, 1999. Kenny is accused of making false statements on her application for public assistance benefits. She allegedly failed to report that she did not have full care and control of her son. This information, if known, would have affected her eligibility for benefits.
Jo Ann Burns, 41, of Union Dale is accused of collecting more than $2,000 in cash assistance and food stamp benefits for which she was not eligible at various times, from March, 2001 to September, 2001. Burns allegedly failed to report her disability wages from Gentex Optics, information which would have affected her eligibility for benefits.
Preliminary hearings for both of these cases will be scheduled at a later date before District Justice Watson J. Dayton.
Recipients who are found guilty of welfare fraud may face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000, mandatory restitution to the Commonwealth and program disqualification.
The Office of Inspector General is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities for programs administered by, or contracted through, the Department of Public Welfare.
Each year, the OIG works with county assistance offices statewide to identify suspected cases of public assistance fraud, and with local district attorneys to bring the cases to prosecution.
The Office of Inspector General also relies on tips from citizens. Inspector General Masland urges anyone with information on suspected fraud to call the Welfare Fraud TipLine at 1-800-932-0582, or e-mail the OIG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners minus Gary Marcho who was hospitalized with an illness appointed a team of five county employees to develop a plan that will bring the county in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
The team includes Chief Clerk Suzanne Brainard; Michael Giangrieco, county solicitor; Sue Adamec, director of Children & Youth Services; Everett Setzer, director of the countys computer department; and, Jeff Shoemaker, chief probation officer.
The action came on the heels of some prodding from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).
"We are writing," the letter stated, "to strongly encourage you to take immediate steps to begin to comply with the federally mandated HIPAA regulations. Its provisions governing the confidentiality and security of individual health records have an immediate impact on counties, as both employers and service providers."
CCAP said that, despite its efforts to encourage counties to comply with the HIPAA, many counties do not believe the regulations apply to them. The association told the counties that HIPAA should be taken seriously and that the penalties for non-compliance are severe.
On another subject, Justin Taylor, director of the countys Economic Development Department, said 41 new business started in the county last year. Under questioning, Mr. Taylor did not know how many businesses closed or moved.
"In all, " Mr. Taylor said, "I think we had a very good year as far as business goes."
In another matter, an attempt to appoint Rick Suden to the Northern Tier Regional Planning Full Commission failed when Commissioners Lee Smith and Cal Dean failed to agree on the appointment.
Mr. Dean said Northern Tier requested that an elected official be appointed to the position. He also noted that Mr. Suden is already a member of Northern Tier and that appointing him to another committee would cost the county in total number of representatives involved with the various committees, departments and commissions at Northern Tier.
The commissioners approved a request from Dawn Watson, Emergency Management Director, to place repeater bases at the Susquehanna and Montrose tower sites for fire dispatch and communications at a cost of $2,000-$3,0000 for each base plus a one-time license fee of $495 per base.
In Salary Board matters, the following motions were approved:
* Setting the salary of Diana Snow, domestic relations enforcement officer, at $9.41 an hour as per the union contract.
* Setting the salary of Amy Curley, domestic relations court liaison and conference officer at $11.04 an hour as per union contract.
* Setting the salary of Raina Hilgner, domestic relations conference officer at $10.43 an hour as per union contract.
* Creating the position of data analyst in the 911 department at starting salary of $9.87 an hour for the departments countywide re-addressing project.
Council members Dennis Price, Scott Halesky, Allen Lloyd, Diane Sabatelli, Andy Gardner, Jeff Sheldon and Roselyn Lee were present at the October 7 meeting of the Thompson Boro council, as well as mayor Jim Delaney, police chief Tom Rivenburg, secretary Diane Sheldon, secretary Marge Whitney and a number of residents.
The meeting began with an executive session, to discuss a personnel issue.
When the meeting resumed, president Price reported good news regarding the boros sewage project; construction bids will finally be going out to bid, some time this month. The last four concerns raised by PENNDOT have been resolved. Mr. Price reported that several contractors have already contacted Nassaux-Hemsley, the project engineers, for bid information. Once the project goes out to bid, there will be a 45-day inspection period (for contractors) before the bid is awarded. During discussion, it was brought to councils attention that there is a property at the outer perimeter of the boro that is not included in the project, where sewage is being emptied into Starrucca Creek. Mr. Price said that council had been told that the property in question had an on-lot system; he will contact Nassaux-Hemsley to find out what needs to be done to include the property in the plan.
A motion was made to adopt amendments to the boros existing garbage ordinance; the changes are mainly to prohibit dumpsters for residential refuse. Businesses would be allowed to have dumpsters at their properties; residences would be allowed to use dumpsters for construction.
When it was asked if there were any public comment, resident Seward Rice questioned a definition of "rubbish" included in the ordinance, which included reference to paper and wood as items that could not be burned. Mr. Price said that council had not asked for those items to be included; those items could be burned outdoors in an approved container. Mr. Gardner added that the intention was to ban burning of construction materials. "This is not a new ordinance, its an amendment," Mr. Price said. "The section on burning hasnt been changed; this has to do with construction material." Mr. Gardner suggested that it would be appropriate to table the ordinance until council could check with the boros attorney.
Action on a proposed animal control ordinance brought about a more passionate discussion. When public comment was allowed, Mr. Rice asked what had led to this ordinance? He made several statements directed at Mr. Price. "This ordinance is for you," he said, and added that it was a waste of taxpayers money.
Mr. Price responded, "You point your finger at me, youre making it personal. I did not draw up this ordinance." Its intent, he said, was not to go looking for animals; it was to do something about people who have no respect for their neighbors property. "What you do is your business; this will protect people whose property is destroyed. Yes, I support this. There have been animals vomiting and (defecating) at our house. An animal is a life, youre responsible for it. You open the door, let it out, it gets hit by a car, its replaceable. This ordinance enables us to take the animal to Montrose, it costs taxpayers nothing. Were talking about irresponsible pet owners. If you care about your pet, you take care of it. You want to make this personal, its not."
Another resident commented, "You (council) have no right to impose your (ideas) on me. Its not humane to keep a cat in the house all the time." She went on to say that she would rather see taxpayers money spent on catching criminals than animal enforcement. "Its silly to waste money."
"Im not telling you youre wrong," Mr. Price said, "but it (cat) shouldnt be in my yard." He went on to explain that the ordinance allowed stray animals to be held by Mr. Rivenburg until the animal control officer could come and get them.
Council member Sabatelli said that there had been problems with a neighbor walking their dog and allowing it to defecate on others property, but when the owner was asked to clean up, she complied. And, other residents made it a practice to clean up after their pets. "If someone were to allow (messing), the ordinance would give (you) the right to push for them to clean it up. If not, Mr. Rivenburg could enforce (it)... Were trying to have pet owners keep track of them, not let them out all day." Mr. Lloyd agreed, saying, "It all comes down to personal responsibility; it doesnt matter what (kind of animal) it is, its personal responsibility."
An audience member responded that homeowners could put repellent around their yard; "If someone has a problem, dont call Mr. Rivenburg; confront the individual. Lets work together."
Mr. Price replied that pet owners should be responsible. "Its pathetic that we even have to do this. It is an issue of responsibility. We shouldnt have to do it... Watch your animal, be responsible." Mr. Halesky asked, "How many people have come to meetings to complain about animals? Is it a problem because council members have had problems?" Mr. Price responded, "Weve had a lot of complaints. Its an issue of people just blatantly allowing (defecation) when they can control it." Another audience member asked if there hadnt recently been an incident where a loose dog attacked another, smaller dog?
Mr. Sheldon said that the majority doesnt want cats to be locked up; Mr. Price responded, "Im voting for consensus of people who call me." Mr. Sheldon replied that the majority he could see feel that it is cruel to keep cats indoors. Mayor Delaney related that there had been an incident where a neighbors cat had been destroying his plants; he brought the cat back to its owner, and told him that he would be responsible for any further damage to his property. Since then, there had not been a problem.
There being no further discussion, a motion was made to adopt the ordinance, with the vote being three for, three against, with Mr. Gardner abstaining. Mr. Delaney was asked to cast the deciding vote. Mr. Delaney asked if he could take a little time, until the next meeting, to talk to some of the people, to see what they want before he had to vote. Mr. Price said that the procedure was that the mayor would need to vote, and that council would meet within ten days to go over Mr. Delaneys objections, or the motion could be rescinded and tabled before any other motion can be considered. "Then I vote no," Mr. Delaney said. Mr. Price asked that he put his objections in writing, council would meet in ten days to discuss them. After reviewing the state meeting codes for clarification on what action should be taken, Mr. Price rescinded his statement that council would need to meet within ten days; the vote stands, the motion was defeated. In closing, Mr. Lloyd said, "Youve appeased cat owners but youve done away with pooper scoopers, leash laws..." Mr. Delaney answered, "I hesitated because I dont know what the people think (about this)."
In other business, in answer to a question raised by an audience member, Mr. Price said that a boro resident had been cited for code violation, but the case had been dismissed by the magistrate. "He supposedly cleaned up. All we can do is follow the steps in the ordinance," he said. "He was cited, and the magistrate threw it out."
Building permits were approved, for a garage on the Elgena property, and an extension for the Narciso property.
Mr. Lloyd and the streets committee will look into complaints about potholes on Water St. Mr. Price will check with the sewage project engineers, to see whether a complaint about water problems caused by runoff from the pavement at the fire company could be addressed now with a storm drain, or whether doing the work now would interfere with the sewer project.
A complaint was made by a resident, that the properties of Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Gardner are in violation and are in need of cleaning. Mr. Rivenburg will look into it. He will also investigate a complaint about an unsecured building where there is a refrigerator.
Mr. Gardner will look over a map drawn up of the boro, listing individual properties, and correlate this information with engineers maps drawn up for the sewage project, in preparation for an expected request from the county comm. center to provide documentation to be used in the case of emergency.
A letter, requesting copies of the minutes for the August and September council minutes, will be answered, informing the writer of the boros policy; copies will be provided upon request, with a nominal charge for copies.
Council reviewed a letter from RUS asking about the delay in getting the sewage project out to bid and to be kept informed as to the projects status. Council will send a letter, explaining the reason for the delay.
Council reviewed a bill from the boros solicitor, which included an itemized list of services rendered.
At the recommendation of the state office of local government services, a motion carried to purchase copies of the state BOCA code, including a copy of the state property maintenance code. It is expected that the states international building code will not go into effect until next spring or early summer; purchasing copies of the codes now will give council time to review.
And, trick or treat in Thompson Boro will be on October 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The next meeting will be on Monday, November 4, 7:30 p.m. in the fire hall.
Roger Edward Stone, Jr, 30, Jackson Township, and Karen Marie Delisa, 25, Jackson Township.
Kenny Lee Sherman, 23, Springville Township, and Renee Alice Fike, 30, Springville Township.
Kristopher D. Sharer, 25, Laceyville, and April M. Blaisure, 18, Dimock Township.
Scott Alan Groover, 36, Thompson Township, and Wendy Ann Dixon, 41, Thompson Township.
Mathew F. Castrogiovanni, 35, Bridgewater Township, and Cathy A. Burgess, 37, Brooklyn Township.
Eugene Joseph Hahn, 30, Clifford Township, and Lisa Ann Marr, 33, Clifford Township.
Paul James Leeming, 23, Great Bend Borough, and Stacy Marie Raub, 21, Great Bend Borough.
Robert L. Stacy, 32, Freetown, NY, and Sarah, E. Blackburn, 30, Freetown, NY.
Phillip Allen Jarnagin, 28, Nicholson Township, and Shalane Lee Weidow, 27, Nicholson Township.
Joshua David Weibel, 23, Akron, and Stephanie Nicole Kovitch, 21, Akron.
Richard Allen Stone, 47, Brooklyn Township, and Deborah Lea Worstell, 21, Brooklyn Township.
David Desko to David Desko and Donna Desko in Clifford Township for $1.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to David A. Stone and Guy Parrish in Bridgewater Township for $180,000 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $271,557).
William R. Lewis and Deborah M. Lewis to John J. Siedlecki, Jr., and Sharon S. Siedlecki in Bridgewater Township for $215,000.
Janet A. Cafasso to Attila J. Soproni in Auburn Township for $152,900.
Timothy Finch and Samuel French to Timothy Finch in Jessup Township for bluestone mining operation.
Thomas J. Giglio, Jr. and Teresa M. Giglio to Robert J. Garza and Faith A.Garza in Apolacon Township for $145,000.
Joleen MacGeorge to Stephen A. Howanitz in Bridgewater Township for $64,000.
Louisa J. Fritz and William L. Chell to Edward P. Warner and Jessica R. Warner in Rush Township for $85,000.
Stanley W. Kates and Donna Kates to Stanley W. Kates and Donna Kates in Herrick Township for $1.
Ellis-Matthews Partnership to Kenneth D. Woodruff and Carol V. Woodruff in Clifford Township for $86,600.
Maurice P. Newhart, Jr. and Nancy Newhart, Raymond A. Newhart and Alberta Newhart, Ronald L. Newhart and Lauri A. Newhart to David G. Bruckno in Rush Township for $45,000.
John Caslte aka John Castle and Carol Latronica-Castle aka Carol J. Latronica to Jeffrey G. Gregory and Michelle Y. Gregory in Forest Lake and Middletown Townships for $135,000.
Gregory D. Smith and Darlene J. Smith fka Darlene J. VanKuren to Gregory D. Smith and Darlene J. Smith in Forest Lake Township for $1 ogvc.
Christian P. Kutch and Deborah A. Kutch to PPL Electric Utilities Corporation in Clifford Township for right-of-way agreement.
William Rogan to James S. Clark, Charles C. Haley and John J. Galinsky in Herrick Township for $22,900.
Paul F. Moran, Jr. and Nancy Moran to Paul F. Moran, Sr. and Marie Moran in Little Meadows Borough for $1.
Cecelia A. Tusar, Executrix of the Estate of Cecelia Tusar aka Cecelia F. Tusar to Cecelia A. Tusar in Forest City Borough for $!.
Barbara Seman, Executrix of the Estate of John J. Quigley to John J. Seman, Andrew M. Seman and Joseph S. Seman in Herrick Township for $1.
Janet L. Rice to Earle Wooton in Montrose Borough for $95,000.
Kenneth A. Tingley & Sandra J. Tingley to McDonald's Corporation in New Milford Township for $250,000.
Kenneth A. Tingley & Sandra J. Tingley to McDonald's Corporation in New Milford Township for restrictive covenant.
Kenneth A. Tingley and Sandra J. Tingley to McDonald's Corporation in New Milford Township for easement agreement.
Boney Jones and Ruby Jones and Terry Jones and Beth Jones to John Grab and Mary D. Grab and Joseph M. Grab, Sr., and Beverly A. Grab in New Milford Township for $58,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to EMC Mortgage Corporation in Ararat Township for second corrective deed.
Tax Claim Bureau to Jeromy Perry, Sr. in Great Bend Township for $1757.
An investigation continues into an incident between October 4-6 in Hallstead where someone poured motor oil inside of a car belonging to Marjorie Mirra, Hallstead.
Between midnight and 7:15 a.m. on October 7, someone removed several items from the bed of a truck belonging to Scott Shelp, Susquehanna. Taken were a Dewalt cordless screwgun, a Dewalt Sawsall, a Snap-on Electrical tester with meter and a case of drill bits and drivers.
Kris Raymer, Montrose, was traveling south on State Route 267, Forest Lake Township, on October 4 at 9:15 p.m. when he lost control of his Nissan pickup truck. Raymer sustained minor injuries.
TWO VEHICLE ACCIDENT--NO INJURIES
No one was injured when John M. Young, 57, RR 1, Kingsley, was traveling west on State Route 106 and Richard N. Lewis, 51, Clifford, was traveling in the same direction behind Young. Young started to experience engine trouble and attempted several maneuvers to regain power, but these attempts proved futile. Young then started to back his vehicle up and attempted to park on the berm when he struck Lewis' right side rear tire. Both vehicles sustained minor damage. Young's 1988 Dodge Shadow was removed from the scene, and Lewis' 1993 Volvo truck was towed after failing an onsite inspection. The incident occurred on October 5 at 10:20 a.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Jennifer Jones, New Milford, had her vehicle parked on Broad Street, across from the Parkview Hotel, New Milford Borough, and was struck by an unknown vehicle on August 15 at 2:30 am.
ONE CAR ACCIDENT
Anthony Lipinski, 74, Wilkes Barre, failed to negotiate a curve on State Route 267, .3 miles north of State Route 4015, Rush Township, then his vehicle left the roadway and hit an embankment. No injuries were noted in the report of this September 27 incident.
TWO VEHICLE HIT & RUN ACCIDENT
On October 5 at 11:30 a.m., Anna C. Manzer, 87, RR 1, So. Gibson, was traveling north behind Joseph Angerson, 47, RR 1, Susquehanna, when Angerson stopped his vehicle intending to turn left onto State Route 2073 from State Route 92, Lenox Township. Manzer applied the brakes to her vehicle and steered to the right to avoid striking Angerson, but this failed and Manzer's left front struck Angerson's right rear. After impact, Angerson drove his vehicle from the scene north on State Rout 2073 and parked his vehicle in a private driveway, then fled on foot in a northerly direction on State Route 2073. He was found approximately a mile north of where he parked his vehicle. Angerson will be cited for leaving the scene plus numerous other traffic offenses, according to the police report.
TWO VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On October 4 at 5:00 p.m., Keary Ann Renner, 22, was traveling south in the left lane and Robert Wagner, 48, Bath, was traveling south in the right lane of Interstate 81, Harford Township. Renner suddenly lost control of her 1996 Nissan Maxima, attempting several steering maneuvers in order to regain control, but without success. Renner's right side door struck Wagners left rear fender, then Renner's vehicle spun and traveled backwards across both lanes before striking a guide rail. Renner was cited, according to the report, with careless driving. No one was injured.
Dominique Winn, 23, Hallstead, had her 1988 Dodge Omni vandalized while it was parked along Main St., New Milford, on September 6 between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
The Blue Ridge School Board meeting on October 7 covered a lot of ground and concluded with briefings by each of the three school Principals on the results of last April's PSSA testing in grades 5, 8, 9, and 11. Overall, the District's students perform at an average level more or less consistent with other rural schools in Pennsylvania of similar size and composition. The variety of statistical measures presented with the scoring results make simple judgments of progress difficult. Administrators put their best face forward, however, and gave some indication of directions they want to take to help improve scores in the future.
The meeting opened with Board President Alan Hall wondering if the High School will send someone to represent students on the Board. High School Principal Michael Thornton apologized for their absence and hoped it was only because they were doing homework.
Among personnel decisions, the Board hired James Ahern to teach business education, and welcomed him with warm applause. They also welcomed Tracy Whitehead to teach in the kindergarten on a one-year appointment. When all-day kindergarten was established two years ago it was decided that classes should be no larger than 18 children. This year the number enrolled overran that target and Ms. Whitehead was added to the staff to bring down class sizes; the District budget anticipated the possible addition of another kindergarten teacher. The Board also hired three full-time "paraprofessionals" in an effort to meet the requirements of the new Federal "No Child Left Behind" Act. According to Alan Hall, under that legislation, classroom instructional aides must have at least two years of post-secondary education. So, in order to distinguish them by title from other, non-instructional support staff, they will be called paraprofessionals. The Board also approved a job description for a Director of Information Systems, a position that will be awarded as an additional function to a current staff member with additional compensation for the added responsibilities. John Ketchur is currently performing all of the functions defined in the job description on an unofficial basis. According to Mr. Hall, the Director of Information Systems will not be listed on Schedule B of the teachers' union contract. The current Department Head positions were also given official job descriptions.
In miscellaneous actions, the Board renewed the contract with Stellmack Air Conditioning & Refrigeration for air conditioning maintenance. Members approved a resolution supporting a Public Outreach Campaign promoted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) that recognizes the achievements of public schools in the Commonwealth. The outreach campaign is clearly an effort to bolster the image of the public schools in the face of assaults from charter schools and various voucher proposals. The Board approved a new policy defining an "English as a Second Language/Bilingual Program" which would be invoked if the District enrolls any students who have difficulties because their native language is something other than English. Under the program, such students must be provided with at least one hour per day of specialized instruction and assistance. At present, Blue Ridge does not have any students that would fall under this policy, but, according to Superintendent Robert McNamara, "It will happen to us," and the District must be prepared. The Board accepted a request from Elizabeth Gaughan for help attending a National Youth Leaders Conference convention in Washington, DC. She will share in a $500 pool allocated in the budget for all such applicants.
And the Board approved a new set of contracts for transportation services with the District's bus operators. According to Business Manager Loren Small, the overall cost of transportation will be lower under these contracts due to optimizations offered by the transportation software implemented at Blue Ridge over the past 18 months.
The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) is an attempt at statewide standardized testing to measure the performance of public schools across the Commonwealth and over time. A relatively new program, the PSSA has undergone a variety of revisions since it was established; testing began on a trial basis in 1995, but standards were implemented only in 1999. The basic tests are administered in the Spring of each year to students in grades 5, 8 and 11 and cover fundamental reading and mathematical skills. Writing tests are given in the Fall to students in grades 6, 9 and 11. One of the original goals was to attach some significance to test results by way of a stamp or seal on a High School diploma.
PSSA results for a school are issued as a collection of statistics that compare scores in a variety of ways with other schools with similar characteristics (rural or urban, socio-economic categories, etc.) as well as statewide. In general, Blue Ridge scores have kept up with scores of peer schools. Most recent results have shown a slight drop-off, particularly in the Elementary grades, in some of the writing tests in the High School, and in some parts of the math tests in the Middle School.
The writing test was given to 11th-grade students for the first time last February. Mr. Thornton expressed some concern at the relatively low scores, and determination that his staff would focus their efforts at improving the showing the next time. In particular, on testing day students will focus on the test without distractions for other classes or activities. John Manchester, Principal in the Middle School, said that additional effort would be applied to bring up scores in math, but that "reading is strong" in the Middle School. Principal Robert Dietz of the Elementary School expressed some chagrin at a sudden dip in performance among his scholars on the last test when compared with prior years, which had been showing steady improvement.
This is also only the second year that results are presented in terms of "performance levels." All of the principals expressed determination to lift all students into the "proficient" and "advanced" levels, an objective of the state Department of Education by 2012. The lower levels are called "basic" and "below basic". Scoring includes results for children studying under Individual Education Plans (IEPs), generally those with special needs. Superintendent McNamara said that IEP students represent a "special challenge" in the standardized testing process.
The Blue Ridge School Board will next meet in public session on Monday, October 28, at 7:30 p.m., for a workshop. Board meetings are usually held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The administrative staff at Mountain View has a new look and is moving in strong new directions. There are three new people at the rudder of this educational site and they are already beginning to make a difference.
Eliza Vagni is the new Assistant Principal at the High School. She joins newcomers to Mountain View staff, Carolyn Price, the recently hired Business Manager and Arthur J. Chambers, the new Superintendent.
Pictured (l-r) are the three new Mountain View administrative personnel with student art on display in the board room: Carolyn Price, Business Manager; Arthur J. Chambers, Superintendent; and ELiza M. Vagni, High School Assistant Principal.
Vagni, a native of Jessup, graduated from Valley View and took her undergraduate work at Kutztown University in Art Education. Picking up two masters from Wilkes in Classroom Technology and Education Leadership, she has proven she has multi-talents that can be put to use. She took over the reins last Spring for the then ailing, and now recently deceased, Dave Kovaleski in the duties of Assistant Principal. Impressing the Mountain View board members with her competency, she was placed permanently in that position for the 2002-2003 school year.
In her new position it is obvious she has strong student connections and involvement. She has been active helping with the formation of clubs and groups, notably the Student Leadership Council. Using her background, she has forged relationships with academic and athletic leaders promoting school events and school spirit. Working with the School Improvement Committee, which has a volunteer component, she is assisting in improving different areas in school regarding things that include busing issues, and reading morning announcements. Vagni noted some students have asked if she likes her new job, and how come she doesn't teach Art. She voiced so far discipline has been very good at Mountain View. In open class meetings she encouraged the students to express what they wanted. With everything off to a very positive start, she shared it also helped being in a new school building where there is no vandalism evidenced. Her focus is to form a relationship with the students, be fair and to work hard at her new job. Vagni shared, "I really want to know the kids and the parents."
Vagni joins the other woman on the administrative staff, Carolyn Price of Windsor, NY. Carolyn, the new business manager, is married to Daniel Price. They have two children, Jacqueline and Aaron, and she has three grandchildren, Kelly, Josh and Tasha; thanks to her daughter. Price went to Harford schools for 11 years and went to Mountain View in the fall of 1959. She has the honor of being in the first class graduated from Mountain View, in 1960. Her education background includes attendance at Wilkes for one semester, after which she transferred to Florida Southern in Lakeland, FLA. She received her Bachelors in Elementary Education with a Minor in Music and took her Masters work at University of Scranton in Reading. Mrs. Price was a school administrator and supervisor at State University of NY, College of Cortland. She shared her first job was as an elementary teacher at Hop Bottom School, and moved on to teach at Blue Ridge and Clifford School. Her experience includes teaching in Windsor and Binghamton City School District, and worked in curriculum, personnel and special education and in support services.
Price fleshed out her employment experiences as an adjunct lecturer at State University of NY, College at Cortland teaching and mentoring teachers to become administrators. Finally retiring from New York State, she shared, "I am so excited to be back in my home district." Price continued by noting the strong values and strong work ethics are unchanged since she was a student. She was at Mountain View when the Eagle was chosen for its logo. At this time Price sees the District as forwarding looking, particularly in math and technology. The business manager remarked she sees children so well behaved. "I am in awe and they are interested in school, and respectful." She concluded with "What is important about a school has not changed."
Finally, as the day was coming to a close, the new superintendent, Art Chambers, who cordially let the ladies go first, became the object of focus. Although born in Endicott, NY, he has lived for 27 years in Brookdale. He and his wife, Kathleen have two children, Kelly, a first grade teacher in NJ and Katie, an English teacher in Johnson City High School. He took his Bachelors and Masters in History and Science from State University of NY, College at Cortland. Chambers attended the University of Scranton, and Binghamton University. He has a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Administration from Cortland. He was employed in McGraw, NY, a rural district, at the Junior High Level in English and Social Studies. He moved on to Johnson City High School for 10 years, where he was ultimately the Assistant Principal. He was the Coordinator of Social Studies district-wide and an Elementary Principal for 9 years in Johnson City. Going on to the Central Administration Office he was the Director of Special Services, among a number of positions. Chambers related that during his time at Johnson City the entire program was named as a National Model across the States. Retiring from Johnson City, in 2001 he sought to apply his skills again in Endicott and then this position opened up here in Susquehanna County.
In his statements, the new superintendent shared he believed that Johnson City was a tremendous learning opportunity to develop a vision and learn as you practiced to do it. Chambers continued with, "Develop a collaborative culture that develops a synergy on the same thing." Here he believes we need to develop student achievement as a district and you can do distinguished things. He noted further, "A collaborative distinguished school culture needs to have many focused on the message despite the challenge. It is hard work, but stay focused, no matter what your job. Change happens when a lot of people with experience make changes small enough. The realization that it can all be pulled together makes it happen and you have to know what to change." Chambers shared there will be a lot of innovation here. He comes to work "excited each day." He intends to observe every class before 2003, talk with people and go where the action is. He reflects each day, "What did I do to move one thing, big or small."
You can see that this article is one about moving forward. It appears the three people highlighted here will make "moving forward" happen at Mountain View School District.
At the October 8 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro council, the first order of business was to administer the oath of office to councils newest additions, two junior members. Sarah Bucci and Amber Hurlburt, both students at Susquehanna Community High School, attended their first meeting, and were invited to sit at the council table after they took their oaths. Council president Ron Whitehead explained that, according to state law, junior council members could participate at meetings, but could not attend executive sessions or vote; they are otherwise encouraged to participate and to give reports on issues that concern them.
Pictured are Susquehanna Boro Councils new junior members, Amber Hurlburt (left) and Sarah Bucci (right).
Correspondence was reviewed; a letter from Adams Cable reiterated information received last month in response to an inquiry from council; the service areas of Susquehanna, Lanesboro, Oakland and Thompson will be receiving upgraded service, via fiber optics, by the spring of 2003. An additional 38 channels will be available, as well as more premium channels, similar to services offered in other areas. High-speed Internet service will also be available, with four different speeds of service at different price levels offered.
(Reporters note: when contacted for further information, Adams Cable indicated that monthly rates will increase for the expanded programming package, but a basic package will be available with fewer channels at a lower rate.)
Council reviewed a progress report from the Sesquicentennial Committee. A gun raffle held in September was a tremendous success. On October 26 there will be a chicken barbecue at the fire hall. On November 16, a bowling night at Riverside Lanes. Other projects are being planned, including sale of a memorabilia booklet, tee-shirts and memorabilia items. The committee is seeking sponsorships, and invite all interested individuals to attend their meetings, held the last Wednesday of each month at the boro building.
Secretary Margaret Biegert reported that the boro has received a request from American Legion Post 86 to use the boro building parking lot for their Halloween parade on October 27, at 2 p.m. It was agreed to approve the request, with the proviso that the garage and police entrances at the building must be left clear.
A motion carried to approve moving $1,740 from the general fund into the building maintenance fund, a budgeted allocation for the year 2002.
To begin to work on the 2003 budget, a special meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 16, 7 p.m.
Mayor Kelly reported that work is progressing to have Rte. 92 and Rte. 79 to Harpursville designated as a scenic byway (tourism route). A motion carried to adopt a resolution to participate in the project. Mrs. Kelly has attended meetings at surrounding municipalities, with Hal Lucius, on behalf of the American River Heritage Initiative, to let those municipalities know what the program is all about, provide information and to ask them to get involved in getting the area declared as a tourist destination. So far, she said, there has been good response. If successful, it could be an asset to area businesses.
Requesting time on the agenda, resident Dawn Roth expressed some concerns over the boros proposed renters ordinance. What is entailed, she asked, and who is going to make sure buildings are maintained? "We can only do so much with the tenants we have," she said. "We need some clarity." Specific questions concerned the $50 application fee that would be required from landlords.
Mrs. Biegert responded that the permit fee would be $50 (per unit), half of which would be returned to the landlord if the property passes inspection; the remaining half would cover the boros cost for the inspection and clerical work involved. The boro is compiling a list of buildings with rental units, and is putting together a registration form; the program will probably be "up and running" some time in the spring.
Council member Tom Kelly said that the boros intent is not to target anyone in particular, but to address the problem of blight buildings and absentee landlords. "If buildings are inspected, youre going to have a better element of renters and property values will go up." Mrs. Kelly said that the ordinance is intended to raise the standard of housing in the community. "The ordinance has been refined to where its acceptable to landlords," she said, "and as a backup for the CEO."
Mrs. Roth pointed out that there are buildings in town that are not rented that are in bad condition. How would they be checked? Mr. Kelly said that if a complaint were filed, the CEO would inspect it. He added that inspection of properties would be a basic inspection, to look for obvious problems, such as electrical wires hanging out of the wall.
Mr. Whitehead cited an example where an emergency condemnation of a rental unit had been ordered. The property was "shut down" until the owner complied. The situation had been brought to the CEOs attention by the tenant. "Weve got houses going fairly cheap in this boro," Mr. Whitehead said. "Out of town landlords are buying them up. They (the landlords) never come here; this gives us a way to keep track." He added that the ordinance, by necessity, had to be a "blanket" regulation, including all properties.
Another audience member, Chip Snyder, said that he was not opposed to inspections, but that some landlords have been upset at the fee involved. "If you own one or two properties ouch. You own 20, thats a lot of money, and then you only get half back. The CEO is already salaried, why are we paying more? There are a lot of bad apples; were willing to live with inspections, but why do we have to pay more?"
Mr. Kelly replied that the reason for the fee is to help offset some of the expense involved. The boros CEO is only part-time; the purpose of the fee is to recoup tax dollars. As a result, more codes work could get done. Mrs. Kelly said, "I would hope they (landlords) would appreciate a community that takes pride."
Mr. Snyder said that there are landlords who have really bad places, but others put a lot of time and effort into maintaining their properties. He suggested that, if a complaint is made, inspect the property; if it is not taken care of, then levy a heavy fine. Mr. Kelly said the boro has tried that, but it is impossible to get a fine levied. "Were not getting anything accomplished."
CEO Shane Lewis said that many issues are being overlooked; the main purpose of the inspections is a matter of safety. And, he added, he is paid an hourly rate, with a set number of hours, and is not salaried.
"Its a bad solution to a bad problem," Mr. Snyder said.
Mr. Kelly said there have been known "bad" places in the boro, with no other way to get in and inspect. "Id like to think (the ordinance) will bring property values up... some things youd find (during an inspection); youd have no right otherwise." And, he said, people have been "referred" to the boro by county agencies. How, he asked Mrs. Roth, do you screen tenants? She replied that she would ask for references; when asked, former landlords would give a good report whether or not it was true. When damage was done, the tenant would be brought to the magistrate. The tenant would file a disagreement, and the process would be dragged out. She cited a recent experience where it took four months to get a tenant out of an apartment. When the tenant was finally removed, the apartment was found to have been destroyed. This particular tenant had been referred by a caseworker, who had vouched for him/her. The damage, including holes in the walls, proved to cost more to repair than the security deposit she had received. When contacted in situations like these, county agencies basically say, "Too bad."
Another audience member asked, what would happen if boro landlords were to put all of their properties up for sale; what would that do to the boro? Mrs. Kelly responded that the intent of the ordinance is about turning the community around, to raise the standard of housing, which should in turn improve landlords prospects.
Mr. Snyder answered that, as investors, there was a certain risk involved, but the risk is not the issue. The issue is inspections.
Council member Bill Kuiper said, "In one aspect this is going to be an asset to landlords. In some cases (with out of town owners), the tenant mails the rent check, the owner never sees the property; he will know someone is going to check to see if its being damaged... Youre going to be getting a check and balance, to ensure that property is being taken care of."
Mr. Whitehead suggested that the fee could be added to the rent charged to tenants. Mr. Kuiper agreed; the $50 per year, divided by 12 months, would only be an increase of $4 or $5 a month, which could be passed along to tenants to guarantee that property is being taken care of.
An audience member suggested that the boro refund the permit if property passes inspection. "If its a problem building, keep the money."
"I could go along with that," Mr. Kelly said.
An audience member asked about a newspaper report that stated that a fire marshall would be conducting the inspections, along with the CEO. Mr. Kelly said that the fire marshall would only be involved if there was a reason for it, such as bad wiring, as backup to the CEO.
Returning to the subject of the permit fee, Mr. Kelly asked if there could be a per building fee, regardless of number of units, rather than a per unit fee?
Council agreed to consider the issues raised.
Several months ago, the boro had requested to work out an agreement with the fire department, to work cooperatively on inspection of hazardous housing conditions, but had received no response. It was agreed to send another letter.
Mr. Kelly reported that the parks and recreation committee has contracted to have water and sewer lines put in, from the concession stand to the rest rooms. They are getting prices for a new storage building, to be put where the old concession stand is; more storage space is needed, especially with the increased use of the park for soccer. The committee has received $585 in donations in the name of Dave Terpstra, for the Washington St. park, where there is a memorial for Mr. Terpstra. The committee will meet with the Terpstra family, to discuss what to do with the donated funds.
During public comment, Mr. Snyder asked for information regarding contractors the boro has used to demolish condemned buildings; the bank that now owns a property on Front St. has requested information so that they can have the building torn down.
Mrs. Roth asked who she should contact for information regarding water runoff from rain gutters, to see what can be done prior to the new sidewalk construction. It was suggested that she contact Streets Commissioner Steve Glover.
Under old business, council member Roy Williams reported progress on the Tarbox property on Franklin Ave. The county Conservation District was contacted; they sent a representative to the site to inspect it, accompanied by the boro CEO. A report was written, citing several violations.
The Conservation District instructed the boro to contact DEP, who will also send an inspector to check if dumping at the site is having an impact on Drinker Creek. And, Mr. Williams said, the same property owner has land on Erie Ave., which is in Oakland Township; this portion of the property is closer to Drinker Creek. A letter has been drafted to the township, requesting a representatives presence when the DEP field agent inspects the property, and Mr. Whitehead agreed to attend the next Oakland Township supervisors meeting to ask for their support. "We will get this matter resolved," Mr. Williams said. "We will let this person know this wont happen in our boro. Hopefully, DEP will work with us."
Continuing discussion from prior meetings, regarding a retaining wall on Vine St., it was reported that a quote of $4,000 had been obtained, for a 10" concrete block wall, with 4 footers and reinforcement bars. Mr. Williams said that he had spoken with the individual who owned the property in 1948, when the wall was put up; it had been put up with no boro involvement. In his estimation, he said, the $4,000 replacement cost was a little excessive. He suggested that the wall be replaced with a wood wall, which would last 50 or 60 years, if put in properly.
Mr. Lewis agreed with Mr. Williams, "Id definitely agree not to use block." Mr. Williams was concerned that, if a block wall were to crack, it would lose its integrity. Mr. Kuiper asked if there was a price available for a solid concrete wall. Mr. Williams said that he would look into more estimates, specifically for solid concrete and wood. Mr. Whitehead concurred that council should look into more options.
Under new business, a resolution was adopted, to convey 218 Exchange St. back to the boro for (the original) purchase price.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 22, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
With Board Directors Mary Homan and Phillip Coffee on vacation, the agenda for Montrose Area School Districts regular October meeting was not nearly as crowded as it was before the school year began, when decisions had to be made in preparation for it.
It was busy enough, however, and included a preliminary report of the first stages of a needs assessment study the Board commissioned, a few hirings and the usual bill-payings, but not before some extraordinary students and their teacher were honored for achievement.
Mrs. Sandra Kaub, journalism/English teacher and advisor to the Meteor Chronicle, the District newspaper written and designed by students, addressed the Board about what happened when the District accepted an invitation from the Pennsylvania School Press Association at the end of the last school year. The Association asked school districts throughout the state to submit their newspapers as well as individual contributions of stories and layout/graphics and design for critiquing.
As Kaub explained it, "We changed the format of the Chronicle dramatically last year and thought a critique was in order. We were not particularly interested in the competition, but rather in hearing what the experts had to say about what did well, what we could improve upon."
What the experts had to say was, essentially, "Well done!" The Chronicle took first place (one step below the Keystone Award, the highest given) in the competition. Of the 18 individual submissions, all won an award, with seven receiving the Keystone Award and another seven taking first-place honors. Keystone Award winners have been entered into a second round of competition, with the All-State awards to be announced next month at the Pennsylvania School Board Association conference in Harrisburg.
Superintendent Mike Ognosky introduced each young journalist, who received the Boards congratulations. These included Class of 02 members Ryan Ehrie and Cathy Keene who was represented by her parents. Keene is attending school in Maryland, where, by the way, she is the new production manager of her colleges newspaper and setting things right there. Mr. And Mrs. Keene thanked advisor Kaub for the training and instruction their daughter received to be able to do this.
Current Chronicle staff members and award winners were also on hand for the honoring. These are Sarah MacNeal, Lucas Smith, Krystie Loomis, Elizabeth Zappe and Sarah Bollinger.
Board President Ken Gould compared the Chronicle of almost four years ago with its current reincarnation. Some of the focus then was on how bad the Board was and how it didnt treat the students well, and, said Gould, "That scared me." He, Ognosky and other Board members discussed with Kaub and Chronicle staffers how to change that perception. While students were concerned that the Board would have oversight of the papers content, they were assured that the Board would not interfere, so long as the papers staff did things ethically. The result is a multiple-award-winning District newspaper, something, said Gould, "that we are very proud of as a Board and as a community."
Two more students were also recognized for achieving excellence this time from the National Council for Geographic Education. Erica Smith and Amber Lattner, eighth- graders in Mr. Thomas Georges geography class, received this honor because of their vast knowledge of the subject as witnessed in a national exam sponsored by the Council. In a letter to the Board, George praised the young ladies work ethic and desire to learn as being a credit to the District. The Board agreed.
Before introducing a representative from Highland Associates, the consulting firm hired to conduct a needs assessment for the District, Ognosky reminded the audience of the background that led to this undertaking: to thoroughly review the current facilities and their capacities, curriculum, grounds, operating expenses, transportation and roads, safety issues, enrollment and projections of it in essence, everything that makes education happen in order to see where the District stands as it relates to PA Department of Education guidelines, as well as to prioritize needs to manage any future growth or re-engineering.
Ognosky also noted that a Highland Associates representative would report on progress of the assessment at the monthly Board meetings, until the project is wrapped up, which is expected to be towards the end of the year.
The consultant reported that architects and engineers have already started a comprehensive survey of District properties and buildings (early findings indicate the buildings, overall, are in good condition with no areas in need of improvement for current District curriculum and enrollment). Highland consultants have met with District staff faculty, administrators, coaches, department chairs, representatives from all grade levels, other support and will continue to do so throughout the project, gathering opinions and knowledge. Staffs overwhelming and initial reaction was one of gratitude to District administration for having the opportunity to provide their input, which Highland is also gathering from students by way of meetings with the Student Council.
Further information will be gathered from a survey that Highland is sending to every employee in every District school. It will also be culled from regular meetings with a community advisory panel, scheduled to begin later this month, to find out what District taxpayers expect from its school system.
The Highland Associates spokesperson emphasized that the study is something that evolves, with findings presented to the Board as it does so to avoid any surprises. As more information is gathered, options presented in an earlier report may be modified or dismissed based on new information, with option priorities driven by recommendations from both Highland and District staff. Examples could include, say, full-day kindergarten, increased seating in the gyms, improved heating and cooling systems in the high school, more distinctions between 7th and 8th graders from upperclassmen to ease their transition to high school, and a host of options both greater and smaller that have shown up on the wish list of those with whom Highland has already spoken.
These options and recommendations could include construction, curriculum changes, and re-engineered use of current facilities that would also acknowledge their limitations. A price tag will be assigned to each option. It would then be up to the District to set priorities, decide how to proceed, or whether to proceed at all on any of the recommendations. What the needs assessment gives the District is a valuable tool for future planning, as well as a Department of Education-qualified study, should the District look to the State for construction funds down the road.
The public is invited to a meeting between Highland Associates and the Districts Buildings and Grounds Committee members that will be held on November 1 at 6 p.m. in the high school. The Student Liaison Committee will be meeting with the consultants earlier that day as well. Additionally, the public is also invited to a meeting Highland will be holding with the Community Advisory Committee on October 31 at 7 p.m. in the high school. However, unlike the Committee meeting the following night, only members of the Advisory Committee will have a dialogue with the consultants.
Another event to which the public is welcome is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on November 2 at 9 a.m. in the high school. Proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund in memory of Julia Frystak, a student who passed away just before the start of the new school year.
For the rest of the meeting, the District paid bills and, as is its custom, Finance Committee chairperson and Director Chris Caterson asked Board Secretary Lewis Plauny to read the list of those greater than $3,000. These included costs incurred for health benefits, payroll, textbooks, various special education payments, computers and other technology, and cafeteria food. Payments were also made out of the 22 Fund for various projects earlier approved by the Board, such as fencing, financial software, boiler replacement, a new used truck, athletic training room equipment and field improvements, and a generator.
Getting the Boards approval was a $1.823 million transportation contract for 2002-2003. Approval was withheld for two bus contracts for transporting parochial school students to the Southern Tier because the Board, in Ognoskys words, "wants to see if theres a better, more efficient way of transporting them." With transportation costs increasing, the District is looking to tighten them where they can.
District hirings approved at the meeting were: Rhonda White, head junior high field hockey coach for the 2002 fall sports season, $1,150; Jennifer Clark, assistant junior high field hockey coach, $960; Petrina Gregory, wrestling cheerleading advisor, annual salary of $750 plus $25 per event attended; Dean Brewer, assistant track coach, $1,540; Eric Lockwod, Drama Club advisor, $800; Molly Sullivan, Diversified Occupations Program athletic office assistant, $5.15 an hour to a maximum of 20 hours a week; and Joyce Blaisure, substitute for support staff (no pay given in agenda).
And, as proof that a lot of folks throughout the County read and use the Transcript, the District also approved four people as substitute teachers effective immediately, and are interviewing another three. "We have," Ognosky said, "Sandy [Kazinetz] and The Transcript to thank for that." The District received a lot of inquiries from some certified teachers who read the substitute-teacher pay scale reported in the Transcript as part of an article covering the Boards September work session. (Read more about Kelly Services and substitute teachers in the October work session report, also in this issue.)
In its last piece of business before adjourning, the Board also appointed, for the 2002-2003 junior/senior high school year, Mary Cunningham as social studies department chairperson at $625, and Joseph Moore as department chair of the science department, $550. The discrepancy in pay is based on the number of staff reporting to the department chair. Chairs are paid a base of $450, with an additional $25 for each teacher in the department.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Area School District Board of Directors is scheduled for November 1 in 7 p.m. at the Junior/Senior High School.
In the Elk Lake sports arena, the school will soon have a girls' soccer team. Mr. Mallery, Jr. High Principal, gave a three-step approach where step one will be at the junior high level, and for this coming year will include 7-9 graders. The cost for the first year is estimated at $3,768, with the second and third steps/years including junior high, junior varsity and varsity teams. The second year's expense would be $9,180 and $9,451 for the third year. Thereafter, it would be about the same of the third year plus salary increases and inflation factors added.
Other board members asked what the impact of a soccer team would have on a thriving jr. high field hockey team which currently has 37 players. It is a large program, and the new soccer team may pull some students from that program, but others thought that the larger field hockey team often meant that not everyone could get play time.
The school board gave the administration permission at an earlier meeting to indicate to league officials of Elk's interest in starting a team, so that if the team were formed there would be room in a League schedule. Mallery was asked to make a budget for the program. With his figures, it was approved at this meeting, and, the team will begin next year. Only step one was approved at this time.
Language, music, and radio station selection played during travel to and from school was an issue that parent Barb Stone thought needed some attention by the Elk Lake School District. She was referring to bus time.
Stone asked, "What are kids hearing day in and day out?" She went on to tell about riding in her car and hearing a radio station that is a favorite on some buses, describing some of the topics and language. She indicated that younger kids hear it and think it is appropriate language, but then are reprimanded if they use it in the classroom or in some homes.
Although no one had a solution to the problem, the administration said they'd look into what is going on when students ride the buses.
School board member Ann Copeland asked for a clarification of the self-medication policy. When the board earlier approved of self-medication, the general consensus was that it was for inhalers only. The health release form, however, is vague indicating "It is requested that (child's name) be permitted to carry the medication on his/her person or to keep same in his/her locker or P.E. locker, and we consider him/her responsible."
No one acknowledged having any problems with this in the school, but the conclusion was that the self-medication policy will be reviewed, and the release form probably tightened to include only the mention of inhalers.
Ina Bradish, a substitute teacher for the district, was hired as the ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. A new policy was approved earlier to concur with mandated federal and state guidelines. Any student whose first language is not English has to be evaluated. Currently there are 6-7 students who fit that category, with Spanish and Russian the home languages.
Student Activity Accounts need closer scrutiny and more paperwork. Business Manager Kim Hollister recently attended a workshop where information on accounts indicated that each club must have its own officers, students have to approve how spending is done, minutes must be taken, and voting needs to be done to approve of dollar spending. It was still unclear what age level would be affected, with some saying the early elementary students may not be able to make responsible choices. This policy is for accounts where students secure the funds through fund raisers, but not booster clubs where parents initiate the fund raising.
The Superintendent's compensation plan was approved for both Elk Lake and the Career & Technology Center. Supt. William Bush has duties in each unit and the salary is prorated for each. The plan included a salary of $94,830, plus benefits, some of which were two weeks vacation which can be accumulated up to 20 days, full life insurance of $25,000, group life insurance of two times his salary. His extended employment was approved recently for another five years, covering the 2003-2008 school years.
Board member Jean Squire said that the tennis courts are a mess. She'd like to get bids out and something done on the courts this summer. She also indicated that a fourth court is needed, as all players can't have matches before darkness arrives. Squire also said the courts are dangerous, with cracks over the surface.
Bush and Elementary School Principal Mr. Pirone discussed the PSSA tests and their scores. Apparently, the tests aren't done each year, and it is difficult to establish patterns, since the students change, as well as the rules change for the state to provide figures.
Career & Technology Director Alice Davis discussed the diversified occupations program, which is an additional work-based component which enables students to work without dropping out of school. Jobs can be secured for 1-2 days a week in an occupation or on a farm, or even for a six-week period. It is one way to expand the efforts of the drop-out program, and could be used, for example, when the family farm needs the worker for financial reasons. It is only for seniors.
Another meeting of the board is scheduled for October 21 at 7:00.
A scheduled hearing on the update of Clifford Townships Act 537 Program was postponed by the township supervisors last week. No new date has been set but township officials said the hearing will be held even though it is not required by law.
The update includes a plan to sewer the townships portion of Crystal Lake, a service that township residents in that area have been requesting for years.
Earlier this year, the Board of Township Supervisors hired the engineering firm of David D. Klepadlo & Associates to update the townships Act 537 Program. The Act requires municipalities to develop and implement comprehensive plans for resolving sewage disposal problems and to provide for the future sewage disposal needs of the municipality.
John Regan, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the hearing was canceled because the township needs to gather more information relevant to financing the project. He also said the township wants to talk with the Greenfield Township Sewer Authority about processing sewage from the Crystal Lake area into Greenfields treatment plant on Route 247.
While contracting with Greenfield appears to be the most economical approach, township officials said there are alternate ways the township could sewer the Crystal Lake area.
Good news for township residents and developers who need to consult with Paul Fortuner, township code enforcement officer.
Mr. Fortuner will make himself available at the township hall on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
While the subject was not fully explained, an apparent bidding problem on road material developed and Roadmaster Adam Baron was authorized to "straighten it out."
"When we make a motion to accept a bid," said Mr. Regan, "we are not backing up."
The township postponed action on a proposed expansion of The Country Store at Dundaff Corners.
The police report for September includes six traffic citations, four non-traffic citations, three thefts by unlawful taking, one burglary, one drunk driving arrest, two accidents investigated, three criminal complaints, one disorderly conduct, one harassment, and three custody disputes.
The setting of the sun on a chilly fall night sets the backdrop for the October 7 meeting of the Great Bend Township.
The meeting came to order at 7:00 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance.
The roll call was the next item on the agenda. Chairman Robert Squier, Vice-Chairman James Banko, Supervisor George Haskins, and Secretary-Treasurer Beverly Sheldon were present.
Approval of the agenda came after several amendments. First was the addition of information to the communications and correspondence section of the agenda. The amendment dealt with the new building codes that will be going in affect on a statewide level. The other amendment was to the equipment section under unfinished business. The amendment was a resolution to add load ride to the new backhoe that is being assembled.
The treasurers report and bills payable were approved with the transfer of the general equipment fund from Peoples National Bank to Pennstar Bank. This was necessary to secure a loan that the township needs to purchase the new truck and backhoe. A motion was made at this time to not only open the account, but to borrow the $24,909.25, needed to pick up the new truck. Another motion was made to not borrow the money needed to purchase the backhoe until it leaves the plant where it is being made.
The roadmasters report included the note that Supervisor Haskins is now an emergency/stand-by CDL operator. Another note was that Mr. Squier, Mr. Haskins, and Mr. Mase attended dirt and gravel road school, thus certifying them to receive grants from the state to repair roads in the township. The road crew did a large amount of indoor work during the past week. They organized all of the information on the different equipment that the township owns and attached it to clipboards that will accompany the equipment anywhere it goes. They also did a complete service job on one of the trucks.
The signing of the signature authority for the Bridging Communities Grant passed with little or no problems. This paper gave the supervisors of the township and the secretary-treasurer authority to sign any papers to do with the new bridge. The signing of the grant contract with PENNDOT sparked a heated debate amongst audience and supervisors. The audience felt that the supervisors should not commit the township to anything until Great Bend Borough and Hallstead Borough signed the same contract. The supervisors said that the worst thing that could happen is if the boroughs did not sign the contract, they would have to refund the money to the state. The supervisors said that they would not touch any of the grant money until the boroughs sign.
The next item on the agenda was the building and driveway permits that were submitted for approval. The commercial permit for Donna Fekette is still ongoing. Gary Krayeski was granted a permit to add an addition to his garage. Edwin Nelson was granted a permit to construct a small barn on his premises. Russ Lynch was granted permission to construct a residential dwelling on his property.
Sewage is still an ever-growing problem for the people of Great Bend Township. New information was brought up about Joan Longs trailers. One of the supervisors commented that every meeting is like attending school; something new is passed on to the people in attendance. One of the people in attendance said that when the property was owned by Jim Bevens and George Stover a sewer system was installed to handle one residential and one commercial building. Mr. Fortuner is continuing to hold up settlement of the Pauline Chauncey estate. Without his signature, the estate cannot be divided or sold. He is willing to come back and reexamine the area for an additional fee. Supervisor Squier said, "he has not talked to his private attorney about Fortuner yet." The problem with Kenneth Tingley was not settled because the planning commission says that he has enough property for the trailers that he has. Mr. Squier said, "I do not know what to tell the guy." The other supervisors said that Mr. Tingley is probably waiting for the sewer system that will link New Milford with the Hallstead/ Great Bend system. The Harmony Village sewage problem was cleared up with no permit being issued. The supervisors said that the person that owns Harmony Village might have just repaired the water line coming from the spring, in order to fix the problems. If this was not the extent of the repairs, the owner is in violation of township laws.
A new subdivision that will be added to the township was discussed. The Denton Crick Sportsmen purchased a non-residential lot from Parks Family Limited Partnership to annex to the property that is all ready owned by them. The sale has not proceeded yet because the Susquehanna County Planning Commission, allegedly Mr. Fortuner, will not approve the sale of the land without it being perked. The township passed a resolution saying that they approved the sale as long as it came attached with a form B waiver.
The grant that the township applied for through the Susquehanna Conservation District was turned down because the road in question was determined a safety hazard not an environmental issue. A few days after the grant was turned down the roadbed slid further into the stream, so the conservation officer will be reevaluating the situation.
Another issue that is causing stirs all across the state is the new building code standards that will be issued at the beginning of next year. It will be required that each township, borough, or municipality hire a private firm to inspect each building or project that permits are issued for. Great Bend Township is in the process of retaining KBA in order to have them on the books before the changes occur. Sandra Major said that the new building code went way beyond the scopes that the legislation was supposed to allow for. There will be an additional fee added to all building permits because of the inspection that will be required. Mr. Squier said, "$9 permits will rise to over $150."
The last issue discussed was the Act 100 law that allows private residents of a local area to view certain public records. The act states that the local government is allowed to charge fees for any research, copying, or clerical work that is needed to make these records available. One citizen in attendance said, "Citizens pay twice, once for the secretary to take the notes, and then to look them up." Mr. Haskins responded to that comment by saying that this saves, "researching old records for foolishness."
Under old business the Great Bend/Hallstead township line dispute is being ignored. Robert Hornish is doing clean-up work on his property. Armetta Slocum cleaned up most of the garbage around her place. William Dixons situation is still not solved. There is no new news on Interstate Burlap and Bag. A resolution was passed to equip the new backhoe with ride control while it was at the factory at the cost of $1,000.
Next came the part of the meeting that Mr. Squier best described in his quote when he said, "lets get down to the buggy business." The "buggy business" being discussed was the roach infestation that was discussed at the last meeting. A letter was sent to the park owner; it was signed for but no response was received.
Under new business, the township discussed the idea of letting New Milford Township borrow their bush cutter in exchange for the use of New Milfords roller. Another idea that was discussed was creating a combined road crew with New Milford and using the entire combined equipment and work force, mile for mile to get all the roadwork done in record speed.
The meeting adjourned after at brief public comment session that praised the supervisors for all the hard work that they are doing. There was not much else said after the public in attendance sat for almost three hours. The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
A large audience was on hand at the October 7 meeting of the Montrose Borough Council. They were there to provide their input and opinions at a Conditional Use Hearing, the second item on a full agenda, for the 75 Church Street house owned by the Center for Anti-Slavery Studies (CASS). Anyone who had something to say got an opportunity to do so. However, most of the two dozen or so people were there to support CASS use (the "conditional use" approval CASS is seeking) of its National Register of Historic Places home for educational gatherings, research, cultural events and public meetings. The hearing took up the bulk of the meeting, at which all Council members were present. Council decided to defer its decision until its next regular meeting, but heres a bit of what they heard and will be thinking about until then.
First to address the Council was Sherman Wooden, CASS president. He reiterated the organizations desire to answer any questions Council might have about how CASS expected to use the property, and clear up any assumptions. "Years and years ago," he said, "something important happened here. CASS would like to share that history with its members, with our neighbors and with people outside of the community."
Dr. Paul Kerr commented on the rich legacy left by Montrose town fathers when they did an illegal thing provide an underground railroad for African Americans as they fled Civil War-era South. He urged that CASS was something to take pride in because it was part of Montrose pride and heritage and something to celebrate. He also added that he hated to believe any hearsay about the community not needing "any undesirable people here. I hope we dont get into that kind of situation," he added, "but I sense that needs to be said by somebody."
CASS secretary Cindy Applegate also provided some history of CASS, as well as its mission, which is to collect and preserve books, letters, manuscripts and journals of the period; to collect data; and to research traditions and folklore. She reviewed some of the programs the organization has participated in to date, at Marywood University, University of Scranton, Mansfield State University, the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, and local County school districts, among others. She took full responsibility for the baking incident, where CASS members and volunteers sold bread they made to meet their bills, and not to enter the baking industry business. "No one was ever able to come in off the street and buy bread," she said, adding that, once told to stop baking, CASS did so.
For his part, Thomas Wooden reminded Council members that this important part of Susquehanna Country history was not just that "there were a lot of black people here, but that there were a lot of white people and Native Americans who were willing to do something. What we are trying to do," he added, "is discover something that has been hidden for the last 50 years. None of us will be here in the next 50 years," Wooden said, "but structures will be. 75 Church Street, which sat vacant for five years, will be here." Wooden noted that CASS was interested in working with an historical architect to learn more about the house. "This is your history," he said.
Resident Larry Kelly, who lives across the street from 75 Church Street, did not take issue with CASS history, or with its mission, which he called laudable. Rather, he was there to object to what he saw as a zoning change (the property is zoned residential) rather than a conditional use exemption. Kelly acknowledged that a funeral home and church were also immediately in the vicinity, but "they have been around longer than anyone alive. Were not talking about people," he added, "were talking about land. When I purchased my home, it was zoned residential, and I thought it was going to stay that way."
Kelly thought that the CASS application insufficiently identifies how it would use the property. "There is no question that the proposed use has to be considered a business. CASS mentioned it wants to have meetings and dinners there. With all due respect," he said, "thats business, and there will be more traffic in the neighborhood, not to mention the adequacy of parking. My objection is not to who or what, but to where. I submit," he said, "that theres plenty of room elsewhere in the area."
This led to discussion about how dinners and meetings and gatherings were all things held in private residences throughout the town; how the funeral home was both a business and a residence; how off-street parking would be available for 75 Church Street; how there was sometimes a lot of traffic from the church and funeral home; how a bed and breakfast, United Way and Discovery Center were operating in residential neighborhoods; and, from one resident, "How could the main highway in town be considered residential, anyway?"
Borough Solicitor Charles Aliano, who more or less moderated the discussion, noted that the hearing was for a conditional use request, and not a zoning board hearing.
Brought up as well was a letter Council received stating that there was dangerous and toxic mold present throughout the 75 Church Street house. Sherman Wooden took issue with this, stating that the mold a result of high humidity and dampness is of the kind that is present in almost all houses that have sat vacant for as long as the one on Church Street has. CASS consulted with a Department of Interior representative about the mold and is following his advice, which is to do some excavation in the basement, as well as maintain a proper temperature (currently, the houses new furnace is set at 70 degrees) and proper conditions that will get rid of the mold.
CASS member Sandra Kerr stood up to say that, yes, CASS did want to make money. "As a matter of fact," she said, "I hope to sell some of these tickets tonight" to a November 9 event in Scranton. That got some smiles out of everyone. Kerr also said that, like any other house, "we have to pay the phone bill, the mortgage, taxes, heating." She also poignantly recalled how a complaint was lodged against CASS when three cars were parked in its driveway one evening. "Someone thought something funny was going on," she said, explaining that Ida Rhodes bought some soup and pie at a local café, took it to 75 Church Street, set up a card table, and treated Kerr and a friend both undergoing chemotherapy to a nice, lovely evening.
Council member Jack Yeager asked Sherman Wooden what CASS would do with the building if its request for conditional use were denied. Wooden replied that it would keep the building, keep on going. "At least we will try," added Paul Kerr.
Yeager also recounted other occasions where conditional use requests were given, with the result being, at least in two cases, an enhancement to their neighborhoods. He also pointed out some residential houses gone to seed by landlords who rent them out "for every nickel they can get out of them, and thats a business."
More to the point, however, Yeager pointed out that the Boroughs code was written about three decades ago, when things were a lot different. "During this time," he said, "business and industry have gone to pot. Good-paying jobs are not there any more. Once in a while," he noted, "someone has the money to buy one of these large homes and keep it up. Others, however, sit idle until they fall in from deterioration."
"There are areas in the Code that allow for exemptions, for special uses," Yeager continued. "And its within the provenance of Council to even totally abolish the Code. But theres nothing in it that says that it cannot be changed for some reason or another. And if you get back to the reason for the Code, I think its back to the same old story to create the well being of the borough, but also to control what occurs. I can personally see no objection," he said, "to what CASS has in mind. Obviously, if youve been watching the building [75 Church Street], you know its appearance is better since CASS bought it. They do have adequate parking. I feel that Council should take a good, long, solid look at their request, and if it feels that granting it would benefit the Borough, they should grant it."
After CASS members responded to Alianos question that it would do whatever it takes, as requested by Council, to receive conditional use status, the hearing was adjourned by Council President Craig Reimel.
At which point, most of the audience left. But, before the hearing began, they did hear Codes Enforcement Officer Joel Maxey update Council on recent activities. Maxey reported on a Grow Avenue property that the owner is cleaning up, after receiving a written warning advising him that he had 30 days to do so. And while its looking better, the property owner "didnt think he would be able to be there much longer because of financial reasons," said Maxey. "He has worked at it, but I dont know what good it would do the Borough to institute fines, at this point," he noted.
Maxey also reported that the front porch on the Evergreen Apartments is a real hazard and gave owners of the building a notice to bring it up to Code within 30 days.
He concluded his report by announcing his resignation, giving the Borough 60 days notice. With two young sons, a self-employed wife, and a weekday job, Maxey said that the weekends he currently dedicates to Codes enforcement must now be dedicated to his family. On behalf of Council, Reimel thanked Maxey for his energy and commitment.
The talk about animal ordinance reared its head again, with a draft included in Councils information packet for its review and not its immediate passage. After much discussion, Council decided not to proceed with it. Some members thought the subject should more properly be included in the Boroughs nuisance ordinance.
Council next responded to suggestions about various parking matters contained in a letter it received from the Montrose Area Chamber of Commerce. It agreed to post new, larger signs about the availability of free municipal parking lots, and to new meter signs spelling out the time periods when a nickel is required to be fed into the meter. The parking ticket violation cost is $3.
The group also set October 31 Halloween curfew at 9 p.m., with trick-or-treating from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. The Kiwanis parade is scheduled for October 29.
The state of disrepair of the Rafferty building as well as another "within a stones throw" of it, were also discussed, with Reimel asking if the Borough could get it condemned. It could, according to the towns Dangerous Building ordinance. But before going that route, Council decided to prevail on Rafferty to take care of it, with the consequences for not doing so outlined for him. Codes enforcement officer Maxey will revisit the property before he leaves, let the owner know whats wrong, and require a response from him within 48 hours of the notice as to what the owner intends to do.
Pedestrian crossing concerns at the junction of the Endless Mountains Health Systems got a lot of attention. Council received some guidance as to traffic management from PENNDOT, and will look into the cost of its suggested devices.
The hazards and liabilities arising from skateboarders along Lake Avenue and South Main Street was discussed, with Council worried that, sooner or later, someone was going to get hurt. A skateboard park would bring all sorts of liability to the Borough. Council members asked whether such activity could be considered a nuisance with applicable fines. And while it made no decisions on the subject, one member did comment that the soon-to-be-empty Ames parking lot would probably end up as a skateboarders haven until another tenant is found.
Jack Yeager reported that the Restoration Committees "Trees Committee" toured the Boroughs leafy inhabitants, noting which needed to be trimmed or downed and added that the Committee applied for a $7,000 grant to assist in the process.
With a very long meeting concluded, Council met afterwards in executive session. The next regular meeting of the Council is scheduled for November 4 at the Borough Building.
Susquehanna Boro Mayor Roberta Kelly addressed the Oakland Boro council at their October 10 meeting, accompanied by Hal Lucius, of Harpursville, NY. Mrs. Kelly and Mr. Lucius have been speaking to municipalities in the Rte. 92/Rte. 79 corridor, from Lenox to Harpursville, about having the area designated as a state scenic byway. If it is to happen, Mrs. Kelly said, all of the municipalities concerned would need to be involved. Council president Ron Beavan joked, "Whats it going to cost us?" Mr. Lucius said that there would be no cost to the boro, other than the cost of postage to mail an application to Harrisburg, and for copies of pertinent paperwork; in fact, it could actually bring money into the boro.
Mr. Lucius, who is now retired, said that his career had largely involved promoting US exports, of which tourism is a large part. He said that he had come to this area, attracted by its assets, but had always disapproved of the fact that it was not included in tourism material. He said that friends of his from other areas of the US and abroad have spoken highly of their visits, but because the area is not a primary tourist destination most people dont know about what it has to offer. To be designated as a scenic byway, the people are obliged to demonstrate to the state that there are things here that could attract tourism. To be designated as a tourist attraction, the state requires that there be at least one intrinsic attraction; there are four items on the list that would qualify the area. "Byways arent just roads," he said, "they include things tourists would enjoy seeing." He named several sites in the area that would be of interest, including the Starrucca Viaduct, the Nature Conservancy in Thompson, and many others. The designation would not place any restrictions on the sites involved, or on neighboring properties. If the designation were to be approved, the state would provide emblem signs so that visitors would know that it is a tourist attraction. The communities of Windsor and Colesville are behind the effort and, if it is approved, there would be information made available to travelers at the rest stop in Lenox on I-81, and possibly at Wilkes-Barre. Maps would be accessible, and PENNDOT would help to promote tourism.
Whats missing he said, is that people would need to take a look and see what services their areas could offer, and what could be done to make the area more attractive, particularly things that would be unique to the area such as quilts, bed and breakfasts, restaurants. "Anything you, yourself would like to buy on a trip."
The designation could result in funding through the state, as each state receives an allocation each year to use to enhance the tourism industry. One suggestion was for a scenic overlook near the river, with a good view of the Starrucca Viaduct, or more attractive signage. As a designated community, the area would in effect be part of an alliance of municipalities that could result in more funding for improvements. The designation would be a wide area, along the corridor, and not restricted only to those in immediate proximity to the roads.
Once the program gets rolling, he said, it would not be solely dependent on a sign at the rest stops; information would be available on the web, brochures could be available. And, hopefully, within two or three years a major publication, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post would see the area as worthy of coverage in their travel sections. That would attract interest to the area, and other travel publications would provide coverage. It could take two or three years to let people know about what the area has to offer, and it would be at no direct cost to the boro. He suggested that some enterprising individuals could do what has proven to be successful in other areas, and provide tours so that visitors could see places of interest that might otherwise go unseen.
To participate in the application, the boro would need to pass a resolution; Mr. Lucius provided copies of a sample resolution and asked council to review it, and make any changes that may be applicable. Council agreed to look over the material and make their decision at their next meeting.
In other business, a report from Shane Lewis, the boros CEO was reviewed. Mr. Lewis is addressing complaints about the Beamer property and has conducted an inspection. Other complaints were looked into and addressed. One complaint about another property was about the odor from animal leavings; Mr. Lewis report said that he had visited the property on two occasions and had found no evidence of odor. Another was in regard to a dilapidated building; it was to have been taken down the day following the meeting so that the wood could be donated to the bonfire for Susquehanna High Schools homecoming. The report said that Mr. Lewis would inspect the property again, to ensure that the building had been taken down. And, Mr. Lewis requested some direction from council regarding a third property; the owner was said to be complying, although rather slowly. If the problem was not taken care of in a timely manner, would council agree to proceed with legal action? The consensus was that they would.
Mr. Beavan reported that the boro has cleaned up the area adjacent to the Veterans Memorial Bridge, but, he asked, how much of this was the states responsibility, and how much was the boros? He urged that council look into whether the work would qualify for PENNDOTs Agility program. He said that the boro could offer a number of services that should qualify for the program, which is a trade-off of services between the boro and the state.
At this point, council member Leon Dubanowitz questioned why a list of streets projects he had prepared and presented at last months meeting had not been addressed. The discussion became quite heated, resulting in an executive session being called.
When the meeting resumed, Mr. Beavan reported that "welcome to Oakland" signs that had been ordered are in and will be put up shortly, salt has been ordered in preparation for the coming winter, and that work will soon begin for the 2003 budget.
A motion carried to purchase a gift certificate in appreciation for George Cernusca, who had assisted the boro in a metal trash pickup day, by volunteering his time to remove freon from appliances.
A motion carried to order concrete barriers, to be used at the boro garage, to prevent cinders from going into the Susquehanna River; total cost approximately $300. Once the barriers are in place, two loads of cinders will be ordered.
Discussion continued from previous meetings regarding putting up a skateboard area at the boro park. Boro secretary Cindy Cordner had contacted the PSAB for information, and reported that the boro does have the authority to prohibit, by ordinance, skateboarding in certain areas, such as the streets and sidewalks. She had also contacted the offices of the city of Binghamton for information on a skateboard park they had put up. The total cost was reported to be approximately $250,000, well over the initial estimate of $100,000. Binghamtons liability insurance was not increased as a result of the park, because Binghamton did not hire an attendant for the park, which would have increased their rates. Upon checking with the boros insurance carrier, Mrs. Cordner said that insurance premiums would increase approximately $1,500 per year over and above its current coverage if the boro were to put a skateboard area in at the park. But, there would be no guarantee that the coverage could be procured as there would be many requirements that would need to be met, one of which would be that the plans would have to be drawn up by an architect. It was agreed that Mrs. Cordner should draft a letter, to be published in the newspaper, urging parents to be aware of the danger of allowing their children to skateboard in the streets.
Mr. Dubanowitz asked about the progress of the cleanup of a River Road property; streets worker Leo "The Commish" Fisk said that some progress had been made, although there was still more to be done; the owner of the property had paid a local to take care of the problem, and was probably unaware that the cleanup had not been completed. Council agreed to send a letter to the property owner to apprise him of the situation.
Mr. Dubanowitz conveyed thanks to council, on behalf of the committee that had organized a benefit for Mary Sisler, for police services provided during the benefit.
Roadmaster Jack Agler will be checking into several water problems, specifically on Second Ave., Third Ave., and a complaint about mud puddles in the boro building parking lot.
Mayor Towner reported that Roger Holleran had attended to repairs to the boro building heating system, at no charge to the boro.
Permission was given to the Windwood Hill Dance Academy to hold a haunted house at the boro building, provided no fire hazards, such as leaves or hay, were to be used and no activities were planned on the buildings stairways. The haunted house will be held on October 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with proceeds to go towards costumes for the academys dance students.
Trick or treat in the boro will be on Thursday, October 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Mr. Beavan read a letter from resident Scott Darling, concerning the condition of the area at the boros side of the Veterans Memorial Bridge. The letter said that Mr. Darling was concerned about a safety hazard, and that the area was an eyesore. It is clogged with debris and litter, and that storm drains are clogged. Mr. Beavan said that property owners in the vicinity had been asked to clear their walks of litter, and that some had complied. (As reported earlier, other cleanup work had been completed by the boro.)
Mr. Beavan read another letter, from resident Gus Fabrizi. Mr. Fabrizis letter stated that, due to a lack of maintenance of ditches and ditches that had been filled, major water damage had been caused to his home; two walls had had to be replaced. The letter stated that, although Mr. Fabrizi had brought the situation to councils attention many times over the years, his concerns had "fallen on deaf ears." It went on to say that he believed it is time for council to make an effort to address the problem. Mr. Beavan responded that Mr. Fabrizis words have not fallen on deaf ears, that council has taken steps to take care of the problem, and that consideration will be given to improving ditches in the coming years budget.
Council discussed whether or not to purchase a roller, for street repairs. It was agreed to obtain more information on prices and discuss it further at the next meeting.
Christmas decorations for the boro were discussed; it was agreed that trees would not be purchased and placed along the boros main streets as there had been problems in past years with them falling down and being vandalized. Council member Bob VanFleet suggested that council consider purchasing new decorations, a few each year.
In response to a question from an audience member about a burned-out house, council member Cynthia Beavan said that the property had been purchased at a Sheriffs sale, but the new owner had no immediate plans to do anything until she received a clear title to the property, which by some estimates could take a few weeks, or several months.
Another concern raised by a resident was in regard to the old boro building on Westfall Ave. It was said that the building was becoming an eyesore as it has been vandalized; kids waiting nearby for the school bus had been tearing the siding off the back of the building. Council will send a letter to the owner, apprising of the situation and asking that it be addressed.
A question was asked regarding the amount of time spent at meetings reviewing documents; meeting dates had been changed to the second Thursday of the month so that council members would have enough time to look over end of the month reports and minutes of the prior meetings before the next meeting. Mrs. Cordner responded that some of the information had only become available just prior to the meeting, and that financial reports had been updated to include the most recent information.
A motion carried to approve the customary yearly donation to the Susquehanna Fire Dept., in the amount of $100.
And, the last item of discussion involved whether the boro building could be made handicap accessible. Mr. Beavan said that, because the laws mandating access had not come into effect until long after the building had been erected, it was not required to comply, although grant funding had at one time been sought to do so. Mr. Agler said that the late council president, Jerry Balmer, had worked on obtaining grant funding, but it had never come about. Mrs. Beavan said that most grants require matching funding from the boro, and, in some cases, it was more economical for a municipality not to apply for grants. She added that she had requested information on grants from the DCNR, but as of yet had not received the information. Mr. Beavan invited anyone interested in pursuing funding through a grant to do so, and noted that two residents are currently working on grant applications for sidewalk replacement and renovations to the boro building.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, November 14, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
Township supervisors, Jim Taylor, Don Zablotsky, and Fred Benson were present at the October 7 meeting for the township. Secretary/treasurer Sharon Depew presented township balances and last months meeting minutes.
In attendance at the meeting were Hal Lucius of Harpursville, NY and Mayor of Susquehanna Depot, Roberta Kelly. Lucius, who is the Coordinator of a scenic Susquehanna tour, presented the case for making Route #92 a scenic byway, to begin at the intersection of Interstate #81 and PA 92 at Lenox and run 22 miles northward to the New York State line. There is also movement in New York to gain a scenic byway designation for an additional 23 miles along NY 79, to its junction with I-88 at Harpursville, NY.
Citing the rural countryside and the historic treasures along the way, Lucius made a strong case for attracting people who seldom frequent this area. The Nicholson and Starrucca Viaduct, the old Susquehanna Depot and various other side trips are suggestions for individuals who may want to avoid the heavily traveled I-81 traveling north into the Adirondacks, Cooperstown and other northern designations. He noted this information would be available through a website which would attract people who browse the internet. The signage from PENNDOT would alert travelers to see the area.
In addition, local businesses along the way would profit and give some local craftspeople an opportunity to sell their attractive wares. Lucius presented the supervisors with a basic resolution of support for this project which they are reviewing and will probably pass in the near future.
A resolution to cover an ordinance for new roads in development was created, indicating that road specifications would have to be maintained to match specifications by the township.
A Ford 550 was purchased through the State Piggyback Program. It will be added to the townships fleet and allow for quick access in a number of places in the township whenever necessary.
The fire agreement with Harford was signed and approved for the coming year.
Lenox township meets on its maintenance grounds, on Route #92 on the first Monday of each month.
It took nearly thirty minutes for the Harford Township Supervisors to review the minutes for two previous meetings. And that was only the first item on the agenda for their first meeting of October on the 9th. They covered a lot of old business in that time, considering that the "Old Business" section of the printed agenda was empty. And the major topic was the Odd Fellows Hall in the village, otherwise known as the Township Hall.
To begin with, however, Supervisor Jim Ketterer questioned the work being done to finish connecting the Brainard property on Route 547 to the sewer system. Apparently the Sewer Authority's part of the project wasn't really complete yet, as reported in the minutes: a valve was still to be installed. Mr. Brainard appeared at the meeting to complain that since we're approaching "mud season," it may not be practical for him to contract to finish his end of the connection before winter; he was annoyed that reports made it appear that the rest was up to him after waiting seven years just to get this far.
During the extended discussion of the minutes Supervisor Terry Van Gorden reported that some equipment seems to be missing, namely, a sump pump, a string trimmer, a fire extinguisher and a hand truck or two. That led to debate about ways to prevent the further disappearance of Township property, and decisions to report the missing items to the State Police, and to change the locks on Township buildings.
Eventually the Odd Fellows Hall came up again, as it did at several points in the two-hour meeting. The minutes presented for the special September 25 public gathering (held in the Odd Fellows Hall itself) reflected no decisions or consensus. Mr. Ketterer requested that they be amended to report that a show of hands had been requested on a question put to the assembled citizens. He said that he remembered that the question was whether to "dispose" of the building (meaning, presumably, to demolish it). Supervisor Rick Pisasik said that he couldn't remember what the question was, that the meeting was held solely to solicit input from citizens regarding the status of the property, and that the 32 people who attended were not necessarily representative of the Township at large. He said that no one counted hands on the question, although he conceded that hands raised appeared to be a "good clean majority" in the room at the time. He said further, "When I left, I'm not sure what the general feeling was" on the issue. Finally the minutes for September 25 were amended to reflect the number of persons who signed in, but Mr. Ketterer voted against approving them anyway.
The Bill List brought up the Brainard project again when Mr. Ketterer asked for a total cost so far. The answer was about $7,200. But did that include the work to bore under the state road to reach the property? Well, no, but that was two years ago (and cost about $7,500). Then, suggested Mr. Ketterer, if the two numbers together exceed $10,000, should the work have been bid out? Mr. Pisasik took the position that the two jobs were separate projects, each less than the bid limit. Mr. Brainard himself was interested only in "when you'll have it finished."
Along with a few routine subdivisions and building permits, new business included items for which no action was taken:
* A "Premium-Only" health insurance plan for the employees was tabled. Mr. Pisasik said that the Supervisors were "not prepared to deal with this" yet.
* A new state law requires municipalities to establish an "open-records" policy that is intended to ensure citizen access to public records. Mr. Pisasik said that the Township routinely makes records available on request, but that a stated policy may be required to deal with search and copy fees for extensive inquiries.
* Mr. Pisasik offered for consideration an ordinance that would ban "public nudity" in Harford Township. Adapted from a similar measure taken by the city of Erie, Mr. Pisasik hoped the ordinance whose language is somewhat clinical would discourage the establishment of adult-only entertainment in Harford; he is concerned because of Harford's proximity to Interstate 81. He said that Erie's law had been upheld as high as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
* The Township's insurance carrier spent about 4 hours surveying Township facilities and procedures and submitted a list of recommended safety improvements. One of the recommendations stated that the "old Harford Township hall is unsafe ... and it is recommended that the building be razed."
That last item may have loosened the years-long logjam on this issue. Mr. Ketterer offered a motion to proceed to referendum by getting a question on the ballot asking the voters' approval to demolish the building. Mr. Pisasik opposed the motion, saying that he could think of no way to word such a question clearly. An observer, Ken Gallinger, offered to draft language that might then be submitted to the Township's solicitor for review. Mr. Van Gorden, hemming and hawing just a little, agreed to second the motion. Mr. Van Gorden himself seemed surprised to be voting with Mr. Ketterer, but the motion passed over Mr. Pisasik's nay. With this year's general election less than a month away, and against Mr. Pisasik's opposition, can a measure binding the Supervisors one way or another on the Odd Fellows Hall really get through?
When Mr. Pisasik solicited items from the floor, dust came up. Stephens Road again. "The dust conditions on that road are absolutely intolerable," said one. As usual, the subject provoked a lot of discussion about how the roads should be "worked," and about the use of calcium [chloride]; but, aside from the standard "We're working on it," there was no clear resolution offered.
Another citizen complained of a messy neighbor, and that aroused strong feelings around the room, with claims that "Harford is going downhill" among them. Mr. Ketterer read the Township's "junk" ordinance, dating from 1974. But Mr. Pisasik said that the Township's attorneys have judged it unenforceable, unless a clear health hazard can be identified. He said that he is reluctant to "bully" people without legal support. It was decided, however, that a letter is to be sent to one property owner; another property hosting a long-term camper will be investigated for sewage disposal. Others noted that some week-long campers at the Harford Fair in August are known to dump raw sewage on the grounds. Mr. Pisasik said that if such reports can be verified, the Township will deal with it.
With the year 2002 coming to a close, the Township will need a new budget. Mr. Pisasik announced that the second Supervisors' meeting for October, on the 23rd, will begin deliberations on a budget for 2003. As always, Harford Township Supervisors meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Township office on Route 547.
The Forest City Borough Council changed horses in midstream last week. Well, sort of anyway.
The move came after Councilwoman Mary Twilley pointed out that Council President Mary Cicco had information relevant to the sewer grant application. Mrs. Twilley said that Karen McBride, executive director of the Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority, told her and Council members Paul J. Amadio and Bernard Scalzo that her office would prepare and file the application with the Department of Community and Economic Development at no cost to the borough.
"Mrs. McBride told you this before the last council meeting," Mrs. Twilley said, "and you did not pass this information to the council."
Mrs. Cicco responded that she did not learn about it until 4:30 p.m. on the day of the September council meeting. Council meetings begin at 7 p.m.
Mr. Amadio said he would not have made a motion to hire Steven Weinberg of Community Action Services to plan and prepare the application at a minimum cost to the borough of $3,000 had he known the county would provide the service at no charge.
Borough Solicitor Robert Fields said since no contract was signed between the borough and Mr. Weinberg, the motion could be rescinded. Mr. Amadios motion to rescind the motion was unanimously approved by council and a new motion engaging the services of the county Housing/Redevelopment Authority was also unanimously approved.
The borough is seeking a matching grant to help finance a major sewer project in the Dundaff Street area of the community. Underground sewer lines, believed to be more than 100 years old, have collapsed and need to be replaced. The cost has been estimated at close to $500,000.
In another matter, council approved a motion authorizing the county Redevelopment/Housing Authority to complete an income survey that could lead a grant that would finance a joint code enforcement program with neighboring Vandling Borough.
A borough resident advised council that the boroughs trash collectors are picking up bags of garbage at some homes that do not have the required borough stickers on them.
"This has been going on for years and years," the woman said. Council promised to investigate her complaint.
Council approved a motion authorizing enforcement of the boroughs ban against open burning. Council President Mary Cicco abstained, a move generally regarded as a no vote.
At its October 11 work session, the Montrose Area School District agreed to add a motion and vote on it to its November 1 regular meeting agenda that would terminate its contract with Kelly Services as provider of substitute teachers for the District.
There are two reasons for this, explained Superintendent Mike Ognosky. The first is that, after speaking at length with school principals, it appears that there were only two days and not 15 as earlier thought during the last school year when substitutes could not be found. The second is the County Transcript. The District has picked up four new substitute teachers and has interviews scheduled with three more all the result of calls it received in response to our article about the Boards September work session that reported the Districts substitute teacher pay-scale.
Since the District has yet to call upon Kelly Services for a substitute, and with new substitutes coming on board and more expected with advertising, the Board was unanimous in agreeing to put the Kelly contract termination up for a vote at its next meeting. (Work sessions are just that discussion and opinion on various topics, with official votes taken at the Boards regular monthly meetings.)
However, Ognosky worried about the administrative nightmare that the five-year pay scale could become down the road. As adopted last year, daily substitute pay increases over five years, based on number of days worked. In effect, in three years time, there could be 25 different pay scales for substitutes that would have to be tracked and recorded. Ognosky suggested that "the current pay scale be kept for the first year of substituting, and, if the teacher has done a terrific job, be bumped up to the current second-year pay scale and to close the scale there." He added that substitutes are paid "very well and very fairly, and we want to keep good people." He asked Board Secretary Lewis Plauny to work with the Boards Finance and Compensation Committee on cutting the five-year scale down to two-years.
Audience member and substitute teacher Heidi Zenefski asked if Plauny and/or the Committee could meet with the substitutes before making a final decision "instead of finding out about it in the newspaper like we did last time." As for changing the scale from a five-years one to two years, "just let us know. A lot of us didnt even know that the scale changed last year and had to ask for a copy of it. We found out about Kelly by reading about it in the newspaper. We would just like to know what your plans are for us."
Since no administrators were present at the meeting, there were no administrative reports. Board members discussed whether administrators should even be required to attend meetings if they had no reports to make, given their already-busy school schedules. While Board members liked having administrators at their meetings, they agreed that their presence should only be required when they had reports to make.
Ognosky added that District principals and directors meet every Tuesday morning, for close to three hours, to discuss items and stay abreast of what is going on in each school. The results of these meetings are conveyed by Ognosky to Board members. Director Linda LaBarbera suggested that administrators reports also be posted on the website, for public access.
Some other intriguing and controversial topics were brought up at MASDs latest work session. One had to do with student uniforms not the plaid get-ups many of us remember, but more like that adopted in Scranton, which pairs casual slacks with solid-colored collared shirts. The subject was put on the agenda, said Board President Ken Gould, as a result of some feedback he got from the public, the new assistant principal and some students.
Board Vice President Celeste Ridler asked that the matter be put in front of the Student Liaison Committee to get their input. It was, and only one student was in favor of a school uniform. As Director Chris Caterson noted, "The Liaison Committee told us that, so long as we were clear on our dress code, they were fine with a code. But if there are inconsistencies in the code, we might as well go with uniforms." Caterson believed that dress code issues were addressed and students are comfortable with it.
So, despite Director Sean Browns making the valid case that student uniforms a-la Scranton eliminated the inability and worry of some students, for financial reasons, to keep up with the fashion statements of the time, the idea was shelved.
Next addressed was whether or not to continue to charge students a dollar to attend sporting events, or let them in for free. Gould has felt strongly about eliminating the dollar charge as a way to get more kids involved. Caterson disagreed, saying that it wasnt so much the dollar as it was getting a ride to the event. He also noted that the nominal cost does defer some expenses, like those paid to officials.
These issues transportation to athletic events and charges to attend them were something that Ognosky thought were ideal for putting before the Student Council. Ognosky recounted how, at a PSBA meeting, students ran a mock board meeting, breaking up into groups of 10 to 20 students to address issues, develop a consensus, and bring their results to real board members for input. Its something hed like to see the MASD Student Council do as well, and that will likely occur.
The Board also decided to keep the high school Library and Writing Lab open after school, for two school days a week in response to the need to turn in papers that have to be composed on a typewriter or a computer, for some students who dont have the equipment. (A District study last year indicated that about 46 per cent of students have neither a typewriter nor a PC at home.) Besides that, reminded Ridler, "Weve spent a lot of money on our technology, and we should make sure that its used."
The District will track how many students use the after-school facilities on the two days the Lab and Library will be open. If few do, the experiment will end; if they are used a lot, then it will be expanded from two days.
Speaking of technology, Director Jim Blachek asked if it were an option to allow the public to access some of the Districts technology. "Its something to think about; theyre paying for it." Gould was all for the idea, adding that it was something for District administrators to work on next year.
Yearbook accounting practices and students school pictures were also on the agenda, with Director George Gow stating the reason why. It appears there are price differences for picture packages between the elementary schools and the junior/senior high school. When he compared the prices for what is received, said Gow, "the arithmetic doesnt add up." He reported that someone called Craiges Photique, taker of the pictures, and was told that money is kicked back to the yearbook, and Gow wanted an explanation.
Addressing yearbook accounting, Ognosky replied that the yearbook is run through a student activity account that is administered no differently than accounts for other student organizations like the Spanish Club or Student Council. All requests for funds, which must be signed by the advisor and officers, come through the main office and go through the school principals and secretarys office. Monies received go through the same channel.
As for the student pictures, Ognosky reported that for every picture package purchased by a high school student, Craiges Photique donates $2 to the yearbook a practice not unusual at schools during picture time. This usually amounts to $1,000-$1,500 that is used to defray the cost of the books production. The District has traditionally used the services of Craiges Photique.
Gould thought that Craiges should be told that the cost had to be made the same for every one high-schooler and elementary student alike. "Why," he asked, "are we making people support the yearbook if they have no intention of buying one?"
Caterson thought that the Board could not dictate to Craig, that no one had to purchase school pictures, and that perhaps the price difference was the cost of doing business, or resulted in more yearbooks getting sold at the high school.
For her part, Director Linda LaBarbera thought that Craiges Photique "has probably re-took more pictures, at no additional charge, for high school kids than for elementary school ones," adding that the cost of yearbooks can be prohibitive for some students, and the $2 Craiges donation helps keep those costs down.
This discussion ended when Gould noted that a bid process should be followed for next year, and asked Ognosky to follow up with Craiges Photique and research whether a contract was involved and, if so, what it said. Ognosky, calling Craiges staff "good folks and a good organization," will get in touch with them and deliver the answers to the Board.
Board members then looked at the many-inches-thick policy manual that was sitting in front of them. This is a draft the District commissioned from the Pennsylvania School Board Association Policy Committee to organize, in one place the policies which the District previously had in piecemeal procedures, guidelines, Board minutes and other records. The PSBA was also asked to fill in the holes where policies were lacking or were required, to delete those that were more procedure, and to provide language that the District could tailor to its needs.
The Board divvied up responsibility for reviewing the draft manual, based on the Committee responsibilities of directors. LaBarbera said that she wanted to attend the Tuesday morning administrators meeting to review certain procedures with them as well, and she will.
Once the Board has reviewed the manual, made changes to and adopted it, copies will be available in the school libraries, other administrative offices throughout the District, and uploaded onto the District website.
Remembering recent deadly accidents, it took the Board no time at all to approve the purchase of new and larger landing pads for the athletic fields pole vault area, at a cost of $7,885 for the pad and $890 for its cover. The athletic director will meet with the track coach to discuss appropriate storage for the new equipment.
An update on the track improvements followed, with Ognosky reporting that the paving was completed on October 10 and drainage issues resolved. When the track will be ready for use depends entirely on the weather. The track now needs close to two weeks to "cure" before the safer, rubberized surface is laid on top of it, and this can only be done when the mean temperature is 50 degrees for three consecutive days. If the temperature is colder, the surface doesnt set and, literally, slides off. As Ognosky put it, "Either we get three days of a mean temperature of 50 degrees, or we paint lines on the macadam now, run a track season on it, and rubberize it mid-May, 2003 when the season is over."
LaBarbera also noted that she heard that the Districts hurdles cant be used with the new track because they dont have the right kind of bottoms. This was news to Ognosky, who will follow up.
He also brought up a Student Council/Board meeting that hed like held soon, on a Saturday morning. Ognosky would like to give them a few topics such as school uniforms, event fees to caucus on, with adult supervision, and present before Board members. The Board agreed that November 23, from 10 am to noon, was a good time for this, and will send Ognosky any ideas or issues they think appropriate to be addressed and want input on.
Items brought up by Board members included an unsettling report by Caterson, given to him by a parent. It seems their child left a book at the high school, and went to retrieve it on a Saturday afternoon. They had easy access into the school, winding along hallways to the students locker. "Now, I know this isnt Columbine," said Caterson, "and that we can overreact, but theres something a little wrong when something like that can happen." Ognosky, again, will follow up on how this occurred.
Gows brief update on the new athletic field noted that its ready for fall seeding. For her part, Ridler said she received complaints from parents who got what was supposed to be pre-school-year transportation route postcards some two weeks after the school year began. Another parent told Ridler that she called the Transportation Office to make special arrangements, only to receive a postcard that didnt reflect them. Ognosky requested the parents phone number so that he could find out exactly what went wrong and take it up with the transportation department to ensure it doesnt happen again.
The work session ended with a bell specifically a beauty of one from the Lathrop Street School, which Gould says is sitting in a corner of a back hallway. Hed like to see it set outside as a symbol of education, and used. The superintendent will take on the responsibility of finding out if the old bell will rust if it stays out in the elements.
The next work session of the Montrose Area School District Board of Directors is scheduled for November 1 at the Junior-Senior High School, immediately following its 7 p.m. Board meeting.
The New Milford Township board of supervisors, Franklin Gulick, Roger King and Jim Hunter had their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 9 at the township building on Route #11. As Roger King has been having some serious health challenges, the meeting was short in duration and was not heavy with agenda items.
Carol Smith, the secretary/treasurer for the township, noted that there is $79,256.60 in the general account, $8,675.43 in the state account and $21,794.88 in the money market account.
Engineer Todd Schmidt was in attendance and with the help of George Houghton discussed with the supervisors the New Milford Boroughs new Act 537 plan regarding sewer line extension down Route #11 up to Great Bend Township. The extension would carry Blue Ridge School and houses of some individuals in the Summerville area. The supervisors passed resolution number 100902 to cover their portion of this agreement.
Regarding well drilling on the municipal property, it appears things have not gone very well. The drilling is down 400 feet and has only come up with sand. A new well location will be sought on the grounds.
Jack Conroy, roadmaster, Hunter and Gulick attended a Dirt and Gravel Seminar held recently in order to be able to seek a grant. The township received a $10,000 grant approval providing a sketch is sent in to the proper individual and all other requirements are met.
A check from PA Fire Relief to the supervisors will be turned over to the fire company that serves the New Milford area.
A letter regarding state approved red ash for road application was received from Blooming Grove Sand and Gravel. The supervisors will give this matter some thought.
Other correspondence covered a Land Use and Resources Workshop on October 24 at the Bible Conference in Montrose. Although it did not appear any of the supervisors will be in attendance, they may review this issue in the future.
The supervisors will be placing an ad for bids on the municipals l988 Ford dump truck. They are retaining their right to refuse a bid. The insurance on this vehicle is being removed as it has not been used this summer.
The New Milford supervisors meet on the second Wednesday of each month at the municipal building at 7:30 P.M. The public is invited.
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