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The Susquehanna County Commissioners moved rather quickly through a heavy meeting agenda last week. In less than two hours, the commissioners minus Lee Smith who was attending another meeting out of the county disposed of a busy regular-meeting agenda, and completed other business while meeting as the countys Salary Board, Retirement Board, and Board of Elections.
Perhaps the most noteworthy action came during the Board of Elections meeting where a complaint from Barney Wilkins, county campaign coordinator for Governor-elect Ed Rendell, was referred to the district attorneys office.
"It will be up to the district attorney to investigate this matter," Board Chair Gary Marcho said.
In his complaint to the board, Mr. Wilkins alleged that David and Diane Burman of Ararat Township removed Rendell campaign signs contrary to state election laws.
In another incident, the board agreed to write a letter of reprimand to the election judge in the Borough of Lanesboro citing her for "unprofessional conduct" toward a borough voter on election day. The commissioners did not disclose the name of the election judge.
Linda Hollenbeck, registrar of elections, was praised by a Susquehanna Borough resident for her quick election-day response in resolving a problem that developed in the borough.
And, the board has asked the district attorneys office for a report on an election day incident that occurred in Auburn Township some years ago.
In the retirement board meeting, Carol Scales, who had been employed for a number of years in the Probation Department, was granted retirement disability. The board has previously denied the request but Mr. Marcho said the reversal came because the board had received additional information that previously had not been made available to the board.
David Scales noted that his wife has been out of work since 1999 and suggested that her compensation should be retroactive to 2000 when she filed her first disability claim. He noted that Mrs. Scales had never received workmans compensation and that she had complied with all the rules and regulations for disability claims.
Mr. Scales said the "glitch" that resulted in the first denial of Mrs. Scales claim was the result of one office not communicating with another office.
"It was an oversight," said Mr. Scales, "and certainly not intentional."
The board agreed to check with its solicitor on the legality of making the claim retroactive.
During the commissioners meeting, Harold Wegman, county representative to the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, said the county will receive about $500,000 from the state in tobacco funds for the 2002-2003 fiscal year.
Mr. Wegman said the money represents the countys share of some $6.3 million that will be distributed to Area Agencies on Aging in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties. He said the county agencies then dole out the money to a number of helpful programs in their respective counties.
Mr. Wegman also noted that he attended workshop and training sessions in Harrisburg that included a session on the Welfare to Work Program.
"The purpose of this program," Mr. Wegman said, "is to get people off the welfare rolls. He said the session included discussion on job training, obtaining state and federal grants, and gaining access to technical assistance from a variety of resources.
The commissioners presented a certificate of recognition to Sarah Rusek, senior at Mountain View High School, for her involvement in the anti-smoking campaign in the county. As a result of her efforts, Ms. Rusek was selected as a youth advisor on the states Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. She will also be one of two representatives representing Pennsylvania at the National Conference in San Francisco.
The commissioners entered into a three-party agreement that includes the Montrose Lions Club and Verizon and will result in some improvements to the countys 911 emergency dispatching system.
According to Dawn Watson, EMA director, Verizon leases a portion of a county communications tower located at Montrose Park which is owned by the Lions Club. Mrs. Watson said Verizon wants to expand its use of the tower and, as a part of the deal, is willing to replace the existing tower at no cost to the county. In addition, Verizon pays the county $388 a month for using a section of the tower. Mrs. Watson said the money goes into the 911 fund.
Motions approved by the commissioners include:
-Accepting the resignation of 911 dispatcher, Michael Kupchick, and hiring Tim Major of New Milford and Mechele Bonczkiewicz as dispatcher trainees.
-Awarding the 2002-2003 coal bid to Don Burns of New Milford at a cost of $114 per ton of buckwheat coal.
-Reappointing George Hayes as farm director to the Susquehanna County Conservation District and Commissioner Lee Smith as county director to the district.
In Salary Board matters, the hourly rate for new 911 dispatcher trainees, Tim Major and Mechele Bonczkiewicz was set at $7.46 in accordance with the union contract and the temporary part time position of John Rudzianski in Management Information Systems was extended until next April.
Due to the current special session of the state legislature, no state legislators were present at Thursday (11/14) night's legislative meeting of the Susquehanna County School Boards Association. However, a legislative assistant from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association was there to give an update on bills that are before the state legislature, as well as to prioritize items in the PSBA legislative platform for 2003. Each county selects five items which are tabulated with all the other counties' selections to decide what should be the organization's focus for the year.
A dozen people representing four Susquehanna County Schools, Elk Lake (where the meeting was held), Montrose, Blue Ridge and Mountain View heard from the PSBA representative (author's note: these reps always ask that their names not be used) and agreed with the basic premise that the state should be funding more of the money needed to run the local schools. The percent is currently around 37, and "it should be 50 or more."
According to the representative, the special session of the legislature, which runs through November, will see most things die. He said that as soon as Democratic Governor-elect Rendell gets into office, tax issues will be addressed, and the association "will be pushing for the state to pay more." However, both the Senate and the House are Republican dominated. The PSBA representative also said that the legislature has been looking at property tax for 30 years, which implied that major changes are not likely soon.
Is there any chance of repeal of Act 50 (the local tax reform bill) that was passed a few years ago, but which only 2-3 school districts have implemented? PSBA is not sure.
A major topic of discussion concerned a bill which, if passed, would initiate referendum options. School board members said that this doesn't address school funding, but rather addresses school spending. It also doesn't address inequality of subsidies to districts, and doesn't have anything to do with the mandates that are put upon school districts. These mandates take time and manpower, and therefore cost the district money, as many are unfunded (from the state and federal levels), so the district ends up funding them.
Neighboring New York State has a referendum procedure on school budgets, and some Western states have reportedly gone to four day weeks to save costs of transportation, utilities, etc. This allows for less increase in budgets, but going back to a five day system is almost impossible because the funding isn't there once it has been instituted. PSBA believes that the referendum issue will come up again in the January legislative session, and will continue to appear year after year. If it were passed, "a lot of voters will say no," to school budgets, which board members agreed would lower the quality of education. Three or four years afterward, when the lower quality is recognized, one board member said, it is too late for that group of students to regain what has been lost.
Huge differences of cost per student to educate among the districts was questioned by this reporter. The response was that those figures don't represent the true costs of educating mainstream students. Rather, due to the mandates, all children must be "educated," even if a life was saved at birth that wouldn't have been medically possible years ago and which then costs the districts hundreds of thousands of dollars each year just to educate that one child. One director said it is the medical profession that is making it so that we have to educate these kids. One example was a mother who is on crack when she gives birth. One district said that one of its students costs $100,000 a year while another district said they have two students whose expenses are $250,000 each.
Most students are in the normal range of costs, say, $5000 a year, but some have a "high cost" associated with their education, which skews the cost per student on the district level.
Spending money to keep test scores up also drains money into some programs, because if the scores are not high enough, the state will take over the schools. And scores often include some of the higher cost students.
Although unfunded mandates are probably a large part of the costs of running schools, this item was not one of five which the group choose for the PSBA legislative assistant to take back to the state organization, since they felt it had minimal chances of resolution. Of the unfunded mandates, one of the latest is the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program which forces all districts to address each student whose first language is something other than English. Some districts have one or two students who fit that category, while others in surrounding counties have a half dozen or more home-languages to deal with.
The "No-Child-Left-Behind" program may be the "biggest one yet." Testing and tracking is time consuming and expensive. But as mentioned earlier, the group decided not to go after unfunded mandates, because they would have little success, if any, especially on federal mandates. They decided it was better to go after additional state funding.
The five areas chosen were: "1. Supports legislation to increase the state contribution for special education services based on actual costs incurred and students served. "2. Opposes legislation expanding retirement benefits without an increase in the employee contribution rate to fund the new benefit. "3. Supports and will continue to provide leadership for the coordinated efforts of the basic education community in seeking an equal partnership between local school districts and state government in the funding of public education. The association believes state funding must appropriately reflect actual pupil enrollment and cost of instruction, the needs of small districts and the number of students living in poverty, and it must be equitably distributed among school districts. "4. Supports legislation to revise the method of funding vocational-technical education to remove current disincentives to student enrollment and supports state funding equal to that of school districts with the goal of a full 50 % of instructional costs. "5. Supports amendments to Act 22 of 1997 that would: allow school boards to operate charter schools; require full state funding to school districts to reimburse all net additional costs created by charter schools; ensure that transportation of charter school students is governed by local school board policy; require that any proposed charter school with significant enrollment from more than one district be organized as a regional charter school; and ensure access to all charter school records by any district with children enrolled in the school."
The next meeting will be held at an undetermined date in April. In the meantime, efforts will be made to have 3-4 sessions each year with state legislators.
Visitors to the Oakland Boro Council meeting on November 14 included two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Chris Bates offered the services of the churchs missionaries to the boro, for ongoing or special projects. "Whatever you have, we would like to offer our services," he said, "were always happy to help out."
Council member Jack Agler asked if the offer was only for the boro, or if it would apply to individuals, such as the elderly, who were in need of help. Mr. Bates said that the missionaries would be more than happy to aid those in need.
A motion carried to pass a resolution to include the boro in plans to create the Rte. 92 corridor as a scenic byway.
Discussion continued from last months meeting regarding a water problem; roadmaster Jack Agler said that, in his estimation, by the end of the week ditching work would be completed to divert water. Streets worker Leo Fisk said that he had cleaned a ditch nearby, which should take care of at least half of the problem, and another ditch would be dug.
Council agreed to purchase a gift certificate for George Cernusca, in appreciation for his (donated) time to remove freon from appliances in a metal pickup the boro had conducted.
Mr. Agler reported that plans to buy concrete barriers, to be used in the boro garage to help contain salt and cinders, had not been carried out, as the cost was somewhat higher than had been expected. Mr. Fisk suggested several options; one would be to use concrete blocks. The other would be to put up a wall, using old guide rails. Mr. Agler said that they would work something out.
Discussion continued from last months meeting, regarding trash at a River Road property. Council member Bob VanFleet said that the property owner had contracted to have the property cleaned up, but the worker hired had been approached by a third individual who informed him that she owned the property and that he should not go back to finish the job. Mr. VanFleet said that he had spoken with the worker and told him to complete the job as he had already been paid; Mr. VanFleet said that he would follow up to see that it had been done.
Council discussed a water problem on Third Ave.; it had been suggested to contact the fire department, to flush out the ditch. Mr. Fisk said that the boro could do it, using water from a nearby hydrant.
Regarding a car on River Road, Mr. VanFleet said that the owner had moved it, saying he was going to work on it, but that it was now parked at another location, in the road. Mr. VanFleet agreed to ask the owner to move it (again).
A complaint about household trash accumulating at a property had been investigated by Mr. VanFleet; he said that some had been moved and that he would follow up to see that it had been completed.
At a previous meeting, council had discussed whether it would be cost effective to purchase a roller for road work, rather than rent one as the boro has done in the past. Council president Ron Beavan presented a cost work-up, showing what had been spent in the year 2002. Including time and gas spent to pick up the roller, the boro had spent $905 for three uses; Mr. Fisk had used his own truck, as the boros truck does not have a hitch. Mr. Agler suggested that, if the boro were to buy a roller, it could be rented out to other nearby municipalities. Mr. Beavan said that perhaps the boro could provide an exchange of services, such as trading use of the roller for use of other boros equipment; possibly, use of the roller could be traded with the boro of Susquehanna for use of their street sweeper. Mr. Agler added that a roller could be put to use at the boro park. Council member Leon Dubanowitz asked why the cost work-up only included the year 2002; why werent figures for the last five years used? A roller had been used extensively in 2002 because of big projects; in other years, it was probably only needed once. Council member Chad Crawford said that there are a lot of projects coming up where a roller could be used, such as road shoulders that needed work. A motion carried to purchase a roller, cost approximately $2,500, which would be taken from the highway fund.
Continuing discussion about codes violations, council member Doug Arthur asked why Mr. VanFleet was looking into complaints, rather than the codes enforcement officer. Mr. VanFleet responded that, when a follow-up visit is required, he does not charge the boro for a second visit; it would, he said, cost considerably more to send the CEO. Mr. Beavan added that when complaints are checked, some situations come to a point where the property owner does not comply. In those cases, the CEO would be asked to look into the complaint. "Were trying to keep within the budget," he said, "and use the CEO to look into a few complaints at a time."
There was some discussion regarding a vacant house that had been purchased at a tax sale; it was said that kids were gaining entrance to the house; there was concern that it could be a safety hazard. Council member Cynthia Beavan said that information she had obtained was that nothing could be done to the property until the title was officially transferred, which could take several months. Mr. Beavan suggested that Montrose be contacted, to see if the boro could secure the building. Mr. Arthur agreed, "somethings got to be done." Boro secretary Cindy Cordner suggested that the CEO also be contacted for information.
Mr. Fisk reported that, on a recent visit to the boro, DEP had expressed concern about tires being used to secure a tarp at the boro garage. He suggested some alternatives to using tires; it was agreed that other means should be found, and that the tires should be disposed of the next time there is a tire pickup in the county.
Under New Business, Mr. Beavan asked for councils input for situations that should be investigated by the CEO; several areas of concern were discussed. In one instance, council had sent two notices to a property owner but he had not complied with councils request to address several violations. The CEO had met with the property owner, who had agreed to comply with codes; an agreed upon time limit had not been met. The matter had been referred to the boro solicitor, who has notified the property owner that legal action will be taken if the situation has not been taken care of. Mr. Dubanowitz reported that another property owner has been cleaning up. Mr. Beavan commented that as long as there was some progress, council would allow time for completion. It is when property owners do not comply, he said, that legal action would be necessary. Several other concerns were discussed; it was decided that four are in need of immediate attention; one each on State St., River Road, High St. and Second Ave. Council will send letters to the property owners, asking that the problems be addressed. If there is no response, the complaints will be turned over to the CEO.
It was agreed that Mr. Crawford should serve as assistant roadmaster, as Mr. Aglers job requires frequent travel.
Mr. Beavan reported that the PA American Water Co. would be in the boro to look over the water system; PAWC had made an offer to buy the system, but had not actually conducted an inspection. Mrs. Beavan pointed out that the inspection was not an indication that council had decided to sell the water system; it was only to allow PAWC to get a look at it. Mr. Fisk added that DEP had inspected the system earlier in the week, and had given a "very good report."
Mr. Beavan had obtained a price quote to put exit signs at the boro buildings two entrances; the signs would be lit, with battery backup. The estimate included running an electric line into a closet. It was agreed that other price quotes should be obtained.
A short budget meeting was held, following the council meeting, with another to be held later in the week.
Mr. Dubanowitz reported on a meeting he had attended on November 11, regarding Barnes-Kasson Hospitals announcement that they would no longer be offering Advanced Life Support services as of December 31. Mr. Dubanowitz said that these services would be made available to the county, but that the volunteer ambulance system would need to be restructured to combine basic life support services with Advanced Life Support services, and the restructuring is still in the planning stages. Any changes to service would need to be approved by Harrisburg. He would keep council informed, he said; another meeting was scheduled for some time in December.
Mr. Arthur wished to offer a rebuttal to comments that had been made at a prior meeting, regarding his charging $15 per hour for electrical work at the boro building. He had paid for his own training, he said, and he paid for his own insurance, and he did not charge the boro for the full amount of time he had spent doing the work. If a comparison were to be made with other electricians in the area, what he charged was a reasonable fee. Mr. VanFleet commented that he had been the one who had made the reference to the fees Mr. Arthur charged, but qualified his remarks by saying what he had said was that the boro had been "spoiled" when Jerry Washburn had been on council, as he had always offered his services at no charge to the boro.
Relating a conversation he had had with a PENNDOT engineer while work was being done on a water line break, Mr. Dubanowitz expressed concern that the boro did not have proper safety equipment available for Mr. Fisk; it was agreed that any equipment needed should be purchased, such as a hard hat. And, Mr. Dubanowitz has set up a website to keep boro residents informed of council meetings, announcements that would be of interest, and offering a forum for opinions to be expressed; the address is www.oaklandreality.com.
In response to a request made to Mr. VanFleet, council will send a letter to the county comm. center, to inform them that Roger May no longer works as a police officer for the boro.
Mrs. Cordner had some information for council to review, including the CEOs monthly report; Mr. Fisks time sheets; a letter from the fire department (the boros cost for fire protection would be in the amount of $5,900, a slight increase from last year); a request from the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau for a donation; a letter from KOZ, informing the boro that it qualifies to receive tax benefits; the boros assessed valuation (up this year); information regarding block grant funding (deadline to apply is December 31); and a letter from the County Charities Distribution Fund regarding employee contributions. Mrs. Cordner had contacted a firm that had expressed interest in erecting a cell tower in the boro, but had received no response.
A complaint about a dog on State St. was discussed; it was said that the dog was not being fed or cared for, and was let loose to wander throughout the boro to look for food. Mr. VanFleet said he had spoken with the dogs owners and had asked that they contact the county Humane Society to take the dog if they could not care for it; he would contact the society if necessary. He agreed to follow up on the complaint.
During public comment, it was noted that the boro building had been the victim of graffiti. Mr. VanFleet said that the paint that had been used would eventually wash off. Mr. Agler commented that the person(s) responsible should be made to clean it; Mr. VanFleet said that he had a good idea of who had done it, but could not prove it. Mr. Agler said that he would use a power washer to clean it off.
Audience member Gus Fabrizi asked if a skating rink could be put in at the park; after discussion, it was agreed that it could be done at the tennis court. And, Mr. Fabrizi suggested that a survey be drafted, to be handed out to boro residents, asking what recreation opportunities they would like to see be made available for the boros kids. Residents would be asked to attend a council meeting to discuss ideas and, if any "workable" ideas were brought up, to donate time to oversee the activities. Mr. Beavan agreed to draft a survey if Mr. Fabrizi would help. The results will be brought to council for discussion at next months meeting.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, December 12, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Paul S. Fowler, 39, Monroe Township, and Nadine J. Zekler, 37, Towanda.
Ronald E. Davis Jr., 40, Lenox Township, and Deborah A. Kern, 34, Lenox Township.
Mark A. Dorunda, 33, Hallstead Borough, and Marcie Lynn Brink, 29, Hallstead Borough.
Margaret Vale to Shirley M. Podwika and John Yale and Thomas Yale and Debroah (sic) Mesiti in Uniondale Borough for $1.
Kathleen B. Wiehl to Stephen J. Brozana and Joanne Brozana in Bridgewater Township for $149,900.
Ronald E. Jones and Barbara F. Jones, Emerson E. Jones and Ann Jones, C. Duane Jones and Joan Jones to Manzek Land Co., in Middletown and Warren Townships for $85,000.
Keith L. Pratt & Patricia J. Pratt to Stanley Pratt in Lathrop Township for $12,000.
Harold N. Lewis and Jennifer Lewis to Harold N. Lewis in Dimock Township for bluestone mining operation (3 separate consents).
Ned James and Lois H. James and Grover James aka Grover S. James to Arthur L. Tyrrell Sr. and Linda J. Tyrrell in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $39,000.
Between McDonald's Corp. and Liberty Truck Center, Inc. and Peoples National Bank in New Milford Township for Landlord's Consent.
Thomas Norado and Gabriele B. Norado to Steven S. Wintergrass in Auburn Township for $157,000.
William B. Lopatofsky and Betty Lou Lopatofsky to Judith A. Tompkins and Kenneth L. Tompkins in Clifford Township for love and natural affection and $1.
Estate of Eleanor Tagler aka Eleanor M. Tagler by Jean M. Konzman, Executrix to Jean M. Konzman in Uniondale Borough for $1.
Estate of Eleanor Tagler aka Eleanor M. Tagler, by Jean M. Konzman, Executrix, to Jean M. Konzman and Frank J. Tagler, and Carl Frank Konzman and Eleanor Jean Konzman and Lisa Marie Tagler and Frank Donald Tagler in Herrick and Clifford Townships for $1.
Margaret Z. Silver to Catherine I. Aumack and Harry M. Aumack, II, in Ararat Township for $45,500.
George F. Chamberlin and Betty J. Chamberlin to Edwin Alfred Nelson and Shirley Ann Nelson in Great Bend Township for $287,500.
Richard W. Walworth, Executor for the estate of Bertha L. Jackson, to Margaret Z. Silver in Hallstead Borough for $46,000.
Ivan B. Payne, Jr. and Tammy J. Payne to Michael Zahora and Katherine Zahora in Silver Lake Township for $30,000.
John J. Critelli to John J. Critelli and Erin M. Robinson in Clifford Township for $1 (transfer tax paid on half the fair market value of $12,363.43).
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to The Secretary of Housing & Urban Development in Rush Township for $1,616.63.
George MacGeorge, Executor of the Estate of Herman R. MacGeorge aka Herman MacGeorge to Sherman F. Wooden in Montrose Borough for $10,000.
Mark D. Erwin and Susan B. Erwin to Jeff Tigue in Clifford Township for $25,000.
Christopher A. Cortese and Deborah Bolles Cortese, nka Deborah Bolles to Deborah Bolles in Dimock Township for $1.
Norman Gelatt and Anna Gelatt to David S. Denu and Theresa Hetzler Denu in Thompson Township for $161,000.
Daniel Snyder and Karen Snyder to Patricia Slater in Harmony Township for $8,042.
Tax Claim Bureau to David Stanion in Susquehanna Borough for $45.
William Stone, Brooklawn, NJ, was traveling south on Interstate 81, Lenox Township on November 8 and struck a deer. No injuries were reported.
Erika C. Williams, 16, Carbondale, received minor injuries on November 10 at 10:50 a.m. when she failed to negotiate a left hand curve on State Route 2023, Clifford Township. She then lost control of her 1992 Chevrolet Corsica and the vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree, and rolled over onto its right side. Her passenger, Carrie Calabro, 16, Forest City, also sustained minor injuries. Both were transported to Marion Community Hospital, Carbondale, for treatment.
Joseph James Smith, Montrose, was not injured when he fell asleep while driving a 1992 Nissan on State Route 29, Liberty Township. His vehicle veered off the west berm and struck a mailbox. Smith then steered the car to the left, traveled across the road, then struck a few trees. The incident occurred on November 6 at 1:15 p.m.
Someone smashed the windows out of two vehicles on November 2 between 2:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. in the rear parking lot of Bingham's Restaurant, Lenox Township, then removed items from the vehicles. The two vehicles belonged to William Kingsbury, New Milford, and Martha Collins, Nicholson. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gibson Barracks at 570-465-3154.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT HIT & RUN
A truck tractor was driving in the right lane of the northbound side of Interstate 81 on November 2 at 12:15 a.m., then began to pass a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Rafael Rawlings, Detroit, MI. The Grand Am was stuck by the truck tractor and forced off the road. The driver of the truck tractor did not stop. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the PA State Police, Gibson, 570-465-3154. Rawlings was not hurt.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION (HIT & RUN)
An unknown vehicle and driver and a 1991 Ford Probe driven by Lourie A. Kelder, 41, Springville, were traveling north on State Route 29, about 100 yards south of the Susquehanna County line in Meshoppen Township. The unknown operator possibly attempted to pass Kelder, striking Kelder's car. The Ford Probe exited the roadway off the east berm and struck a guide rail. The unknown vehicle fled the scene. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police, Tunkhannock and reference PO6-0505672. The incident occurred on October 24 at 10:45 p.m.
TRAFFIC CRASH HIT & RUN
On November 3 at 12:30 a.m., Stephen Tanghe, 47, Philadelphia, lost control of his vehicle on State Route 1010 (Harmony Rd.), Great Bend Township, and collided with and damaged a barn. He then fled the scene without notifying the police or property owner of the damage.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT (CAR FIRE)
Adam Andrew DeLaPlaine, 36, Susquehanna, was not injured when his 2000 Dodge Durango caught fire as he was traveling on Hillborn Rd., Oakland Township. The incident occurred on November 4 at 7:50 p.m. The vehicle was a total loss.
James Kenny, Kingston, ONT, was traveling south on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, in his 1998 Dodge Dakota pick up truck when a deer ran into his lane of travel. Kenny was not injured in this November 4 incident at 5:15 p.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
Ralph Watkins, 57, Covington, was not injured when his 1996 Ford Ranger pick-up collided with a deer. The October 28 incident at 3:05 a.m. occurred on Interstate 81, Lenox Township.
Graham Shoemaker, Jr. 31, Nicholson, was driving his 1995 Ford pick-up at a high rate of speed, according to the police report, on October 12 at about 8:33 p.m. Shoemaker attempted to turn right at the intersection of State Route 3029 and State Route 2053 (Meshoppen Creek Rd.) Bridgewater Township, and ran a stop sign. The truck impacted with several trees and Shoemaker was seriously injured.
A person driving a silver and/or white van towing a red trailer with "Anaconda Racing" on it pumped fuel at the Pump & Pantry, Great Bend Township, and left without paying for it on October 20 at about 12:25 p.m.
Someone blew up a mailbox with a firework and fled undetected on October 19 at 10:00 p.m. The mailbox belonged to Kevin Hartman, 30, Grinnell Rd., Harford Township.
Forest City Regional School Director Robert Trusky said he is not against school choice but he is opposed to the way the state is funding it.
Last week Mr. Trusky and Director Joseph Farrell voted no to a motion that would have allowed the Forest City Regional School District to pay some $21,000 it owes to the new charter school in Simpson. With only six directors at the meeting, the motion was defeated when Director Tom Baileys abstained after Director Henry Nebzydoskis motion to pay the bill gained support from directors Thomas Heller and Fred Garm.
Karen Forsette, district business manager, said that because the issue is considered an implied contract, on a nine-member board five affirmative votes are required to pay the bill.
"This is another unfounded mandate forced on the taxpayers," Mr. Trusky said of the payment system to finance the charter school. "Since the state decided this was a good alternative, I think the state should be funding this and not forcing it on the local taxpayers.
"Taxes are too high to begin with and now the taxpayers are getting hit with another unfounded mandate that I think is unfair. The state needs to look at new ways of helping the schools, including funding."
At the present time, Forest City Regional is being assessed for four students who reside in the school district but are now attending the charter school.
In another matter, the Pleasant Mount School that was turned over to the township in 1975 has finally become a done deal.
School Superintendent Bernice Lukus explained that when the school board decided to give the building to the Township of Mt. Pleasant, a deed to the school could not be found.
"Now they (township officials) have presented us with a deed," Mrs. Lukus said, "and the building will be deeded to them for municipal purposes."
Grade School Principal Janice Joyce reported that, in a mock election, K-6 students voted "no" to year around school, seat belts on buses, and uniforms. The students selected Mike Fisher for governor over Governor-elect Ed Rendell.
The following motions were approved by the board:
-Permitting the superintendent to advertise for two special education teachers due to the addition of one learning support class in the elementary school and one learning support class in the high school.
-Naming Fitzsimmons Insurance Agency as insurance consultants for the educators legal liability policy for the policy period from January 13, 2003 through January 13, 2004.
-Appointing the following high school department chairs: Ann Marie Cicci, language arts; Pat Flynn, business/math; Lou Cicci, health/science; Steve Fonash, social studies; Fran Gerchman, special education/pupil services; and, Ann Marie Brothwell, fine/practical arts. They will be paid $500 for the school year as per the union contract.
-Appointing the following extracurricular advisors, all of whom will be paid according to the union contract: Nancy Brown, math counts; Mary Jane Hoffmann, Bernadette Twilley and Dan Nebzydoski, all Junior Academy of Science.
-Reappointing Director Ken Goven as the representative to the Career Technology Center.
-Accepted the resignation of Annette Gigliotti as a part-time teacher assistant.
-Accepting the following volunteer assistant coaches: David R. Liuzzo, 7th and 8th grade girls basketball; Jim Walsh, 6th grade boys basketball; and, Harold McGovern, 5th grade boys basketball. The appointments are contingent upon receiving required clearances within 30 days.
-Appointing Christena Dilello as part-time cafeteria worker at $6.90 per hour.
-Adding the following NEIU guest teachers to the 2002-2003 substitute list: Mary Ann Krisa, Mark Salansky, Karey Walker, and Diane Wallis.
-And, setting the boards next meeting and reorganization for Tuesday, December 3.
So far it's hard to say that the projected budget of Great Bend Borough will balance. Four Council members met briefly on November 14 to try to nail down a budget for 2003, but the income side of the budget was missing. The Borough depends on figures supplied by the County to project available revenue, but so far Montrose hasn't coughed them up. And Borough officials don't really know who in Montrose might have them.
Councilman Mike Wasko said that he was certain that revenues would not be less than they have been. So he and Rick Franks, Louise Lonzinski and Bea Alesky agreed on a set of expense figures that match last year's budget. The only real change was to shift $500 from an account that subsidized the annual Fun Day event to the electricity account. Fun Day this year actually covered its own costs and made a small profit, so it should be able to support itself next year. Expenses projected for 2003 total just under $77,000.
Because of the missing income figures, the budget isn't actually complete, so they didn't vote on it. Borough Secretary Mary Jean Fleming said that in some 20 years working in the Borough offices, never once has anyone appeared to review the budget before adoption. Nevertheless, they will make what they have available to the public for comment before formally adopting a budget next month.
Rick Pisasik was absent from the Harford Township Supervisors' meeting on November 13. Terry Van Gorden presided in his place, and because there were only two Supervisors to vote -- and those often at odds -- Mr. Van Gorden readily acceded to his colleague Jim Ketterer's motion to table a decision on next year's budget until the second meeting of the month, on the 27th. A tentative budget was constructed at the last meeting (which was not attended by Mr. Ketterer, who generally does not attend the second of the scheduled semi-monthly meetings). The Township must make a proposed budget available for public comment for at least 20 days before final adoption. Because the budget needs to be in place before the start of the new year, and because a second meeting in December would fall on Christmas day, it will be tricky to get it all arranged.
As usual, the Supervisors began by considering the minutes of the previous meeting, in this case two of them. On a motion to approve the minutes of the October 23 meeting, Mr. Ketterer declined to second. When Mr. Van Gorden asked for a reason, Mr. Ketterer responded, "I don't have to explain that." So approval of that set of minutes was also tabled for consideration next time.
During discussion of old business, Mr. Ketterer brought up several items, discussing at length the details of the sewer connection at the Brainard property, which has not yet been completed. He also asked for the status of an ordinance proposed by Mr. Pisasik last month to ban public nudity in the Township. Township Secretary Sue Furney said that the Supervisors were "not ready to discuss it," presumably because a review by the Township's solicitor had only recently become available.
Mr. Ketterer made a motion to ask the Township's attorneys to draft something "as to the disposition of the Odd Fellows building" in the village, in preparation for getting a measure on the ballot next year. It wasn't clear just what he meant by "disposition," or just what voters might be asked to judge. Mr. Van Gorden seconded and the motion passed.
Another motion offered by Mr. Ketterer and approved by the 2 gentlemen was prompted by a draft letter to a village resident requesting that a collection of "junk" cars be cleaned up, and that foundation work that has been in progress for a couple of years be completed, suggesting also that community pride might be at stake. In the discussion that followed, Mr. Ketterer asked that a similar letter be sent to the current owner of the old Chamberlain property. He then launched into a discussion of zoning, which he advocates as a way to give the Township more control over the way property is used. He moved to request that the Township's lawyers draw up something along these lines. Read out by Ms. Furney, the motion read in part, "To get something going so we don't have what we have now." That presumably refers to zoning, and to Mr. Ketterer's statement that, "This community down here [Harford village] doesn't look too good right now."
Most of the municipalities in Susquehanna County have received notification that Barnes-Kasson Hospital will be terminating their support of advanced life support services at the end of this year. Mr. Van Gorden, a long-time volunteer with the Harford Fire Company, pledged, "We're not going to be without advanced life support in this area." He said that the Fire Company is in discussions with other service providers, and hopes that Harford's proximity to the interstate will help to find funding to keep the service going.
The budget to be considered at the meeting on November 27, as so-far proposed, calls for Township expenditures of nearly $225,000, with no increase in tax rates. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Township building on Route 547.
The Mountain View Board of Education called to order their public meeting promptly at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, November 11, in the high school library.
Seven members were in attendance; John Halupke (First Vice-President) and Ronald D. Phillips (Policy Committee Chair) were absent.
The last meeting minutes (10/28/02) were approved with one slight correction. Ordie Price (President) abstained from the vote.
Thomas Salansky presented the Treasurers Report/Cafeteria Report and it was approved as read.
Ms. Louise Stoddard (shuttle bus driver) requested to present at the first hearing of visitors. Ms. Stoddard voiced her concerns over several safety issues on her bus. She feels that with the addition of the 3rd and 4th graders riding the bus some concerns have surfaced. She states she feels that her bus is overcrowded, even under the legal limit of 72, with the amount of bags and equipment carried by students. The baggage also lessens her ability to see out the rear of the bus. She also states she cannot see whom the children are riding home with or even if there is someone waiting for them in the dark with the headlights of other vehicles shining back at her. The Board requested that this issue be revisited later in the meeting.
Financial reports passed unanimously with minimal discussion.
Bryce Beeman (Legislative Committee Chair) stated there was a PSBA meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at the Elk Lake High School. He continued by reporting that Mr. Chambers (Superintendent) received a bid of $6,300.00 from PSBA to review all Board policy manuals, survey Board meeting minutes from the last 6 years, review handbooks, collective bargaining agreements and district policies. PSBA will also write, collate and print documents as well as conduct work sessions with the Board as needed. No formal vote was taken.
Ms. Stoddard was again asked about her concerns by John Beeman (Transportation Committee Chairperson). Ms. Stoddard states she feels that she was being asked to be responsible for these 3rd and 4th graders when she received a list of their names and who was to pick them up at their stops. She states she cannot be responsible under the present conditions (overcrowding, poor visibility, darkness, young age of children) and wishes to put this responsibility back onto the Board now that they are aware of the situation. Board members asked a few questions concerning routes and stops. It was decided by a vote of 4-3 to continue the program but Mr. Price stated the issue would be revisited at the next meeting.
Conference attendance was approved with a date change and Ms. Stine (Second Vice-President) requested of Mr. Chambers that he reinforce that conference requests be in before the due dates. Mr. Chambers acknowledged the importance of this.
The meeting moved quickly to Superintendents report. Mr. Chambers introduced Ms. Vagni (Assistant Principal of the High School) who discussed many of the initiatives she is working on with the students. These included the very well attended school dances, Student Leadership Council, "Kick The Cliques" and the School Improvement Committee. Emily Gelat and Tom Myer (student members) presented on goals and activities of the Student Council.
The resignations of Judy Wech and Laurie Wilkins as basketball co-advisors were accepted and the meeting concluded at 8:55 p.m. with no new business from the Board and no comments during the second hearing of visitors. The next meeting is set for 11/25/02 at 8:00 p.m.
Persons requesting time on the agenda at the November 12 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council meeting were Joe Schell and Ed Chianese, representing the St. Johns Mens Club. Mr. Chianese asked councils permission for the club to redo the section of Church St. in front of St. Johns Church. Eventually, he said, the club would like to expand their project to include the side street in front of the rectory. The club plans to take up the existing bricks, remove original base, put in a new base, and then replace the bricks. The clubs biggest concern is that there are not enough bricks to complete the area; hopefully, some can be obtained from Main St. when excavation is done for the new sidewalk project. The work would be done by volunteers, at no expense to the boro. Most likely, that portion of the road would be out of commission for one or two weeks. The project will begin some time in June, after the school year. A motion carried to approve. It was suggested that the water company and sewer authority be contacted, to see if bricks could be obtained from them when they excavate to make repairs. Mr. Chianese said that the problem is that the bricks that were used are so old, no one makes them anymore; the original bricks were probably put in when town was first established. And, he said, the club would like to tie their project in with the Sesquicentennial celebration and would contact the Sesquicentennial committee to discuss it.
Correspondence received included a letter from Grace Brown, thanking council for accepting her offer to purchase the property adjacent to hers on Church St. She also commended council for the caring, efficient way they address the concerns and business of the community. "The towns affairs are in good hands," she concluded.
Secretary Margaret Biegert provided council with budget information to review; there will be a special meeting on November 20 at 6 p.m. to work on the budget; the proposed budget is expected to be adopted at the November 26 meeting.
Mayor Kellys report began with an open invitation to all in the community to attend the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, December 6, 6 p.m. in the Shops Plaza, which is being hosted by the Susquehanna Community Development Association.
Mrs. Kelly noted that a Scranton TV station has been running a series of reports on rental properties, and what it does to the community when those properties are not taken care of.
Mrs. Kelly reported good news; Gibson, Lenox and Jackson Townships have passed the needed resolution to have the Rte. 92 corridor declared a scenic byway. Oakland Borough would be voting on Thursday, November 14. She thanked the townships for their quick responses in moving forward toward the future of Susquehanna County.
Keeping council update on the sidewalk project, Mrs. Kelly said that the vaults under the walks on Main St. are filled in. The contractor is presently working on the retaining walls on East Main St. and handling all of the necessary prep work that time and weather allows. They have come across some additional work, but still anticipate the summer of 2003 for completion; the pouring of concrete for the sidewalk portion of the project will be done in warmer weather. "Please be patient," she said. "The project took almost six years to coordinate, and when done, will be one of tremendous pride."
Dick Hennessey met with Dan Green from IWA on November 6, and viewed the site the borough is going to develop for erection of a cell tower. The most important issue to settle in the contract, Mrs. Kelly said, is to have the revenue start immediately, or if not immediately, set a two-year time limit.
In closing, Mrs. Kelly asked council to consider staying on track with the current rate of codes enforcement and demolitions. "Susquehanna should allow for funding of our own to draw on when it becomes necessary to demolish an eyesore. Enforcing codes is one of the most important issues our borough can continue with. I hope at budget time you will allow for some funding. Our efforts will only continue to entice new businesses and allow the borough to continue with its facelift."
Councilman Tom Kelly reported that the Parks and Rec. committee is looking at a new building to replace the existing concession stand, approximate cost $3,100. He noted that the proposed cell tower site is a portion of the parking lot at the Prospect St. park.
A motion carried to accept Celia Vacarro, Rose Hendrickson and Gene Price as members of the boros Zoning Board.
Council president Ron Whitehead encouraged Amber Hurlburt and Sarah Bucci, the two new junior council members, to bring any ideas or projects theyd like to work on to council for discussion.
During public comment, Chris Bates introduced himself and his companion as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are trying to do community service, he said, and are offering their services on a regular basis or for special projects. Usually there are two church missionaries in the area, but more could be available if needed. "Were making an open offer," he said. "Wed be more than happy to help."
Under Old Business, councilman Roy Williams reported that the Conservation District had conducted another inspection of a Franklin Ave. property. Conservation has contacted the property owner, who has hired someone to implement an environmental control plan at this site and three others in the county. Mr. Williams said that he is still waiting for word from DEP, but "its looking up, if he (the property owner) is doing the right thing." He expressed appreciation for the help the boro has received from the county, and for councils backing "to get the right thing done."
Under New Business, Mrs. Biegert relayed a request from the library to put up shutters on the librarys windows, at their cost. Mrs. Biegert said that her understanding was that the library had gotten a price of $35 each. Councilman Todd Glover said that they could be purchased for $35 per pair; he suggested raised panel shutters, as the louvered ones get dirty to easily. It was agreed to put shutters on the rest of the buildings windows to keep it uniform. A meeting will be arranged with a representative from the library to discuss colors. Mr. Glover agreed to put them up.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a legal issue.
When the meeting reconvened, a motion carried to advertise for bids to sell the old boro building as is; bids will include disclosure of the sewer agreement. (Reporters note: sewage lines from an adjacent shopping plaza run through the basement of the building, rather than under the parking lot in front of the stores.)
A motion carried to cancel the December 24 meeting (Christmas Eve) and to hold a special meeting on December 18, at which time the budget will be voted on.
The final topic of discussion was brought up by Mr. Glover, to consider selling the boros Sable; only 1,000 miles have been put on it since boro has owned it. Mr. Kelly responded that one of its uses is as backup for the police car; he thought it would be a bad time to sell it. Mrs. Kelly agreed, saying the Sable has been used as a second police vehicle when needed; perhaps selling it could be reconsidered when the boro gets an upgraded police vehicle.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 26, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
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