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Issue Home November 26, 2002 Site Home

Hallstead Receives Gifts
Possible Hazard In Oakland Township
Great Bend Considers Crematory
Court House Report
Gibson Barracks Report
Blue Ridge "In very good shape"
Judge Jails Many In County Court
Brooklyn Balances The Budget
COG Committees Meet
Good Audits At Elk Lake
Forest City Taxes May Increase

Hallstead Boro council received a generous gift at their November 18 meeting; a check in the amount of $1,000 was presented to the boro on behalf of the Timmy Fancher Memorial Race. Tom Hamlin, co-director of the race, told council that many people in the area had known Timmy Fancher, and had run with him frequently. The race, held in July, had been very successful and would undoubtedly be even more successful next year. The contribution is to be used for the boro’s parks and recreation, for whatever uses council should decide. Accompanying Mr. Hamlin were Jack Hart, Mary Fancher (Timmy’s mother), Tammy Brant (Timmy’s fiancé); also present was Richard Franks, a member of the Great Bend Boro Council; Great Bend was also presented with a check in the amount of $1,000, to be used for parks and recreation. Mr. Hamlin concluded by saying that, hopefully, this presentation would be a yearly event. Council president Joe Franks expressed council’s appreciation, and said that it would be appropriate to put up a plaque to keep Tim’s memory alive. "I’m sure I speak for all of us," he said. "If you need any help or support, we’re here."

Pictured (l-r) are Mary Fancher, presenting a check to Richard Franks, and Joe Franks, accepting a check from Tammy Brant.

Getting back to the usual business, council member John Giangrieco reported that he had received complaints about burning in the boro. The person(s) who had approached him asked that an ordinance be enacted to prohibit burning. "We already have one," he said, "but there’s no one to enforce it.

"It always comes back to enforcement; it always comes back to police; we can’t afford police," Mr. Franks said. The ensuing discussion included several options, such as the constable being used to enforce ordinances, or hiring a CEO. A CEO, Mr. Giangrieco said, could also look into other problems, such as buildings that do not meet codes. Mr. Franks agreed to get more information so that a solution could be found.

Other complaints included cars parked on the road; Mayor Canfield will check it out.

Mrs. Elinor Fitzgerald, widow of the late Mayor John Fitzgerald, presented council with a photo of him, and a duplicate of the plaque that had been presented to her after his death. "He was mayor for twenty years, minus one month," she said, it would be appropriate to hang both in the boro building. "He’d be honored." And, she said that Mr. Fitzgerald’s uncle, also named John Fitzgerald, had been burgess for twenty years; she is going to see if she can also get a photo of him, to be displayed in the building. "It’s not every day two family members have twenty years service to the community."

A motion carried to advertise the budget, which will be adopted at the December 16 meeting.

Council discussed a letter received from the Hallstead–Great Bend Library, requesting permission to put up two library designation signs on Route 11 at the end of Franklin St. The library has already contacted business owners at the intended sites, and has received their approval. Also needed is approval from the boro and the state before the signs can be put up. A motion carried to send a letter of consent to the library.

The bridge beautification committee was discussed; council member Michele Giangrieco reported that she and Mayor Canfield had gone to the last meeting, but no one else showed up. If the meeting had been canceled, council had not been notified. Council member Martin Brown will contact the committee for information.

Ms. Giangrieco has been obtaining information to purchase new Christmas decorations for the boro; maintenance supervisor Dick Bigelow said that the old ones can be fixed, to be used for one more year. Council will be purchasing new decorations for next year, most likely in January or February, to ensure that they are ready in time for the Christmas season. Funds from a recent sale of stock shares have been applied to an existing Christmas fund. In the meantime, Ms. Giangrieco will do more research to see what is available.

Money is available for new lights for the memorial trees along the riverbank; Mr. Franks suggested that a tree also be purchased, to put up outside of the boro building near the flagpole.

Mr. Franks reported that he and secretary Cindy Gillespie had met with the boro’s solicitor, to clarify some questions that had been raised regarding the boro’s lease agreement with the softball league (for the Rte. 11 park). Mrs. Gillespie will write a summary of the information and forward it to the league so that they can review it with their solicitor.

And, under new business, Mr. Franks sadly reported that council has received a letter of resignation from Mr. Bigelow, who will be retiring as of December 13, 2002. "We’ve known this day was coming for the last 25 years," he joked. He added that, through word-of-mouth, the boro has already received four applications for the position. The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss how council should proceed to interview applicants.

The next meeting will be on Monday, December 16, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.

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Possible Hazard In Oakland Township

Susquehanna Boro councilman Roy Williams addressed the Oakland Township Supervisors at their November 20 meeting. Mr. Williams supplied the supervisors with information regarding a possible hazard in the township; he said that his intent was to let the supervisors know that there is a potential problem at a property that lies along Drinker Creek. Susquehanna Boro had investigated a complaint from a resident, and had found a potential problem on township property. The information he supplied included the names of the inspectors from DEP and the Susquehanna County Soil and Water Conservation who have been to the Susquehanna Boro site; he urged the supervisors to contact these individuals for more information. Supervisor Cowperthwait responded, "From what you’re telling me the right people have been contacted. Until DEP tells us we have a problem..."

After Mr. Williams left, Mr. Cowperthwait said that he had sent a letter to Ron Whitehead, the Susquehanna Boro council president regarding alleged DEP/EPA violations; previous communications from both Mr. Williams and Mr. Whitehead did not identify specific problems. Mr. Cowperthwait’s letter stated that violations must be identified. "How do we proceed?" he asked. Supervisor Bill Gorton said that he had visited the site in question; he saw old asphalt, and a large pile of dirt on the bank. "That’s not illegal, if it’s clean fill," he said.

"You cannot get out of your car," Mr. Cowperthwait said, "and go on anyone’s property, you have no rights. If you’ve got a (specific) complaint, you’ve got something to work with." He suggested that supervisor Nancy Glasgow take a look at the site, and let the other supervisors know her findings. He said that he would also take another look.

In other business, there was no road activity to report other than that several stop signs have been knocked down, possibly intentionally, and some have even been stolen. The supervisors will check on legality of moving at least one of the signs to a different location, as it has been knocked down a number of times (by vehicles).

The township’s amusement tax merited a lengthy discussion. Mr. Cowperthwait had sent a letter to state Rep. to Major in September, in response to information received via a PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) bulletin; two identical bills, 927 and 928 were pending, impacting changes in state law that regulate the tax. Mr. Cowperthwait said that he had met Rep. Major on November 8 at a meeting held to discuss changes in local ambulance service, and had had an opportunity to speak with her regarding these bills. He said that Rep. Major has been following this issue closely. In a subsequent letter to Rep. Major, Mr. Cowperthwait stated that PSATS had advised that the two bills had been signed into law by the governor; the bills preserve the ability of smaller municipalities to retain their (amusement) tax structure for another year. "It is logical that industry will support elimination of the tax, disguised as economic development," he said. He added that the legislation seemed to be an exploitation of townships by outsiders. "Property owners will suffer the cost (of lost revenues)."

In other business, the supervisors have sent a letter to a property owner, expressing appreciation of his prompt response to their concerns; a trailer in question had been removed from the property.

A land development permit form has been drafted by Mr. Cowperthwait, with input from supervisor Gorton. The permit outlines the necessary steps for an individual to take to develop land within the township, and includes an "alert" as to the necessary permits and approvals required, such as sewer permits, water permits, etc.

The supervisors approved a building permit for the Long property on Oak Hill, for a garage.

Under an agenda item listed as sewage concerns, it was noted that one situation is ongoing, with nothing new to report. Another situation, at a trailer park, has been corrected (a broken pipe, and an open collection pit).

A position on the board of SOLIDA will be open in January; Mr. Cowperthwait expects that a letter should be forthcoming from SOLIDA, with their recommendations to fill the vacancy. He reminded the supervisors that a letter had been sent to SOLIDA in December of 2001, outlining when the board terms expire, and citing the records available to corroborate this information.

There was nothing new to report regarding the access road on the SOLIDA property; Mr. Cowperthwait said that he had requested that the county commissioners make public any decisions regarding the matter of the access road, but the commissioners had had no comment.

Supervisor Gorton reported that he had attended a meeting held on November 8 to discuss Barnes-Kasson Hospital’s discontinuation of Advanced Life Support services (as of December 31). His impression was that the powers that be are leaning towards professional, salaried fire and ambulance crews. Mr. Cowperthwait conjectured that the idea was statewide, not just local, due to the lack of volunteers. Mr. Gorton said it was stated at the meeting that there would be no interruption of Advanced Life Support services in our area; a central location in the county was being sought to continue these services; the local fire company will still handle basic life support. "They had some good ideas," he said. "They might work out. But I don’t like the idea of raising taxes to support it. Some of those guys (professionals) get $40-50,000 per year." Mr. Cowperthwait speculated that it would (easily) take half a million per year to replace local volunteer services. "This whole thing makes me very nervous."

SB 1413, allowing land application of biosolids or sewage sludge, is expected to go to vote soon. "The township does have a concern with dumping of sludge," Mr. Cowperthwait said. "We don’t know anything about the sewage (being dumped), and that’s all that concerns us. This bill will eliminate the ability of a township to monitor (sewage dumping) or to regulate it by ordinance. It will eliminate the ability of the township to request testing. The bottom line is, we don’t know (what’s being dumped), and I think we should know... they’re trying to take away municipalities’ rights to monitor (dumping)."

The supervisors reviewed an audit report from the Auditor General’s office, of the Susquehanna Volunteer Fire Dept. Relief Assoc., for the period between January of 1999 and December, 2002. It was not clear whether the "relief association" was the same as the fire company; Mr. Cowperthwait will get more information.

Under unfinished business, the supervisors reviewed a letter Mr. Cowperthwait had composed, to the executive director of the state Game Commission, regarding neighbors’ complaints about activities at a landing access at the Susquehanna River. The letter, he said, hopefully addressed the situation, so that possibly it would get some attention from the Game Commission. The letter outlined complaints regarding improper use of the access area, including defecation, urination, sewage, garbage and what Mr. Cowperthwait referred to as "manufacturing motors for tricycles at night." (Reporter’s note: I admit, I did not get it right away, until Mr. Cowperthwait asked, "What ‘powers’ tricycles?")

At their last meeting, the supervisors had reviewed several options for the 2003 budget, but several situations had arisen since then, specifically changes in what the state allows municipalities to levy for amusement tax. The governor did sign the bill, Mr. Cowperthwait said, which allows for a reduction in what amusement taxes municipalities can levy. He said that he had contacted the township’s solicitor for an interpretation of what the bill entails. The main concern to the township is that the bill reduces the tax that may be collected from racing facilities; he said that information received from PSATS indicated that increases in (amusement) taxes would be limited, and that an attempt may be made to eliminate the tax entirely, and that the move is supported by economic development groups. "The bottom line is, we don’t know where we’re at." A reduction in the amusement tax would result in a 25-40% tax increase to property owners in the township. "The conclusion at this point, is that we’ll lose 60% (tax income)," which would result in a 50% increase in property taxes. Several items on the budget were addressed, such as supervisors’ expenses, culture and recreation, building and grounds, and CEO; these allocations and some others were reduced; Mr. Cowperthwait said that predictions that the tax would eventually be entirely eliminated in the next few years are probably accurate. The end result, the budget was adjusted to show a 31% increase in millage (1/2 mill), in anticipation of a reduction in income from the amusement tax. The estimated increase in real estate taxes will be $8.53 per parcel. "There are some questions about all of this (legislation) that aren’t being answered," he said. He added that the only business in the township that would be affected by this legislation would be the race track; all others will not be changed. "There’s going to be some hard decisions made on donations in the future (library, historical society, etc.)." The allocation in the 2003 budget for culture and recreation was cut to $500. A motion carried to advertise the 2003 budget, "reluctantly."

Under new business, the supervisors discussed a request from the Susquehanna County Civil War Monument Restoration Committee (Montrose); it said that estimated cost to restore the monument would be between $65-$75,000. The committee has obtained a grant for the restoration, but needs to raise matching funds. "I think it’s something we should support," Mr. Cowperthwait said. "We probably all have ancestors who were in the Civil War." A motion carried to contribute $100. "It’s a good thing we can do this now," Mr. Cowperthwait said. "Next year it’s going to be different."

The final topic of discussion was a request received from the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, to donate 10¢ per person, funds to be used to promote tourism. As of the last census, the township’ s current population is 550; its donation would be $55.00. "I’m deeply puzzled to find out no (other local municipalities) are donating to this," Mr. Cowperthwait said; he remarked that the township had been the subject of some ridicule for not participating in an effort to have the Rte. 92 corridor designated as a scenic byway. "We might want to donate this year but we sure aren’t going to do it next year." A motion carried to table the matter.

The meeting adjourned to an executive session, to discuss a personnel issue.

The next meeting will be Thursday, December 5, 7:00 p.m. in the township building.

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Great Bend Considers Crematory

Vice-Chairman Banko, Supervisor Haskins, and Secretary/ Treasurer Sheldon were present for the November 18th meeting of the Great Bend Township.

Vice-Chairman Banko brought the meeting to order with approval of the agenda as amended.

The minutes from the November 4th meeting were approved, but the minutes from the October 21st meeting still stand without approval due to the lack of quorum.

A motion was made and carried to pay all bills and to accept the treasurer’s report as printed.

The Roadmaster’s report covered the first plowable snow of the season, the addition of lights to the new truck, the repairs made on the cross pipe on Penny Hill, and repairs made to the Airport Road. The Roadmaster’s report also included the fact that the Township purchased several wrenches and a shop vacuum to reduce the labor of maintaining their equipment.

Donna Fekette still has not sent any new information regarding her commercial permit. Robert Haley applied for a permit for a one family dwelling to be constructed on his private property. The Supervisors will not be able to issue the permit until they receive the sewage permit. They were able to sign off on the Susquehanna County Planning Commission’s form requesting that the driveway at the Haley’s residence be extended to insure a right of way.

Joan Long’s trailers, Kenneth Tingley’s Trailer Park, and Harmony Village Trailer Park are all ongoing sewage issues in the Township.

The minor subdivision created by Harold Justesen and Karen Sinnett was approved by the Planning Commission. Robert and Judith Haley requested permission to add an adjacent lot to the one they already own, to construct their new residence. The permission will be granted with the receipt of a sewage permit.

The County Commissioners were appointed as the bridge inspectors for the Great Bend Township area.

Information was received from Serenity Cremations, Great Bend, about plans to install and operate a human and animal crematory.

The joint sewage project with New Milford and the Hallstead/Great Bend System is becoming a reality. There are a few more amendments that need to be made to the contract before any bids are received or any ground is moved.

Under unfinished business, the Hallstead/Great Bend boundary line is still in the process of fixing itself. The code violations against Hornish, Slocum, and Dixon are still ongoing. The Supervisors are still waiting for a formal sign off on the tire project at Interstate Burlap and Bag. The new backhoe was delivered, and it will be ready for the public to view at the next meeting.

KBA was contacted regarding the code enforcement/inspection rules that will go into affect on a statewide level at the first of the year. The Township wants to have KBA on the books before December 2, with the agreement that they will re-negotiate for the year 2003.

The only item under new business was the Budget for 2003. There will be no hikes in the taxes this year. A motion was made and carried that that budget be accepted as a proposed budget and further corrections be made at a later meeting.

The public was interested in purchasing a load of cold patch, thanking the Supervisors for handling the snow in an efficient manner, and having some more of their roads repaired before the frost sets in.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

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Court House Report


Frederick Merkel, Jr., 80, Scranton, and Dorothy A. Phillips, 78, Scranton.

William Henry George, 49, Dimock Township, and Bonnie Jo Stafford, 49, Montrose Borough.


Daniel J. Jones, and Alfred Jones to Fiondi, Inc. in Middletown Township for $1 ogvc.

Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to J. Voss McGuire, Executor of the Estate of Glendora V. McGuire in Montrose Borough for $9,606.71.

Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to First Union National Bank of Delaware C/O Rosicki Rosicki & Associates P.C. in Silver Lake Township for $2,000.

Thomas J. Allen, II, and Nancy A. Allen to Gloria L. Gomez in Herrick Township for $46,900.

Karen Johnson and Arnold Johnson as Co-Administrators of the Estate of Norman D. Johnson aka Norman Dennis Johnson to Stanley G. Grochal III and Holly J. Grochal in Jessup Township for $60,000.

Charles M. Davis and Claudia Davis to Charles M. Davis and Claudia Davis in Forest City Borough for $1.

Catherine Lynn Dean and Brian G. Dean and Emily Elizabeth McKnight and David McKnight to Jane Francis Denny, Christopher Francis Dekker, Carl Jeffrey Dekker and Gregory Nicholas Dekker in Clifford Township for $1,000.

Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to John M. Parys in Lenox Township for $1,890.66.

Community Bank & Trust Company to Premier Equity Scranton, LLC in Forest City Borough for $30,500.

Community Bank & Trust Company to Premier Equity Scranton, LLC, in Dimock Township for $45,000.

Floyd W. Furman and Margaret I. Furman and Wyatt W. Furman to Wyatt W. Furman in Auburn Township for $1.

Shephen Sandor and Helen Sandor and Eric Sandor and Patricia Fries to Patrick K. Kipar in Auburn Township for $85,000.

United Companies Lending Corporation by EMC Mortgage Corporation to Dale Howell Enterprises, Inc. in Harmony Township for $12,000.

Felix George Oleniacz & Elizabeth Edith Oleniacz to Lawrence R. Coy & Nancy Janoski Coy in Montrose Borough for $225,000.

Ricky E. Davis, Sr. and Michelle Davis to Michael K. Swartley and Jill L. Kutz in Forest Lake Township for $43,000.

Geraldine Freeman to Eric J. Robinson and Sara Ruth Canfield in Rush Township for $28,000.

Bremer Hoff Owners, Inc. to Kevin Durlo and/or Sherrie Durko and Stephen Durko and/or Beverly Durko in Herrick Township for $100.

Lance M. Bendict, Sheriff, to Land Holding, Inc. in Forest City Borough for $2,697.90.

Peter Mink and Mary A. Mink and Robert Bonavita and Mary J. Bonavita to Larry B. Christman and Carol A. Christman in Auburn Township for $61,000.

Premac, Inc. to Shelley Kilmer in Lenox Township for $28,500.

Vincent A. Barrese and Loretta Barrese to Bruce Barrese and Vincent D. Barrese and Ann Nowroski in Herrick Township for $1.

Roy Case Jr., Richard Case, Co-Executors of the Estate of Roy R. Case to Suzanne S. Cobb in Borough of Hop Bottom for $1.

Suzanne S. Cobb to William T. Karp, Jr. and Stephenia A. Karp in Hop Bottom Borough for $124,900.

Loomis Real Estate Management Co., Inc. to Oldcastle Precast, Inc. in Bridgewater Township for memorandum of lease.

Robert A. Whitehead and Beatrice N. Whitehead to Robert A. Whitehead and Beatrice N. Whitehead, Trustees of the Robert A. Whitehead and Beatrice N. Whitehead Revocable Living Trust Agreement in Thompson Township for $10.

Kenneth Burton and Suzanne Lynn Burton to James Searles and Tracy Searles in Friendsville Borough for $75,500.

Ernest G. Benninger, Jr. to Angelo Scarfalloto and Jacqueline Scarfalloto in Bridgewater Township for $8,000.

Wanda Kmiec to Lawrence E. Newhart and Susan G. Newhart in Franklin Township for $16,000.

Stanley E. Grublauskas to Joseph G. Grublauskas in New Milford Township for $1.

Donald M. Stone and Barbara Stone and Marjorie Stone to G. Michael Skerritt and Kathy Mead Skerritt in Ararat Township for $42,000.

Doris E. Washburn to Carol A. Trevathon in Oakland Borough for $1.

Doris E. Washburn and Caren E. Henry to Caren E. Henry in Oakland Borough for $1.

Doris E. Washburn and Connie R. Henry-Groover to Connie R. Henry-Groover in Oakland Borough for $1.

Frances M. Barnhart to Mary Ann Piroha and Edward R. Barnhart in Herrick Township for $100.

Elk Mountain Ski Resort, Inc. to the United States of America for Federal Aviation Administration Land Lease for $2000/year.

Sandra J. Beuchel nbm Sandra J. Connelly to Sandra J. Connelly and Terrance M. Connelly in Great Bend Borough for $1.

John B. Searle and Barbara Searle to Barbara Searle in Clifford Township for $1.

Lawrence T. O'Reilly and Christine M. O'Reilly and Thomas J. O'Reilly to David R. Geibel, Sr. and Ellen D. Geibel in Apolacon Township for $27,833.

Lawrence T. O'Reilly and Christine M. O'Reilly to Donald Alexander Zanoni and Gail Beth Zanoni in Apolacon Township for $27,833.

Lawrence T. O'Reilly and Christine M. O'Reilly to Kevin A. Zanoni in Apolacon Township for $27,833.

Emily Harder and Dale H. F. Harder, Sr. to Massimiliano Amato in Montrose Borough for $50,000.

S. Brooks Price and Wanda W. Price to David A. Walk and Linda K. Walk in Herrick Township for $15,000.

Rodger J. Hall and Mira S. F. T. Hall to Rodger J. Hall and Mira S. F. T. Hall in Harmony Township for $1.

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Gibson Barracks Report


Jason Holbert, Binghamton, NY, received unknown moderate injuries when the Chevy Astro Van he was driving, apparently crossed the center dividing double yellow line and collided head on with a 1990 Chevy pickup, driven by Stanley Chrzan, Hop Bottom, who died as a result of the accident. The collision occurred at 2:20 p.m. on November 19 at State Route 106, near the intersection with State Route 374, Clifford Township.


Someone drove across a lawn on Quinn Rd, Choconut Township, sometime between November 15-16. The residence belongs to John Shaffer. An investigation continues.


On November 16 at 8:45 p.m., someone kicked the front door of the ABC Market, Montrose, causing the glass to crack.


On November 10 at about 1:50 - 2:00 a.m., some kids threw water balloons from a bridge at Township Route 507, Benton Township, Lackawanna County, down onto a Greyhound Lines Inc. bus traveling on Interstate 81. The balloons struck the windshield and top of the bus. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at Gibson or Dunmore.


A 1990 Dodge Omni, driven by Sandra Nagy, 54, RR 2, Montrose, was stopped at a posted stop sign at the intersection of State Route 3029 & Showalter Rd., Forest Lake Township, then drove into the intersection and into the path of a 1993 Chevy Cavalier driven by William S. Barefoot, 17, RR 2, Montrose. Barefoot then struck Nagy causing heavy damage to both vehicles, and minor injury to both drivers. Both went to Endless Mountains Health Systems, Montrose. The accident occurred on November 11 at 8:10 p.m.


Rosanna Salloom, 23, Drexel Hill, was not injured when she apparently swerved her 2003 Nissan Sentra on Interstate 81, Harford Township, to avoid striking a deer, then lost control of the vehicle and struck the median/drainage culvert, on November 14 at 7:15 a.m.


A mailbox belonging to Joan Petrochko, 40, Glenwood Rd., Lenox Township, was damaged with a blunt object sometime overnight on November 2-3.


Jesse Oleksza, Little Meadows, was driving a 1994 on State Route 267 southbound, approaching State Route 706. He lost control of the vehicle veering across the lane and back, finally striking a tree with its left side. Both Oleksza and passenger Brett Dymond, Meshoppen, fled the scene with minor injuries prior to the arrival of medical personnel. According to the police report, numerous traffic citations were filed against Oleksza. The accident occurred on October 20 at 3:05 a.m.


Christopher Messina, Montrose, in a 1985 Chevy Corvette, veered off of State Route 4007, Bridgewater Township, and flipped over. He was not seatbelted and sustained moderate injury in this October 17 incident at 1:25 a.m.


April Miller, Nicholson, in a 2001 Ford F-150 and Donald Twining, Thompson, in a 1993 Dodge 2500 were each stopped at the intersection of State Routes 92 and 2035. Twining was attempting to stop Miller from driving from the scene, according to the police report. Miller's vehicle struck Twining's and fled the scene. Twining followed until Miller was stopped by the police.

According to the report, Miller was arrested for DUI with a BAC of .248. Charges were filed with District Justice Gene Franklin, according to the police report. The incident occurred on October 9 at 8:10 p.m.


Joseph Daniels, Susquehanna, in a 1988 Pontiac 6000, failed to negotiate a curve, lost control of his vehicle and started to spin, striking a guide rail with the front left portion of his car on November 11 at 2:30 p.m. on State Route 171, just south of State Route 1027, Great Bend Township.


Joseph P. Paulauskas, S. Williamsport, failed to negotiate a curve on State Route 706, Bridgewater Township, lost control of his 2001 GMC Sonoma, and struck a utility pole, guide rail post and several trees. He was arraigned before District Justice Gene Franklin and incarcerated in the Susquehanna County Jail when he failed to post bail of $75,000. The incident occurred on October 26 at 4:10 p.m.

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Blue Ridge "In very good shape"

The Blue Ridge School Board started off its only meeting for November with some very good news. Mike Daugherty, the school's auditor, presented a summary of his analysis of the district's finances for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2002, and concluded by saying, "The district is in very good shape financially." He said he found no "non-compliance" issues, that is, no problems with the way the district relates to its financial overlords – state law and the state department of education. Mr. Daugherty said that after two years of modest surpluses, the district has finally accumulated a "fund balance" of just over $1.4 million, which accords with state guidelines that suggest districts should try to maintain reserves of between five and ten percent of annual budget expenditures. During the 2002- 2003 school year Blue Ridge took in over $12 million but spent some $775,000 less.

The Board then called on Barbara Hill, President of the New Milford Rotary Club for a special presentation. Joining the "Dictionary Project", the club is giving dictionaries to each student in grades three through six. The club's project will continue in subsequent years by distributing dictionaries to each third-grade student. According to Ms. Hill, the club wants "to provide every third-grader with their own personal dictionary," to promote scholarship from an early age. The Dictionary Project was started by Mary French, a 44-year-old mother of two in Charleston, South Carolina about six years ago, and has since spread throughout the country. Two students were present at the meeting to receive their "gift of words" from Ms. Hill. Mary French may be only one of a half-dozen "dictionary ladies" who have helped to spread this phenomenon. Annie Oneta Plummer, an African-American woman who died in 1999, started giving away dictionaries to youngsters in her neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia in 1992. Rotary clubs around the nation are supporting the effort, which doesn't cost much, but can bring long-lasting rewards.

The meeting's agenda was actually quite short, considering the Board hadn't met for three weeks, and won't meet again until early December. Following a routine list of business items, the Board heard from the parents of a recent graduate whose picture was inadvertently left out of the senior yearbook. Starting off by saying that the problem is "something that has to be fixed," the mother asked the Board to consider having the books redone to include her daughter's photograph. "I really feel it's the school's fault....They should make it right," she said. "[Our daughter] feels that in 20 years no one will remember her." More than 200 of the books were printed, and when they arrived at the school, they were eagerly snapped up (at $50 apiece). When the error was discovered, High School Principal Michael Thornton stopped distribution for a time until a remedy could be found. The books' publisher suggested "stickers" – presumably with the young woman's photograph – that could be inserted into the books. District administrators ordered 100 of the stickers when the publisher assured them that this was a routine "fix" for such problems. At that, the books were released again for distribution.

The parents would prefer that the books be recalled, the incorrect pages reprinted and rebound. The father claims that inserting new pages into such a publication would cost about 69 cents per book, plus the cost of re-printing the pages. Their daughter, who is now in college, would like to have her own copy redone as it should have been originally. At the suggestion of Superintendent Robert McNamara, the parents agreed to wait until the stickers arrive to see if they would be a satisfactory resolution.

Board member Joel Whitehead angrily called the mix-up a "public relations fiasco." He said that parents are the taxpayers who fund the school, and "we let them down." The high school's yearbook advisor has apologized to the family, as did the Board. Mr. Thornton assured the parents that better proofreading will be done in the future to try to avoid such errors.

The Blue Ridge School Board will meet next to reorganize itself on Tuesday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.

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Judge Jails Many In County Court

More than half of the individuals who appeared before Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans last week for sentencing drew jail terms.

Two of them, George William Shotwell III, 25, and Brian Michael Schmitt, 28, both of Montrose, were sentenced to time in state correctional facilities while the rest were remanded to the Susquehanna County Jail.

Mr. Shotwell was sentenced to a term of 18 months to seven years and was fined $1000 for theft by unlawful taking. On March 1, he and another person stole an ATV. Besides the jail term and fine, Mr. Shotwell was ordered to make restitution.

Mr. Schmitt was sentenced to a term of two years to four-and-one-half years for attempting to bring a controlled substance to a prisoner in the county jail. His sentence will run concurrent with a similar sentence in neighboring Lackawanna County Court. Besides the jail time, he was fined $500 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

Those sentenced to spend time in the Susquehanna County Jail include:

Nicky Conklin, 25, of Carbondale, concurrent terms of six months to 23 1/2 months on indecent assault charges stemming from an incident in Susquehanna between September 20-27, 2001. He was also fined $1,500 and ordered to undergo evaluation as a sex abuser.

Alan John Komar, 19, of Forest City, a suspended jail sentence of three months to 15 months for fleeing or attempting to elude police officer. Judge Seamans then remanded Mr. Komar to the county jail for a term of 48 hours to 12 months for driving under the influence. Both offenses occurred in Harmony Township last May 14. Besides the jail time, Mr. Komar was fined a total of $1,100, placed on probation for 15 months, and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

James Randall Smith Jr., 30, of Montrose, one-to-15 months for driving under the influence in Jessup Twp. on May 12. He was also fined $300 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. Mr. Smith was given credit for time he has already served in jail on this charge.

Anthony E. Olszewski, 26, of Montrose, three concurrent terms of one-to-23 months on three counts of theft by deception. He was also fined a total of $300 and will be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse.

Ramone Anthony Vega, 30, of Montrose, two months to 11 months on two counts of terroristic threat in Bridgewater Twp. on June 6 and 7. He was also fined $150 and will be evaluated for mental health and anger management.

Charles Theodore Knauer, 22, of Nineveh, NY, two months to 23 months for possession of firearms with altered manufacturer’s numbers. He was also fined $200.

Lloyd Westbrook Jr., 33, of Hallstead, four months to 15 months for driving under the influence in Great Bend on March 24. He was also fined $500.

John Christopher Creps, 19, of South Gibson, one month to 18 months with credit for time served, for receiving stolen property in Susquehanna on August 3. He was also fined $350 and ordered to make restitution and perform 50 hours of community service.

Kristie Lynn Miller, 21, of Cherryville, one month to 23 1/2 months with credit for time served for stealing credit cards in Great Bend on June 18. She was also fined $150, will perform 50 hours of community service, and will be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse.

David C. Vogel, 36, of Corbettsville, NY, three months to 12 months with credit for time served for possession of drug paraphernalia in Harford on May 7; two months to 12 months for involvement in an accident in Great Bend on August 8, 2001; and, a concurrent two months to 12 months for theft by deception in Great Bend on January 3, 2002. He was also fined a total of $450 and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service. Mr. Vogel will be transferred to a facility in his county of residence.

Ernest David Olszewski, 37, of Montrose, five months to 23 months for corruption of minors in Franklin Twp. on February 20. Mr. Olszewski was also fined $1,000 and court costs and must perform 50 hours of community service.

Jeffrey Rolland Card, 28, of Apalachin, NY, 15 days to 23 months with work release and credit for time served, for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in Apolocan Twp. on March 9; 15 days to 23 months for recklessly endangering another person; and, $200 fine for driving while his operating privileges were suspended. Mr. Card also has to perform a total of 50 hours of community service and was fined an additional $1200.

In other cases, Judge Seamans meted out the following sentences:

Melissa S. Nichols, 24, of Apalachin, NY, 15 months probation for delivery of a controlled substance in Montrose on July 3. She was also fined $350 plus court costs and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Derek Edward James Gardner, 19, of New Milford, was given a suspended jail sentence and placed on probation for 12 months for possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also placed on probation for an additional three months for harassment/stalking, and fined a total of $500 and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service. Mr. Gardner was arrested August 26 in New Milford Twp.

Joseph Charles Infantino, 19, of Wyoming, PA, was placed on probation for a year and fined $250 for theft by unlawful taking in Lenox Twp. on March 1.

Morgan Marie Schlachter, 21, of Nicholson was placed on probation for one year and fined $200 for criminal conspiracy theft by unlawful taking on March 1 in Lenox Twp. She must also perform 50 hours of community service.

Alfred Fidler III, 53, of Springville was placed on probation for 23 months and fined $300, for hitting a child on the head with a hammer after an argument. Mr. Fidler must also undergo anger management counseling.

Bruce Brian Hunter, 31, of Choconut, was given a suspended jail term and placed on probation for one year on a harassment charge in Silver Lake Twp. on May 24. Mr. Hunter, who was involved in a barroom fight, was also fined a total of $500 and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service.

Deborah L. Corgan, 37, of Hallstead, received a suspended jail term was placed on probation for 15 months for the unauthorized use of an automobile and other vehicles in Great Bend between March 28 and March 31. She was also fined $300.

Donald Patrick Ervin, 17, of Susquehanna was given two suspended jail terms of three months to 15 months and was placed on probation for 15 months on charges of simple assault and theft by unlawful taking. The charges occurred in Susquehanna on September 2 when Mr. Ervin and two others assaulted an individual and stole items from his pockets.

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Brooklyn Balances the Budget

Graham Anthony, Dan Anthony and Jack Thomas met for the monthly Brooklyn municipal meeting on November 21 at the municipal building. Secretary/Treasurer, Linda Spinola, reported a balance of $70,562.93 in all funds.

The supervisors discussed their annual budget meeting held earlier this month. They noted that their balanced budget of $75,972.00 would be advertised in local papers and the final vote on it would take place at the next meeting slated for December 19.

The Anthonys reported that the annual Brooklyn Halloween party was a success and numerous youngsters turned out for the event on October 31, which started with a parade of the ghoulies, monsters and other denizens of the night down Maple Street.

Graham Anthony produced a sports equipment catalogue for the inspection of the other supervisors. The Brooklyn officials will be looking at various soccer equipment they can add for the use of young people at the park.

A grant sponsored by the Conservation Department covering the Alfred Hill Project in the amount of $17,000 to cover the project expenses under a Dirt and Gravel Grant has been submitted. The supervisors declined to make a contribution to the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau at this time.

One of two properties made available through the recent county tax sale was sold. The Manherz property was purchased by Josephine Polonski of Hatfield, PA.

Under correspondence, CET Engineering Services advised Brooklyn they would be adding a new water reservoir for the water company that supplies water to 17 homes in town. The Anthonys and Thomas decided to make a $100.00 donation to help defray the costs of the restoration of the Civil Water Monument in Montrose, as a number of Brooklyn residents were named on the monument.

January 6, 2003 at 7 PM was announced as the date of the organization meeting for the township and January 7, 2003 at 7 PM will bring the annual auditors meeting to the home of Marie Turner.

The inspection of all the township roads yielded a report that noted all of the roads in the township required some normal maintenance, but the following roads will also require additional work: Station Road, Ainey Road, Corbin Road, Ely Lake Road, Tewksbury Road, Potter Road, Wright Road, Creek Road, Oakley Road at the intersection of Wright Road, Bishop Road. All of the additional work regarded trim of brush.

The next municipal meeting in Brooklyn will take place at 7 PM on December 19, 2002 at the municipal building. The public is invited.

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COG Committees Meet

Building Codes Enforcement Committee

A good part of the Codes meeting focused on the need for a special planning meeting where member municipalities could discuss issues and concerns, and achieve some consensus on, ways the group might be prepared when new International Building Codes become effective. As president Ted Plevinsky put it, "We need to get every member together and, as a group, address and discuss everyone’s concerns, wants and needs, because we’re going to have to work cohesively from here on out."

Committee members agreed, and the special session will be held on December 4 at 7 p.m. in COG offices on Main Street in New Milford. All Codes members are urged to attend, because some pretty heady stuff will be discussed.

Plevinsky gave a few for-instances: how many inspectors will be needed and who will they be; property condemnation issues; how to best cover the geographical areas of the member municipalities; what to charge and who’s going to collect it – municipalities or COG; does the Committee need its own solicitor in a landscape that will be changing; how to handle driveway permits; what grants may be available and how to apply for one.

On the subject of what to charge, Plevinsky hoped that some guidance would be forthcoming in regulations. As it stands, municipalities currently set their own permit fees, which they directly charge to property-owners. COG performs the inspections, charging the municipality for its services. That’s expected to continue. Nevertheless, a Choconut Township representative wondered how the township could reconcile its currently reasonable fees, with increases in the cost of inspections that are expected because of new Code. "Does COG raise its fees? Does the municipality need to increase the amount it charges? How do we get to a point where there is not a significant difference between what we charge and what COG charges?" he asked.

Codes enforcement officer Shane Lewis answered that some municipalities have already changed their fee structure in anticipation of new Code, while others prefer to wait and see if regulations provide guidance. Plevinsky added that it is up to a municipality as to what it wants to do – make money, or break even – and that Codes was looking to cover its costs. Whatever municipalities choose, CEO Lewis told members that he would work with them in providing input to their decision-making process.

Further information may also come from a workshop on Codes organized by the Northern Tier Planning Commission and scheduled for January 15 at the Montrose Bible Conference. Codes members will be provided more information as it becomes available.

Plevinsky also notified members that, because Codes does their inspections and has the liability that comes with doing them, any permits issued in member municipalities must come from Codes, effective immediately. Some long-time COG member-municipalities issue their own permits and have been asked to stop doing so. Codes will not be responsible for any permits issued by a municipality.

In more waiting-for-Codes business, Plevinsky announced that CEO Lewis was notified that he is a now registered Codes Enforcement Officer for Commercial Codes administration. This certification is good for five years. Notification of Lewis’ certification to perform Residential Codes administration is expected shortly. The paperwork to enable him to become certified for Accessibility administration is in the works, as is coursework that Lewis will take for it.

The CEO’s report on activity since the group met last month included permits for a deck, addition, driveway, carport and shed in Ararat Township; for an alteration and a double-wide in Gibson Township; and to move a trailer, for a new trailer, and for a new addition to a garage in Liberty Township. Lewis also performed several inspections, followed up on a complaint with a violation; and attended a member municipality’s meeting in addition to phone activity and office work.

Before adjourning, members were given a copy of the group’s 2003 budget for review before it votes on it at its January meeting. Secretary Karen Trynoski pointed out that the proposed budget is geared for one CEO. Numbers would change accordingly should the new Code enforcement require more than one officer.

Council of Governments

With chairman Harold Shay presiding, members had considerable discussion about street signs and a large grant COG received for them and which must be committed/spent by the end of January 2003. Secretary Cheryl Wellman reported on her conversation with a county representative as to guidelines for standardized addressing throughout the county. She reported that the minimum requirement on the signs is 4-inch lettering, with white reflective letters on a dark background, such as green or blue. The sign should not be any longer than the space it takes to fit 14 letters of a road name (15 if the name has an "i" in it). Wellman also relayed that if a municipality already has road signs, it will be grandfathered in; when these signs need to be replaced, however, they will fall under the standard addressing guidelines.

In other information on the same subject, Herrick Township’s Elliot Ross, who’s also the chairman of COG’s Street/Road Sign Committee, thought that the actual responsibility for a road naming/numbering system lies with the municipality. This can get pretty involved, explained Ross, because most roads don’t end in a particular municipality, but continue into an adjoining one. Conflicts can arise, Ross said, if one municipality requests a change on a road shared with another municipality. This has happened in Herrick Township, he reported, and "sometimes we changed the name of the road that went into our township from a bordering one."

"What’s often done is that the county does a study and makes recommendations," he said, adding that it was his understanding that it was up to a municipality on whether to accept the county’s recommendation.

For his part, Ross said he is planning to along with county guidelines "because I want one address for the rest of my life. I’ve had four in the last ten years," he continued, "and I have not moved during that time." He also noted that standard addressing was important to first-responders in emergencies: "For instance, the fire department gets a call to go to, say, 56 Wilson Road. They don’t have to know the house, because they know that their call is 56/100ths of a mile down Wilson Road."

Discussion followed about what might happen with the many Main Streets that populate the county’s small towns. Opinion was that this would not be a problem with boroughs because most people know where the main street is in them. In the case of townships, however, where there are not only quite a few Bailey Roads but also a few residents who aren’t sure what township they live in, certain guidelines and recommendations might work better for them.

Ross, of the Street/Road Signs Committee will give the county a call to gather further information as well as pass along the comments shared at the meeting. Once Ross is clear on this, it’s expected that the grant money will be committed by its deadline.

COG decided not to act on a letter it received from Thompson Township resident Jerry Smyder about a municipal cooperative equipment-sharing project. And while the group appreciated Smyder’s good efforts, it didn’t think that sharing in the cost and delivery of such things like cinders, fuel, salt, etc. would work for a number of reasons. First, that it was tried before, and not too successfully. Second, and as Gibson Township’s Harold Shay put it, "It’s pretty hard for the whole group to share and come out so that everybody’s happy." And, third, because several municipalities already share with others. Choconut Township’s Rudy Mattes said they have an intermunicipal agreement with townships that surround it for use of equipment such as dump trucks and chippers. Shay noted that Gibson Township has arrangements with Jackson and Clifford Townships: "We agreed to charge an hourly rate, and if they have something we want, they get it at that rate. Usually, no money ends up changing hands."

However, the group was so impressed by Smyder’s work that they will invite him to attend its next meeting to hear about other ideas he may have to save municipalities money and to get their input.

In other business, members voted to provide use of its facilities to the Penn State Cooperative for its Support Leadership 20/20 program. Secretary Wellman will be on site during the program.

How to dispose of the old copier, which prints a streak down a page and used quite a bit of toner in its last months, was discussed. COG Codes and Sewage Enforcement secretary Trynoski thought that perhaps it just needed a good cleaning to be back in good service. At COG’s next meeting on December 17, the names of interested municipalities will be put into a hat, with the name drawn getting the copier, as is, no guarantees, for municipal (and not personal) use. (Because COG got the old copier through a grant, it is not allowed to sell or make money on it.)

A discussion about who had responsibility for furnace repairs and maintenance at COG offices – COG or New Milford Borough, from whom COG leases its space – resulted in a clarification to its current lease. Apparently, the furnace died and had to be re-primed at a cost of $69 which was billed to New Milford Borough (as the property-owner) which told COG it was COG’s responsibility to pay. Since the responsibilities of the property-owner, as contained in the lease, do not include the repair and maintenance of equipment (including furnaces, of which the Borough building has two), then it was thought that it is the responsibility of COG, the tenant, to take care of such things. Should a piece of equipment, such as a furnace, be beyond repair, the property-owner would be responsible for replacement. In fact, the Borough paid for the cost of replacing a hot-water tank when the old one blew.

Liberty Township’s Bill Bayne suggested that Wellman send a letter to the New Milford Borough Council, outlining COG’s understanding that COG is responsible for the regular maintenance and repair of equipment such as the furnace, air conditioner, hot-water heater. Should such equipment fail due to normal wear and tear, it is the Borough’s responsibility to replace such equipment. New Milford representative Rick Ainey thought that the Borough Council would be amenable to making things right.

In its last piece of business for the evening, member Charlie Fahringer questioned whether the postage saved by not sending out the proposed agenda and most recent minutes to members before the monthly meeting was, in fact, not worth what some members missed. Members who fail to attend a meeting (where both agenda and minutes are available) are sent them the day following the meeting. Fahringer was concerned that some members would not know about, say, the copier raffle, or the Codes’ December 4 planning meeting, or other concerns. Secretaries Trynoski and Wellman said that they would attach notes to the minutes they would send out the following day, alerting members to these events. Wellman will also send a similar notice to members who have e-mail.

COG Sewage Committee

Rudy Mattes filled in for president Donald Stone, and listened as Secretary Karen Trynoski reported on the savings to COG from switching phone service from ATT to Northeast Pennsylvania Telephone Company (NEPA), as suggested by member Harvey Rosenkrans. The Committee will get nice savings, of five cents a minute on toll-free calls, no $15 monthly fee for the service, and a special rate for calling Montrose exchanges.

With members participating in a recent hearing, Trynoski asked whether the group wanted to discuss reimbursement for their time and services. SEO Jim Tracy responded, "We pay lawyers for their services. Why not reimburse those who take the time to sit on a hearing board?" Members agreed, especially in light of the fact that the latest hearing involved a paid mediator and a stenographer, in addition to an attorney. Reimbursement was set at $50 plus mileage.

With the rainy, sleety and cold weather severely limiting testing, SEOs reported very little activity since the Committee last met. Tracy, however, did summarize the results of the November 12 hearing that involved property-owners identified as Kuzma, and C&C Realty, as well as a certified sewage enforcement officer named Vadovsky.

It appears that, as it relates to the Kuzma property, Vadovsky and the contractor changed at least part of, and possibly the whole, system without a permit and with methods that fly in the face of compliance. "We do everything by the green book, straight down the line," said Tracy. Apparently, Vadovsky did not. It seems that Kuzma will have Vadovsky do the system over. C&C Realty, however, does not want him on its property. Tracy reported that the results of the hearing are being sent to DEP and the state attorney general. It is up to the latter to determine whether any fraud occurred by way of a certain statement by Kuzma, and whether certain fines will be assessed and payable by whom. DEP will also have a say in the amount of certain fines. Wellman has kept Harrisburg apprised of COG activities, and the reason for the stenographer was to have a complete record of the hearing to send to Harrisburg. It’s Tracy’s feeling that bringing the C&C system into compliance could cost a minimum of $9,000, adding that, "I don’t think it’s going to go very smoothly."

The next regular meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for December 17 at 7 p.m. in COG offices in the New Milford Borough Building on Main Street.

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Good Audits At Elk Lake

The most recent Elk Lake School Board meeting covered a variety of topics, but none quite as important as the audit report given by Michael Dougherty of Murphy, Dougherty & Co. of Scranton.

Once again he presented a rosy picture of the Elk Lake School financial standing, saying it is much better than many in the area, without mentioning any names. He also said the general fund as well as the reserve fund balances are in the 5-10 percent range that the state recommends in its guidelines.

In the general fund, the unreserved fund balance is $1,245,936, but there are also additional funds that could be considered fund balances, according to Board Member Arden Tewksbury, bringing the reserves to an excess of $4 million. However, some of those, like the self-insured health fund, is something that has taken several years to establish at its current $1,514,278 level. This brings it to a "comfort level" to minimize any damage that high costs of heath care for employees might inflict.

The reserves in the general fund have grown due to interest on CDs, among other things, and are there so if something unexpected arises, the district can handle it without going into debt or raising taxes.

Local input to the general fund is $4,465,311 while the state's portion is $7,002,843. The federal money coming to the district is $440,315. Asked why figures are always quoted that the state has gone from supplying 50 percent subsidies down to the mid-thirties, when the above figures represent a much higher percentage, the auditor said that the 30+ percentage is the state average. Elk Lake gets a larger percentage due to having a small non-residential tax base, as well as having mandated programs that cost a lot. It was also said that by supporting the raising of state subsidies (on average) back to the 50 percent level, Elk Lake would get a comparable increase in their actual current subsidy. Tewksbury said that maybe it could get Elk Lake up to the 90 percent level.

The Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center is "a different animal than the school district," said Dougherty. It depends on other districts for the number of students and it sometimes doesn't happen, so it is "always a roller coaster." That was the case for the year ended June 30, 2002, the time frame covered by the audit. The Center's unreserved fund balance was a negative $70,087. This occurred partially because the number of students expected to attend last year was short by 20. The Center should "take other districts with a grain of salt." Since tuition for sending schools is roughly $4500, the shortage of other districts' paying students would account for the negative balance.

The Devon case, where Elk Lake and many other schools and municipalities invested money in funds that turned bad, has been largely resolved. Some money will never be returned, but the case is now finished for all practical purposes. Even with a loss of some funds, the district, according to Tewksbury, is still in good shape.

Discussion also centered around the changing of the political scene from a Republican to a Democrat in the Governor's seat. Many expect that Governor-elect Rendell will move to get funding back to the 50 percent level, and was described by Dougherty as a "friend of education," but optimism is sprinkled with a dose of reality, since both the House and Senate continue to be Republican, "so it remains to be seen."

Superintendent William Bush said that something will need to be done this summer to make areas of the school handicapped-accessible. The chair-lift has been completely destroyed by vandalism. Temporarily, the school is renting stair tracks which climb up and down stairs with a wheelchair on them.
Apparently, the controls must be external so students and other handicapped individuals can operate them alone. Yet that means that anyone can have access to them. Bush offered various options for long term solutions, which the board will consider.

New report cards are being used by the elementary school, which eliminates grades of either numbers or letters, but shows multiple years of progress. Elementary school principal Charles Pirone said that the new system works in with standards.

In writing for instance, four levels of grading include Advanced which is above grade level, Proficient which is right-on-target, Basic which is below grade, and Below Basic which is way below grade level. The same comparisons are not used in other subject areas. Reading, for instance, has an X placed in a continuum showing where the student's level is. And spelling is no longer called such, but rather developmental word study.

They did away with numbers, according to Pirone, "because numbers didn't tell anything." Letters went home to parents about the dramatic change in the report cards.

Special Education Director Mrs. Staats said it will show in black and white how far behind a student is, but will also be a great tool for teachers and parents.

On December 2, the board will meet for its required reorganizational meeting.

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Forest City Taxes May Increase

Forest City Borough taxpayers are looking at a 1.5 mill tax increase if a proposed 2003 borough budget approved at a special meeting last week holds up without change. The final vote on the spending plan will take place at council’s regular meeting on Dec. 2.

The new tax rate would be 12.3 mills including one mill for the capital reserve fund. It will be the first tax increase in the borough since a 1.5 mill increase was made in 1999.

Expenditures for 2003 amount to $651,285. Of that amount, the lion’s share, $578,000 is appropriated for the general fund.

Councilwoman Mary Twilley cast the lone vote against the new spending plan and Councilwoman Ruth Fitzsimmons was absent. Mrs. Twilley was critical of the police appropriations that increased dramatically thanks to a new contract for the borough’s two full-time officers and a $10 an hour pay rate for special officers.

The police budget amounts to $184,000 and includes a $15,000 increase in salaries and wages and a mandated $17,000 increase in the retirement fund for the borough’s two full-time officers. Proposed police appropriations reflect the largest spending of any departments listed in the 2003 budget.

Finance Chairman Paul J. Amadio called the new spending plan a "bare bones budget" while expressing some criticism of the police budget. He thanked finance committee members Mary Cicco and James Lowrey for the time they worked with him in preparing the new budget.

Mr. Amadio resigned as chairman of the police contract negotiating committee after other committee members agreed to pay 100 percent of the health insurance for the full-time officers including the addition of $300 per year for each full-time officer to be applied toward dental or optical needs. Mr. Amadio said he wanted the full time officers to pay a portion of their health insurance and wanted to trim appropriations in a number of line items in the police budget.

If the police contract is approved without change at the next council meeting, the full-time officers will receive increases of 2.5 percent in 2003 and 3 percent in 2004 and 2005.

Other noticeable appropriations in the 2003 municipal budget include: $137,000, public works; $42,000, engineering fees for Dundaff Street sewer project; $37,000, insurance and workman’s compensation; $28,000, street lighting; $20,680, fire department; $12,000, hydrant rental; and, $9,000, parks.

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