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Strangely enough, the Great Bend Borough Council didn't have to field any complaints or questions about snow removal at its first meeting since two big snowstorms blew through town. A near-record six observers attended the meeting on January 9 and there was very little discussion of snow at all, a tribute to the efforts of the Borough's maintenance employee, Alan Grannis, who does the plowing on Borough streets.
Council members did get a little exercised about a building-permit application from the Mess family. The proposal is to replace the current structure housing the family's fireworks business at the south end of Main Street. A few Council members, led by Mike Wasko, wanted to look into what measures might need to be in place to protect the safety of Borough residents in case of a fire or other "catastrophe" at that location. Mr. Wasko suggested that the permit be held up pending review by the Fire Company. Conceding that the application's paperwork was "in order," Mr. Wasko nevertheless wanted to be certain that the business-owner's licenses with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also in order. The Borough's attorney, Frank O'Connor, mediated between Mr. Wasko and other members of the Council who didn't think the Borough had the right to hold up a properly-submitted application based on what the property might be used for. The building-permit application does not require the property owner to disclose the purpose or possible use of a proposed structure. In the end, the application was approved. Mr. Wasko requested that the Fire Company be asked to research the matter.
Along similar lines, the Borough received a letter from the County office of Emergency Preparedness requesting that municipalities declare their intentions with regard to developing emergency plans, offering to provide such plans if a municipality decides not to undertake the job itself. Great Bend Borough's current Emergency Preparedness Coordinator is Mike Lonzinski. Mr. Lonzinski's spouse, Borough Council President Louise Lonzinski, said that her husband is willing to continue in that role. So Great Bend will continue to be responsible for it's own emergency planning.
There is a move afoot to resurrect local policing in the area. Several years ago Great Bend and New Milford Boroughs were the last two entities to formally remove themselves from a consortium (that originally included Hallstead and Great Bend Township) that operated a police department headquartered in the Great Bend Borough building. That effectively disbanded the police department and terminated local police protection, and along the way caused some extended legal problems for the Borough arising out of pension entitlements claimed by the former police chief, Charles Martell.
Because the State Police are stretched too thin in Susquehanna County to satisfy local residents, some - including one observer at the meeting - are now supporting the creation of a new police department. Current ideas would have Great Bend Borough and Great Bend Township join forces to operate it, a difficult prospect, considering the poor relationship between the governments of the two municipalities, one of which encloses the other. The visitor said that available grants could be found to pay for equipment, but that salaries would have to come from local resources. Because most of the efforts of police would be concentrated in the commercial area at the highway intersection (which is in the Township), there is not a lot of enthusiasm on the Borough Council for the idea. However, members expressed a desire to look into the issue further. Councilman Ray Holtzman was designated point-man to do the research.
Emergency services are suffering in small towns all over the country, and Great Bend Borough is no different. Maureen Crook expressed to Council her concern about the "seriousness of the ambulance situation in this town." She said that the Borough may soon lose daytime ambulance service. A private, paid service may take up the slack temporarily, but she said that a shortage of volunteers, and increased training and certification requirements, are making it difficult to keep an ambulance service staffed properly.
Ms. Crook also asked about the status of the Kime apartment building. She said that as many as 75% of the ambulance calls in the town are for the senior-citizen residence on Main Street that is owned by a non-profit organization that pays no taxes and therefore does not support the service they use so heavily. The Kime building caused some additional concern when it was learned that the owners are considering purchasing a neighboring property, which would remove that from the tax rolls as well.
Ms. Crook wore another hat at the meeting. She and Laura Conarton, representing the Hallstead-Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority, asked Council to pass a resolution acknowledging the addition of the New Milford to a consortium that, through an "inter-municipal agreement" will allow the Sewer Authority to accept sewage from an extension of the system down U.S. Route 11 to the Blue Ridge School Campus and New Milford Borough. A formality from Great Bend's perspective, the measure, according to Ms. Conarton, the project would involve "no cost to the Borough at this point." The resolution passed, and in return, the Borough received a copy of a large book defining the characteristics of the new sewage arrangements.
Ms. Conarton was also wearing two hats. As tax collector, she asked for use of the building for an hour on each of several days in late April to receive tax payments.
Busy days, as Great Bend enters the new year. The Borough Council meets on the first Thursday of each month, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the Borough Building on Elizabeth Street.
Guess what? Susquehanna Countys pension fund made money in the last quarter of 2002. After three consecutive years in the loss column, thanks to an almost constant bear market, the pension fund finally made some forward progress.
They didnt strike the mother load, but the countys new investment management firm ended the year on a positive note pumping some $400,000 into the till and moving toward the request of the county Retirement Board that only 25 percent of the pension fund be invested in the stock market.
In its first quarterly report since becoming the countys investment management firm last September, Steven Flanders of the Steven Flanders Group, told the Retirement Board the cash balance in the fund increased from $4.9 million to $5.6 million in the last three months of 2002. The latest figures include $367,000 that the county transferred from its general fund into the pension fund last month, but the progress is encouraging.
Mr. Flanders said the turnaround was due primarily to a change in investments. He said the investment managers cut back on stock market investments and put more money into bonds. The previous investment firm, Lesko Financial Services of Binghamton, had invested 95 percent of the pension fund into the stock market, a move that ended with a loss of more than one-half of the fund.
Besides a report on the fourth quarter of 2003, Mr. Flanders blended some educational training into his presentation in what he described as a way to bring members of the Retirement Board into a "comfort level" of understanding about investment practices. He said the way to measure the success of a money management firm is to watch the rate of return.
"When the portfolio earns more," he said, "it lessens the countys contribution. When it earns less, the county pays more."
In the 2003 county budget, the Board of Commissioners reached into the countys surplus fund for the required $1 million needed to keep the pension fund afloat. That could end if the goal of the Steven Flanders Group is reached.
"Our expected return is 10 percent gross rate," Mr. Flanders said. "Our plan is to have the pension fund fully funded in 10 years."
The Retirement Board also passed a motion making the county increase in health insurance premiums for retired employees effective in March.
In another money matter at the Board of Commissioners meeting that preceded the Retirement Board session, the commissioners explained the reason for a last minute budget change on Dec. 31.
According to Board Chair Gary Marcho, the commissioners learned they could not apply any savings from debt service toward the health insurance premiums of retired county employees. Because of this, the money needed to pay the additional $55 monthly for each retiree had to come from other sources.
At the special meeting, the commissioners opened the budget and made the following changes: $10,200 from EMA, $17,760, from 9-1-1, and $9,000 from the West Nile Virus account for a total of $36,960 transferred into an insurance non-benefits account.
Motions approved by the commissioners and salary board completed the following transactions:
-Hired Joseph Barry for the open adult probation/parole officer position at $13.20 an hour plus benefits as per union contract.
-Reappointed Matthew Curley to a vacancy on the Susquehanna County Planning Commission.
-Adjusted the rate of pay for Sherri Chapel, adult probation/parole officer from $12.69 to $13.03. Ms. Chapel successfully completed her probationary period.
-Extended the temporary position of Grant Harder, West Nile Virus Program, to include an extra 80 hours in January at $10 an hour.
With the exception of Roslyn Lee, all members of the Thompson Boro council were present at the January 6 meeting, as well as secretary Diane Sheldon, treasurer Marge Whitney, mayor Jim Delaney, police chief Tom Rivenburg and several audience members.
The first item discussed was the December bill for plowing and cindering the boros streets; the total came to $2,020. An itemized listing was given, with dates and what services were given (plowing, cindering, or both). There were some questions about what guidelines were used to determine when these services would be performed. Allen Lloyd, a member of the streets committee, said that trips are (mostly) determined by feedback from residents; trips were not made when there is only a minimal amount of snow. Council president Dennis Price asked if council would prefer to limit trips to one per day, to let the snow accumulate and get rid of it all at once. An audience member suggested that if black cinders were used when it is sunny, that would eliminate a buildup of ice. Mayor Delaney suggested that if enough cinders were used on the first trip, that would eliminate the need for subsequent trip(s). Mr. Lloyd commented, "You cant make everybody happy." After further discussion, no changes were made to the procedure to determine when plowing and/or cindering is needed.
Later in the meeting, the subject of cindering was discussed further. An audience member suggested that one section of road, at the boro line, could use more cinders as it is a blind curve; potholes add to the problem when the road is icy. Addressing the subject of potholes, Mr. Price said that council has been holding off on any paving until after the sewer lines are put in, except where absolutely necessary. Another concern from the audience was an area where the road is too narrow, causing a problem when cars approach each other from opposite directions, especially when snow is plowed to the side. Mr. Price responded that the road could not be widened because the boro does not have a right of way.
And, it was asked if council would consider splitting bids for plowing in the future, with separate specs for the boros narrower roads and its wider ones; the idea being that larger trucks could more easily handle the wider streets. It was noted that Thompson Townships trucks often travel the wider roads to turn around when they are out plowing. Mr. Price said that the township no longer submitted bids to the boro, but perhaps they might be willing to plow the main roads as a courtesy.
Continuing discussion on the boros sewage project, Mr. Price read several letters from owners of properties on the outer limits of the boro, requesting that the plan be revised to include their properties; one letter stated that the property in question should have been included in the original plan as its sewer system is "malfunctioning," and that the boro could apply for an extension for additional grant funds to cover the additional costs. Another letter stated that the owner had expressed interest in inclusion in the project in the past, and that all properties within the boro should be included. And, another letter requested inclusion in the plan as well as extending the water main (at the boros expense) to include this property. "We have a decision to make," Mr. Price said, "we have three requests to revise the plan." He said that council would forward the letters to the boros solicitor for response, and that copies would be sent to DEP. He read a report from the SEO, which stated that the previously mentioned malfunctioning septic system is currently emptying into a dry brook; the property in question is not large enough for an independent system to be installed. Mr. Price had subsequently contacted a number of entities; among them, the project engineer, DEP, RUS and the Army Corps of Engineers. The result of his inquiries is that the boro is not obligated to include this property in the project; as it is, the projected costs are significantly higher than they were five years ago. The boro, he was told, will be lucky to have enough money to pay for the plan as it is. And, it is not guaranteed that every boro property would be included. He noted that other requests have been received for properties not included in the plan to be included. "Everyone has a right to be served (by the plan)," he said, "but that does not mean that the boro has to provide it. You do have the right to run a line at your own expense."
Council member Andy Gardner stated that it would be appropriate to have some discussion before action was taken (by motion), as the subject has been brought up several times. The original plan, he said, only included 66 units; public meetings had been held; the plan could have been completed five years ago with only those 66 units. The plan had been revised to expand the scope of service to 135 units, as many as economically feasible. Mr. Price interjected that letters had been sent to every property owner in the boro; many people had not responded to the letters and did not attend public meetings that had been held prior to the plan being finalized. Mr. Gardner said that the letters had given an outline of the intended plan. Extensive research had been done to determine which properties it was feasible to include; a cut-off point had been determined and discussed at public meetings. It had been determined which properties it would not be economically feasible to include. The project, he said, has been discussed at every council meeting for the past ten years or so; there had been ample time to allow malfunctioning systems to be "brought to light." The finalized plan has been approved by both state and federal government entities, "An amendment at this point means starting from scratch." Mr. Price added that amending the plan to include the three properties under discussion would add approximately $150,000 to the projects costs. "We cant discriminate," he said; other property owners in outlying areas of the boro had requested to be included in the plan, but it had been determined that it would not be economically feasible to include them. He had discussed the situation with the projects engineers; even if these properties had been considered before the plan was finalized, the estimated cost of $50,000 per unit would not be approved by the funding agency. Mr. Price said that he did ask DEP if they would like to revise the plan to include these outlying properties, but that DEP had refused.
A motion carried to continue with the plan as it stands, with no revisions. A motion carried to table any corrective action at this time due to the SEOs report on the property with the malfunctioning system; the owner(s), Mr. Price said, could make a request to DEP to revise the plan. DEP would determine whether it is feasible to include this property in the plan.
Bids are to be opened at a meeting on January 15, 1 p.m. at the fire hall. Mr. Price said that the project engineer has advised him that some contractors may conduct small boring tests prior to submitting bids, as the geology of the site will have an effect of cost estimates. Mr. Price specified that, if such tests are conducted, the bore holes will be filled in as soon as they are completed. Penelec has received some inquiries from contractors regarding power requirements for the building phase of the project; the boro will supply a copy of the bid plan to Penelec. And, in answer to a question raised at last months meeting, it has been determined that a building permit is not required for a municipal utility building.
In other business, Mr. Gardner reported that the countys emergency management is devising a uniform numbering system for residences; more information will be provided when it is available.
Council is in the process of applying for DCED grant funding, to be used for a police car.
An amendment to ordinance no. 104 was approved; after questions were raised by a resident, a section dealing with burning was removed, as the boro already has an ordinance outlining burning restrictions. Another section, concerning the definition of "rubbish," was clarified.
Mr. Price will be attending a workshop in Montrose on building codes.
A motion carried to retain Myron DeWitt as the boros solicitor for 2003.
Council reviewed a letter, inviting the boro to work in conjunction with Thompson and Ararat Townships, to prepare a comprehensive plan; after some discussion, no action was taken.
Mr. Gardner reported that an individual who has been representing himself as being a "spokesman" for the boro has never been appointed or invited to speak as an expert on sewage and does not represent Thompson Boro on this matter.
Discussion continued regarding two road signs that had been taken from the boro and relocated outside of the boro (without the boros consent). PENNDOT had been contacted, and showed no record of authorizing this action. Mr. Lloyd offered a theory as to what had happened, and suggested asking the responsible party to return the signs to their original locations in the spring.
There has been a continuing problem with snowmobiles illegally using the boros streets as well as private property. Mr. Price said that he does not want to deter snowmobilers from patronizing local businesses, "We just want them to respect boro streets and peoples lawns." Council will contact Rail-Trail for information as to when motorized vehicles will be prohibited from using the railbeds.
The next meeting will be Monday, February 3, 7:30 p.m. in the fire hall on Water St.
When the meeting adjourned, this reporter was approached by a member of council who wished to let County Transcript readers know that there is recourse available to those who lose power due to downed lines from storms. A number of area residents had been affected by recent weather, and had waited a considerable time for power to be restored; information seemed to indicate that some utilities have been operating with "skeleton crews." In these cases, the Public Utilities Commission should be contacted with details of the incident. The PUC maintains a rating system for utilities, which could affect a utility in several ways, particularly when rate increases are requested.
Josh S. MacNamee, 27, Binghamton, and April Rounds, 22, Binghamton, NY.
Timothy R. Washburn, 21, Bridgewater Township, and Michelle Christine Cole, 23, Bridgewater Township.
Dolores J. Crowe to The Dolores J. Crowe Revocable Trust in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Walter E. Jagger and Eleanor R. Jagger to Alan R. Jagger and Holly J. Jagger in Lathrop Township for one dollar ogvc.
Daniel P. Hollis and Krista A. Hollis to John C. Stephens and Georgia Stephens in Ararat Township for $22,500.
Angelo Scarfalloto and Jacqueline Scarfalloto to Angelo Scarfalloto and Jacqueline Scarfalloto in Bridgewater Township for $1 ogvc.
John Sadlon by Kenneth Sadlon, Attorney-in-Fact, and Mary Sadlon by Kenneth Sadlon, Attorney-in-Fact, to Patrick McLaughlin and Melany J. McLaughlin in Clifford Township for $130,000.
Bridget A. Cassidy to Stanley Rockwell in Lanesboro Borough for $60,000.
Marie A. Oakley to Josef S. Milunic and Connie M. Milunic in Lenox Township for $17,500.
Theodore S. Kilmer and Gary Kilmer & Robin Kilmer to Theodore S. Kilmer in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Theodore S. Kilmer and Gary Kilmer & Robin Kilmer to Gary Kilmer in Lenox Township for one dollar.
John J. Guiton aka John Guiton, Jr. and Kim Guiton to John J. Guiton aka John Guiton, Jr. and Kim Guiton aka Kim S. Guiton in Rush Township for $1.
Calvin L. Hackeman to Henning's Supermarket, Inc. in Herrick Township for $55,000.
Wilford Foster and Charlotte Foster to Keith L. Foster, Nathan A. Foster, Gary W. Foster and Joel R. Foster in Uniondale Borough for $1.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to GMAC Mortgage Corporation in Lenox Township for $1,034.08.
P. Joseph Schumacher and Kim Schumacher, Patrict Stanton and Wendy Jo Stanton, Michael J. Seweryn and Arlene Seweryn to Patrick Stanton and Wendy Jo Stanton, Michael J. Seweryn and Arlene Seweryn, Stephen C. Seweryn and Kathleen Seweryn, Helen Seweryn and Dennis J. H. Stanton in Ararat Township for $1.
Alyne Horn and Marlene Pompey as Co-Administratrixes of the Estate of James E. Wilbur to Lois Grow in Auburn Township for $1.
Carol M. Masters, Executrix of the Estate of Jack M. Masters to Carol M. Masters in Harford Township for $1 (three parcels).
Richard S. Masters and Carol M. Masters, Executrix of the Estate of Jack M. Masters to Richard S. Masters and Carol M. Masters in Harford Township for $1.
Peter S. Watrous and Pamela J. Walker to John D. Rasmus and Ann Marie Rasmus in Franklin Township for $160,000.
John C. Clirehugh to Donald A. O'Dell and Deborah L. O'Dell and Thomas C. Cramer, Jr. and Theresa R. Cramer in New Milford Township for $260,000.
Robert J. Wilkes, Jr. as Trustee of the Mary H. Petro Trust to Dennis M. Coughlin, Jr. Brian F. Coughlin and James E. Coughlin, Sr. in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Francis J. Pinkowski to Banner of Truth Ministries, Inc. in Bridgewater Township for $40,000.
Community Bank & Trust Co, to Community Bank and Trust Co. in Clifford Township for $1 for deed of correction.
Michael A. Daniels and Brenda L. Daniels to Mildred L. Fetterman in Brooklyn Township for $120,000.
Eleanor T. Ramey, Administratrix of the Estate of John W. Fehrle Sr. to Eleanor T. Ramey in Domick (sic) Township for $1.
Gloria Gomez to Ernest I. Harris and Bernadette Harris in New Milford Township for installment land contract for $25,000.
Sandra L. Kelley and Edward L. Kelley, Patricia A. Flynn and Francis L. Flynn to Shawn R. Aukema and Andrea S. Aukema in Silver Lake Township for $1 ogvc.
Joseph O. Duseau and Janice E. Jenson-Duseau to Stephen K. Duseau and Joseph O. Duseau in Bridgewater Township for $1.
F. Guy Saunders and Carol W. Saunders to Carol W. Saunders in Lenox Township for $1.
Manzek Land Company, Inc. to Matthew F. Dreyer and Ann T. Dreyer in Middletown Township for $47,000.
Margaret Ross to Ashbel Ross in Dimock Township for $1.
Skip Tracy to Charles L. Wayman in New Milford Borough for $72,869.72.
Charles P. Gayson to Margaret J. Barnum and James A. Krupinski in Bridgewater Township for $80,000.
Donald M. Chervenak and Renee E. Chervenak to Joseph W. Poole III and Mary Ann Poole in Clifford Township for $335,000.
Robert G. Bennett and Lupe P. Mata-Bennett to Chester E. Kilmer, Jr. in New Milford Township for $100,000.
Nancy Malloy aka Anne Malloy fka Sister Elizabeth Jose to John J. Malloy, Trustee of the John J. Malloy Revocable Trust in Harford Township for $1.
Otto J. Farnham and Grace J. Farnham, trustees for Linda Lee McGoldrick (fka Linda Lee Farnham) and Tracy Ann McClenahan (fka Tracy Ann Farnham) to Louis Ezzo and Frances C. Ezzo in Liberty Township for $45,000.
Daniel Acker and Stacey Finkelbinder, nka Stacey Acker to Daniel Acker and Stacey Acker in Forest Lake Township for $1.
On January 6 at 11:30 a.m., two vehicles were approaching the intersection of Township Roads 557 and 600, Forest Lake Township. Joseph Fiorentino, 31, RD 6, Montrose was operating a 1991 Buick Regal and lost control of it on snow covered roadway and struck a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass driven by Joni A. Rafferty, 31, RR 2, Montrose. Rafferty was cited for not having valid insurance.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
Joshua Hobbs, Lanesboro, lost control of his 1992 Ford Explorer on the snow covered parking lot of the Hilltop Bar, Susquehanna, on December 11 at 2:15 a.m., and struck a parked, unoccupied 1993 Ford Probe. No injuries occurred, and both vehicles sustained minor damage.
David Wright, Laceyville, lost control of his 1997 Ford Explorer on State Route 267, Rush Township, which was slushy. The vehicle spun sideways and overturned. Wright and two passengers were uninjured in this January 4 accident which occurred at 4:00 p.m.
Someone smashed a 4' X 6' plate glass window in the Sunoco Gas Station on State Route 171, Thompson Borough, sometime between 7:00 p.m. on January 1 and 6:45 a.m. the next morning. While reaching inside the store and removing cigarettes, windshield wiper blades and batteries, someone got cut. The gas station belongs to Marc E. Yoskowitz, Thompson. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
ONE VEHICLE HIT AND RUN
Anthony Lynn Butts, 16, RR 3, Susquehanna, who was traveling west on snow covered Township Route 844, Harmony Township, at an unreasonable speed for the conditions, skidded and came to rest across a ravine at Comfort's Pond Dam. The vehicle was severely damaged, and Butts was injured with a cut forehead. Butts' father attempted to remove the vehicle before police arrived. Butts failed to notify police of this accident and was subsequently cited for a violation, according to the report. The incident occurred on December 29 at 5:30 a.m.
The January 6 meeting of the Great Bend Township commenced with Chairman Squier, Vice-Chairman Banko, Supervisor Haskins, and Secretary/ Treasurer Sheldon present.
The first order of the meeting was reorganization for the New Year. Squier will continue as the chairman, Banko as the Vice-Chairman, and Sheldon as the Secretary/ Treasurer. The wage of seven dollars per hour was agreed upon for any work that the Supervisors must do outside of attending the meetings. The township auditor will review this wage before it goes into affect. Travel expenses for use of personal vehicles are set at thirty-six cents per mile. The new treasurers bond will be set at $400,000, do to the fact that Great Bend Township carries the responsibility of the grant issued by the state for completion of the bridge. Michael Giangrieco will be retained for the present year for any legal council that is needed. KBA Engineering was retained as official building inspectors and code enforcers for Great Bend Township. Thomas Button was retained to fill the position as assistant Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO). The full time position, now held by Michael Fortuner, will be held vacant until a replacement can be found. During this period, Mr. Fortuner is responsible for completing any work that he began in the Great Bend Township area. Mr. Norm Darrow will fill the position as representative to the Hallstead/ Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority. Jim Banko was retained as the CEO for the pension plan. Dave Banko was elected Chairman of the Vacancy Board. Chairman Squier was also retained as the Roadmaster for 2003.
The agenda for this meeting was approved with several amendments.
The Treasurers Report was approved after some additional expenses were added for the biweekly report.
The Roadmasters Report covered cindering, plowing, repairing old equipment, and dealing with the many complaints that arose when all the plow equipment was down except for the new Ford.
The Supervisors were able to report that they received signed resolutions from Hallstead and Great Bend Borough saying that they would be willing to participate in the Bridging Communities Program.
There was no new news on the permit issue with Donna Fekettes sign. Edwin Nelson requested a permit to build a garage, which was granted. Ira Foot was granted a permit to rebuild his two story porch. Joe Kovitch received permission to reconstruct his dwelling after it was destroyed by fire.
Kenneth Tingley Trailer Park, Harmony Village Trailer Park, and Summerville Land Development are all ongoing sewage issues. The Supervisors did pass a revised version of their Holding Tank Ordinance. Fees were set for the ordinance at one hundred sixty dollars per permit.
The Township received two notices from the Assessment Office. One notice covered exonerations, while the other notice covered listing of real estate.
Jim Banko gave a short speech regarding the Agricultural Security Area and its ability to keep large organizations from dumping low level nuclear waste in certain areas of Susquehanna County. He firmly recommends all landowners in Susquehanna County to join this effective program.
The Voter Registrar sent a form requesting information on any office that will be up for election during the primaries.
The Great Bend Township boundary line, code violations against Hornish, Slocum, and Dixon, the situation with Interstate Burlap and Bag, and the Graham Hollow Road subsidence are all ongoing old business.
Under new business, the Supervisors passed a resolution to hire Pennypacker welding to apply a truck plow frame to the grader, and to purchase one load of state approved cinders, for evaluation, from Donald Burns Construction.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
The Montrose Borough Council had its first regular meeting of the new year on January 6, where it tackled a very full agenda. With the large dump of snow over the holidays, one of those items was the report of street foreman Ken DiPhillips. DiPhillips, who was not present at the meeting, nevertheless sent in a succinct, one-page written report which consisted of the following: "Plowed Snow. Plowing More Snow."
And while Council president Craig Reimel thought that the road crew took care of the streets as best they could, considering that the big snow fell on Christmas Day and in greater quantities than anticipated, this view was not shared by audience member Joel Maxey. Acknowledging that a holiday is a bad time for bad weather when people want to be with their families, Maxey added that he couldnt understand why they [the crew] werent out the whole day. He reported that the plow truck was just plowing the parking area at the borough building at 5:45 in the afternoon, before going out to take care of the streets. "That storm was predicted," Maxey said, "and I feel that its deplorable. If an ambulance had to get down to someone in the development, it would have been a fine kettle of fish because the borough plow didnt hit the streets until 5 oclock."
For his part, Reimel noted that maybe it would have been simpler for Montrose to declare a state of emergency, as the state did when it shut down major interstates and other highways. The plan in the morning, he noted, was for the crew to take care of the intersections and put down anti-skid by noon, and then plow around 5. Unfortunately, Reimel noted, the brunt of the storm occurred after noon. He acknowledged that two-wheel drive vehicles were having a hard time, but that he saw 4-wheel drive vehicles getting around.
Montrose businessman Jack Otto made a special plea to Council, which began by recounting that his building was vandalized for the second time this year with a big window being kicked out in the most recent occurrence. "I know its difficult to employ additional police, so Id like to suggest that we look into getting a remote security camera system," said Otto. Otto did some homework, researching various security vendors and speaking with Tri-Guard, which has installed systems for several county schools districts, including Montrose Area. After an informal discussion with a Tri-Guard representative, Otto said that, while there are many options, a system with 8-10 remote cameras and attendant software would run approximately $25,000 to $30,000 first year. Thereafter, annual maintenance would be about $1,200. Otto compared this with the far greater cost of employing security people.
"The camera is there day and night. Its reliable. Its a good deterrent to vandalism and other crime. And it provides hard evidence if and when there is any criminal mischief going on," said Otto, who thought that such a system could work for downtown as well as borough parks.
As to who could monitor the cameras, Otto wondered if something could be worked out with the County 911 dispatchers office, which is open around the clock. "If they see something going on, they could contact the appropriate people." He noted that monitoring could even be set up over the Internet, with someone monitoring the cameras from home.
"I hope you can do something," Otto said. "Im getting tired of fixing broken glass. Its getting very expensive. If you expect people in town to take care of their property, I think you also have to make sure that its not vandalized."
Reimel thought Ottos suggestion was worth looking at. "Besides Council," he said, "I would like to talk to the Restoration Committee [which has an avid interest in attracting and keeping business in downtown Montrose] to take a look at this, too. Its not getting any tamer and calmer out there," added Reimel, "and I think the suggestion has quite a bit of merit and I would like to pursue it."
CASS president Sherman Wooden was also at the meeting to report on various items Council requested from CASS when it gave the organization a conditional use exemption. Wooden delivered the agreement CASS has with the Presbyterian Church regarding parking accommodations for CASS events. He also reported that a company has been hired to go through the building and report on any problem or lack of it with mold, and what must be done to eradicate it if there is one. Wooden said that once the company finished its inspection, he would report its findings back to Council.
After some discussion about rounding up or down to the nearest nickel, Council voted to set wages and salaries for all borough employees [except for one, who is still in a probationary period] at 3 per cent higher than their current rate, with no rounding up or down to a nickel.
It seemed to be a meeting with a lot of visitors, and one of those was Verizon representative Sarah Mayberry, who was there to request a building permit from the Council. The county, which owns the tower near Griffis Street close by the reservoir, requested that Verizon change to a different tower. The new tower will still be the same height (130 feet), and will still be owned by the county. But it will allow Verizon to upgrade its communications lines from analog to digital, greatly improving cell phone service and reception. The current building, or shelter, at the site will also be replaced; however, both the new tower and shelter will be accommodated in the same fenced-in area. Mayberry noted that Verizon rents the tower from the county, and the building from the Lions Club.
With all documentation, surveys, and other necessary paperwork in order and then some Council, in the absence of a codes enforcement officer, voted to issue the requested permit.
In other action, Council reappointed Mary Zalewski and JoAnne Luecke to the Planning Committee, and Don Regan to the Municipal Authority.
Council ended its meeting by going into an Executive Session. The next regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council is scheduled for February 3 at 7 p.m. in the Borough Building.
Lathrop Township Supervisors reorganized at a special meeting called for 6 p.m. on January 6, at the Lathrop Grange Hall. Dennis Phelps was renamed Chairman, Nick Sabuacak is the Vice-Chairman, and Elwood Phelps has taken on being the Roadmaster. The township secretary/treasurer, Ann Marie Shevchek, was given a pay increase. Tim Buttons is the SEO with Ken Lawry named as the alternate in that position. Jim Kahrnak is the Road Foreman. Michael Giangreco of Montrose was named the Township Solictor and the Bank of Record is the Peoples National Bank.
Laborers in the township will receive a $.50 per hour increase in their pay. Paul Cobb will be employed as the grader operator. The monthly supervisors meeting day has been moved to the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., because of timing conflicts with other meetings taking place at the Grange Hall.
After the reorganization, the supervisors reviewed and approved bills for payment after a few minor questions. Shevchek reported the township received $4,720.41 in revenue last month.
Correspondence received covered the State Annual Supervisors Convention; it will take place on April 6 through the 9 this year. Further, the Susquehanna Planning Commission approved the Lazinski Subdivision and an agreement for fire protection was signed with the Springville Fire Company.
Under road reports, Elwood Phelps noted cinder application and plowing was done during the recent large snowfalls. He shared they "survived the storm" that hit on Christmas Day. It was agreed that some roads may need better snow protection treatment. However, it was shared that Road Foreman Kahrnak was out that night taking care of the roads while this meeting was being conducted.
Chairman Phelps noted that he is encouraging comments be appropriate at the meetings from the public in attendance and personal attacks should not be made on the supervisors. Should that behavior become an issue in the future, the meeting may be adjourned.
Sabuacak asked the DEP to look at the drainage problem on new Route #11. It appears the rain run-off is a problem because of the size of the drainpipe in one area. He also commented on his opinion for the need of driveway permits in the township.
Questions were reviewed by Dennis Phelps regarding the new BOCA regulations. It appears that nothing will be in place until the summer of 2003.
A member of the public praised the supervisors in addressing their responsibilities and noted that since they were elected to serve the people of the township, they should be cheered on. There were some questions raised about the age and mileage of some equipment and the maintenance of township funds.
The next monthly meeting of the Lathrop Township supervisors will take place at the Grange Hall, 7 p.m. on February 11.
As required by law, the Harford Supervisors met on the first Monday in January, the 6th, to organize themselves. All three Supervisors were present for the first time since November. The organizational meeting was followed by a normal business meeting, the first of the new year.
The Supervisors didn't change anything in their lineup this year. Rick Pisasik remains in the chair, and Terry Van Gorden is his vice. (Curiously, Mr. Pisasik mispronounced his colleague's name - twice - during the nomination process.) The only significant news coming from the meeting was a slight change in the meeting schedule. Beginning last year, the Supervisors have tried to meet twice a month. Jim Ketterer, however, announced early on that he wouldn't be able to attend the second monthly meeting on a Wednesday. This time he suggested that Tuesdays might work better, so the Supervisors agreed to meet on the second Wednesday of each month (a long tradition in Harford), and on the fourth Tuesday of each month. All meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in the municipal building office on Route 547.
Mr. Van Gorden offered a motion that would change the way the Supervisors are paid for their duties. An ordinance of 1985 pays each Supervisor up to $1,500 per year, or $100 per meeting date. There is no requirement that the Supervisors actually attend or participate in any meeting. Mr. Van Gorden proposed that Supervisors be paid $50 per meeting attended; the annual limit would remain at $1,500. Mr. Van Gorden said that, with two meetings each month, there would be no real change in Supervisors' pay; he would require that Supervisors be paid, however, only for meetings they actually attend.
Mr. Ketterer remarked, probably accurately, despite Mr. Van Gorden's weak protestations, that the measure was aimed at himself. Mr. Ketterer is the only Supervisor who actually receives any compensation. Mr. Pisasik and Mr. Van Gorden have both voluntarily waived their pay.
Clearly, Mr. Van Gorden's proposal would get no support from Mr. Ketterer. Mr. Pisasik also declined to second the motion. But he did suggest that Mr. Van Gorden could offer to change the old ordinance. How that would be different was not clear, but the measure died anyway, and Mr. Van Gorden said that he would research the matter further.
Peoples National Bank will remain the Township's sole funds depository, and Dotty Hagenbuch will remain chair of the vacancy board. Except for the secretary, determination of employees wages was tabled for a month. Mr. Pisasik said that deciding on the wage rates would require an executive session. He did not want to inconvenience observers who might attend, so the executive session will take place at the very beginning of that meeting, on February 12th.
All of that done, the Supervisors turned their attention to a brief agenda for the regular meeting. Having met only a week before, this session might have been shorter than it was. Mr. Ketterer, however, needed to be caught up on some old business. He actually started off by voting against approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, which he did not attend.
Normal business included defining the specifications for bids to be solicited for road materials. Roadmaster Bob Simon requested 15,000 gallons of 32% liquid calcium chloride for dust control. Last year the Township purchased storage tanks and spreading equipment for the material. Requests for stone and a cinder/anti-skid mix were within budgeted limits. The Township will also be soliciting bids to sell its 1972 Ford truck, with mounted spreader, and a 1985 Ford 350 truck, with plow. The Supervisors also set mileage reimbursement at $0.36 per mile.
The Roadmaster also asked for authority to purchase a plow. A new plow would cost $4,000-5,000, but a used one might be had for less than $1,000. Mr. Pisasik directed that if a plow is needed that it could be purchased.
Mr. Ketterer asked for information about the situation on Upper Podunk Road, where a resident had undertaken to maintain the section in front of his own residence at his own expense. This past year that part of the road had suffered from lack of maintenance, and there have been complaints about its condition. Mr. Pisasik said that he was comfortable that the resident intends to fulfill his commitment to keep the road in proper condition.
Mr. Ketterer then asked about the Odd Fellows Hall, in the village. In November he had offered a motion to direct the Township's attorney to draft a measure concerning the disposition of the building. Mr. Van Gorden agreed to the motion; Mr. Pisasik was absent for that vote. A week ago, Mr. Van Gorden was asked about it, at which time he apologized and said that he would take the matter up after the holidays. Now he says that he is having second thoughts and wants to look into the matter further. For his part, Mr. Pisasik said that he would not agree "at this time" to have the building demolished. He called it a "viable building." "I think there's value in that building," said he. Mr. Ketterer said that the consensus of the public meeting held last Fall was to take the building down. Mr. Pisasik agreed that that seemed to be the general feeling. But he said that he would not vote to remove the building until a plan was in place for the future of the property. Mr. Van Gorden said that he is informally soliciting estimates for the renovation of the building.
Mr. Ketterer also asked for the status of the sewer hookup to the Brainard property off Route 547. He had been concerned some months ago that the control panel had been placed on a wooden pole. Mr. Van Gorden said that he has been unable to locate any of the other poles that Mr. Ketterer had mentioned. There was also discussion of the qualifications required by an electrician who connects the control panel to the electrical service at the residence.
Harford began its new year at a traditional, deliberate pace.
Oakland Boro Council began their January 9 meeting discussing an increase in water usage fees, implemented as of January 1. Council president Ron Beavan said that he had found out that the last increase had been put in place in 1994, nearly nine years ago.
Council member Cynthia Beavan suggested that council members should review information regarding the water company that had been included in the feasibility study conducted in 1999, when the boro was considering a merger with Susquehanna Boro. The report, she said, contained a detailed account of the water companys assets and liabilities.
Regarding the increase in usage fees, an audience member commented that boro residents could not have been too concerned about the increase, or they would have attended the council meeting. Mr. Beavan added that no one had attended the meeting held on December 28 to adopt the budget. As for the advertisement, council member Doug Arthur commented that he did not feel it necessary to go to the expense of an advertisement for the sake of a few curious people. Council member Bob VanFleet responded that council has made a practice of advertising such information as a courtesy; it was noted that an ad had been placed in the County Transcript. A motion carried to place an ad in a shopping guide; it did not carry, with two for and three against (council members Jack Agler and Leon Dubanowitz were not present).
In other business, Mr. Beavan reported that he had met with the boros CEO to discuss several ongoing problem properties. One, he said, is a house that had been sold by the county at a tax sale, but the new owner is not expected to take possession until some time in February. The CEO had suggested several steps that the boro could take to secure the property until then, as there had been some concern about its being a hazard; the windows could be boarded up, caution tape and "no trespassing" signs could be placed. After some discussion, a motion carried not to take any action; the motion passed on a vote of two against, three for.
In another case, the CEO had investigated a complaint about household trash on the sidewalk in front of a house on State St., but he was unable to find anything at this time due to recent snowfalls. The CEO will continue to check on the complaint; if the garbage has not been taken care of, he will contact Bob VanFleet, who will issue a citation. Mr. VanFleet will also follow up on a complaint about two trailers on a property in the boro; there was some question as to how many trailers are currently on this site.
The CEO reported that the owner of another property under investigation for violations has cleaned up some, but efforts have been hindered by the snow; he will follow up when weather allows.
In response to questions raised at last months meeting, secretary Cindy Cordner reported that information from the PA State Association of Boros had determined that it is not "legal" for the boro to purchase an ad in Susquehanna Boros memorial Sesquicentennial book; a municipality may purchase such an ad for itself, but not for another municipality.
A meeting has been set for the water committee to work on the water company budget; it will be on Saturday, January 18.
It was reported that Janet Smith has tendered her resignation as collector of water company revenues, as of the end of March. Mrs. Beavan stated that she is interested in the job, and has checked as to whether it is permissible for her to hold this position as well as a council seat; it is. The water committee will determine what the salary will be at the budget meeting on January 18, and will bring their recommendation to council. Mr. Beavan suggested that, as a requirement, a background check should be conducted of any viable candidates.
Council has been informed that there has been a truck using the boro building parking lot. Mrs. Beavan said that it has usually been there only on weekends, but it was recently parked there on a weekday, when parking spaces are needed for the buildings tenant. Mr. VanFleet asked that he be notified the next time it is there, so that he can speak with the owner.
Council discussed whether the boros accounts should be moved to get better interest rates. Mr. Beavan asked if council should ask representatives local banks to make a presentation at a future meeting; it was agreed that Mrs. Cordner should get more information on interest rates and services offered, which council will review at a future meeting before any decision is made.
Mr. Beavan reported that there was some confusion as to who should have the responsibility of clearing the boros fire hydrants of snow; whether it should be done by Leo Fisk, the boros streets employee, or contracted out. It was agreed that roadmaster Jack Agler or assistant roadmaster Chad Crawford should make this determination, and act accordingly.
Mr. VanFleet reported that he had received favorable comments on Mr. Fisks performance during recent snowstorms. He also reported that there has been a dispute of sorts, where a resident has made a rather high pile of snow on his propertys border, causing a problem for his neighbor and blocking the sidewalk. It was agreed to have the CEO check into it.
Mr. VanFleet asked if the boro couldnt require that vehicles be removed from the street when storms are imminent; it used to be the boros practice, he said. Mr. Beavan agreed that it did make plowing difficult when vehicles are left in the street and the plow has to go around them. But, he said, if an ordinance is not enacted, theres not much that can be done about it. Mayor Towner added that he has found, over the years, that most people do move their cars off the streets, but there are some residents who do not have off-street parking. Mr. Beavan asked for suggestions. Mr. VanFleet suggested that those residents who do not have driveways be asked to put them in during warmer weather.
And, Mr. VanFleet reported that he has received a letter of interest from a police officer in another boro who is interested in part-time employment in Oakland. The letter will be kept on file for future reference.
Mayor Towner reported that, after last months meeting, he had given the matter some thought and it was his opinion that the boros auditors should be better compensated for the time involved in their duties. Mrs. Beavan pointed out that the fees paid had been increased from previous years; extra pay had been given last year due to the time that had been involved in that audit, and rates had been increased from what had been paid in prior years. Mr. Beavan said that although council determines the rate of pay, auditors could be paid an hourly rate rather than a fixed fee.
During public comment, Mr. Fisk was again complimented for his performance during recent bad weather; it was, the speaker said, the best the roads have ever been.
Another audience member asked what the procedure is in the event of a catastrophe; is there any place for people to go? Mr. Beavan said that council member Leon Dubanowitz, who has agreed to be the boros emergency management coordinator, is at work on a plan that would include a destination if the obvious choice, the boro building, was not feasible.
Another question was in regard to committees for various areas within the boro; are there such committees, and who is on them? Mr. Beavan said that some committees are in place, but some are not due to lack of interest. Some of these committee positions need not be filled only by council members, and could be filled by residents. Mrs. Beavan pointed out that some committees, such as parks and recreation, would not necessarily have reports to give at every meeting as most of their activity would be during the summer months.
In answer to a question, Mrs. Beavan said that the building committee is looking into grant funding for improvements to the boro building.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, February 13, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Zina Tripp submitted her formal resignation of her seat on the Hop Bottom Borough Council citing scheduling conflicts with her responsibilities for the Borough. She hoped that Charles Gilmore from whom she took the recent election by one vote would accept this position. The council has started resolution proceedings to cover this action for Gilmore.
There was no police report submitted to Mayor Paul Henry for last month's police activities. However, Henry noted that it appeared that Chief Cosklo had been very busy.
President Janice Webster announced that a watershed meeting that is open to the public is scheduled on January 23, at 7 p.m. However, since that is a Thursday evening and the work night for the Hop Bottom Hose Company at the fire hall, other arrangements may have to be made.
Letter will be sent to Canadian Pacific Railroad regarding work for an area adjacent to the culvert. Gilmore will research the proper party to contact.
Activity regarding the acquisition of the Stout property and a grant for the demolition of the house on it is being examined, as well as two bids on the work required.
The grate on the road near Eric Lynn's property was covered with snow plowed off the street. Therefore, no action could be taken regarding it with PENNDOT at this time. A resolution to cover the agreement with PENNDOTs Agility program has been prepared. Snow removal by PENNDOT and Gary Sanauskas was discussed. It was determined some areas of improvement are needed. The light bulb was changed in the blinking light at the intersection of Main and Route #11. The cost exceeded $50.00.
The tax levy in Hop Bottom has remained unchanged since 1991. Taxes continue to be $5.32 mils on property, $.4 mils for fire protection and the Occupation tax is unchanged. Some reorganization information shared at the meeting included Ray David acting as Solicitor, Mike Fortner as SEO, Bank will be Peoples National in Hop Bottom, DGK, who presented insurance cost information that evening, will remain the insurer. Membership in COG will be maintained. Bill Owens will serve as Auditor.
The issue of lights around the pond, particularly at the holidays, is still being examined, as well as remodeling at the Borough Hall. Paul Henry will chair the latter. Eric Lynn will chair the House Renumbering Committee for the Borough to be in compliance with recent emergency plans.
The Hop Bottom Monthly meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of each month at the Municipal Hall on Forest Street at 7:30 PM. Public attendance is welcomed.
The Brooklyn Township Supervisors reorganized with Dan Anthony taking the Chairman seat, Jack Thomas accepted the Vice-Chairman slot and Graham Anthony will serve as the Roadmaster. Linda Spinola will act at the secretary/treasurer and the Emergency Management Coordinator.
COG was named as the SEO for the Township. Sam Lewis will serve as the Township Solicitor.
Jack Bishop, the only full-time employee of Brooklyn Township, will be given five legal holidays, two personal days and three sick leave days and he will be able to take advantage of ten days vacation time. Among the part-timers included on the township payroll are John Bishop, Dan Anthony, Graham Anthony, Joe Bishop, Robert Bishop, Ray Bishop, Justin Thomas, Mitch Fryer, and Jacqueline Thomas. All part-timers will receive $9.50/hr. Chairman of the Vacancy Board is Tom Escandel. Professional Engineers for the Township are John Seaman, or Milnes Engineering or Barry Wheaton.
The Treasurer's Bond coverage will be $150,000.00. All three supervisors are delegates to the PA Convention in the Spring. Banking will be handled through Peoples National, PLGHT, Penn Star and Community Bank and Trust Company. Mileage reimbursement was set at $.32.5 a mile.
Meetings will take place on the third Thursday of each month, 7 p.m. at the municipal building on Maple St. and Route #167. The public is invited.
The Forest City Borough Council last week tabled action on an open container ordinance that would prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages in any public access property. The proposed law would also make it illegal for any person to have an open container in his possession while driving a motor vehicle.
The ordinance was held up after some council members said the fines outlined in it were too low. First offenders would be fined $50 plus court costs; second offenders $100 plus costs; and $300 plus costs for a third offense. The court also has the option of jailing an offender who cannot pay the fine. Borough Solicitor Robert Field will present a revised ordinance at the next meeting.
The ordinance defines public access property as any public street, alley, sidewalk, park, playground, ball field, recreation area, commons or parking lot. It also includes any private parking lots open to public use.
Councilman Paul J. Amadio expressed concern about how the new law would impact on family reunions or picnics at Kennedy Park.
"Any kind of family event at Kennedy Park would have to be dry," Mr. Amadio said.
Other council members said that the ordinance is primarily aimed at the downtown area and, more specifically, during the annual Old Home Week Celebration.
Borough Solicitor Robert Fields said that alcoholic beverages are already prohibited at Kennedy Park because it is a federally funded project. He said if they receive any complaints, the police should respond and enforce the law.
Mr. Amadio said passing the ordinance would continue the borough practice of selective law enforcement. He said the police would enforce the ordinance downtown but would not enforce it elsewhere in the borough unless someone complains.
In response to a question, Mr. Fields said the beer stand at the Old Home Week celebration would have to be fenced and proper identification would be required to enter it.
In another enforcement matter, Council agreed to increase meter fines from the current two dollars to four dollars with an extra dollar added if the fine is not paid within 48 hours. The fine for other illegal parking violations will also increase from five dollars to $10.
Council passed a motion that requires borough employees to work 40 hours a week before they qualify for overtime pay. In the past, an employee received overtime pay if he worked more than eight hours in a given day, even if he did not work 40 regular hours during that particular week.
Council members Mary Twilley and Bernard Scalzo Jr. were appointed to a committee that will research and make a recommendation on whether the borough should prepare its own set of bylaws or adopt Roberts Rules of Order as the method of running council meetings and borough business according to parliamentary procedure.
Councilman Jim Lowry asked council to consider enforcing the boroughs alternate side of the street parking ordinance during winter months. He said it would help to keep the streets clean and would eliminate some problems with residents who will not move their cars when they are asked.
"We should enforce all ordinances relating to snow removal," Mr. Lowry said. His comments drew support from Mr. Amadio but the rest of the council did not respond to his request.
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