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Issue Home January 21, 2003 Site Home

Blue Ridge Board Recognizes Self
Susky Boro Turning Corner
Important Meeting In Clifford
Court House Report
Gibson Barracks Report
MASD Wants Public At Special Meeting
Elk Board Considers Projects
SCHS Recognizes Students
Quick Meeting At Mt. View
Starrucca Borough Council Minutes
Brooklyn Has Short Meet
Cyber School Coming To Area?
Susky High Gets State Fund Return

January is National School Board Recognition Month, a time to give some credit to the elected representatives who oversee our schools. There are six school districts in Susquehanna County. Each of them has a board of nine members. Each of them spends in the neighborhood of $10-12 million per year. That's 54 people responsible for a total of more than $60 million, or over $1 million apiece. They deserve recognition - or at least scrutiny - as well as the respect of those who have entrusted so many dollars to them. At the close of their first meeting of 2003 on January 13, the Blue Ridge School Board gave itself a pat on the back, and rewarded itself with cake and coffee.

They must have been in a hurry to get at the refreshments, because the meeting itself was a short one for this Board. In barely more than a half hour they disposed of nearly a month's worth of business, paying bills, hiring substitute teachers, approving policy changes and a textbook, all routine matters that might have put Chris Lewis to sleep if it had gone longer. Mr. Lewis is co- President of the High School Student Council and sat at the table representing the student body. It was noted that Mr. Lewis was himself recognized recently, being named a Channel 12 Scholar-Athlete.

Michael Thornton, Principal in the High School, reported on preparations for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) writing exam, scheduled for February. He described for Board members how he proposes spending some $15,300 his school received for performance gains on the PSSA exams in 2000, some of which will go to purchase coaching materials for the PSSA itself, sort of an earnings reinvestment.

Every little bit of income is welcome. District Superintendent Robert McNamara opened the budget season a bit early when he told Board members that the state is expected to demand an increase of 300% in teacher pension contributions from local school districts next year. Last year, when the state announced a 500% increase to help replenish a fund depleted by the stock market declines, the hue and cry was so loud that the state backed off some. It now looks like they're going to make up for lost time. Mr. McNamara also noted the establishment of yet another cyber-charter school that could siphon off some Blue Ridge students - and the subsidy funds that go with them.

They don't always have cake, but the Blue Ridge School Board may have coffee available at its next meeting, a workshop, beginning at 7:30 p.m., on January 27 in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.

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Susky Boro Turning Corner

Susquehanna Boro council met on January 14 with all members present, as well as mayor Roberta Kelly, secretary Margaret Biegert, CEO Shane Lewis and several audience members.

During public comment, the owners of the Laurel Hill apartments requested an exemption from yearly inspections required by the boro’s renters’ ordinance. The apartments already undergo yearly inspections by the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the state Dept. of Labor and Industry, and HUD. And, whenever a tenant moves, the Housing Authority conducts an inspection; HUD also conducts intermittent inspections. After discussion, a motion carried to exempt Laurel Hill from the boro’s inspection, contingent on the boro being provided with documentation of inspection. Mr. Lewis noted that, when the international code goes into effect it might be mandatory for municipalities to conduct their own inspections. "At that point, we’ll have to inspect," he said.

Audience member John Sholtiss asked if a list of points addressed by the boro inspections was available. It would, he said, save time and money, and avoid re-inspection. "By law we could enforce the whole code," Mr. Lewis responded, "we’re just looking for the basics."

In other business, under finance, a motion carried to choose a garbage hauler for the boro building; cost will be about $22.75 per month for two or three cans a week; recyclables are included.

At Mrs. Biegert’s request, a motion carried to allow keeping budgeted amounts going into special accounts in the general fund, for easier bookkeeping.

Council member Todd Glover noted that heating oil for the boro building has not been put out to bid this year; a motion carried to advertise for bids.

In keeping with the 2003 budget, Mayor Kelly suggested that council pass a resolution that no department overspend their yearly budget. The 2003 financial plan, she said, is based on a budget designed to allow for future capital improvement projects for the borough, while paying debts quicker than anticipated. She noted that council had previously discussed this topic; a motion carried to pass the resolution.

Mayor Kelly also requested that a salary board be set up to oversee the different departments. The board’s main function would be to oversee employee salaries, present contracts as well as job descriptions, benefits and work progress. The board should meet three or four times a year and include members of the business and/or banking community as well as a member of council. Council would ultimately have decisions concerning hiring and firing and final approval of decisions made by the board. This topic, she said, had also been discussed earlier; after some discussion, a motion carried to set up a salary board.

The mayor’s report also included an overview of projected improvement plans for 2003. The scenic byway application will be completed and the byway committee will continue to work with all the townships to draw tourists to the area.

The mayor will attend the next River Bounty meeting on January 21, to discuss the possibility of the boro acquiring 18 acres of land near the river. In the event the boro does acquire the land, grant funding would be sought to develop a recreational area.

The vascar has been calibrated and the police department computer has been upgraded and a new printer purchased. Police overage was determined at budget time and will be followed for 2003. Scheduling is set up monthly and council members were provided with this month’s schedule.

The cell tower contract has been signed, council is waiting for further word.

The mayor concluded her report by saying, "The spring and summer are going to bring many great changes; this will truly be our turning point as a community. The 150-year celebration will make Susquehanna ‘the town to come home to.’" She added that the Sesquicentennial committee is working hard on plans for this summer’s celebration. "Susquehanna is certainly turning the corner, it is exciting for me to see."

Under new business, a motion carried to purchase the Brown property on Franklin Ave. for $175; once the transaction is complete, council’s plans are to demolish the building. The demolition would be funded through funds allocated in the codes budget.

Another property was discussed, a condemned structure on Prospect St. Mrs. Biegert reported that it is currently owned by the Tax Claim Bureau; the bureau is willing to sell the property to the boro for $1, but because it is part of an estate, an appraisal is needed. Mrs. Biegert has made inquiries to see if perhaps the county commissioners and the tax bureau will authorize using blight money for demolition; no response had been received as of the date of the meeting.

Mr. Glover requested that council consider reestablishing the streets committee meeting, which used to be held on the fourth Wednesday of every month so that they could hold their own, separate meeting rather than including streets in the regular council meeting. It would, he said, make it easier to discuss things, such as spending more time on future plans, and development of projects. Council member John Bronchella agreed, saying, "I think we did better when it was a separate meeting." Council member Tom Kelly responded that the change had been made so that the entire council could be involved. Council member Roy Williams suggested that council members on the streets committee should go out, see what projects the streets department is working on, and report to council; committee members would have a better chance to discuss projects and get input. "I think it would be beneficial," he said, and would increase communication. A motion carried to reinstate the streets committee. At president Ron Whitehead’s suggestion, a committee was immediately appointed; Roy Williams, Todd Glover and Bill Kuiper will serve.

Mr. Kuiper reported that zoning board meetings have been held, but due to one member being injured and another being out of town, it has been difficult. At his request, a motion carried to appoint two alternates; some suggestions of possible candidates were made; Mr. Kelly said that one person has already expressed interest.

The meeting adjourned to discuss a legal matter and a personnel issue.

The next meeting will be on January 28, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.

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Important Meeting In Clifford

The Clifford Township Board of Supervisors will hold one its most important meetings in recent years –a public hearing on the township’s updated sewer plan– at 5:30 p.m. (Wednesday, Jan. 22) today in the municipal building off Route 106.

The hearing will focus on the updating of the township’s Act 537 Plan that was recently completed by the engineering firm of David D. Klepadlo & Associates. The Act requires municipalities to develop and implement comprehensive plans for resolving sewage disposal problems and to provide for the future sewage disposal needs of the municipality.

"We urge all residents to attend this meeting," Supervisor Randy LaCroix said.

Mr. Klepadlo will be on hand to field questions relating to the plan and the township’s sewerage needs.

The update includes a plan to sewer the township’s portion of Crystal Lake. Early estimates on the cost of the project may be projected but realistic figures cannot be calculated unless or until he gets township authorization to proceed beyond the Act 537 update.

Mr. Klepadlo is expected to discuss a number of alternate ways the township could sewer the Crystal Lake area. Indications are that the most feasible approach would be to effect an agreement with neighboring Greenfield Township, which has a sewage treatment plant that could accommodate the Crystal Lake area.

Township residents in the Crystal Lake area have been campaigning for a municipal sewer system for years. In some instances they have joined forces with Fell Township residents who also live on or near the lake in an effort to convince both townships that tests reveal some portions of Crystal Lake are already polluted. They emphasize that the future of the lake is contingent upon a sewer system that will end the pollution.

The hearing was originally scheduled for last November but was canceled while the township gathered more information relevant to financing the project.

The last updating of Clifford Township’s Act 537 Program was completed in 1986. By state standards, it is long overdue. To assist local municipalities in fulfilling their responsibilities, the state Department of Environmental Protection provides technical and financial assistance. Clifford Township expects to be reimbursed for one-half of the cost of updating its sewer plan.

Also at its last meeting, John Regan, the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors, was returned as chairman and police commissioner. Mr. LaCroix will continue as vice chair and secretary-treasurer, and Supervisor Adam Barone will remain as roadmaster.

In other matters at the reorganization, Paul Peterson was reappointed township solicitor and the Community Bank & Trust Co. remains as the township’s depository. CBT recently completed construction of a new bank in the township and will have a grand opening celebration in the Spring.

The Susquehanna County Transcript was named one of the township’s legal newspapers and the board will continue to hold its regular meetings on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

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Court House Report


Alan R. Logan, Jr., 31, Kirkwood, NY, and Tammy L. Schaefer, 37, Kirkwood, NY.

Troy J. Henke, 34, New Milford Township, and Imelda Sapa Baga-an, 23, New Milford Township.

Benjamin J. Radley, 23, Bradley, WV, and Chelsea D. Decker, 20, Windsor, NY.


Linda Dovin and William Dovin to Lawrence Ira Offenberg and Heather Marie Offenberg in Forest City Borough for $1.

Barbara Gentile, Executrix of the Estate of Viola R. Yessen to Joe M. Petrilak and Kristen Petrilak in Forest City Borough for $32,000.

Lloyd Benscoter and Beverly Benscoter to Jason D. Benscoter and Holly Jayne Benscoter in Auburn Township for $1.

Mary Ann Krushnowski, Nicole Krushnowski, Michele Vella and Jenna Mary Vella Krushnowski to Mary Ann Krushnowski and Jenna Mary Vella Krushnowski in Auburn Township for $1.

Christine L. Schaffer to Paul M. Schaffer in Harford Township for $1.

John E. Butler and Mary J. Butler to Lawrence Lyons in Apolacon Township for bluestone mining operation.

Richard J. Araskewitz to David J. Koch and Lynne G. Koch in Bridgewater Township for $189,000.

Robert H. Kopeck and Kenneth J. Kopeck to GPU Energy in Harmony Township for easement.

Russell G. Clevenger and Veronica Mattice-Clevenger to GPU Energy in Harmony Township for easement.

Warner A. Burdick Jr., and Kim T. Burdick to GPU Energy in Harmony Township for easement.

Barbara J. Buselli to Sandy A. Buselli in Lenox Township for $1.

The Bible League to Thomas J. Shields and Jennie P. Shields and James E. Shields and Pamela G. Shields in Liberty Township for $25,000.

Ruth A. Willson to Bryan C. Bendock and Patricia A. Bendock in Franklin Township for $20,000.

Kurt Jonach and Herta Jonach to R. Curtis Althouse and Ellen F. Althouse in Clifford Township for $1 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $2,717.22).

R. Curtis Althouse and Ellen F. Althouse to Kurt Jonach and Herta Jonach in Clifford Township for $1 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $3,019.13).

Kurt Jonach and Herta Jonach to Kurt Jonach and Gerta Jonach in Clifford Township for $1.

R. Curtis Althouse and Ellen F. Althouse to R. Curtis Althouse and Ellen F. Althouse in Clifford Township for $1.

Kurt Jonach and Herta Jonach to Michael Charzuk and Nanci Charzuk in Clifford Township for $100,000.

Bondelyn Hope Smith as Attorney in Fact for W. Sumner Spencer and as Attorney in Fact for L. Jeanne Spencer to Walter Ackley and Kathleen Ackley in Thompson Borough for $15,000.

David E. Pinker and Geraldine Pinker to William Colt Stewart and Margley Stewart in Jackson Township for $4,000.

Richard C. Blume, Jr. to Emanuele Bencivenga in Ararat Township for $15,000.

Christine Greiner and George Greiner to Jason R. Buchanan in Harmony Township for $12,000.

Francis A. Lista to Katherine M. Lista in Clifford Township for $1 ogvc.

Judith A. Wambold to Lloyd W. Wambold in Middletown Township for $1 ogvc.

William J. Kane and Frances A. Kane to Martin J. Kane and Eileen M. Kane and Maureen E. Mattimore and John Mattimore and Thomas M. Kane and Mary Kane and William J. Kane, Jr. and Margaret Kane in Silver Lake Township for $1.

Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Homeside Lending, Inc. in Bridgewater Township for $1,192.20.

Joyce E. Stark aka Joyce E. Stark-Krisko to Albert Marinacci and Richard E. Gregorski in New Milford Township for $61,500.

Violet Sivers aka Violet E. Sivers to Garry E. Mancini and Cynthia A. Mancini in Jessup Township for $76,000.

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Gibson Barracks Report


On December 18 at 4:50 p.m., Heather A. Hughes, 19, Ronkonkoma, NY, was traveling north on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, and drove onto the median and rolled over, sustaining minor injury.


Paige Benware, Binghamton, NY, was traveling north on State Route 171, Great Bend Township, when she lost control of her 1998 Chevy Cavalier while negotiating a curve, striking a guide rail and embankment. No injuries were reported in this January 12 incident.


Scott Groover, 36, New Milford, crashed into a fence surrounding the children's park at Church & Broad Street, New Milford Borough, and fled the scene. An investigation revealed his identity and he faces several charges, according to the police report of this December 14 incident.


Douglas Wilcox, S. Montrose, was traveling southeast on Darrow Hill Rd., Bridgewater Township, in a 1991 Dodge and struck, head on, a 1993 Ford driven by Karina Godfrey, Binghamton, NY, who was traveling northwest on the same road. Road conditions were icy. No injuries were reported in this January 11 incident.


Someone pumped $20 of regular gas into a black Ford Bronco at the Pump & Pantry, State Route 92, Lenox Township, on January 11 at 9:05 p.m., then failed to pay for it. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police.


On January 10, officials of Blue Ridge School, New Milford Township, found a small amount of marijuana on a 15-year old male. According to the report, he will be charged with violating the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act through Susquehanna County Juvenile Probation.


Richard Stone, Montrose, pulled out from a stop on State Route 1043 into the path of another vehicle driven by Colleen Morris, Brackney, on State Route 29, Bridgewater Township, on December 20 at 7:00 a.m. No injuries were reported.


Between 6:00 p.m. on January 7 and 7:30 the next morning, someone tried to pry open the rear dock door at Ainey's Market, Route 29, Springville, but did not get into the store. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police, Gibson, at 570-465-3154.


Joseph McGraw, 22, Forest City, was traveling north on State Route 247, Clifford Township, and lost control of his 1993 Chevy Blazer while attempting to avoid a deer which had wandered out onto the roadway. His vehicle left the roadway then went back across both lanes and struck a concrete pillar belonging to John Pelick, Forest City. McGraw received minor injury in this January 9 incident.


A 15-year old male was found in possession of a small amount of suspected marijuana at Montrose High School on January 9. According to the report the juvenile will be charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance.


At 8:00 a.m. on January 9, someone pumped gasoline into a black SUV at the Pump & Pantry, State Route 11, New Milford Borough, and fled the scene without making payment.


Driving a 2000 Volvo tractor trailer, Sammy K. Barnett, 47, Somerset, was not injured when he failed to negotiate a right curve on Interstate 81, Lenox Township. The unit jack-knifed and struck a guide rail. The incident occurred on January 3 at 11:40 p.m.


M. Breeds, Cortland, NY, pulled into State Route 29, from State Route 3029, Bridgewater Township, into the path of another vehicle operated by Richard Birchard, Springville. No one was injured in this December 11 incident.


On January 8 at 12:48 p.m., a white male, approximately 5'8", 170 pounds, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and white sneakers, entered the Lenox branch of Pennstar Bank (at the intersection of State Routes 106 and 92) and presented two tellers with plastic shopping bags. He requested that they fill the bags with cash. The tellers complied and the man fled the scene in a stolen 1992 grey, Buick LeSabre bearing the PA registration DWE-0392, traveling east on State Route 106.

There was no weapon displayed. The incident is currently being investigated by the PA State Police and FBI. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police, Gibson, at 570-465-3154.


Between 1:00 p.m. on January 6 and 10:00 a.m. the next morning, someone removed a Honda electric generator and a portable oil fired space heater from a stone quarry located in Little Meadows Borough, near the Bradford County line. The items belonged to Rodney Brace, RD 4, Montrose. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.

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MASD Wants Public At Special Meeting

It’s become something of a tradition for the Montrose Area School Board to hold its first meeting of the new year at the Choconut Valley Elementary School. Part of that tradition includes a reception by the District PTO, as a way of thanking the Board for their efforts on behalf of District kids. So, before the monthly meeting began, directors (with the exception of Sean Brown who was unable to attend) and audience members enjoyed a great buffet and cake, courtesy of the PTO.

The Board also uses its January meeting to appoint members to various committee (building and grounds, curriculum, personnel, and so forth) chairs and memberships. Basically, those who chaired and sat on these committees during 2002 will do the same for 2003.

As we’ve been reporting over the last several months, Highland Associates has been conducting a needs-assessment study for the District, and reporting on their findings throughout the whole process. The final study is due soon, and, holding true to a promise made at the outset of it, the Board wants the public to know what it contains.

Thus, the Board has scheduled a meeting specifically for Highland Associates’ presentation of the final report, to which the public is invited and encouraged to attend. The meeting will be held on February 7, 6:30 p.m. at the Junior/Senior High School.

As for the good things that have happened lately in the District, superintendent Mike Ognosky was pleased to give Board vice president Celeste Ridler a certificate on behalf of the Pennsylvania School Board Association for her work towards the betterment of education in the community. Ognosky also presented director Jim Blachek and president Ken Gould with "boardsmanship pins," again on behalf of PSBA, who honored the two for their contributions to the group’s legislative committee. To give an idea of how prestigious these recognitions are, Ognosky likened them to "school board academy awards."

The Board’s agenda always includes items from its members. Director Mary Homan reminded the group that the Choconut school is still collecting Campbell’s soup can labels, which it can exchange for athletic and other needed equipment. Lathrop is also collecting the soup labels, which led Gould to request that this information be put on the District website, which it will be.

For his part, Blachek noted that he and Ognosky will soon be attending a PSBA legislative meeting in Harrisburg, which will include a discussion with Governor Rendell.

In other business, the board approved the payment of bills submitted and the minutes of last month’s meeting, work session and finance committee meeting. It voted to accept the resignation of Nathan Lewis as assistant track coach, and the appointment of Charlotte Sherwood to that position at a salary of $1,450, beginning with the spring sports season. Ognosky read a letter from Mr. Powers, requesting an increase in the District track coaches from five to six, and making a strong case for this action. Powers noted that the District operates four separate track and field teams and oftentimes coaches have to fill in as officials because there has been a shortage of them at some events. He noted that in 2002, 100 students participated in teams that competed in 18 events at the varsity level. This was an increase from prior years. With the new facilities, Powers expects the number of participants to increase further. Beyond that, he noted other schools in the Lackawanna League that the District competes in have more coaches.

The Board agreed with Powers’ case, and approved a new and additional assistant track coach position, beginning with the spring sports season.

In personnel matters, it voted to employ Joseph Clary as a full-time night custodian at the junior-senior high school at $7.50 an hour, with support staff fringe benefits and effective immediately. Director Gow abstained from the vote on this position, with all other Board members present voting for it. All members voted to employ Nancy Porter as a cook at the high school at $8.56 per hour, with support staff fringe benefits, effective January 6, 2003. Previously, Porter filled an open position, and got credit for that in her rate of pay.

Two teachers were hired by the District as well. These are Anne Mory as a full-time science teacher at the high school, at annual salary of $35,966 plus fringe benefit package; and Heather Force, as a full-time sixth-grade teacher at Lathrop Street Elementary School, at an annual salary of $36,820 with fringe benefits. Because Force is in the second year of substituting for this position (previously held by Ferdinand Bistocchi), she gets credit for this experience/service in her rate of pay.

Because of so much snow at the end of last year and beginning of this year, resulting in quite a number of snow days, the Board also voted to make up two of these inclement weather closings on January 20 (Martin Luther King Day) and February 17 (President’s Day).

And, in short order, this short meeting was adjourned. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Montrose Area School Board is February 14, 6:30 p.m. at the Choconut Valley Elementary School.

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Elk Board Considers Projects

Two big ticket items will be advertised by Elk Lake School District, although they aren't in the current budget.

The last of the four boilers is having problems, and the estimate to fix it is over $16,000. It has already had over $14,000 in repairs since its installation in 1985. A new boiler, according to Superintendent William Bush, is estimated to cost around $70-80,000. Advertising will be done so that if a reasonable bid comes in, the boiler could be installed this summer. The three other boilers are keeping the school warm.

Replacement of the tennis courts will also be explored, plus the addition of one new court. This project may cost $100,000. Board members at the January 13th meeting suggested that because the courts are beyond repair due to the location and lack of drainage, perhaps a different location may be better. The current courts are about 30 years old, and the base under them has eroded causing un-repairable cracks to the surface.

Louis Hawley, representing the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau, appeared before the board asking them to consider investing in a milk vending machine for after school hour use. Milk is currently not available, and Hawley as chair of the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau Milk Vending Initiative Committee has "set a desired goal of placing of milk vending machines in our County School Districts."

Each school in the county has received communication from the Farm Bureau and according to Hawley, Mountain View has already said they'd like two machines. The schools will be asked to purchase the machines, and Hawley hopes the Farm Bureau through grants and fund raising can reimburse schools for 50 percent of the costs of the machines.

Noting that children need more essential calcium in their diets, one way is to give them a choice of beverages. More modern packaging, in plastic bottles, makes different flavored milks a good choice. Hawley is suggesting a Dixie Narco milk vending machine which can handle up to 45 different products with 45 different prices. The machine will hold a total of 360 units, and 300 units of milk a week would make the machine pay for itself.

Machines cost about $4500, and Hawley says there may be $1000 in grant money. After its purchase, he believes the machine should pay it's own way with any profits going to the cafeteria, if they agree to oversee its operation. Currently, Leggs Dairy is supplying the school with its dairy products, and they could supply 11 different types/brands/flavors of milk.

Hawley would like to see Elk Lake be the first to get a machine, and would especially like to have the board decide positively in time for Dairy Day, which is March 7. He expects a machine to be at the event, but would prefer it to be the schools own machine.

The board's main concern seemed to be a problem with their current contract with Pepsi, which may exclude other drinks from being make available. Pepsi also contributes other things, such as scoreboards to the school for their exclusive contract. Board President Arden Tewksbury said, "Let's wait until we hear from our good friends at Pepsi."

Jack Sible echoed other opinions, "I'd love to see it, but we have to check with Pepsi."

Hawley said that although they'd like to see only milk in the machine since the Farm Bureau would be raising funds to cover half the costs, they'd negotiate with other possibilities such as bottled water offered by Pepsi, if that would help.

In other business, two teachers were given permanent contracts (tenure): Michelle Oakes and Rita Spila. The Key Club was given approval of funds of $1191 for four officers to travel to Hershey for the state convention. Dave Coddington will be the CDL instructor with a pay of $55 for the testing and $10 an hour for driving instruction.

Tax collectors will receive $3.05 for each real estate bill collected, and 80 cents for each per capita bill. Uncollected bills will be paid at $1.50 for real estate and 40 cents for per capita.

The school physician has recommended that the school stop doing the tuberculosis skin testing every three years, as the test should be kept for hi-risk populations only. It will be deliberated further at the next regular board meeting.

A special meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the library on January 27 to discuss personnel matters only. It is also the night when a meal is given to board members to recognize their service since it is Board Recognition Month.

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SCHS Recognizes Students

The Susquehanna Community School board met on January 15 with all members present, with the exception of Jack McMahon.

The minutes of the December 4 meeting were approved; the treasurer’s report was approved with only one dissenting vote, from Jack Downton. The general fund bills were approved. Business manager Ray Testa asked the board to pay particular attention to increased costs for special ed. services; this year’s costs are projected to increase considerably. The food service report was approved, as were the activity fund and athletic fund reports. Board member Mary Wescott asked about one item on the activity fund list, a balance of $1,000 for elementary student council. Elementary Principal Bob Keyes said that there had not been an elementary student council for the past two years; if the council was not re-started, the balance would go into an active account.

In recognition of their time and effort, at Superintendent Stracka’s recommendation, the board approved a proclamation declaring January as School Director Recognition Month.

High School Principal Mike Lisowski introduced student council advisor Stacy Megivern, who thanked the board for their support. The student council, she said, has been able to attend conferences, hold pep rallies to raise school enthusiasm, and a list of other activities. When speaking with advisors from other districts, she has been told of how many problems those districts have as far as support from their boards. Because this board supports student council, students are learning that good leaders are important in their community.

Mr. Keyes reported that elementary students will be participating in a "justice challenge" in recognition of Martin Luther King. This year, all of the elementary teachers will be participating. Acts of kindness performed by students will be recognized, recorded and posted in the LGI room. The program, he said, coordinates nicely with the (anti) bullying program previously implemented, and teaches character education and leadership.

Mr. Lisowski cited a recent newspaper article highlighting the need for skilled labor. In keeping with this idea, he was pleased to introduce two district students who are attending the county career and technology center; Kim Harris, who is studying cosmetology and Aaron Benson, who is studying building trades. Both students were commended for placing first in the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America District I competition, which was held on December 17; their achievement makes them eligible to represent the district in statewide competition. Mr. Lisowski commented that the faculty is extremely proud of both students. "We hear nothing but good reports," he said, which makes the district "look good."

Mr. Testa was pleased to report that municipalities within the district had done an excellent job keeping the streets plowed after several recent snowstorms, making it easier for buses to travel their routes. There was a question about a turnaround in Starrucca; Mr. Testa said that the state will not plow it as it is private property. Mr. Downton said that he used to keep it clear as a courtesy, but has been unable to continue doing so. Mr. Testa added that he has asked if Starrucca Boro could clear this area, with the district reimbursing the cost, but he had received a negative response.

Under new business, the board approved a six-year professional teachers’ contract covering the school years from 2003-04 through 2008-09. The contract includes two added in-service days each year; a yearly salary increase of 3.58%; an increase in Blue Shield deductible, to $100; an increase in major medical deductible, to $100; and an increase in prescription co-pay to $10 and $25. Mr. Downton abstained from voting on this issue, saying that adequate information had not been made available. Mr. Stracka responded that negotiations had been underway since October, and had been discussed at work sessions since then; after a short discussion, the board approved the contract, with Mrs. Wescott voting against.

The board approved filing the 2001-02 audit report as submitted by the district’s auditor, Parente Randolph. Cary McMahon, representing Parente Randolph, gave a brief overview of the auditors’ findings, with favorable comments about several aspects contained in the budget. Last year, the board had expressed concern about the cafeteria funds as this area had been operating at a loss; Mr. McMahon said that the loss in this fund had been greatly reduced; a price increase in meals had been implemented since then. The funds are being monitored.

The board approved accepting and implementing a testamentary trust from Peter Fiaschi to establish a Mariano and Maria Lampazzi Fiaschi nursing scholarship fund. Mr. Stracka said that Peter Fiaschi, the son of the people named in the scholarship, was retired from the US Navy; during his career, he had worked at Bethesta Naval Hospital. The district has been given $130,000 to fund the scholarship, which will be given to students who are pursuing a nursing career, in the amount of $4,000 each year. A committee has been set up to oversee the scholarship; it consists of a district guidance counselor, a citizen, a doctor, and a director of nursing.

The board approved an intent to retire from Paul Britten, secondary foreign language/English teacher, effective June 30.

Additions to the substitute list were approved: Jennifer Rockwell, Peter Supko and Robin Burdick, emergency certification; Lisa Allen, Sharon Cobb, Thomas Ballard, George Lehoczky, Williams Jenkins and Robert Wayman, non-instructional. Board member Johnine Barnes asked if these candidates had applied to these positions as a result of advertising, or if they were (walk-in) applicants. Mr. Stracka responded that the district pretty much accepts applications from whoever applies, unless there is knowledge that an applicant would not be acceptable. In most cases, applicants are looking for employment as substitutes, which would enable them to gain job experience which could aid them when an opening does become available. Rates for substitutes are paid according to contractual agreements with the appropriate department within the district.

One transportation contract change was approved, for bus 14B, effective December 3, 2002. The change, Mr. Testa said, was the result of an additional "run" required for students needing transportation to other schools for special needs.

Two district students, Jeremy Boerner and Kaitlin Flor, were introduced to the board; they were present at the meeting to gather information for extra credit reports. In response to a question, Mr. Boerner joked that there could be some improvement in the school lunch program. Board president Joe Bucci asked if a special chef would be required; Mr. Boerner responded, "No, just food we can recognize."

Hiring of the following was approved: Tom Newberry and Allen Lloyd, elementary wrestling, and Dennis Price and Kevin Price (unpaid volunteers); Mark Gerchman, junior varsity baseball coach; Jean Whitmore, elementary aide.

Two homebound instruction requests were approved.

A list of activities and fund-raisers was approved.

The meeting adjourned to an executive session, to discuss non-professional contract negotiations.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, February 19, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.

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Quick Meeting At Mt. View

With the exception of Sondra Stine and John Halupke, all members of the Mt. View School Board were present at their first meeting of the new year on Monday evening, January 13. The only member of faculty present was High School Principal Colin Furneaux. Both Eliza Vagni, High School Assistant Principal and Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal were ill.

Board Member Thomas E. Salansky presented the treasurer and cafeteria reports.

Under Financial Report, Kevin Griffiths noted among other things, fund transfers in his disbursement report of $1,500,510.88. In addition, approval was given to the January General Fund Bill List and Cafeteria Fund Expenses for a total of $271,891.78.

The year end auditor report for the 2001-2002 school year as presented by Vieira, Skiadas, and Co., LLP was approved and accepted.

There was no report from the Legislative, Policy, Negotiations, Transportation and Building and Site Chairs, John Halupke, Bryce Beeman, John Beeman and Tom Salansky, respectively. Ronald Phillips reported Instructional Support Meeting under Negotiations is ongoing.

Field trip attendance was approved for Kathleen Kaczka and Duane Benedict, who will be taking 38 students to the FBLA Regional Competition. Art Chambers, superintendent, and members of the board will attend a Wilkes-Barre conference for board members in February.

Bryce Beeman reported on behalf of Sandra Stine the following approved conference attendance of personnel: George Barbolish, Mary Ann Tranovich, Rae Belle Albeck, Marilyn Jackson, Cheryl Kerr, Katie Holzman, Joni Kopa, Carole Rainey and Linda Whitney.

Calendar revision for the 2002-2003 school year will have students released on a short day on June 13, barring other snow days impacting on the schedule, which already had to include five snow days.

Pending receipt of all documentation Alicia Corbin of Hop Bottom was added as a secretarial substitute. Linda Whitney, Debbie Early, Rae Bell-Albeck were all approved in supplementary salary position play directors.

Volunteer coaches approved for the 2002-2003 school year are: Tim Kinney, Wrestling; Jim Wodock, Boys Basketball, Mary Hvezda, Girls Basketball; James Schaffer and Roger Zapolski, Girls Junior High Basketball and Ray Lasher, Boys Junior High Basketball.

Unpaid medical leave for Debbie Hameza with an effective date of January 2 was approved.

During the second hearing of visitors, suggestions were made concerning fences for the baseball field, a longer length of time provided for hiring of athletic coaches, and special dirt for the baseball field.

The Mountain View School Board meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month in the Elementary School Board Room at 8 p.m. These are open to the public.

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Starrucca Borough Council Minutes

Starrucca Borough Council met on Monday, January 6. Due to a lack of quorum the meeting was rescheduled for Thursday, January 9 at the Starrucca Community Hall. The following members were in attendance: Pete Downton, Andy Bennett, Paul Everett and Lou Gurske. Helen Haynes, Paul Downton, Ruth Lunt and Mayor Wendell Swartz were absent. Pete Downton, council president, presided.

Motion to accept the minutes carried unanimously.

Motion to accept the treasurer’s report and pay the bills carried unanimously.

Correspondence was read. A notice from the PA Association of Boroughs states that the Borough will be celebrating a 150th anniversary in 2003. PSAB would like to present a plaque to recognize this event. After some discussion Council thought the presentation might be tied in with the annual Memorial Day celebration. No decisions were made. Council will address this issue at a later date.

Council was informed of a Homeland Security meeting.

Persons to be Heard – After some discussion it was agreed to open the Community Hall for youth basketball this winter. A motion to waive the user fee for children under 18 carried unanimously. The council will discuss other uses of the hall on a case by case basis for action.

Old Business – Permit form review was tabled. Application for the Community Development Block Grant will include tree trimming, brush cutting and ditch cleaning on Borough Roads, work on the Cemetery Road and Community Hall refurbishing and construction of a new Borough office. Secretary will follow up. Pete Downton will be the contact person for the grant.

There were six late Comprehensive Plan Surveys passed on to the committee making a total of 78 out of 145 surveys returned.

New Business – There was snow and ice damage to the kitchen exhaust fan. Council agreed to purchase and have installed snow deflectors to alleviate the problem in the future. Pete Downton will follow up.

Council was reminded that it needs to appoint two new auditors to complete the 2002 audit before April 1.

Motion to pass the 2003 Tax Ordinance to collect Real Estate Tax in the amount of 15 mills carried unanimously. Tax mills remain the same as the previous year.

Council was reminded that six council seats are open for the next municipal election. Anyone wishing to run for office should contact the Wayne County Board of Elections.

The Borough Secretary/Treasurer regretfully tendered her resignation effective February 28. Anyone interested in the position should contact the Secretary and/or any member of Council. Applicants MUST attend the February 2 council meeting.

Hall – The heater problem in the ladies’ room is still not repaired. Pete Downton will follow up.

Roads – The problem branch on Coxton Lake Road has not been removed. Pete Downton will follow up.

There being no further business meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

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Brooklyn Has Short Meet

All members of the Brooklyn Township Supervisor Team, Dan Anthony, Graham Anthony and Jack Thomas were present at the municipal meeting on January 16.

Linda Spinola, Secretary/Treasurer, reported that there is $72,122.54 as Total All Funds. She noted,as Chair for Brooklyn Township Emergency Management, Graham Anthony has some questions about requirements of the Comm. Center for street addresses and names. He is taking the packet to the township solicitor. The supervisors noted that they wish to have some input into the planning of addresses and mapping. It was about a year ago the entire township posted brand new street signs.

In related business, Jack Thomas made a motion to accept the Emergency Management Plan for the Township as newly proposed.

The supervisors reviewed and discussed the annual Supervisors State Convention, but determined none of them would be able to attend this year.

The Susquehanna County Civil War Monument Restoration Committee sent a thank you for the donation sent by the township towards the restoration work.

Because of an emergency fuel situation with the advent of a local fuel company declaring bankruptcy, fuel was purchased from Ace Robbins.

The Brooklyn Township supervisors meet in the municipal building on the corner of Maple and Route #167 on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

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Cyber School Coming To Area?

Another innovative method of learning is making its way into the mainstream of education in Pennsylvania and appears to be headed our way.

Mrs. Bernice Lukus, superintendent of Forest City Regional Schools, advised the Board of Education last week that she received a letter from a Bradford County group that is planning to establish a cyber-charter school to service Bradford, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

"However," Mrs. Lukus said, "in the letter there is a quote that the Pennsylvania Department of Education is going to pay for it and unfortunately that is a mistake. PDE will not be paying for their school. It will be the local taxpayers that will pay for any kind of cyber-charger school."

The letter from Carolyn Knapp and Jacqueline Casselbury, founders of Pennsylvania Hinterland Mobile Cyber-Charter School, said that students cyber-charter schooling from this area are not being serviced from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

"By being closer, the letter continues, "we intend to be able to better communicate with our students, parents and local administrations. One of the major concerns of the Pennsylvania Department of Education was the conflict between brick and mortar schools and cyber-charter schools and we wish to attempt to avoid these conflicts."

In another matter, Mrs. Lukus advised the board that the district’s grant committee is gathering information to substantiate the need for a grant that may finance an elementary summer school program.

"As we develop our proposal," Mrs. Lukus told the board, "I will keep you updated."

High School Principal Anthony Rusnak said his award winners for December included Danielle Nebzydoski, seventh grade; Kristen Saam, eighth grade; Kathryn Nebzydoski, ninth grade; Michael Tammero, 10th grade; Brooke Elliott, 11th grade; and, Laura Mursch, 12th grade.

The following motions were approved by the board:

-Appointed Mary Kay Wilczewski as administrative assistant at a salary of $20,000 effective Jan. 20.

-Adding Norine Legg, Mary Aileo and Angela Gatto to the 2002-2003 substitute teachers list.

-Accepted the federal mileage rate of 36 cents retroactive to Jan. 1.

-Appointed Joanne Sukenick as a part-time cafeteria worker at an hourly rate of $6.90.

-Appointed Joseph Sukenick as part-time custodial worker at an hourly rate of $8.54.

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Susky High Gets State Fund Return

Harrisburg – Auditor General Robert P. Casey, Jr. has released an audit which found that the Susquehanna Community School District is due $9,300 in state funds. These funds will likely be added to a future state allocation.

"Working families in Susquehanna and Wayne counties depend upon our audits to ensure that their school districts receive the proper state funding," Casey said. "In this audit, we found that reporting errors caused the Susquehanna Community School District to receive less in state funds than it was entitled to. I am pleased that our audit will help the school district get the funding it is due."

The audit found that the Susquehanna Community School District made errors in reporting its student transportation expenses to the state Department of Education, which caused the state to reimburse the district a net $9,297 less in state aid than it was entitled to receive. The underpayment will likely be added to a future state allocation. Casey recommended steps to ensure accurate reporting and funding in the future. District officials agreed with the finding and indicated that the situation has been corrected.

The audit of the Susquehanna Community School District also found that three employees might not have been properly certified for their positions. Because the Department of the Auditor General does not have the authority to determine certification irregularities, the finding was forwarded to the state Department of Education’s Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation. If the bureau confirms the finding, the district would be subject to a subsidy forfeiture of $2,841. Casey recommended steps to ensure compliance with certification requirements in the future.

School district audits conducted by the Department of the Auditor General ensure that districts receive accurate state funding, that state funds are spent according to applicable laws and regulations and that the operations guiding their expenditure are proper. They are also useful to administrators because they identify ways to improve crucial record keeping procedures, which may help to avoid future errors.

The Susquehanna Community School District spent $8.6 million in 1998-99 and $9.1 million in 1999-2000. It received state funding of $5.7 million for 1998-99 and $6 million for 1999-2000. The audit covered record keeping for the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 school years. It also reviewed professional employees’ certification from July, 2000 through June, 2002.

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