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Sherwood Named To Homeland Security
Washington, DC Congressman Don Sherwood was selected to serve on a new panel which will be responsible for all federal programs and budgets for homeland security. House Appropriations Committee Chairman C. W. Bill Young (R-FL) announced that Sherwood will be a member of the new Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
President Bush last June proposed established a new federal department to focus on homeland security. The President called it "the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s," when the Department of Defense was created to unite our military forces under one entity to fight the Cold War. In November, Congress passed the law establishing the cabinet-level Homeland Security Department to defend America from acts of terrorism and other threats. Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first Secretary of Homeland Security on January 24, the first day of the new departments official operation.
"Homeland Security and our national defense are two of the most important responsibilities of our federal government," said Sherwood. "Congress must make sure that the new Department of Homeland Security has enough funding to do the job and that the Department is doing the job right.
"My new subcommittee position will allow me to make sure the communities of northeastern and northcentral Pennsylvania are actively involved in the homeland security effort," said Sherwood. "I look forward to working closely with Tom Ridge in establishing the new department, to make our communities safer and our borders more secure.
"Defending our homeland requires clear responsibilities and coordination between federal, state and local governments, our public safety officers and first responders, and our citizens," said Sherwood. "The Department of Homeland Security was created to focus on the mission to help prevent and defend against attacks in our communities and to mobilize federal resources in this mission. I will work to make sure the newest federal department meets our needs and spends taxpayer dollars wisely."
The new Homeland Security Department is made up of 22 agencies with homeland security responsibilities that were previously scattered among other federal departments. The new department unifies these agencies, and approximately 170,000 employees, under one roof.
In addition to the new Homeland Security Subcommittee, Sherwood was also named to serve on the Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, which has oversight over national parks, public lands, historic preservation and the US Forest Service. Sherwood will remain on the Subcommittee on Labor/Health and Human Services/Education, which oversees those three federal departments.
When Alan Hall, as President of the Blue Ridge School Board, several years ago started using the Board's second meeting of each month as a workshop, he may have had in mind something like what took place in the Elementary School cafeteria on January 27. In a workshop, no official action is taken; discussion can cover a broader field of vision, and perhaps longer-range issues.
And so it was this time, as Board members considered year-round schooling, and an offer of a cooperative football program with the Susquehanna Community School District. The Board also listened carefully to the concerns of parents about bus transportation following a recent accident involving a bus carrying 30 children.
On most workshop evenings, some of the Board's various committees meet a little earlier at the same location so as to allow the public an opportunity to take part in their discussions as well. This time the Facilities and Grounds committee began looking over a list of projects that may be proposed by committee chair Tom Phillips to be included in the next budget. The new sewer system connection is at the top of that list, and it seems that an all-new line will be run from the school buildings to the access road, this time around the track area. To install a sleeve into the existing - leaking - line, which runs under the track, would be much more expensive. Depending on availability of funds, the committee may also recommend one or two projects postponed from last year, including a new tile floor in the main foyer and new stands at the main soccer field.
When the full Board gathered following the committee sessions, they first heard from the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau, which has been visiting each of the county school boards promoting the installation of vending machines that would dispense a variety of milk-based products. Conceding that "my mission is to sell more milk," the Farm Bureau's pitchman told the board that the machine they are promoting would cost the District about $4,500; perhaps as much as 50% of that could be subsidized by grants through his organization. The machines would offer 16-ounce single- serve bottles of as many as 10-12 different varieties of milk "products," at prices probably ranging from 75 cents to $1.50. He said that the machine would have to sell about 300 bottles each week to justify its cost, which would include a little closer management by school staff because milk products are generally more perishable than other soft drinks. The Farm Bureau is pushing this promotion as a healthier choice for students, particularly because of the high calcium content in milk. Board member Priscinda Gaughan, a nurse, noted that milk products also tend to be high in fat, and these flavored varieties seem to be highly sugared. Mr. Hall thanked the Farm Bureau for the presentation, remarking that the school wants to offer more nutritious choices for students, and might be able to help out the area's dairy farmers at the same time.
Year-round schooling isn't a new idea. There are several schools in Pennsylvania that have already adopted various types of school calendars that differ from the traditional. California has the most schools using non-traditional, year-round calendars. And, according to Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz, schools in Indiana will soon be required to at least consider year-round schooling before the state will subsidize school expansion projects.
Mr. Dietz was asked to develop a presentation on the subject because he worked for 15 years in a school district outside San Diego that had implemented the program. Mr. Dietz said that elementary schools are the primary focus of these efforts, and Mr. Hall said that, if Blue Ridge considers it at all seriously, it would be primarily for the elementary school. Such a move would be a complicated shift for any school with more than a hundred years of experience with the old system that closes the schools for the summer months.
Mr. Dietz told the Board that there are generally four reasons that a school might move to a year-round system. He said that overcrowding can be alleviated somewhat by "multi- tracking," where a school built for, say, 750 students, can accommodate perhaps 1,000 by spreading classes over more months of the year. He said that each student would attend the same number of days - in the case of Pennsylvania that would be 180 per school year - but those days would be spread out differently over the calendar year. He said that Blue Ridge would probably not require a multi-track schedule, since the District does not experience severe overcrowding. Some school districts have taken up year- round scheduling to minimize the effects of climate and weather. Others have tried it in order to allow students to take more meaningful year-round jobs.
Mr. Dietz said that Blue Ridge might benefit most from the fourth major reason schools try out year-round scheduling: academic performance has been shown in some cases to improve noticeably. He said that elementary school teachers commonly deal with "regression" at the beginning of a school year, where students have forgotten some material over the long summer vacation. As much as two weeks of class time can be lost just bringing instruction back to where it was at the end of the last school year.
Year-round schooling generally schedules classes in four segments the year round. Each segment could be 45 days of school with a 15-day "intersession," (vacation). Some districts use a 50/20 combination. With the intersessions spread over the entire year, families have more flexibility to schedule vacations. But there are significant pros and cons to such proposals which the Board will be discussing over the next several months.
About 15 people attended this workshop as observers, and some of them were parents upset about the school bus accident the week before. About 30 children were on the bus when it collided with another vehicle. These parents want the bus routes in that area to be changed so that more of the children are released from the bus on one side of the valley before the bus crosses to the other side. They were especially concerned because so many children were involved, and the delay in their return home that day was not reported by the school in a timely way. They took the opportunity to describe what they considered to be dangerous conditions on many of the District's rural roads this winter, and they asked the Board and the District administration to make some changes.
A significantly larger group of parents attended the meeting to support football, which hasn't been seen at Blue Ridge for more than 15 years. There is a move afoot to allow Blue Ridge students to participate in the football program at the Susquehanna Community School District. The Susquehanna program has been suffering lately, apparently from lack of interest on the part of local athletes. According to Blue Ridge High School Principal Michael Thornton, Susquehanna finished its season with only 18 active players, and a dismal record.
Susquehanna has now made an offer to Blue Ridge that may help to beef up their program and allow Blue Ridge athletes interested in football to get into interscholastic competition. Under the offer, the agreement covers football only, and will be available to students in grades 7 through 12. Blue Ridge would have no financial obligation at all under the proposal. The offer states clearly that Susquehanna retains complete control over the program; Blue Ridge participants "would be members of the Susquehanna Sabers football team and would be subject to all the rules, regulations, and procedures" of the Susquehanna program. Significantly, Blue Ridge players would be responsible for their own transportation to and from all related activities at Susquehanna. The offered agreement would run three years.
The question about the proposal that most concerns members of the Blue Ridge School Board is how it would affect other athletic programs at Blue Ridge. For example, how many students would a football program at Susquehanna draw out of soccer programs at Blue Ridge? Mr. Thornton was directed to find a way to measure the problem and report back to the Board. He said that Susquehanna needed a commitment by the first of April at the latest. He expects to conduct some kind of survey of students (and their parents) to gauge the current level of interest, and he will have help from the Board's Activities Committee, chaired by Lon Fisher, and from local football boosters. According to Mr. Thornton, Susquehanna does not now have a "code of conduct" similar to one maintained at Blue Ridge, and he said that he wanted to be sure that the code remains intact for students who choose to participate in this cooperative football program.
The Blue Ridge School Board's next public session will be a business meeting, on Monday, February 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The Susquehanna County Planning Commission reorganized for the year 2003 at the regular meeting on January 28. Ted Place turned over the gavel to Matt Curley who will chair the Commission again after a year off from that assignment. Ted Place moved from chairman to vice chairman, Nancy Harvatine continued as treasurer, as did Frank Kwader as secretary. Speaking for the appointed auditing committee of Frank Kwader, Paula Mattes and Rowland Sharp, Kwader said the committee had no report yet. Neither Mattes nor Sharp are continuing on the Planning Commission in 2003. They will be thanked by letter for their previous service.
Two new members were welcomed. Michael Greene is a retired military career man who presently serves as chair of the Thompson Township Supervisors. He is looking forward to bringing his knowledge and experience to the table. Carolyn Doolittle has a background in public service and is presently secretary of the Northern Tier Coalition and chair of the Choconut Township Planning Advisory Board.
Scott Young, owner of the East Lake Campground, was once again at the meeting to hear what follow-up had been done by the Commission in his concerns that he was losing business because recreational vehicles were using the parking lots of area businesses for camping purposes, thereby taking business away from his establishment and others like it. He was especially concerned about the Flying J Travel Plaza. The December minutes read, "Ted Place told Mr. Young that he would set up a committee to meet with Flying Js and to research the situation." Place had asked Joseph Franks, Rowland Sharp and Frank Kwader to investigate. Both Kwader and Place acknowledged that they had driven by and taken a look at the Flying J parking lot, but it appeared that no one had talked to an official at that establishment. Secretary/Planner Amy Payne had researched the general problem on the computer, and at my request after the meeting, talked about the research she had uncovered on the internet, and said this is much bigger than a local problem. Many large parking lots are being used by recreational vehicle owners, rather than those RV owners paying to stay at campgrounds.
Agreeing that the county codes are vague on this subject, the Commission voted to have County Solicitor Michael Giangrieco handle this situation. They requested that Mr. Young have his attorney talk to the solicitor. Young stated that he had no attorney.
A draft copy of the 2002 annual report was distributed to the Planning Commission members for any final comments, additions or corrections before it is presented to the Commissioners at their February 26 meeting.
In subdivision and land development review, the Agnes Reilly Estate in Oakland Township was given final approval conditioned on the municipality report from Oakland Township and a decision on the sewer planning for this non-residential lot. The Gary and Gail Shields two-lot major subdivision was given preliminary and final approval. The D&C Flowers and Gift Shop owned by James Delaney was given the go-ahead for a second greenhouse, conditioned on the receipt of the municipality report form from Thompson Borough and evidence of screening between the commercial lot and the neighboring residential lot.
The Hallstead-Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority (HGBJSA), Jack Ord, Chairman, had submitted for the Planning Commissions review a copy of their proposed sewage facilities plan for the proposed sewer line extension that will serve sections of Great Bend Township, Hallstead Borough, New Milford Township and all of New Milford Borough. It will connect and provide conveyance and treatment service to the new sewage collection system of the New Milford Municipal Authority. The HGBJSA, through previous planning, has committed to extending a sewer line along Route 11 to serve two mobile home parks. It also is faced with constructing improvements to its wastewater treatment plant to replace deteriorated components and to correct operating problems. The New Milford Municipal Authority (NMMA) also was preparing to construct a sewage collection system with its own conveyance and treatment facilities. The two authorities recognized that the communities served by the two authorities would benefit by combining resources into a single treatment facility. A conveyance line would extend along the Route 11 corridor between the two service areas, connecting the NMMA system to the HGBJSA system. This conveyance line would serve the Route 11 corridor, promoting new development and providing employment and housing opportunities for the entire area. It would also remedy malfunctioning on-site septic systems along Route 11 discharging to Salt Lick Creek, eliminating serious sources of contamination.
The HGBJSA submitted a proposal to the NMMA in October, 2001 requesting that NMMA connect its new collection system to HGBJSA for conveyance and treatment. NMMA accepted the proposal, and an inter-authority agreement was prepared to ratify the new relationship. New Milford Borough revised its Act 537 Plan for its planned discharge to HGBJSA.
The information provided in this Route 11 Special Study plan is intended for planning purposes only, and is not to be construed as engineering data. The Planning Commission gave positive comment on the proposal, also recommending that the municipalities involved do some serious consideration of planning for their areas in relation to the growth that will come to the Route 11 area because of the new sewer service.
The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on February 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Office Building. The public is always welcomed.
Federal National Mortgage Association aka FannieMae to Jimmy Baldwin & Amanda Baldwin in Silver Lake Township for $41,100.
Melody C. Phillips and Christopher L. Phillips to Stephen C. Pitonyak in Great Bend Township for $82,000.
Stephen R. Whitmore and Kathleen Whitmore to Donald J. Miller and Margaret H. Miller in Silver Lake Township for $48,000.
Lennas L. Russell to Lennas L. Russell in Dimock Township for $1 aogavc.
John Lezinsky & James Lezinsky to James Lezinsky in Lathrop Township for $1.
James Lezinsky to Walter B. Lezinsky & Sandra L. Lezinsky in Lathrop Township for $6,000.
William I. Cease and Marilyn J. Cease to Marilyn Jane Cease aka Jane Cease in Rush Township for $1.
Evelyn K. Mowry to Mark Alden Mowry in Auburn Township for $1.
Mary Ann Krushnowski and Jenna Mary Vella Krushnowski to Myron P. Mokris and Geraldine A. Mokris in Auburn Township for $40,000.
Alan B. Campell and Carol Campell to Richard DeMaria and Rita DeMaria in Clifford Township for $29,900.
Thomas Wheatley and Mary Wheatley; Sharon Kotson and John Kotson to Helen Bilik in Auburn Township for $1.
Rickey Paul Truskolaski and Judith Truskolaski to Tara L. Truskolaski in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $15,000.
David K. Beatty and Charlotte A. Beatty and Gail M. Beatty and Joseph Traband to Joyce M. Thorn in Ararat Township for $15,000.
Thomas J. O'Reilly to William M. Arnold and Becky Arnold in Dimock Township for $31,000.
Andrew Smith & Wendy Smith to Marwan M. Sadat & Ellen Sadat in Silver Lake Township for $250,000.
Kenneth E. Schroder and Joyce F. Schroder and Ronald W. Kays and Linda M. Kays to Scott T. Young and Virginia L. Young in New Milford Township for $1.
Michael Knewasser and Lisa Knewasser to Richard L. Italiano and Jean M. Italiano in Choconut Township for $148,000.
Christopher Hardy and Jeanine Hardy to Lawrence M. Grasso, Trustee of the Lawrence M. Grasso Revocable Living Trust in Liberty Township for $1.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Jessup Township for $50,000.
Dr. William R. Schooley aka William Schooley and Ann M. Schooley aka Ann Schooley to Ann M. Schooley, Trustee under Agreement of Trust of Ann M. Schooley, known as the Ann M. Schooley Revocable Trust in Silver Lake Township for $1.
Nicole M. Tyler and Chad E. Lewis to Chad E. Lewis in Bridgewater Township for $4907.
Donald J. Hunsberger to Jeffrey M. Rowe and Julie B. Rowe in Gibson Township for $53,000.
William K. Jenkins, Jr. to Brian Gallagher in Herrick Township for $64,000.
Jeffrey Rittgers and Mirela Rittgers to Wade D. McDonald and Eldona J. McDonald in Oakland Township for $22,000.
Vivian A. Eriksen to Vivian A. Eriksen in Springville Township for $1.
Douglas G. Kilmer and Diane L. Kilmer to Douglas G. Kilmer in Clifford Township for $1 (3 parcels).
Donald L. Carruthers and Elizabeth R. Carruthers to Philip T. Stevick in Gibson Township for $87,325.
James Griffiths to James Griffiths and James Ashton Griffiths in Rush Township for $1 ogvc.
7 TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, 5 WERE ROLLOVERS
On January 20 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. four accidents occurred on Interstate 81, Great Bend Township, with three being rollovers. One rollover occurred on State Route 11, Great Bend Township, and a fifth was on Maple Ave. in Little Meadows.
These accidents occurred when a snow squall moved into the area at approximately 7:45 a.m. which caused icy conditions on all major roadways in the county. Due to the black ice, and motorists driving too fast for conditions, several motorists lost control of their vehicles resulting in seven accidents. Minor injuries were reported in all accidents.
Lawrence B. Berman, 19, Forest Hills, NY, was traveling north on Interstate 81, Great Bend Township, on November 19 at 4:10 p.m. Berman's 1991 Volvo lost its tire/wheel causing it to impact with the guide rail and spin out. No injuries occurred.
On January 17 at 12:26 p.m., Ian Vannan, Carbondale, was driving on State Route 2023 in Clifford Township, and Vannan's Oldsmobile slid off the road and rolled over. No injuries were reported.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On January 16 at 1:10 p.m., Charles VanWinkle, 61, Johnson City, NY, was traveling north on State Route 167 at the intersection with State Route 706 (Tiffany Corners). Linda Oakley, 54, Susquehanna, was traveling east on State Route 706, approaching State Route 167. VanWinkle failed to stop for a posted stop sign at the intersection and traveled into the lane of Oakley's vehicle. The two vehicles impacted at the intersection.
A passenger in Van Winkle's vehicle, Heather VanWinkle, unknown age or address, was flown to Robert Packard Hospital with moderate injuries and a passenger in Oakley's vehicle, James Oakley 54, Susquehanna, was flown to Robert Packard Hospital with severe injuries.
Driver VanWinkle received minor injuries and was taken to Endless Mountains Health System. Driver Oakley received moderate injuries and was also taken to Endless Mountains Health System. Two infant rear passengers in VanWinkle's vehicle were not injured.
According to the police report, an investigation is continuing.
ATTEMPTED MURDER SUSPECT TAKEN INTO CUSTODY
A News Media Release at the Gibson Barracks indicates that David A. Stacconi, 25, Oakland Borough, was taken into custody on January 15 by members of the Vestal Police Dept. and the Pennsylvania State Police, without incident, at his residence on Westfall Ave, Oakland Borough.
He is charged with Attempted Murder in the 2nd degree. He is accused on June 3, 2002 at about 3:00 a.m. of forcibly entering the residence of a 78-year old female residing on Old Lane Rd., Vestal. He then pinned the woman's arm to the bed and forced a pillow over her face and was attempting to smother her as he was attempting to sexually assault her.
Stacconi was taken to the Susquehanna County Jail, waiting extradition back to New York.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Raymond Rudolph, Susquehanna, was stopped in the road (State Route 171, Great Bend Township) on January 7 at 12:20 p.m., preparing to make a left hand turn. Nancy Dewitt, Susquehanna, failed to stop her vehicle and struck the rear of Rudolph's 1994 Ford flatbed tow truck. No injuries occurred.
A Suzuki 125, orange in color, was removed from the John Napolitano residence on Damascus Rd., Oakland Township, between January 2 and 26. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at Gibson.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
John Mosher, Jr., 43, Uniondale, lost control of his 1993 Pontiac Sunbird on snow covered State Route 247, Clifford Township, on January 26, and drove into a garage. Mosher was not injured. The garage and car were severely damaged.
On January 27 at 4:00 p.m. Craig A. Dunigan, 39, Mt. Laurel, NJ., was traveling south on Interstate 81 in the right lane. Dunigan apparently lost control of his vehicle causing the vehicle to cross into the left lane, forcing another driver, Wilfred Bell, 50, Endwell, NY, to steer to the right. Bell then collided into the guide rail. Dunigan's vehicle came to rest in the median and Bell's vehicle went down an embankment. Bell was life flighted to Packer Hospital, Sayre, with moderate injuries. Dunigan was not injured. The interstate was closed for about 30 minutes for vehicle removal. The incident occurred at exit 219, New Milford Township.
On January 27 at about 7:32 p.m., someone pumped gasoline at the New Milford Borough Pump and Pantry, into a red Neon and drove off without paying the bill for $16.20. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at Gibson.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Coleen Conley, 18, Lindenhurst, NY, received minor injuries when she lost control of her 1999 Toyota Camry on snow covered Interstate 81, Lenox Township, and struck a snow bank. The vehicle then overturned in this January 26 accident at 10:30 a.m.
Shirley Clark, 67, Jackson, lost control of her vehicle during a snow event on January 23 at 6:25 p.m., and impacted with a guide rail on State Route 492 near Steinbach's corners, New Milford Township. No injury was reported.
Ryan Place, 17, Meshoppen, was negotiating a curve on State Route 3001, near South Auburn, on January 22 while Melisa Naylor, 18, Springville, was making a left turn from the curve into a driveway. Place was unable to stop in time and impacted with Naylor. No serious injury was reported.
On January 26, Steven Kenyon, 53, Hedrow, NY, was traveling north on Interstate 81, Harford Township, and lost control of a 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass. The vehicle left the roadway, traveled into the median and rolled over before coming to rest on its wheels. Kenyon was cited for driving a vehicle at an unsafe speed. He received a neck injury and was transported to CMC, Scranton. A passenger was not injured.
Gregory H. Rutter, 22, Lancaster, lost control of his 2001 Chevy Camaro as he was traveling south on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, while attempting to pass another vehicle on the snow/ice covered highway. The vehicle spun, left the road, traveled into the median and flipped onto its side. Rutter sustained a minor injury and was cited for driving at an unsafe speed in this January 26 accident.
Jeanne A. Greuter, 51, Clarks Summit, was traveling south on State Route 167, Bridgewater Township, and apparently lost control of her 1992 Jeep on a snow patch, causing the vehicle to collide with a snow bank. The Jeep then rolled on its roof. The incident occurred on January 20. Greuter was not injured.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
R. Edwards, Montrose, struck M. Hartman, Clarks Summit, from behind on State Route 706, Bridgewater Township, on January 25 at 12:05 p.m. No injuries occurred.
On January 24 at 10:45 p.m., John Robert Wagner, 67, Harford, was driving a 1987 Cadillac Sedan Deville, owned by Mid-Lantec Group, Inc., on State Route 8005 (exit 217 southbound ramp) and Interstate 81, Harford Township, when he lost control of the vehicle and hit a snow bank. The vehicle became airborne and traveled approximately 40 feet in the air, then landed and traveled another 25 feet before rolling over and coming to rest on the driver's side. Wagner received minor injuries. A citation was filed, according to the police report, for failure to drive in laned roadways.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Frank Giattini, 47, Downington, lost control of his 2001 Dodge Caravan on a snow covered State Route 374 at Tarzah Rd., Herrick Township, and slid into the lane of travel of a 2001 Chevy pick up, striking it in the driver's side. No injuries occurred but both vehicles needed towing after this January 20 accident.
HIT AND RUN
Michael Grick, Montrose, backed his Dodge into a Chevy owned by Nicholas Marino, Wilkes Barre, at the ABC Market, Bridgewater Township, on January 21 at 2:00 p.m., and left the scene.
Kristine R. Johnson, 18, Deposit, NY, lost control of a 1997 Pontiac while negotiating a curve in State Route 706, Bridgewater Township. The vehicle struck a snow bank. causing the vehicle to roll over, blocking the east bound lane for about an hour on January 24 at 3:30 p.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Amanda Noble, 18, Hop Bottom, lost control of her 1993 Ford Taurus on a curve on State Route 3023, near Elk Lake Rd., Dimock Township, on January 24. She collided with a guide rail and received minor injury.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
On December 26 at 1:30 p.m., Jack Sparks, Uniondale, was driving a PENNDOT 1983 John Deere Grader on State Route 2045, Herrick Township, plowing snow. Steven Jones, New Milford, was driving a 2002 Ford F250 in the opposite direction. Jones pulled to the side of the road to allow Sparks to pass. As Sparks was going by Jones, a tire chain struck the left rear quarter panel of Jones' vehicle, causing minor damage.
Susan Jennings, 43, New Milford, lost control of her 1993 Dodge passenger vehicle on snow/ice covered Township Route 617, New Milford Township, and struck a Blue Ridge Elementary school bus head on while the bus was loaded with 29 school children ranging in age from 5-11. Only minor injuries were reported among some of the students including bumps and complaints of pain. Several children were taken to Endless Mountain Health Care, Montrose, and the rest were transported to Blue Ridge School where they were released to their parents/guardians. Jennings suffered moderate injuries and was transported to Robert Packer via Guthrie helicopter. An investigation is ongoing in this January 24 accident.
ONE VEHICLE CRASH
No injuries occurred when Singh Boparai, 33, Brampton, ONT, was traveling south on Interstate 81, Great Bend Township, in a 1996 Mazda and the vehicle left the roadway, traveled up an embankment and landed on its roof, on January 23 at 10:15 p.m.
ONE VEHICLE CRASH
Lakeya Pam, 22, Syracuse, was traveling on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, in a 2000 Dodge Neon. The vehicle left the roadway, traveled into the median and rolled over. No injuries occurred in this January 23 accident.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On January 20 at 8:25 a.m., Charlotte Marlin, 52, South Gibson, received minor injuries when her 1993 Ford Escort left the roadway and struck a tree on a snowy State Route 11, Great Bend Township.
On January 21, Charles L. Williams, 54, Binghamton, NY, veered off of State Route 267, Rush Township, and his 1998 Ford 250 van collided with a guide rail. Williams was not injured, but was given a citation for failure to stay in the driving lane.
On January 23 at 6:58 a.m., April D. Thompson, Springville, lost control of her 2001 Chevy Lumina. It impacted with a mailbox and a utility pole, on State Route 29, Dimock Township.
THEFT OF MOTOR VEHICLE
Someone removed a 1990 Dodge sedan from property belonging to Steve Sicovitch, Stark Rd., Thompson Township, between November 2 and December 27. The car was found in New York City. Anyone with information may contact the PA Police barracks at 570-465-3154.
DUIMOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Josh Brown, Tunkhannock, lost control of a stolen Chevy Cavalier on State Route 29, Springville, on January 19 at 10:05 a.m. The vehicle struck an embankment and rolled over. Brown and two passengers, John Brown and Cherish Johnson, were taken to Montrose Hospital for treatment. Several charges were brought against the driver who was arrested.
At a special meeting of the Elk Lake School Board on Monday, January 27, Mrs. Sue Rothwell, a first grade teacher, was given a health restoration leave, by a vote of 6-1 with Mr. Marshall voting against it. Mr. Emmerich and Mr. Pierson were not present.
In an earlier meeting the request was not acted upon, because, according to Superintendent William Bush, there were unanswered questions. Due to the recent vote, effective January 27, she will receive half pay and all other benefits through the end of the 2002-03 school year, in lieu of a sabbatical. Mrs. Rothwell will be eligible for a sabbatical again in another 7 years.
Elk Lake School Board will hold its next regular meeting on February 10.
As a Township meeting it looked routine, but when two of Harford's three Supervisors got together on January 28, a couple of issues had much broader interest than usual. To begin with, public nudity is still legal in Harford Township.
A couple of months ago, Rick Pisasik offered an ordinance that would outlaw public nudity in the Township. Almost clinical in its form, it was derived nearly word-for-word from an ordinance out of the city of Erie, in western Pennsylvania. At the time, Mr. Pisasik said that the Erie ordinance had passed muster up through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and would therefore survive challenges here, should there ever be any. The issue is actually a little more complicated than that.
Erie passed its ordinance in 1994. It was immediately challenged by a company that operated an all-nude club in the city, on the grounds that nude dancing was a form of expression and that the ordinance was attempting to suppress free expression under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The case wound its way up to the Pennsylvania Supreme court through a series of switchbacks in which each higher review reversed the one below it, a process that has continued. That time, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court supported the dancers against the city and set aside the ordinance. The city then took the case to the US Supreme Court hoping to get the ban reinstated under an earlier decision in Indiana that seemed to apply. By then the club in question had gone out of business and the company that originally brought the case asked to let the whole thing die. But the US Supreme Court took up the case anyway, and in March of 2000 reversed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, allowing the city's ban on public nudity to stand. That decision, however, also sent the case back to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court once again for further review of differences in federal and state constitutionality.
In civics class we think we learn that the US Supreme Court is the final arbiter in such matters. In this case, it didn't work that way. In the latest switchback, in December, 2002 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that Pennsylvania's constitution gives somewhat broader protection to expressive communication than the US Constitution, and once again set aside the Erie statute.
Mr. Pisasik ended Harford's role in the case by saying that the Township was "not going to proceed further with that ordinance." So, for all those nude dancers out there in Harford, you're still legal.
On a somewhat more local note, Mr. Pisasik and Terry Van Gorden decided to close the Odd Fellows Hall in the village (also known as the town hall) to public access until further notice. The Township's insurance carrier has said that it would continue to cover the building, but only if some (ambiguously specified) measures were taken to ensure its safety. The insurance company mentioned the electrical system as a special concern, so electrical service to the building will be cut off (except perhaps to the building's furnace). The Supervisors will try to have the electrical system in the building thoroughly inspected. And they will notify all known users of the building of the closing.
The disposition of the Odd Fellows Hall has been an issue in Harford for some time. The deed requires that any decision to remove the building be put to a public vote. Mr. Pisasik and Mr. Van Gorden do not seem inclined to allow the structure to be demolished. They speculated that renovations might cost more than $100,000. Mr. Van Gorden volunteered to get some estimates.
The last operating store in Harford village, the Deli Llama, has been closed for several months, and is now in bankruptcy. The Township holds a lien on the property for unpaid sewage fees, and will take responsibility for water fees until the matter is settled. The town water company came under discussion as a consequence, and the Supervisors agreed to meet with the water company - in the person of Loren Robinson - to work out mutual accommodations.
George Sansky, one of the Township's maintenance employees, attended the meeting to advise the Supervisors of the state of (dis)repair of the Township's snowplows. He requested authority to purchase a new plow for $3,754. He said that some of the existing equipment is more than 20 years old and in some cases is more weld than metal. With relatively severe winter weather this year, the Supervisors were in no mood to pick nits on such things, and easily granted the spending authority.
The next Harford meeting, on February 12, will begin with an executive session to discuss employee wages. So if you plan to attend, the public session will start somewhat later than the normal 7:30 p.m.
A special meeting was called for Hop Bottom Borough Council, January 29 at the Borough Hall.
Council members Janice Webster, Joanne Wisniewski, Gary Griffis, Sue Pratt, Paul Henry, Mayor and Secretary/Treasurer, Bonnie Lippart, reviewed paperwork pertinent to the application to DEP through Growing Greener for a stream restoration design grant.
After due consideration, the board voted to approve the application as the administering sponsor of the grant. The grant will cover work done on the boroughs portion of Martens Creek, which meanders north and south through the area. It was noted that members of the newly formed Martens Creek Watershed Association will be working with the borough on the project, which is now undergoing one of the steps necessary for completion of work on the creek.
The next meeting of the Watershed Association is scheduled for February 17. The borough council regularly meets at the borough hall on Forest Street on the first Tuesday of each month. The public is invited.
When arriving at the Mountain View School Board Meeting on Monday, January 27, it looked like someone was giving something away free and it turns out a lot was "given away" and shared that evening.
All members of the board were present, including John Halupke who has been having some health challenges lately. Eliza Vagni, the High School Assistant Principal was unable to attend.
All project costs were approved. Student activity financial reports from the elementary and high school were given the nod. No legislative, policy, building and site, or special project committee reports were given. Ron Phillips reported under negotiations that negotiations with non-instructional staff were ongoing and instructional staff work will commence on January 29.
Shuttle buses were approved for various school reasons and will begin in February with Board approval. Conference attendance was approved for Corrine McNabb, Melody Haley, and Karen Krizausskas. Field trip attendance approval was given to Kate Kurosky, Kathleen Kaczka, Kelly Richmond, and Marion Seamans.
Diane Mahosky was given board approval to continue on her work with DocStar, the school's computerized information retrieval system. Mary Allen was added to the substitute teaching list.
The report from Art Chambers, Superintendent, was impressive. He gave an award to the janitorial staff of the schools for outstanding work that is on-going and visionary for the future. Chambers presented a case for the following work coming out of the capital fund which was given approval from the board: a new auditory sound system, painting of floor and ceiling in the high school gym, upgrading signage in the building, a better stage floor that will be an improvement for future productions, older rest rooms will be upgraded and doors in various areas will be replaced, as well as stair treads added in some sections. Suggestions were made from the board on air conditioning in various staff areas, an upgrading of the lawn mower The future holds work for the library carpeting, an adjacent room to the library will be redone, better display cases and selected playing field work. The ribbon cutting for the new high school facilities and project will be held at 2 p.m. on April 13.
Three officers of the Elementary School Student Council gave a presentation. The young people, all of the sixth Grade, Justin Cerra, Scott Martens, James Gething, talked about various projects that are being worked upon by the student council; the Choice Awards and a poster was presented showing their work.
Elementary Principal, Peg Foster, noted that the Choice Awards are generated and were devised by the Elementary Student Council. It recognizes and rewards students who are behaving appropriately and responsibly in the school. The council advertises this program, and funds its awards through various efforts. The awards are given at the assembly at the end of each marking period. She noted at the meeting that she wished there were more people present to see the work of the students. "This is one heck of a team," she expressed with reasonable pride.
Among remarks at the second hearing of visitors, were suggestions for freshman teams as lead-in's to varsity players and the suggestion of a trainer for sports was given. A long bus route will be reviewed by the board The second hearing had a highlight with a suggestion for milk dispensing machines given by Bill Beeman who represented the PA Susquehanna County Farm Bureau and the Dairy Farmers of America of Susquehanna County. After giving all the board members a sample of the milk, and upon the favorable discussion of the purchase of the machines which will be funded partially through the Student Activity Fund in the high school, other school discretionary money and the farmers groups, the board will give approval at its next meeting on February 10.
As if all this activity was not enough, the evening was capped by cake and ice cream that came way of congratulations to the board for a job well done.
The Mountain View School Board meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 8 p.m. in the elementary school board room. The public is invited.
From the moment she entered the courtroom, 17-year-old Morgan Abbott of Hallstead fought to hold them back, but the tears flowed freely. When she was escorted out of the courtroom after she was sentenced, Ms. Morgan was still sobbing. And, in the front row, a group of friends and relatives cried with her.
Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans sentenced Ms. Morgan to a term of three to six years in a state correctional facility with credit for time served. She was also fined $500 and was ordered to complete school or get a General Educational Development (GED) diploma. Judge Seamans further ordered Ms. Morgan to submit to mental health, and drug and alcohol evaluations and to perform 50 hours of community service. And she must submit to random drug and alcohol screenings and make restitution to her victims.
Last May, Ms. Morgan and her 17-year-old boyfriend, Jeremiah James DeWitt of Hallstead went on a mini-crime-spree that included terrorizing and robbing residents of two Silver Lake Township homes. Police Chief Michael Hornak of Silver Lake Twp. and State Trooper Greg Deck arrested the pair after a joint investigation and charged them with two counts of theft by unlawful taking and three counts of robbery.
Affidavits of Probable Cause indicate that the two teenagers stole a car in Liberty Township, then broke into one home in Silver Lake Township and forced their way into another home. They terrorized the occupants by wielding a handgun later identified as a realistic BB-gun replica of a .45 caliber pistol. The robberies netted them about $150.
Mr. DeWitt is scheduled for sentencing in March.
Others who were sentenced last week include:
Frank Ciesielski, 21, of South Montrose, 18 months to five years in a state correctional facility for his part in a number of criminal offenses including stealing mail from mail boxes in several Susquehanna County communities; attempting to cash checks that were in the stolen mail; and, breaking, entering and stealing money from a Montrose business. He was also fined $2,350 and was ordered to make restitution. Mr. Ciesielski received additional jail time that will run concurrent with his initial sentence.
John Edward Snow, 49, of South Montrose, was remanded to the county jail for a term of 15 months to five years minus one day on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was fined $2,500 and must perform 100 hours of community service. On August 29, 2000, Mr. Snow was involved in a motor vehicle accident that claimed the life of 74-year-old Ray McPherson of Bridgewater Twp. Judge Seamans further ordered Mr. Snow to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, and to keep away from bars.
Brian Cook, 37, of York, was sentenced to serve one to three years in a state correctional facility and fined $500 on a forgery charge that occurred in Montrose last November 26. Mr. Cook was also ordered to make restitution and to perform 50 hours of community service.
Kenneth Condon Bucksbee III, 26, of Hallstead, 18 months to five years in a state correctional facility and a $1,000 fine for breaking, entering and burglarizing a South Montrose bar. He was also ordered to make restitution. Mr. Bucksbee received a concurrent sentence of two to four years and was fined an additional $1,000 on a separate count of breaking, entering and burglarizing.
Patrick John Burke, 50, of Meshoppen, 45 days to 11 months in county jail for criminal attempt and simple assault on April 9, 2001 in Auburn Twp. Also he was fine a total of $2,000, placed on probation for 11 months and must do 50 hours of community service.
Phillip Robertson, 19, of Montrose, 6-to-23 months in county jail, $300 fine, 50 hours of community service and restitution, on burglary charges. He also received a second sentence of one to three years in the county jail that was suspended and five years probation, also on burglary counts in the Montrose area last June and July.
Kevin Cote, 50, of Pittston, three months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail suspended in favor of probation, $500 fine, restitution, and 25 hours of community service for theft by unlawful taking in Silver Lake Twp.
Christopher Mirra, 26, of New Milford, one month to 23 1/2 months in the county jail, $1,000 fine, and must undergo mental health counseling for cruelty to animals in New Milford last June 7.
Laura Burcroff, 34, of Rochester, NY, three months to 23 1/2 months in the county, a total of $700 in fines, on a drunken driving charge in Gibson Twp. last June 11. She was also ordered not to enter any place that sells alcoholic beverages and must perform 50 hours of community service.
Jesse Naylor, 19, of Great Bend, two months to 15 months in the county jail, $300 fine and restitution for theft by deception last March 30 in Great Bend Twp. Also a concurrent two months to 15 months in the county jail and a $300 fine plus 25 hours of community service for access device fraud last June and July in Great Bend.
Brad Penny, 25, of Hop Bottom, one month to 12 months in the county jail and $500 fine plus $100 CAT surcharge for driving under influence in Jackson Twp. last August 26. He was also sentenced to one year probation, fined $250 and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service on a charge of criminal mischief in Brooklyn Twp. last December 3.
Kris Hadley, 26, of Forest City was given a suspended jail sentence and placed on probation for 12 months and fined $150 on a charge of unlawful taking in Forest City last May 22.
Matthew Joseph Piasecki, 18, of Clifford Twp., one month to 12 months in the county jail with work release privileges on a charge of corruption of minors in Lenox Twp. last March 16. He was also fined $250 and order to make restitution.
Donald L. Smith, 47, of Hilton, NY, suspended sentence of 30 days to 15 months in the county jail for driving under the influence in Herrick Twp. last June 22. He was fined $300 and must attend safe driving school and undergo drug and alcohol evaluation.
Tara Shattuck, 22, of Brackney suspended jail sentence and placed on probation for 15 months for theft by deception in Great Bend Twp. on February 12, 2001. She was also fined $200 and must perform 25 hours of community service.
William Richard Wayman, 23, of Susquehanna Depot, suspended jail sentence, 12 months probation, $250 fine and 25 hours of community service for unauthorized use of vehicles in Harmony Twp. last July 6.
Crystal G. Acquisto, 22, of Conklin, NY, suspended jail sentence and 15 months probation for theft by deception in Great Bend on January 30, 2002. She was also fined $250 and ordered to do 25 hours of community service.
Matthew John Nowlin, 29, of Hop Bottom, 48 hours to 15 months in county jail, $300 fine, and attendance at a safe driving school for drunk driving in Hop Bottom last October 6.
All members were present at the January 28 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro council, as well as secretary/treasurer Margaret Biegert, codes enforcement officer Shane Lewis and streets commissioner Steve Glover.
The first item discussed was whether or not to place an advertisement for residents, advising them of ordinance regulations that require removing vehicles from the boro streets during snow emergencies. It was agreed to proceed with an ad, of a good size so that it will "get everyones attention" and give a fair warning that vehicles whose owners do not comply will be ticketed and/or towed; it was agreed to keep the wording of the ad "simple" so that it is clearly understood. It was agreed to draft the wording at the streets committee meeting to be held the following night (January 29). Several times during the discussion, council member Todd Glover remarked that the boros police should be enforcing the ordinance. A motion carried to proceed with the ad.
Under new business, Todd Glover reported that information received from PENNDOT regarding parking problems on West Main St. indicate that a permanent parking ban is warranted, as seven conditions from a list of state criteria exist (only one is needed to implement the ban). A motion carried to restrict parking from Fourth Ave. to the boro line, on both sides of the street; ordinance 416 will be amended to include a parking ban in this section. After the proposed amendment is duly advertised, action will be taken.
Correspondence received included a letter from Mary Jo Glover, chair of the Sesquicentennial Committee, asking if the boro will need to make provisions for any additional insurance that might be needed for the planned sesquicentennial activities this July, to celebrate the boros 150th birthday. Mrs. Biegert said that the boros policy does cover such events. And, a permit will be issued by the boro for the parade that is planned on Main St.
Under new business, motions carried to retain Zavada and Associates as the boros auditor, and to continue to retain Myron DeWitt as boro solicitor.
During discussion of the streets departments activities, council member John Bronchella commended them for a job well done, contending with recent snow storms and equipment breakdowns. Streets commissioner Steve Glover reported that his department has been busy removing snow; the backhoe was used on the majority of the boros streets to widen them by reducing banks of accumulated snow. The departments work had been hampered by cars that had not been removed during the snow emergency. Most problems were on Washington, Prospect, and Vine Streets, he said, with a few on Church Hill. "Just enough to make tight spots." Although some vehicle owners had cooperated, there were those who did not remove their cars. Council member Tom Kelly remarked that one car left on the street during plowing jeopardizes three parking spaces, the one it occupies as well as the one in front and the one behind. Todd Glover reiterated that a snow emergency had been declared, "Its the polices job to get them off the street; theyre not doing it." He noted that the ordinance regulating removal of vehicles from the boros streets during snow emergencies has been in effect since 1999. Council member Roy Williams added that he has been made aware that there are a number of boro residents who are willing to allow their neighbors to use their driveways during snow emergencies. Todd Glover added, "There are alternatives; we do have a public lot down here (at the boro building) now."
The streets department has been mainly occupied with snow and its related problems and has not been able to see to other projects; mostly, Steve Glover joked, "All weve been doing is watching the white stuff fall."
Steve Glover reported that there had been some major transmission repairs needed for the boros only truck (the new truck has not yet been delivered); during the period when the truck was unavailable, the boro had been fortunate to obtain use of a loaned truck from Barnes-Kasson Hospital.
And, Mr. Glover reported that a grant application has been submitted to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority for work on Willow Ave.; it could be April or May before there is word as to whether or not it will be approved.
Steve Glover had a question for council, regarding whether boro employees would be required to "cover" any increased costs for health insurance. Mr. Kelly responded that a provision for this eventuality had been included in the police contract, and that council had agreed that it should be "across the board" and include other boro employees. Mrs. Biegert pointed out that there had been no increases in coverage costs budgeted for the current year; council had said that employees would have to pick up any additional cost, although it would not be certain until April if or what the increase would be. Council president Ron Whitehead said that the subject had been discussed at councils budget meeting. He apologized for the oversight in not carrying a motion; he did not realize that a motion was needed, he had thought this was part of the normal budget process. Mr. Glover asked that council make it "official," and carry a motion stating that employees will be responsible for any increases in premiums; a motion carried. Mr. Glover added that, if there is an increase, there are alternatives (other carriers) than can be looked into.
Although Mayor Kelly was not present, Mr. Kelly relayed an invitation on her behalf to all council members to attend a public meeting on February 26, 1 p.m. in the boro building; members of the business and banking community, merchants and store owners are also invited to hear Mike Moren from DCED discuss the possibility of Susquehanna Borough becoming a Main Street Community. "This will be a great opportunity for our merchants and building owners to view whats available to improve our Main Street district," Mr. Kelly said. "Although the Main Street program is not part of the sidewalk project, it is complimentary to it."
CEO Shane Lewis reported on activities for the month. A structure at 507 Prospect St. has been declared uninhabitable; at this time five condemnations are in progress. In the matter of three outstanding (building) permits, he related that the property owners have been notified twice that permits were required for work that had been done, with no response; what action does council want to take? It was agreed to refer the matter to the boro police so that citations could be issued; if there is still no response the owners could be taken to court, in which case they will be responsible not only for the permit fees, but court costs as well as attorneys fees. The court process could take anywhere from one to six months.
Mr. Lewis reported that fourteen rental properties have been inspected under the boros new renters ordinance. He noted that at one property, he had found a hot water heater in a bedroom, two feet from a childs bed, with its pressure release valve directed toward the bed. So far, he said the passing rate for these inspections has been 80%. Mrs. Biegert added that the boro is keeping a running list of rental properties, which ones have been inspected, and which ones have passed or failed inspection. Property owners who did not comply with the renters ordinance will be sent a letter explaining the procedure, as well as what steps are taken if they do not comply.
Council member Bill Kuiper reported that the zoning hearing board has met; they are in the process of compiling information to present to council regarding adult entertainment, particularly what areas of the boro such businesses could be restricted to. (Reporters note: under state law, such businesses cannot be barred, but regulations can be put in place to limit where they may operate, as well as licensing and permit requirements.) The zoning board will meet next on February 3; as of the date of the meeting, the board is still in need of two alternate members. At the boards request, a motion carried to subscribe to a zoning bulletin, which would be paid for through the codes budget. Mr. Kuiper said that the board felt the bulletin would be beneficial, "But if its not what we think its going to be, we can get a full refund of its cost, $92 per year."
The meeting adjourned to an executive session, to discuss two personnel issues.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 11, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
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