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The Great Bend Borough Council has seven members. All of them were present for the regular February meeting on the 6th. None of them seemed to know when they were elected, or for how long. Council received a request from Montrose for a list of seats to be filled in this year's election, and after some confused discussion, there seemed to be a consensus that Ray Holtzman, Joe Collins and Louise "Dolly" Lonzinski would have to run again this year. But, well, maybe not. Or maybe there were some others. Of the seven Council seats, some are for two-year terms, some are four-year terms, and the terms overlap. Moreover, Mr. Holtzman is currently filling out the term of Mary Jean Fleming, who resigned from Council to become the Borough's Secretary. If anyone knows for sure who got elected when, and for how long, Council would probably appreciate a phone call.
Among other items discussed this month was the cost of vandalism. The Borough is constantly repairing or replacing items, particularly in the parks, that are damaged or destroyed by what can only be malicious behavior. This time it's the four outdoor lights on the garage and cinder buildings at the back of Memorial Park. Replacing the lights with more robust equipment may cost the Borough as much as $800.
Great Bend Borough doesn't have much money to spend each year, and Council tries hard to keep from raising taxes. One of the Borough's major assets is the Community Center on Elizabeth Street, which doubles as the Blue Ridge Senior Center. Barnes-Kasson Hospital pays a nominal rent to the Borough to operate the Senior Center. The hospital recently completed a major renovation of the building, using a special grant to make it more suitable for the seniors' activities. Council member Mike Wasko is now concerned that the Borough's taxpayers may not be able to afford to subsidize the Senior Center to the extent they have in the past.
One of Council's concerns has been the Kime apartment building, a senior citizen facility, many of whose residents use the Senior Center. Several years ago, the owners of the apartment building went non-profit and took the building off the tax rolls, a move that put the remaining Borough taxpayers in a bind to make up the difference. It seems that now some of the residents of the Kime building are looking to the Borough to provide even more services. Mr. Holtzman reported calls asking the Borough to clear sidewalks around the building of snow, and to place more No Parking signs along the streets that border the corner property. By consensus Council agreed that the Borough is not responsible for shoveling sidewalks on private property. Parking signs are also generally the responsibility of property owners except on Main Street, which is a state- maintained highway.
The Borough is having some trouble with another of its neighbors during this severe winter weather. The VFW building - and its main parking lot -- on Main Street is bounded (across Franklin Street) by Memorial Park and (across Elizabeth Street) by the Borough Community Building. It seems that whoever is plowing the VFW's parking lot is depositing a lot of the snow on Borough property. Some of it has been plowed across the street and against the fence surrounding Memorial Park, and the fence has been damaged because of it. Some of it has been moved onto the Borough Building lot causing drainage on that corner to become plugged and creating an ice hazard for motorists. Council asked its attorney, Frank O'Connor, to draft a friendly letter to the VFW asking them to stop depositing surplus snow on Borough property, and to consider helping to fix the fence once the snow is gone.
Mike Lonzinski, the Borough's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, attended the meeting to report on his progress developing a new Emergency Management Plan for the Borough. He told Council that during an "incident," the Borough becomes responsible for managing the event and can declare an emergency situation that will give Council powers to call on "resources" that would ordinarily be difficult to acquire quickly. He said that the plan, required by all municipalities to be updated and re-adopted every two years, will be comprehensive and will describe all of the Borough's powers and responsibilities in the event of a severe emergency in the Borough. Mr. Lonzinski also invited Council members and the public to visit the firehouse in the Borough to inspect the Fire Company's new rescue truck. He called the vehicle, which is not yet in service, a "monster truck."
At the very end of the meeting, Council went into an extended executive session to discuss a "personnel matter." When they emerged they voted to "recess" the meeting because, in the words of Mike Wasko, they "didn't come up with the necessary information." Just what that means he declined to explain. They didn't set a date to resume the session, and Mr. Wasko said that the regular March Council meeting would probably become an extension of this one. The March meeting will be, as they all are, on the first Thursday of the month, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
With all members (less Chris Allen) and mayor Joe Taylor present, the New Milford Borough council had a lot to talk about and information to share at its regular February meeting. The most immediate was that the new ice skating rink in the park is now up and running and being enjoyed by borough residents. Taylor, council member Jim Carr, and Joe Carpenetti spent most of a day installing the rink, and continue to look after its maintenance.
The most intriguing and promising discussions, however, came out of member Rick Aineys report on economic development. He filled other members in on the railroad feasibility study recently commissioned by and presented to the County. The results of that study, said Ainey, were that the County "should form a Rail Authority, keep a close eye on passenger service between Binghamton and Scranton, and that the County should develop the railroad siding site in New Milford."
Ainey noted that the study addresses passenger service as well, but he thought that until "some things start happening elsewhere," he didnt see this happening in the near future. Ainey added that while Scranton will have a passenger line going to New York City and is funded for that to happen in a few years, such is not the case with service from Binghamton, even though a New York State feasibility study determined that the fastest and quickest way to the New York metropolitan area from the NY Southern Tier was through Scranton.
Nevertheless, Ainey envisioned, and soon, a lot of non-passenger activity in the form of transloading with trucks coming to the New Milford site and loading materials both on and off the rail cars. A feed company is already using the siding, and Ainey said interest has been shown by area stone, concrete, and gravel businesses. He sees the possibility of better access to the site, with at least one building at it, which he said could be accomplished through grants.
For the nonce, however, County commissioners have to accept the findings of the study they commissioned and agree to form a Rail Authority and pursue railroad development. Ainey has suggested they visit New Milford and speak with other members of Council.
He also reported that County economic development director Justin Taylor announced the real possibility of a major employer setting up shop (actually, a distribution center) within two miles of New Milford, in the township. If such were the case, it would mean 375 jobs in its first year, increasing to 500 jobs by its second year. Holding up the transaction is the reluctance of a property owner to sell his land. A decision on whether the land deal will be done is expected any day. As member Carr put it, "Anything thats bringing in that kind of jobs is good."
Taylor also reported that land was recently purchased by the Gibson exit of the interstate by the same company who developed The Crossings outlet shopping mall in the Poconos. The buyer is looking for more land there as well all good things for the borough and the county.
The last bit of economic development discussion concerned the Southern Tier Plastics facility in town. Council member Mary Ann Warren reported that they are still waiting for the findings to come in on borings that were taken some time ago. She will also contact the owners of the facility to follow up on any plans they may have for it. While representatives of the company say they still consider the facility an asset, Council is concerned that the borough might ultimately be responsible for it should the company change its stance. Tearing down such a facility would mean spending significant dollars, and its not something the borough wants to be stuck with.
Codes enforcement officer Shane Lewis was also present to give his report on his activities on behalf of the borough since Council last met. This included speaking with the Youth Advocacy group, who Lewis said had received plans from the State Labor and Industry group; Lewis expects them to be up and running within the next few weeks. He also spoke with the owner of a new seamstress shop expected to open up soon. Lewis is in the process of getting her registered with Labor and Industry, and expects her business to be operating within 4-6 weeks. As to the Cosmello junkyard, Lewis reported that he "got in there as best I could, and everything seems to be in compliance."
It was next up to Council to decide to issue the permit, which they did, but not without resident Gerald Bevan reminding them that there were still a lot of boards missing from the fence and that he thought that junk was piled higher than the fence. "I think everybody in town feels that the junkyard ordinance is a joke. What you should do is get it off the books. Youre not going to enforce it. Why spend the money?" he asked.
Carr reminded those present that over the last six months or so Council determined that much of what it discussed re the junkyard was grandfathered, and president Scott Smith and others concurred. "I chalk up missing boards to routine maintenance," Carr continued, "and I dont think thats something that should prevent anyone from operating a business."
In the last item of his report, Lewis noted that a new hair salon would be opening in about a week, with everything seeming to be in order with Labor and Industry. He took this as an opportunity to tell Council that, by being a member of Council of Governments and its Codes Enforcement Committee, the borough and other members receive the benefit of local codes enforcement as well as state enforcement when it comes to commercial property. Thats because Lewis enforces compliance with both local and state regulations. A local business issued a permit by the local codes officer can begin business while waiting for its state permit. Without a local officer signing off, Lewis said, the business would have to wait significantly longer because Labor and Industry has assigned but one person to northeastern Pennsylvania.
Also discussed was a complaint that Taylor received from a resident who was told that she could not sell gunpowder from a storefront building which was also a residence. The resident thought this was a borough thing when, in fact, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is the federal agency that says you cant. Taylor noted that an individual must have a permit to store gunpowder, and certainly needs a permit to sell it.
Lewis left the meeting following his report, and when Council reviewed the bills to be paid, Ainey expressed to Council his concern that, at COG meetings, the borough seemed to be charged significantly more hours (billed in one-half hour increments versus the fifteen-minute increments the borough would prefer) than other COG members. Ainey was not implying anything, he said, but Borough secretary Amy Hine will review the times logged for other COG municipalities.
Discussion next turned to the sewer hook-up, with member Jan Zick reporting that, at the latest meeting of the Municipal Authority, the borough would be asked later on to make a resolution condemning all septic tanks in town. Zick also added that she thought residents would then have to fill them in. To which Taylor replied he would not do it because he recollected that, in the beginning of the project, residents were told this was something they would not have to do. "Is it fair to tell them that now?" he asked. Without such a request in hand from the Authority, Council will wait to discuss this further if and when it does get one.
What Council did vote on was to give a three per cent raise to borough employees, retroactive to the first of the year. Carr addressed the first-ever personnel policy manual which he distributed to other members, which lays out eligibility for various benefits and spells those benefits out, and which was adopted by Council. Ainey thought that a member of the Personnel Committee should be named to oversee that the policies are followed and to track certain benefit usage such as sick and vacation days simply in order not to put an employee in a difficult position of accountability. With Committee chair Chris Allen absent, it decided to take the matter up at a work session and with Allen, but all thought this was a good idea.
Council will also take action on getting a car removed from Pratt Street and another from Washington Street. Apparently, the vehicles have not been moved for some time and cause a lot of congestion in addition to making it difficult to plow. In the Pratt Street case, the car makes it difficult for school buses to turn around. Hine will research who the owners are, get in touch with them, and tell them to move their vehicles.
Other discussion centered on New Milfords constable, Terry Blacknell. The post of constable is an appointed position whose purpose is to serve papers and whose pay is based on the number of papers served. Taylor noted that a constable must also be a resident of the borough. Blacknell, it seems, has been a resident of Scranton for the last six months or so. Hine will send a certified letter to his last known address, conveying Councils understanding that he is no longer a resident of the borough and, if this is true, to resign the position of constable. If the certified letter is returned, Council will send it on to the judiciary who appointed the constable and ask for further direction.
As it has for the past couple of years, Council also recognized a New Milford Good Neighbor. This months honoree is J.R. Woffe, described by member Rick Ainey as a resident who gets involved in many borough events. A few that Ainey cited are umpire for the Little League, volunteering to be Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and entertaining children with his juggling skills during the librarys story time. In fact, when member Mary Ann Warren unexpectedly tossed Woffe three balls, he demonstrated those skills at the meeting.
The next regular meeting of the New Milford Borough Council is scheduled for March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Borough Building on Main Street.
Wilkes-Barre, PA - Pennsylvania-American Water Company cautions customers to be wary of individuals who try to gain access to their homes by posing as utility personnel.
"We want customers to feel secure when our service personnel visit their homes and businesses," said Lorri Lewis, communications manager for PAWCs northeastern region. "Residents should be aware that all legitimate water company employees, authorized to enter homes, will be dressed in company uniforms and carrying proper identification." She added that most service calls are scheduled in advance for the convenience of the customer.
Pennsylvania-American recommends customers take the following steps to ensure their safety against impostors: Ask for proper identification. Do not open the door to anyone who cannot provide an ID card. Thoroughly inspect the identification card. The front of a Pennsylvania-American ID card will display the persons picture and the companys logo. Check the service persons vehicle. All Pennsylvania-American vehicles have the companys logo clearly displayed on the side. If there is still some question about the persons identity, the customer should contact Pennsylvania-American at (800) 565-7292 to confirm if the service person is working in the area.
Pennsylvania-American recommends customers take these four simple steps to guard against impostors.
"There is no need to feel uneasy about making someone wait outside until youre sure the person is a legitimate utility worker," said Lewis. "Pennsylvania-American employees care about your safety, and they dont mind the wait. We believe its worth your peace of mind."
Christopher V. Manniana, 29, Hallstead Borough, and Roberta Aileen Brush, 24, Hallstead Borough.
Tax Claim Bureau to James G. Smith & Arden Martenz in Hallstead Borough for $604.50.
Tax Claim Bureau to William W. Conrad in Harford Township for $650.
Edward Mikolon and Elizabeth Mikolon to William Staas and Diane Staas in Forest City Borough for $20,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Citimortgage, Inc. in Middletown Township for $1,131.93.
Helen Lewis, fka Helen Darling to Helen Lewis, Edward S. Darling, Michael Darling, and Elizabeth Spickerman in Rush Township for $1.
Mark Powers to Powers Stone, Inc. in Forest Lake Township for surface mining activities.
Irene J. Kosarick and Walter J. Kosarick to Walter J. Kosarick and Irene J. Kosarick, Trustees under the Kosarick Family Living Trust in Herrick Township for $1.
Thomas W. MacBlane to Gregory A. MacBlane in Silver Lake Township for $1.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Washington Mutual Home Loans, Inc. in Hallstead Borough for $2,225.17.
Bernard Papocchia and Patty Ann Papocchia to Community Bank and Trust Company in Forest City Borough for $1 for deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
Skip M. Tracy and Mary E. Thoden to Alexander R. Darrow and Tekla C. Darrow in Franklin Township for $70,900.
Jeffrey Haberle and Colleen Haberle to Jeffrey Haberle and Colleen Haberle in Franklin Township for $1.
Jeffrey Haberle and Colleen Haberle to Abram Haberle and Carole Diane Haberle in Franklin Township for $1.
James R. Luxich and Paulette Luxich to Robert T. Meeks and Virginia A. Meeks in Ararat Township for $32,000.
Leslie James Palmer to Timothy Fisher in Harford Township for bluestone mining operation.
Christopher E. LeBlanc and Gilda J. LeBlanc to Frank Bach, IV in Auburn Township for $53,000.
Lidie M. King to Franz Fearnley in Middletown Township for $72,000.
James J. Vogel, Executor of the Estate of Mildred J. Vogel to James J. Vogel and Joanna McGuire in Great Bend Borough for $1.
William E. Buechel and Walter E. Buechel, Co-Executors of the Estate of Beverly J. Beuchel to William E. Beuchel and Walter E. Beuchel in Liberty Township for $1 ogvc.
Gerald Linfoot and Richard Linfoot, Co-Executors of the Estate of J. Henry Linfoot, Gerald Linfoot and Janice L. Linfoot and Richard Linfoot and Patricia Linfoot to Gerald Linfoot in Bridgewater Township for $1 ogvc.
Peter B. Caspersen to Kay D. Caspersen in Choconut Township for quit claim deed.
Delores Arbosheski to Timothy Canfield and Laurel E. Canfield in Bridgewater Township for $1.
Kenneth Farr to Kenneth Farr in Jackson Township for $1.
Richard Wheeler and Diane Wheeler to Austin Wheeler in Harmony Township for subordination agreement.
Christy M. McAvoy to Julie L. Flaherty in Choconut Township for $42,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Community Bank & Trust Company for $10,291.83.
Joyce M. Thorn to Joyce M. Thorn in Ararat Township for $1.
Dale Rockwell aka Dale L. Rockwell, Sr. to James Delaney in Thompson Township for $1.
Robert G. Bennett and Lupe P. Mata-Bennett to Robert G. Bennett and Lupe P. Mata-Bennett in New Milford Township for $1 ogvc.
Martin J. Truskolaski to Dawn Truskolaski in Oakland Township for $1.
Phillip Pierson, et al. to Eleanore J. Belcher in Springville Township for $115,000.
Lydia Abaunza to D. Mark MacGargle in Silver Lake Township for $85,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Washington Mutual Bank, FA in Herrick Township for $802.14.
William T. Bennett to Richard E. Morahan and Diana T. Morahan in Rush and Pike Townships for $25,000.
William A. Hodgson to Earl D. Heffline & Vicki Heffline in Oakland Township for $1,300.
Earl D. Heffline & Vicki Heffline to William W. Toomer & Lisa D. Toomer in Oakland Township for $58,900.
Earl D. Heffline & Vicki Heffline to William A. Hodgson in Oakland Township for $1 (transfer paid on fair market value of $750).
Lawrence L. Anderson and Marie A. Anderson to Robert D. Anderson and Gloria J. Anderson in Silver Lake Township for $70,000.
George Humber, Jr. and William James Humber to William James Humber in Bridgewater Township for $1.
Allan Warner and Gwendolyn Warner and Wesley A. Warner to Wesley A. Warner and Brenda L. Warner in Dimock Township for $1.
William Lawrence and Debra Lawrence to Benjamin William Lawrence in Bridgewater Township for $1.
Kendra L. Chotkowski and Stanley Chotkowski to Kendra L. Chotkowski and Stanley Chotkowski in Springville Township for $1.
Cynthia J. Hussa, nbm Cynthia J. Thompson and Richard C. Thompson to Frances P. Allen in Montrose Borough for $68,000.
George W. McClure, Executor of the Estate of James E. McClure to Myron B. DeWitt and Karen M. DeWitt, George Cernusca and Moira Jan Hummel in Lanesboro Borough for $1,500.
James H. Brush by his Co-Agents and Power of Attorney Janey Denney and Myron Denney, III to Sigrid J. Reddon in Oakland Township for $85,000.
Estate of Peter A. Alesky to James M. Johnson and Patricia E. Johnson in New Milford Township for $55,000.
Lina Ransom Shively, Executrix of the Estate of Gertrude E. Ransom to Linda Ransom Shively and Beverly Ransom Madigan in Lenox Township for $1.
George A. Lucas and Cynthia M. Mrykalo, nbm Cynthia M. Lucas to George A. Lucas and Cynthia M. Lucas in Herrick Township for no consideration.
Estate of Freda Kornreich, by Estelle Friedman, Executrix, and Michael Friedman and Melinda Friedman and Richard Friedman and Jeffrey Friedman and Barbara Friedman to Richard Friedman in Clifford Township for $1 ogvc.
Patricia Sweeney, Executrix of the Estate of John W. Brusitus to Patricia Sweeney in Dimock Township for $1 ogvc.
Paul Walker and Joy A. Walker to Arlene M. Reynolds in Oakland Township for $58,000.
Barbara M. Kirk, Attorney-in-Fact for Linda Caracappa fka Linda Carney to Thomas P. Carney, Inc. in Jessup Township for $1.
Jason Oakey and Karen Oakey and Albert Oakey, Jr. to Deborah Giddings and Walter R. Faatz in Forest City Borough for $76,700.35.
William P. Steele and Dawn M. Owens nbm Dawn M. Steele to the Most Reverend James C. Timlin, DD, Bishop of Scranton & Trustee for the Roman Catholic Churches of Forest City in Forest City Borough for $65,000.
Frank R. Currier and Carole M. Currier to Patrick J. Clark and Barbara H. Clark in Ararat Township for $22,900.
Marilynn A. Hughes to Marilynn A. Hughes, Tamara A. Hughes and Renee M. Russell in New Milford Township for $1.
Joseph P. Franceski, Jr. and Deborah L. Franceski to Joselyn E. Franceski in Forest City Borough for $1.
Jean H. Robison to Sally R. Markarian in New Milford Borough for $1.
Selden C. Birchard and Arlene M. Birchard to Eileen J. Birchard in Forest Lake Township for $1.
Archie J. Ellsworth and Connie Ellsworth to Richard R. Roberts and Sally P. Roberts in Bridgewater Township for $3,000.
William A. Larue, Jr. and Lorraine M. Larue to Charles J. Karlowicz in Auburn Township for $75,000.
Gay Rose Benio to Gail Benio in Silver Lake Township for $1.
Frank C. Williams and Mary E. Williams to Raymond C. Davis and Alice M. Davis in Springville Township for $1.
Henry C. Flower aka Henry Flower to Alice M. Davis in Springville Township for $27,000.
Joseph J. Hess by Mary E. Reinwald, his Attorney-in-Fact to Mary E. Reinwald and Charles E. Reinwald, Dawn Tresch and Peter Tresch and Charles B. Reinwald in Franklin Township for $1.
Sometime between 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. a burglary occurred at Benson Bros. Oil. Co., Erie Blvd., Susquehanna Borough, and was investigated by PA State Police. No other information was available.
Patrick W. Joasil, 26, Cambrian-Heights, NY, had a minor injury to the head and complaints of pain in the back after he fell asleep at the wheel of his 1999 Honda Civic on February 4 at 4:40 p.m., on Interstate 81, Great Bend Township. His vehicle crossed both lanes of travel, left the roadway, traveled into the median and then rolled over onto its roof. Joasil was taken to Barnes-Kasson Hospital, Susquehanna.
Kurt Steele, Springville, in a 1992 Dodge Caravan, struck Shannon Phillips, Springville, in a 1998 Ford Explorer, while turning onto Teel Rd, Springville Township. Steele was taken to Tyler Hospital for a minor arm injury. Phillips was not injured. Both vehicles had severe damage in this December 8 accident at 8:44 a.m.
Between December 24-25, someone drove a vehicle that was too big into the South Montrose Car Wash, Route 29, Bridgewater Township, and damaged equipment.
Apparently it was the box truck that had been previously stolen from Donald Dean and Son in Montrose. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-7560, and refer to incident R5-490370.
FALSE REPORTS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES
On December 15 at 1:15 a.m., Albert A. Baker, 32, Susquehanna, reported his vehicle and firearms were stolen from his residence at State Route 92, Jackson Township. An investigation revealed that Baker had been in a crash with his vehicle and attempted to remove himself from responsibility by reporting it stolen. Baker was charged with false reports to law enforcement authorities, a misdemeanor, and numerous traffic violations concerning the crash.
ONE CAR CRASH-ONE MINOR INJURY
James McCollum, RD 3, Montrose, struck a utility pole on Route 706, Bridgewater Township, with his 1994 Toyota pickup on February 2.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Thomas Flood, Vandling, was traveling south on State Route 171, Clifford Township, and went off the roadway, struck an embankment and flipped over. The incident occurred on November 23.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
A two vehicle collision occurred as Roger Williams, Meshoppen, traveling on Township Road 326, Auburn Township, attempted to turn onto Township Route 329 and struck a vehicle driven by Todd Oakley, Meshoppen. The incident occurred on January 31. No injuries were noted.
Someone entered the residence of Darin Mason, State Route 167, Brooklyn Township, while no one was home. Taken were a Remington Model 700 BDL 7 mm Mag. with a 3 X 9 Leopold Scope, a Mossberg 12 ga shotgun, a Marlin 22 semiauto rifle and a gold diamond tennis bracelet. Anyone with information on this January 24 incident may contact the barracks at 570-465-7560 and refer to incident R5-492609.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Peter Hawryluk, 85, Susquehanna, lost control of his pickup truck while negotiating a curve on State Route 171, Great Bend Township. The vehicle left the roadway, turned over and struck a tree. Hawryluk was taken to Barnes-Kasson Hospital with moderate injury and passenger Helen Hawryluk, 82, Susquehanna, was flown to Robert Packer Hospital with major injury, on January 29.
TWO CAR CRASH--NO INJURY
On January 20 Randy Bishop, Jr., 21, Susquehanna, was in a 1999 Chevy truck, traveling into the intersection of State Routes 492 and 11, and struck Bev Pashchuk, 50, (no address given) in the left side of her 1984 Ford. No injuries were reported.
HIT & RUN
Someone struck an unattended vehicle in the parking lot of the ABC Market, Clifford Township, and fled the scene on December 27. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police at 570-465-3154.
Dennis Scion, 50, Mountville, was traveling south on Interstate 81, and lost control of his vehicle on the bridge at the Great Bend exit, and crashed into the concrete abutment. Ronald Kohler, 47, Endicott, NY, then lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the guide rail. No injuries were reported in this January 24 incident.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
Walter E. Franz, Falls, in a 1999 Kenworth T800, dumped a load at the PENNDOT stockpile on State Route 171 at State Route 1001, Thompson Township. After doing so, Franz forgot to lower the dump body and started south on 171. The dump body struck utility wires which spanned the roadway, causing the vehicle to roll onto its right side. The incident occurred on January 21 at 11:50 a.m.
Thompson Boro council met on February 3, with all members present with the exception of Roselyn Lee; also present were mayor Jim Delaney, secretary Diane Sheldon, treasurer Marge Whitney, police chief Tom Rivenburg and several audience members.
One of the audience members asked if it would be possible to ask PENNDOT to keep the entrance of the Methodist Church clear of snow, as it was at another property nearby. Council president Dennis Price responded that it is not feasible for PENNDOT to keep snow from accumulating at any given site; if the property in question was being kept free of snow, it was undoubtedly because a private contractor has been hired to clear the driveway. Council member Andy Gardner added that PENNDOT should be contacted to see about clearing some of the snow banks at intersections, which have limited visibility. Streets committee member Allen Lloyd agreed to contact PENNDOT about the snow banks, as well as to request that the boros street lights be checked, as some of them are not working or are in need of repair.
Mr. Price reported that bids had been opened for the boros sewage project; low bid came in at $1,693,321. There had been, he said, some "rough waters" that had come up prior to the bidding process, but bidding had been concluded on schedule. The process involves a 120-day review period, after which the contract will be awarded. In the meantime, other information is being compiled. One concern is that the project will involve a shortfall of funds, estimated at anywhere from $700,000 to $800,000. With this in mind, Mr. Price has sent letters to all congressmen and representatives for the area, asking for help with any financial assistance that may be available. The letter said, in part, that the boro has been working on this project for 16 years; its population is 298, with approximately 51% of those residents in a low-income bracket. The boro is in the process of applying for CDBG grant funds to help with hook-up costs, estimated at between $800 and $1,000 per dwelling unit. The letter concluded that keeping the projects costs down is a great concern to the boro, and asking for aid in finding a source of funding to complete the project. One response received so far suggested that the boro pursue additional funding at the federal level. Mr. Price added that council is looking into any viable options that will not make it necessary to raise projected monthly usage fees to property owners.
In a related discussion, Mr. Price reported that the owner of one particular property had asked that the plans be altered to include gravity service, rather than a grinding pump. After consultation with the project engineers, Mr. Price said that this is feasible for this particular property; it will not require altering the project plans, and will actually result in a reduction of cost in this instance.
Council reviewed copies of a letter sent by the boro solicitor, Myron DeWitt, to property owners who had recently requested that their properties be included in the project. In part, the letter said that the process for the plans approval had begun four years ago; it had been advertised, public meetings had been held. Public input had been solicited prior to the plans being finalized. A number of public agencies had expended time and effort to develop the plan; all boro property owners had been given ample time to request inclusion in the project. Including these properties in the project at this stage would result in a financial hardship to the boro. Other residents who had requested to be included in the project had been turned down due to the costs involved. The letter concluded by saying that these properties could be included in the project if the owners were willing to assume the cost of extending the lines.
In other business, Mr. Price reported that there had been a problem with the existing sewage system; a backup had been repaired. It had been found that the problem was the result of tree roots blocking the line, which required replacing pipe after excavation.
The boro has applied for a DCED Community Revitalization grant, to purchase a new police car. As of the date of the meeting, no response had been received.
Mr. Gardner had attended a codes workshop, to consider the impact new state codes will have on municipalities. Although the codes have not yet gone into effect, it is expected that they will, fairly soon. One topic that had been discussed was the requirement that all building will require inspection; for instance, a new home will require three separate inspections of the foundation alone, before work on the structure itself could proceed. The inspection process could present a considerable problem in small municipalities; it may discourage (new) building in small, rural areas and could encourage factory-built homes, which would not require the same inspection process. One option would be for council members to obtain provisional certification as inspectors, but Mr. Gardner feels that this would be a conflict of interest. "There could be a liability if they dont know what theyre doing," he said, although a municipalitys errors and omissions insurance coverage would address any resulting liability. NTRPDC is promoting cooperate use of inspectors, he said, as well as regional planning. Another option would be for municipalities to "pool" together for inspection services. There were some other aspects of the new codes that could present a problem, such as the need to have timber used in building inspected even if cut and used by the property owner.
Another item of concern brought up by Mr. Gardner was a bulletin from the state Association of Boroughs, advising that new legislation is pending regarding storm water. If the law goes into effect, he said, the boro will need a plan as to what to do with storm water, as well as how to administer the new regulations.
During public comment period, an audience member expressed concern about three "junk" cars that were in the fire halls yard. They looked, she said, "terrible." Mrs. Whitney explained that the cars were used for training, not only by the Thompson Hose Co., but by other fire companies as well. The audience member asked if the cars could not be moved to another area of the yard, perhaps behind the building. Mrs. Whitney explained that the cars are not driveable, and had to be towed in. Once the training had been completed, in a matter of a few weeks, the cars would be removed. Mr. Lloyd added that in a hypothetical situation he, personally, would feel more confident in knowing that local emergency personnel had the best training available, and did not see a problem with the temporary location of the cars in question.
Also discussed were speed limit signs that had been relocated, apparently without any "official" clearance; Mr. Lloyd was of the opinion that the boro would have to be responsible for re-placing them in their original locations after the spring thaw.
A building permit was approved for the Delaney property on Jefferson St.; information received from the county Planning Commission indicated that the plans had met all county requirements for an additional greenhouse. A motion carried to approve.
Secretary Diane Sheldon relayed information received from the county Board of Elections, regarding which boro positions will be up for reelection, including three council seats, currently held by Jeff Sheldon, Scott Halesky and Andy Gardner.
Mr. Gardner expressed interest in attending a meeting to be held with representatives of other local municipalities; guest speaker will be a representative from the Governors Center for Local Services, to discuss land use development and comprehensive plans. Mr. Gardner will also contact Starrucca Boro, Thompsons closest neighbor borough, for information on what their plans are to address the building codes issue as well as implementing a comprehensive plan.
There was a lengthy discussion regarding plowing costs for the last several months. Mayor Delaney stated that he understands that these costs are relative to recent weather conditions, but, he asked, wouldnt it be more feasible for the boro to look into purchasing its own vehicle and hiring someone to do plowing and cindering? He suggested that, once the new sewage facility is complete, the boro will have a place to store a vehicle as well as road materials. Mr. Delaney suggested that grant funding could be pursued to finance the purchase of a vehicle. "Were here for the people," he said. "We should be looking at saving money." Mr. Price agreed that council should look into purchasing a vehicle once the sewer project is complete. "Im not against a vehicle if we can afford it," he said, "but can we afford to keep a person on the job, and the upkeep (of the vehicle)? We can look at it, see if theres a way to save money. But, until the plant is finished, we have no place to keep a vehicle." Mr. Price asked Mr. Delaney to gather more information.
Mr. Delaney also brought up a concern about property owners who do not keep their sidewalks cleared of snow. Mr. Lloyd responded that the boro has attempted to address the problem, with unsatisfactory results. Mr. Price added that the boro has followed existing ordinances "to the letter," but when cases were brought before the magistrate, the results were unsatisfactory. "The only thing that can be done, is to get back on a rampage, to get people to comply." Mr. Gardner added that the outcome was a lot of "aggravation" on councils part, with very little results. Mr. Delaney stated that perhaps what is needed is to start from scratch, and revise the existing ordinances if necessary.
The next topic of discussion was a complaint about a possible sewage malfunction. The situation was so bad, it was said, that there is a noxious odor emanating from the property, as well as visible sewage on top of the ground. A motion carried to request that the boros SEO conduct an inspection and make a recommendation for corrective action. If the property in question has an on-lot system, the property owner will be responsible for the cost of the inspection.
The last topic of discussion was the sewer maintenance fund; Mrs. Whitney reported that there were insufficient funds at this date to cover an expected payment for interest on the loan the boro has taken out to cover costs of the new sewage project; a motion carried to use $150 from the general fund, which will be replaced when revenues are received from monthly maintenance payments.
The next meeting will be on Monday, March 3, 7:30 p.m. in the fire hall on Water St.
All council members were in attendance, with the exception of Eric Lynn, at the Hop Bottom Borough February 4 meeting. There was a moment of silence, as suggested by Mayor Paul Henry for the seven astronauts who met a fiery death the weekend of February 1.
Janice Webster, President, announced no new business until spring for the park, and noted there had been a special meeting regarding a grant filing that was approved for the Marten's Creek Watershed. Paperwork was sent to DCED regarding the latter. The next Watershed meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., February 17 at Grace Lutheran Church on Greenwood Street.
Henry included the following in his report from Chief Ron Cosklo's Police Report: 10 traffic citations, 1 eluding officer, l stolen vehicle, 1 dog complaint, 1 possible burglary and 1 ATV stolen. The mayor also reported that he attended Lenox Township's supervisors meeting the previous night, and they had agreed to give the borough a check for $1,171.95 towards culvert work.
There was further discussion regarding contacting the Stouts for acquisition of their property on South Center Street. To date, the Stouts have not responded to phone calls. The council members looked with interest on plans for renovating the current Borough Hall on Forest Street. The building will be reconstructed and made handicap accessible. Any people who are interested in helping with this project or have any ideas for the borough project are requested to contact the Council.
Sensors to control the lights will be installed on all the poles that hold Christmas decorations over the holiday. Henry reported new brackets will also be installed to affix them. Webster still is working on approaching the owners of the property adjacent to Creamery Pond to see if they will permit the borough to decorate around it next year.
Mike Molenko is still having some challenge, working with putting borough identification on the new trash barrels that were purchased recently.
Sue Pratt reported that Gary Sanauskas immediately responded the next day after the last meeting to remove snow that he had inadvertently piled too high on a property for sale in the borough. Webster reported that cinders for roads had been delivered. The borough will work out with Sanauskas a purchase of some material, noted borough Secretary/Treasurer, Bonnie Lippart.
Gary Griffis and Joann Wisniewski went over the general information given at a recent Emergency Management meeting in Montrose. John Koshinski offered to help with paperwork that needs to go to the hose company.
Street repairs at Eric Lynn's will not be addressed by the borough to PENNDOT until spring.
The mayor reported that he took down most of the lights and decorations on the town Christmas tree on the island on Route #11.
There are three council seats open for the next general election. Joann Wisniewski, Gary Griffis and Janice Webster. Sue Pratt and Charlie Kilgore must run to serve the remainder of the terms for which they were appointed.
The Hop Bottom Borough Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Borough Building on Forest Street. The public is urged to attend.
On February 3 the Great Bend Township conducted another record breaking meeting.
Roll call for the meeting included Vice-Chairman Banko, Supervisor Haskins, and Secretary/ Treasurer Sheldon.
The agenda for the evening was approved, with an amendment when a concerned citizen requested time to talk about the condition of Old Route 11.
The next item on the agenda was approval of the minutes and the treasurers report.
During the discussion concerning Old Route 11, the township informed the citizen that it would cost approximately $270,000 (which is roughly a 5-year budget for current road materials on all other roads) to reinstate Old 11, as the road that is used to be. The township is cold patching this winter to reduce some of the damage done to the vehicles that travel this road on a frequent basis. There are hopes that 40% of the road can be brought up to spec some time this summer.
The Roadmasters report covered rebuilding of broken cinder spreaders, work on the cinder pile, installation of the new Airflow spreader, changing hydraulic units on some of the plows, and the need to purchase a new diesel pump for the townships storage tank. With need of a new pump, a question was raised whether or not it would be more beneficial for the township to purchase fuel at one of the local distribution centers, than to purchase and store the liquid in bulk form. The supervisor said that buying bulk is not only a less expensive option, but it allows them to control the quality of fuel that they are burning in the equipment that maintains the roads in all weather conditions. The metered diesel pump will be purchased at the cost of $455.
The commercial permit for Donna Fekette is still ongoing.
The township received a letter from former SEO Michael Fortuner, informing them that he will not complete the work that he started unless they guarantee him the nomination for SEO for the current calendar year. Investigation involving the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Scranton is underway to determine what legal action, if any, that the township can enact to ensure that people who have applied for sewer permits will receive them without having to start the process all over again.
Bryon Lesjack requested permission to create a subdivision, which calls for addition of property to land he already owns in Great Bend Township. Permission was granted with the requests that 1) the transaction be classified as a land addition, 2) a statement be added to the survey informing the owner that any future development will require a sewage management permit.
Under the heading of communications and correspondence the Great Bend received two communiqués. The Assessment Office for Susquehanna County sent information regarding the new tax audits for the current fiscal year, and an FYI (for your info) letter was received from Inland Marine Insurance Company informing the township that their new spreader was added to the policy.
Under unfinished business: the Hallstead /Great Bend Township line; codes violations against Hornish, Slocum, and Dixon; the Tire Remediation Grant for Interstate Burlap and Bag; the road subsidence at Graham Hollow Road (even though the township applied a temporary fix); the Road Naming and Addressing Policy; and the Emergency Operation Plan are all ongoing situations.
During public comment period, people in attendance informed the supervisors that the roads were being maintained better than ever, and a question was raised whether or not repairs were being done in-house or if they were being subcontracted? The township informed the citizens that all repairs that could be done in-house by their mechanic were being done, and all repairs that became too technical were subcontracted.
The meeting ended in record time at 7:50 p.m.
The Montrose Borough Council made short work of its agenda at its February meeting, and wrapped up business in near-record time.
This included going over various estimates for, and discussing the purchase of, some items sorely needed by the Borough and mentioned in Street Department foreman Ken DiPhillips monthly report.
The first is an overhead door for the equipment shop. The current one has undergone several repairs, the most recent early in this new year. DiPhillips obtained estimates for various overhead door configurations. Council will obtain at least one other quote and discuss the matter further at a later meeting. DiPhillips is recommending an insulated door (the current one is not), which he says will make a huge difference in heat loss, thus saving fuel.
The second item is a new (well, used, but with a complete and up-to-date maintenance and service record) backhoe. The current one keeps breaking, and Council members spoke about the large amount of money the Borough has put into it over the years. Because the recent big snow and the latest breakdown of the backhoe occurred at the same time, DiPhillips had to rent a backhoe to move the white stuff.
DiPhillips spoke with a dealership about a good used backhoe it has, received a written estimate for it, and passed it along to Council. While Council wouldnt comment on the amount of the estimate because it first wants to obtain two more, Council president Craig Reimel did say that it was less than $10,000.
All Council members acknowledged that this was a significant amount of money. Reimel asked, "Can we afford to do it, and can we afford not to do it?" He added that the borough seemingly keeps putting $2,000 into the current one every winter.
Council member Jack Yaeger noted that the budget has allocated $3,000 for capital expenses, $6,000 for vehicle maintenance, and another $3,000 for similar equipment repairs. "Actually," he noted, "theres about $12,000 there among these three budget allocations." He added that the borough could also tap the liquid fuels money to some extent. "Its do-able, financially," said Yaeger.
For his part, council member Elmer Taylor thought it a good thing that the borough could be able to take advantage of opportunities, like the backhoe, as they come along. Apparently, the talked-about backhoe is pretty big, and Taylor thought that heavier equipment lasts longer than lighter-weight equipment when it comes to vehicles. Fred Peckins, council member, added that the borough seemed to spend more every year on the current backhoe, with $2,000-$3,000 this year alone in putting the shuttle back on the equipment. "It just makes sense" to look into the new one, he said.
Council seemed to be in agreement. As member Bernie Zalewski put it, "Keeping the new one is putting good money after bad." Thus, once secretary Annette Rogers obtains two more bids, Council passed a motion to move on the most competitive.
In other borough business, Taylor asked about crosswalk signs at the hospital. Two signs are up on the sidewalks at either end of the hospital on Grow Avenue, but no one seems to pay attention to them. Rogers reported that she spoke with a PENNDOT representative about her proposal to them about free crosswalk signs. Apparently, reported Rogers, PENNDOT is having a dispute with the manufacturer of the crosswalk equipment, which would be positioned in the middle of the road and would note that pedestrians have the right of way. Once the PENNDOT/manufacturer issue is resolved, the signs will be on their way.
Rogers noted that PENNDOT was planning to send four such signs to each municipality. "The only thing they ask," she said, "is that someone dedicate one hour once a month to count how many vehicles go by, and how many pedestrians cross the road, and send PENNDOT the statistics." She added that the borough is responsible for putting up and taking down the signs, noting that perhaps the hospital can take on that responsibility on behalf of its patients.
Rogers said that she would also speak with borough policemen about enforcement of the pedestrian crossing signs, which are also by the courthouse. The fine for failure to obey is $93.50.
The borough received one additional resume in response to its advertisement for a building codes enforcement officer, for a total of two. It agreed to ask one respondent to come in for an interview.
Council also reappointed Albert Belinsky to another term with the municipal authority, decided to advertise for parks personnel, and gave its permission to the VFW for its Memorial Day parade.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council is scheduled for March 3, 7 p.m. in the Borough Building.
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