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Alerted About Scams
Susquehanna County authorities have been kept on the go in recent weeks, investigating reports of individuals bilking senior citizens out of large sums of money, attempts to gain entry into homes of older persons, and issuing counterfeit payroll checks, a scam that has netted the culprits a sizable amount of money. At press time, no arrests were made.
The rash of incidents has caused Sheriff Lance Benedict and Debbie Millard, chief county detective, to issue alerts urging seniors not to do any type of business with strangers or individuals who do not have proper identification.
The latest warning came on the heels of a report than an elderly county couple was charged more than $600 by two men who removed some ice from the roof of their home and sprayed it with a substance they said would prevent any leaks. Authorities believe the couple was charged much more than the value of the work that was performed.
Benedict and Millard have also teamed up with the Area Agency on Aging in investigating calls from people who have had visits and phone calls from suspicious individuals seeking access to homes and personal information by phone. Sheriff Benedict said these individuals are passing themselves off as representatives from the Area Agency on Aging.
According to the sheriff, one person was visited by a man who said he was an attorney representing the agency on aging and offered to help the person prepare his Will. Fortunately, the man would not let the caller enter his house. Instead he called the Area Agency on Aging and learned that the agency does not have any attorney making house calls to senior citizens.
Millard said a number of counterfeit payroll checks alleged to be issued by a New York cleaning company have been cashed in Susquehanna County. She said area businesses have cashed 11 of the checks totaling about $3,500.
Millard said authorities from New York and Pennsylvania believe the individuals responsible for cashing the counterfeit checks are setting up shop in strategic locations along Interstate 81. She said they may be holed up in motels along the Interstate where they print the checks, cash them and then move on.
Most of the checks are drawn against the same cleaning company but the checks reflect banks that no longer exist, such as the Pioneer American Bank in Carbondale which was acquired a few years ago by a larger financial group. Actually the cleaning company is a legitimate New York business but the owners of it know nothing about the counterfeit checks.
A couple of obvious flaws in the forged checks are quickly noticeable. Some of them are drawn against the "Frist (rather than First) National Bank of Chicago, Ill." The checks also fail to show zip codes on the addresses.
Millard said the individuals cashing the counterfeit checks usually purchase multiple cartons of cigarettes. She said anyone with knowledge about the counterfeit ring is urged to call the Susquehanna County District Attorneys office or the Pennsylvania State Police.
Sheriff Benedict urges all seniors who are visited by strangers or who receive questionable phone calls to call the Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-982-4346.
The March 11 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council was unusual, in that it was held with a "packed house." There were very few empty seats when the meeting began, with more arrivals after the meeting was underway. With the exception of Roy Williams, all council members were present as well as Mayor Roberta Kelly, Secretary Margaret Biegert and CEO Shane Lewis.
The meeting began with Mayor Kellys report. In an effort to "try to help a few folks," she had a proposal to consider with regard to the parking ban on West Main St. She suggested that a committee be formed, with councils approval, members to include residents Andy Whitehead and Andy Francis. She recommended that enforcement of the ban be postponed until September, to give time to devise a reasonable solution. "We all realize we have a problem," She said, "but we do want to come up with a solution. This is a horse and buggy community, it was set up for that. Obviously, the dead of winter is not a great time to enforce a parking ban." Another suggestion was that the ban possibly be lifted for a couple of hours a day, to allow for visitor parking, unloading, etc.
Other topics of the mayors report included a February 26 meeting, held with representatives from DCED and the local business community, to discuss the states Main St. Program. There are a number of options to consider; the first step in the procedure is to come up with a "Vision Plan," which will direct what way the community is going to go. The plan would include infrastructure projects already "on the drawing board."
And, Penelec will be closing its Susquehanna branch within two weeks, with no advance notice given to the boro. Workers presently at the Susquehanna site are being sent to Preston Park. Several area businesses are sending letters to Penelec, expressing concern about the response time that would be involved if there were to be an accident or event in the area; Mayor Kelly recommended that council also send a letter.
After the mayors report, council member Bill Kuiper commented on her proposal to set up a committee to work on the West Main St. problem; he liked the proposal, he said, and asked if the committee could address all boro streets, not just West Main St. "I would be willing to serve. Im in favor of solving the problem."
Persons requesting time on the agenda were Andy Francis and Andy Whitehead. Mr. Francis began by saying that he also liked the idea of forming a committee, and also suggested forming one. But, he had a proposition, based on a point of contention. He does not believe councils enacting the ordinance is in residents best interests, or legal. He disagreed with an opinion written by the boros solicitor, which he summarized as stating that a study need not be conducted by a certified engineer. There is criteria for moving ahead with a committee, he said, but disagreed with Mr. Kuiper; it should focus on one specific problem, one area at a time and stick with West Main St. at this time. Mr. Kuiper responded that the committee should start by looking specifically at West Main St., then go on and look at others.
Mr. Francis answered that the committee should be very focused on what theyd like to accomplish. It should work on coming up with an amicable solution. But, imposing an impending deadline would be a constriction. He asked council to rescind ordinance 430, with the stipulation that a committee be founded, established and active; the parking ban could be voted back if the committee fails to stay active, or if solution cannot be found. He added that some residents dont have any place to put a driveway in; council should not be imposing undue hardships on residents.
Andy Whitehead asked council to temporarily rescind enacting the ordinance until a committee could make recommendations, to give an opportunity to examine the issues without a time constriction.
Mr. Francis suggested that the committee be comprised of three citizens, Andy Whitehead, Andy Francis, and Joe Schell, as well as council members.
A number of residents spoke out during public comment. Summarizing what was said by audience members, it was noted that there is a problem, but couldnt council work with residents to find a compromise that would be beneficial to all. If parking is banned at one end of the street, it would cause a problem further down, with people looking for a place to park. Properties would be devalued if parking is taken away. Council is more concerned with people driving out of town than with taxpayers. The ordinance is a good idea, but why spend taxpayers money to put it in effect; how would it be enforced, with the police department down to "bare bones," with no patrols at times; ticketing will be unfair. The ban inadvertently affects everyone. There have been no fatalities or major wrecks in this area. Ticketing has not been uniform; a visitor was ticketed, but a resident parked illegally for months never got one. Traffic in this area is not congested; hours go by with very few cars. The ban is creating a hardship; everyone needs a placed to park. The ban is just making it hard for people who live in the boro. Residences on West Main St. are taxed at a higher rate than others, but get fewer benefits. If the problem began with snow, it would make more sense to rescind the ordinance, and enforce a winter parking ban if that is when the problem is occurring. Why not amend the street to make it more feasible for everyone.
Resident Gene Price commented that he has been attending council meetings for about ten years, and noted that there were lots of new people attending on this evening. "If people would attend more often, some of these problems wouldnt come up."
Referring to the matter of enforcement, Tom Kelly asked if residents would be in favor of a tax increase to address the manpower shortage in the police department. "What it boils down to is, if we want more we have to pay more; do taxpayers feel its worth it? Most other boros dont have police any more. And when they do, sometimes (officers) dont show up (for their scheduled shifts)."
In answer to a question, Mr. Kelly stated that the ban had originated with PENNDOT, through information received by streets commissioner Steve Glover, regarding complaints about inaccessibility when plows come through. "Winter is what brought it on." Andy Whitehead said that he had contacted a number of PENNDOT offices, and was unable to speak with anyone, from Harrisburg to Dunmore, that had any concern. "They do not get involved with local issues," he said. If the complaints were coming from plow personnel, area supervisors should be contacted. Todd Glover cited a complaint from PENNDOTs Susquehanna County maintenance manager, stating that a truck had been unable to plow in the area of 610 West Main St.; another truck had to be brought in from Thompson to plow the area. Resident Roze DeCicco reported that she had discussed the situation with the driver, since it had been her vehicle that was the problem. Since then, she made sure that her vehicle was moved when plowing was needed, and then moved back when it was done. Mr. Glover said that PENNDOTs district traffic engineer had written to the streets commissioner, recommending that the boro conduct a study, and ban parking. In response to a question, Mr. Glover noted that the letter was not dated.
Mr. Francis suggested that, once a committee is put in place, a meeting should be arranged with the boro police department.
Council president Ron Whitehead asked for a motion to rescind ordinance 430, with the stipulation that a committee be put in force. The motion passed unanimously. Council member John Bronchella suggested that forming the committee be tabled until the March 25 council meeting, when PENNDOT is expected to send representatives to discuss the problem. Mr. Whitehead responded that he would like to see the committee start now, so that they could be in place at the March 25 meeting. CEO Shane Lewis, a resident of the boro, requested to be on the committee, as he has some concerns. His lawn care business services several properties in that area; what would service people do if they could not park at homes they were working on? Council members who will serve on the committee are Roy Williams, Todd Glover, Bill Kuiper; citizens are Andy Francis, Andy Whitehead, Joe Schell, Shane Lewis.
Reporters note: after the meeting, Mr. Francis informed the County Transcript that an e-mail address has been set up, through which residents may contact the committee, or receive updates on the committees progress. The address is: email@example.com.
Under new business, council member Pat Frederick reported that it would be necessary for the boro to update its disaster plan, to correlate with the county plan. A committee comprised of John Bronchella, Pat Frederick, and police officer Phil McDonald will address it.
Mr. Glover reported that the county will be sponsoring a tire collection program again this year; if council agreed, there would be a pickup station in the boro. It would eliminate the boro having to transport the tires to another location. There would be no cost to the boro itself; residents would be charged a nominal fee for each tire brought in. A motion carried to approve. The date will be May 24, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. And, Mr. Glover is planning another scrap metal pickup at a date to be determined after more information is available.
A motion carried to eliminate the second monthly council meeting. As of April, meetings will be held only on the second Tuesday of the month.
Mr. Kelly reported that the parks committee has ordered a new shed for the Prospect St. park, and is working on ballfield. The committee has met with the Little League, and discussed scheduling.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue; no action was taken.
Immediately following the session, a codes violation appeal hearing was held regarding the property at 219 Prospect St.; the hearing had been postponed from an earlier date.
Under questioning from boro solicitor Myron DeWitt, Mr. Lewis reported that he had inspected the property as a result of several complaints from neighbors; kids and cats had been seen going in and out of the building. He found that the exterior is very unsafe, the roof is sagging. Inside, there are hazardous areas; the floor is not secure. According to the international property maintenance code, under a section referring to "unreasonable repairs," he had determined that the cost to repair the house would be considerable. The code determines that a formula based on the purchase price, in this case $60, be used to determine if repair costs are "unreasonable." Mr. Lewis stated that the total arrived at by using this formula is $600. In this instance, $600 would not be enough to bring the house up to code. He stated that the structure is a hazard to people as well as to other nearby structures. A notice had been sent to the owner, giving 30 days to demolish the structure, and remove the resulting debris. But, no effort had been made to begin demolition. The structure is currently not boarded up or taped off. Mr. Lewis stated that it is a fire hazard.
The property owner stated that he did not disagree with the condemnation; he appealed because he wanted an extension of the 30 days given. He had understood that he had up to two years, and was asking for more time. He also understood that the boro was getting grant funding for demolitions; but, if grant funding were to be used for (both) demolitions, a lien would be placed on the property so that the boro could recoup the cost. He stated that if a lien was put on the properties it (lien) would prevent them being used as collateral for financing to rebuild.
The property owner is also asking for a variance to place a mobile home on the property on Erie Ave. before the condemned structure is demolished. Both structures, he said, will be down in 60 to 90 days, but his negotiations for financing hinge on being allowed a variance for the Erie Ave. property.
Mr. Lewis explained that the Erie Ave. property was not being addressed at this hearing, as the procedure to apply for a variance is different than a condemnation. He and Mr. DeWitt explained the process that must be followed by the property owner to obtain a variance.
After a lengthy discussion, the property owner left the meeting.
A motion carried to deny the appeal; the property owner will be notified within ten days.
At its February 26 meeting, the Susquehanna County Commissioners agreed to create a county rail authority. The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the county solicitor to prepare the legal documents required to comply with all state requirements needed to get the authority started.
Last week, Rowland Sharp, chairman of the countys Rail Committee, told the commissioners that the terms of all members of the committee expire at the end of March. Mr. Sharp requested that the terms be extended until the authority is in place at which time the commissioners can appoint members to it.
Commissioner Lee Smith made a motion in support of Mr. Sharps request, but Commissioner Calvin Dean refused to second it. Commissioner Gary Marcho did not attend the meeting due to an illness.
At that February meeting, Commissioner Dean punctuated his vote in favor of a rail authority by noting that "it is time to move forward." His refusal to extend the terms of the Rail Committee until the authority is created does not necessarily mean he is now opposed a rail authority. But it can be construed as a person affront against the current Rail Committee members whose teamwork led to a study by an independent firm and a recommendation from that firm that the county create a rail authority. When the rail committee was created a year ago, Mr. Dean voted in favor of all the members presently serving on it.
Commissioner Smith gave Commissioner Dean plenty of time to second the motion before he declared that it failed for lack of a second. During the interlude, Commissioner Dean sat steadfast in his chair, chewing gum and staring at the audience.
The Board of Commissioners will have one more opportunity to extend the rail committee before the terms of its members expire. The board will meet again on March 26.
In another matter, the commissioners agreed to purchase a Tax Revenue Anticipation Note in the amount of $850,000 from PNC Bank at an interest rate of 1.89 percent. The money will be used to finance the county until the 2003 property taxes begin flowing into the county coffers.
In another financial matter, the commissioners adopted an agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection to continue the West Nile Virus Mosquito Control Program in the county for another year. The county will receive $34,148 for the period ending June 30, and, if the money if appropriated in the 2003 state budget, $79,678 for the period from July 1 through December 31.
Other motions approved by the commissioners are as follows:
-Appointed Brian Gesford to the open position previously held by Jim Frystack on the Ag Land Preservation Board, and reappointed Dewey Lyon and Clarence Smith to the board. All terms are for three years.
-Accepted with regret the resignation of Sue Kipar, payroll clerk, effective March 28. Mrs. Kipar has accepted a new employment opportunity in Tunkhannock.
-Accepted with regret the resignation of Don E. Hawkins as a part time correction office at the county jail.
In a brief meeting, the Salary Board voted to create a temporary full-time dispatchers position in the 911 department effective immediately. The move was made to cover the medical leave of an employee.
James H. Devoe, Jr., 31, North Jackson Township, and Denise Connors, 38, Carbondale.
James N. Cronk, 50, New Milford Borough, and Robin Hammond, 31, New Milford Borough.
Marion B. Smith, by Richard B. Smith, attorney-in-fact, to James L. Karg and Suzanne S. Karg in Springville Township for $1.
Marion B. Smith by Richard B. Smith to Richard B. Smith and V. Carol Smith in Springville Township for $1.
Carol Dickson Robertson to Terrance M. Conlon and Marsha L. Conlon in Silver Lake Township for $5,000.
Terrance M. Conlon and Marsha L. Conlon to Sally B. Caverly in Silver Lake Township for $81,500.
Mansek Land Company Inc. to John Waldron in Middletown Township for $28,000.
Alecia C. Turner to Caroline Noble in Brooklyn Township for $10,000.
Peter S. Watrous and Pamela J. Walker to Janet C. Watrous and Robert Kochersberger and Peter S. Watrous and Pamela J. Walker in Franklin Township for $1.
Mel Martinez, The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Michael S. Sprague and Kristy A. Sprague in Lathrop Township for $65,000.
Rachel Kochmer to First Energy in Lenox Township for easement.
John Snyder Jr. to First Energy in Lenox Township for easement.
Jon W. and Rosemarie M. Hawkins to First Energy in Lenox Township for easement.
Skip Michael Tracy and Christopher T. Tracy and Cathleen Tracy to Skip Michael Tracy in Great Bend Township for $12,000.
Ronald J. Cosklo and Gail A. Cosklo to Ryan Cosklo in Clifford Township for $1.
Ryan Cosklo to Kirk Robert Robinson and Lauri Ann Robinson in Clifford Township for $120,000.
John D. Gawron and Connie Gawron, Joseph A. Gawron and Mary L. Gawron, Alexis Martin and Donald F. Martin and Janet Loomis and Jeffrey Loomis to Joseph A. Gawron and Alexis Martin in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $41,750.
EJL Holdings, LLC, to Paul Striefsky and Lindsey Striefsky in Clifford Township for $78,000.
Edward J. Krayeski to Trehab Center in Hallstead Borough and Great Bend Township for $38,000.
David C. Scheffer to Edwin C. Scheffer in Silver Lake Township for $1.
Mark Williams and Mary A. Williams to Michael Q. Quinn and Phyllis A. Quinn in Montrose Borough for $87,500.
Roger G. Gagnon to Roger G. Gagnon in Jessup Township for $1 ogvc.
Lois I. Oakley to Donna J. Ritz in Harford Township for $1.
Christopher J. Calby to Christopher J. Calby in Jessup Township for bluestone mining operation.
Richard A. Bates and Janet A. Bates to Raymond J. Lee and Linda Lee in Thompson Township for $36,000.
William Terpstra, Jr. and Beth Terpstra to William Terpstra, Jr. and Beth Terpstra in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $1.
Ahmet Hubi and Elizabeth Hubi to Theresa Kohler in New Milford Township for $1.
Arlene M. Zablotsky to Karl L. Barrows in Hop Bottom Borough for $72,500 (corrective deed).
James M. Griffiths and Pauline Griffiths aka Pauline M. Griffiths to James M. Griffiths and Pauline Griffiths, Trustees of the James M. Griffiths and Pauline Griffiths Revocable Living Trust in Lenox Township for $1 for quit claim deed.
Matthew D. Button and Kelly L. Chamberlain nbm Kelly L. Button to Matthew D. Button and Kelly L. Button in New Milford Borough for $1.
Norman Phelps to GPU Energy in Ararat Township for easement.
Gary P. Morrison and Jill Morrison to GPU Energy in Bridgewater Township for easement.
Daniel L. Arnold and Kimberly M. Arnold to GPU Energy in Bridgewater Township for easement.
Judy Lipardulo to GPU Energy in Bridgewater Township for easement.
A cabin on Button Lane, Springville Township, belonging to Joseph A. Farkas, Spotswood, NJ, was burglarized on March 9-10. Canned goods and liquor were taken, valued at about $200.
Someone entered the residence of Carol Ramey, State Route 3004, Springville Township, between March 8-9, but nothing was taken.
An upheaval, on State Route 2008, Clifford Township, about 18 inches in height, caused an accident as Joseph Hamilton, 56, Carbondale, noticed the traffic hazard as he came around a curve, and steered his vehicle to avoid it. His vehicle's left front tire traveled over the mound, causing him to lose control of his 2001 Chrysler Concord. The vehicle traveled off the road, then hit a snow bank. The hazard was formed due to the recent thaw, and PENNDOT responded to the scene to correct it. The incident occurred on March 11 at 8:15 a.m. Hamilton was not injured.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT--DUI RELATED
Jesse Yachymiak, Lanesboro, was traveling west on State Route 492, Jackson Township, and lost control of his truck striking two utility poles. He was arrested for DUI and transported to the PSP, Gibson Barracks. The incident occurred on March 1 at 3:15 p.m.
Wayne Sherwood, Meshoppen, was driving a truck on State Route 3001, Auburn Township, on March 7 at 11:17 a.m., and struck a Jeep Wrangler from behind. The Jeep driver was Frank Domasiewicz, Meshoppen. No injuries were noted.
RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
An investigation continues into a stolen auto incident where a 1996 Toyota Echo was stopped while officers were on patrol, for vehicle code violations. It was discovered that the vehicle was reported stolen to the NYC Police Dept. on about December 20, 2002. Wailin R. Batista, Brooklyn, was the operator and was taken into custody, and charged with receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of an automobile, and numerous traffic violations. Batista was arraigned before District Justice Gene Franklin and remanded to the S. C. Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. The incident occurred on March 10 on Interstate 81, Harford Township.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
Lorelei A. Jenkins, Kingsley, was south bound on State Route 11, about 1/2 mile south of State Route 706, New Milford Township, when she failed to negotiate a left hand curve and lost control. The 1999 Chevy Cavalier left the highway and came to rest on its roof, about 30 feet down an embankment. Jenkins and passengers Aaron J. Palaskas, Nicholson, and Jason Ainey, Nicholson, were taken to Wilson Hospital, Binghamton, for treatment. The incident occurred on March 9 at 2:30 p.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
Martha Murphy, 61, Syracuse, was driving a 1994 Dodge and was exiting Interstate 81, at the Gibson exit. The vehicle began to slide on the snow covered road, and collided into the concrete barrier on March 6 at 11:40 a.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
Lisa D. Harasymczuk, 16, Brackney, was traveling south on State Route 92, Lenox Township, and lost control of her 1988 Ford F150 while negotiating a curve. The vehicle collided with trees along the berm, causing the unit to spin and come to rest blocking the southbound lane. The incident occurred on March 6 at 1:35 p.m. No injuries occurred.
FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE
Elias Vasilios Orfanakos, 24, Norwich, NY, was stopped on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, for a motor vehicle violation. A records check revealed that Orfanakos was wanted by the Baltimore County Police, Towson, MD. Orfanakos was arraigned before District Justice Peter Janicelli and remanded to the S. C. Jail without bail, to await extradition. The incident occurred on March 6 at 1:29 a.m.
Tammy Grace Carey, Montrose, reported the theft on March 7 between 12:30 and 12:50 a.m. of her eyeglasses from Lot 25, Oakland Trailer Ct., Oakland Township. Glasses were valued at $186.
Patrick Payne, Meshoppen, reported that between 10:30 p.m. on March 7 and 1:30 a.m. on March 8, someone slashed his tires, valued at $200, on State Route 29, PJ's Cafe, Bridgewater Township. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gibson Barracks at 570-465-3154.
Someone set a wood pile on fire. It was located along State Route 167, north of North Rd., Bridgewater Township, the incident occurred between 11:00 p.m. and midnight on March 4. It was valued at $330, and belonged to Duane Holbrook, Montrose. Anyone with information, please contact Gibson at 570-465-3154.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Lauren Kucker, 21, Farmingdale, NY, lost control of her vehicle on March 16 at 2:10 p.m., on Interstate 81, Lenox Township. She was traveling too fast for road conditions, according to the police report. The vehicle spun and struck a guide rail. No injury was reported.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
John Smith, Jr. West Pittston, was traveling north on Interstate 81, Harford Township, on March 2, and lost control, crossing the median. The roadway was covered with snow and ice, and Smith was traveling at too high of a speed. Deborah Lelize, Canandaigua, NY, was traveling south and could not avoid a collision. Citations for driving too fast for conditions were issued, and no injuries occurred in this March 2 incident.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Dixie MacGeorge, 55, Montrose, lost control of a 1985 Oldsmobile on snow covered State Route 706, Bridgewater Township, and traveled into the lane of travel of Ralph Barnard, 82, Susquehanna, with MacGeorge's vehicle striking Barnard's. No injuries were sustained in this March 6 incident.
On March 3 at 8:05 p.m., Jessica L. Camilleri, 18, Valley Stream, NY, received minor injuries when she lost control of a 2001 Volkswagen Jetta, on Interstate 81, New Milford Township. The vehicle rolled over and came to rest on its roof. Camillari was taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital, Binghamton, NY.
THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING/FORGERY
Steven Alan Cook, RR 3, Montrose, had a check stolen from his residence on State Route 29, Franklin Township. The check was forged and cashed at the Choconut Market. A juvenile petition for a 16-year old has been filed with the S. C. Juvenile Court in this February 12 incident.
Peter Smoot Nibley, Edgewater, MD, was traveling south at approximately 45 mph in the right lane of Interstate 81, Great Bend Township, while David Crockett, Lockwood, NY, was traveling south in the left land at about 55 mph. Crockett attempted to pass Nibley as Nibley's 1988 Ford pick-up truck, which was towing a boat, began to jackknife, then hit Crockett's 2001 Freightliner, causing the boat to become detached from the pick up truck. No injuries occurred in this February 10 incident.
Deangelo Niskayuna, was traveling north on Interstate 81, Harford Township, at about 70 mph when Niskayuna lost control when the vehicle passed over an ice patch. The 1999 Dodge Durango fishtailed and then rolled over. Niskayuna received minor injuries while passenger Kristina Deangelo had moderate injuries. Two small children were unhurt in this February 23 accident.
THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE
Someone stole personal property from two vehicles, owned by Robert Shave, Montrose, and Keith Arnold, Montrose, parked at PJ's Cafe, Bridgewater Township, on February 23 between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.. An investigation continues.
Someone vandalized a 1983 Toyota truck owned by Kevin MacDonald, Susquehanna, while parked at Township Route 721 at Foxton Lake, Jackson Township. One tire was slashed, the grill broken and the nylon tailgate was cut in this March 1-3 incident.
Four unknown youths stole cigarettes from Ainey's Market, New Milford Borough, on March 2, then took off.
A lot of people turned out to cheer at the Blue Ridge School Board meeting on March 10. Budget problems loom, but Board members, parents and students who came out on a cold night at the end of a long winter were in a mood to smile and applaud.
One large group attended to hear the Fifth Grade Select Choir directed by Holly Snitzer. The youngsters entertained with seven numbers in recognition of national Music in our Schools month. They brought the audience to its feet when they started off with the national anthem. A couple of other numbers had a patriotic flavor, and the children seemed to have an especially good time with a medley of surfing tunes.
Thanking Ms. Snitzer and the choristers, the Board went on to hear brief presentations by the Elementary School Guidance Counselor, David Angeloni, and kindergarten teacher Peg Glezen covering their current programs and activities. Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz apologized for hijacking the meeting on behalf of his school. Many of the comments of the presenters lauded the activities of Jessica Clyne, a young woman who became the kindergarten's Artist in Residence for a month, gave two performances for the children, and began teaching them the rudiments of dance discipline.
Mr. Dietz also presented Board members with materials describing the End-of-Day After-School program being proposed for Blue Ridge. The program is operated by a private, non-profit corporation that would lease the use of the Elementary School cafeteria each school day for the hours between the end of classes and 6:00 p.m. Covering children in grades K through 5, the program offers time for homework and reading, snacks, crafts and occasional guest speakers. Currently operating at Lathrop Street School in Montrose, the program bills and collects fees from parents of participating pupils. The company hopes to expand to one new school each year, beginning with Blue Ridge next Fall.
Once the Board's business meeting got under way, it was clear that the other large group of some 20 people were there to hear how the Board would finally come down on the football co-sponsorship program with Susquehanna. The Activities Committee recommended that the Board approve the proposal, and so they did, unanimously, bringing smiles and applause all around. There had really never been any opposition to the idea, especially since there was no obvious cost or responsibility for Blue Ridge in it. The Susquehanna football team will benefit from an infusion of new players, and Blue Ridge students who have longed to play sanctioned, interscholastic football will now have that chance.
Loren Small, the Blue Ridge business manager, told the Board that budget preparations are underway. One routine agenda item covered tax exoneration and delinquency collection procedures. According to Superintendent Robert McNamara, Blue Ridge generally collects more than 97 percent of taxes owed. Delinquencies to be turned over for collection total just under $600,000, about five percent of the District's total budget.
Mr. McNamara reported that Governor Rendell's new budget calls for no change in state school subsidies. For school districts that is effectively a cut, because costs don't stop rising just because the state budget does. One of the first effects of the austerity program that may be forced on Blue Ridge was the Board's decision to eliminate the position of Head of Maintenance, Buildings and Grounds. Originally, they were also to have terminated the District's contract with SKJ Services, the custodial contractor. However, Board President Alan Hall modified the recommendation to remove that provision, presumably under an implied threat of litigation. He gave a Mr. Bloomer, owner of the contracting company an opportunity to make his case, which he did in an emotional appeal for fairness to his company and his 12 employees.
According to Mr. Hall, the contract with SKJ costs the District about $190,000 per year. The administration thinks it can provide the same services, with its own staff for substantially less. He said that the looming budget crisis means that severe cuts must be made where possible, without affecting the core functions of the schools, and, if possible, without raising more local taxes.
Along the same lines, the Board approved this year's incentive program that will offer some of the District's highest-paid faculty an attractive retirement package.
But there are always more demands on school resources. One of them the Board gladly accepted, when a student requested some assistance with an Eagle Scout project. He proposes to record, on tape or CD, the contents of some elementary school textbooks. The recordings will offer children read-along support. Mr. Hall directed the administration to find out how they can help the young man to achieve his goal.
The Blue Ridge School Board will meet next for a workshop on Monday, March 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Committees usually schedule meetings beginning sometime before the general workshop, and welcome citizen participation.
The Mountain View board meetings are short these days, but the one scheduled for March 10 was late in getting started. All the members of the Board were present, with the exception of Jim Zick, President. Ordie Price, Vice President, took over for Zick that evening.
Cooling her heels waiting for the meeting to start, ever observant Maria Diaz had the opportunity to look over bills while waiting to get in to the meeting. She zeroed in on a few items including a check for consulting service for an auditor. It appeared the Board and the Business Manager, Carolyn Price, gave adequate answers.
Kevin Griffiths gave the financial reports and the amount of $1,504,978.47 was paid to cover the February General Fund bill list, and Cafeteria Fund bill list. The Board ratified the payment of employee payroll, transportation contracts, fringe benefit payments and fund transfers. The March General Fund bill list, Capital Reserve Fund bill list and Cafeteria Fund Bill List in the total amount of $220,388.28 was given approval.
Project cost payments were made for some of the old bills that had not been satisfied. Delinquent Tax Collector was named as G. H. Harris Associates of Dallas, PA.
Special Education Services for 2003-2004 school year pursuant to 22 PA Code Section 14 were approved as presented.
There was no Legislative Report. Bryce E. Beeman, Policy Committee Chair noted that the schools policy manual is presently being renewed and redesigned. In the Negotiations Report, Ronald Phillips reported there would be a meeting on March 12 and negotiations are ongoing.
The base price for diesel fuel and regular unleaded gas base price was increased to $1.386 and $1.376 respectively as per the bus fuel escalation clause. This will be discussed again at the next Board meeting.
Under building and site report, Jonathan R. Liselle, Associate, Architectural Designer and David M. Gilmore, R.A., Associate Principal, Director of Design gave brief reports on their backgrounds, as they acted for Highland Associates. Highland Associates, located in Clarks Summit, is the engineering firm that was approved by the Board to finish up work on the major high school project. They will present a more complete and itemized report at the next Board meeting.
Sondra Stein presented conference and field trip requests for approval. The only modifications made on the 20 items on the agenda were regarding the exclusion of some meals.
Superintendent Art Chambers and Board Member Sondra Stine reported on a Board building conference. Apparently, Mountain View had the biggest attendance, with five of the board members present. Chambers noted he received an e-mail regarding the new state budget waiting for the Governor's approval. Some changes may have to be made to the initiatives of state education if it passes.
At a recent in-service at the Mountain View facilities a great deal of attention was given to the high results that are earmarked at the schools. The leadership team will be meeting on March 25. John Halupke commented he was very optimistic about targets that have been set at the schools.
Karen Voight, Coordinator of Curriculum Instruction K through 12 thanked the Board for their support noting the goals that can be achieved by the beginning of the next school year. She was particularly targeting parental involvement in math for an upcoming meeting.
Under personnel, Ordie Price reported the addition of Timothy Fisher, New Milford as a substitute to the maintenance/custodian list. He presented the resignation of Malanie Martorana from her English teacher position at the high school effective August 20.
The Board meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month, 8 p.m. in the Board Room at the Elementary School. Entrance is on the side and the public is invited.
All three supervisors were present at the March 8 meeting of the Oakland Township supervisors, as well as several residents, whose properties neighbor the boat access area on the Susquehanna River.
Supervisor Cowperthwait expressed the boards concern with the response received from the fish and boat commission, answering a letter sent by the supervisors outlining concerns raised by township residents ; the response, he said, was basically "dont call us, well call you." One concern addressed by the supervisors and the residents, is the lack of sewage facilities at the boat launch site. According to state codes, sewage is the townships responsibility; but, what responsibility does the commission have if it is state property? "Its quite obvious there has to be sewage a problem," he said. "The question is, how do we address it?" He suggested that the law be researched, and perhaps get DEP involved.
Summarizing, Mr. Cowperthwait said that the letter noted that an inspection of the site found that some of the grass was being "killed," presumably by vehicles parking. Shortly after this inspection, a barrier had been placed at the site by the commission, eliminating access to one of the adjoining properties. One of the residents expressed concern that the barrier prevented ingress to the area where the homes sewage and water are located. "We just want occasional access," she said. She admitted that a family member had briefly parked in the area some time ago, but, so had others using the launch. Her main concern was that adjoining property owners had received no notice or advance warning that the barrier was going to be put up.
According to the letter, the fish and boat commission stated that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not permit private access; what, Mr. Cowperthwait asked, about vehicles using the area for fishing or boating? A resident commented wryly that the commissions inspector noticed that the grass isnt growing, but failed to notice that there are no waste receptacles or sanitary facilities.
After some discussion, the supervisors agreed that a response letter should be drafted. "What I would like to do, is challenge this (letter) on a point-by-point basis," Mr. Cowperthwait said. He added that he preferred that the parties concerned (residents) be aware of any intended action taken by the board; draft copies of the letter will be made available for their review before it is submitted to the commission.
In other business, Mr. Cowperthwait reported that emergency relief funds might be available to municipalities to help offset the costs resulting from the harsh winter.
The townships audit has been completed. Mr. Cowperthwait reported that one necessary change in the records had been pointed out for clarification; although new equipment funds may be taken from liquid fuels allocations, the township currently has money in the general fund for new equipment. The township has been notified that their total liquid fuels funds for the year are approximately $22,000, 20% of which can be applied to the new equipment fund. Once the fuels funds have been received, the new equipment fund (combining both sources) will total $28,000.
There was some discussion regarding a "stop" sign at the bottom of Skinner Road. Mr. Cowperthwait reported that it had been moved, and the post used was not "legal." Neither he, Supervisor Gorton or roadmaster Richard Norris had moved the sign. Mr. Gorton noted that the supervisors had moved it to its previous location due to the fact that several times it had been hit by vehicles. Mr. Cowperthwait speculated that perhaps the state had moved it back to its original location.
Under land development activity, it was reported that DEP had approved an application for a sewage plan for the Mess property. And, a subdivision application had been approved by planning commission.
Under road activity, Mr. Cowperthwait reported that the townships plow needs work after this winter is finally over, including new springs and getting its blade sharpened.
In a related discussion, Mr. Gorton reported that earlier that morning he had checked the Erie/Columbus Ave. area; the road, he said was hard packed and pretty slick. Although anti-skid had been applied, it was in need of more. "There is some there now, but if someones going too fast..."
Mr. Cowperthwait had attended a recent COG meeting, primarily because the subject of road readdressing was to be discussed. He reported that there has been an effort to start group purchasing of road and other materials, but there had been a poor response; only four municipalities had indicated interest. It was, he said, a difficult thing to do, but definitely achievable. The proposal encouraged bulk shipping by rail to New Milford. In the townships case, materials would be needed immediately, on demand. One of his questions was, what would costs be to get material to the township from New Milford? "Wed have to hire someone with a big truck (to transport the materials)."
Discussing the policy adopted by the county commissioners to uniformly readdress (rename) roads, Mr. Cowperthwait asked, "Why didnt the commissioners just pass an ordinance, and have it over and done with? Im very upset over one thing," he said. Under the new policy, township routes will use names while state routes will use route numbers. For example, Riverside Drive, which has had that name for hundreds of years, will now be Route 92, "like it or not." Under the new policy, the county planning commission will review all subdivisions for compliance to this road naming policy. Municipalities, he said, will have to pass ordinances, listing all name changes. Although, he said, state township code clearly says townships have the responsibility for naming roads, "We get the expense, and have to enforce it. We don t get to decide how to name roads." A sample ordinance was made available for the supervisors to review.
The next meeting will be on Saturday, April 12, 9:00 a.m. in the township building.
The MASD Board of Directors work session wasnt nearly as brief as its regular monthly meeting on March 14. But, then, with all Board members present, the group had a lot to talk about.
The first thing was the written reports of various District administrators, and one that received a lot of discussion was that of high school principal Wilcox. He wanted the Board to discuss appropriate behavior on the part of parents and students at athletic events. Wilcoxs report recommended ejection from a game for a first offense, as determined by a school or game official, and suspension for the rest of the season for a second offense, for unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of a student, an athlete, or the parent of a student. Board member Jim Blachek noted that he spoke with Mr. Gilhool, who was also in favor of looking at ways to discourage such behavior and thought some guidelines would be a great idea for encouraging better behavior by students and parents at athletic events.
Board president Ken Gould also was all for it, but thought that some clear definitions were needed to define who would be responsible for making the unsportsmanlike behavior call. Other Board members agreed, and all were cautious about how to best address the subject.
For instance, Gould asked if the responsibility for making an unsportsmanlike call could be defined by position and not by the name of a person. Member Linda LaBarbera suggested that whatever may be the result of discussion become a part of student handbooks. She noted that at other schools, both the parent and student must sign a pledge that they will be sportsmanlike, "reinforcing what we expect of parents and students." Blachek noted that what would constitute bad behavior could be announced prior to every sporting event. And member Shawn Brown, while acknowledging that there would probably be "gray areas," thought that defining what is expected and what will not be tolerated made sense.
More questions were raised for which there seemed to be answers. Such as, what to do when a coach is ejected? Would any such rules apply to athletes if District rules are stricter than those required by the PIAA? Some Board directors were in favor of stricter rules; others were not willing to go beyond what PIAA calls for when it comes to bad conduct by athletes. Some directors felt that any District rules should apply to parents and students (whether the latter are in the game or watching it); others, only to spectators. A director who suggested that rules be directly addressed with the team, as well as consequences of bad behavior, before and during breaks in an event, was answered by another who said that the rules are already addressed, but that people and coaches need to be made aware that they need to apply the rules.
The net effect of this discussion was that something needed to be done, and that rules that encouraged good sportsmanship had to be rewritten. The extracurricular committee to the Board was given the responsibility of working with Mr. Gilhool to formulate definitions of behavior expected at athletic events. Meetings of this committee are open to the public.
Other administrator reports addressed the posting of coaching positions as well as a dress code. With administrators absent from the meeting, the Board postponed discussion until its April work session, at which administrators are expected to be present.
The Board heard a report by director Mary Homan on the discussions and recommendations from the Stephen Placko memorial committee on how to best and most appropriately honor Mr. Placko. Homan, noting that the committees meeting was well attended by teachers and former and current board members, as well as members of the Choconut community, said that discussion came down to three suggestions. The first, from the Choconut Valley Youth Association, was to rename the playing field the Stephen Placko field; the Association volunteered to purchase and put up the sign identifying it as such. The second was to place a large gazebo or pavilion in the green oval that would be large enough to accommodate a class as well as provide a lovely and quiet place, with landscaping and a permanent plaque. The third suggestion was to rename the school after Mr. Placko.
Gould reported that on a recent visit to the Choconut school, several teachers approached him independently to express their feelings that the school should not be renamed for Mr. Placko. Rather, they liked the idea of having a pavilion where they could take 30 kids at a time for class, as well as to have an environment that breeds calm and quiet thoughtfulness. Gould also noted that others in the community spoke with him, along the lines that, with Choconut being quite spread out and a quiet rural community, the Choconut Valley Elementary School gave it a lot of identity and a lot to be proud of. Director and Board vice president Celeste Ridler agreed, adding that she, too, heard the sentiment of not renaming the school because it is considered integral to Choconuts identity.
Board members agreed. Blachek noted that Mr. Placko liked the outdoors and scheduled a lot of special activities on the school grounds, and would probably like the pavilion memorial. Gould noted that for a long time, he thought that Mr. Placko was the Choconut Valley garden club, simply because "Id be here at 6:30- 7 in the evening, and Mr. Placko would be out there trimming the hedges," said Gould. "I didnt realize that people from the garden club did come here."
For his part, director George Gow, who attended the Committee meeting, agreed with a pavilion as a memorial, its use by students as well as the public, and thought it a fitting tribute to Mr. Placko.
Director and finance committee chair Chris Caterson liked the idea as well, but asked if the District had the funds for it. Gould noted that Mr. Ellis told him that if the memorial is built for education, he didnt think there would be a problem with funding. But since he wasnt sure, Gould said he would get back to Mr. Ellis and report back to the rest of the Board. He also noted that some community members who spoke to him indicated that, if the District provides the material, they would provide the manpower.
Homan noted that the Pennstar Bank in Choconut would accept any donations towards Mr. Plackos memorial, and Ridler reminded members and the public in attendance of the scholarship fund established by Mr. Plackos son to which they could contribute.
Mrs. Placko was at the Board meeting as well as the committee. When asked her opinion, Mrs. Placko said, "I think this is everyones District and whatever it decides to do is acceptable." She added that that a memorial garden would also be a place to put a plaque if "God forbid, other people are lost who are important to the school." Gould responded, "Your husband planted trees out there for students who were taken from us. Its been suggested that we could have plaques for them in with that of Steves."
Homan noted that the next meeting of the memorial committee was scheduled for March 18. At it, they will hear that the Boards consensus is not to rename the school, but to build a pavilion as well as rename the ball field. The Board would like to know if the committee thinks they could do a fund-raiser. Would they like the District to fund part of the cost? Who would design the pavilion? Homan will report back.
The Board next turned its attention to District technology. Gould explained that, three years ago, a group of administrators came up with a three-year technology plan, knowing that at the end of it, it would have to project out technology needs and updating for another three years. That time is now, and the District is looking at upgrading the sciences department and computer science lab to enhance those curricula at the high school, neither of which were included in the original three-year plan, and both of which provided input as to their needs. These included converting from Macintosh computers to PCs that are used throughout the rest of the system, to make them not only District-wide compatible, but also able to run certain science educational software that the Macs cant accommodate. Also on the needs list were eight white boards (for eight science classrooms) linked to the computer for teaching, two 12-unit mobile computer labs, and two computers for Lathrops gifted program and three for Choconuts. Two of the science teachers made their case for the equipment via a videotape presentation that was shown to the Board at the meeting.
Director Phillip Coffey wanted to know if there was justification of every item on the list. Gould replied that Ognosky told him that the items made up not a wish-list, but a must-needs list.
The price tag for the list is $352,000, with almost $100,000 of that for the computers. However, in delivering this information, Gould noted that if the Board agreed to appropriate a $170,000 investment at this time, then District technology director Craig Owen would work within the amount otherwise budgeted for the next two to three years to make the must-needs list possible. A good chunk of the $170,000 would come out of funds in this fiscal years 22 Fund account, with the remainder out of this years budget.
The Board unanimously agreed to make this investment that should serve the District and its sciences department and computer labs well, for some time.
The next scheduled work session of the Montrose Area School Board of Directors is scheduled for April 11 immediately following the 6:30 p.m. regular meeting at the Junior-Senior High School.
Starrucca Borough Council met on March 3 at the Starrucca Community Hall. The following members were present: Pete Downton, Andrew Bennett, Lou Gurske, and Paul Everett. Ruth Lunt, Paul Downton, Helen Haynes and Mayor Wendell Swartz were absent. Council President Pete Downton presided.
Motion to accept the previous minutes as read carried unanimously.
Motion to approve the treasurers report and pay the bills carried unanimously.
Correspondence was read. A clearance of accounts form was received from the Harleysville Insurance Co. This form must be signed by the auditors in order to issue a bond for the new secretary.
Wayne County Emergency Management Agency announced the second installment of our Homeland Security Initiatives update would take place March 10. Pastor Grove, the Emergency management Coordinator invited any council member to attend.
Wayne County Tax Claim Bureau sent a letter to the council and the tax collector, Dean Rhone stating the borough tax return was of poor quality; illegible, inaccurate and late. The county commissioners requested council members and Mr. Rhone attend a meeting to discuss this matter.
Old Business: A motion to appoint Gale Williams as auditor carried unanimously.
The borough will be receiving a grant of $13,270 to improve handicap access to the Community Hall. Further information will follow.
New Business: Lou Gurske indicated that several of the streetlights in town are either blinking or not working. The secretary will follow up on the matter with Penelec.
Due to the severity of weather this winter, the state will be making funds available to help municipalities pay for snow removal. The amount the borough will receive has yet to be determined.
Comprehensive Plan: A community meeting to discuss the Comprehensive Plan is in the works for April, date to be announced.
Community Hall: A new heater has been ordered for the bathroom.
Ballfield: Continued use of the ballfield by the Little League was approved as per motion carried last year.
Roads: The borough will be soliciting bids for summer road maintenance.
There being no further business, meeting adjourned at 7:54.
The Clifford Twp. Board of Supervisors gave its engineering firm the green light last week to proceed with an application for funds to help finance the first phase of what may eventually become a township-wide sewer system.
The initial plan calls for the Crystal Lake and Dundaff areas to be connected to the Greenfield Township Sewer Authoritys collection lines and treatment facility off Route 247. Premature cost estimates for the project were set at $1.9 million but that figure could change dramatically if the project is delayed, which can happen.
A resolution authorizing David D. Klepadlo & Associates of Moosic to make application to the Rural Utilities Service of the US Department of Agriculture for a grant equal to 75 percent of the cost of the project was unanimously approved by the supervisors.
However, John Regan, chairman of the board of supervisors, said if the state does not finance 75 percent of the project, the township will not proceed. He said he knows the Crystal Lake area desperately needs sewers but that he will flag the project rather than place the township in a serious financial bind.
"We want to go forward," said Mr. Regan, "but the dollars must be there." Mr. Regan emphasized to a large audience at the meeting that the township wants to apply for the funding but that the township is not "locked-in."
"If we apply," Mr. Regan continued, "and the funding changes, we are not bound at that particular time."
If the USDA comes across with 75 percent of the cost the townships debt would be about $438,000. At four-and-one-half percent for 40 years, the townships debt service would be $23,807 a year. The township would assess the estimated 150 units in the project area a one-time hookup fee of $1,000 that would be applied to the debt service. That would bring the cost down to $1.75 million.
Mr. Klepadlo said only the homeowners who are tied in to the sewer system would be assessed user fees. He said the annual user fee would be $488 or about $40 a month. He also said the project would be self-liquidating which means that no township funds will be required.
Besides paying hookup fees to the township, users of the system will pay $5,200 hookup fees to the Greenfield Twp. Sewer Authority. The cost included the grinder pump, electrical panel, and fittings at the pump. Mr. Klepadlo said low income residents can get financial help from Susquehanna County.
Clifford users must also pay Greenfield user fees of $82.50 a quarter, the same rate that Greenfield Twp. users pay.
Earlier in the meeting, the supervisors approved a related issue when it passed a resolution adopting an updated version of the townships Act 527 Plan. The Act requires municipalities to develop and implement comprehensive plans for resolving sewage disposal problems and to provide for the future sewage disposal needs of the municipality. Adoption of the update also allowed the township to make application for one half the cost of the update or $9,000.
In another matter, the supervisors were apprised that township police did nothing wrong when a pursuit ended with the demolition of the townships new police vehicle. The pursuit started in Clifford Township and ended in Lenox when the officer lost control of the vehicle. The officer was chasing a four-wheeler operated by a juvenile who was subsequently cited, fined and placed on probation for six to 12 months.
In well under an hour, the Harford Township Supervisors on March 12 kept to their published agenda, completed their business, and followed up on the near record meeting two weeks before. Chairman of the Board Rick Pisasik gave everyone an opportunity, but no one seemed to have much to say.
Supervisor Terry Van Gorden was able to report that, after about seven and a half years, the sewer connection to the Brainard property is finally "Done!" Mr. Pisasik acknowledged Mr. Van Gorden's efforts to clear up the final details over the past many months. The Brainard connection was left over from the original sewer installation, having found itself on the wrong side of the road.
Roadmaster Bob Simon asked the Board to allow all of the Township's maintenance employees to attend a "Spring Maintenance" workshop, in Hawley toward the end of the month. Supervisor Jim Ketterer voted in opposition to the request, suggesting that it might not be a good idea to have everyone out of the township at the same time.
The Supervisors approved the first part of an Emergency Management Plan developed by the township's Emergency Management Coordinator, Ted Batzel. The plan was drawn up to coincide with planning at the County level. The Supervisors were asked to approve the plan now in order to take advantage of an opportunity to collect $500 from a County grant that encourages municipalities to get their plans in shape quickly.
The lengthiest discussion concerned the office copier. The old one, some five years old, broke down recently. When a repairman was called in, once he had repaired the old machine he made a pitch to replace it with a new one, which he proceeded to install for evaluation. Since the township's service contract on the old copier had lapsed, the vendor offered to renew the contract and to take the repair of the old one under the new contract, whether or not the township purchased the new one. Mr. Ketterer suggested that, since the contract is only $325 per year, it might be best to let it ride for another year, meanwhile considering other options. So, that's what they did.
Prompted by a persistent observer, Mr. Pisasik reported that they are still waiting for the township's insurer to send out a "loss control representative" to evaluate the condition of the Odd Fellows Hall in more detail. The building remains closed to the public until repairs or renovation can be decided and completed.
The April 9 meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors would ordinarily be a normal business meeting. Mr. Van Gorden and Township Secretary Sue Furney will be returning from a state convention that day. So that meeting will be re-purposed, and the second meeting for April will handle most of the business. In the meantime, the next scheduled meeting will be on March 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Township building.
The regular March meeting of the Montrose Area School District may have set records for brevity. With superintendent Mike Ognosky and Board member Phillip Coffey unable to attend, the Board efficiently made its way through agenda items.
Board president Ken Gould announced that the findings of the Highland Associates needs-assessment study would be presented to the public at 6:30 on March 28 at the high school. The Board will advertise the meetings in the hopes of getting much of the public to attend.
The group approved payment of regular and recurring bills, as well as payment of 22 Fund bills. These totaled $859,000 with the majority going towards replacement of the generator at the high school as well as training on the Districts new software. A $700 budget transfer from the generalized fund to a sixth-grade account at Choconut for classroom chairs was also approved. Board secretary and District business manager Lewis Plauny explained that, starting this year, districts are no longer allowed to use generalized accounts; instead, expenses have to be classified by grade level and subject area, "creating," said Plauny, "quite a lot of budget work."
The Board also voted to rescind its December approval of a bus contract with Ivan and Tammy Payne for the parochial/kindergarten run at a rate of $222.37 per day, approve a transportation contract change for Timothy Legg Busing, Inc. for that route. As Gould explained, District administration and Board representatives met a couple of Saturdays ago with the Paynes, who brought along an attorney, to sign the contract that the Board approved. The Paynes declined to sign the contract. They were told that if they did not, then the District would look for another contractor at the same compensation as the earlier-approved contract. And thats what they did, except first they had to vote to rescind approval of the contract with the Paynes. Plauny thought that the contract with Legg Busing was for a dollar or two less than the daily rate the Board approved last December.
In other transportation items, the Board voted to grant permission to bus contractor David Darrow to update bus no. 6 and replace bus no. 13. Plauny noted that the replacement bus will not mean any additional money to the District, and will be able to accommodate the 74 children assigned to it. In all transportation-related votes, director George Gow, himself a bus contractor for the District, abstained.
Before the Board adjourned, it accepted with regret several resignations: Mary Kiehl as assistant drama club advisor; Eleanora Sorensen, as part-time food service worker at Choconut; Marie Travis, part-time food service worker at the high school; and Elaine Nealy, food service cashier at Lathrop Street. It agreed to hire Katherine DeRiancho as a part-time food service worker at Choconut at $6.50 an hour, no fringe benefits; and Shari Rapisardi as support staff substitute. Approved as daily substitute teachers were Mary Gesford, elementary, and Benjamin Orner and Christopher Canfield, both for social studies.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Area School Board of Directors is scheduled for April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Junior-Senior High School cafeteria.
The deadline for filing petitions for the May Primary Elections has gone by and, as expected, the list of Republicans seeking their partys nomination as candidates for county commissioner is large.
There are seven GOP hopefuls seeking to advance to the finals in November and only two will survive. The heavy field gives incumbent commissioner, Lee Smith, an edge but the remaining slot appears to be up for grabs.
Besides Commissioner Smith, other Republican candidates include Fred Baker II, James Jennings, Tom Jurista, Roberta Kelly, Jeffrey I. Loomis, and William H. Wolfe.
On the Democratic side of the political spectrum, four candidates are vying for the two nominations as candidates for commissioner. Because he is an incumbent, Cal Dean enters the race as an expected primary survivor but Democrats in Susquehanna County are trend breakers.
Others seeking the Democrat Party nomination as candidates for commissioner include Leon Allen, Katherine M. Shelly and MaryAnn Warren.
The only other county race is for treasurer. Incumbent Republican Catherine (Cathy) Benedict is being challenged by Ellen M. OMalley. As has been the custom for years and years, the Democrat Party doesnt field candidates for any of the row offices unless a Republican happens to cross file when it is allowable or a Republican wins the Democratic nomination via a successful write-in campaign.
Unopposed candidates include Republicans Jason J. Legg, district attorney; Anthony J. Conarton, coroner; Mary F. Evans, Register and Recorder; and George P. Starzec and Holly H. Tyler, auditors. The lone incumbent Democrat running unopposed is Clara Jane Brown, a county auditor.
On the local level there is the usual shortage of candidates in many municipalities, although there are some races here and there.
In Auburn Township, incumbent Republican supervisor, Berton Hollister Jr. is being challenged by Kern Dibble, also a Republican, for the one six-year seat up for grabs.
In Bridgewater Township, incumbent Republican Supervisor Charles Mead, has filed for a two year term, but Supervisor Beverly Way did not file for re-election and there is no candidate for the six-year term.
Incumbent Supervisor Graham A. Anthony Jr. filed for re-election but no one filed for a two-year term as supervisor. Mr. Anthony is a Republican.
Republican Randolph E. LaCroix filed for reelection as a supervisor in Clifford Twp. and he faces the challenge of former supervisor Thomas R. Willliams in the GOP primary.
There is a race for tax collector in Dimock Township but no one filed for the six-year term as supervisor. Melinda S. DeLousia and Esther Rayias, both Republicans, are seeking the two-year term as tax collector.
In the Borough of Forest City, three incumbent council members seeking reelection are joined by a fourth candidate. Seeking new four-year terms are Paul J. Amadio, Ruth Ann Fitzsimmons and Bernard F. Scalzo. The newcomer trying to unseat one of the incumbents is Bernadette M. Twilley. All of the candidates are Democrats.
In Gibson Township, Leonard Bartkus, an incumbent Republican supervisor, faces a challenge from Democrat Thomas E. Salansky for a six-year term.
In Great Bend Borough, incumbent council members Louise Lonzinski and Raymond Holtzman did not file for new terms. With three four-year terms to be filled, only incumbent Democrat Joseph Collins and Republican Jerry MacConnell filed for two of them, leaving one vacancy that will probably be won by a write-in vote.
A six-year term for supervisor in Great Bend Twp. will be decided by a write-in vote since no one filed nominating petitions for the position. James Banko, a Republican, has decided not to seek another term.
In Hallstead, none of the three council members whose terms expire at the end of this year filed for reelection. Mary E. Rudock, a Republican, filed the lone petition for council.
Incumbent Harmony Twp. Supervisor Darwin Greene did not file for reelection leaving another six-year term to be decided by write-in votes.
Five candidates have filed for three four-year terms in Hop Bottom Borough including one incumbent, Democrat Joan Wiesniski. Republicans Gary Griffis and Janice Webster are not seeking reelection.
Besides Ms. Wiesniski, other candidates in Hop Bottom include Republicans Mike Ainey, Tim Hortman, Donna Johnson, and Janice K., Webster.
In Lanesboro, two Democrats and two Republicans have filed for four three-year terms up for grabs. The Democrats are incumbent Roland Salamon and Regina Dilello, and Republicans Daniel S. Boughton, an incumbent, and Raymond G. Barnes.
In Lathrop Township, incumbent supervisor, Elwood Phelps, is being challenged by Russell E. Malina Jr. for a six year term. Both candidates are Republicans.
In Little Meadows, incumbent Democratic councilman Charles Fahringer filed for reelection but Republican incumbent Alan Chase did not.
Councilmen Randall Schuster and Fred S. Peckins filed for reelection in Montrose Borough but Elmer Taylor, the lone Democrat on council, did not, leaving one seat still up for grabs undoubtedly via a write-in vote.
In New Milford Borough, incumbent Council members Rick Ainey and Jane Zick filed for reelection but MaryAnn Warren did not. She is running for county commissioner on the Democratic ticket.
In New Milford Twp., incumbent supervisor, Roger L. King, a Republican, faces Don Shibley, a Democrat.
Five Republicans are seeking four seats on the Oakland Borough Council including incumbent John Agler. Other candidates include, Douglas Arthur, Cynthia Beavan, Randy Glover and Dale Rhone.
Incumbents John Bronchella and Ronald Whitehead are seeking return engagements on the Susquehanna Depot Borough Council. Chad Haley, a Democrat, is also seeking one of the four 4-year terms to be filled. A pair of Democrats, Roze DeCicco and Roy Williams will square off against each other in seeking their partys nomination for a two-year term on the council.
There is a shortage of candidates in Union Dale. With four seats open, only Republicans Leatha Coleman and Irene Witiak are seeking election to the borough council.
In the Mountain View School District, there is one race for a seat on the Board of Education. In Region 1A, Susan Christensen is challenging incumbent director Thomas E. Salansky who filed on both party tickets. In four other regions, the incumbent candidates are seeking re-election without opposition.
There is a similar situation in the Elk Lake School District, where Harold Bender and Bruce Marshall will battle it out for the lone four-year-term in Region 4.
In the Susquehanna Community School District, James Bucci, Terry Carpenter and Penelope K. Sherman, are seeking two four year terms in Region 1; Margaret Biegert and Martha R. Stanford are opposing each other for the lone four-year-term open in Region 2; and, in Region 3, Evelyn A. Cottrell, Jack Downton, Daryl F. Hanes, Barbara Fenescey and Steven M. Standford are running for a pair of four-year terms.
All the Lathrop Township Supervisors were present at their rescheduled Monday evening meeting on March 10. Dennis Phelps, Elwood Phelps and Nick Sabauchak felt the chill from the night inside the meeting place at the Union Grange in more than one way.
After Secretary/Treasurer Mary Ann Chevchuk read the minutes from the last meeting and reported that there is $3,496.37 added to the General Fund this month from various taxes and levies, the supervisors approved the bill list for payment.
Chevchuk noted that there was no correspondence this month.
Elwood Phelps reported that roads were plowed and cindered as allowed by yet another spate of winter storms. There was much discussion about the condition of one hill from Sabauchak, particularly concerned with passage of a school bus upon it.
As in the past, the understanding that there must be two men in each truck for safety reasons was confirmed by Dennis Phelps. He noted that it was necessary to use the truck for snow removal, as the grader operator was not available.
There were only three members of the public in attendance and they kept the meeting lively by referring to road conditions and snow removal. To the supervisors credit, although there were a number of unpleasantries directed towards them personally, Dennis Phelps maintained courteous order and disturbing remarks by a few in attendance were pared away by another member of the public.
Although members of the public was asking why recent meetings were rescheduled, appropriate answers were provided by the supervisors. Dennis Phelps noted that the next meeting is scheduled for April 8, 7 p.m. at the Grange Hall.
Contracted school bus owners and drivers in the Forest City Regional School District threatened to park their buses if the Board of Education does not adjust their mileage rates to compensate for escalating costs of gasoline and diesel fuel.
"The cost will be so excessive," Jim McCusker told the board last week, "that we will not be able to take the kids to school. Lets hope we do not get to that point."
The board authorized Karen Forsette, district business manager, to meet with the bus owners in an effort to reach an amicable agreement that would end the threat of interrupting classes in the school district.
"We are not out to take advantage of the school district," Mary Ann Durko, owner of two school buses, told the board. "We are asking for a little understanding and a little consideration." Mrs. Durko, who said she was the spokesperson for all bus owners, noted that diesel fuel is already over two dollars a gallon and climbing.
"We just will not be able to turn the key and the buses will not run," Mr. McCusker added.
"Personally," Director Joseph Farrell said, "I think they should be compensated a little better. Can we make an adjustment?" Mr. Farrell agreed with a comment from Director Tom Baileys that the public meeting was not the place to be negotiating.
"They are looking for a little help," Director Tom Heller said in what appeared to be a sympathetic gesture.
Board President Joseph Lucchesi expressed concern about setting a precedent by re-negotiating a contract that had previously been accepted by the school district and the bus owners.
"What about other people we have made contractual agreements with?" Dr. Lucchesi said. He then asked the bus drivers if they would accept a reduction if fuel costs drop considerably. He did not get an answer.
"The fairest way," said Director Henry Nebzydoski, "is to give them a percentage of pay."
The board did pass a motion adopting the state formula cost index of 425.3 percent for computing transportation contracts for the 2003-2004 school year, an increase of 10 percent. The move, however, does not reflect any increase for the 2002-2003 school year where prices at the pumps are increasing almost daily.
In another matter, Janice Joyce, elementary school principal, reported on her findings regarding a cost study of reducing class sizes in grades K-3. The study was made after some parents began urging the district to reduce the class sizes from the current average of 24 students per classroom to 17 or 18.
Mrs. Joyce said the district could change the classroom aides in kindergarten and first grade from part time to full time at an approximate cost of $50,163. To increase all aides to full time, the cost would be $123,790. Another alternative, she said, would be to hire two part-time teachers for kindergarten and first grade to help teach reading and eliminate four aides or reallocate them to other grades, the cost would be approximately $56,674 with aides and $31,971 without the aides.
Mrs. Joyce further reported that the district could hire one full time teacher each year for grades K-3 and hire an art teacher and music teacher (part time). This plan would cost the district about $100,528 the first year; $154,161, the second year; $219,840 for the third year; and, $285,729 for the fourth year. At this point, she said it would be necessary to add to the maintenance and secretarial staff pushing the bottom line over $300,000.
"It is a wonderful idea," one board member commented, "but at what price?"
Motions passed by the board completed the following business-
-Hiring Peter Supko, Meredith Reinhart and Linda Prusinski as substitute teachers for the current school year.
-Approving a six-week family medical leave for Kelly Nebzydoski, a teacher, with the option to extend it.
-Approving the general operating budget for NEIU19 for the fiscal year July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004 in the amount of $127,344. Forest City will contribute $12,398 to the budget, an increase of $590.
-Hiring George Washo and Kenneth Kelly as substitute van drivers for the balance of the current school year.
High School Principal Anthony Rusnak reported that the Principal Award Winners for February were: Chelsea Soltus, grade seven; Dominic Cino, grade eight; Wayne Scotch, grade 9; Beth Kubus, grade 10; Marissa Cino, grade 11; and, Wayne Gevaras, grade 12.
Mrs. Joyce said PSSA and Math 8 testing will begin the week of March 26. Grades 2-6 will be tested and she noted that this will be the first time grade 3 will be tested.
School Superintendent Bernice Lukus said the district will have an early dismissal on Friday, March 21. She said elementary students will be dismissed at 12:05 p.m. and high school students at 12:15 p.m. and there will be no vo-tech.
In the March 12 edition of the County Transcript an incorrect date was inadvertently given for National Night Out; the correct date is August 5. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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