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Issue Home April 1, 2003 Site Home

Cozy Lake Rescue
In Gibson There Is No Beer!
Program Considered At Blue Ridge
Court House Report
Gibson Barracks Report
Harford Helps With Road
Busy Meeting At Mt. View
Three Get State Prison Terms
County Plans Near Completion
MASD Building Options
Getting Downtowns Back On Track
Susky Council Hears From PENNDOT

Cozy Lake Rescue

At 6 p.m., March 6, fire companies from Montrose, Harford and Nicholson responded to a call from the Hop Bottom Fire Company. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Littman had a fire that fully engaged this structure at the corner of Pratt Road and Quick Hill at Cozy Lake. Muddy roads from the melting snow made it tricky for the fire equipment to reach the fire at this normally quiet intersection of the Lake. Later on, testimony to the muddy roads, the Brooklyn - Kingsley Road had to be closed and traffic was diverted to hard top roads in the area by PENNDOT. This forced Brooklyn Township officials to apply to secondary roads more of the precious road cinders that were draining the economies of many of the local townships in Susquehanna County in late winter.

The Littman Home at Cozy Lake is a silent testimony to the fires that raged on the evening of March 6, 2003.

Upon arrival, the firemen from Hop Bottom were alerted the teenage daughter of the Littman's was trapped upstairs, unable to reach safety and get away from the blaze that eventually gutted the home, according to Fire Chief Mike Karhnak. The fire company reacted immediately to this emergency that was becoming worse by the minute because of afternoon breezes that began fanning the flames. After she was rescued from the top floor, the young woman was checked for injuries at the site. No injuries were reported at the time. The State Police Fire Marshall had not made a decision regarding the cause of the fire at the time the information for this report was gathered.

The Littman family is presently staying with relatives, although the Red Cross was notified if any further emergency measures had to be taken.

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In Gibson There Is No Beer!

Suzanne Schwalm believes she serves a tasty piece of pizza in her deli on Route 92 in Gibson Township. She also thinks a cold glass of draft beer would be the ideal drink to wash it down.

The problem is that Gibson is a dry township. Dry as in –sales of alcoholic beverages are not allowed. Suzanne Schwalm thinks it may be time to throw out the antiquated law and open up the township to the controlled sale of booze or, if not whisky, at least malt and brewed beverages affectionately known as beer and ale.

And so Suzanne and husband, William Schwalm, owners of Schwalm’s Deli ‘n More, began circulating petitions seeking a township vote that would decide whether the time has come to finally get rid of prohibition in the township.

"We needed to get the signatures of 25 percent of the township voters who voted at the last election," Suzanne said. "We had no trouble getting the signatures but we are law abiding people and we will now leave the decision up to the voting public.

"I kind of feel what will be will be. This may be the time for something to change and maybe not. It would help my business."

The effort made by the Schwalms paid off last Wednesday when the county Election Board held a special meeting and approved motions authorizing the placement of three questions relating to the sale of alcoholic beverages in Gibson Township. One question would allow the granting of malt and brewed beverage retail dispensers licenses for on premises consumption. A second question asks the voters if they favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the township. The third question asks if township voters would favor granting of beer distributors and importing distributors licenses for off-premise consumption only.

Suzanne said the 2000 township census might prohibit the issuance of new licenses in the township. She said if the prohibition is lifted she may have to look at the possibility of buying an existing license in another community in the county and moving it to Gibson.

A fourth question approved by the Election Board asks Gibson Township residents if they favor the issuance of licenses to conduct small games of chance in the township. It is believed this question may allow raffles, bingo games and other fund raising events by non-profit organizations.

Prior to the Election Board meeting, the Board of County Commissioners approved a motion extending the terms of the Susquehanna County Rail Committee members for an additional three months. The motion, which was made by Commissioner Cal Dean, extends the life of the Rail Committee until the county’s Rail Authority can be created.

The Commissioners also adopted a resolution authorizing the filing of an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development for a Competitive Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $498,000.

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Program Considered At Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge School Board covered a lot of ground during its workshop on March 24. It gave a lot of time to Mike Kipar, Director of a new non-profit organization called End-of-Day After School, who wants to establish his program at the Blue Ridge Elementary School. End-of-Day After School has operated at the Lathrop Street Elementary School in Montrose through the current school year, serving on average 14-17 children each school day. The program is seeking to expand to another school district each year until it covers the entire county.

According to Mr. Kipar, the program at Blue Ridge would serve students in kindergarten through grade five in the hours following regular classes until 6:00 p.m. every day that the school is open for a regular schedule. It is certified through the state Department of Public Welfare and operates under state and federal regulations for day-care centers. Mr. Kipar expects to staff the Blue Ridge operation for up to 30 participants to begin with; at a required ratio of not more than 10 children per adult, three staffers would be assigned to the Blue Ridge program daily.

The program is attractive to the Blue Ridge community at least in part because it will cost the district nothing but the use of some space. Parents will be charged a $10 registration fee for each student, and $6 per day thereafter, with snacks and materials included. Mr. Kipar said that scholarships tied to the federal school-lunch system will be available for low-income families, and that his program can get support from the Susquehanna County subsidized day-care system. According to Mr. Kipar, that six dollars per day will purchase a rich experience for children, including read-aloud activities, light sports, exposure to foreign languages, wildlife and animal care, and a variety of guests, which this year at Lathrop Street included a pizza maker. He said that the program hopes to help all of the children complete their homework before they leave for the evening, but that the experience is designed to be something different than just an extension of the school day.

Mr. Kipar told the Board that the only things the program will need from the school is some space (a cafeteria or gym), a filing cabinet, a locked space for program materials, and access to a telephone. As a day-care program, the staff are not required to be certified teachers, but there are minimum requirements for a combination of education and experience, and all staff must meet most of the other standards expected of teachers, including health certifications and background checks. Although Mr. Kipar does not expect a written contract with Blue Ridge, the other thing he needs to get started is the Board's approval, which will come up for consideration at a later business meeting.

Now that much of the snow has melted and bare ground is again visible, the Facilities and Grounds Committee turned its attention to maintenance of the grounds and the athletic fields, and a general cleanup of the campus. Some concern was expressed about the pace of work on the new sewer system. The district is sitting on some grant money that would have to refunded if it can't be spent on the sewer system soon enough. The plan is to lay new pipe to bypass the existing sewage facility, and Board President Alan Hall suggested that much of that work could go forward in anticipation of the eventual arrival of the new municipal system.

Administrators reported on preparations for the next round of PSSA testing, the state's evolving series of standardized tests intended to ultimately lift the performance of local schools. Each of the school principals expressed some mild frustration with their efforts to change the curriculum to meet the standards and testing criteria while the standards themselves continue to shift focus. Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz showed Board members examples of a new series of science texts he will ask them to purchase for next year, explaining that the books are available in flexible packages so that different mixes can be supplied to different grades as they most closely match the requirements of the state standards program.

Mr. Dietz told the Board that the war in Iraq is not directly confronted in his school, and televised information about the war is not available during the school day. Principal Michael Thornton said that the High School does not "dwell on" the war, but it is covered in an effort to help the students to "stay informed."

Superintendent Robert McNamara proposed that the Board consider converting the school into a prison. He pointed out that in California, where one school district had suggested the move, the state provides about $7,000 per year to educate a child, but pays about $20,000 per year to support a prisoner.

Mr. Hall finished up the workshop by opening a discussion on emergency planning, a topic of interest at nearly all levels of government these days. Mr. Thornton apparently carries the major responsibility for developing a plan, and he pointed out that no plan can satisfactorily lay out in detail a series of steps that could be taken for all possible incidents. For example, such a plan would have to account for incidents at the school, as well as for incidents in the neighborhood of the school (on the railroad, for example). Such a plan would have to determine whether students were to be taken home, and how quickly, or simply taken away from the school; in other cases perhaps the students should be kept at the school. The schools are also universally considered available shelters by nearby municipalities developing their own emergency plans. Mr. Hall asked that another attempt be made to further refine the plan.

The Blue Ridge Board will next gather for a business meeting, on April 14, in the cafeteria in the Elementary School, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

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Court House Report



Monica J. Weber to M. John Weber, Jr. in Forest City Borough for $1.

Douglas Adams to Gary L. Latimer and Nikki A. Latimer in Clifford Township for $504,000.

EMC Mortgage Corporation to David E. Jahnke and Debby A. Jahnke in Bridgewater Township for $165,000.

Janette E. Allis to Steven Wormuth and Bonnie Wormuth in Harford Township for $100,700.

William J. Mitchell and Judith M. Mitchell to William J. Mitchell and Judith M. Mitchell in Lenox Township for $1.

John R. Bulack, Jr. to Dean A. Johnson and Valerie Johnson in Oakland Township for $12,000.

Shelly Travis to Paul H. Penny in New Milford Borough for $18,900.

Thomas J. Shields and Jennie P. Shields to Thomas J. Shields and Jennie P. Shields in Liberty Township for $1.

Gregory A. Strawn & Ann Strawn to Jeffrey G. Cundey & Carol Lee Cundey in Great Bend Township for $42,000.

Gregory D. Grimm and Diane Grimm to Gregory D. Grimm in Harmony Township for $1.

Edwin G. Lawrence and Joan A. Lawrence to Cindy J. White in Liberty Township for $1.

Dennis M. Coughlin Jr. & Sandra M. Coughlin, Brian P. Coughlin & Jacky Coughlin, and James E Coughlin, Sr. & Mary Coughlin to Gerald E. Derham and Phyllis J. Derham in Silver Lake Township for $6,000.

Walter B. Rhodes and Ida M. Rhodes to Walter B. Rhodes and Ida M. Rhodes, trustees of the Rhodes Living Trust in Dimock Township for $1 for quit claim deed.

Clark A. Cable, Jr. and Winifred D. Cable to Clark A. Cable, Jr. and Winifred D. Cable in Union Dale Borough for $1.

Terry C. Lahr and Michelle C. Lahr to Algerd Choplosky, Jr. in Choconut Township for $185,000.

Charles M. Randall & Joanne M. Randall to Joanne M. Randall in New Milford Township and Borough for $1.

Anthony Samiani and Linda Samiani and Martin E. Yerkey, Jr. and Kathleen Yerkey to Martin E. Yerkey, Jr. in Apolacon Township for $14,000.

Chase Mortgage Company-West, fka Mellon Mortgage Co. to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for $1.

Reijo A. Rinne, individually and as Executor of the Joan C. Rinne Estate to Carol D. Robertson in Silver Lake Township for $1.

Carol D. Robertson to Diana L. Robertson as Trustee under the Carol D. Robertson Qualified Personal Residence Trust in Silver Lake Township for $1.

Bruce W. Krug and Elizabeth A. Krug to Peter M. Connolly and Laurie F. Connolly in Ararat Township for $53,500.

Walter Nettles to Marc S. Griswold and Alison W. Griswold in Herrick Township for $100.

Ricky M. Smith and Brenda M. Smith to Ricky M. Smith and Brenda J. Smith in Auburn Township for $1.

Marion B. Smith by Richard B. Smith, attorney-in-fact to Undivided 3.5 % interest unto James L. Karg and Suzanne S. Karg and Undivided 3.5 % interest unto Richard B. Smith and V. Carol Smith in Springville Township for $1.

Kenneth Porter and Susan M. Porter and A. J. Frasca and Barbara Frasca to Frank J. Bomba and Lillian A. Bomba in Clifford Township for $10,900.

Carole A. Demaree, Katherine A. Demaree, G. Joseph Demaree to Carole A. Demaree in Silver Lake Township for $1.

Wanda L. Barry aka Wanda Barry to Joseph Barry in Forest Lake Township for $1.

Kathryn C. Schroeder and Joseph Cartronova and Helen A. Castronova to Joseph Castronova and Helen A. Castronova in Jackson Township for $1.

John B. Weldon and Cheryl Weldon to Christopher L. Weldon and Sandra L. Weldon in Clifford Township for $1.

Roger R. Loomis and Reba J. Loomis to Roger R. Loomis and Reba J. Loomis in Auburn Township for $1.

James J. Foltz to First Energy in New Milford Township for easement.

John Lezinsky and James Lezinsky to James Lezinsky in Lenox Township for $1.

Keith E. Baker, Jr. to Christine Baker in Harford Township for $1.

Nancy Jane Wink to PPL Electric Utilities Corp. in Herrick Township for right-of-way agreement.

Marilyn Orr nka Marilyn Day to Heidi D. Zenger in Montrose Borough for $72,000.

Edward Joseph Wagner, Successor Trustee, of the Revocable Self-Trusteed Living Trust of Rose Helen Wagner to Edward Joseph Wagner and Carl E. Wagner in New Milford and Jackson Townships for $1.

Lisa A. Stillitano to David R. Kipp and Joan E. Kipp in Choconut Township for $125,000.

James J. Achey and Barbara Rehmann nbm Barbara Achey to James J. Achey and Barbara Achey in Herrick Township for $1.

Thomas W. Dettling, Jr. to Arthur D. Wilson and Charlene W. Wilson in Springville Townshp for $85,000.

Eric R. Blachek to Eric R. Blachek in Franklin Township for surface mining activities.

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Gibson Barracks Report


On March 25, someone stole a 1993 Dodge D150 from an ajar barn, located on State Route 3001, Dimock Township. The victim was Robert S. Warriner.


John Joseph Greene, 22, RR 6, Montrose, was arrested and charged with burglary, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief on March 24 for breaking into the residence of Patricia Roeland, Bare Valley Rd., Bridgewater Township, between March 14-15. Greene was arraigned before Watson Dayton and committed to the Susquehanna County Jail in lieu of $5000 bail.


eone entered the home of Cindy Casella, State Route 492, a half mile east of Interstate 81, New Milford Township, and removed an IBM computer, a Lexmark Z12 printer, an IBM monitor and an IBM scanner. The incident occurred on March 23 between 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.


As Mindi Martel, Hallstead, was driving north on State Route 11, Great Bend Township, her 1991 Ford struck a guide rail, causing the vehicle to cross both lanes and go off the west berm through a fence. It then struck a ditch, which then resulted in the vehicle flipping over on to its roof. Martel received minor injuries in the March 21 incident and was taken to Wilson Hospital, Johnson City, NY, for treatment.


A white male, 60-65 years of age, pumped $14.35 worth of gasoline from the Pump-n-Pantry, Great Bend Township, into a gold car and fled west on State Route 171, on March 22 at 6:00 p.m.


David L. Rider, 20, Montrose, lost control of his 1988 Honda while traveling on State Route 29, Bridgewater Township, on March 22 at 11:05 a.m., and struck a telephone pole. He received moderate injuries.


Someone threw a rock through a window in the principal's office at Blue Ridge High School, New Milford Township, between 6:00 p.m. on March 22 and 2:00 p.m. the next day. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.


Gregory Connors, 33, Montrose, traveled off the north berm of State Route 706, 100 feet east of State Route 29, Bridgewater Township, on March 23 and overturned on the Montrose Golf Course. Connors was not injured but his 1995 Saab sustained moderate damage.


On March 23 at about 6:00 a.m., Nicola Birtch, returned to her home, off State Route 11, Great Bend Township, and got into an argument with her husband Mark Victor Birtch, Great Bend. He then loaded a 12 ga. shotgun and pointed it at the victim. Nicola Birtch fled the scene and was located at a residence in New Milford. Mark Birtch was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats.


Edward Smith, Uniondale, in a 1999 Ford pick-up, swiped a 1990 Ford van belonging to Gerald Fowler, Carbondale, while negotiating a curve on State Route 374, half a mile east of State Route 106, Clifford Township. Smith was operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and was charged with DUI in this March 10 incident.


Lorelei A. Jenkins, Kingsley, was southbound on State Route 11, just south of State Route 706, New Milford Township, and failed to negotiate a left hand curve and lost control. The 1999 Chevy Cavalier exited the roadway off the west berm and came to rest on its roof, approximately 30 feet down an embankment. Jenkins and two passengers, Aaron J. Palaskas, Nicholson, and Jason Ainey, Nicholson, were transported to Wilson Hospital, Johnson City, NY for treatment. This incident occurred on March 9 at 2:30 a.m.


On March 21 at 10:00 p.m., the police received a call from a motorist on State Route 11, New Milford Township, who reported that a van was stopped in the middle of the roadway. This van then swerved into the path of an oncoming car nearly causing a collision. The van turned around and traveled north on State Route 11 into Great Bend.

A state police trooper responded and approached the van in a parking lot. The van sped away on State Route 11 and refused to stop for the trooper. Another trooper joined the pursuit and the van turned onto Johnston St., New Milford Borough, traveled to the dead end and stopped.

Troopers pulled alongside and behind the van. The operator of the van accelerated in reverse and rammed a state police vehicle occupied by a trooper. The driver of the van, Richard Tapia Mesa, 35, New Milford, refused to exit the vehicle and be taken into custody. He was subsequently placed in handcuffs and arrested.

Further investigation revealed that the van Mesa was driving had been stolen from New Milford. He was charged with aggravated assault, theft, resisting arrest, DUI and related charges. He was taken to the S. C. Jail, unable to post $50,000 bail in this March 21 incident.


Scott Krupovitch, Uniondale, shot a shotgun at a truck while the two victims, Richard Piercy, Simpson, and John Williams, Forest City, were in the vehicle. The location was the intersection of Township Routes 460 and 401, Clifford Township. The incident occurred on March 21 at 12:01 a.m.


Claudio Pampena, 33, Quebec City, lost control, for unknown reasons, of his 1999 Ford Windstar while traveling north on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, on March 20 at 4:05 p.m. The vehicle collided with a guide rail causing the vehicle to roll over. Pampena received minor injuries.


Someone smashed a mailbox belonging to John Lyman, RR 1, Springville, on March 19 at 8:00 a.m. Anyone with information is asked to contact the barracks at 570-465-3154.


Someone broke into the B. K. Norris Distributors, Inc., 216 Erie Ave., Susquehanna Borough, between 5:30 p.m. on March 18 and 7:45 a.m. the next morning. Stolen were a computer and some cash. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police at 570-465-3154.


Matthew Gorton, Hallstead, reported that his vehicle was entered sometime between March 17 at 9:30 p.m. and 5:45 a.m. the next morning. The vehicle was at his residence at Airport Trailer Park, Great Bend Township. Taken were a Sony am/fm stereo with CD player, a Sony disc man portable CD player with tape deck adapter, a pair of Oakley sun glasses and five dollars. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gibson barracks at 570-465-3154.

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Harford Helps With Road

With only two items on the agenda, the Harford Township Supervisors' meeting on March 25 promised to rival recent records for brevity. The first item, approval of a driveway permit, wasn't even an item, because the applicant only wanted to extend an existing driveway, so he would get his fee back and nothing more was required. The second item, however, took up most of the succeeding hour as Supervisor Jim Ketterer launched into a historical tour around Tingley Lake to explain how it is that a couple can claim Township help in repairing a private road.

It seems that, during the construction of the sewer system in the area, the several private lanes along the lakeside were used for right-of-way as well as for construction vehicles. In at least one case, Barefooter's Boulevard, the property owners bought road materials and the Township used its labor and equipment to spread it. Mr. Ketterer implied that a precedent had been set, so that now, seven years later, a couple who now live year-round on Five Daughters Lane are claiming that their road was damaged during construction, and that they had been promised similar assistance. The lengthy discussion covered a lot more ground than that served by the one short road, but in the end the Supervisors agreed that Township workers and equipment would be scheduled to lay road materials purchased by property owners along the lane at a time when the equipment can be most conveniently made available at the location.

That about rounded out the printed agenda. The Supervisors then heard about plans for the ballfield from Ron Whitaker, representing the Harford-Lenox Baseball Association. He asked for, and got, the Township's annual contribution of $500; in exchange, the ballplayers agree to keep the property maintained throughout the summer.

After some months with no further word, Roadmaster Bob Simon reported that Charles Grimes, who had been in the habit of maintaining a part of Podunk Road fronting his property, has finally given up. There have been complaints since early last Autumn that the road was deteriorating; Mr. Grimes had pledged to continue maintenance as the weather allowed. Now that the Township is reassuming responsibility, Mr. Simon said that the existing paving material will be ground up and the road returned to gravel.

Supervisor Terry Van Gorden told his colleagues that the sewer system is not yet "registered" with the proper authorities. In a recent incident, a telephone pole was being replaced when the boring crew inadvertently damaged a section of sewer pipe. Because the system is not registered, anyone who intends to dig in the area and calls the Dig Safe line to help locate buried utilities won't find Harford's sewer system. Emergency repairs to the sewer system could be costly. According to the Township secretary, there had been some question in the past that, because the Township office - also the sewer authority - is not staffed around the clock, timely responses to calls seeking information could not be guaranteed. Supervisor Rick Pisasik opposed registering the system because of the potential cost of handling such calls relative to the potential number and cost of such emergency repairs. Mr. Van Gorden said that he would investigate the question further.

The Harford Township Supervisors meet on the second Wednesday and fourth Tuesday of each month, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at the Township office on Route 547.

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Busy Meeting At Mt. View

With the exception of Ordie Price, first vice-president, all the members of the Mountain View School Board were present at the March 24 meeting.

Tom Salansky gave the financial cafeteria report. There were no comments during the first hearing of visitors regarding agenda items.

The board gave approval of $8,805.63 and $8,214.79 for project cost payments, as reported by Kevin Griffiths. Forgiveness of principal on roll back taxes and acceptance of charges of interest was reported from the Harford Volunteer Fire Co. on Parcel #167.00. The Harrisburg trip quote was awarded to Shafer’s Tour and Charter of Johnson City in the amount of $2,970.00. The trip is under discussion. An alternative may be Williamsburg.

There was no Legislative or Policy report given. Under Negotiations, Ron Phillips of the Negotiations Committee indicated there were meetings on March 12 and 18 with non-instructional staff. Talks are ongoing.

Approval was given for fuel escalation payments to car/van contractors for the 2002-2003 school year, calculated at $.005/mile driven for every $.05 change in the regular unleaded gas or diesel price, beginning at $.25 above the base price. An average will be established by checking three service stations each week. Payments will be made on the 25th.

The program of studies was approved for the 7th and 8th grades and the 9th through 12th grades. Special emphasis is being placed on Math in order to attain the standard of excellence the School Board and the present school administration has set.

Under Personnel, Joseph Frankovsky, Jr. of Carbondale was added to the maintenance custodian substitute list, a new reading specialist was hired and a full-time maintenance custodian position will commence April 1. Field trip attendance was reported by Sondra Stine and approved for Stephanie Griffis and Karen Voight and six students. In addition, the Board approved the Northeastern Education Intermediate Unit #19 Budget for the 2003-2004 school year.

Superintendent Art Chambers deferred to Elementary Principal Margaret S. Foster as she reported that the survey taken from 282 parents was extremely complimentary to the school. She noted a committee is being formed to start working on three objectives, communication being the major focus.

Chambers reported complimentarily on the new look for the student run school magazine. Colin Furneaux, principal of the High School, commented that the business program is being revitalized and the "Tech" ed. program is moving forward.

In addition, Chambers commented on the success of the small grant given to the school in the "Read To Succeed" program at the elementary school. The grant has provided some special needed assistance to young children and their parents.

He announced that the ribbon cutting scheduled in April has been canceled, due to ongoing work being done at the high school. However, the school is planning to do the honors in early September.

It was announced by Sandra Stine that the Board meeting for the beginning of April is now scheduled for April 7. The Board meets in the elementary school board room at 8 p.m. The public should take note of this change.

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Three Get State Prison Terms

Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans sentenced three county residents to state correctional facilities on separate incidents of sex-related offenses involving minors.

Eric Everett Hall, 26, of New Milford, was sentenced to serve five to 10 years in a state correctional facility for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse in New Milford on July 1, 1997. Upon completion of his sentence, Mr. Hall will serve 10 years on probation.

Mr. Hall was also fined $500, ordered to make restitution to his victim and pay the DNA testing and costs of $250. He is to have no contact with minors under the age of 16 without adult supervision.

Thomas John Vibbard, 31, of Montrose, will serve two-to-four years in a state correctional facility, with credit for time served, to be followed by six years of probation for aggravated indecent assault in Forest Lake Township on May 23, 2002.

Mr. Vibbard was also fined $500 plus $250 DNA testing and costs, and must make restitution to his victim. He will also undergo sexual abuse and mental health evaluation and cannot have any contact with minors under the age of 16 without adult supervision.

Penny Lynn Fink, 24, of Montrose will serve 18-to-36 months in a state correctional facility, with credit for time served, on separate counts of aggravated indecent assault. The incidents occurred in Montrose on Feb. 1 and 2, 2002.

Ms. Fink was also fined $500 and was ordered to make restitution to her victims. She will also undergo sexual abuse evaluation and cannot have contact with any minors under the age of 16 without adult supervision.

Ryan M. Maginley, 17, of Springville, was remanded to the Susquehanna County Jail for a term of 11 1/2 to 23 months with credit for time served. Mr. Maginley was also fined a total of $750 and when he is released from jail, he will be placed on probation for five years.

Mr. Maginley was sentenced on charges of robbery in Forest Lake Twp. on Dec. 8, 2002, and theft by unlawful taking in South Montrose, also on Dec. 8, 2002. He must make restitution to his victims.

Linda Lee Bucksbee, 22, of New Milford was sentenced to six months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail for burglary in South Montrose on Feb. 1, 2002. Ms. Bucksbee was also fined $600 and was placed on probation for four years.

Stanley W. Brennan, 44, of Athens, will spend 30 days to 15 months in the county jail for driving under the influence in New Milford on June 8, 2002. Mr. Brennan will serve his jail term on weekends. He was also fined $300 and must attend safe driving school and enroll in the Pennsylvania Ignition Lock system.

Thomas Edward Price Jr., 19, of Montrose was sentenced to a term of seven months to two years minus one day in the county jail for burglary in Montrose on June 12, 2002. He was also sentenced to serve six months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail for theft by unlawful taking in Montrose on Nov. 4 and 5, 2002. And, he was given a suspended sentence of nine months to 24 months in the county jail and was placed on probation for 24 months for receiving stolen property in Montrose on June 12, 2002. Mr. Price was also fined a total of $1,100, ordered to make restitution and must perform 100 hours of community service.

Franko Ryan Grosse, 36, of Hallstead was placed on the county jail work release program for a period of two months to 12 months for simple assault in Springville on Feb. 14, 2002. He was also fined $500 and ordered to make restitution.

Jeremy L. Lutz, 19, of Montrose was sentenced to jail terms of two months to 12 months and two months to 15 months on separate charges of criminal conspiracy and criminal mischief in Montrose during July of 2002. Mr. Lutz was also fined a total of $350 and must undergo drug and alcohol evaluation.

Edward K. Kovari, 24, of South Montrose, was sentenced to serve 11 months to 24 months minus one day in the county jail for criminal conspiracy and burglary in New Milford on May 19, 2002. He was also placed on probation for five years and must make restitution to his victim.

Jose Justo Reyes, 43, of Susquehanna, will serve 48 hours to one year in the county jail, with credit for time served, on a drunk driving charge. He was also fined $300 and must be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse.

Richard Chapman, 18, of Hallstead will serve one month to 15 months in the county jail, with credit for time served, and pay a fine of $500, for theft by unlawful taking in the Hallstead/Great Bend area on Aug. 25, 2001. He was also fined $600 for harassment/stalking, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, and purchase, consumption and transportation of alcoholic beverages, for an incident at the Harford Fair on Aug. 22, 2002.

Douglas Lee Green, 40, of Clifford was placed on state probation for six months for possession of drug paraphernalia in Lenox Twp. on July 19, 2002. He was also fined $150 and will be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse.

Wayne David Conrad, 20, of Hallstead, will spend three months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail for burglarizing two businesses in Hallstead on Aug. 1, 2002. He was also fined $250 and must make restitution.

Josh Calby, 19, of Montrose, was sentenced to serve from two months to 12 months in the county jail for possession of drug paraphernalia in Bridgewater Twp. on Oct. 3, 2002. He was also fined $350 and will be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse.

James Moran, 22, of New Milford was sentenced to serve from six months to 22 months in the county jail for carrying firearms without a license in New Milford last Dec. 12. He was also fined $500 and must perform 50 hours of community service.

Louis Yachymiak, 23, of Lanesboro received suspended jail terms and was fined a total of $650 for terroristic threats in Brooklyn Twp. on Sept. 15, 2002 and resisting arrest in Harford Twp. on July 13, 2002. Mr. Yachymiak was placed on probation for 30 months and must perform 50 hours of community service.

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County Plan Nears Completion

With what must have been a sigh of relief, Planning Director Robert Templeton announced at the March 25 meeting of the County Planning Commission that the Comprehensive Plan update is basically finished. It has been a long process, with much work done by the office staff, the Comprehensive Plan committee, community planning and management consultants, as well as hired consultant and plan writer, Carson Helfrich. The Committee sought input through many channels, including the public, surveys to taxpayers and municipal officials, planning commissions, school superintendents, mayors and zoning boards. They also utilized the 2000 census data and face-to-face surveys of all department heads in the county government system. The plan lays out specific goals for meeting the desires of the residents of the county, as well as continuing to provide needed services to the public. After the plan is presented to the County Commissioners, public input will again be sought as meetings will be scheduled in the six school districts of the county.

Templeton reported that the Youth Leadership Program has ended for this year. Thirty eleventh- grade students took part in several sessions held throughout the county, the purpose of which was to build leadership skills. The students were asked to complete a project for a local non-profit agency, using money received from the "stay, invent the future" grant. They chose to work with Salt Springs State Park and the American Red Cross.

The Planning Commission had received a letter from Environmental Management in Maine, informing them of the intent of the South Auburn-based Baran’s Surplus, Inc. to melt army surplus aluminum in their recycling furnace, and asking for their input on this operation. Apparently these are big pieces of equipment, and not knowing what effect this operation would have on the surrounding area, the Commission will invite a representative of Baran’s Surplus, Inc. to a meeting before they make comment. Input from the Planning Commission could affect the ruling of the Department of Environmental Protection. The Commission has thirty days to comment.

Susquehanna County learned that the Binghamton Metropolitan Planning Organization will receive an additional $30,000 in block grant money due to the 2000 census, which included Routes 11 and 81 from the New York border to New Milford Borough in the "urbanized area" of Binghamton relative to transportation planning. Because Binghamton uses block grant money for public transportation, the Planning Commission is exploring the possibility of some of those funds being used for public transportation to the Binghamton area from the Hallstead, Great Bend, and New Milford areas.

The Planning Commission concurred with staff recommendations on three requests for review and comment. These included the Fell Township Comprehensive Plan in Lackawanna County, which impacts Susquehanna County only in that it borders Clifford Township and Forest City Borough. The staff saw no problems. On the Fox Ledge, Inc. Water Bottling Company located in Mount Pleasant, Wayne County, the Commission chose not to give comment because they lacked pertinent information.
Approval will come from Susquehanna River Basin Commission. The third was comment on Elk Lake Ski Resort application to use area pond water from November to March for snowmaking purposes. The Planning Commission received and reviewed this application and anticipated no adverse effects on surrounding land use. Therefore they gave approval. Four minor subdivisions/new lots were approved, as was one major subdivision/new lot. They gave favorable comment on three other properties.

Scott Young, owner of the Campground at East Lake came before the Commission again, still searching for a way to eliminate the use of the Flying J Travel Plaza as an overnight campground. Young contends that there were 24 campers in the Flying J parking lot on March 24 at 11:00 p.m. They were un-coupled from their trucks, generators were running and had all the appearances that they were spending the night. He says that he is losing business because of this. He further stated that his attorney has tried repeatedly to contact the County’s attorney, Michael Giangrieco, and Giangrieco will not return the calls. The Commission voted to have Templeton attend the County Commissioners meeting and request that they ask Attorney Giangrieco to contact Mr. Young’s attorney.

The next Planning Commission meeting will be held on April 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Office Building. The public is welcome.

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MASD Building Options

Only one item was on the agenda of MASD’s Building and Grounds Committee meeting held at the high school last Friday night: The much-awaited report by Highland Associates consultant Jonathan Loiselle on the educational needs-assessment study the firm recently completed on behalf of the District.

And while the MASD Board of Directors has been kept apprised of various aspects of the study via progress reports, the full report and its findings were made for the first time in front of Board members (save Shawn Brown, who was unable to attend the meeting) as well as almost four dozen members of the public who gathered in the school’s auditorium. A complete copy of the inches-thick report, "Presentation of Master Plan Options," is available online at the District’s website ( as well as in District administrative offices.

And, yes, the various options to achieve District goals – all-day kindergarten; in-sourcing special education instead of continuing to farm it out; enabling a middle school program; and improving buildings, ground, facilities, access and security – all cost money, ranging from $7.2 million to $28 million ($33.4 million if you throw in swimming facilities), depending on the option and the choices available within them. The major portion of each of the price tags is for construction.

At the end of the presentation, Board president Ken Gould welcomed audience comments. Not surprisingly, the score or so who came up to the microphone were understandably concerned about ramifications to District taxpayers should any part of the study – including those that some favored, such as all-day kindergarten and a middle-school program – be adopted.

So was the Board, which is why – in addition to needing to get a better handle on how the state budget and funding will firm up in tough economic times – it will be taking its time, and soliciting more input from the public. In fact, its consensus, expressed by director Linda Barbera, was to wait until after the 2003-2004 budget process was completed to begin a thorough review of the study, talk to Community Advisory Committee members who provided input to Highland, and meet again with the public during the summer. After this process, and if – "a big if," Gould called it – any decision is made on going forward with any or part of an option, both superintendent Mike Ognosky and Gould reinforced that funds that may be required would become part of the budget process, with appropriate amortizations over several years.

As background, the process that resulted in the study began almost a year or so ago when the District addressed goals it would like to include in its master plan. The first of these is an all-day kindergarten program, something that is an option in all other school districts in the county, but which is difficult to do in MASD elementary schools that have run out of room. Lathrop Street principal Greg Adams spoke up on behalf of all-day kindergarten, saying it is a direction he would like the District to take, from both an academic and administrative perspective. Adams also mentioned that districts across the state are anticipating a mandate for all-day kindergarten, although no one can yet say when that may happen.

Another goal is bringing in-house special education programs that the District currently farms outside the District and the County; an earlier study by Director of Special Education Don Golden indicated that the District could save upwards of $40,000 if it could bring these programs in-house, shorten transportation time for special ed students, and improve their mainstreaming opportunities. Again, there is currently not enough space to accommodate special ed needs.

A third goal is to offer a separate middle-school program that more effectively addresses the educational and social needs of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders as opposed to the current elementary-to-junior/senior-high-school program. Junior-senior high school principal Doug Wilcox spoke on behalf of a separate middle-school program that would improve curriculum, elective, and specials (band, music, etc.) opportunities for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, offer more flexibility as to scheduling than is possible with the high-school scheduling, and focus more on the transitioning needs of this age group.

The goal of improving both access and security became even more important considering current global events.

The District hired Highland about four months ago to see what it would take to realize some or all of these goals. Along the way, certain results of the study would be used for better valuations for District insurance programs, as well as for fulfilling various state requirements for future reimbursements.

As Highland’s Loiselle explained the process, the consulting firm collected information from students (representing grades 7-12), faculty, administrators, staff, taxpayers, engineers, architects and others to develop and test solutions that would meet District goals and estimate a price tag for them. Achieving all the goals would require an addition to one or more of the current buildings, or constructing a new building. There are, however, four options to achieve them, each with a separate total estimated cost that includes construction costs, contingency costs to cover unknown factors and which take inflation into account; and soft costs (furniture, fixtures, materials). The four options are summarized below; readers are also referred to the District website for a detailed copy of the report.

Option 1, building maintenance status-quo option. This option reduces public access to rear of high school; improve storage for administration; regains high school area used by buildings and grounds; and centralizes storage to reduce over-usage of materials. Option 1 maintains existing buildings, resolves most maintenance issues expected within the next five years, improves some quality of life issues, and its estimated cost of $7.2 million, is the lowest of the four option costs. (Loiselle pointed to Lathrop Street for a quality-of-life example, where the solution includes increasing the access-way in front of the building, bringing buses in head-first, moving exhaust away from the front of the building where it could get sucked up into vents, a single-row of buses instead of two rows between which children must walk, improved and safer access to the back of the building and rear parking lot, and a right-turn-only leaving that lot that will be safer and cause less congestion. This option does not accommodate all-day kindergarten, in-house special education, a separate middle-school program, and does not improve access, security, and administration, buildings, and grounds facilities. A lengthy list of maintenance items (such as a new roof on the high school) is included in the report available online.

Option 2, maintain existing buildings and make additions to them and to curriculum to include all-day kindergarten at both the Lathrop Street and Choconut Valley elementary schools, provide a separate 7th and 8th grade area at the high school, and improve some quality of life issues. Its estimated total cost is $20.8 million. (The layouts of all three schools and how additions would be made to accommodate goals can be found in the full report available online and in District administrators’ offices.) This option also includes an additional events-gym at the high school with direct access from the outside (the current gym would be converted into a fitness area and middle-school/special ed gym), a music room, a separate middle school entry and area with science labs, classrooms, computer lab, band, music area, and locker rooms that could also be used by special ed students for activities. A new baseball field would be built and sited so that batters don’t face the sun; the softball field would be moved and re-graded and given better orientation; a new field hockey field and practice field would be built, as would a new building and ground building. Space and parking would also be available for a new main branch of the County Library, which is interested in acquiring District land for this purpose.

Option 2 does not improve 6th grade curriculum or allow for all special education programs, makes future expansion of the high school difficult, and prevents state reimbursement of renovations at the high school. (The state will reimburse for part of the cost of additions to a school, but not to renovations made to additions within a certain period of time.)

Option 3, maintain elementary buildings and make an addition to the high school, enabling all-day kindergarten, improving 6th grade curriculum, providing a separate middle-school program for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, accommodating all special education needs, and providing a separate administration area within each school. An addition to the high school (with an option of building two stories and not taking up more space on an ever-crowding site) would make space for a middle-school program, thus freeing up space at the elementary schools to accommodate all-day kindergarten. Readers can visit a District administrative office, or visit its website, to see proposed layout of the high school to accommodate this option. Option 2 changes to athletic fields, parking and a separate building and grounds building are included. The total estimated cost for option 3 is $19.2 million.

Option 4, maintain existing buildings, alter curriculum, construct a new building for middle school. A centrally located middle school would save on transportation costs and has the potential for a lot of community use, said Highland’s Loiselle. This option also accommodates all-day kindergarten at the elementary schools and a complete in-house special education program. It is also has the highest estimated cost – $33.4 million with swimming facilities at the high school; $27.9 million without such facilities. Site location would also have to be determined and acquired.

On behalf of the Board, Gould thanked Highland Associates for the presentation and its work on the study. He then asked other directors for comments, and there were quite a few. Jim Blachek was concerned with enrollment projections used in the study – specifically, that the report indicated that enrollment looks like its plummeting and wouldn’t the District, then, be left with excess space? Loiselle responded that Highland used state Department of Education statistics in its projection, but that the District can project otherwise, provided it explains to the Department the basis of its projections.

Superintendent Ognosky also noted that curriculum growth, and the space for it, formed the basis for the District’s goals, rather than enrollment issues. For instance, classrooms in the elementary schools were formerly storage areas. Some of the options would return space to a library, a music room, a classroom or conform to classroom size. With basically every space now occupied in all three of the schools, there is no room to accommodate all-day kindergarten, a middle-school program, or an in-house special ed program.

Director Chris Caterson said that the general and preliminary consensus among the Board is to pay attention to existing buildings. Having said that, he asked about projections in option 1 to put a new roof on each of the three current buildings. Loiselle replied that the roofs are becoming a "quilt-work of patches upon patches," and "didn’t think it would be prudent to recommend a fix that would only last a couple of years." He estimated that new roofs could be expected to come with a 10-15 year warranty, depending on the materials used.

Taxpayer and audience member Rex Maxey asked if additional staff, maintenance and utilities were included in the Highland projections. They were not, with the exception of special education. Maxey also told the Board that while he wanted to have the best school and the best car, he also didn’t want to live outside of his means, and cautioned the Board to do the same. Another reminded the Board that the District was in an economically depressed area, with many people living on fixed incomes.

A Liberty Township resident noted that her "kids are older, and I support a full-day kindergarten and separating the middle-school program, and getting at least a separate cafeteria" for the latter group.

Others asked about the state of the state budget and how the legislature will act upon it, especially regarding funding for smaller, rural schools. As noted earlier, not much is known right now, but Board members and administrators are trying to find out. Maxey wanted to know if the District ever approached its state representatives about the diminished funds created by Clean-and-Green legislation, acknowledging that, unfortunately, what occurred with this legislation throughout the rest of the state was not felt as hard in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Blachek responded that directors and administrators both have made the case for how the District has been impacted. "I think Sandy [Major] runs every time she sees me," he said, adding that the PSBA "has a very active lobbying group that constantly stays in front of legislators on things like this throughout the year." He noted that MASD and other county school boards meet regularly with state representatives. "We were told that there’s a way that Clean and Green can be changed in Susquehanna County, but that it’s up to the commissioners to act." When told to speak with commissioners, then, both Blachek and Maxey said, "We do; we do."

Board vice president Celeste Ridler added that directors attend an annual lobby day in Harrisburg and make their case every year, as well as meet with other groups.

Added Ognosky, "We will do everything we can to put the missing planks in the governor’s platform." He reported that he and 30 other supervisors will be meeting with the governor to address the issues of schools in rural parts of the state.

At its next meeting, the Board will formally accept delivery of the Highland Associates study. Gould emphasized this does not mean it accepts and acts on the options it contains. Directors will then move onto working on the budget, and pick up the study again for detailed review and more input from the public after the school year ends. By that time, said Gould, "Hopefully, a state budget will have been passed and we can see what it means – or doesn’t mean – to us."

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Getting Downtowns Back on Track

The Susquehanna County Department of Economic Development hosted a Welcome Back Downtown workshop which attracted about 60 people representing various downtown areas throughout the county, plus a group from the Wyalusing area.

Jonathan Johnson, Senior Policy Analyst from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, shared the historical trends which went from small downtowns to strip malls to big box stores. Now the trend is swinging back, with people realizing the importance of small businesses, especially in niche markets.

Bill Fontana, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, talked about change being necessary for economic development to progress in downtown areas. Issues must be thought of as regional happenings rather than local. He also talked about consensus building and how the various segments such as elected officials, chambers of commerce and housing and redevelopment people need to agree about where they are at present and where they hope to be in the future. Dollars and people are needed to move a community from one of lower to greater economic success, but the goals of each segment must be consistent to get anything done. Community vision is needed, where the players need to know what they want the community to be.

Attendees were divided into 5-6 groups to explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of their local areas, as well as to help identify areas where they weren't sure if some characteristics were positive or negative.

The Mainstreet Program as a national model was discussed and with it the idea that district activities that were completed 15 years ago need to start over. Downtown Revitalization was portrayed not as a project with a time line, but rather a culture that needs to be sustained. Downtowns are community assets that need promotion, maintenance and repair. Now is a good time for small community revitalization as the funding is going from $2.5 million to $5 under the new Governor's budget. Other programs such as the Elm Street Program which expands the Mainstreet concept to the immediate neighboring areas of the downtown will improve the downtown area by making customers enjoy coming to it, and the downtown area will, in turn, make the neighboring areas improve. The USDA also has dollars for downtown revitalization, and the speakers said that Governor Ridge is committed to working with small communities.

Many business owners were present. Johnnie Florance, owner of A & E Automotive in Hallstead, said, "I really liked it (the workshop). It was very informative, and I liked the way they talked about the way it was a regional thing... the bigger picture... that's where we've come from with the Endless Mountain Business Association (that takes in the corridor along Route 11 adjacent to Interstate 81, including Great Bend, Hallstead and New Milford)... this corridor down here, not just little downtown... how it affects the whole area, and the whole area affects downtown. I'd like to see a little more sharing, to get smaller governments to work together, but I think it reinforced we're going in the right direction..."

Paul Ferraro, owner of Ferraro's Barber Shop and White Deer Stamps & Coin in Forest City, "thought it was useful. I'd like to see more of that kind of thing, and see our community take advantage of more things available that the Governor's budget put forth." As a member of the Forest City Commercial Association as well as past president, he concludes, "All small towns are suffering," but he thinks that Forest City is suffering especially, because it is "so close to Scranton... how do we counter that and what can we do..." He was optimistic for the future, however, and said, "Small towns will bounce back in the future."

Terri Shea owns Little Leaf Natural Products in Montrose, and is on the Board of Directors of the Montrose Restoration Committee. She said, "It's great to know so many communities in the county are interested," but she added, "We all have a lot of work to do and hopefully will share our experiences and information. It's exciting to know our Governor is behind us." She was impressed that the budget was doubled for small community projects.

Three county commissioner candidates also attended. Current Commissioner Lee Smith "was pleasantly pleased. There was a fairly good cross-section of the county," and he thought the discussion period was good. It was "one of the better adventures in something like that." He especially liked that the speakers offered their services free of charge, and "all we have to do is sounded like there are not many strings attached."

Republican candidate for county commissioner, James Jennings of Brooklyn Township, "thought it was a well presented program." One point which particularly impressed him was that "downtown revitalization is not a project that has a start and finish date." It "is an ongoing effort that requires continual attention. It has to become a way of life for the community, requiring public and private resources."

Democratic candidate Mary Ann Warren of New Milford Borough, and Executive Director of the Susquehanna County Chamber of Commerce, said she "was delighted that Economic Development hosted the program as I found it very informative and was pleased with the large turnout of Susquehanna County residents interested in improving our ‘downtown areas.' I especially enjoyed the workshop, ‘SWOT analysis,' as it gave everyone an opportunity to brainstorm and identify with your particular downtown's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The consensus of the groups was that we all want the same thing, appealing downtown areas and the time to begin this process is now."

And Justin Taylor, Director of the Susquehanna County Economic Development Department was "very happy to see the concepts and philosophy of the Economic Development Department taking root in local communities throughout Susquehanna County. We'll continue to be the leader in job creation and work to create public/private partnerships in small towns throughout the county to enhance the quality of life and the economy."

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Susky Council Hears From PENNDOT

Susquehanna Boro council met on March 25; all council members were present with the exception of Roy Williams. Also present were secretary Margaret Biegert, streets commissioner Steve Glover, CEO Shane Lewis, and a number of residents.

As the first order of business, council president Ron Whitehead announced that area residents are planning a rally to support our military troops, to be held April 19, 6:30 p.m. in the Shops Plaza. He stressed that it is not in support of or against the war effort, but strictly to support our troops. All are welcome to attend.

Tom Ochal of PENNDOT was listed as requesting time on the agenda, but when the floor was opened to him he stated that he did not know why he was there, he had been invited. He had attended the meeting in an "advisory mode," to provide information (regarding parking problems on West Main St.). PENNDOT, he said, understands what problem is, as they are familiar with it.

Mr. Whitehead replied that Mr. Ochal had been invited to address the problem with a seven-member committee that has been formed to work on a solution; with the exception of Mr. Williams, all of the committee members were present.

Council member Todd Glover added that boro residents are looking for a solution to the problem, either from PENNDOT or the boro. "There were a lot of questions when we tried to ban parking," he said.

Mr. Ochal replied that the problem has been in existence for 50 years or so; what brought it to a head? Mr. Glover responded that the boro had received a letter from the (PENNDOT) district manager. Mr. Ochal said that he was not aware that the manager had sent a letter. He was given a copy of the letter, and noted that is was not dated. Mr. (Steve) Glover said that it had been received three or four years ago. Todd Glover explained that there was a concern with plows, and some businesses had complained that their trucks have to drive around cars, the road isn’t wide enough. He added that the boro had conducted a study, but there were questions from some residents about the legality of the study, as it had not been conducted by a licensed engineer. And, the boro’s attorney had reviewed PENNDOT’s regulations and determined that it could be conducted by the boro. There was some debate on this subject; Mr. Ochal said that by PENNDOT’s definition, the study is done; regulations mandate that a study must be conducted, but it does not have to be done by an engineer, a member of the police department, or anyone with a legal background. The purpose of the study is to gather data, and make a decision on how to approach the problem.

Audience member Andy Whitehead, who is on the committee that has been put together, related that the committee has been asking for a copy of study, but as of yet has not seen it.

Andy Francis, also a member of the committee, stated that they are addressing several aspects of the problem to find solutions comfortable to both sides of the issue. If the road’s shoulders were taken care of and paved, there would be adequate room for parking. Unilaterally banning parking in winter, to allow snow plowing, would create a hardship for many. One thing the committee is looking at is creating accessible, alternative parking for winter; some potential solutions have been discussed. He noted that, in this area, traffic has increased in recent years, especially at certain times of the day.

Mr. Ochal noted that the boro is "in a unique situation." He could see the need for parking, but could also see the need to ban parking. According to data gathered by PENNDOT in August of 2001, traffic volume in this area is approximately 1,982 vehicles per day, with ten percent of that traffic being trucks, about 200 per day, a very high average; "normal" average is three to four percent.

Mr. Ochal suggested that the committee invite PENNDOT’s district manager to a meeting, as well as the assistant district manager, legislative representatives, and local businesses whose trucks use this road. The boro police will be asked to attend the meeting, as well as the streets department. An audience member suggested inviting representatives of the boro’s largest employer, Barnes-Kasson Hospital, as many employees use this route going to and coming from work.

A priority of this meeting would be to draw up a plan, detailing as many of the problems involved as possible, with particular attention to safety issues, especially during winter when plowing is needed. PENNDOT can supply volume data to include in the report, he said. The committee should add as many items for consideration as possible, including any information from the police department on "non-reportable" (to the State Police) incidents. The plan should then be brought to council, so that a resolution could be enacted in support of the plan. The county planning commission should be presented with the plan as well as the resolution, asking for support to get it prioritized with PENNDOT, so that it could be added to PENNDOT’s twelve-year project list.

The West Main Street committee has scheduled meetings for the fourth Tuesday of the month, in the boro building.

In other business, a motion carried to forgive taxes on two boro properties, the old laundromat on Franklin Ave. and another on Main St. across from the bridge. The owner has agreed to sign the properties over to the boro, so that grant funding can be used to demolish them.

Copies of employee policies were given to council to review, to discuss at the next meeting.

Todd Glover reported that the Sesquicentennial committee will be working on the property at the intersection of East Main and Willow, clearing and landscaping, which should be completed in April, in time for the 150th anniversary of the boro’s incorporation.

Council member Pat Frederick reported that the emergency operations plan requested by county is nearly complete. In the past, the boro’s emergency management coordinator has always been a police officer, but, she said, in an emergency the police would be in charge of separate issues. She recommended that a coordinator be appointed who is not a member of either the police or fire departments. She recommended Roy Williams, and agreed to serve as an alternate in the event Mr. Williams is not available. A motion carried to approve.

Council member Bill Kuiper reported that the boro’s franchise agreement with Adams Cable is up for renewal. He will be meeting with the boro’s solicitor and expects to have a new agreement ready by the date of the next meeting for council’s review. A public hearing will be scheduled, to allow for public comment, after which council will vote on it.

A resolution was approved supporting the designation of the access road at the SOLIDA industrial park as a public highway. If the road were to be declared a public thoroughfare, the PUC would then review. Pending approval by the PUC, if the road is declared a public road, the railroad would then be responsible for upkeep of the crossing.

Shane Lewis gave his monthly report, which included three building inspections and 28 rental property inspections. And, there had been a problem with the daycare center on Main St. As there had been a 24 foot breach in the rear wall, the center had to be shut down. The building’s insurer had scheduled an inspection for Thursday, March 27. He will keep council apprised of the situation.

Streets commissioner Steve Glover reported that his department has spent the last week and a half cold patching the roads. Some sections, he said, are in rough shape. His department has never had to use so much as they did this year. Cold patch was being used, as blacktop will not be not available for several weeks. There was a minor problem with the new truck. And, the road sweeper will probably be out as of the first week of April, mostly on the old schedule, Tuesdays and Thursdays, possibly some additional days due to the amount of material left on the road from the winter. "Hopefully folks will bear with us," he said. "Hopefully the bad weather is behind us." Todd Glover added that it would help if residents could sweep up the bulk of the road material and call the streets office to have it picked it up. The streets committee will begin working on a list of spring and summer project at their March 26 meeting.

The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, April 8, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.

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