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Hears From Residents
The Hallstead Boro Council met for their monthly meeting on June 16. Present were Martin Brown, Michele Giangrieco, John Giangrieco, Joseph Franks, secretary Cindy Gillespie and a number of residents.
During public comment, the main topic of discussion was a driveway that lies between a car wash and a boro park. Council had received a complaint at a previous meeting that it was being used as a thoroughfare; at last months meeting, Mr. Franks reported that the car wash owner had inquired about the possibility of leasing that portion of the property from the boro. It had been agreed to contact the boros solicitor for more information. Council was asked, will the land be leased? The consensus (by council) was that it will not.
Resident Elinor Fitzgerald, who had brought the situation to councils attention, said that she had contacted PENNDOT to see if a driveway permit was ever issued; the answer was no. Mr. Giangrieco responded that the driveway has been there for years, as there had once been a building there. The boro could not put a fence up, as had been requested by Mrs. Fitzgerald. "We dont own the land behind it," Mr. Giangrieco said, "they have a right to access." Mrs. Fitzgerald responded, "Why is everyone using it as a thoroughfare? (The land) was willed to the boro to be used as a playground." Mr. Giangrieco pointed out that the driveway existed before the playground did. "I want to see the playground used as a playground, with more equipment," Mrs. Fitzgerald said. She asked what council intends to do with a $1,000 gift the boro received from the Fancher Memorial; Mr. Brown said that this had been discussed with the Fancher family, and all had agreed to hold the funds until more could be added to it, to be used for purchase of equipment. Mr. Franks said that council would not want the money to be used to buy inexpensive equipment that would not last long. Another resident commented that she would like to see more shade trees and benches at the park.
An audience member commented that she had never been aware that there were town meetings. She asked why a compromise couldnt be found, such as putting a fence up to keep children from running out into the driveway from the park. And, she did not feel that an open car wash was needed as there is another car wash nearby that residents could use.
Another audience member commented that council has been trying to get things done in the parks, but has experienced problems with funds. He suggested getting a "grassroots" organization going, to get sponsors and hold fund-raisers for improvements. "It takes people in the community that really want to do it, not just at one or two meetings," he said. "The more people (involved), the better it can be."
Returning to the subject of the driveway, Mr. Franks said, "I dont understand why this has become such a problem after all these years." It has been used by the water company for access to a storage area; no one complained until now. Mrs. Fitzgerald answered that there is a different type of traffic using the area now, "I just want to make sure the playground is used for its intended purpose."
She has been trying to contact other boros to find out how they funded equipment; she asked if the boro had applied for any grants. Mr. Giangrieco said that there has been a reluctance to do so because often such grants dictate what a municipality can do with the land. He cited difficulties encountered when the library was looking to expand, because playground equipment in the adjacent park had been funded through a grant.
Mrs. Fitzgerald asked about gravel that had been put down in the driveway area; couldnt it be covered up? Mr. Franks said that council had not given permission for anyone to put gravel there. Mr. Brown added that council would make the decision on what to do with the (Fancher) money. "Were not going to spend it on topsoil or fencing; were going to use it for equipment."
Ms. Giangrieco remarked that it is sad how much money is put into the parks and then equipment is destroyed, either by vandalism or by adults sitting on equipment intended for children. She added that a rocking horse had actually been stolen from the park. Mrs. Fitzgerald agreed that it is pathetic the way some people do not respect community property.
Mr. Brown suggested that interested residents should get together, and bring suggestions back to council.
Another topic brought up for discussion was the boros storm drains; some are in need of cleaning, and some appear to be missing. Mr. Brown asked that locations be given to Mrs. Gillespie so that they could be checked; the boro is in the process of cleaning the drains; it had been discussed at last months meeting.
Mrs. Fitzgerald asked about two properties where the grass is overgrown; Mr. Brown said that the owners will be notified, or in the case of properties that are up for sale, the realtor. And, Mrs. Fitzgerald reported that there has been a problem with people burning plastic and other household trash, resulting in noxious fumes at night.
Another question from the audience was in regard to the status of the foundry property. Mr. Franks responded that the owners have been given thirty days, as of May 22 to show some action in the demolition of the buildings. If there is no response received by the boros solicitor at the end of that time, the boro will take charge, and condemn the property. Later in the meeting, the subject was brought up again, as it was listed on the agenda. Ms. Giangrieco asked if council could put a time limit on how long the owners would have to implement a plan of action, if one were to be submitted to council. "We want to see action," Mr. Franks said, "its a safety hazard." He added that if at the end of the thirty days, the solicitor has not received a response, council will confer with the solicitor to see what steps must be taken to condemn the property.
In other business, Mr. Brown relayed that the bridge beautification committee has asked about the funds the boro committed to the project. It had been agreed to donate a total of $5,000, to be paid over a three year period. It was agreed to pay $1,500 now.
Council discussed a request from former maintenance supervisor, Dick Bigelow, to pay for his supplemental insurance, total approximately $1,760 per year. Mr. Giangrieco seemed to think this was a reasonable request, as Mr. Bigelow had worked for the boro for 25 years, and had saved the boro money when he switched to Medicare. Mrs. Fitzgerald asked if Mr. Bigelow had a signed contract (obligating the boro to pay for the insurance); he does not. She asked if this matter had ever been discussed previously; Mr. Franks said that it had been discussed before Mr. Bigelow retired. Mrs. Fitzgerald responded that she, and many others in the private sector, are responsible for paying their own insurance. Ms. Giangrieco made a motion that the matter be tabled until there are more council members present to discuss it. Mr. Brown added that he would like to get more opinion before a decision is made.
Mr. Giangrieco reported that three new stop signs are needed; Mr. Brown asked if sturdier, two-inch poles could be used, rather than the newer type that dont seem to last as long. It was agreed to look into the cost.
The roof of the pavilion at the Rte. 11 park has been painted, and the barbecue grills will be repaired.
One item seems to regularly appear on the agenda, the need for a boro representative for the HallsteadGreat Bend Sewer Authority; Mrs. Fitzgerald was asked if she would be interested in filling the vacancy. She said that she would think about it, but first she would like to talk to former representatives to see what is involved.
The final item discussed was the need for a trailer, to transport the lawn mower and other related equipment. It was noted that a trailer would save wear and tear on the mower, as it now has to be ridden to the various locations where it is used. It was agreed that maintenance supervisor John Gordon should be given the go-ahead to determine what is needed and get prices.
The next meeting will be on Monday, July 21, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
The Oakland Township Board of Supervisors met at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 14 for their regular monthly meeting.
A person who had requested time on the agenda was not present. Supervisor Cowperthwait said that it was his understanding that the subject to be discussed was the boards decision not to participate in the designation of the Rte. 92 corridor as a scenic byway. Mr. Cowperthwait commented that some time ago, several individuals had requested time to discuss this undertaking but, at the time, he was preparing to go on vacation and there were too many other items that needed attention. He commented that there are two things "going" that are being touted as economic development, one of which is the SOLIDA industrial park and the other, the scenic byway. "What do I think?" he said. "I dont know." Supervisor Gorton added that the supervisors do not have enough information to make a decision about the byway.
Mr. Cowperthwait said that the river itself does not need to be promoted, as it promotes itself. The byway, he said, is a good idea but not without problems; and, it would require a commitment from the community.
The next item discussed was information compiled to complete a PSATS survey; among items listed are the townships population (550); number of real estate parcels (411); number of property owners who live outside of the township (45%), which has increased by about ten percent over the last ten years; total annual revenue ($58,830); this years costs for winter snow removal ($4,000); average costs for snow removal ($2-3,000).
It was noted that the truck had recently needed repairs, costing approximately $900. The windshield is in need of replacement and it is due for a tune-up.
A road inspection was planned immediately following the meeting, to check damage from the previous days storm. Roadmaster Richard Norris reported that a check of Skinner Hill that morning showed only minor storm damage.
Discussing amusement tax reports from the townships businesses, Mr. Cowperthwait said that one of those reports listed no activity for May 2, but in checking the Internet, he had found otherwise. A letter was to be sent to the business owners, asking for clarification of what Mr. Cowperthwait said could have been just an oversight.
Several ongoing codes violations were discussed. With one, where there had been a property line dispute, Mr. Cowperthwait said the dispute has been partially resolved. But, a survey shows that a trailer on one of the properties is apparently slightly over the boundary line. The owner has said that he would have it moved so that it is no longer over the line. As he intends to use it for storage, there are no utilities in use. Further action was tabled for the time being.
Another possible violation, a trailer on Oak Hill has been placed without a permit. It is not hooked up to a sewage system; Mr. Cowperthwait asked where the sewage is being disposed of. There are apparently some other utilities hooked up. Mr. Cowperthwait said that the proper procedure is, that it is a violation to install a trailer without a permit, which requires a sewage permit. It had been the supervisors understanding that a camper would be placed at the site, not a trailer. The SEO has been contacted to look into the sewage situation.
Next item discussed was the townships membership in COG. The township had suspended operations with COGs codes enforcement, and had been subsequently notified that COG recognized the townships action as termination. Mr. Cowperthwait allowed that it would be a serious mistake not to get back into COG Codes, especially with the new state regulations going into effect soon, where municipalities need to have a CEO of record. If a supervisor were to act as CEO, he said, it would be risky. Mr. Norris added that if the scenic byway is approved, it could cost the township (considerably) to get the affected area cleaned up.
With the discussion returning to the scenic byway, Mr. Cowperthwait said that he had been told by a PENNDOT official that the supervisors should fully understand all of the commitments that would be required to be made by the community if the designation is approved. Supervisor Ross wondered, if the byway is approved, what effect would this have in the future on the quarry business. Mr. Cowperthwait replied that there is already a traffic problem on Rte. 92; usual traffic used to be only an occasional car. Now, there is considerable truck traffic and, he has seen tandem trucks on that road. He speculated that many tractor trailers are using that route to bypass the weigh station on I-81.
Returning to the topic of codes violations, it was noted that one reason that the township had suspended operations with COG Codes was the cost. And, there had been a problem reported by the supervisors that the COG board would not act on.
Regarding another ongoing violation, Mr. Ross has been in contact with the owner of the property. He said that he would continue trying to make some progress and hoped that no further action would need to be taken by the board. The matter was tabled until the next meeting.
The board reviewed information from DEP regarding documentation, including a map that will now be sent to municipalities whenever a quarrying operation opens within its borders.
The months road activity report was reviewed, including a report from the county Conservation District which included a detailed survey along with information regarding qualifying roads for grant funding. As of the date of the meeting, the district has $104,000 available in grant funding for municipalities within its region; but, there would be construction requirements if the township were to apply for a portion of those funds.
The meeting then adjourned to an executive session, listed on the agenda as "Township Code Article XI." When the meeting resumed, Mr. Cowperthwait explained that the session was held to discuss solicitor relations; no action was to be taken.
Under unfinished business, the board reviewed the townships emergency management plan, which had been submitted for their approval at last months meeting. Some minor changes had been made; a motion carried to adopt the amended plan.
Mr. Cowperthwait reported that he had not attended this months COG meeting, where discussion was expected to continue on the subject of readdressing roads.
At a prior meeting, the board had discussed rescinding vacating of the Hillborn/Kookish road. It had, Mr. Cowperthwait said, been vacated for various reasons; those reasons, he said still stand. Since that time, the board had become aware of other factors; the main reason to consider reassuming responsibility for it is the cost of maintenance, which are expected to be quite high. Some of the adjacent residents, he said, do not want the road open; it has been used mainly as a shortcut. But, others have requested that the township resume responsibility for it. "Where," he asked, "were these people when we vacated it?" Mr. Gorton responded that the only benefit to reversing the vacating would be added liquid fuels funds to the township; Mr. Cowperthwait replied that the costs of maintenance would far exceed those funds. "To go any further," he said, "I need reasons... were not denying anyone access to their property. I dont think we should have to maintain a shortcut. The township would have to plow and cinder if it were to be requested; maintenance year-round is the law." Mr. Ross asked if the township could only plow when it was specifically requested to do so. Mr. Cowperthwait replied, "What about when we get three feet of snow (in a single snowfall); then what?" A motion carried to table the matter until next months meeting.
Under new business, the board reviewed documentation received from DEP regarding an application from Endless Mts. Stone, which received favorable comment from the board; a motion carried to approve.
The last item discussed was a request from the Susquehanna Branch Library, made some time last year, for a donation from the township, as residents often use its facilities. The township budget contains a $500 allocation for culture and recreation; the discussion centered around a yearly donation to the Susquehanna Depot Area Historical Society. The supervisors had originally agreed to an annual donation of $300 to the society and had later increased this donation to $350. Mr. Cowperthwait pointed out that the township tax collectors are already making a $2,400 payment to the county library system. The question was to continue the $350 donation to the historical society, or decrease it to the original $300 and make a contribution to the library. After considerable discussion, it was agreed to reduce the historical societys donation to the $300 that the township had originally committed to, and to make a $300 donation to the library. It was agreed that the additional $100 could be taken from another budget allocation.
The meeting adjourned at 12:45. The next meeting will be on Saturday, July 12, 9:00 a.m. in the township building.
A 23-year-old Lackawanna County man will serve 18 months to four years in a state correctional facility for robbing the Lenox branch of Pennstar Bank last January 8.
In addition, Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans fined Joseph McGarry of Scranton $1,000 and ordered him to make restitution to the bank in the amount of $3,036. McGarry will also be placed on probation for three years after his release from prison and must continue with drug and alcohol counseling.
A New Milford man was also sentenced to serve time in a state correctional facility on an indecent assault charge that occurred in New Milford on September 28, 2002. Duane Robert Chase, 37, will spend 12 to 24 months with credit for time served, and will pay a $500 fine. In addition, Chase will make restitution to his victim, undergo sexual abuse evaluation, and cannot have any contact with children under the age of 18.
Richard A. Shephard, Sr., 37, of Montrose received a suspended term of 2-to-11 months in the county jail for theft by deception in Bridgewater Twp. last December. And he received a second suspended sentence of 2-to-11 months on another charge of theft by deception in Bridgewater Twp. on January 10, 2003.
Shephard, who must make restitution, will serve a total of 22 months on state probation, pay fines totaling $350, and continue with mental health counseling.
Other sentences handed down by Judge Seamans include:
Mark Carl McCarey, 42, of Meshoppen, 1-to-15 months in the Susquehanna County Jail, with work release and credit for time served, for driving under the influence in Springville on June 10, 2002. He was also fined $500 and paid an additional $250 in education and evaluation fees.
George Stephens, 42, of New Milford, 3-to-18 months in the county jail, with work release and credit for time served, for driving under the influence in New Milford on January 22, 2002. He was also fined $500 and ordered to pay $310 in education and evaluation fees.
Russell Larry Haynes, 23, of Hop Bottom, two days to 11 months in the county jail with credit for time served, and a $500 fine for criminal attempt/criminal trespass in Hop Bottom on March 24. He also received an additional suspended jail sentence and was placed on probation for criminal mischief in Hop Bottom on March 24.
John J. Greene, 22, of South Montrose, 8-to-23 1/2 months in the county jail, with credit for time served, for criminal trespass in Bridgewater Twp. on March 4. He was also fined $55 and will do 100 hours of community service.
Thomas Theobald, 27, of Montrose, 4-to-12 months in the county jail for recklessly endangering another person in Bridgewater Twp. on March 13. His latest jail time will run concurrently with a previous jail sentence he is now serving. Theobald was also fined $250 and must perform 25 hours of community service.
Peter Otasevic, 18, of South Montrose, 30 days to one year in the county jail for possession of drug paraphernalia in Liberty Twp. on Feb. 28. He will be given credit for time served but he will also perform 25 hours of community service and pay a $150 fine.
Anson Lee Salsman, 26, of Mehoopany, one month to one year in the county jail, suspended, 12 months probation, and $150 fine for theft by unlawful taking in Auburn Twp. on March 17.
Ronald R. Cokely, 51, of Springville, 48 hours to 11 months in the county jail with credit for time served, for driving under the influence in Hallstead on Oct. 21, 2002. He was also fined $300 and will pay $160 in evaluation and education fees.
William A. Palmer, 21, of Windsor, NY, one month to 11 months on state probation and $1,000 fine for furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors in Great Bend Twp. on May 24, 2002. He received a similar sentence to run consecutively with the first sentence on a second count of furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors in Great Bend Twp., also on May 24, 2002.
Ryan J. Youngs, 21, of Kirkwood, NY, one month to 11 months on state probation and $1,000 fine for furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors in Great Bend Twp. on May 24, 2002. He received a similar sentence to run consecutively with the first sentence on a second county of furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors in Great Bend Twp., also on May 24, 2002.
Victor Leeroy Birtch, 20, of Clinton, NC, 30 days to 23 1/2 months in the county jail plus $1,000 fine and 50 hours of community service for involuntary manslaughter. Birtch, who must also make restitution, was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident in Lenox Twp. on Sept. 18, 2001.
Supervisors Dan Anthony and Jackie Thomas were present at the Brooklyn Township monthly meeting held on Thursday, June 19. Graham Anthony was unable to attend. Township Secretary/Treasurer Linda Spinola reported that the balance in all accounts was $111, 968.66.
Under old business the ad for a township employee drew some interest. The supervisors made the determination to hire Jamie Olszewski. He will assume the position on June 23.
The supervisors are still looking for a dump truck to replace the present GMC truck.
PENNDOT has started on the Brooklyn/Kingsley Road, state route 2024. It is possible that the work will be completed early in the week of June 22.
Thomas suggested that the township look for markers for sluice pipes, so that their location can be easily identified.
The supervisors will be attending the equipment show at the Harford Fair Grounds on July 31. They are also applying for another Dirt and Gravel Road Grant from the State. They are familiar with the procedure for application as they have pursued this grant in the past.
There was much discussion about problems with 4-wheelers in the park. Morgan Turner, who was present at the meeting, validated the safety concerns of the supervisors. It has been witnessed that 4-wheelers have been racing around the township grounds at the park and it has triggered a response from the supervisors to approve a motion to ban 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, and motorcycles from the township grounds. Dan Anthony warned that he would have no problem reporting any who use the township grounds in this manner to the state police. There is a great concern for the children who use the park and the safety of others who use it.
Anthony made a motion to check on prices for heating oil, diesel and gas for the township. Dan and Graham Anthony went to Harrisburg recently to the surplus facility and purchased some supplies for the township.
The supervisors made a motion to purchase a 1979 John Deere 672 grader from Forest Lake Township for the sum of $23,000.00. Anthony reported that it is in excellent shape.
The final business of the meeting involved making a motion to get prices on salt brine which will be tried on the roads this season.
The Brooklyn Township Supervisors meet on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Brooklyn Township Municipal Building on the corner of Route #167 and Maple Street. The public is invited.
Doctors At Elk Lake
Same faces, new titles for administrators at Elk Lake School District. Superintendent William Bush and High School Principal Kenneth Cuomo can now be addressed as Dr. Bush and Dr. Cuomo.
With absolutely no fanfare, the only indication of their having achieved the ultimate in higher education was seen in the agenda for last Wednesday night's meeting where one little letter, "M" as in Mr. was changed to "D" as in Dr. before Bush's name.
Dr. Bush received his Ph.D. from Penn State University last month while Dr. Cuomo fulfilled requirements for his new title from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where he was located before coming to Elk Lake.
During the regular June meeting, the board hired three new teachers including Tracie McComb for 5th grade at $41,520; Megan Kasson for 3rd grade at $27,800 and George Delano for secondary math at $41,840. Additionally, Eric Drake was hired as the 7th grade reading teacher with a salary of $29,840, and Dan Walker who is currently a third grade teacher was given permanent status or tenure. Heather Mils was hired at $7.65 an hour as the elementary nurse secretary.
The budget was passed according to the preliminary budget figures offered last month, with the only change being an adjustment to the federal funding amount. This, however, did not change the local contribution, which will continue to need 42.6 mills in Wyoming County versus 28.4 in Susquehanna.
The 8.4 percent increase in Wyoming County, compared with a .4 percent decrease in Susquehanna, was explained by Arden Tewksbury, Vice President of the Board who acted as Chair for the meeting. He said that they looked into the large increase and found it was due to an increase in the total fair market values of properties within that county, putting a larger burden on them for local effort. This is all calculated by the state when school districts cross county boundaries.
Tewksbury said the explanation they received from the county gave a better understanding of the situation, even if the raise in millage didn't seem acceptable, but it would continue as long as people from outside come in and pay big bucks for property.
Mr. Blaisure, Athletic Director, told the board that there is great interest among girls for both a varsity and a junior varsity girls' soccer teams. About 80 girls want to play soccer, with few of them already participating in other sports. Approval was given for creation of a varsity team, with the girls at the junior level playing with the boys, and/or doing girl only exhibition games with other local schools who also have informal teams.
Cuomo discussed a new requirement which he hopes the board will consider for their next meeting. A graduation project would include 2-3 three years of work, with a proposal, advisor, and final presentation before faculty members. It will need to be completed for graduation to comply with Chapter 4 regulations, he said. Starting next season, if approved, the project will be phased in with seniors doing only portions of the project, while juniors will be expected to do more work.
Students who transfer to the school, Cuomo said, from within the state, should be working on a project as the requirement will be statewide. Special education students will also need a project, and there was someone from special education on the committee to consider those students' needs. Hopefully, projects will be a way for students to pursue an area of special interest.
Elementary Principal Charles Pirone reported that 10, 11, and 12-year olds were evaluated for body mass index. He called the results "alarming." To try to offset this, gym classes will incorporate information on proper nutrition and cardiovascular work.
Board member Ann Copeland recently spoke with 4th grade classes about how school boards operate. She said students asked her about the robotics team, and she suggested that the board consider an elementary robotics club for 4-6th grades, using Lego kits for designs making.
Member Eric Emmerich again brought the two separate web sites originating from the school, and asked if there was any progress on combining them. Bush indicated that the two were set up for different purposes, one as a student activity which cannot be updated regularly, and one which is district oriented and can add new information immediately.
Cuomo indicated that the student one functions as a development and design project as a teaching tool for website design. Since they meet only every other day, and not during break times, it can't be updated as often as may be necessary. Additional discussion suggested links between the two sites, to make viewers aware of the two.
During the Career & Technology Center meeting, Director Alice Davis said that their projected enrollment for fall is 246, up 21 from last year. Tunkhannock will be sending students.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 14 at 8:00 p.m.
The June 16 meeting of the Great Bend Township offered many of the same complaints that are being heard throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania as people drive their costly late model cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles over Pennsylvanias many rural, scenic routes. Many people feel that, with the tax dollars that are raised at state and local levels many of these roads need to be kept in a better state of repair. With the ever increasing cost of automobiles, these people have a well founded argument. Many of the local municipalities, including Great Bend Township, receive not only a "paycheck" from the state in the form of revenue from tax on liquid fuels, but they also collect their own local property taxes and, in some cases, a tax is applied to the occupations of the residents. This money is applied to different areas through a budgeting process that is approved by the board of supervisors. All items which appear during the budgeting process are reviewed by an assessment board at the end of each fiscal year. Items are reviewed to determine that the money was actually spent, that correct accounting is kept, and that the township is financially stable. What the actual assessment fails to review is the prices that are being paid for goods and services that the township purchases. Some people are asking, is the quality of the work that is being done by road crew members in Great Bend Township actually matching up to the amount of money that they make per hour? Then, complaints appear about actually spending money to maintain the road if the grading that is being done is not going to fix any of the pothole issues. Is having certain capital projects completed in the township (resurfacing Old Route 11, fixing the erosion problems in several key locations, and offering better access to a golf course located in the township) worth having to pay 22% higher taxes over the next fifteen years? Key issues such as this and spending $80,000, on a new township building to increase the "looks" of the township, hiring an engineering firm to do all code work for the township in order to make sure that the buildings are up to the new state building codes (driving up building cost for the residents), and hiring the same engineering firm to do all sewage inspections, because another SEO could not be found and many people were waiting months to build on their own property, are key issues that plague board members and the public alike.
Come, join the panel discussing the future of this great area, let your voice be heard. Be at the next meeting on July 7, 7:00 p.m. at the township building!
Super To Meet With Gov.
The Susquehanna Community School Board of Education met for their regular meeting on May 18; all members were present with the exception of Mary Wescott; also present were business manager Ray Testa, and principals Mike Lisowski and Bob Keyes.
A motion carried to approve minutes of the May 14 meeting; the treasurers report was approved with the sole dissenting vote from Jack Downton. The board approved the general fund bills, the food service report and the activity fund and athletic fund reports.
Only one item of correspondence was read, a letter from the Sabers Cross Country Booster Club, asking for approval of the clubs participation in Susquehanna Boros Sesquicentennial celebration. Approval was given for the club to sponsor a booth, which will be a fund-raiser.
During the reports of district personnel, Mr. Lisowski reported that, towards addressing goals established for next year, an on-line attendance system has been set up, linking homerooms directly to the school office; so far, this system has been working well. And, tentatively, the staff is working at making on-line lesson plans and homework assignments available so that parents can find out what the students did in class that day, or access assignments when students are home sick. Instrumental in getting both programs up and running, he said, had been guidance counselor George Moore, who has been quite instrumental in many of the positive additions to the school recently, particularly these two.
Mr. Keyes reported that the end of the school year went well; he remarked on how quiet the building has been, with only the office staff there. Summer work is getting started, he said, and was pleased to provide copies of a student-prepared Title I newsletter for the board members to read.
Business manager Ray Testa presented board members with copies of letters and drawings compiled by students who had participated in the "Hooked on Fishing" program, in recognition that two of the programs founding members, Superintendent Stracka and Mrs. Keller (teacher) were planning their retirement. Both students and parents, he said, had enjoyed the program.
There was no public comment.
Next on the agenda was approval of the district budget of $10,872,917.08 for the 2003-04 school year; board member Johnine Barnes abstained due to policy issues; Mr. Downton voted against.
In a related discussion, Mr. Stracka noted that two different education bills have been approved, by both the state finance and appropriations committees, making school funding somewhat uncertain in the near future. He reported that he was scheduled to attend a "round table" discussion in Harrisburg; Governor Rendell would be meeting with superintendents from 14-20 smaller schools to discuss the governors proposal, as well as the bills being considered for enactment.
Mr. Stracka was granted permission to file for federal and state programs for the 2003-04 school year.
A $1,000,000 tax anticipation note was awarded to Peoples National Bank, at 2% with a re-investment rate of 2.25%, as per the district solicitors recommendation.
The administration was authorized to pay bills during July, and to make necessary budgetary transfers/adjustments after June 30 due to the auditors adjustments.
A motion carried to accept Plancon Part J (construction project) accounting, based on final costs as approved by the Department of Education; this closes out the building project, as final figures were available from the auditor.
The resignation of Tammy Stone, SADD advisor was approved.
The board approved hiring of the following: William Perry, Jr., summer school, social studies; Jared Norris, (volunteer) volleyball coach; and elementary teachers for the 2003-04 school year, Liza Dooley, Jeff Hall, Dori Chervanka, Dawn Steele, and Sharon Lubazewski.
The board approve a retirement request, Fred Krause, part-time/full-time maintenance.
Requests for use of the facilities were granted for a girls basketball skills clinic (June/July); Barnes-Kasson County Hospital (summer daycare program); wrestling cheerleaders camp in June; and Access PA 2003 Fall Training for Michael Reavey and Diana Hurlburt.
The board approved replacement of the high school stage curtains (four side, one middle, one back and three border curtains) at a cost of $7,065. In 1990, the front curtain and top valance had been replaced. Three price quotes were obtained for the replacements, which will be done before school starts; the money will come from the capital improvement account.
The board approved the installation of security cameras at a cost of $44,099, half of which ($22,000) will be funded through federal funds. Seven cameras will be installed at the elementary, six at the high school, in addition to three that have already been installed. Both buildings will be wired to the Internet, with a 16-division screen capacity. The system allows room for expansion, with outdoor proof, vandal proof cameras. The area of coverage includes most of the grounds. Mr. Stracka said that the cameras are very powerful, and operate well at night or in low light.
Finally, the board approved a fuel stipend for district bus contractors for the 2002-03 school year, using a similar formula used two years ago, which is based on the contracted mileage and (recent) fuel cost per gallon.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session, to discuss a personnel issue.
The next meeting will be Wednesday, August 6, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
Two Susquehanna County employees have been suspended with pay while an ongoing investigation determines the extent of their participation in an alleged pornography scandal in the county courthouse.
The names of the suspended employees have not been released and authorities are refusing to discuss the matter but The Susquehanna County Transcript has been able to piece together the following information:
1- Armed with a search warrant, State Police entered the courthouse recently and confiscated two computers.
2- Sources allege that the suspended employees used the computers to obtain pornographic paraphernalia from the Internet.
3- Arrest warrants have been prepared and are currently under lock and key pending further investigation.
Cpl. Fred Gibser, head of the criminal investigation unit at the State Police Barracks in Gibson, refused to discuss the subject. He did say that no arrests have been made.
"We cannot discuss this matter," First Assistant District Attorney Jason Legg said. Debbie Millard, chief county detective, also refused to comment.
Despite the cloak of secrecy, the subject is being discussed in every nook and cranny in the courthouse. As for county officials -like Chief Clerk Suzanne Brainard- mum's the word.
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