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The August meeting of the Hop Bottom Borough was busy and productive. Regarding the park, there was some discussion about the best way to deal with brush. Cut down or using "Round-up" were mentioned as remedies to get rid of the foliage.
Mayor Paul Henry noted the following in some of the police report he shared with the people present at the meeting: 14 traffic citations, 1 disorderly conduct, 1 noise complaint, 1 unauthorized use of vehicle. Chief Cosklo noted on the report that the police car was in good condition.
A good majority of the evening was spent discussing the work that needs to be done by the Culvert tower and the best way to take care of the condition of the cement. A small work committee was formed. There is a matter of urgency because of a visit coming from the Army Corps. of Engineers.
The Watershed meetings that have been held in Gibson are moving along reported Janice Webster, President of the Borough. The next meeting, on the second Thursday of the month, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., will be dealing with learning how to do water testing.
There were concerns expressed that the Borough has still not received the money requested through the proper channels for the demolition scheduled in town. The Borough President again asked council members to check out the garage for a possible new meeting place, which with modifications under consideration there or at the present location of the Borough Hall will have an impact on how this matter will be treated.
The pothole problems in the Borough should be addressed shortly, reported Bonnie Lippart, Borough Secretary.
Regarding the work that needs to be done on Hop Bottom corner swails, progress towards speaking with John Koshinski slowed down as he has been out of town.
The concerns about the baseball field condition, most particularly the dirt surface for which the Borough donated money, will be addressed in a letter to the local little league officials.
Trash cans in town still do not have signs on them. The matter is ongoing and will be addressed again this month.
Another Bike Safety Program will be run on September 19 at the fire hall, after school gets out in the afternoon. There is a possibility that the young people involved will try to raise money to purchase a bike used for a drawing that day.
Webster did contact the electric company to see what needs to be done for electricity to be supplied to the area around the pond.
Lippart demonstrated some safety capsules that can contain important health information that can be posted in home where there is a medical problem of some sort. 100 will be purchased as part of the Emergency Plan for the Borough.
The Borough Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
Harford Township Supervisors swallowed a full plate at their meeting on August 12, despite an agenda that resembled a mere appetizer. Several citizens contributed to the discussions either in person or through correspondence, broadening the menu considerably.
As usual, the meeting opened with consideration of minutes from prior sessions, approval of a list of bills, and a treasurer's report that showed a total of over $460,000 in the bank for township, state and sewer accounts.
The Supervisors then invited Mark Santagana of PA One- Call to describe the operation of the "call before you dig" process in Pennsylvania. PA One-Call is a private, non- profit organization created by six utility companies in 1972 to try to minimize disruptions by contractors breaking their facilities. In 1974 the state passed a law mandating the formation of a centralized call center for such things, and PA One-Call took on the job statewide. Anyone with responsibility for underground facilities in the state is required to register with PA One-Call. Contractors and excavators preparing to dig anywhere in the state are encouraged to call 1-800-242-1776 to declare their intentions. PA One-Call will then notify owners of registered facilities in the area, who will have three days to mark the location of nearby underground facilities.
According to Mr. Santagana, some utility companies don't bother to mark their lines, while others insist on it. And, marked or not, contractors and excavators are required to "dig prudently," to try to avoid cutting utility lines and pipes. Harford Township's major affected utility would be the sewer system. The Township office receives a FAX each day listing inquires in the area, if any. Contractors are requested to clearly mark the area they plan to dig, and contractors and utility owners are encouraged to cooperate to ensure the best outcome for everyone. The Supervisors passed a resolution requesting 90- percent reimbursement for an engineering project to design a realignment of the sewer line in the area of the bridge in Harford village in anticipation of the bridge's replacement. The engineering work is expected to cost about $28,000, but no one yet knows when the work might take place.
Maureen Warren asked that the minutes reflect that a township radio that had been installed in a school bus by her late husband, then a Supervisor, had been returned to the township.
On a suggestion by township maintenance employee George Sansky, two more radios will be purchased from Triangle Communications at a cost of $349 apiece. These are used models compatible with existing township equipment.
Mr. Sansky also presented the Supervisors with a proposal to replace the township's four-year-old backhoe with a newer, larger model. Calling it a "fantastic deal" offered by the vendor, Mr. Sansky conceded that the township might not really need the bigger machine. The township's backhoe, a Caterpillar 420, was purchased new in 1999 for just over $73,000. Mr. Sansky was asked to prepare more information for the next meeting to justify the proposal.
Mr. Sansky reported that, with Bob Simon out with a health problem, the road crew is a man short, but that they would soon complete the first complete pass of all the township roads for the summer.
Supervisor Terry Van Gorden renewed a long-standing complaint about lack of a stop sign on Market Street in Harford Village, on the lower side where it comes up to meet Tingley Lake Road by the old store. A somewhat confused discussion ensued which resulted in no action. Mr. Van Gorden then suggested that two pine trees on the upper section of Market Street were hindering visibility. He was given permission to have the road crew remove the trees.
A citizen offered a complaint, accompanied by photographs, about an accumulation of trailers on a small lot neighboring his own. Supervisor Rick Pisasik told him that an investigation about a year ago by the township's Sewage Enforcement Officer concluded that the one trailer on the property at the time was properly licensed, that there was no visible sewage discharge on the property, and that the trailer was not supplied with water. It was concluded that the township had no jurisdiction and could do nothing about the appearance of the property. Now, with two more trailers on the same lot, the neighbor has renewed the complaint, but was told that the township's "junkyard" ordinance was deemed unenforceable by its solicitors, and that there still was nothing the township could do. The petitioner was directed to the County to determine if perhaps his taxes could be cut because of the perceived diminution of property value.
Garry Foltz, a local contractor who has done a collection of projects around the township building, had been asked to survey the building for further improvements. He presented an estimate to the Supervisors which he requested be kept private to complete what he described as a set of five jobs: enclose and protect the open area under the office; repair the roof; repair and paint soffits; paint the exterior. Mr. Van Gorden said that another contractor had been contacted to carry out a similar survey, but made no response. The Supervisors will study Mr. Foltz's report for later action.
Mr. Foltz also reported on discussions he has had with representatives of the township's insurance carrier with regard to the Odd Fellows Hall in the village. The insurance company has called the building "unsafe" and refused to cover it for damage losses or for liability; the company has recommended that the building be razed. (The building has been closed to public access ever since.) The Supervisors have requested that the insurance company provide the basis for their recommendation and details about what work would be required to resume coverage should the Supervisors decide instead to renovate the structure. So far, however, the company has refused to provide a list of specific recommendations. Mr. Foltz will continue his efforts.
The Harford Township Supervisors meet in public session on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the township building, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Clifford Township residents continue to display some apprehension about the proposed plan to tie the Dundaff/Crystal Lake areas of the township into the Greenfield Sewer System.
However, John Regan, chairman of the township Board of Supervisors, may have calmed some nerves by pointing out that the township would be in dire straits if it had to construct its own sewer system.
"If we were mandated (by the state) to put in our own system," said Regan, "it would be very difficult for us." Regan has been a strong supporter of sewering the township but he is also quick to explain that it will not be done unless the township gets a bundle of construction money from state and federal sources.
"It would cost three or four million to build a plant today," Regan said, "and we are not big enough to do it."
At last weeks meeting, the supervisors also heard Attorney Ben Schnessel of Crystal Lake challenge the townships wisdom in proceeding with a sewer project at the lake.
"Crystal Lake is not polluted," Schnessel told the supervisors. "Why do we need the system if there is no contamination?"
David Klepadlo of David Klepadlo and Associates, the townships engineers, said there are other factors to take into consideration. He mentioned lot sizes as one example and suggested that about one third of the septic systems tested at Crystal Lake malfunctioned. He said the small lot sizes in Dundaff prohibit repairs of on-lot sewer systems.
"Did you test the lake?" Schnessel asked.
"We did not test the lake," Klepadlo responded, "but we tested a lot of wells."
In response to questions, Klepadlo said only the residents who are serviced by the sewer project in the Dundaff/Crystal Lake areas will pay hookup charges as well as monthly or quarterly fees to Clifford Twp. to finance the townships cost of the project and to the Greenfield Twp. Sewer Department for processing the raw sewage.
"This is a big undertaking," Regan said. "We want to make sure we are going in the right direction."
Regan also told the large audience that the township has not been reimbursed by the state for one-half the cost of updating the townships Act 537 Plan. It cost the township $18,000 and the supervisors have been assured that the township will get $9,000 back when the state approves the townships updated plan.
In another matter, Harry Phillips reported on the success of the townships Citizen Appreciation Day held recently at the new playground/ballfield area behind the municipal building. He said the rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd.
"We fed them and entertained them," Phillips said. "Everyone had a good time.
Susquehanna Countys Retirement Fund appears to be in good hands according to a report received by the Retirement Board last week.
Representatives of the Smith Barney Corporate Trust Company, managers of the fund, said investment returns on the total fund were up from 9.33 percent at the end of 2002 to 13.80 percent for the fiscal quarter ending Mar. 31, 2003.
Since SB took over the account last October, it has prospered to the tune of 15.16 percent. As of Aug. 12, the seven retirement accounts were valued at $5.8 million and the current incomplete quarter (July through September) is up .62 percent.
"We have made about $700,000," a company spokesman told the Retirement Board, "and the whole portfolio is up about $400,000." The $400,000 apparently reflects the overall increase in the account since it was taken over by SB.
A breakdown of the types of accounts indicates 62.5 percent of the county fund is invested in common equity securities; 17.2 percent in corporate and foreign bonds; 8 percent in money market; 7.6 percent in US Government Agencies; and, 4.3 percent in US Treasury Obligations.
At a salary board meeting that preceded the retirement board session, a motion to create a new full-time position in the MIS Department was unanimously approved. The county will be looking to hire a network systems technician at a starting hourly rate of $10.45 plus benefits. Dave Yulke, the countys new MIS consultant, recommended the move.
Chief Clerk Suzanne Brainard said the individual hired will do more "hands on" work with the computers that need servicing in the various county departments.
The salary board also set the pay for Brittany Page, anterless deer permit processor, at $6.02 an hour for approximately 105 hours with no benefits; and, on the heels of a recommendation from the Department of Health, adjusted the annual salary of Jackie Halesky, Drug and Alcohol Program Case Management Specialist, from $21,522 to $22,383.
And, finally, in the opening meeting of the day, the county commissioners approved the following motions:
-Accepting with regrets the resignation of Ray Osborn, Children and Youth caseworker, effective Aug. 15.
-Awarding a contract for removal of household hazardous waste to Clean Harbor of South Carolina.
-And, authorizing the disposal of unusable computer equipment to be transported to Envirocycle and recycled at a total cost of $176.
Lake Considering Policy
An attendance policy is being reviewed by Elk Lake School Board after presentation by the administration at the most recent board meeting. If adopted, it will make it easier to expel students who have more than 10 days of un-excused absences.
Since the law says that anyone up to 17 must be in school, absences without excuses, medical or otherwise, are considered illegal. But the law allows students to leave school at that point, so High School Principal Kenneth Cuomo said this will send a message to those over 17 that they cannot consider school "a hobby" and just come when they want. Apparently there are steps that are recommended before a student is kicked out, including involving the parents, but a copy of the revised policy was not available for the press at the meeting.
Ann Copeland asked what the policy is regarding family vacations. According to the state, it was explained, those times are considered illegal and un-excused, but are not used for disciplinary action. Normally, a form is signed by teachers giving assignments for the period of time. But, if a student has already accumulated 10 days of illegal (under 17 years of age) or un-excused (over 17) absences, the vacation will not be allowed.
The board will consider adopting or amending the policy either at the extra Aug. 25 meeting or the regular September meeting.
The board voted to allow the administration to post for Department/Grade Level Chairpersons. This posting does not obligate the board to fill those positions. If they proceed with this, a current teacher would be considered for each subject area, or grade level in the elementary grades. According to the administration, these chairpersons would not be supervisory people, but rather handle things like budgets, curricula, etc. These things are now done either through the administrators and/or departmental meetings, but Cuomo said this was an opportunity to bring the school community into a better working relationship toward educational goals. There is no mention of this type position in the union contract, and Superintendent William Bush said he had contacted other districts to get an idea of salary.
Also being posted will be a position to handle the elementary robotics activity. It also is not in the contract, but since it will include a stipend, it needs to be posted and a salary set comparable to other activities.
A substitute teacher caller position will be posted. This person will handle all of the district, and will be a present employee. The elementary principal currently handles it at his level, while there is a shared responsibility between the junior and senior principal for those vacancies. The job entails calling substitutes in the evening and early morning to get coverage for the next day when a teacher is not available to work. It is expected that, on average, it will take two hours a day to do the job. No fee was mentioned for the position.
Lunch prices will remain the same as last year. In the cafeteria, the board agreed to purchase, on state contract, two steamers to replace the current one which is not working properly and is dangerous. The cost will be $19,731.30. The steamers are not pressurized as is the current one, and won't cook as fast. It may take an additional 5-10 minutes said cafeteria director Barbara Conrad, but "I can live with that." She said the proposed new equipment is not as high, so that pans of scalding food need not be raised so high with greater likelihood of problems. Conrad also said that she needed thermostats for her ovens, but the real solution is to get new ovens. The board had toured the cafeteria about three months ago, and was told what equipment needed replacing.
Hired for the new year were Jacquelyn Gaidula as a guidance person at $30,750, Christina Truman as a second grade long term substitute at $25,737; Liz Stackhouse for in-school suspension at $7,768; John Siedlecki for German/English at $40,950; Wendy Fisher for a one-year special education position at $25,737; Tammy Walsh for a full time cafeteria position at $6.49 per hour, and Tammy Darling for a part time cafeteria position at $6.40 an hour.
During the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center board meeting, Director Alice Davis said the enrollment for fall is 263, up about 25 since the last report.
The new building has all the supplies for completion and will be valued at $100-120,000 when completed. Still to be decided is whether it should be insulated on not.
Davis asked for permission or clarification about starting on the house building project this fall. This will entail getting a building permit, meeting codes, getting sewage permits, and putting out excavation for bids. The board said they had already given their approval, and it was just held up because teacher/building director Al Urban had been on leave, so they verified that Davis can have the department go ahead with the project. Urban has since resigned and his position has been filled.
Marty Kane was hired as a tech prep student service advisor at $36,600. All of his salary is covered with federal funds.
Davis presented a draft of the new video which will be given to each school district that send students to the Career and Technology Center. The video is meant for recruitment, and has been updated to contain two new shops.
C. Director Moves But Remains
Is there a vacancy on the Forest City Board of Education?
Some residents of the regional school systems third district in Forest City believe there is. They say because Director Ken Goben sold his home in the district and moved out of the borough, the school board should declare his seat vacant.
Board members disagree.
Board President Joseph Lucchesi said Gobens letter of resignation is in the mail and that he will call a special meeting to act on the letter when the board receives it. Until then, Goben is the third districts representative on the board.
Only Director Tom Heller agreed with those who pressed the board for quicker action that would allow residents of the third district time to find candidates of their choice for the vacant position.
Goben, who has been on the board for five or six years, won the nomination of both political parties in the May Primary Election. A week after the election, for sale signs were observed on his Hudson Street home and the word was out that he was building a new home in Clinton Township, Wayne County.
Goben had until August 11 to remove his name from the ballot but he did not advise the county Board of Elections that he had sold his home and moved from the district.
"You are jumping the gun," Director Tom Baileys suggested to those looking for Gobens seat to be declared vacant. "He could say, Im coming back."
"We know he is not going to do that," said Barbara Mihelcz, who appears ready to run for Gobens seat on the board. "If you wait until Sept. 8 to accept his resignation, you may not have any candidates."
"We will appoint someone to finish out the rest of the term," Lucchesi said. "We havent accepted his resignation yet."
"Personally," said Heller, "I would prefer to appoint someone who will be on the ballot. We hold special meetings for everything else, why cant we hold a special meeting for this. The people of Forest City want to nominate their own candidates. They dont want this board to do it."
"We will appoint someone to fill the term no matter what the people want," Lucchesi said. "It is not the issue. The issue we are discussing is the proper protocol for how the election is to be run."
"Right," said Heller. "Let the election board do what they have to do, but until we declare the vacancy, they cannot do anything. So until we do something, they cannot do something."
"We have no letter of resignation," said Director Henry Nebzydoski. "The first thing we have to do is get his letter."
"What is to stop him from moving back into that district tomorrow?" Baileys said.
"When we get the letter," Lucchesi said, "we will call a special meeting and act. I would also like clarification on election laws from our solicitor."
In another matter, High School Principal Anthony Rusnak reported that the district had received a school performance grant in the amount of $45,000. He said the grant was awarded for attendance and scores and the money is being used for supplemental material.
Director Fred Garm said the grant is a tribute to the students who performed so well at the state level. He said the seniors finished first in reading and in the top five in mathematics, while the eighth grade did well in attendance.
The following motions were approved by the board:
-Hiring Rebecca Townsend as an elementary teacher at a starting rate of $32,000. As per union contract, the salary is up $3,000 from last semesters starting rate.
-Accepted the quote from Allen Hornbeck for the driver education vehicle at a cost of $1,853 for the 2003-2004 school year.
-Approved the districts participation in the Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth Program for the 2003-2008 school years.
-Hired Patti Smith as a 6-hour cafeteria worker and hired Ann Marie DeArmond as an assistant cook.
-And, approved a list of bus and van contractors, bus drivers, substitute bus drivers, substitute van drivers, extra curricular contractors and extra curricular drivers.
At a special meeting on Aug. 4, the board accepted the resignation of Elizabeth Gasper, a high school English teacher for eight years in the district; appointed Brian McCormack as a secondary learning support teacher at $32,000; and, appointed Connie Kemmerer as a secondary teacher with the salary to be determined by the teachers contract.
Dennis Phelps, Nick Sabauchak and Elwood Philips, Lathrop Township supervisors, were present at the Tuesday, August 12 monthly meeting at the Union Grange Hall at the Lake. Ann Marie Shevchuk reported there were receipts last month that totaled $6,839.32.
Correspondence covered the invitation to the Fall convention for township supervisors on September 13 at the Montrose Bible Conference. Supervisors have not made a decision on their attendance plans.
Mr. Richard Frankovsky is the official EMC for Lathrop and his paperwork will be sent to Harrisburg.
Road reports covered basic repairs and material coverage. It was during this time that Dennis Phelps, Chairman, noted that people in the township should be made aware that they are required to take "good care" of their vehicles and the township, like the State, cannot be held accountable for the damage done to vehicles that travel bad roads. Nick Sabauchuk said that these roads should be marked "impassable" and "travel at your own risk". The supervisors came to no conclusion regarding that last statement.
SEO, Tom Button, gave paperwork for the approval of work done on the Pashchuk Subdivision.
Sabauchak believes strongly that the township needs driveway permits to make sure that they are not constructed in such a fashion to cause a problem on the make access road.
Dennis Phelps was called regarding an on-going animal complaint. The complaint brought out the Sheriff and the State Police. Phelps noted that it appeared the people who own the dogs do their best to maintain them and their canine behavior.
There was discussion again about the ditches and poor drainage near Linda Mordants property on the Lake. A neighbor, Mr. Karolchak, offered to do whatever he could to help Mordants situation. Phelps and the other supervisors will be in touch with him. Other experts from various State and County agencies are expected to be a part of the plans.
Corbin Road needs some work, according to one member of the public. Phelps noted that if there are any problems with the roads, township people are encouraged to get in touch with him or any of the other supervisors.
The next meeting of Lathrop Township will take place at 7 p.m. on September 9.
View Readies For New School Year
All members of the Mountain View School Board were present at the August 11, with the exception of Thomas Salansky. Administration members present were Arthur J. Chambers, Superintendent, Carolyn W. Price, Business Manager, Eliza M. Vagni, High School Assistant Principal and Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal.
Treasurer and Cafeteria Report as given by Sondra Stine was accepted as written.
Maria Diaz in the first hearing of the visitors questioned whether there would be a list of names for non-represented full time, hourly/daily/stipend positions. She was advised that would be made available.
Kevin M. Griffith presented payments from the General Fund bill List, a List of bills from the August 2003 General Fund Bill List, Cafeteria Fund Bill List and Capital Reserve Fund bill list, discussed project cost payments and asked for approval of change order, the 2003,2004 cafeteria Budget, a transfer of $30,000.00 from the General Fund to Cafeteria Fund, and approval of the non-represented positions. In addition, the athletic account report and transfer to the athletic fund were approved by the board as presented by Mr. Griffith.
The award for the high school auditorium and gym sound system in the amount of $74,950.00 went to ITS Communications of Endicott, NY. Blacktop bids for the elementary and high school went to Dixon Sealer and Supply for the sealer and resurfacing went to Broome Bituminous. Art Chambers, Superintendent, indicated that all this work is moving along on schedule.
A 60 month lease for a Xerox document Center 440 at the cost of $458.28 per month was given approval.
There was no legislative report as John Halupke commented there was "No Progress on School Budgets in Harrisburg." The representatives are all on vacation.
No Policy report was presented. Under negotiations, however, Ronald D. Phillips, reported negotiations with all are still on-going.
There was some discussion about the shuttle bus situation. Bus Contracts were approved as well as the elementary school faculty and staff handbook. Reports were given by Eliza Vagni, and Margaret Foster on progress in the high school new year and the elementary school. There will be 16 new positions in the elementary area alone.
Mr. Chambers noted that many things are moving along well, but "We still have a long way to go with our goals."
Identification badges will be procured for all staff, and board members. There was some discussion again about athletic coaches. Mr. Chambers indicated he respected other individuals opinions (of people in the district), but the decisions have been made for the coming school year.
The school board meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month in the elementary school board room.
M. Twp. Discusses Codes
All New Milford Township supervisors were present at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 13. Buzz Gulick, Roger King, and Jim Hunter went quickly to business and kept the meeting short, even though the evening was cooling the temperature down some.
Secretary/Treasurer Carol Ames read the minutes of the last meeting and reported that the final amount in the township treasury is about $98,000 covering all accounts.
Ted Plevinsky, chairman of the COG Codes Enforcement Committee discussed with the supervisors the impact and implications of the new building codes that all township supervisors have been holding their breaths about over the last few years. He indicated that permits will not be necessary for any structure under 500 sq. feet and on agriculture focused building. However, new construction will have a permit price tag of between $700.00 and $1500.00, depending on the size and type of residential building.
Permits will be handled between COG and the township supervisors until all is official. Information will be computerized and most probably will be lap-topped for on the road input. As was discovered previously, there will be no permits required for the inside of manufactured homes. However, connections will have to be examined coming into any dwelling. Plevinsky noted that there should be a primary representative to all COG monthly meetings and there should be the appointment of an alternate in case that individual cannot be in attendance. Membership in COG will eventually cost $100 which will be renewable each year.
Tim Buttons gave a sewage report on some new subdivision work in the Summerville area which has been given by the nod by the Susquehanna County Planning Commission.
There was some discussion about the treatment of some local roads and a brief discussion, once again, regarding the use of a back residential road by a local quarry.
Montrose Materials took the bid for road materials quotes. The New National Guard Sewer has some issues that are being handled with the aid of the township solicitor.
The supervisors have made the decision to keep their present truck, remove its box which is no longer usable and put the spreader box on it. No decisions for a new truck are being made at this time.
The New Milford Township public meeting takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the New Milford Municipal Building on Route #11 the second Wednesday of each month.
Twp. Reviews Codes
At the August 9 meeting of the Oakland Township supervisors, it was reported that an audit conducted by the Auditor Generals office of the townships liquid fuels accounts from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2002 had been completed with no findings, although there was favorable comment on a 2001 quote package (for tar and chip), which had been prepared by supervisor Bill Gorton. The report was commended as being outstanding in its detail. All in all, supervisor Cowperthwait said, the audit went really well; an official report should be forthcoming.
This lead to some discussion as to the procedure used for obtaining telephone quotes, which Mr. Cowperthwait said was a "very tedious process." He suggested that, in future, when the expected costs of a project allow for telephone quotes, that a letter be sent to prospective bidders and the project be advertised, eliminating the need to obtain telephone quotes.
It was noted that the townships truck is in need of a windshield and replacement of brake lines.
Discussing codes, Mr. Cowperthwait noted that the owner of one property where a mobile home has been installed does have a sewage permit, which is good until February of 2004. It was reported that another property, where a camper was to be located temporarily, electric and telephone service had been connected and a mailbox erected. Mr. Cowperthwait commented that a "residence" requires a sewage system, but was unaware that testing had been conducted. The supervisors had sent a letter to the property owners, asking them to provide a date for removal of the camper and were awaiting a response. And, there was no news on two other ongoing violations.
A complaint, along with pictures, had been received about dumpsters at the trailer park. There are two dumpsters, which appear to be inadequate in their capacity, and there is no fencing around them; the supervisors questioned whether this is a violation of the townships nuisance ordinance. There are also several used appliances alongside of the dumpsters. It was agreed to send the property owner a letter requesting that the appliances be removed, the area possibly fenced in, and more or bigger dumpsters be obtained.
At this point, a resident who had addressed the supervisors at a previous meeting arrived to apprise the supervisors about an emergency situation where access to her property (through a state access area) was needed immediately to address a malfunctioning water pump. Although the area could be accessed by another route across her property, she said that it would be extremely difficult for a truck to reach the pump that way. The supervisors discussed some of her options, and agreed to visit the site after the meeting.
It was noted that COG just raised members fees for codes enforcement to $25 per hour. There was some discussion about the costs involved in investigating and prosecuting violations. Mr. Cowperthwait noted that some cases of past violations seem to be "going backwards," such as an incorrectly installed trailer with no skirting. He urged the other supervisors to keep their eyes open for possible violations.
There was discussion regarding recent activity at a site in the township; Supervisor Gorton had left a land development permit with the owner after an inquiry had been made by another resident. There was some question as to whether permit(s) would be needed from DEP, as a road has been cleared over what might be a wetland. Mr. Gorton reported that the owner contacted him to say that there is no building going on. Mr. Cowperthwait pointed out that a land development applications purpose is to keep the supervisors aware of what is going on in the township, and to keep property owners informed of requirements for development, not just building.
Discussing the permit itself, it was agreed that the $50 fee charged by the township is too high; it was agreed that $10 is more appropriate.
The supervisors reviewed a report from the SEO, along with a bill for his services. The report covered five different items, including two permit applications. Mr. Cowperthwait has learned that, at years end a report of fees paid to the SEO can be submitted to DEP; the township could possibly get a 50% reimbursement of those fees.
Road activity was discussed; Hillborn has been mowed, and Panther Hill Road was in the process of being mowed. A quarry operator on Panther Hill has delivered donated shale. The supervisors have sent a letter of appreciation. Otherwise, summer work is basically done as the funds budgeted have been just about used up. Money is still available for winter snow removal.
Pothole patching on High St. was nearly completed. The supervisors discussed tarring the seams where the patches are, and foregoing tar and chip for this year. Mr. Gorton suggested cold patching some rough spots on High St. Supervisor Ross suggested asking the contractor who is patching the potholes to use what material is left at the end of the job to fix the rough spots. This, Mr. Cowperthwait said could result in a higher bill than had been planned.
Correspondence reviewed included a notice from the county Tax Claim Bureau regarding an upset sale on September 15; the township has three pieces included in the sale, one 102 acre parcel, and two trailers. There will be a training session for emergency management coordinators on September 9. DEP has sent the township a copy of their final report, with approval for lead remediation at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints property, which has met DEP requirements. A representative from the county Emergency Management Center will attend the next meeting to discuss readdressing roads.
Continuing discussion on whether to rescind the vacating of a portion of Hillborn/Kookish Road, Mr. Cowperthwait noted that the property owner has left it open and regraded it. It was agreed to table the matter until further information is available.
A letter has been sent to the board of SOLIDA, requesting an annual financial report, which the township, as a sponsoring municipality, is entitled to as required by law.
Under new business, Roadmaster Richard Norris will be attending a Roadmasters Roundtable in Montrose on September 16, sponsored by PSATS.
A motion carried to enact a resolution to re-join COG; Mr. Cowperthwait will be the townships delegate to COG, with Mr. Gorton as alternate.
The supervisors reviewed a sample ordinance, preparatory to adopting the states International Building Code and International Maintenance Code.
The final topic of discussion was the process of handling codes complaints. It was agreed to draft a set of guidelines to follow when the supervisors are notified about an alleged violation. Once the policy has been drawn up, it will be submitted to the townships solicitor for review before it is adopted.
The next meeting will be on Saturday, September 13, 9:00 a.m. in the township building.
Rick Oakley Testifies Before PA House
Susquehanna County Rick Oakley of Hallstead, PA, a member of the PA State Grange Legislative Affairs Committee, testified before the House Agriculture Committee in Susquehanna County. The Grange was invited to express their views at a hearing on House Bill 657 and the Clean and Green Law.
Mr. Oakley began by reading a statement of the PA State Grange Policy, "As an organization, the Grange supports the current Clean and Green law as it was amended in 1998. We recognize that the implementation of the Clean and Green law has not been uniform. We would be happy to work with counties to make sure the laws intent is followed and the definition of reserve land is clarified."
He went on to say that, "Clean and Green has kept family farmers in business, particularly in areas of the Commonwealth where development has been rapid." He also said that, "Without the Clean and Green assessment process, farmers would not be able to continue to farm. Land use assessment has been a saving grace for many farm operations."
The Grange acknowledges that some counties have had problems with implementation of the Clean and Green program. "We fully believe that counties need to uniformly apply Clean and Green specifications and that state regulations can assist in ensuring statewide consistently," said Oakley.
The Grange believes that clarifying the regulations to the Clean and Green law will also help counties when approving or disapproving land for the program. Oakley said, "A number of problems have occurred when land was inaccurately defined because of vagueness in the regulations describing eligible land." "The Grange believes that the PA Department of Agriculture can strengthen the regulations by making them more comprehensive, thus ensuring the ability of counties to approve only the land that rightfully should participate in one of the three categories of the Clean and Green program without threatening the programs purpose," he continued.
Oakley reiterated, "The Grange believes all of the changes we support will enhance the Clean and Green law without legislative initiatives, but by logical regulatory changes. He continued, "By strengthening the regulations we will be reducing ambiguity and more accurately defining the intent of the law and the three categories of eligible land."
He closed his testimony by adding, "The Grange supported and continues to strongly support the base acre concept that was enacted in 1998. This provision was then, and is now, crucial to farmers. The Grange agreed with the 1998 amendments to the Clean and Green law and we continue to support the base acre provisions of the act."
The PA State Grange is a family fraternal organization dedicated to the betterment of rural America through community service, education, legislation and fellowship.
Anyone wishing to get more information about the Grange and its various activities are asked to call the PA State Grange Office at 1-800-552-3865.
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