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Issue Home September 23, 2003 Site Home

Susky Board Very Active
Forest City Chief, Wife, See All
Brooklyn Cleans Storm Damage
Judge To Fill FC Vacancy
Hallstead Foundry Site Active
Oakland Twp. Talks Emergency
COG Codes Gets Member #15

Susky Board Very Active

With the exception of Jack McMahon, all members were present at the Susquehanna Community School Board meeting of September 17.

Minutes of the August 6 meeting were approved. Jack Downton abstained from approving the filing of the treasurer’s report; he said it was because at a prior meeting, treasurer/board member Mike Kosko had voted on a motion that included approval of his own salary. Mr. Downton said that he had contacted the state and had been told that this was not permissible. "I think we should address that in the future," he said. Board president Jim Bucci suggested that Mr. Downton request that this subject be put on the agenda at a future meeting, or discussed at work session and that Mr. Downton follow up with documentation. Board secretary Evelyn Cottrell commented that the state auditors read the minutes of the meetings; if this practice is wrong, no comment had ever been made by the auditors.

The board approved the general fund bills, the food service report, and filing of the activity fund and athletic fund reports.

Two items of correspondence were read; the first, a thank you letter from bus contractor Dave Slater for the increased gas allowance approved by the board at a prior meeting, in response to escalating fuel prices. The second, from Susquehanna council president Ron Whitehead thanked the board for helping with cleanup efforts in Susquehanna Boro by approving tax forgiveness for two properties the boro had acquired with the intention of demolishing the condemned houses on them. Mr. Whitehead asked the board to consider forgiveness of the taxes on a third property, which it had acquired on April 21, by which date the school taxes had already been assigned, in the amount of $222.43. A motion carried to approve.

The board approved reports of Title I, Title IIA, Title IID, Title V, Vocational Education and the Strategic Plan. Superintendent Stracka explained what each of these programs are, as well as the budgeted allocations and sources of funds for each. He reported that new curtains have been installed on the stage and that several more security cameras have been installed, bringing the total throughout the two buildings to 15.

High school principal Michael Lisowski introduced several of the district’s new teachers; each gave the board a brief rundown of their experience.

Mr. Lisowski credited George Moore of the guidance office for implementing, where lesson plans are available on-line so that students can access makeup work when they are absent, and to help parents keep abreast of what students are doing in class. Teacher Mark Gerchman demonstrated how the site works. It is accessible through the district’s website; every teacher in every class is listed, along with e-mail links that students can use when they are away from school. Some teachers currently have or are in the process of building their own web pages. All, he said, will have their own web pages eventually. Mr. Lisowski noted that there are students without computer access; if they need to get their assignments while they are out sick, they can call the office.

Elementary principal Robert Keyes said that the elementary teachers are also coming on board with the project; at this time they are posting their lesson plans on the site, but have the option of posting their homework.

Teacher Mike Catalano reported that, at a recent meeting of the state education association, all members and anyone interested in education are asked to contact their state representatives to urge passing of a budget in favor of public education.

During public comment, teacher Kathy Matis reported that there is a website available for students in grades three to seven to prepare for PSAA tests. Sessions would be held at the parent teacher conferences scheduled for the following day, for parents to familiarize themselves with the site, which can be accessed at home. The site includes practice tests, games, and review material. Reading, math and science are the three standards now tested. All children have all been given accounts to access the site.

There is currently an "empties for cash" collection of ink jet cartridges; they will be recycled with proceeds to be used for the school’s technology budget.

Mrs. Matis also reported that a website, is working with 250 stores that will give rebates to the district for on-line purchases made by registered shoppers; these proceeds will be used towards technology equipment for the students. Business manager Ray Testa suggested that a designated account be set up for these funds.

Under new business, the board adopted a two-year public outreach resolution and approved a list of district substitute personnel for the 2003-04 school year. In response to questions from Johnine Barnes and Jack Downton, Mr. Stracka explained the process for emergency certification of substitutes, particularly that this cannot be done before August 1. When a substitute is needed, one certified in a specific area must be used first; if one is not available, then the district can use a substitute outside of that specific area.

The board approved district transportation contracts for the 2003-04 school year as well as a list of district transportation drivers.

Four homebound instruction requests were approved, one of an unknown length, one for eight weeks, and two for the school year.

The board approved tenure for the following: Maria Arneil, instrumental music; Pamela Weiss, secondary English; Melissa Urbas, secondary special education; Stacy Donahue, secondary English; Nancee Heath, elementary; and Robert Goodrich, secondary alternative education/social studies.

Resignations were approved for Robert Keyes, elementary basketball coach; David Chaump, secondary music; and Rita Reavey, junior high girls’ assistant basketball coach.

Hiring of the following was approved: Alan Lloyd, junior high assistant wrestling coach; Patricia Dugan, secondary math (one year only); and Stacey Whitaker, secondary music. Also approved were two volunteer positions, James Sellitto, football coach and Tonya Scales, varsity football cheerleading.

Teacher mentors/inductees were approved, Robin Glidden, teacher mentor for Liza Dooley, sixth grade; Stephen Nayduch, teacher mentor for Patricia Dugan, high school math; and John Dunn, teacher mentor for Stacey Whitaker, high school music. In response to a question from Mrs. Barnes, Mr. Stracka explained that this is a state required program. Teacher mentors are chosen according to their length of service to the district and their experience within a particular department, and who teach a similar grade.

A change in board meetings was approved; the October 15 regular meeting will be held instead on October 8 and the information session originally scheduled for October 13 will be held on October 6. The change had been made at the request of Mrs. Cottrell due to a scheduling conflict.

The board members were given a list of late school per capita tax exoneration requests, which will be reviewed. Each member will make a notation to approve or deny each one, after which a list of approvals will be compiled. The requests were, Mr. Stracka said, mostly from students.

A list of workshops, activities and conferences and fundraising requests was approved.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, October 8, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.

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Forest City Chief, Wife, See All

A Forest City man picked the wrong time and place to walk around nude in the borough last July. Witnesses who saw him were Borough Police Chief Paul Lukus and his wife, Christine.

Last week, Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans gave Victor Carl Wagner, 20, of 255 Hudson St., Forest City, some jail time for his exploits and fined him $250. Wagner was remanded to the Susquehanna County Jail for four months to 23 1/2 months with credit for time served on a charge of indecent exposure.

Wagner was also ordered to continue treatment at Tri-County Human Services, to undergo drug and alcohol evaluation, and to observe a 10 p.m.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, last July 17 Chief Lukus and his wife were riding east on Dundaf Street when they observed Wagner standing nude at the corner of Dundaff and Hudson Streets. Chief Lukus called Assistant Chief Joseph Nolan who was on duty at the time and the two officers searched the area but could not find Wagner.

Later that evening, Nolan spotted Wagner on Main Street and asked him to come to police headquarters. The affidavit states that Wagner was laying naked on a bed at 704 Hudson Street when he thought he heard someone at the door. He went downstairs and outside where he stood while several cars rode by.

On May 2, Wagner was arrested in Forest City on similar charges by Ptl. Brian Widzon. The officer said Wagner was seen standing naked in front of a picture window. His residence at that time was 424 Main Street.

Judge Seamans give the defendant a suspended jail term of one to 23 1/2 months on the second charge and placed him on probation for 12 months to begin when he is released from jail. He also fined him another $250.

William Snedeker, 22, of Hallstead, 14 months to 28 months in the county jail with credit for time served for statutory sexual assault in Hallstead on July 24, 2002. He was also fined $500, must perform 100 hours of community service and observe a 10 p.m. curfew.

Snedeker was also given a jail term to run concurrently with the first sentence and was fined $300 for drunk driving in New Milford on April 13, 2003. And he received a suspended jail term and a $250 fine for corruption of minors in New Milford, also on April 13, 2003.

Peck Joseph Milbauer, 31, of Susquehanna, 48 hours to 12 months with credit for time served for drunk driving in Oakland on Dec. 8, 2001. He was fined $300 and must complete a highway safe driving school.

Louis Edward Yachymiak, 23, of Montrose, a suspended jail sentence, fined $500, and placed on probation for two years on a charge of flight to avoid apprehension in Great Bend on June 14, 2003.

Thomas Duncan Early, 44, of Great Bend, three months to 23 months in the county jail, $500 fine and 50 hours of community service for verification of residence in Great Bend on May 19, 2003.

Kristoffer Fazzi, 25, of Montrose, three months to 23 months in county jail and $250 fine for liability for conduct of another complicity on Dec. 26, 2001 in Montrose. He also received nine months to 5 years, suspended and was placed on state probation for five years and fined $250 for delivery of a controlled substance in New Milford on Dec. 19, 2002.

Steve Smithbaur Jr., 37, of Hop Bottom, a suspended county jail term of 18 months to 36 months and a $300 fine, plus 50 hours of community service for criminal attempt/acquisition or obtaining possession of a controlled substance on July 3, 2002 in Montrose. Smithbaur was placed on state probation for 18 months.

David Michael Dean, 44, of Montrose, one to two years in a state correctional facility with credit for time served, three years probation, and a $250 fine for theft by unlawful taking in Bridgewater Twp. on April 18, 2003.

Christopher Allen Burchell, 36, of South Montrose, 14 months to 60 months in a state correctional facility for theft by deception in Liberty Township on Jan. 9, 2003. He was also fined $250, must make restitution and receive mental health counseling. He was given a second jail sentence to run concurrent with the first one and fined an additional $250 for terroristic threats in Great Bend on Jan. 27, 2003. He also received a jail sentence of 16 months to seven years to run concurrent with the previous sentences and a $500 fine for escape in Bridgewater Twp. on May 17, 2003.

Jeremy Philip Hunsinger, 21, of Meshoppen, 48 hours to 12 months in the county jail and a $300 fine for drunk driving in Springville on April 25, 2003. Also a suspended jail term of six months to 23 months and a $500 fine for endangering the welfare of children on April 26, 2003. Finally, he was placed on probation for 23 months and must perform 50 hours of community service for endangering the welfare of children in Springville on April 26, 2003.

Lisa Winfield, 37, of Susquehanna, one month to 23 months in the county jail suspended, five years state probation, a $300 fine, and 50 hours of community service for theft by unlawful taking in Forest City on Oct. 11, 2002.

Kelsie M. Marsh, 18, of Binghamton, four months to 23 months in the county jail suspended, 15 months state probation and $250 fine for receiving stolen proiperty inThompson on April 8.

Pamela Houck, 33, of Susquehanna, 24 months probation and a $250 fine for endangering the welfare of children in Oakland on April 7.

Lisa Capriotti, 37, of Great Bend, suspended jail term of six months to 18 months, a $250 fine, five years probation and restitution for public fraud in Montrose on September 26, 2002.

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Brooklyn Cleans Storm Damage

Despite winds already whipping things up from Hurricane Isabel, Dan Anthony and Graham Anthony attended the Brooklyn Supervisors monthly meeting on September 18. Linda Spinola, township secretary/treasurer and Jackie Thomas, supervisor, were unable to attend. Dan Anthony acted as secretary and reported the balance in all accounts to be $75,300.00.

The acting secretary reported that although grading still needs to be done on Creek Road, the large sluice pipes have been cleaned out. Having been shut down for almost three weeks, Zicks Hill Road has been repaired and is reopened after it was almost washed out from storms that necessitated its closing recently. The Anthony’s noted that they did not hear on the bid they made to Franklin Township on the vibratory roller that was up for sale there.

The township received a check from Lathrop Township for the use of the trucks for application of salt brine on some roads.

A grant for $500 was submitted by the supervisors for Emergency Management Funding. Graham Anthony noted that the money, when received, will be used by the township for portable radios that can be turned to the Susquehanna Township’s frequency. This will aid in any emergency work and information that needs to be handled within the township.

The township received hazardous waste disposal information from the Recycling Center in So. Montrose. The supervisors will bring over 50 gallons of waste oil on September 27.

The township's Agricultural Security Plan is up for its seven year review. Donna Williams will chair the committee that is reviewing the information; all expenses of the committee will be covered.

Employees of the township will attend a machinery show at Powell Equipment in Justus. They will be checking out plows for the grader. If a good buy is available that will suit the township's grader, it will be purchased.

The township's application for a dirt and gravel road grant has been turned down due to lack of funding. Dan Anthony noted that is okay, as they have received this money for the last few years and there is always next year.

The supervisors discussed the able readiness of the township crews as they braced for the coming hurricane. They will make sure that everything in their area is okay after the storm abates. They noted the Emergency Management Plan is ready to be put into effect, if need be.

The Brooklyn Township supervisors meet at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the municipal building on the corner of Maple St. & Route #167.

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Judge To Fill FC Vacancy

It didn’t take the Forest City Regional Board of Education long to declare an impasse and ship the responsibility of naming a replacement for Kenneth Goben to Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans.

After Director Tom Baileys made two nominations, both of which failed to gain the required five votes, the board agreed that it would not reach a decision on whom should succeed Goben. Board President Joseph Lucchesi declared the impasse and said the issue will be settled in the county Court of Common Pleas.

While three individuals submitted requests for the appointment, only two were accorded a board vote. They were Leroy Rotherforth, who resigned this year after serving as the school district’s transportation coordinator for the past seven years, and Mary Emmett, a registered nurse, who told the board that she spent much of her life focusing on her career and is now ready to serve her community.

The vote for Rotherforth, a retired state trooper, was 4-4 and the vote for Emmett was 5-3 against her appointment. Ironically, Barbara Mihelc, who is also interested in the board vacancy, presented the board with a petition signed by 32 of the 80-plus voters in Forest City’s Region Eight urging the board to appoint her. The board chose to ignore the petition.

Voting for Rotherforth were directors Baileys, Lucchesi, Fred Garm and Joseph Farrell. Negative votes came from directors Bob Trusky, James Kilker, Tom Heller, and Henry Nebzydoski. Voting for Emmett were directors Baileys, Garm and Lucchesi. Voting against her were directors Trusky, Kilker, Heller, Nebzydoski, and Farrell.

Goben is alleged to have written a letter of resignation from the board on August 11, some 13 days after the closing on the sale of his home in Forest City. He addressed it to the board president but Lucchesi said he never received it. On Aug. 25, when it became obvious that Goben no longer lived in the district he was elected to represent, the board voted to declare his seat vacant. On Sept. 4, Goben faxed a copy of his letter of resignation dated Aug. 11 to the school district.

In another matter, the board removed a motion from the agenda that would have appointed a Transportation Director/Business Office Assistant at a starting salary of $22,000 for a 245-day contract.

Jim McCusker of Union Dale asked the board why it tabled the appointment.

"We just are not ready," Lucchesi responded.

By a unanimous vote, the board appointed Kenneth Swartz as "acting" elementary principal. He replaces Janice Joyce who resigned to accept a position in the Lackawanna Trail School District.

Asked if Swartz will be paid the same salary as Joyce was getting, the answer was no. In recent years, Swartz has been employed by the district as an assistant principal for grades K-12. For the 2003-2004 school year his salary is $61,675. Joyce was being paid $67,336 as elementary principal.

Motions approved by the board are as follows:

-Appointing the following mentor teachers for new employees: Sandy Morahan for Brian McCormack; Ardis Templeton for Amy Lesek; Teri Erdmann for Carrie Kemmerer; and, Shelby Lalli for Rebecca Townsend.

–Appointing the following department chairs: Louis Cicci, health/science; Ann Marie Cicci, language arts; Steve Fonash, social studies; Pat Flynn, business/math; Mary Ferraro, fine/practical arts; and, Francis Gerchman, special education/pupil services.

–The following teachers were named to extracurricular positions: Carrier Kemmerer, school newspaper; Daniel Nebzydoski/Cynthia Wathine, Washington trip chaperones; and, Sam Long, junior varsity girls soccer coach.

-Accepting the resignation of Robert Smith as senior class advisor.

And, approving the following daily rates for bus/van contractors for the 2003-2004 school year: Dwight Bonham, $320.03; Susan Dovin, $180.77; Maryann Durko, $197.66 and $242.76; Oneill Busing, $212.01 and $248.50; Ron Peck, $98.72 and $171.57; Kreutz Inc., $197.45 and $68.63.

The student population at Forest City Regional is: Elementary School, 444; High School, 437.

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Hallstead Foundry Site Active

John Giangrieco presided over the September 15 meeting of the Hallstead Boro council in the absence of president Joseph Franks; council member Martin Brown was also absent.

Mr. Giangrieco reported that there had been complaints about four-wheelers on sidewalks and roads within the boro; unfortunately, he said, the only thing that can be done about it is to call the state police.

The boro received documentation regarding an agreement from PENNDOT’s engineering district for financial responsibility for lighting on the new bridge. There were a number of questions as to why the boro had received this agreement, as it had been thought that the Bridging Communities committee, through grant funding, was going to be responsible for the cost of the lights and their maintenance. Great Bend Township had sponsored a grant, which included the lighting, as the majority of the bridge itself lies within the township’s boundary. Yet another question was whether the costs were to be split between the township and the boro. After some discussion, it was agreed to contact PENNDOT first, and then Great Bend township for more information. The matter was tabled in the meantime.

Maintenance supervisor John Gordon gave an update on road work that had been completed in the last month, mostly drainage work as a result of rain storms earlier in the month.

A motion carried to authorize Mr. Gordon to purchase a new, smaller water heater for the boro building.

Council reviewed a letter from the boro solicitor regarding ownership of the riverbank property; it has been determined that the boro owns all but one section. When grant funds are made available for the beautification project, plans can proceed.

Paperwork for a municipal grant agreement for emergency management funds was made available for review.

It was agreed not to take down the nets at the tennis court at the park until late October, as the court is still being used.

Under unfinished business, the foundry property was discussed. Although council has not had any official word, it was reported that the "grapevine" says that the owners have procured a loan to demolish the buildings, with a 90-day stipulation (the work must be begun within that time-frame). It was reported that there has been some activity at the site.

Correspondence received included the minutes of the August meeting of the Hallstead–Great Bend Sewer Authority; and information regarding a household hazardous waste collection on September 27, being conducted by the county. All those who wish to participate must be registered.

Mayor Canfield reported that he had received a complaint about a residence where there was reportedly an accumulation of household garbage and overturned receptacles, which have been attracting mice. He investigated the complaint, and did not find any violations and, therefore could not take any action.

On a positive note, council member James Gillespie noted that some people are always complaining about their neighbors, but during recent heavy rains Mr. Gillespie had been on his way home from work at 4 a.m. and had observed a neighbor in water up to his knees, opening sluices and stopping cars from going through the water and getting stuck.

The next meeting will be on Monday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.

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Oakland Twp. Talks Emergency

Oakland Township Supervisors met for their regular monthly meeting on Saturday, September 13, with all members present.

Two administrative work sessions had been held during the previous month to sign checks for the road patching project. Supervisor Cowperthwait reported that he was very concerned about the next annual audit report, as the combined cost of the project, which was treated as two separate projects, had amounted to more than the $4,000 limit allowed before bid prices must be obtained. There were two individual invoices involved with the project; a note was added to the project report that an unanticipated problem had added to the scope of the project cost.

Mr. Cowperthwait requested that the supervisors consider authorizing electronic payment of the township’s electric bill, due to its payment due date being in conflict with the meeting date when bills are approved and checks signed. A motion carried to approve.

A motion carried to purchase two additional codes books, the International Building Code book and the International Property Maintenance Code book, both of which will be needed when the state’s new codes go into effect.

Dawn Watson, director of the county’s emergency management, had been requested to attend the meeting to answer questions regarding the 911 readdressing program. To begin with, Mr. Cowperthwait asked for clarification of what would be required of the township in administering an emergency management operations plan grant the township had received after complying with filing of an emergency management plan. Mrs. Watson said that the funds must be used in emergency management, whether it be for improving communications, or assistance in opening roads (after an emergency); it must be used towards preventative or proactive emergency management. Mr. Cowperthwait asked if the funds could be turned over to the local fire department, who would be the township’s primary responder in an emergency. Mrs. Watson said that it could, provided that documentation is provided to her department to show what it was used for; for example, if there is some kind of equipment they need. The department would need to show where the money went, that it was spent eligibly.

Continuing discussion on the readdressing program, Mr. Cowperthwait said that he had read through it, and had some concerns. The township must pass an ordinance for the program; would the township then become its administrators? Mrs. Watson said that the township will be the enforcers. So far, she said, the plan has not met much resistance from the public; there have been no objections to meeting requirements. In the plan, mailboxes could have up to five digits; many already do, as additional box numbers have been squeezed in after roads were originally addressed.

Moving on to the subject of naming of roads, Mr. Cowperthwait asked if many road names would be "lost." Mrs. Watson said that many people don’t use those names as addresses. But, the new system allows for aliases, where an address could have an actual mailing address plus a name. Mr. Cowperthwait showed a new road sign, where the name, East Lake Road, was in four inch letters at the top, with SR 1012 in smaller letters beneath it. Mrs. Watson said that both could still be used, but with the SR 1012 in four inch letters at the top and East Lake Road in smaller letters below it, where Oakland Township could also be used in smaller letters. "People will still refer to road names as their address," she said, and added that the state police use township route numbers when identifying a property. When the system is completely in place, map books will be available with addresses for police, emergency responders, etc. Municipalities are not being asked to replace their existing signs now, but as they need to be replaced, "Please change them." Mr. Cowperthwait suggested that the supervisors should probably start reordering new signs, a few at a time, to get it done.

Supervisor Ross had a question about private driveways; if there are more than two residents on a driveway, must a sign be put up? Mrs. Watson said that signs are required whenever any addressable situations exist, or are maintained by a municipality. And, yes, a sign must be put up on a private road; each needs to have their own address. If it is a privately owned road, it would be at the owner’s expense. Wherever a house is not visible from road, owners are requested to put in a post with reflective numbers.

In a situation where a developer wants to subdivide, he/she would be required to go through emergency management, and supply the intended road names, which would be "held" for a period of time. The county planning commission will work closely with emergency management in this case.

Municipalities are asked to submit road names for compilation and for comparison, to make sure there are no duplications. In the case where a road straddles two municipalities and has two different names, the municipalities involved are asked to work together to come up with a common name. If the name changes at a crossroads, that is allowable as long as it has a logical "break," such as an intersection.

Mr. Ross asked if private roads’ names needed to be submitted; they do, so they can be added to the data base.

A motion carried to advertise notice to adopt the ordinance required.

In other business, Mr. Cowperthwait commented that amusement tax reports are "up to speed." He noted that P. J. O’hare’s had submitted their report, and included payment for a permit. As a permit had been obtained by the previous owners, the amount of overpayment will be credited. He explained that the amusement tax permit is issued to the business itself; a new one is not required if it changes hands.

Reviewing codes activity, Mr. Cowperthwait contacted one property owner to apprise him about the regulations for placing a trailer on the property, such as installing a septic system and hooking up utilities.

The owner of the trailer park has been sent a letter, along with copies of pictures that were submitted with a complaint about accumulating household trash, to ask that the situation be addressed.

At a prior meeting, the supervisors had agreed to send a letter to a property owner where an RV had been set up in violation of township ordinances; a response letter had been received outlining reasons why utilities had been hooked up to the RV, and stating that a local business has been pumping out the septic tank as there are no nearby facilities to empty it. It was agreed to send the property owner another letter, to apprise them of the township’s ordinances and requirements, so that there will not be a repeat of this situation next year.

No progress was reported on three other violations; the supervisors will continue to follow up.

Road maintenance recently completed included work on Panther Hill; two sluices have been opened. Although they are working well at present, they will have to be replaced eventually. Grading has been finished, stones removed, and brush and trees cut. Potholes have been patched on Erie Ave.

The county emergency management department requested disaster damage information from recent rain storms. As of the date of the meeting, costs were $1,318, with an estimate of work yet to be done at $4,386; these costs included clearing plugged sluices and repairing sections of washed out roads. A report has been submitted to the county.

Mr. Cowperthwait suggested that the supervisors start looking at planning on getting a small grader. Mr. Gorton said that there is a converter available that would turn the stone rake into a grader.

Correspondence reviewed included information on grant money to rebuild dirt and gravel roads; notification from the township’s insurance carrier that their premium may be increasing next year (no exact figures were given); information from Representatives Pickett and Major on HB 657, amending Clean and Green; a notice from the county Board of Assessment that the Buckhorn Rod and Gun Club is appealing their assessment; notice of a recycling pickup for household hazardous waste; information on a "call before you dig" seminar; a grant workshop; and, a notice from DEP regarding a non-coal mining permit for Litts and Son. This item led to some discussion, with Mr. Ross explaining the difference between an exploratory permit and an actual permit.

Under unfinished business, the supervisors continued discussion about complaints about the access area at the river. He suggested that organizations such as the Federation of Sportsmen be contacted to ask for information and/or support in response to the situations previously discussed.

It was noted that the requested financial report has not been received from SOLIDA. It was agreed to turn the matter over to the township’s solicitor. "As a sponsoring municipality," Mr. Cowperthwait said, "we have a right to this information... why not relieve us of any obligation if they’re not going to hold up their end?"

Mr. Cowperthwait relayed that he had been advised not to proceed with changes to the township’s building code ordinance until the new state codes go into effect. Making changes now could result in more changes needing to be made once the new codes are enacted. The supervisors are still working on a codes complaints process.

Under new business, Mr. Cowperthwait noted that the window frames of the township building need to be painted, and a post needs to be set to put up the new sign. There was some discussion as to whether temporary help could be hired to complete these tasks; Mr. Cowperthwait said that it could not be done, as there are liability and compensation requirements. "Any help would need to be on the payroll," he said, "or submit a bid with proof of liability and compensation."

During public comment, resident Pete Niven asked about the status of a trailer on his property that was supposed to be moved by its owner. Mr. Cowperthwait responded that it should have been moved. "It’s not," Mr. Niven said. Mr. Cowperthwait said that the owner had said that it would be moved. If it had not been, he said, "I’m not sure what the law says. It seems to me you’ve got the ‘hammer.’ If he’d done what he said he would, there’d be no problem, but I’m not sure if it’s the township’s problem." He suggested that Mr. Niven consult with an attorney. Mr. Niven intends to put up a privacy fence, but the trailer in question straddles the boundary line between the two properties. There was some discussion as to whether or not the trailer had been condemned. Although a prior CEO had apparently expressed the opinion that it should be condemned, no legal procedure had ever been followed.

Mr. Niven then requested the names of the township auditors, and asked how to contact them by mail. Mr. Cowperthwait said that mail could be sent to the township, but in a case where the correspondence involves a complaint against the township, it should go directly to the auditors.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, October 11, 9:00 a.m. at the township building.

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COG Codes Gets Member #15

The specter of new Pennsylvania building codes has brought yet another new member – Harmony Township – to Codes, for a total of 15. And while there was no Harmony Township representative at this meeting, it was warmly welcomed anyway by Codes president Ted Plevinsky.

With so many new members (six in the last few months), Codes secretary Karen Trynoski reminded them they need to submit to COG copies of all relevant ordinances and fee schedules for their municipalities as soon as possible. Code enforcement officers cannot process permits without it.

Members also picked up where they left off last month, in determining how to appropriately take into account mileage incurred by officers and inspectors doing Codes work. COG offices are in New Milford, a COG member, and other member municipalities are close by. Others are a significant distance away.

The group’s Steering Committee came up with a proposal that tries to be fair to all, by suggesting a first-hour fee of $36.50 per trip per municipality, with hours two and thereafter billed at an hourly rate of $25. The committee took the distance from COG’s office and to the center of each member municipality, arriving at an average mileage number, the cost of which was then built into the first-hour rate. Thus, municipalities that are close to COG’s office will pay more than they are now because of the higher first-hour rate, but they will see savings in the amount of time an officer or inspector will spend. Municipalities further away will pay "seat time," for the greater amount of time it would take to get to it.

Plevinsky noted that it was important to add that, while municipalities are currently billed for Codes services, this will change for new construction once the new codes become effective. Homeowners or their contractors will then be billed directly.

The proposal also asked that each municipality designate an administrative contact to interface with that municipality’s residents regarding CEO and Codes work. This contact would then work with the CEO on whether to make a trip to the municipality, initiating any investigations or inspections. Calls made to the CEO from a resident will be directed to the municipality’s designated rep, who will then provide guidance to the CEO.

Chuck Mead, who worked on the proposal, noted that this gets municipalities more involvement in the process, which is good. Mike Greene added that it also makes the process more efficient and effective, because it avoids having a CEO follow up on a call from a resident on a matter that could more properly be handled by the municipality itself. He also thought that with this process, perhaps more than one appointment could be made on a particular day in any municipality.

Codes members agreed with the proposal and thinking behind it, and voted to make it effective on November 1, 2003, giving member municipalities the opportunity to make it known at their October meetings.

Members next addressed reimbursing officers and inspectors for mileage incurred during the course of their workdays. They voted to reimburse them at the IRS allowable rate for work done on behalf of COG, including any requests to attend municipal meetings. Employees will maintain a record of their mileage.

Inspector Jan Nowicki read CEO Shane Lewis’ monthly report of activities in Lewis’ absence. This included bunches of permits – for a log cabin and addition in Ararat Township; a new home in Gibson Township; a pole barn and two new houses in Harford; a demolition permit with new home permit, a pole barn, and a trailer in Liberty Township; a commercial building addition in New Milford; and a new home in Springville Township.

In other new business, Plevinsky told members that committee members would be meeting with two building inspection companies "to talk with them about a variety of things – plans, handicap accessibility, and so forth" that the group needs to know more about.

Before adjourning, the Committee accepted the resignation of Rick Ainey as the group’s vice president – a move, said Ainey, made necessary by time conflicts with new employment, preventing him from attending what are generally daytime steering committee meetings that require a lot of thought and focus on very important issues. Ainey will still, of course, represent New Milford Borough at COG and continue his other involvement in the organization.

A motion was made and passed to nominate, and then elect, Thompson Township’s Mike Greene to fill the position.

Afterwards, members expressed their thanks and appreciation for Ainey’s efforts and for putting the organization and its growing needs first.

Sewage Enforcement Committee

It was a very zippy meeting that COG Sewage Enforcement Committee president Rick Pisasik conducted at the organization’s regular monthly meeting.

After members read both the minutes of the last meeting and the latest treasurer’s report and approved them, Pisasik brought members up-to-date on goings on since the group last met.

Chiefly, that was personnel matters. He reported that the Executive Committee hasn’t yet been successful in hiring a perc hole preparer and perc test technician. It’s interviewed one person, he said, and is trying to contact another. "We will keep plugging along," he noted, in the meantime asking members to pass along the names of any qualified people they knew and who might be interested in working on a part-time, on-call basis.

The Committee has interviewed one person for the open office assistant position, and is setting up interviews with others. Members will be kept apprised.

Sewage enforcement officer Ken Laurie next told members about a new irrigation system (new to the county; it’s been successfully employed elsewhere in the state) that’s going into a site in Choconut. He noted that SEO Duane Wood has been the leader in overseeing this system, and wrote the permit for it.

Laurie explained the system as one appropriate to a steep slope, where tubes are buried in the ground about six inches below the surface in a pattern of loops. The tubes contain small holes for discharge, which is run twice through the system (which also includes a septic tank) by an elaborate manifold system. As Laurie explained it, the manifold controls two zones and doses just like a normal septic, except the discharge is emitted into the soil over a longer period of time and under lower pressure.

The system ain’t cheap, with a price tag, Laurie estimated, of about $25,000. "It’s a system that’s applicable to people who want these types of steep-sloped properties, and are willing to pay the money to put it in," he said.

And with that, this most efficient Sewage Enforcement Committee meet was adjourned.

Council of Governments

With president Elliot Ross delayed, vice president Charlie Fahringer presided over this meeting that featured a presentation on the ten-year County Comprehensive Development Plan by Bob Templeton, director of the Susquehanna County Planning Commission.

Templeton ran through a Power Point presentation that was an abbreviated version of what he presented a week or so earlier at the Courthouse to an audience of 150 or so residents and other interested parties. The presentation included a lot of interesting statistics about the county over the past decade, little in the way of strong recommendations but long on broad goals and criteria for municipalities to use in preparing their comprehensive plans and land-use regulations.

The presentation addressed the benefits of zoning, while also noting that only six municipalities in the County have adopted such ordinances. It pointed out the effects of Clean and Green on tax coffers, as well as population demographics.

Templeton noted that, because the Commission got good feedback from the public at the unveiling of the plan, it was extending the public comment period to October 10. He couldn’t say whether or not those suggestions might be incorporated into the plan that will be ready for the county commissioners meeting scheduled for October 22. (Copies of the plan are available at, or for pickup at the County Office Building.)

COG secretary Cheryl Wellman next reported that the group canceled its insurance with Tri-County as of September 1, transferring it to the DGK agency. She will follow up with Tri-County on the amount of prorated premium expected to be returned to the organization. Insurance committee member Mike Greene told members that the committee would revisit its insurance agreements next June and decide if it wanted to go to bid at that time, for a September 1 effective date.

Fahringer reported that CQ, the website designer chosen by COG, requested a meeting with the website committee, asked for various pieces of information/data for the site, and requested input on the organization’s chosen domain name. Fahringer noted that the committee would work to provide this information.

In new business, members agreed to pick up the cost of an October 29 seminar in Scranton sponsored by PA COG for Wellman and Codes/Sewage secretary Karen Trynoski.

Trynoski then requested and got the go-ahead from members to apply for a grant which, if received, would greatly expand and improve the current technology used by COG staff. Trynoski’s wish list includes 5 laptops for use out in the field by both SEOs and CEOs; an office server that would link the laptops and two office computers with each other and to the Internet; and cabling into 14 workstations anticipated in COG’s offices as its work expands.

The next meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for October 21 at 7 p.m. in COG offices in the New Milford Borough Building on Main Street.

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