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Sewage Enforcement Committee
President Rick Pisasik efficiently went through the agenda with members of COGs Sewage Enforcement Committee at its October 21 meeting. A good portion of it focused on personnel.
He reported that the executive committee has hired an office assistant, Kelly Van Gaasbeck of Hallstead, at an hourly rate of $9, increasing to $9.50 after six months of satisfactory performance. She will start on November 10.
The executive committee, Pisasik added, also recommended a raise for secretary Karen Trynoski. "She does an outstanding job, puts in a tremendous amount of time and effort, and brings a large amount of knowledge to her work," he said. The committee recommended a pay increase to $12 an hour, with further consideration in January, depending on the budget. A motion was quickly made and passed to act on the executive committees recommendation.
Another item Pisasik brought forth was the committees request to institute a full-time SEO position. "The position is currently part-time, and wed like to make it full-time as of January," he reported. With 22 members, the committee thought it beneficial to have an SEO on a regular, full-time basis. Members authorized a full-time, supervising SEO position beginning January 1.
In new business, the group received a letter from counsel Jason Legg about Hawkins Homes, which had a $2,700 judgment made against it some time ago, with fines added to that amount, were the judgment not paid by the June 17 deadline. It wasnt, and the fines now add up to $2,000, for a total due to the Committee of $4,700.
Leggs letter stated that he spoke with Hawkins, who has taken care of the problem that led to the judgment; Hawkins is offering to pay $600 as a judgment. And while that amount may have sounded reasonable to Legg, it didnt to Sewage Committee members at all. They will tell Legg as much, and ask him to work on a number that is at least the amount of the original $2,700 judgment for improper sewage compliance, made so long ago with no contact since that time by Hawkins until he offered the 600 bucks.
Council of Governments
PENNDOTs Randy Decker sat in on the meeting presided over by chair Elliot Ross, who asked members if they had any questions for Decker. Don Stone did, and it was a question most members were asking: What are we supposed to do for cinders this year?
Municipalities throughout the county are reporting that there are no state-approved cinders around; the state will not pay liquid fuel funds unless a municipality uses approved cinders. Thus, local governments find themselves in a difficult situation.
Decker replied that members should ask their cinder providers for a certificate of compliance, stating that the cinders they deliver are state-approved. He added that counties in central Pennsylvania were in the same quandary as the group at the meeting. Decker also said hes talked to some supervisors, "and they are piggybacking off the state contract for anti-skid. Because of where theyre located, theyll be paying less than what they would pay for cinders." And while Decker didnt have a clear-cut answer, he told the group to protect themselves and ask for a certificate of compliance.
Member Bill Bayne said that he and other local officials were trying to set up an appointment with Sandy Major to discuss the situation. "If we learn more," he said, "well let you know."
Thompson Townships Mike Green told Decker that residents in his area are concerned because its supplier has apparently moved where it stores its cinders. They think that theres going to be a problem getting their trucks up to the area; the fire department is especially concerned.
Greene suggested that COG, 26-member-municipalities-strong with a greater voice as a group, write a letter to Majors expressing its concern about the difficulty of getting state-approved cinders in the county, and copying in other County representatives. A motion was made and passed to do this.
In various committee reports, Cheryl Wellman gave an update on insurance; the group recently switched from Tri-County to DGK. She reported that a check for unused, previously paid premium was received from Tri-County without an accounting of it, which she will request, and explained the allocation of premiums among the three COG groups.
On street and road signs, Ross, who chairs and basically is this committee, reported on his work since the group last met. Ross turns out signs at COG offices in New Milford, a 45-minute drive from where he lives. He asked the group to consider letting him do the work from his house, where he could take better advantage of time to do the work. It made sense, and Wellman will find out about insurance coverage of equipment and materials should they be moved closer to Ross where he could make use of time more efficiently.
No one has heard anything about the website-in-the-making for the group. A member of the website committee said hes been communicating with the designers, but did not know how much they had done at the time of the meeting.
Codes Enforcement Committee
President Ted Plevinsky opened the meeting by welcoming its sixteenth member, Lanesboro Borough. A Silver Lake Township representative who sat in said it, too, would like to join Codes. Plevinsky referred him to secretary Karen Trynoski for the appropriate resolutions to make that happen for the township.
With a sizable group and with sizable changes to Codes coming soon, Plevinsky set forth some research done by the groups steering committee. He distributed a report that summarized the results of interviews with three different third-party inspection companies to help Codes through what is expected to be a difficult transition period to eventually smooth Codes enforcement that is expected to begin early next year. The three companies were Guardian Inspection Service, Kane Pa.; Code Inspections, Inc., Horsham; and Building Inspection Underwriters, Inc., Scranton.
The summary sheet listed the "pros" of using a third-party inspector. They are: Accessibility, immediate and by certified individuals who work for a licensed and insured company; Review of building plans and turnaround of them within 16 days, and inspections within one to two days of the request; The ability to do commercial inspection; One source for all certified inspectors; Flexibility of staffing (summer versus winter); A concern by Codes of employee-pirating (Plevinsky noted that Codes "probably wont be the highest-paying employer of Codes people, and theres concern on our part of employees leaving for better-paying positions elsewhere"); Codes own lack of experience, something shared with most every municipality throughout the state; One Codes administrator who will supervise the process start to finish; The power of Codes membership, which is expected to get better service than a single municipality would; Out-of-area inspectors with no favoritism, and the flexibility of Codes to remove employees and have them replaced with more satisfactory ones.
Plevinsky also added that the company the steering committee recommended was located in Scranton, and it would also be conducting seminars for contractors and others from the member municipalities who are interested in the process.
The "cons" are: Price to the contractor/owner is about $900 for a 2,000-square-foot, non-prefab house (more below on other fees); Out-of-area talent, which, as noted above, could also be a "pro"; Perception of loss of control at local level (something the committee thought could be addressed by asking the company to have a regular, weekly presence in COG offices); Length of contract; these ranged from three years to month-to-month among the three companies interviewed.
Members had numerous questions after reviewing the analysis sheet. One asked if current Codes inspectors and its CEO would continue to handle residential matters while the third-party handled commercial. Plevinsky said they probably would continue to do residential, but noted that none of the current employees are certified for accessibility (generally, handicapped access), which is an important part of the new codes.
Another wondered if the Scranton firm with the month-to-month contract might request more money after, say, three months. Plevinsky answered that the companys book included fees by service, and that the group had to think "they will be here for awhile." He also added that, perhaps after six months of working with an outside firm, "well be more familiar with what the new codes require, and better able to do it ourselves."
Mike Greene, who sits on the steering committee, expressed his townships concern about loss of control at the local level, but added that the process eased it. "When somebody comes into our township and wants to build a house, they come here [COG]. Shane [Lewis, the CEO] goes over it, gives his approval, the builder comes to us, and then we pass it along to the third-party who works with us. They will be here for office hours. They will give a report for every inspection. At the end of the day, maybe two days, youve got the occupancy permit." Greene added that all three companies "really want to work with us, have a good presence here and will keep us informed. Through the interview process," he added, "we always focused on taking care of our customers, who are our residents."
The subject of fees which will be billed to the builder or contractor of new buildings came up. Generally, these are listed by type of work, and there are many types of work, such as building alterations, renovations, repairs, plumbing, electrical, and subsets of fees within each one. As Trynoski explained, "It all depends on what theyre doing and whats going to be inspected." The fee for a house will scale down or up, based on square footage, she reported. The fee for modulars would be different and cover, say, footers, foundation, any electrical or plumbing hook-up.
Rick Pisasik asked if the fees reflected a volume discount, based on the size of the Codes group. Plevinsky added that it did, based on (then 15) members at the time of the interviews. He couldnt say whether the fees would further decrease with the addition of new Codes members.
Greene said that a package of the Scranton companys fee listing would be sent to every municipal office. "Theres not going to be hidden costs," he noted.
Greene added that the proposed fees by one company were pretty much indecipherable, and a reading of the formula for these fees proved that; perhaps an actuary could understand them, but no one in the room did. The Scranton firm, Greene reported, has been doing the kind of work Codes needs for many, many years. "They know how to set it all up. We dont have the time, energy or, most importantly, the expertise to do this, and with new Codes gearing up later this year for an effective date early next year, it makes sense for us to work with a third party. As Ted [Plevinsky] said, maybe down the line we can do it ourselves; well have the experience; well learn. But for right now," he added, "it makes sense to go with a third party."
The steering committee recommended that Building Inspection Underwriters of Scranton be hired. As Plevinsky said, "They are 45 minutes down the Interstate; they have experience; their turnaround time is good; they will accommodate us if work has to be done on the weekends; and they have some pretty powerful references."
He noted that Sullivan County COG has decided to go with one third-party organization, and Bridgewater Townships Chuck Mead reported that the Scranton group has just signed Monroe County COG as one of its clients. Members then passed a motion to hire them.
Following this, a lot of discussion surrounded a "New Business" agenda item, which was to talk about perhaps working on a resolution that building permits issued by Codes and their member municipalities expire in one year. It seems that some municipalities already have such a resolution on their books; some require the work to be started within one year. Others, that work be started and finished within one year, and if its not, then a new permit must be applied for, or an extension of the existing one. Some municipalities have no expiration date on their permits.
Trynoski explained the reasons for the proposed resolution. She noted that she and CEO Lewis have seen a lot of requests for building permits recently. "Some of these applicants," she said, "may have no intention of starting to build, but perhaps see obtaining a permit now as a way to circumvent the new regulations." A one-year permit, she said, would be one way to make sure this doesnt happen.
And while members voiced concerns that someone renovating a house that could take years to complete, because of funds or time, should not be penalized, they were also similarly concerned that others not use municipalities current requirements as a way to work around the new rules.
The resolution itself was tabled because its not yet known how the new regs will handle expiration dates vis a vis work that must be either started or completed. In the meantime, however, member municipalities will send along to Trynoski their ordinances about permit expirations to get a sense about what they do now, in order to determine a way to discourage abuse while respecting the needs and circumstances of residents, and how they might fit in with what new regs may call for. What everyone pretty well wanted to avoid was having someone put up a frame within a year after getting a permit, and then leaving it sit there for five years. Now, they will try to determine how to ensure this doesnt happen.
The next regular meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for November 17 at 7 p.m. in COG offices in the New Milford Borough Building on Main Street.
Much of the discussion at the October 20 meeting of the Great Bend Township supervisors all three were in attendance, and seven people were there to hear them was about roads. Roads under repair, roads to be repaired, road maintenance in winter, and setting an October 27 work session at 7 p.m. to talk about taxes for capital projects, the chief project sounding like roads.
With winter coming in sooner rather than later, a very big problem had to be addressed, and that was that the township currently has a very limited amount of cinders in reserve. Ashley Anti-Skid, which promised to deliver 15 yards of cinders to the township by September 30, has not done so, nor have they responded to numerous calls to them. Whats more, it seems that there are no state-approved cinders in the area, and its the state-approved ones that are reimbursable with state liquid fuel funds. Using non-approved ones means paying for them out of the townships pocket. Supervisor Jim Banko reported that some townships are trying to get permission from the state to use liquid fuel funds to get anti-skid.
Supervisor and roadmaster George Haskins noted that the state at some point might no longer allow spreading cinders, and encourage stone chips as an alternative to them. Banko said that stone chips would add aggregate to many of the unpaved road surfaces in the township come the spring, and thought it was worthwhile to see what it would take to modify the townships machinery to spread stone chips. "A very small amount of crusher sand on ice gives incredible traction," he said, adding that the stone products will go a lot further than the cinders.
Thus, Haskins will fax and oversee quotes on cinders, to convert the current spreader for a stone chip mix, for "One B" stone (thought to be purchasable with liquid fuel funds), crusher sand and anti-skid, and go with whatever combined package is in the best interest of the township.
Chair Robert Squier reported that because more material was needed for repairs to Graham Hollow Road than was anticipated, a re-accounting of charges from a vendor who worked on the road as well as on Old Route 11 is needed to more appropriately assign costs between the two projects.
This is part of the townships efforts to assign costs to where work is actually done. He noted that a card is now kept for every road in the township, individually tracking any work done on any particular road.
Haskins busy roadmaster report included work on Sienko Road; ditch-digging and clean-up on McHugh Hill Road; ditch-grading on Emerson Road; finishing up Baptist Hill Road; and attending to the work in progress on Graham Hollow Road. He reported that he would be getting fax bids out very soon for anticipated work on Township Road 821 (Old Lackawanna Trail), which needs some blacktop work done immediately before the black-top plants close for the season. If the bid respondents cant finish their repairs before winter sets in, the work will have to be postponed until next year.
Road discussion next turned up towards the end of the meeting, when the "Taxes for Capital Projects" came up in the "Unfinished Business" part of the agenda. Haskins reported that Brian Hinkley said he wanted to talk with the supervisors about what needs to be done to get the roads back in shape. Haskins told him to come to a public session to make his request. (The next one, decided at the meeting, is October 27.)
Hinkley, according to Haskins, asked him to look at McHugh Hill Road as a candidate for tar and chipping. Haskins noted that McHugh Hill Road "is not drivable." Repairs made to it in the last year or two were apparently not done properly, and Haskins said that "the first thing in the spring, we have to rebuild and reshape it, taking some crown off because eventually we will want to blacktop over it."
Beyond roads, the supervisors touched upon a broad range of items. Mike Mullen, a township on-call employee, has requested a change in his status to full-time employee. The board expected to discuss this in an executive session.
It was noted that the deadline for changing the tax base for next year is after the first of the year, that the last time taxes had to be increased was in 1998, and that since then, both county and school taxes have risen while the townships have not.
A member of the audience asked the supervisors if they considered rolling back the number of employees and the wages they are paid. He thought township employees were overpaid compared to those of other area municipalities. Haskins said they were not. The audience member replied that some state workers make 12-something an hour, and one township employees hourly rate was $16.50 plus benefits; he also suggested cutting back to one secretary, instead of two.
In other discussions, several items are still ongoing, including the Donna Fekette issue that concerns a big sign she put up without a permit along Interstate 81, much to the chagrin of some of her neighbors.
A paid-for sewer hook-up permit received by a Robert Mireider apparently wont be used until perhaps next year, because the gentleman apparently wont be building just now.
Other sewage matters were the receipt of an "exception" letter from the DEP about Clarence Colwells Planning Module New Land Development Component, as well as mention by Haskins that a representative of KBA Associates, which the township uses for sewer permitting, remarked that the township might be able to be reimbursed up to 50 percent by DEP for some activities. Banko reported that the township has never been in a position where the amount that could be recovered from the DEP was worth more than the time, documentation and paperwork to apply for the recovery.
And like the cards now on file for every township road, Squier was pleased to note that every sewer application dating from 1970 is now filed alphabetically for quick reference.
This brought up the situation of the trailers on a small split of land, between New York Avenue and the railroad tracks, that is owned by Joan Long. Longs permit is in the new filing system, and documents approval for one trailer and one office trailer. There is also documentation from Jim Tracy, SEO with Council of Governments when the township was a member, stating that the Long system was suitable for another trailer. Long, it seems, added another trailer to the system, but did not get a permit to add the third trailer.
It also seems that the DEP told Long she cannot put fill on her trailer property something thats already been done and that she has to move the fill. In what seems like a wacky circle, it was reported that Long has been seen asking PENNDOT trucks to dump on the trailer property any fill they may have from, say, ditching. If PENNDOT dumps the fill, it seems that Long is not obligated to remove it, the state is something it was thought would probably not happen. Squier thought that it made sense for the township to contact both DEP and PENNDOT and make them aware that Long should not get more fill.
Two subdivisions were addressed. The board reported that it received the Susquehanna County Planning Commissions approval of the Chauncey Estate Subdivision; they also approved a request from Joan Henry. Her request was to combine two separate (subdivided) parcels one of which contains a house and a working septic into one parcel. However, Banko pointed out that she might want to consult her counsel about consolidating the properties. As they stand now, the parcels are currently subdivided; should they be consolidated, Banko thought, any subdivision of them later on would require the subdivision process and approval. By not consolidating the parcels, she would/could have a change of ownership on one of them, and leave open the option of continuing the subdivision. Henry will take this information to her counsel.
In cleaning and fixing up, several things were brought to the publics attention. The first was that both Squier and Haskins each spent a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, making repairs to the roof of the storage barn behind the township building. They fixed work done wrong, and patched plenty of nail holes that contained no nails or where the nails could get no purchase. Theyll also look to repair damage to the fascia and soffet that occurred during the remnants of Hurricane Isabel.
Squier noted that he made mention to the owners of a barn roof that collapsed from last winters snow to think about fixing it, since the owners also do child care in their home, close by to the unstable barn. He reported that work has begun on taking care of the hazard.
Lastly, the solicitor will now handle the issue of the Dixon mess. The deadline given to Dixon for cleaning it up has passed, no changes could be seen, and now Mr. Giangrieco will take it from here.
ARMED BANK ROBBERY
On October 21 at 11:45 a.m., two white males, 5'10" to 6' tall, wearing ski masks and brandishing weapons entered the Community Bank and Trust, Clifford, and stole an undetermined amount of money, then fled in a blue midsize sedan. The FBI and PA State Police are investigating.
Someone broke the lock off a shed belonging to Eugene Schmidt, Elk Lake Rd., Auburn Township, and removed a Honda generator and various hand tools, on October 17 at 7:30 a.m. Anyone with information please call PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
Paul H. Andrews, 45, Montrose, was traveling north on State Route 3023, Rush Township, when the load on his 2000 Freightliner became unsecured causing the vehicle to roll over on the east berm. Andrews sustained moderate injuries in this October 17 incident.
Joseph Feyche, 44, Binghamton, NY, received minor injuries when he swerved to avoid a piece of metal in the roadway and struck the guide rail on Interstate 81, New Milford Township. The accident occurred on October 17.
Between 7:00 p.m. on October 14 and 11:30 a.m. the next day, someone proceeded onto Amy Hammen's property on Township Route 387, Clifford Township, where they were clearing a lot with a John Deere backhoe tractor. Entry was gained to the vehicle by breaking an entrance door window and then the vehicle was started and moved about the lot. In doing so, the vehicle's right rear tire became damaged. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
Someone stole rubber/steel skid steer tracks from the Rowena Jean Shager residence on State Route 2061, Tingley Lake Rd., New Milford Township between September 8 and 22.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On October 13 at 8:05 p.m., Stanley Cook, Jr., Springville, was playing his radio while driving on State Route 706 at the entrance to Kost Tire, Bridgewater Township. His 1993 Nissan Sentra left the road and went into a ditch, continuing to travel in the ditch, striking a culvert and causing the vehicle to flip onto its roof. No mention of injury was given in the report.
On October 3, someone broke into B. K. Norris Distributors, Erie St., Susquehanna Borough, and stole numerous cases of beer, snacks and a computer tower. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
Between October 13-14, someone broke into a trailer at the construction site of the old Ames Plaza, State Route 706, Bridgewater Township. Stolen were a sawzall, a flashlight and a level, which belonged to A. Pickett Construction, Kingston, PA. Anyone with information call the PA State Police at 570-465-3156.
HIT & RUN TRAFFIC CRASH
On October 9, an unknown vehicle struck another unattended, parked vehicle owned by Wendy Kelly, Hallstead, in the parking lot of Bi-Lo Supermarkets, Hallstead. Anyone with information call the PA State Police at 570-465-3156.
John Francis Purtell, 22, Little Meadows Borough, and Jennifer Lynn Kany, 24, Warren Township (Bradford Co.).
Brian L. Rogers, 26, Williamstown, NY, and Crystal G. Webb, 26, Williamstown, NY.
Nicholas R. Bourassa, 22, New Milford Township, and Rebecca L. Wojtkowski, 22, New Milford Township.
Mark Andrew Silfee, 44, Herrick Township, and Jean Michelle Shinn, 41, Herrick Township.
Daniel Joseph Cole, 30, Caldwell, NJ, and Elizabeth Anne Rounds, 25, Caldwell, NJ.
John Edward Nial, 73, Norwich, NY, and Joyce Marie Nial, 72, Norwich, NY.
Thomas Earl Clark, 32, Herrick Township, and Dawn Marie Peterka, 27, Herrick Township.
Lawrence M. Grasso, Trustee of the Lawrence M. Grasso Revocable Living Trust, to Kelly S. Lupole in Liberty Township for $57,000.
PennDOT to Raymond & Joan Buenzle in Ararat Township for highway occupancy permit.
Between Eugene J. Baldwin and Nancy A. Baldwin, and Marjorie Mastro and Franklin D. Mastro in Rush Township for consentable line agreement.
Dennis W. Hayes and Pamela J. Hayes to Roseann Bonitz in Choconut Township for $10,000.
Thomas P. Regan to Ronald J. Beckler in Silver Lake Township for $5,000.
Edward Valenta and Nancy Valenta and Christine Sams, fka Christine Anderson and Fred Sams to Arthur W. Davis and Pamela R. Davis in Forest Lake Township for one dollar (transfer tax paid on total consideration of $96,000).
Larry L. Decker to Pennsylvania Electric Company in Harmony Township for easement.
Dennis Bevan & Cathrine Bevan to Dennis Bevan in Liberty Township for $1.
Joseph S. Manzek, Jr. and Lynne C. Manzek to Fiodi, Inc. in Rush Township for $32,000.
J. Marshall Ayres to David J. Ayres and Kim Kotchick-Ayres in Silver Lake Township for memorandum of recording.
George Martin, II and Melissa Martin to New Milford Municipal Authority in New Milford Borough for right-of-way and permanent easement agreement for $1 ogvc.
Donald H. Glatzel and Janet T. Glatzel to New Milford Municipal Authority in New Milford Borough for right-of-way and permanent easement agreement for $1 ogvc.
Joyce E. Short to Thomas E. Smith and Mary J. Smith in Forest City Borough for $54,000.
Clark W. Dayton by Robert C. Dayton, his Attorney in Fact, and Eleanor Dayton by Robert C. Dayton, her Attorney in Fact, to Raymond H. Jensen and Doris M. Jensen in Dimock Township for $40,000.
Dean Mechlowitz and Amy L. Mechlowitz to John F. Wood and Tina M. Wood in Silver Lake Township for $8,000.
Vivian H. Fix and David M. Fix to Ronald G. Brown, Sr. and Kathy J. Brown in Forest Lake Township, for $185,000.
Donald T. Benscoter and John R. Benscoter to John R. Benscoter in Auburn Township for $1.
Daniel R. Ricci, Jr. to Robert D. Smith in Bridgewater Township for bluestone mining operation.
Robert L. Sherman and Hazel E. Sherman in Apolacon Township for $50,000.
Barbara L. Stockbridge to Charles S. Fargo, III in Auburn Township for $5,000.
William J. Baier and Susan E. Baier to William Van Steenburg and Connie Houghtaling in Silver Lake Township for $6,000.
Victor Cappucci and Mildred Cappucci, Richard Place and Charlotte Place to Keith B. McCauley and Tammy K. McCauley in Dimock Township for $22,000.
Thomas A. Rieselman and Elizabeth M. Rieselman to John F. Tokos and Luann E. Tokos in Silver Lake Township for $23,000.
Irene Pierson and Randy Pierson, Administrator of the Estate of Laurence Pierson, aka Lawrence W. Pierson to Randy Pierson in Rush Township for $1 ogvc.
James P. Porkey to Pennsylvania Electric Company in Auburn Township for easement.
Gerald and Tinamarie Carlin to Pennsylvania Electric Company in Auburn Township for easement.
Stella L. Dibble by her Attorneys in fact, Susan A. Maiurano and Barbara M. Haggerty and Susan Ann Dibble nbm Susan A. Maiurano and Clark F. Maiurano to Scott A. Olson and Kris E. Olson in Lanesboro Borough for $35,000.
Eugene E. Larkin and Shirley Larkin to Timothy M. Hutchins, Sr. in Lenox Township for $67,900.
Robert L. Opdyke and Linda C. Opdyke to Charles L. Maddocks and Kim M. Maddocks in Jessup Township for $20,000.
South Lenox Rod and Gun Club & Lillian Stubble to Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Jr. in Lenox Township by court order.
Parks Limited Family Partnership to Denton Crick Sportsmen in Great Bend Township for easement for $1.
Jean M. Smith to Stanley J. Stelmach and Patricia A. Stelmach in Gibson Township for $59,000.
Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Jr. to John Crowell and Mary Jo Thorn in Ararat Township for $48,500.
J. Parker Properties, LLC and Francis J. Pinkowski to Shawn P. Lowry in Lenox Township for $29,500.
Michael A. Chesnick & Linda Chesnick and Patricia A. Chesnick to Thomas A. Thiede & Jason E. Thiede in Clifford Township and Uniondale Borough for $190,000.
Arthur W. Dando and Dorothy Dando to Kevin Guilfoyle and Patricia Guilfoyle in Jackson Township for $75,000.
Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans had a light sentencing schedule last week when only five individuals pleaded guilty to assorted violations.
A Broome County, NY man, 26-year-old Christopher M. Selzer of Binghamton, drew the stiffest sentence, six months to five years minus a day in the Susquehanna County Jail. However, the sentence was suspended and Selzer was placed on three years probation and fined $500.
Selzer was charged with theft by unlawful taking in Friendsville last November 3. His probation supervision was transferred to Broome County where Selzer must also do 50 hours of community service.
Other sentences handed down by Judge Seamans included:
Jacqueline Ann Dumas, 51, of New Milford three months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail for drunk driving in Great Bend on June 22, 2001. She will be given credit for time already served behind bars.
Dumas also received a suspended sentenced on a term of one month to two years in the county jail and was placed on probation for two years on a charge of endangering another person also in Great Bend on June 22, 2001. She was fined a total of $1,050 plus court costs, ordered to undergo drug and alcohol evaluation, must attend alcohol-safe driving school, and complete 25 hours of community service.
Derek E. Gardner, 20, of New Milford, one month to 23 months in the county jail, with work release for theft by unlawful taking in Great Bend on August 14, 2002. He also received four months to 23 months to run concurrently with the above sentence for liability of conduct of another in Hallstead on December 22, 2002. In addition, he was fined $250 and ordered to do 25 hours of community service.
Raymond J. Bishop, 46, of Kingsley, 45 days to 23 months in the county jail, with work release, for drunk driving in Brooklyn Twp. on December 22, 2002. He was also fined $500 and costs and must do 25 hours of community service.
Jamie Luiz Lowe, 23, of South Montrose, two months to 23 months in the county jail with credit for time served for theft by unlawful taking in New Milford on September 5, 2002. Lowe must also make restitution, pay a $500 fine and do 25 hours of community service. Supervision was transferred to Broome County, NY.
Winds Damage Local School Bus
The sun was bright after storms had rocked the Northeast Pennsylvania area on the afternoon of October 15; however, they left in their wake winds that reached gusts between 25 to 50 miles per hour. Many trees were down after the ground was storm-soaked and the forces of nature pruned branches.
Along Route #11, proceeding North out of the New Milford area, one of the wind gusts loosened a tree limb that slammed into the front of a Head Start School bus. Although the windshield of the bus was shattered and its' right side damaged, Fire Chief Bob Thatcher of the Hallstead Fire Company noted there were no reported injuries to the children, who were passengers on the bus, or the driver of the bus.
It was slow going on this highway, as firemen cleared what remained on the road from the tree. The bus was moved after the State Police from the Gibson barracks completed a vehicle report.
OK Tax Sale
The Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners gave its endorsement to a proposal from the countys Tax Claim Bureau to unload some properties that have been refused by buyers at two public sales and are no longer generating income from taxes.
Once approval is received from the municipalities where the properties are located, the Tax Claim Bureau will be allowed to accept any negotiable offer for the sites.
"These are properties that were not sold at our judicial sale on Oct. 20," said county Treasurer Cathy Benedict who also heads up the Tax Claim Bureau. While the bureau can accept any price for the parcels, Mrs. Benedict said every effort is made to recuperate the cost involved in selling them.
Mrs. Benedict said the goal of the Tax Claim Bureau is to get the properties back on the tax rolls so they can again begin generating tax revenue for the county and the municipalities.
Unloading properties that are not gobbled up at the countys judicial sale is an old established and allowable practice. However, in recent years the state amended the law relating to such sales. Under the revision, the Tax Claim Bureau needs approval from the municipality and the school district in which the property to be sold is located.
While getting all approvals requires more time, Mrs. Benedict said it may be a good thing.
"A lot of municipalities did not realize what was happening," she said. "Now, if we wanted to sell a parcel in Forest City, for example, we would need approval from the Borough Council and the Board of Education."
In most instances, getting the necessary approvals is routine but municipalities can stop a sale. Then, too, when a property reaches the "any reasonable offer" stage a little research just might uncover some red tape that could require some costly legal help to untangle. The Tax Claim Bureau cautions all buyers that properties are sold under the rule of Caveat Emptor or let the buyer beware.
The list of properties available as of last weeks commissioners meeting includes three parcels in Susquehanna Borough, and one each in Herrick Township, Hop Bottom Borough, Liberty Township, and Montrose Borough.
In another matter, the commissioners reached into the ranks of the Susquehanna Conservation District and tapped 29-year-old Michael Villanella to succeed the retiring Lillian Theophanis as district manager. Villanella, who will be paid $32,000, has already begun training for the position and takes over on Dec. 31.
A resident of Silver Lake Township, Villanella has worked as a water specialist in the district for some 22 months.
The commissioners approved a resolution authorizing Friends of Salt Springs Park to file an application for a grant to continue a state-financed work program at the park. If is it approved, it will be the fifth consecutive year the park has been awarded a grant to pay a work crew of five plus a crew leader.
Toby Anderson, an active member of the park committee, told the commissioners the work crew is responsible for making needed renovations to two buildings in the park as well as other improvements.
The commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the Eastern Susquehanna County Partnership to file a grant application for a land use and technical assistance program. Eastern County Partnership is an inter-municipal cooperation project aimed at managing the growth of the eastern section of the county.
Participating municipalities include the townships of Ararat, Gibson, Herrick, and Thompson, and the boroughs of Thompson and Union Dale. Asked why Forest City Borough was not invited to join the partnership, the answer given was that all of the municipalities must touch and Forest City is not a contiguous municipality.
Motions approved by the commissioners completed the following transactions:
-Hired Julie Fair to the newly created temporary full-time clerk typist position in the commissioners office effective Dec. 1. She will be paid $7.90 an hour.
-Hired Patricia Lesser to the full-time position as a dispatcher trainee in the 911 Communications Center at an hourly rate of $7.48.
-And, approved the following schedule for fees and charges in the coroners office: autopsy report, $100; coroners report, $50; toxicology report, $50; forensic dental reports, $50; photographs (35 mm or Polaroid) $2.50 each; cooler use, $1.25 an hour; removals, $85; cremation authorization, $10; body bags, tyvek suits and respirator filters, all reimbursed at cost.
Discusses Park Grants
On October 20, the Hallstead Borough Council met with vice president John Giangrieco presiding in the absence of president Joseph Franks. Also present were council members Michele Giangrieco, Ted Loomis, David Callender; Mayor Canfield; Secretary/Treasurer Cindy Gillespie and Maintenance Supervisor John Gordon.
During visitors and guest comments, Debbie Dissinger brought council up to date on the bridge beautification committees progress; a grant application has been submitted for improvements to the park along the river bank; a copy of the application was given to council for the boro files. As the grant is being sought through DCNR, there would be some stipulations if the grant is approved.
Council would need to take official action to determine what fees, if any, would be charged for use of the gazebo and what charges would apply to boro residents and to non-residents; its use could not be limited to residents (or non-residents) unless such use is non-discriminatory. The basis for allowing use must be enacted by resolution, and must be enforced without discrimination. Any utility lines within the park would have to be buried underground and not run overhead. And, there are rules applying to any contractors who might be hired to work on the site; among other stipulations, the contractors state taxes must be paid up to date, with proof of such furnished to council.
Ms. Giangrieco asked how this grant application relates to the sidewalk replacement project; Ms. Dissinger said that a $172,000 grant has been received for this project, which does not include the riverfront property improvements; the funds have been set aside for replacement of sidewalks and curbing. The area to be addressed does not include the new sidewalks installed by PENNDOT as part of their bridge replacement project. Replacement of sidewalks covered by this grant will begin some time in the spring, once PENNDOTs project is complete. And, the committee has applied for additional grant funding to increase the scope of the replacement project.
Ms. Dissinger noted that council members Martin Brown and James Gillespie are members of the beautification committee.
Under petitions/complaints by citizens, Mr. Callender relayed that he had received complaints about a manhole cover on Susquehanna St.; it is too low. As there was some question as to whose responsibility this is, it was agreed to contact the Hallstead-Great Bend Sewer Authority for information before any action is taken.
Mr. Giangrieco reported that the boro truck is in need of four new tires; Mr. Gordon recommended that tires from the rear be moved to the front, and four new snow tires be purchased for the rear; a motion carried to approve purchase of four new tires. Mr. Gordon will get quotes to find the best prices, and was authorized to purchase the tires.
A budget meeting has been scheduled for Monday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m.
New Christmas decorations have been purchased; Mr. Gordon will check to see if hook-ups are available for two additional lights; two more than had been used previously were purchased.
The next topic discussed was the reciprocal services that had been exchanged with Great Bend Township in prior years, relating to winter plowing. In exchange for cinders, the boro had plowed portions of Great Bend Township roads. As there had been no agreement recently, it was agreed to send the township supervisors a letter, to determine if the exchange of services would continue.
Correspondence received included a letter from Great Bend Township regarding a "name the new bridge" contest, which is open to residents of Great Bend Township, Hallstead Boro and Great Bend Boro. Interested residents from those municipalities may submit an entry; one winner from the general public will receive a $100.00 savings bond. This winning entry will be added to winners from the Blue Ridge Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. One of those four entries will be chosen as the winner, with a name for the new bridge. The final winner will receive a $500 savings bond.
A resolution carried to accept a lighting agreement for responsibility of the lights on the new bridge; Great Bend Township will be responsible for four, the boro for one.
The next topic discussed was brought up by Mr. Loomis; he (and Mayor Canfield) suggested that a walking track be put in at the boro park, near the ballfield, around the small, girls ballfield. At first, it could be a dirt track, and perhaps paving could be put in some time in the future; possibly a Tim Fancher memorial could be placed near the track (a Tim Fancher memorial fundraising race regularly contributes proceeds to the boro, to be used for recreational purposes.) As Mr. Fancher was an avid runner, it was thought that this would be an appropriate project. Mr. Giangrieco agreed that this is something that council should look into further.
Next discussion concerned the old foundry property; Mr. Giangrieco reported that there had been no news as of the date of the meeting. There were some questions about the 90-day stipulation that had been attached to loan funding that had been obtained to demolish the sites buildings. Mr. Giangrieco said that the grant mandated that some action had to be taken within a stipulated time period; as the loan is being administered through Peoples National Bank (PNB), the funds would not be distributed until some action was taken. Ms. Giangrieco suggested sending a letter to PNB, requesting an update. Ms. Dissinger agreed to relay the request for information to Jack Ord, President of PNB.
The final topic discussed was information received from the boros solicitor for councils review, regarding information about advertising for bids for projects/purchases amounting to more than $10,000.
The next regular meeting will be on Monday, November 17, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
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