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It wasnt exactly what one would call a "three-ring circus" but, then again, perhaps the only thing missing at last weeks meeting of the Forest City Regional Board of Education was a ringmaster.
The meeting, which played out before the largest crowd in recent years, started in the usual mundane fashion with the president calling upon board members to read motions outlined on the monthly agenda.
However, things changed rather abruptly after Director Tom Hellers motion to accept the resignation of Patricia Chesnick as an elementary secretary effective Sept. 29 passed by a unanimous vote. In a previous motion, Chesnick was appointed Transportation Director/Business Office Assistant at an annual salary of $22,000.
But Heller wasnt ready to relinquish the floor and quickly made a surprise motion to extend the contract of School Superintendent Bernice Lukus for another five years. The move triggered a volley of negative responses from some board members.
Director Joseph Farrell said the motion was not in keeping with the principles of democracy. He said he had not seen the contract and suggested that the matter be held over for the new board that will be seated in December.
Director Tom Baileys said he would not vote on a contract he has not seen and said the board could be held liable for "irresponsible decisions."
"This is absolutely and clearly irresponsible," Baileys said. "You want to vote on a contract that nobody has seen."
"This is highly unusual," said Director Fred Garm. "I have never seen anything like this happen before. It is not the way we do things." He accused some board members of following a "political agenda of some sort."
"You say it is a political agenda," Heller snapped back. "It has been political for the last year that I have been on this board. I just want to renew the contract for five years and I do not see a problem with that. I think it is working the way it is and I do not think it should be changed."
"Obviously there has been something going on behind the scenes that all board members have not been privy to," Baileys added. He said there have been no discussions on salaries or benefits that might be attached to an extended contract.
Feeling that Director Barbara Mihelc was the swing vote that could pass the motion, Farrell unleashed a verbal attack against her. "Mrs. Mihelc," he said, "I am curious. I am not going to ask you how you are going to vote. I assume you are going to abstain because you came to a meeting two months ago and accused this board of playing politics."
"I did not say that," Mihelc responded.
"Well thats what I heard," Farrell said. "Now you are here for one meeting. This is the first and only meeting you will officially participate in."
"Thats not my fault," Mihelc responded. Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans appointed her to a vacancy on the board in September. She lost a write-in bid to retain the seat to Mary Emmett by a narrow margin, 93-104.
"You were repudiated by the voters in your district," Farrell continued. "This should be up to the new board when it comes on in December."
Baileys made a motion that the board adjourn to executive session to discuss the matter. The motion passed and Lucchesi said the meeting was adjourned.
"We are going into executive session but we are coming back," Director Henry Nebzydoski said. Lucchesi told Nebzydoski he could come back but the meeting was over.
The executive session lasted almost an hour and only five board members returned to the meeting. Lucchesi mingled with the crowd for a few minutes before he left, but Baileys, Farrell and Garm never did return to the meeting room. By unanimous vote, the five board members that did return named Director Bob Trusky as interim chairman and proceeded with the agenda.
Jim Zefran of Browndale challenged the boards right to continue a meeting that had been declared adjourned by the board president.
"Will some one read the school code that authorizes what is going on here?" Zefran asked.
"If five members want a meeting, " Nebzydoski replied, "they can have it."
"I am looking for state law," Zefran said, "and not what someone thinks."
"I have been here 20 years," Nebzydoski said, "and I know what I am doing."
Zefran suggested that the board get in touch with its solicitor for a legal opinion before proceeding with the meeting. He said the audience was told the meeting was adjourned in favor of an executive session. However, most of the crowd that came to the meeting remained for the duration of the executive session.
"If you wish to challenge this (meeting) you may do so," Trusky told Zefran.
"There is a motion on the table," Trusky said, referring to Hellers motion to renew the superintendents contract for five years. The motion was seconded by Nebzydoski. On a roll call vote, Mihelc abstained and the motion fell one short of the five votes required for passage.
Prior to the executive session, the board named Kenneth J. Swartz as elementary principal at a salary of $69,954. He replaces Janice Joyce who left to accept a position in the Lackawanna Trail School District. Baileys voted against the appointment and Lucchesi abstained.
All Susquehanna Boro council members were present at their November 12 monthly meeting.
Among correspondence reviewed was a letter of resignation from police officer Eric Brush; Mr. Brush has been hired as a deputy with the county Sheriffs Department. A motion carried to accept his resignation.
A letter was read from officer in charge Tom Golka and officer Jon Record, thanking council for approving their attendance at a DUI seminar, hosted by the PA DUI Association. The seminar dealt with recent changes in the laws and gave information about implementing the DARE program in local schools and starting a Police Explorer program.
A motion carried to adopt the ordinance renewing the boros franchise agreement with Adams Cable. Bill Kuiper explained that the agreement is basically unchanged from the prior one, except that residents franchise fees will increase from $1.05 per month to $2.10, the first increase in 20 years.
One bid was received for the boros 1991 Sable, in the amount of $263; the bid was rejected, as it had been expected to realize about $1,500 from the sale, which is the approximate value of the car.
One bid was received for the Washington Street park property, from Burman and Crawford Construction, in the amount of $5,680. A motion carried to accept. The bid included the information that Burman and Crawford plan to build a ranch house with garage on the site, with construction expected to be completed by the end of December, 2004. A motion carried to accept the bid, with Mr. Kuiper and Mr. Williams voting "no."
Secretary Margaret Biegerts report included a notice that the boros minimum obligation for their 2004 contribution to the police pension fund will be $6,978, and that the boros contribution for fire protection has increased by $1,150 to $17,760. A motion carried to accept the fire contract. And, a meeting has been scheduled for November 20, 2 p.m. in the boro building, with the Endless Mountains Heritage Region, to discuss a river trail project. Among topics discussed will be the organizations plans to create a map of the Susquehanna River area, complete with a guide showing water access areas and listing activities available in municipalities along the river. The projects intent is to utilize the river for recreation and conservation purposes.
Requesting time on the agenda was Amelia Paterno, Susquehanna Branch Librarian. Mrs. Paterno expressed concern about the governors proposed 2004 budget which, as of the date of the meeting, included an expected cut in library funding of 50% statewide. The cut would mean a decrease of $170,000 distributed to four of the countys libraries, with Susquehannas decrease about $16,000. Mrs. Paterno noted that the Susquehanna branchs circulation has seen a dramatic increase over the past few years. In 2001, circulation of materials was 19,000 items; in 2002 it increased to 33,000 and, so far, 2003s figures have surpassed that amount. She closed her statement by asking that council consider increasing the library donation in the upcoming budget, as the expected decrease in state funding will likely result in a reduction of staff, services and hours at the library.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session, to discuss personnel issues.
When the meeting reconvened, Mayor Hurley updated council on a seminar for the Main Street project that had been hosted by the Susquehanna Community Development Association. There had been a good response from local business people; committees will be formed to deal with specific areas. Once the committees are in place, two more meetings will be scheduled in December for those committees. Local groups and organizations will be urged to take part, such as the "Save the Tower" group and any others that have a specific area of interest. An application is in the process of being prepared for funding for building facade restoration; it will be submitted in the spring. In the meantime, Mrs. Biegert noted that there is "plenty of work" to be done; anyone interested in participating in the project to revive Main Street will be welcome.
Mayor Hurley closed her report by commending the police department for doing an "extraordinary" job; among other items, she noted that the number of citations issued is up.
Mayor Hurley turned the floor over to officer Record, who expanded on the departments participation in DUI programs, particularly those dealing with underage drinking. The boro will be participating in a program where callers may notify local police about underage drinking parties by calling 1- 888-UNDER-21. These calls will relay information to local police departments, and will be kept confidential.
The "big" news of the evening was that the boro, through the efforts of Mrs. Biegert, has been offered a substantial donation. Two, or possibly three railroad cars will be donated to the boro; the donation includes transportation of the cars to the boro from Binghamton. Although the boro will own the cars, Mrs. Biegert suggested that they could be "rented" to the Susquehanna Depot Area Historical Society for a nominal fee, for display of the societys collection of local artifacts, especially those related to the areas railroad history which, in turn, could increase tourism interest in the area. A partnership with the society could also make the society eligible for grant funding. The cars would eventually be sited at the riverfront park, on the property obtained through River Bounty. In the meantime, Mike Matis, owner of the Starrucca House, has agreed that the cars may be kept on the siding adjacent to the old railroad depot building. A motion carried to accept the donation, contingent on a "formal" agreement with Mr. Matis for temporary storage, and verification from the boros insurance carrier that acceptance of the donation will not substantially increase the boros liability insurance premiums.
Mrs. Biegert and Mayor Hurley recently attended a museum seminar, and had obtained a lot of helpful information that could help qualify the boro for a grant for free technical assistance.
It was noted that Barnes-Kasson Hospital will be closing its obstetrics unit in February. President Whitehead recommended that council send letters to local legislators, asking for help as the closing is due to underpayments to the hospital for patients who receive Medical Assistance or Medicaid. He also urged residents to participate in a letter writing campaign, and send letters to their local legislators.
CEO Shane Lewis gave his monthly report, including the number of inspections that had been conducted and an update on several condemnations within the boro.
Mr. Lewis reported that, in order to effectively process zoning issues, the boro needs to have a zoning officer, separate from its CEO. Rose Hendrickson had volunteered to fill this position; a motion carried to appoint her as zoning officer.
Streets Commissioner Steve Glover gave a report on his departments activity for the previous month, including a Willow Ave. project that had been funded through a CDBG grant. He also gave a rundown of upcoming projects.
The final topic discussed was the 2004 budget, which had been prepared at a meeting held on October 20; after some adjustments were made to the salaries of two (unspecified) employees, with these increases being deducted from the amount allocated to the capital reserve fund, a motion carried to accept the budget, which reflects an increase of two mills.
The next meeting will be Wednesday, December 17, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Retirement Fund Improves
Susquehanna Countys Retirement Fund is on the road to recovery and county Treasurer Cathy Benedict is pleased as punch at the progress it is making since The Steven Flanders Consulting Group of Upstate New York took over the fund a little more than a year ago.
"They have done very well for us," Benedict said. "When they took over, the account was at 4.9 (million dollars) and it is now at 6.1.
"We are on our way back and I think we made a very wise decision in hiring this consulting firm. Anything that means we are going up rather than down makes me happy."
Steven Flanders presented a tardy but impressive quarterly report to the county Retirement Board last Wednesday and it was good enough to bring smiles to the board members.
Benedict noted that the stock market is bouncing back after a few bad years but she still credited the Flanders Group for recommending the money managers that were approved by the Retirement Board.
Commissioner Gary Marcho, chair of the Retirement Board, was grinning from ear-to-ear when asked about the quarterly report.
"We made a million dollars," he said happily.
At the commissioners meeting that preceded the Retirement Board meeting, the commissioners approved the following motions:
-Ratifying the promotion of Paula J. Mack, to chief deputy sheriff effective Oct. 24. She will be paid $14.70 an hour with a 40-hour work week.
-Transferring Stacey Phillips from Ag Extension secretary to clerk in the sheriffs department. The salary board set her hourly rate at $9.34 for a 32-hour workweek.
-Accepting with regret the resignation of Don Hawkins, field appraiser in the assessment office.
-Hiring Bette VanWinkle as a real estate tax clerk in the assessment office at an hourly rate of $8.84. for a 37.5-hour work week.
-Reappointed Nancy Harvatine, Ted Place and Laurence Wilson to the Susquehanna County Planning Commission.
-Adopting Resolution 2003-35 Land Use and Technical Assistance Program grant application on behalf of the Eastern Susquehanna County Partnership.
-Accepting the resignation of Joseph Franks from the Susquehanna County Planning Commission. Commissioner Cal Deans motion to appoint Franks brother, Richard to the Planning Commission failed for lack of a second as did Commissioner Lee Smiths motion to appoint Debra Dissinger to replace Franks.
Election 2003 is over and on the municipal level there were very few surprises. Some 55 officeholders were reelected, many of them without opposition as the apathy that seems to be a trademark in municipalities throughout Susquehanna County continues.
In some communities there were not enough candidates to fill the vacancies that will be open come January 1. And in some instances individuals who received one or two write-in votes were winning candidates and will be offered seats on governing bodies.
In Union Dale Borough for example, William Wolfe Jr. decided not to seek reelection opting instead to run for county commissioner. He did not make it through the primaries but he did get eight write-in votes for council in the general election leaving him the option of remaining on the governing body if he so desires.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises on a local scene occurred in New Milford Township where Democrat Don Shibley will replace incumbent Republican Roger L. King on the townships Board of Supervisors. Shibley defeated King handily, 296-160. In New Milford Township there are 697 registered Republicans compared with 284 registered Democrats.
In what has to be considered somewhat of an oddity, Harford Township Secretary Sue Furney ran unopposed for a seat on the townships Board of Supervisors. Furneys 323 votes made her high vote getter among all county and local candidates on the township ballot.
Municipal results excluding write-in votes except where noted project the following winners and their vote totals:
Apolacon Township: Supervisor (vote for one), six-year term, Gerald Thorne (D/R), 94; Auditor (vote for one), six-year term- Janet Osborne (R), 98; Auditor (vote for one), two-year term, David R. McGuigan (R)), 93; Constable (vote for one), six-year term, Robert Thorne (R), 93; School Director Montrose Region 3, (vote for two) four-year term, Mary Homan (D/R), 97; Celeste Ridler (D/R), 81.
Ararat Township: Supervisor (vote for one), six-year term, Richard G. Cottrell (R), 115; Auditor (vote for one) four-year term - Frances M. Smyder (R) 125; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, David L. Fox (R), 124; School Director Susq. Region 3, (vote for two), four-year term, Evelyn A. Cottrell (D/R) , 103; Steven M. Stanford, (D), 90.
Auburn Township: Supervisor (vote for one), six-year term, Berton Hollister Jr. (R), 215; Auditor (vote for one), six-year term, Charles Thompson (R), 340; Auditor, (vote for one) two-year term, Eric Place (R), 338; School Director Elk Lake Region 1(vote for one), four-year term, Chuck Place (D/R), 353.
Bridgewater Township: Supervisor (vote for one), six-year term, Beverly Way (R), 544; Supervisor (vote for one) two-year term, Charles Mead (R), 655; Auditor (vote for one), six-year term, Lois R. Holbrook, 456; School Director Montrose Region 2 (vote for two), Chris E. Caterson (D/R), 654; Ray Smith (D/R) , 423.
Brooklyn Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Graham A. Anthony Jr., (R) 200; Supervisor (vote for one) two-year term, Morgan J. Turner (R), 197; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Marie S. Turner (R), 205.
Choconut Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Rudolph M. Mattes (R), 139; School Director Montrose Region 3 (vote for two), Mary Homan (D/R), 162; Celeste Ridler (D/R), 134.
Clifford Township: Supervisor (vote for one), six-year term, Randolph E. LaCroix (D/R), 367; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, Owen M. Price (R), 408; School Director, Mt. View Region 1B (vote for one), John Halupke (D/R), 447.
Dimock Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Gerald Ellis Sr. (R), 247; Tax Collector (vote for one) two-year term, Esther Rayias (D/R), 289; Assessor (vote for one) two-year term, Kimberly L. McCain (D), 208; School Director Elk Lake Reg. 3 (vote for one), Jean A. Swire (D/R), 258.
Forest Lake Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Timmy Wickizer (R), 221; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Jeannette Castrogiovanni (R), 234; School Director Montrose Reg. 3 (vote for two), Mary Homan (D/R), 219; Celeste Ridler (D/R), 182.
Franklin Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Harvey W. Rosenkrans Jr. (R), 167; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Catherine W. Parks (R), 195; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, William E. Printz (R), 176; School Director Montrose Reg. 2 (vote for two) four-year term, Chris E. Caterson (D/R), 175; Ray Smith (D/R), 136.
Gibson Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Leonard Bartkus (D/R), 251; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Nancy E. Kelly (R), 236; Assessor (vote for one) two-year term, William S. Gelatt (R), 232; Constable (vote for one), six-year-term, Barney W. Wilkins (D/R), 264; School Director Mt. View Region 1A (vote for one) four-year term, Susan Christensen (D/R), 181.
Great Bend Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Gary Sienko (R),321; Auditor (vote for one), four-year term, Virginia H. Austin, 322; School Director Reg. 3 Blue Ridge (vote for one) four-year term, Priscinda (Cindy) Gaughan (R), 313.
Harford Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Sue Furney (D/R), 323; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Connie Breese (R), 301; School Director Mt. View Reg. 2B (vote for one) four-year term, Ron Phillips (R), 284.
Harmony Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Darwin Greene (D/R) 111; School Director Susq. Reg. 3, (vote for two) four-year term, Steven M. Stanford (D), 64; Jack Downton (R), 62.
Herrick Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, R. Elliot Ross (R), 140; Assessor (vote for one) two-year term, Joseph Svecz Sr. (D), 126.
Jackson Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Russell L. Conklin Jr. (R), 181; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Neida Leonard (R), 176; School Director Blue Ridge Reg. 3 (vote for one) four-year term, Priscinda (Cindy) Gaughan (R), 165; Reg. 3A, (vote for one) four-year term , Joel F. Whitehead (D/R), 186.
Jessup Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Bruce Griffis (R), 119; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Pam Caterson (R), 135; Auditor (vote for one) four-year term, Phyllis A. Myers (R), 133; School Director Montrose Reg. 1 (vote for one) four-year term, James N. Blachek (D/R) 137.
Lathrop Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Elwood Phelps (D), 144; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, Michael Paul Lenz (R), 187.
Lenox Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, James Taylor (R) 292; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, June D. Walters (R), 309; Assessor (vote for one) two-year term, Timothy Phillips (R), 276; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, Morgan T. MacDonald (R), 298; School Director Mt. View Reg. 2A (vote for one) four-year term, Ordie E. Price (D/R), 313.
Liberty Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Bill Bayne (R), 199; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Marlene Bailey (R), 201; School Director Montrose Reg. 2 (vote for two) four-year term, Chris E. Caterson (D/R), 180; Ray Smith (D/R), 159.
Middletown Township: Supervisor (vote for two) six-year-term, Lloyd Wambold (R), 99; Auditor (vote for one) six-year-term, Robert W. Olcott (D), 84; Auditor (vote for one) four-year term, Dennis Coleman (D), 92; School Director Elk Lake Reg. 6 (vote for one) four-year term, Gregg Loboda (D/R) 29.
New Milford Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Don Shibley (D), 296; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Dorothea Anderson (R) 380; School Director Blue Ridge Reg. 1 (vote for one) four-year term, Harold L. Empett (D/R) 422; Reg. 1B (vote for one) four-year term, Maureen J. Howell (R), 375.
Oakland Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Bill Gorton (R), 102; Supervisor (vote for one) two-year term, Tim Ross (R), 103; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Lori Sampson (R), 109; School Director Susq. Reg. 1 (vote for two), four-year term Terry Carpenter (D/R) 100; James Bucci (D/R) 100.
Rush Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Kendall Mitchell (R), 198; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Cathy Mason (R), 253; School Director (vote for one) four-year term, Alice Carr (D/R) 267.
Silver Lake Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Terrence R. Dugan (R), 283; Supervisor (vote for one) four-year term, Sandra Payne (R), 285; Auditor (vote for one) two-year term, William W. Whittaker (D),250; School Director Montrose Reg. 3 (vote for two), four-year term, Mary Homan (D/R), 306; Celeste Ridler (D/R), 259.
Springville Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Norman J. Clark (R), 266; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Mavourneen K. Boner (R), 268; Auditor (vote for one) two-year term, Ruth H. Casselbury (D), 198; Assessor (vote for one) two-year term, Linda J. Rose (R), 269; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, R. Donald Smales (R) 274.
Thompson Township: Supervisor (vote for one) six-year term, Thomas E. Jenkins (R), 98; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Lori Lynn Hubal (R) 137; School Director Susq. Reg. 3 (vote for two) four-year term, Evelyn A. Cottrell (D/R), 94; Jack Downton (R), 81.
Forest City Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Ruth Ann Fitzsimmons (D), 292; Bernard F. Scalzo (D), 266; Paul J. Amadio (D/R), 244; Council (vote for one) two-year term, Nicholas Cost Jr., (D), 361; School Director FC Reg. 7, (vote for one) four-year term, Michael Sterchak (D/R) 35; Reg. 8, (vote for one) four-year term, Mary Emmett (write-in), 104.
Friendsville Borough: School Director Montrose Reg. 3 (vote for two) four-year term, Mary Homan (D/R) 18; Celeste Ridler (D/R), 14.
Great Bend Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Joseph Collins (D), 100; Jerry MacConnell (R), 99; Raymond E. Holtzman (R) 90.
Hallstead Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Mary E. Rudock (R), 147; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, Nathan B. Miller (R), 185; School Director Blue Ridge Reg. 2B (vote for one) four-year term, Alan M. Hall (D/R), 189.
Hop Bottom Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Tim Hortman (R), 81; Joanne Wisniewski (D), 58; Donna Johnson (R), 556; Council (vote for two) two-year term, Susanna M. Pratt (D), 71; Charles T. Kilgore (R), 59; Assessor (vote for one) four-year term, Donna Potter (R), 103; School Director Mt. View Region 3C, (vote for one) four-year term, Sondra Stine (D/R) 103.
Lanesboro Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Raymond G. Barnes (R), 100; Daniel S. Boughton (R), 78; Regina Dilello (D), 76; School Director (vote for two) four-year term, Terry Carpenter (D/R), 123; James Bucci (D/R), 119.
Little Meadows Borough: Council (vote for two) four-year term, Charles D. Fahringer (D), 46; School Director Montrose Reg. 3, Mary Homan (D/R) 64; Celeste Ridler (D/R), 47.
Montrose Borough: First Ward- Council (vote for one) four-year term, Randall Schuster (R), 247; Assessor (vote for one) four-year term, Beverly Dietz (R), 272; School Director Montrose Reg. 1, James N. Blachek (D/R), 285. Second Ward: Council (vote for one) four-year term, Fred S. Peckins (R), 151; Assessor (vote for one) four-year term, Beverly Dietz (R) 169; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, Darrell L. Sands (R), 156; School Director Montrose Reg. 1, James N. Blachek (D/R) 163.
New Milford Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Jane Zick (R), 142; Rick Ainey (D), 122; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Jacqueline K. Ferenczi (R), 164; School Director Blue Ridge Reg. 1 (vote for one) four-year term, Harold L. Empett (D/R) 171.
Oakland Borough: Council (vote for four) four-year term, Douglas Arthur (R), 102; Randy Glover (R), 100; John Agler (R), 93; Cynthia Beavan (R), 47; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Kathleen Crawford (R), 118; Auditor (vote for one) four-year term, Wendy Dudley (D), 108; Auditor (vote for one) two-year term, J. Marie Curtis (D), 116; School Director (vote for two) four-year term, Terry Carpenter (D/R), 111; James Bucci (D/R), 91.
Susquehanna Borough: Mayor, two-year term, Nancy A. Hurley (D), 293; Council (vote for four) four-year term, John Bronchella (R), 266; Chad Haley (D), 243; Ron Whitehead (R), 221; Michael Matis (write-in) 142; Council (vote for one) two-year term, Roy Williams (D), 262; Constable Second Ward (vote for one) six-year term, David J. Scales Sr. (D), 173; School Director Susq. Reg. 2, Martha R. Stanford, 192.
Thompson Borough: Council (vote for three) four-year term, Scott Andrew Halesky (R), 49; Andrew B. Gardner (D), 46; Jeffry Sheldon (R), 43; Auditor (vote for one) six-year term, Roxann Lloyd (R), 59; Auditor (vote for one) four-year term, Elizabeth A. Sabatelli (D), 68; Assessor (vote for one) four-year term, Christopher Leonard (D), 71; Constable (vote for one) six-year term, Michael J. Papusha Sr. , 42; School Director Susq. Reg. 3 (vote for two) four-year term, Steven M. Stanford (D), 47; Evelyn A. Cottrell (D/R) 44.
Union Dale Borough: Council (vote for four) four-year term, Leatha Coleman (R), 72; Irene Witiak (R), 70; William Wolfe Jr. (write-in) 8; William Heller (write-in) 2; School Director FC Reg. 3, Thomas M. Heller (R), 75.
Veterans Day was no holiday in Harford. The remaining two active Supervisors, Rick Pisasik and Terry VanGorden, and newly-elected Supervisor (and incumbent Township Secretary) Sue Furney beat back a slim agenda on November 11. Asked how long it had been since Jim Ketterer had been seen at a Supervisors' meeting, Ms. Furney said he had last attended in early August. Mr. Pisasik said that Mr. Ketterer had told his colleagues that his job might prevent him from attending regularly. And, said Mr. Pisasik, it appears that Mr. Ketterer has "lost interest." Mr. Ketterer draws pay only for sessions he attends.
As at most recent meetings of the Harford Supervisors, observers asked for the status of the Odd Fellows Hall, a.k.a. the Harford village Town Hall. Since the issue is rarely on the agenda, the answer was obvious. According to Mr. Pisasik there has been no change. Pressed by questions such as, "Is there ever going to be anything new [on the Odd Fellows Hall]," Mr. Pisasik could only say, "I don't have the time to look into that." The old structure continues to absorb about $3,500 per year while it stands empty and unused because the Township's insurer refuses to cover it in its present condition and the Supervisors cannot decide what to do with it.
The Supervisors passed a resolution defining a fee schedule for codes enforcement through the county Council of Governments (COG). Under the new schedule, there will be a base charge of $36.50 per hour for field work, and $25 per hour for office time, billed by the half hour. Since Harford Township doesn't have any codes to speak of, the cost may actually be lower for many people applying for building permits, since the handling of a routine application at the COG office may take no more than a half hour. However, once the new BOCA legislation goes into effect (at an uncertain future date), it is hoped that COG's growing expertise and efficiency will minimize the increase in cost for building inspection over what the Township itself might have had to charge to hire outside contractors.
A subdivision application was approved pending clarification of the details. It appeared to be a simple "add-on" which would require no additional sewage inspections. However, if the subdivision would result in a separate parcel a separate lot then the owner would have to provide either sewage planning documents, or, in this case, a letter of intent to connect to the central sewage system.
Ms. Furney read excerpts from a long and detailed road report that was weighted heavily on filling potholes. The crew also managed to plant 35 mph speed limit signs along Stevens Road, 14 of them, in fact. Mr. VanGorden asked the Supervisors to consider posting weight limit signs along sections of Podunk Road. He said that logging trucks have been causing significant damage to the road, which might only get worse in bad winter weather. It was decided to first investigate the weight limits for the county bridges in that area.
With nothing to report on the Odd Fellows Hall, the meeting adjourned barely more than a half hour after it began. If you're interested in a brief rundown of Harford Township business, consider attending one of these meetings, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.
Reviews New Code
Lathrop Township Supervisors, Dennis Phelps, Elwood Phelps, and Nick Sabaucak were present at their November 11, meeting. Ann Marie Shevchuk, secretary/treasurer, reported the revenue for the month of October as $1,972.91.
The major information shared by Dennis Phelps, which he reported from the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors newsletter, covered the building code update. The state Department of Labor and Industry released its final version of the proposed administrative and enforcement regulations for the statewide building code, Act 45 of 1999, to the Independent Regulatory Review Committee and the House and Senate Labor Relations Committees for final approval. L&I is aiming to have detailed regulations on how the building code will work approved by the end of December. However, it should be noted there is a possibility this could actually take place as late as February next year.
Once the regulations are approved, they will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which all townships receive. Act 45 will take effect 90 days after these regulations are published. After the act takes effect, townships will have an additional 90 days to decide whether they will administer and enforce the statewide building code. PSATS will advise townships on new developments on the building code. A copy of the building code can be accessed on the Net at www.dli.state.pa.us by choosing the building code link and then regulations.
The Paschuck subdivision required a driveway permit from PENNDOT.
Elwood Phelps reported brush was being cut on Mackey Road. Potholes are being addressed and the township is generally getting ready for winter maintenance of the roads. Some Brooklyn Township machinery is being rented.
There was no SEO report given.
A township budget meeting is scheduled at Shevchuk's home November 13.
The township supervisors meeting will take place at the Union Grange, 7 p.m. on December 9.
Politics Hold Up Mt. View Fun
The Mountain View School Board met on Monday, November 10 in the elementary board room. Members Ron Phillips and Thomas Salansky were absent. Administrators in attendance included Karen Voigt (Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction), Mary Hvezda (Director of Special Services), and Peg Foster (Elementary Principal). The board moved quickly to unanimously approve the November General Fund Bill List, the Cafeteria Fund Bill List and the Capital Reserve Fund Bill List in the total amount of $366,578.00. Mr. James Zick (Board President) asked about a check in the amount of $7,784.00 to Mechanical Service Company. He was notified the payment was for parts and labor on the elementary school generator. The generator needed a new transfer switch and a general upgrade. Mr. Griffiths asked about a check in the amount of $1,903.80 labeled for "soccer warm-ups/uniforms". He stated that he thought the booster club was to purchase these and wondered about the cost. The administration stated it would get back to him with more of an explanation. No visitors to the meeting had any questions on the fund accounting summary.
Mr. Art Chambers (Superintendent) continued the meeting by recommending board approval for a PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education) non-reimbursable project application submission in the amount of $3,300.00 for a records storage room. He explained many records were on DOCSTAR but not all and these were currently stored in a poor location and would not survive the mandatory seven-year holding period. It was approved by all seven attending members.
Mr. John Halupke, Legislative Chair, went on to notify everyone that the state legislature was in recess until November 17 and was no closer to reaching a state budget agreement. School districts have received no payments yet this fiscal year and many have had to borrow money at a significant cost. Mountain View has not yet had to borrow but has been using surplus at a cost to interest income. Mr. Halupke pointed out that PDE has recently begun to take issue with the fund balances of certain school districts and further stated the irony was these very balances were keeping some districts afloat during this crisis.
Mr. Bryce Beeman, Policy Chair, went on to briefly discuss the ESL (English as Second Language) policy. The discussion served as the first reading. Karen Voigt notified the audience that ESL was not a large concern at this point but could become one at any time, so a comprehensive policy needed to be in place. Every new child to the district now gets a home language survey that helps staff know if ESL is an issue and currently a few staff, including Mrs. Voigt, are certified as ESL instructors; others are working toward it.
Field trip attendance was approved in totality; Mr. Chambers pointed out that staff trips and conferences were now concretely tied to student learning targets and not just for "anything under the sun." He further explained that staff conference reports were now to tie what was learned into these same targets. Mr. Chambers continued by requesting board members attend the first "Holiday Feast" of the year which is scheduled for November 17. Board members and administration are to serve the students during regularly scheduled lunch periods. He went on to explain that he is very happy with the recently received PSSA scores for last years third grade class. The scores were at or above the state averages across the board. He believes this demonstrates the validity of putting money in the primary grades instead of simple remediation at a later date. Karen Voigt spoke about how staff were aligning curriculum with standards, emphasizing skill transfer from subject to subject and using a common language through out the subject areas. She announced the math curriculum will be finished by Christmas. Peg Foster closed the administrations report by explaining that there were no state level standards for third grade PSSA scores as of yet, but that Mountain View scored at or above the state averages in 13 of the 14 content areas. She expressed pleasure at the scores.
The board approved volunteers Mary Hvezda for girls basketball, James Schaffer for junior high basketball and Bryan Wech for wrestling. They also accepted the resignations of Dorothy Hagenbach (aide) and JoAnn Himka (secretary). Mark Ezdebski was granted tenure after three years of satisfactory service. Next meeting is scheduled for November 24 and all are welcome.
Milford Twp. Plans Repairs
Present at the November 12 meeting for New Milford Township were supervisors Franklin Gulick, Roger King, and Jim Hunter. Carol Smith, secretary/treasurer, reported the balance in the general fund to be $58,108.14. Her minutes covered a brief information session held on November 10, regarding alternate sewer systems. The township SEO, Mike Fortner, presented.
Todd Schmidt presented two plans for the So. New Milford Baptist Church. The first plan covered additional acreage adjacent to the present church. The church plans to use a 3 acre parcel as a back up its present sewage system. Susquehanna County Planning Commission determined this land must be regarded as a "stand-alone" lot. There is a driveway owned by a local resident separating the parcel from the church property. However, agreement has been secured to run the necessary pipes for connections under that driveway. The township solicitor will review this subject. The supervisors did not foresee any problems. The second plan concerned the sewer planning module at the site of the new church. Application for proper permits is being secured.
The supervisors discussed with public comment the work that will be done on Three Lakes Road and School Road. Bid was accepted from Vestal Asphalt for materials to be used in a process that will recycle present road materials. Total price considered is $26,716.80 for both roads utilizing township manpower, and machinery. Work date discussed with Jack Conroy, roadmaster, may be sometime in the spring of 2004. A local resident was concerned that water is running off the road into his driveway. The road crew will address that situation.
Decking for the Van Cott Road Bridge may be secured with information received from PENNDOT. Randy Decker of PENNDOT will accompany the supervisors to cover the recording of mileage within the township this month.
Permit money will be returned to a property owner, as it was discovered that his property is actually in Jackson Township. Among correspondence received was a letter from the DEP regarding requirements for a storm water waiver concerning watershed management, and monitoring of IBM pads discussed in previous meetings. Concerns of the environmental organization RESCUE regarding waste management was reviewed.
There was a great deal of discussion with the presentation of the 2004 township budget. Smith discussed with the township supervisors the pros and cons of a tax increase. Due to concern for residents with fixed incomes, the matter has been tabled until the December meeting. Fuel bids will be advertised for township vehicles and heating of the municipal building. George Houghton discussed briefly plans that will be implemented in New Milford Borough in the spring of 2004.
The next meeting will take place on December 10, in the municipal building on Route #11 at 7:30 p.m.
Twp. Gets Codes Books
The Oakland Township supervisors first order of business at their November 8 meeting was to discuss the townships amusement tax. One business, P. J. Ohares had recently changed ownership; as of the date of the meeting no reports have been received by the township. After some discussion, it was agreed to send the new owner a copy of the ordinance pertaining to the tax, along with a letter of explanation, and extend an invitation to attend a meeting to answer any questions.
Codes violations discussed included an update on the Trynoski, Reed and Jennings properties; a motion carried to refer these to the CEO as there has been no progress. Three other violations have been addressed, or are in the process of being addressed.
COG has requested copies of the ordinances the CEO will be enforcing; the CEO will only investigate complaints approved by the supervisors.
Two requests for land development applications were received and approved.
There was no news on the Gordon property; a sewage permit application is still under consideration by DEP.
Supervisor Cowperthwait reported that the townships solicitor was contacted by SOLIDAs solicitor, to schedule a meeting with the supervisors, in regard to the access road at the industrial park. He wondered why the request was made through attorneys, rather than contacting the supervisors directly. He noted that this action will result in (unnecessary) legal fees to the township. Mr. Cowperthwait planned to attend the next commissioners meeting to find out if the commissioners intend for the county to take responsibility for the road. Mr. Cowperthwait had requested PENNDOT to give an estimate of the costs involved if the township were to take the road; PENNDOTs engineer has determined that the road needs to be repaved, as it is cracked so badly that weeds are growing through it. And, whoever is responsible for the road will also be responsible for the curbing that runs alongside.
Mr. Cowperthwait had planned to attend the last meeting of the Susquehanna Fire Dept., to present a check for $500; grant funds that had been given to the township for participating in county wide emergency management planning and which can only be used for emergency management. As he had been unable to attend the meeting, Mr. Cowperthwait reported that he had sent the check through the mail, along with a note of explanation.
Correspondence reviewed included a notice from the county Tax Claim Bureau that the Hurlburt property has been sold; and information from PSATS regarding a new program to reduce workmens compensation costs to municipalities.
The township has received their copies of the new International Building and Maintenance Codes; an ordinance will need to be enacted to adopt the codes. The state mandates are expected to go into effect some time in mid April, after which the township will have 90 days to determine how the new codes will be administered, either by the township itself or an outside source. The state Department of Labor and Industry must receive notification of this decision within the 90-day period.
A meeting was scheduled for November 20, with a representative from the townships insurance carrier to discuss renewing the townships policy and for informational purposes.
A motion carried to accept the budget for 2004; minor adjustments had been made to the first draft as information from the tax assessors office indicates that assessments in the township are up slightly.
The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing the results of the supervisors findings of inspections they recently conducted of all township roads.
The next meeting will be on Saturday, December 13, 9:00 a.m. in the township building.
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