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Susquehanna Borough Council met on December 18 for their monthly meeting; it had been scheduled to be held the day before but had been postponed due to inclement weather.
Council members John Bronchella, Pat Frederick, Bill Kuiper, Mike Matis and Ron Whitehead were present, as well as secretary Margaret Biegert, mayor Nancy Hurley, CEO Shane Lewis, and a number of guests.
One bid had been received for sale of the boros 1991 Sable. Mrs. Biegert reported that "Blue Book" value for this model is about $1,500, but since the car had been in an accident and had been rebuilt, actual value was about half of that amount. Only one bid was received, in the amount of $262; as the car had been advertised for sale three times council concurred that there would not be a better offer and a motion carried to accept.
Mrs. Biegert will bring a report to council at their next meeting regarding a proposal for storage of the donated railroad cars the boro will be receiving. Negotiations are still underway for siting of the cars.
A reorganization meeting will be held on Monday, January 5, 7 p.m. in the boro building. It was agreed to follow this with the regular monthly meeting. Mayor Hurley will preside during swearing in of new council members and election of officers; council will vote on appointment of boro employees.
Mrs. Biegert and Mrs. Hurley met with representatives of the Endless Mountains Region and DCNR to discuss the boros inclusion in a federal water trail for the Susquehanna River, with future tourism in mind. Upon inspection of the proposed riverfront park and boat launch site, Mrs. Biegert was pleased to report that these representatives were quite impressed with the attractions and services available in the area.
And, Mrs. Biegert and Mrs. Hurley will be regularly attending meetings of the Susquehanna Community Development Association as this group is actively involved in community activities and improvements.
Mrs. Hurley noted that Mrs. Biegert had organized a "work crew" to put together tree protectors for Main St., to prevent damage to the trees from road salt.
In her report, Mayor Hurley commended the police department for a "fantastic job" during the past month; the number of citations issued have gone up. The police department has gun locks available at no cost to any resident who would be interested.
Mrs. Hurley reported that the Christmas tree lighting ceremony held on December 5 had been well attended. Mrs. Biegert, the Susquehanna Community Development Association and several Elders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had helped put up Christmas decorations on Main St. It was quite a group effort, she said, and the results were beautiful.
During public comment, a resident reported trouble with dogs on her property, leaving quite a mess behind. Mrs. Hurley said that the police department would investigate complaints, but that there would need to be specific information, such as who the dogs belong to. There have also been a number of complaints about a dog defecating on Main St. Mrs. Hurley said that an individual had been seen by a police officer, at 2 a.m., allowing his dog to defecate. The individual had been made to clean up after the dog, and was warned that he would be cited if there were any future incidents. Mrs. Hurley added that pets should always be leashed and licensed.
Mr. Lewis reported that, during the past month he had investigated four complaints; issued eight verbal warnings; issued two permits; conducted two general inspections and one rental inspection.
After inspection of a home at the corner of Jackson and Columbus Avenues, he had determined that the house is uninhabitable; as the cost of repairs would be unreasonable, he had spoken with the owner of the property. After consideration, the owner had informed Mr. Lewis that he would be willing to turn the property over to the boro, after which the boro would be responsible for seeing to its demolition. At this time, there is a tenant in the home; the tenant would have to move out before the boro could take possession. After discussion, a motion carried to accept the property; it will be put up for sale with a stipulation that the present structure be demolished. Mr. Lewis reported that there have been several inquiries from parties interested in purchasing the property, which is approximately a one-half acre lot.
On behalf of the Parks and Rec. Committee, Dick Hennessey reported that he had met with a surveyor, to get an estimate of costs to survey the riverfront property that the boro, the fire department and the Tri-Boro Municipal Authority will be acquiring through River Bounty. Estimated cost to survey the land will be about $4,000, for all three parcels. Mr. Hennessey said that the boro may be eligible for state help to install a boat launch at the property once it is officially owned by the boro. Mr. Hennessey wished to clarify that River Bounty owned the land, and had offered it to the boro, the fire department and the authority; the boros sole ownership of the land had never been an option. And, River Bounty will be retaining ownership of a fourth portion of the parcel, near the dam.
Mr. Hennessey reported that there had been damage at the Prospect St. park, caused by a truck driving all over the fields. In response to a question, he said that no one had been given permission to use the park for snowmobiles or four-wheelers; the only activity allowed was use of sleds.
And, the new tractor has been delivered and the committee is quite pleased with it. It had been decided to put the old tractor and tiller out to bid in the spring, when it is expected that a better price will be offered.
During a report of the streets committee meeting, Mr. Bronchella reported that winter parking signs have been posted. The committee recommends that the boros ordinance regulating removal of snow from sidewalks be updated, as the one currently on the books is about 100 years old. It states that property owners will be charged fifty cents for every sixty feet of walk where the boro has to remove snow when the property owner hasnt done so. "It needs to be updated," he said. And, during a recent snowstorm, the boros truck was out of service due to repairs; during this time, Barnes-Kasson Hospital had lent use of a truck to plow the streets.
In a related subject, Mrs. Frederick asked about the boros responsibility (for liability) if a boro employee is using his own vehicle (a snowmobile) to clear snow from boro sidewalks. The consensus was that this is something council should look into.
Mr. Matis brought up the subject of snow accumulations, where property owners clear their properties and snow piles need to be removed. As this is the property owners responsibilities, some of them have privately contracted for its removal. He is concerned about the use of heavy equipment, and possible damage to the new sidewalks. Council should consider an equitable solution, where the snow could be removed without the risk of equipment causing damage. It was agreed to send a notice to property owners, stating that heavy equipment should not be operated on the new walks. In the meantime, council will look into available options. Streets commissioner Steve Glover will be asked to attend the January 5 meeting to discuss the matter further.
The 2004 budget was reviewed and discussed; a motion carried to accept.
All three supervisors were present at the December 13 meeting of the Oakland Township Supervisors as well as Roadmaster Richard Norris.
The supervisors discussed a Certificate of Deposit that will be maturing on December 21; it was agreed to reinvest it for six months instead of the customary year, as the supervisors may have to consider buying a new truck.
Discussing codes violations, Supervisor Cowperthwait noted that no action has been taken on the Trynoski situation, as there are "complications," and the owner of the Reed property has been served. There was no news on the Jennings property. Several recent complaints were discussed, including a junk vehicle on a Rte. 171 property; there was some question as to who the owner of the property is as it may have changed hands; a truck on a Rte. 92 property; and an Oak Hill property where there have been a number of junk cars and tires. Mr. Norris said that the owner had been bringing these items out nearer to the road with the intention of getting rid of them. And, Mr. Cowperthwait noted that the situation at the trailer park has improved, although he has noticed that there seems to be a problem with people dumping tires there.
Reporting on the last COG meeting, the supervisors reviewed a list of the township ordinances that COG has on file (needed for codes enforcement).
One land development permit was approved, for a tool shed on the Aliano property.
Continuing discussion on the Gordon property sewage permit, Mr. Cowperthwait reported that an application for a sewage permit has been submitted to DEP. As there is a 30 day comment period, no further action will be taken (by DEP) until the 30 days are up, as required by law.
The townships SEO has inspected the Buckhorn property, as there is a problem with the system. The SEOs conclusion, Mr. Cowperthwait said, is that the system is best treated as a holding tank; the owners will have to file a yearly pumping slip with the township.
Discussing road maintenance, a motion carried to hire Leo Fisk to work part-time, on an as needed basis, particularly to help with plowing when Mr. Norris or Mr. Cowperthwait are not available. Mr. Cowperthwait said that Mr. Fisk had offered to make his plow and truck available, but his offer would not be accepted as there is too much involved with liability and other considerations.
Mr. Norris and the supervisors discussed some problems that had arisen with plugged sluices during recent rainstorms, mostly from leaves and branches. It was agreed to ask the fire department if they could flush the line.
It would appear that the county commissioners will accept responsibility for the SOLIDA access road. Mr. Cowperthwait noted that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has agreed to maintain the road in perpetuity; the township will receive a copy of the contract.
Correspondence reviewed included a non-coal mining permit for Tammy Norton (Lakeview Rd.); a PSATS Alert, regarding Regulation of Biosolids; newsletters from the Morris Arboretum and the Endless Mts. Heritage Region; a donation request from the Endless Mts. Visitors Bureau; a draft of the PA Environmental Councils North Branch Conservation Plan; information on a PSATS Leadership Award; information from the Susquehanna Greenway (Fall 2003); information regarding USDA funding for community facilities, for low interest loans; and a PSATS elected official workshop to be held in February. Mr. Cowperthwait strongly suggested that the supervisors attend; he and Mr. Ross, and possibly Mr. Gorton will attend.
Mr. Cowperthwait has been reviewing the ordinance required to accept the county plan to readdress roads. So far, he has found several items of concern. The ordinance states that the township will name roads by enacting an ordinance(s), something the township customarily does by resolution, as this involves less time and expense (legal fees). Another concern is that the ordinance gives the supervisors no direction as far as how numbers should be put on mailboxes. "Do we want to be involved in going to people, telling them what to do, and how to do it?" he said. "I dont want the job of policing the township, to see that everyone has the right number on their mailbox." Mr. Cowperthwait will continue reviewing the ordinance and the supervisors will discuss any other items of concern.
Mr. Cowperthwait met with representative from DGK, the townships insurance carrier, on November 20 and discussed a renewal application for the townships insurance policy.
A motion carried to adopt the 2004 budget as prepared.
Continuing discussion on a strategic plan for the townships roads, an estimate obtained from PENNDOT to repave all of the roads listed material costs only; with labor added, the total is approximately $140,000. The plan will be discussed more in depth at a later time, including how to finance the project.
Also tabled for in-depth discussion at a later date was Mr. Cowperthwaits report on a Governmental Accounting Standards workshop he had recently attended.
Township auditor Shelly Cowperthwait had moved out of state earlier; although she had sent a letter of resignation, the supervisors did not receive it. As a letter is required so that the supervisors could act on it, Ms. Cowperthwait had sent another; a motion carried to accept her resignation. And, a motion carried to appoint Ron Dubas to fill the vacancy.
The supervisors will hold their reorganization meeting on Monday, January 5, at 4 p.m. Regular meetings will now be held on the second Tuesday of the month, at 6 p.m. in the township building.
3 Local Fire Co.'s Earn Grant $$
Washington, DC Congressman Don Sherwood announced that two fire companies in Susquehanna County and one in Wyoming County have been approved to receive federal grants to purchase new firefighting vehicles or for firefighting operations.
Sherwood said that, in Susquehanna County, the United Fire Company of Montrose will receive a federal grant of $34,830 and the Hop Bottom Hose Company will receive $73,699, each for fire operations and firefighter safety. Sherwood said that, in Wyoming County, the Nicholson Fire Company will receive a $202,950 grant for a new vehicle.
The three grants to the local fire departments were awarded under the federal Assistance To Firefighters program, established by Congress to provide funding directly to local fire departments to enhance their capabilities to respond to emergencies.
"It is important that we make sure our local firefighters have the resources they need to respond to emergencies and protect public safety," said Sherwood. "I am pleased that this round of grants is providing a total of more than $311,000 for firefighting efforts in our region."
Supervisors reduced expenditures by $54,000 in its 2004 budget and kept the real estate tax at 1.25 mills. Township homeowners will pay $1.25 in township real estate taxes for each $1,000 of assessed value. f
The new budget, which was introduced at a special meeting last Tuesday, totals $318,000 compared with $372,000 in 2003 and includes $60,000 in liquid fuels money.
Appropriations for road maintenance were sliced in half from $180,000 in 2003 to $90,000 in the new budget. Of this amount, $60,000 will be applied from the liquid fuels account and $30,000 from the general fund. The numbers last year were $120,000 and $60,000 respectively.
The Capital Improvement Fund was fixed at $40,000 and most of that is expected to be used paying for a new roof on the township building. In November, the supervisors contracted with a Dunmore firm for temporary work on the roof to stop the leaking until the new roof is installed.
The public safety account was trimmed from $85,000 to $60,000 in the new budget. The move is somewhat surprising considering that Police Chief Thomas Munley, the only full time officer, has been on injury leave for three years and may return to duty in 2004. The township employs three part-time policemen.
The township will enter the new year with $100,000 in leftover cash from the 2003 budget. The figure includes $75,000 from the general fund account, $20,000 from liquid fuels, and $5,000 from the capital project account. While the full amount is included in the revenue for next year, the township expects to have a budget surplus in excess of $90,000 at the end of 2004.
No word yet on whether the State Department of Transportation will order the township to replace the $38,000 it spent from the liquid fuels account in 2001. A state audit of the liquid fuels account for that year pointed out that the township spent the money on contracted services without advertising for bids on the work to be done.
Township Solicitor Paul Peterson said he is negotiating with state officials on the matter. He said additional paper work to be submitted by the township may determine if the money must be returned to the liquid fuels account.
George Joseph Bieber, 48, Taylor, and Lori L. Kaschak, 34, Taylor.
Ronald C. Cranage Jr., 43, Great Bend Borough, and Andrea Lynn Paccio, 32, Great Bend Borough.
Michael Francis Holtsmaster, 26, Ararat Township, and Shaun Marie Oleniacz, 26, Brooklyn Township.
Donald Milton Hines, 57, New Milford Township, and Catherine Lynn Bente, 43, New Milford Township.
PennDOT to Mark S. Tewes in Great Bend for highway occupancy permit on Dec. 4.
Marilyn M. May to Justin N. Thompson in Harmony Township for $79,500 on Dec. 4.
Gerald E. Wilmot and Alyce M. Wilmot aka Alyce Wilmot to Bonnie G. Roe and Sylvestal C. Roe in New Milford Township for $1 on Oct. 8.
Ronald J. Powers to Power's Stone Inc. in Middletown Township for bluestone mining operation on Dec. 8 (two parcels).
Russell E. Leichliter and Ruth H. Leichliter to Terry James Jordan in Lanesboro Borough for $30,000 on Dec. 6.
Kevin M. Price and Margaret M. Price to Adam L. Smith in Oakland Borough for $65,000 on Dec. 5.
Charles E. Morrison and Doris B. Morrison and Charles Burns and Lenore Burns to Charles Burns in Harford Township for $100 on Dec. 5.
Joseph A. Skorupa and Rose J. Skorupa to Alexander Skorupa and Karen Skorupa in Harmony Township for $1 on Nov. 6.
Melvin G. McKinney and Anacleta S. McKinney to Melvin G. McKinney and Amanda Ann Cundey and Todd N. Cundey in Oakland Township for $1 on Oct. 24.
Randy Wade Gates & Margaret J. Gates to Timothy S. Ryce & Jamie L. Ryce in Auburn Township for $123,000 on Dec. 8.
Richard MacDonald to Dale Robert MacDonald in Oakland Borough for $1 on Nov. 25.
James Michael Duffy to Joseph A. Duffy, John G. Duffy and Maeve Ann Rupp in Clifford Township for $1 on Oct. 27.
PennDOT to Richard James Mariani in Springville Township for highway occupancy permit on Dec. 5.
John F. Marion and Mabel E. Marion to James J. Solomon and Bonnita S. Solomon in Jackson Township for $60,000 on Nov. 25.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to David A. Stone and Guy Parrish in Bridgewater Township for $140,001 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $171,696) on Nov. 18.
William Kerl to William Kerl in Herrick Township for $1 on Dec. 5.
Hasso Friede and Rose Friede to Daniel H. Seamans in Jackson Township for $70,000 on Nov. 8.
Doris L. Clark to Kathleen J. Setzer in Hallstead Borough for $1 on Dec. 9.
Eva T. Sutton aka Eva A. Sutton by and through her Attorney-in-Fact, Joyce Bailey, to Robert A. Canfield and Dorothy A. Canfield in New Milford Township for $82,000 on Dec. 8.
Thomas H. Curtis and Debra L. Curtis to Thomas H. Curtis and Debra L. Curtis in Forest City Borough for $1 on Nov. 25.
Wilson A. Roe to Sharon L. Hinkley and Jodi L. Salamida in Liberty Township for $1 on Dec. 8.
Tax Claim Bureau to Liberty Township Supervisors in Liberty Township for $1 on Dec. 10.
Tax Claim Bureau to Patricia A. Roe in Hop Bottom Borough for $50 on Dec. 10.
Triple J. Properties, Inc. to Pennsylvania Electric Company in New Milford Township for easement on Nov. 24.
Robert C. Wheeler and Katherine G. Wheeler to Robert C. Wheeler and Katherine G. Wheeler, Co-Trustees of the Robert C. Wheeler and Katherine G. Wheeler Revocable Living Trust in Springville Township on Dec. 10.
Asa L. Pratt and Clarisse D. Pratt to Paul D. Ross, Jr. in Lathrop Township for $48,000 on Dec. 5.
Kimberly A. Sorrentino to Lawrence Rolnick in Dimock Township for $1 on Aug. 20, 2001.
Jody Lou White, Executrix of the Estate of John D. Arnold, to Berneice B. Brownell in Franklin Township for $59,000 on Dec. 10.
Donald H. Capron, Sr. to Donald H. Capron, Sr. in Brooklyn Township for $1 on Dec. 5.
Donald H. Capron, Sr. to John Corbin, Jr. and Ann Corbin in Brooklyn Township for $80,000 on Dec. 5.
Andrew Derrick, Jr. and Shirley A. Derrick to Tony R. Weaver and Amanda M. Weaver in Hallstead Borough for $75,000 on July 31.
Walter E. Welch and Joyce S. Welch to Mark Nikula and Theresa Nikula in Choconut Township for $78,000 on Dec. 8.
Russell N. Smith and Sharon M. Smith to Peter G. Ronan and Susan K. Ronan in Choconut Township for $124,000 on Dec. 9.
Robert C. Treibel to Robert C. Treible and Marjorie A. Treible in Great Bend Township for $1 on Dec. 11.
Arthur L. Spease and Jacqueline A. Spease to Mark A. Spease and Amy E. Spease in Ararat Township for $1 on Nov. 24.
Caroline Crescente and Robert Crescente to Clifford D. Sodan and Victoria J. Sodan in Franklin Township for $155,000 on Dec. 12.
John Grab and Mary D. Grab, by her Agent in Fact, John Grab and Joseph M. Grab, Sr. and Beverly A. Grab to Ronald R. Renwick and Marcie E. Renwick in New Milford Township for $39,000 on Dec. 5.
Donna M. Fekette & Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Jr. to John Anthony Superak & Mary Otto Superak in Lathrop Township for $57,000 on Dec. 12.
Philip M. Smith and Carol M. Smith to Tracy M. Flynn and Katrina D. Flynn in Hop Bottom Borough for $135,000 on Nov. 17.
Trehab Center to Heather M. Cisek in Great Bend Township for $66,000 on Dec. 12.
Marion B. Smith by Richard B. Smith, attorney-in-fact, to James L. Karg and Suzanne S. Karg and Richard B. Smith and V. Carol Smith in Springville Township for $1 on Dec. 9.
David Lyons and Michele I. Lyons to David Lyons in Harmony Township for $1. on Nov. 13 (two parcels).
PennDOT to Jerome & Esther Romeika in Lenox Township for highway occupancy permit on Dec. 11.
Thomas B. Gordon to Mark T. Feher and Mary Rebecca Feher in Apolacon Township for $172,000 on Dec. 12.
Franklin W. Herb & Kathleen B. Herb to David A. Woodward in Bridgewater Township for $146,000 on Dec. 12.
Frank E. Milks to Campitelli, LLC in Lenox Township for $155,000 on Dec. 10.
Larry E. Wilson and Mary Ann Wilson to Cheryl D. Greenspan in Auburn Township for $170,000 on Dec. 15.
Robert W. Broad to Matthew J. Card and Christina W. Card in Hallstead Borough for $51,500 on Dec. 5.
Ann M. Hawley to Nancy H. Steward in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 15.
Ann M. Hawley to Robert P. Hawley and Kelly Ann Hawley in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 15.
Ann M. Hawley to Alexander M. Hawley and Kelly C. Hawley in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 15.
Ann M. Hawley to Scott Wurth and Diane T. Wurth in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 15.
Ann M. Hawley to Sally M. Hawley in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 15.
William O. Shears and Donald Donato and Judy Donato in Little Meadows Borough for $15,000 for Dec. 15.
Therese McCabe to Thomas McCabe and Marie McCabe in Franklin Township for one dollar and other good and valuable consideration on Dec. 8.
Frederick W. Howell, Sr. aka Frederick W. Howell and Hazel M. Howell to Frederick W. Howell, Jr. in Gibson Township for $1 ogvc on Dec. 12.
Bank One to Nikolaos Nikolaidis in New Milford Borough for $7,000 on Dec. 5.
Patricia L. and Michael J. Hegedus to Frontier in Silver Lake Township for easement on Nov. 20.
Kenneth J. & Angel Kublo to Frontier in Silver Lake Township for easement on Oct. 3 (two parcels).
James & Nancy C. Posten to Frontier in Silver Lake Township for easement on Oct. 3.
Chester C. Kelsey and Wilma J. Kelsey to Edward Greene and Edward B. Greene, III in Harmony Township for $47,500 on Dec. 11.
Mary B. Slocum to Dennis J. Slocum in Hallstead Borough for $1 on Oct. 30.
Addie Lee to Lawrence Charles Lee and Karen Lee Leonard in Montrose Borough for $1 on Dec. 12.
Dolores C. Hoffman to Donna M. Manzer in New Milford Township for $8,000 on Dec. 11.
Bruce D. Piggot and Elizabeth Piggot to Bruce D. Piggot in Franklin Township for $1 on Dec. 5.
Barry T. Hall to JPMorgan Chase Bank in New Milford Township for $1 on Nov. 26.
Man Jailed For Corruption
Joel Richard VanWert, 34, of Hop Bottom, was sentenced to a term of 2 1/2 to-5 years in a state correctional facility last week when he appeared before Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans for corruption of minors. He will be given credit for time served in the Susquehanna County Jail.
VanWert was also sentenced to serve 12 months to three years in the Susquehanna County Jail but the sentence was suspended and he will be placed on probation for three years when he is released from state prison. And he was ordered to pay $1,550 in fines and testing fees.
According to a State Police Affidavit of Probable Cause, VanWert sexually abused a teenage girl on Dec. 14, 2002 after he had provided her with alcoholic beverages and pressured her to share a marijuana cigarette with him and his live-in girlfriend. The teenager told Trooper Rebecca Warner that she may have passed out and when she woke up, she was on a bed and VanWert was abusing her.
Jeffrey Allen Sherman, 18, of Susquehanna, will spend one month to 23 months in the county jail for theft from a motor vehicle in Oakland Borough on May 18. He was also sentenced to serve one month to 23 months in the county jail for theft by unlawful taking in Susquehanna on June 19, and one year probation for theft by unlawful taking, also in Susquehanna on July 3. He was fined a total of $600 plus court costs and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service.
David Branning, 19, of Thompson, received a suspended jail term and was placed on state probation for one year for theft by unlawful taking in Susquehanna on July 3. He was fined $150 and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service.
Thomas R. Gallagher, 17, of Endicott, NY, was given a suspended jail term and was placed on probation for 23 months for criminal mischief in Susquehanna on June 1. He was fined $300 and must do 25 hours of community service.
Sewage Enforcement Committee
With iffy weather last Tuesday evening, attendance at the recent Council of Governments meeting was rather sparse. Still, the small group of municipal officials heard some good, and some amazing, information.
With president Rick Pisasik presiding over the Sewage Enforcement Committee meeting, the group heard from a contractor who was having trouble getting paid his $6,800 fee for his services by Hawkins Homes for a septic system the contractor installed to make right a wrong. The reason Jim Hawkins gave to the contractor was the lien and non-payment fines assessed against him on behalf of COG. If the contractor could get COG to reduce the $2,500 fine and additional non-payment penalties to $600, then he could pay the contractor. And while he acknowledged that his situation was not COGs fault, the contractor wanted COGs help.
Pisasik responded that COG solicitor Jason Legg was negotiating on behalf of COG with Hawkins Homes, and he was reluctant to go into the legal aspects of that negotiation. He and other members were sympathetic to his plight, and Pisasik said that COG would assist him to the extent that they could, within the legal constraints they had to work in. The contractors dilemma will be passed along to Legg.
Pisasik next reported on actions by the groups steering committee, which was to hire current part-time SEO Duane Wood as a full-time, supervising SEO as of January 1, and to change SEO Ken Lauries status from part-time to full-time employee. Jim Tracey will be part-time next year, and the Committee was okay by the steering committees actions.
The SEOs had nothing out of the ordinary to report, except that they are still getting requests for, and doing, soil tests even as the ground begins to freeze up with the colder temperatures.
Before adjourning, the Committee approved its 2004 budget.
Council of Governments
In a nifty show-and-tell, president and street/road sign committee Elliot Ross displayed some of the signs hes recently made for member municipalities. He got nods of sympathy when he held up one made for Bridgewater Township that reads "Cinders for Bridgewater Township Municipal Use Only Violators Will Be Prosecuted." The signs are made with reflective backing, and, in general, cost member municipalities $17 for a single-sided sign, and $20 for a double-sided one.
Charlie Fahringer gave the website committee report, which went through the process of updating the site with new/different information. COG will need to provide the website designers with appropriate wording on the groups mission and what it does.
COG Sewage and Codes secretary Karen Trynoski reported on the status of a recent grant request for $15,000 for laptops for SEOs and Codes employees in the field. Once again, the group would need to do an extensive survey of its member municipalities to see which would qualify for slum and blight status, necessary to be considered for the grant. And while Trynoski was successful in proving that the time and cost involved in doing such a survey was more than the amount of a grant it applied for and received a few months ago, the state appeared to require the full survey this time around. Trynoski noted that the countys own Housing Authority did not do such a survey because the effort cost more than any benefit. She asked members what they wanted to do. They responded by asking her to see if it was possible to find the money from a different source, and thats what shell do.
COG secretary Cheryl Wellman reported on some research she conducted about members of COG in other parts of the state. What she found was that commissioners of Butler, Snyder, Monroe, Tioga and other counties belong to their COG. Would the local group want to invite the new commissioners to join and hear the groups concerns and help with what it does?
They did, noting that soon-to-be supervisor MaryAnn Warren campaigned that she would become involved at a local municipality level. With COG representing 26 of the countys 40 municipalities, the group is hopeful to see her, her fellow commissioners, or their representatives at future meetings.
Ararat Townships Don Stone, for one, thought it might help to get their attention on how Clean and Green is affecting the majority of COG members and county school districts, and how important it is to get the commissioners to work to support changes in the current law that has already been passed through the state house of representatives.
Wellman will draft a letter inviting the commissioners COG membership as a way to address, or at least hear about, this and other concerns by county municipalities.
Codes Enforcement Committee
President Ted Plevinsky began the meeting by reading an update he received from the Administrator of the USS program (new codes). It lays out a likely but not guaranteed timetable of anticipated dates when the new codes will be up and running. If the regulatory commission approves the new regulations and publishes them by January 16, the municipality opt-out period will run from April 15 to July 15. The regulations would be effective as of the date the option is chosen.
Plevinsky also reported that as of February 1, 2004, Occupational and Industrial Safety will terminate its planning services for walk-in customers. The reason? The groups planning staff has only basic training in USS codes and needs the time to prepare for its new responsibilities. It was some kind of comfort to know that this agency is grappling with the same questions and uncertainties as municipalities throughout the state.
To help the local COG members, however, Plevinsky announced that representatives from Building and Inspector Underwriters, the groups third-party inspectors, will be attending its February meeting, giving COG members only the benefit of their insight on the new codes. Plevinsky added that COG and BIU are planning two seminars later on one for contractors, followed by one open to the public. These will be announced as they are scheduled.
The group approved its steering committee recommendation that CEO Shane Lewis be put on a 15-hour work week, and his assistant on an 8-hour work week, beginning January 1. Lewis reported that the group would now be attaching to applications a notice about compliance with workers compensation and as required by state law. Contractors will need to report whether they have such insurance.
Before adjourning, the Committee approved its 2004 budget, and secretary Karen Trynoski announced that copies of a sample "preapplication" were available for members who might want to use them to be apprised of anticipated construction in their municipalities.
The next meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for January 20 at COG offices in the New Milford Borough Building on Main Street.
Says No To Twp. Post
The Great Bend Township Board of Supervisors will find themselves a supervisor short come January. Thats because Gary Sienko, the only name to appear on this past Novembers ballot and the townships newly elected supervisor, has notified the Voter Registration Office that he will not be accepting the position. The reasons given, according to Board chair Bob Squier at the Boards meeting on December 15, were family circumstances and job issues.
That leaves Squier and George Haskins. Outgoing supervisor Jim Banko, who was unable to attend the Boards last meeting of the year because of a family emergency earlier in the day, chose not to seek reelection to have more time to spend with his young children. Nevertheless, Squier and Haskins will speak with him about continuing on with the good work hes done on behalf of the township, at least for the interim emergency. In the meantime, assistant secretary-treasurer Sheila Guinan will research whether a special election in this Mays election period could include an election for the now-vacant supervisors seat. Ordinarily, the next municipal election period would fall two years from now. Guinan will report back to the supervisors who will, in turn, inform the public at their next meeting.
The supervisors had another emergency to deal with as well. After recent heavy rains, the slide on the Graham Hollow Road increased by nearly 100 per cent, Haskins reported, narrowing to the point where its both difficult and dangerous for any vehicle (including emergency vehicles) larger than a pick-up truck to make its way through. Haskins described it as an emergency situation, and wanted work (to make the road safe) to begin immediately.
The supervisors reviewed the bids sent in earlier to repair 80 feet of the road. The damage now extends well beyond 100 feet in length, and a greater but undetermined depth and width. Thus, a motion was made and approved to award the contract to Warren Stone, the lowest of the earlier bids, and to increase the scope of the project to 150 feet, depth to be determined in the field by digging, due to an emergency situation and to protect the families who live on the hazardous road. Also approved was hiring Stones two dump trucks at $50 an hour per truck to haul the debris out.
In other winter-road-related businesses, roadmaster Haskins reported that the township crew is working on keeping its equipment up, and that he has not received any complaints so far this year on plowing. Harvey Zelkowitz, in fact, wrote a letter complimenting the road crews work, and Guinan passed along compliments from a school bus driver about how great the roads have been.
Haskins also recommended that it trade in a plow that is a highway/hard-road plow that doesnt stand up well at all to township roads, most of which are not paved, and replace it with one better suited to dirt roads.
He also said that he and township employees are available to help residents who need particular help during foul weather. As an example, he noted that the crew was asked by resident Pat McHugh Derrick, to make sure that, due to a death in her family, McHugh Road was plowed out and passable during a storm that coincided with a memorial service and dinner. Haskins read a heartfelt note of thanks from the family for his and employees efforts. "Were happy to do that," said Haskins, adding "were here to help in any way we can, whether its a call to myself or a call to our employees."
There was more discussion about the bridge lights or lack of them. To move things along while the state continues to take its time in getting all the sign-offs required to turn on the switch, the Board will write a letter to Rep. Sandra Major, copying in Senator Madigan, requesting that the lights be turned on immediately for emergency reasons. Theres been at least one accident on the bridge. The supervisors will suggest to Hallstead Borough that its council also send a similar letter.
In other business:
A dialogue has started between township solicitor Giangrieco and Jason Legg, attorney for Donna Fekette regarding a billboard put by her without obtaining a permit first. The dialogue will continue, and the supervisors are anxious to bring this issue to rest after at least a couple of years.
PSAT has notified the township that the pension eligibility start date for Mike Mullen is October 26, 2003, his date of hire as a full-time employee.
The William Dixon property, it was learned, was likely to be going to the mortgage company by the end of the year; it was thought that the mortgage company would eventually clean it up.
The 2004 budget was adopted as proposed.
The next meeting of the Great Bend Township Board of Supervisors is scheduled for January 5, 2004 at 7 p.m. in the Township Building.
For those who are interested, the following is taken from the approved minutes of the December 1, 2003 meeting of Great Bend Township supervisors that the Transcript was unable to attend: The township received a letter from Hallstead borough about snow plowing and cinders; the township will send two truck loads (Volvo) of cinders to the destination of Hallsteads choice. Roadmaster Haskins reported cindering and plow/cinder-spreader maintenance by the road crew, and the need to purchase a new welder eventually since the current one isnt powerful enough for the work being done. The Board received a copy of a letter sent from attorney Giangrieco to Donna Fekette, stating that she has ten days from the date of the letter to comply with ordinance #38; if the matter is not rectified by then, legal action will be taken against her. A permit requested by Keith and Carrie Kegelman for an upgrade from a doublewide to a modular home was approved. A motion was made and passed to send ten cents per person (1,890 people) to the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau who requested a donation. The Board received a copy of a letter sent from attorney Giangrieco to William Dixon stating he has ten days from the date of the letter to comply with clean-up ordinances; if not rectified by that time, legal action will be taken. A motion was made and passed to purchase three or four jersey barriers (as needed) to fill the opening on township road 821 where the culvert pipe was replaced above the ball field.
Questions Bridge Lights
Vice president John Giangrieco presided at the December 15 meeting of the Hallstead Borough council due to the absence of president Joe Franks. Council members Martin Brown, Michele Giangrieco, David Callender and James Gillespie were present as well as secretary Cindy Gillespie, mayor Willard Canfield, maintenance supervisor John Gordon and one guest.
The guest, Lynette Ryman is interested in renting the boro building meeting rooms to operate a day care business. She relayed that, in order to be licensed, she must have a location which then must pass a state inspection. It was noted that the building had previously rented to an NEIU day care program and should pass inspection. After some details were discussed, a motion carried to rent the space to Ms. Ryman, pending the outcome of the inspection.
Mr. Gillespie reported that he had received complaints about a water problem on Railroad St. He looked at the area during recent heavy rains and found that water is not running towards the drains; there is also a hole in the ground that the water is running into. At one time, there may have been a catch basin, but there is not one there now. Mr. Gordon will check to see what can be done; unfortunately, road work of this type cannot be done until spring.
A motion carried to accept the 2004 budget as written.
The boro is entitled to a $249 refund from its insurance carrier; after some discussion it was agreed to request a refund rather than have this amount applied to future costs as there is a possibility that the same carrier may not be used for next years policy.
The Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau has requested a donation of 10¢ per resident, which amounts to approximately $120. No action was taken.
Great Bend Township has agreed to supply cinders upon request, to be used on portions of township roads that the boro regularly plows.
Correspondence reviewed included the minutes of the November 3 meeting of the HallsteadGreat Bend Sewer Authority and a thank-you from Great Bend Township for the boros participation in a Name the Bridge Contest. The letter stated that the winning entry was chosen to reflect the entire community.
Council authorized Mr. Gordon to purchase additional lights for the trees along the riverbank as there is money left in the budgeted allocation. In a related subject, council will purchase additional Christmas decorations, for use next year.
Mr. Giangrieco reported that he has received numerous complaints about the lights on the new Route 11 bridge not yet being turned on. Both he and Mr. Franks have contacted Harrisburg to find out what is causing the delay; Mr. Giangrieco said that he had been told that the project is in the fourth of seven phases. Apparently the lights cannot be turned on until the project reaches the appropriate phase. Mr. Brown suggested that residents be urged to call PENNDOT, requesting that the lights be turned on as soon as possible.
Discussing the foundry property, council will contact the boros solicitor to discuss councils next course of action as there has been no information forthcoming from the propertys owners.
Under new business, Mr. Brown was thanked for his years of service on council. He had not sought reelection and his term expires at the end of the month. Mr. Brown was unsure of exactly how many years he has served, but it has been at least ten. There was some good-natured kidding from other council members, that they would find a way to talk him into coming back if the opportunity arises.
The final topic of discussion was brought up by Mayor Canfield. There have been a number of complaints about snowmobilers in the boros parks and on the roads. Mr. Canfield noted that there did not appear to be any damage, but there would probably be some evidence showing up in the spring when the snow melts.
The next meeting will be councils reorganization, Monday, January 5 at 7 p.m.
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