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Members of the departing Board of Susquehanna County Commissioners approved a 2004 county budget totaling $16.1 million last Tuesday. While it may have raised some eyebrows the budget does not raise the county real estate tax in the coming year. Well, not yet anyway.
Surprisingly, the incoming commissioners, Republicans Roberta Kelly and Jeff Loomis, and Democrat Mary Ann Warren sat quietly in the audience knowing that they will probably need to reopen the budget to increase appropriations in some county departments. In all likelihood, that will lead to an increase in the real estate tax.
Loomis, who is somewhat of a financial wizard, refused to comment on what the new commissioners will do with the budget. However, he is well aware of the shortcomings in a few departments.
In the budget he and the other commissioners will inherit, maintenance costs have been cut by some $200,000, despite the fact that an emergency generator in one section of the county courthouse has been out of order for almost a year and the courthouse roof leaks in a couple of areas. Significant cuts are also noticeable in several other departments including $35,000 from the county court system.
The budget approved by the outgoing administration keeps the tax millage as follows: Occupation, 18 mills; Total millage for real estate, 9.75 mills, which includes General fund, 8.50 mills, Funded debt, .95 mills; and, Library Fund, .30 mills.
Smith voted against the budget after his effort to reduce the funded debt millage failed to draw any support from the other commissioners. Smith pointed out that the funded debt already has a sizable surplus and, since the money in the account can only be used for debt reduction, the millage could be cut.
While the new commissioners have had their ears bent by department heads who simply cannot survive the year with the hatchet job the outgoing commissioners did to their 2004 budgets, Loomis determination to remain calm stuck out like a sore thumb when he heaped praise on the departing commissioners.
"You have done a good job," he told them. "You have done the best that you can and you are leaving with a good record."
Outgoing Chair Gary Marcho said he enjoyed being a county commissioner. Then with a grin on his face, he added, " most of the time." He said he is leaving with the belief that he did some good and that his presence made a difference and helped to move the county forward.
Departing Commissioners Lee Smith and Cal Dean also said they enjoyed their terms as county commissioners and thanked county residents for electing them to office. They added best wishes to the incoming commissioners.
In another matter, the commissioners adopted a resolution supporting a proposal to designate State Route 92 between Lenox Twp. and the New York border as a Pennsylvania Byway.
The purpose of the resolution is to support local initiatives to enhance and support the maintenance of natural resources and intrinsic qualities along the route and to make the route eligible for funds from the National Scenic Byways Program. The proposal is also intended to promote the countys tourism industry.
Another resolution approved by the commissioners changes the name of the Susquehanna County Soil Conservation District to the Susquehanna County Conservation District.
Last month, the commissioners accepted the resignation of Joseph Franks, Democratic County Committee chair, from the County Planning Commission. Franks left the position because of a change in his employment hours.
Commissioner Smith made a motion to appoint Debbie Dissinger to replace Franks. The motion died for lack of a second. Commissioner Dean followed with an attempt to name Joey Franks brother, Richard to the vacancy. That motion also died for lack of a second
At last weeks meeting, Smith again made the motion to appoint Dissinger and again it died for lack of a second. However, Democrat Dean picked up support from Republican Marcho and Richard Franks, who is also an officer in the Democratic County Committee, was named to replace his brother on the commission.
Other motions approved by the commissioners included:
Accepting, with regret, the resignation of Kathleen Wagner, an office worker in the commissioners office.
-Hiring Diana Roszel as a caseworker in the Children and Youth Services Department, effective Dec. 29. The Salary Board set her hourly rate at $13.20 in accordance with the union contract covering C&Y employees.
-Reappointing Forest City Police Chief Paul Lukus to the Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority for a five-tear term.
-Appointing Sue Fitch of the Elk Mountain Ski Center to a three-year term on the Susquehanna County Economic Development Board.
-Awarding a contract to C&D Waterproofing for restoration of the Susquehanna County Civil War Monument and Cannons at a cost of $72,350.
-Hiring Steve Fisher to the open Watershed Specialist position in the Soil Conservation District at a salary of $24,500 plus benefits.
Edward M. Bohan and Claire M. Bohon to Bohan Family Trust, Edward M. Bohan and Claire M. Bohan, Trustees, in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 16.
Beverly J. Durko, Clarence E. Shager, Sr., Mabel Edge, John Shager, Jr., Marlene Wallace and Philip Shager to Philip Shager and Lori L. Shager in Uniondale Borough for $20,400 on Oct. 9.
Alton Thomas Butkewich to Joseph R. Higby, Sr. in Harford Township for $135,000 on Dec. 11.
Betty L. Salcedo as Administratrix of the Estate of Ricardo A. Salcedo to Victor M. Salcedo in Silver Lake Township for $31,000 on Oct. 21.
Vicki W. Harper, Administratrix of the Estate of James B. Willson, to Katharine C. Watrous Lifetime Trust No. One and Peter S. Watrous Lifetime Trust No. One in Great Bend, Franklin and New Milford Townships for $1 on Dec. 1.
William J. Gardner & Nancy E. Gardner to James Doriety & Jacqueline Doriety in Jackson Township for $45,000 on Nov. 3.
Michael Newak and Patricia Newak to Michael Newak and Patricia Newak in Forest City Borough for $1 on Dec. 9.
Nevin Gerber and Linda S. Gerber to William J. Raimondi and Theresa K. Nolan in Herrick Township for $118,000 on Dec. 17.
Lois Jane Adams to Deborah Abner in Montrose Borough for $179,000 on Dec. 18.
Thomas R. Hayes and Gretchen Hayes to Robert A. Schreiber and Susan C. Schreiber in Clifford Township for agreement for first refusal for sale and purchase of real estate on Dec. 1.
Donald S. Beynon and Dianne M. Beynon to William J. Jordan and Karen E. Jordan in Lenox Township for $93,500 on Dec. 9.
Gerald P. Kutsop and Susan K. Kutsop to Francis E. Kelly, Jr. and Holly Krupp Kelly in Herrick Township for $118,000 on Dec. 10.
Brian D. Parshall and Mary K. Parshall to Stephen W. Jones and Ana Maria Jones in Clifford Township for $153,000 on Dec. 11.
John Guiton, Jr. and Kim Guiton to Albert Podminick in Rush Township for $82,500 on Dec. 16.
Smita Arora to Alberto Ortega in Susquehanna Borough for $89,900 on Dec. 10.
Roger D. Bennett and Elizabeth S. Bennett to Joseph Woody and Marion Garvey in Lathrop Township for $76,650 on Nov. 5.
DeWitt C. Porter and Nancy E. Porter to DeWitt C. Porter in Liberty Township for bluestone mining operation on Dec. 19.
Anne Ferme, by and through her Attorney in Fact, Thomas Ferme to Thomas Ferme in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 16 (two parcels).
Subdivisions On Hold
The Harford Township Supervisors considered three subdivision applications at their last meeting of the year on December 23 and found they could pass none of them. One, a holdover from the last meeting, concerned a property straddling the boundary between Harford and Brooklyn townships along Martins Creek. The paperwork did not indicate any sewage planning, so it was set aside for a while. When it was brought up again this time, it appeared that the sewage planning documentation was still not forthcoming, so the Supervisors sent the application back to the county with their objections noted regarding the lack of sewage planning documentation. Supervisor Rick Pisasik, who is also an official with the county Council of Governments (COG), which handles sewage enforcement (and codes enforcement) for Harford Township, said that at least as of a week before, COG had heard nothing more from the applicant on the issue. The township doesn't actually approve or reject a subdivision; that is a county function. But townships are responsible for ensuring that proper sewage handling is provided for, and may note objections on the application, which is then returned to the county for final disposition. Neither of the other two subdivision applications were accompanied by sufficient sewage planning information either, so the Supervisors tabled both of those until next month.
The Supervisors decided to sell an unused "like-new" cinder spreader to Liberty Truck Center for $1,200. The stainless-steel spreader, too small to be useful in the township, has been sitting out front of the township building for a couple of months with a "For Sale" sign on it. Its sale has been advertised in the media also for quite a while, as far away as Binghamton and Scranton, at a cost of about $500. Earlier bids were considered too low, and even now Supervisor Terry VanGorden was reluctant to let it go for the high bid. He said it was thought to be worth at least $1,700. But since it would cost even more to continue advertising, it was decided to sell and have done with it.
The Supervisors accepted an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) that will reimburse more than 95% of the cost of relocating a sewer line in the village in advance of a project to replace the bridge over Leslie Creek. PENNDOT had required that the line be moved, and promised reimbursement of a substantial part of the cost. The actual reimbursement approved by PENNDOT is higher than expected. The township will have to pay only about $2,100 of the total cost for the work.
And, last but not least, the Supervisors formally adopted a budget for 2004 that is substantially the same as the budget for 2003 and that calls for no increase in taxes.
The Harford Township Supervisors should be up to full strength following their next meeting on January 5, 2004 when Township Secretary Sue Furney puts on her new hat to become a Supervisor herself. The organization meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the township building.
Justin T. Fruehan, 18, Brackney, was arrested for DUI at State Route 1037 (Dubois St.) east of Hallstead Rod & Gun, Great Bend Township, on Dec. 13 at 11:10 p.m., when he was stopped for questioning and alcohol was detected.
Charles M. Decker, 75, Meadowview Nursing Center, Bridgewater Township, is listed as the accused in a police report that states that he slapped Theresa A. Sunderlin, 85, Meadowview Nursing Center, in the face with an open hand. The victim, according to the police report, did not want to seek prosecution in this December 13 incident at 8:00 p.m.
Wayne Archer (Sidney, NY)'s 2000 Freightliner struck the rear of Damodar Patil (Liverpool, NY)'s 1996 Subaru as they were both traveling in the left lane on snow covered Interstate 81, Great Bend Township, on Dec. 14 at noon. No injuries resulted.
Moguinan Ndotoumbaye, Corona, NY, lost control of his 1995 Ford van on snow covered Interstate 81, New Milford Township, on Dec. 14 at 11:20 a.m., and flipped the vehicle several times. Only minor injuries resulted.
A 2003 Chevy Silverado, driven by Craig Arcuri, South Montrose, was traveling east on State Route 492, Jackson Township, on Dec. 11 at 4:55 p.m., when it swerved to the left crossing the westbound lane and collided with a telephone pole. Arcuri had minor injuries.
Mario A. Pena, 21, Binghamton, NY, was traveling north on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, on Dec. 14 at 9:05 p.m., and lost control of his vehicle on the snow covered road in heavy snowfall. Pena's vehicle slid off the right side of the road and down an embankment, spun 180 degrees, and struck a concrete drain basin with the left side of the vehicle. No one was injured.
At the Pump & Pantry, State Route 11, New Milford Borough, a 6 ft. male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and driving a maroon Jeep Cherokee, pumped $25.75 in gas, then drove away without paying. This incident occurred on Dec. 14 at 11:08 p.m.
Driver Marie E. Hare, 53, Buffalo, NY, and passenger Melvin Mason, 55, Philadelphia, were not injured when they were traveling on Interstate 81, Lenox Township, on Dec. 14 at 4:40 p.m. during a snow and sleet storm. After crossing a bridge, Hare lost control of the vehicle and struck a guide rail head-on, along the right berm. Her vehicle spun and came to rest facing north on the south berm.
On Dec. 13 at 6:14 a.m., Kyle Miller, 17, Jermyn, was traveling north on State Route 92, Gibson Township, and went off the road, striking some trees. Miller sustained moderate injuries and passengers Nathan Hosip, 19, Jermyn, and John Allegrucci, 16, Jermyn, sustained minor injuries. All were taken to CMC Hospital for treatment.
Five juveniles from Elk Lake Junior High, Dimock Township, were involved in an incident where one juvenile brought pills onto school property and sold them to another juvenile who passed them onto the other involved students. The incident occurred on Nov. 21 between 1:20 and 6:00 p.m.
Kendall Calhoun, 63, Albany, NY, was not injured when he lost control of his 2003 Mitsubishi Montero while negotiating a curve in the snow covered and slippery State Route 11, Lathrop Township, on Dec. 14 at 8:15 p.m. The vehicle went off of the roadway and struck a tree.
Timothy Cortel, 71, Phelps, NY, was not injured when his vehicle hit a deer on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, on Dec. 8 at 6:20 p.m.
Someone broke a rear window to gain entry to a shed and then removed an ATV belonging to Michael Demianovich, Forest City. The ATV is a green 2002 Suzuki Quad 4X4. The incident occurred between 11:00 p.m. on Dec. 13 and 8:00 a.m. the next morning.
John M. Sebjan, 40, Nicholson, suffered a minor back injury when his 1995 Chevy Blazer S-10 hit an ice patch on State Route 3017, Springville Township, causing the vehicle to "spin-out" into a drainage culvert. The vehicle then rolled onto its roof.
Someone entered the middle bay of the Hallstead Car Wash, Great Bend Township, and pried open the change box, removing the change, then departed the scene in an unknown direction. The incident occurred between Dec. 11 at 9:00 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. the next day. The car wash is owned by David A. Hinkley, Hallstead.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Robert Vavra, Staten Island, NY, failed to negotiate a curve on State Route 267, Auburn Township, on Dec. 10 at 5:05 p.m., and struck a steel cable guide rail. Vavra was not injured.
THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING
Someone arrived at Charles Lyon's quarry, Choconut Township, on Dec. 10 between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. and removed several items from an unlocked trailer.
INVOLUNTARY DEVIATE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE
An investigation is ongoing regarding an inmate who was terrorized and assaulted by another inmate(s) in his cellblock at the Susquehanna County Jail, Montrose, between Dec. 1-9.
Benjamin Schwartz, 18, Montrose, had minor injuries as the result of his 1996 Dodge Neon striking a utility pole on the south side of State Route 706, Bridgewater Township, on Dec. 8 at 10:45 p.m.
THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING
A 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, maroon with silver bottom, was reported stolen by William R. Machell, Clifford Township, between Dec. 8 at 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. the next day. The vehicle was taken from Machell's residence on Main Street in Clifford. Numerous wood working tools were in a black tool box in the truck bed.
Nathan Gardoski, 19, Nicholson, was traveling south on State Route 2063, Lenox Township, when he lost control of his 1998 Ford Ranger. The vehicle traveled across the northbound lane and off the roadway striking a cluster of trees, then flipped onto the left side where it came to rest. Gardoski was not injured.
HARASSMENT BY COMMUNICATION
Ultimate Massage, Hallstead Borough, reported that a disgruntled former client was making harassing calls to the business on Dec. 4.
Someone damaged a window of a private property on Silver Creek Rd., Franklin Township, on Nov. 30 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Damage was valued at $400.
Karen Slater, Vestal, NY, lost control of her 1998 Ford Taurus on State Route 4007 near Forest Lake on Dec. 9 at 4:29 p.m. The vehicle hit several mailboxes and a tree. The driver and was cited for driving at an unsafe speed.
HoMart-Gulf, Route 492, New Milford Township, had a drive off amounting to $15.79 on Dec. 10 at 10:45 a.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
As Roman Prager, 20, Binghamton, NY, was traveling north on Interstate 81 on Nov. 30, another vehicle passed him in the right lane and then cut him off by turning into the left lane directly in front of him. Prager lost control of this vehicle and struck a guide rail. He was not injured.
Dorene Gregg, Little Meadows, reported being assaulted by David Mark Gregg, Little Meadows, on Nov. 27 at 12:30 a.m. David Gregg was arrested for domestic violence and charged with simple assault and harassment, then arraigned before District Justice Watson Dayton and released on his own recognizance.
THEFT OF LAWN MOWER
Randy Zimmerman, RR3, Uniondale, reported that a Murray riding lawn mower was taken from his yard on State Route 2069, Gibson Township, on Nov. 23 between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. It was valued at $100.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
A 1998 Dodge Neon, driven by Lon Phelps, 34, Manilus, NY, and a 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage, driven by Mahendraisuma Patel, 43, Mentor, OH, were traveling north on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, on Nov. 30 at 9:00 p.m. An accident occurred in front of them, and in order to avoid a collision, both units steered onto the berm and collided into each other. Phelps was not injured, while Patel was taken to Wilson Hospital for minor injuries and released.
No injuries were sustained when Clyde Hutchins, 20, Tunkhannock, was hunting in a tree stand, and gunshots were fired in his direction on Dec. 6 at 4:00 p.m. in the State Route 2016 and Maloney Hill Rd. area, Lenox Township.
A 15-year old employee is being charged with theft of lottery tickets from Outright Sales, Little Meadows, at various times.
A juvenile, from Jackson PA, was involved in a traffic crash on Dec. 20 on State Route 2023, Dundaff, when he/she lost control of a 1999 Jeep Cherokee on slush covered roadway. The vehicle overturned after going off the road into a ditch, but the driver suffered no injuries.
Larry Phillips, New Milford, reported that his window was smashed while his vehicle was parked along State Route 11, New Milford Borough, on Dec. 20.
Michele M. Filan, 26, RR#3, Meshoppen, suffered moderate injuries when she crossed the centerline on State Route 3001, Dimock Township, and collided head on with Rebecca L. Roman, 22, RR4, Meshoppen. Roman suffered minor injuries in this Dec. 17 accident at 3:15 p.m.
The Great Bend Pump & Pantry reported that someone pumped $22.66 in gasoline into a blue Chrysler mini-van and left without paying on Dec. 19 at 2:22 p.m.
SCHOOL BUS COLLISION
On Dec. 17 at 3:00 p.m., Delbert W. Potts, Montrose, lost control of his 1997 International 3800 school bus, on snow covered State Route 167, Bridgewater Township. The bus was rounding the curve and traveled off the west berm, with the bus coming to rest against several trees, partially on its side. All occupants were transported to Endless Mountains Hospital for evaluation.
ONE-CAR CRASH--NO INJUR
Mantik Keung, Syracuse, lost control of a 2002 Subaru on snow covered Interstate 81, Lenox Township on Dec. 5.
David R. McGuigan, 54, Little Meadows, was taken to Lourdes Hospital, Binghamton, with moderate injuries after he lost control of his 1995 Ford F150 on Dec. 13 at 1:10 a.m. The vehicle struck an embankment on Township Route 775, Apolacon Township, causing it to roll on its side. His passenger was not injured.
FATAL TRAFFIC CRASH
On December 16 at 11:20 a.m., Judith Ann Clark, Manlius, NY, was pronounced dead at the scene by Susquehanna County Coroner Anthony Conarton, on Interstate 81, New Milford Township. Clark, who had been traveling north, veered to the left and went into the median, then cleared the left lane of the southbound interstate. The vehicle landed in the right lane of the southbound interstate then continued over the bank, coming to rest against a tree. The crash is still under investigation.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
William Choplosky, Jr., Springville, lost control of his 1994 Subaru on Township Route 496, Rush Township, on Dec. 16 at 3:40 p.m. The vehicle went into the ditch and then flipped onto its roof. Choplosky moved the vehicle prior to the trooper's arrival. No injuries were reported.
Paul Lindsay, 53, Newark, DE, lost control of his 1994 Pontiac van, on snow covered Interstate 81, Lenox Township on Dec. 14 at noon. The vehicle's front end struck a bridge abutment which caused it to spin around once before coming to rest. Lindsay was not injured.
Chadd Kuns, 18, RR3, Meshoppen, was traveling south on State Route 267, Auburn Township, on Dec. 11 at 6:50 a.m., and drove into a large puddle of water, which caused him to lose control. The vehicle crossed the centerline colliding with a vehicle traveling north, driven by Paul Fassett, RR2, Meshoppen. Neither driver had injuries, but passenger Karen Kuns, 38, RR 3, Meshoppen, received minor injuries.
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