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State Police and the Susquehanna County District Attorneys office have arrested a suspect in the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Alexander L. Koshinski of Franklin Township.
The suspect has been identified as Alfred Jerome Koziel, 44, (AKA Rocky Koziel) whose address is listed as the Susquehanna County Jail where he was awaiting trial on a rape charge. Criminal complaints signed against him by Troopers Greg Deck and Craig Purdum charge him with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, arson, and simple assault.
"The State Police did a thorough and terrific investigation," District Attorney Jason Legg said. "They made sure they pursued every lead and as a result these charges have been filed. Of course the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
On January 5, a friend, identified in an affidavit of probable cause as Lorna Hall, found Koshinskis lifeless body in his home on Buckley Road, Franklin Twp. District Attorney Jason Legg said the victim died from a single gunshot wound that entered Koshinskis back below the left shoulder. The bullet was recovered during an autopsy.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Koshinski and Mr. Koziel were together at Mr. Koshinskis house on January 3. Ms. Hall told authorities that Mr. Koziel had been living at the Koshinski residence for several weeks. She said Mr. Koshinski phoned her sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. on January 3 to apologize to her for his behavior.
At about 9:49 p.m., the Susquehanna County Communication Center dispatched John Walker of the Montrose Borough Police to Cruiser Street in Montrose on a report of a suspicious vehicle. When he arrived at the scene, Mr. Walker observed a pickup truck parked on Cruiser Street. The truck was parked near the home of Susan Koziel, Mr. Koziels estranged wife. Walker was aware that Mr. Koziel had a protection from abuse order lodged against him by his wife. The officer also knew that warrants had been issued alleging that he raped his wife on Dec. 23, 2003.
Officer Walker made his way through a wooded area near the Koziel residence. Mr. Koziel, who was just outside of his wifes residence, fired two shots at Mr. Walker, who returned the fire. Mr. Koziel broke into his wifes home where he engaged in a standoff with Mr. Walker and troopers from the State Police Barracks in Gibson.
Inside the house, Mr. Koziel assaulted Edward Cunningham, knocking out one of his teeth. He also struck his son, Danny Koziel. He then let the people leave the house and told his daughter Sheena Koziel that he was going to die in the house. He said he had enough ammunition to hold off the police for a while. When everyone was out of the house except Mr. Koziel, authorities allege that he set the house on fire and remained in the residence while it was burning.
The house was in flames when Michael Hinds, a member of the Montrose Fire Company, discovered a 30-06 rifle lying near the entrance of the house. Later, State Police took Mr. Koziel into custody after he had fled from the burning building.
The following day, State Police Fire Marshal Stephen Kaneski inspected the residence and concluded that the fire inside the house was intentionally set.
On January 4, authorities tried to contact Mr. Koshinski, including telephone calls and a trip to his residence. The same day, State Police found a bag of assorted bullets including 30-06 caliber and a six pack of beer near the location where Mr. Koziel was first observed by Officer Walker. They also found Mr. Koshinskis pickup truck on Cruiser Street in Montrose.
Troopers Deck and Purdom interviewed Mr. Koziel and he denied driving the pickup truck. He said he had walked to his wifes home.
Further investigation led to the seizure of a number of spent 30-06 rifle casings at the Koshinski residence. Ballistic testing revealed that many of the discharged shells were fired from the rifle found at the Koziel residence on January 3. Ms. Hall told State Police that she had recently given Mr. Koshinski a long barrel rifle with a scope that he had requested for deer season.
Mr. Koziel was arraigned Friday before District Justice Watson Dayton in Montrose. He was returned to the county jail to await a preliminary hearing set for March 19.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners have asked Jennifer Pisasik, the countys new chief assessor, to review the countys Clean and Green Program to make certain only qualified property owners are enrolled in it.
It will not be an easy assignment for Mrs. Pisasik and it will certainly be time consuming. In its annual report, distributed last week, the county Planning Commission states there are 7,677 Clean and Green parcels in the county.
"We made changes in the assessment office," Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners, said at a press conference following last week commissioners meeting. "It is starting to become more efficient."
The obvious goal of the study would be to reduce the number of parcels that are receiving tax cuts. However, if Mrs. Pisasik does find ineligible parcels of land enrolled in Clean and Green, there is the question of whether or not she can restore them to normal taxable land. When he was chief assessor, Rick Kamansky always took the position that the parcels could not be taken out of Clean and Green unless the property owner changed the use of the land.
The primary goal of the Clean and Green Program is to encourage landowners to preserve agricultural and forest land by providing tax savings for preservation.
Clean and Green is a land conservation program that lowers the property tax for the majority of landowners who enroll in it. To be eligible for enrollment, land must be devoted to one of the following three qualifying uses: agricultural, agricultural reserve, or forest reserve. Landowners who exit the program may be required to pay up to seven years' worth of "roll-back" taxes, plus interest.
Before eligible land can be enrolled in the Clean and Green Program, there are requirements for each qualifying use. Land eligible under the agricultural use category must have been in agriculture or devoted to a soil conservation program with the Federal Government for three years preceding the application and be either 10 contiguous acres or more in area, or have an anticipated minimum yearly gross income of $2,000 from the sale of agricultural commodity.
An example, the law states that if a landowner owns 10 acres of land that has been in agricultural use for three years, he may enroll his land in Clean and Green, or has the required gross income from the sale of agricultural commodity, he may enroll his land in Clean and Green no matter how much income the land produces. If a landowner owns less than 10 acres of land, he must gross at least $2,000 per year from the land in order to qualify for Clean and Green.
The only requirement for both agricultural reserve use and forest reserve use is that the landowner must own at least ten acres.
The Clean and Green Program allows a county assessor to establish use values for land use subcategories that are less than the use values established by the Department of Agriculture and use these lower use values in determining preferential assessment under the Clean and Green Program. In addition, counties may not require that a landowner reside in the county before enrolling his land in Clean and Green.
County assessors are not permitted to add any other requirements or conditions of eligibility in addition to the ones given by statute and regulation. If the provisions of the statute and regulations are met, the county assessor must accept a person's Clean and Green application.
At their meeting, the commissioners approved the following resolutions:
2004-13- Applying for an Intermediate Punishment Grant for continuation of funding from July 1 through June 30, 2005 in the amount of $19,010.
2004-14- Accepting an agreement for the Subsidized Child Care Program for the period from July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005. The countys share is $1.2 million, most of which is allocated for child day care centers. There are eligibility requirements to participate in the program that is designed to let parents work.
2004-15- This is an agreement that allows Derek Smith, coordinator of the countys West Nile Virus Program, to sponsor collections of waste tires and household hazardous waste through the countys Recycling and Waste Management Program.
New employees hired by the commissioners are Juanita Gumaer, part-time custodial position at $5.79 an hour, 15 hours a week; and, Roger Sherwood as a Program Specialist in the Susquehanna County Conservation District Program at $9.51 an hour plus benefits, 40 hours a week.
Resignations were accepted from Jeff Strohl, a field appraiser trainee who worked one day; and, Cynthia Osborne, 911 dispatcher trainee.
The Salary Board approved a recommendation from the Prison Board to create one full-time and two part time correction officer positions at the county jail. Commissioner Jeff Loomis said the move will reduce the amount of overtime the county has been paying to correction officers at the jail.
Ridge Board Hears Concert
With only a routine agenda to consider at their business meeting on March 8, the Blue Ridge School Board took the opportunity to be entertained by some of their charges. The meeting opened with a performance by the fifth- grade Select Choir under the direction of Holly Snitzer. The youngsters enthusiastically presented a half dozen songs for the enjoyment of the Board and an overflow crowd of family and friends. The choir was followed by a Cab Calloway tune played by the newly constituted Middle School Jazz Band, directed by Jay Thornton, just a taste of what they will offer at their spring concert.
A hard act to follow, but Peg Glezen gave it a try with a brief presentation and video describing the kindergarten "Artist in Residence" program recently concluded. An actress from New York spent some time with the children, who created and produced their own performances. Ms. Glezen thanked especially the High School Art Department for help with the sets, and the community for supplying materials and other assistance.
The performances concluded, the audience disappeared and Board President Alan Hall opened the business meeting by presenting certificates of achievement to three of his colleagues. Superintendent Robert McNamara presented the fourth to Mr. Hall himself. The certificates recognize the efforts of Board members to educate themselves in board practice and educational policy through programs offered by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).
The business agenda approved a routine list of personnel actions, including the retirements of Elaine and John Revie. Joseph Conigliaro, a former Board member, will return to Blue Ridge as a long-term substitute math teacher in the Middle School.
The Board also "exonerated" local tax collectors from further collections for the 2003 tax year. Delinquencies will be turned over to the county and to G. H. Harris for further action. Total delinquencies amount to almost $600,000. According to Business Manager Loren Small, this is about average for recent years.
Board members inaugurated a 30-day review of two new policies regarding "Standards for Victims of Violent Crimes" and "Standards for Persistently Dangerous Schools." These documents are formalities required under the Unsafe School Choice Option provision of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The policies, drafted by the PSBA for member districts, provide that children affected by violence in a school have the option to change schools.
The Activities Committee has recommended, and the Board has accepted, the creation of a new Math Club Advisor as a Schedule B position under the teachers' contract. This program was proposed by the Blue Ridge Gifted Program Coordinator Suzanne Seamans and would offer interested fourth and fifth graders an opportunity to advance their math skills in after-school meetings. Although Ms. Seamans is the obvious choice for the job, Mr. Hall has insisted that the position be posted to attract interested candidates.
The Board also created a part-time (two days per week) position for a Career Services Aide to help in the High School Guidance office. As an experiment, the job was approved so far only for the remainder of the current school year. Superintendent McNamara has a particular individual in mind for the post, a former student who originally suggested the idea to help students plan their futures following high school.
Michael Thornton, Principal in the High School, took special note of his teachers' efforts to recognize standouts through the Student of the Month award, whose winners qualify for a Student of the Year selection. The teachers have also started a "VIP" program to recognize students who make contributions that may be otherwise overlooked. Mr. Thornton took note of one especially outstanding senior, Elizabeth Gaughan (daughter of Board member Priscinda Gaughan), who is expected to be a National Merit finalist in the competition for some 8,000 national scholarships based on academic achievement.
Middle School Principal John Manchester showed the Board a copy of a new typing/keyboarding text that he would like to use next year.
And Business Manager Loren Small warned members that he is working on a budget for next year. Some of his effort is in the dark, considering the wrangling in Harrisburg over the size and distribution of additional funds proposed by the Governor and now under consideration by the Legislature. He also reported that the first reimbursement for loan payments on the equipment in the new fitness center has been received.
The next public session of the Blue Ridge School Board will be a work session on March 22, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School. Committees are expected to meet before the general assembly.
From top: Middle School Jazz Band, fifth-grade Select Choir, appreciative audience"
After the Pledge to the Flag and before the start of last Fridays Montrose Area School District board meeting, director George Gow asked for a moment of silence to remember the victims and their families of last weeks terrorist attack in Spain. It was a request that Board president Ken Gould said was made by three of the directors.
And after the prayerful silence, it was odd to get back to the business of the district, but natural, too, because that is what a life in full is all about, with its cares, concerns, and hopes.
One everyday hope of children was made reality by the board. At last months work session, superintendent Mike Ognosky passed along a request by a group of parents and students. They asked if it were possible to organize a junior high baseball team. The Board asked Ognosky to look into it, and at this meeting, they created the position of junior high baseball coach and appointed Jeff Norris to it, making the request a reality.
Ognosky reported that eight games have already been scheduled, with the possibility of another six. The games are scheduled for Saturdays, and the new team, said board vice president Celeste Ridler, "is in line with the administrations goal to increase student participation in extra curricular activities."
Board members, minus Jim Blachek who was unable to attend, also heard from James Cain, a student in several Advanced Placement (AP) classes at the high school and president of the Computer Club. He also brought a concern and a petition, signed by some 160 AP and non-AP students, to the boards attention. This is the fee which students in the AP classes must pay for a test at the end of the year. The fee for AP history, for instance, is $82; for English, more than $100 because its a writing exam; tests are developed and administered through the Educational Testing Service in Princeton to whom the entire fee is paid. Cain asked the board if they could help out a bit, citing district support of athletic endeavors.
The school requires that an AP must take at least one AP exam, regardless of the number of AP classes the student takes. There seems to have been some confusion on the part of some AP students, who believed that if one student in an AP class took the exam, then the entire class did. Or that a student taking more than one AP class had to take an exam for each of the classes.
Not so. Its one test, and this requirement was instituted, with faculty consensus, as an incentive after an earlier study at the school found that many AP students, in some years, didnt take any of the tests (which are not required) even though they took the classes. In some years, as few as five students took a test.
The purpose of AP classes in which some 80-90 students participate said Ognosky, is to give students an opportunity to earn credit determined by the test grade and the particular college for college courses, saving bunches on tuition if they passed the test with a grade required by the students choice of college. (Currently, about one in five students who take a test pass it to the satisfaction of a college.) In addition, AP classes are typically half the size of regular classes. In fact, Ognosky noted that if the District had no AP classes, it would probably cut three teaching positions (not that he wanted to do that).
Given this information, board members engaged in some lively discussion, which pretty much boiled down to this: Given the smaller AP class size, the potential savings in college tuition, and the need to have a student incentive, they were comfortable with the one-test requirement.
However, they were also of a single voice in their concern that a qualified, AP student with financial need be helped.
Ognosky said that financial aid is available to students who qualify for it, and that forms to determine such were available in the guidance office. He will ensure that AP students are informed of this, as well as the one-test requirement. In an effort to clear up any misunderstandings, director Linda LaBarbera suggested a written guide outlining AP students responsibilities and the districts, and that guides be given to potential AP students to take home to their parents. In the meantime, Ognosky will provide some statistics to the board, should it want to consider any part of AP test fees in the district budget.
Board members approved a contract for the "Artist in Residence" program at the schools, for up to $15,000. The district will get matching funding, for a total of $30,000 for this six-school-month-long project that will see artists and students working together on artwork in the schools, from murals in the gym, to sculptures, posters, and other artistic endeavors. Earl Lehman will be the districts artist in residence for the duration of the program, with the districts Eric Powers its point person.
The remainder of the meeting was much more the usual and customary business of running the district. The board accepted with regret the resignation of Daniel Regan as assistant boys tennis coach, and the appointment of Ellen Mulligan to replace him. Ognosky noted that Regan resigned due to work commitments, but would still participate in the program when he could as an unpaid volunteer.
In line with an agreement with teachers that those contemplating retirement notify the district by March 15 of their intention to do so, a number did. Resignations were accepted with regret, effective June 30, from Gary Barnhart, Thomas Weller, Edward Bieleski, Norma Orner, Gary Parker, George Conner and George Howanitz (on November 29).
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Area school board is scheduled for April 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.
Kenneth R. Vangorder, 52, Springville Township, and Deborah Joyce Frazee, 37, Springville Township.
Scott William George, 22, Harford Township, and Kimberly E. Mundy, 26, Harford Township.
Marjorie Suchnick to J. Parker Properties in Oakland Borough for $25,000 on Mar. 2.
Agostino Noto & Joann Noto, Helene Erickson & Raymond Erickson, and Lucille Hoffman to Alex Battaglia in Choconut Township for $1 on August 22, 2003.
Janet M. Albright aka Janet Ann Albright to Herbert E. Roe, Jr. in Auburn Township for $95,000 on Feb. 27.
Clyde E. Pierce and Jane K. Pierce to Erik Lasalle and Dare M. Lasalle in Silver Lake Township for $148,000 on Feb. 2.
Ronald D. Petracca and Julianne M. Petracca to Ronald D. Petracca in Rush Township for $1 on Mar. 1.
Richard J. Lawson and Caroline Lawson to Giovanni Amato and Rosa Amato in Montrose Borough for $150,000 on Feb. 4.
James D. Thomas and Carrie A. Thomas to James D. Thomas in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Oct. 31 (two parcels).
John K. Milligan and Linda L. Milligan to John K. Milligan in Jessup Township for $1 on Dec. 17, 2003.
Estate of Elizabeth Ledward, aka Betty Ledward by Raymond W. Ledward, Jr., Executor, to Santo R. Zuzolo in Herrick Township on Feb. 23.
Ardith Callender and Spencer Callender and Vivian Stevans to Ardith Callender and Vivian Stevens in Jackson Township for $1 on Mar. 2.
Mark E. Caterson and Lisa Caterson and Todd W. Smith and Heather A. Smith to Robert C. Wert and Grace E. Wert in Montrose Borough for $65,000 on Feb. 28.
Estate of Robert P. Dolan, Administrator of the Estate of Robert P. Dolan to Gale W. Bedford in Dimock Township for $101,000 on Feb. 25.
Javier Roa to Thomas C. Hada in Jessup Township for $75,000 on Mar. 4.
Don Overfield aka Donald M. Overfield, Sr. and Sandra Overfield to Donald M. Overfield in Bridgewater Township for $1 ogvc on Mar. 5.
Thomas J. Lopatofsky and Donna M. Fekette to Robert C. Barnikow & Denise E. Barnikow in Brooklyn Township for $17,500 on Feb. 18.
William L. Book to William D. Book in Dimock Township for $1 ogvc for Feb. 27.
Diane Lynn Kilmer, Douglas Payne Gibson, Robert Gibson, Dawn Marie Gibson, Duane Lee Gibson, Helen M. Gibson and Robert N. Gibson to Robert N. Gibson in Uniondale Borough for $1 on May 19, 2003.
Arthur E. Gullstrand to Tobin A. Crawford in Oakland Borough for $64,000 on Feb. 21.
Leslie M. Evans and Joan M. Evans to Robert W. Laman II in Apolacon Township for $20,053.84 on Mar. 5.
Larry R. Mowry and Elizabeth S. Mowry to Jeremy Mowry and Amy Mowry in Auburn Township for $1 and love and affection on April 19.
Jennifer Coombs Megivern, individually and as Trustee of the T/W of Margaret E. Coombs to Jennifer Megivern and John T. Megivern in Brooklyn Township for $1 on Feb. 18.
Bruce Ross & Nancy Ross, Raymond Swingle & Lulu Swingle, Jerilee Turner, James T. O'Brien & Kathleen D. O'Brien, Barbara Campbell, Clarence Fleming & Anne and Judd Roberts & Marilyn Roberts, by POA Nancy Ross "OR" Jerilee Turner to The Soltis Trust in Herrick Township for $52,000 on Feb. 24.
Jay A. Henderson and Marcie A. Henderson to Edward Shelp & Martha L. Gardiner-Shelp in Choconut Township for $125,000 on Mar. 3.
Mark Wasileski and Catherine Wasileski to Mark Wasileski and Catherine Wasileski in Forest City Borough for $1 on Mar. 2.
William M. Dovin and Jennifer F. Dovin to William M. Dovin in Choconut Township for $1 on Feb. 23.
Joseph Sharar, Spotswood, NJ, had his Hunsinger Rd., Liberty Township, residence burglarized between Feb. 8-25. No one was at this residence at the time. The burglar kicked the door in and stole three mirrored beer signs and a pellet gun. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
Robert Graham, Berwyn, had his storage shed on Johnson Rd., Franklin Township, burglarized between Feb. 19-27. A rear window was broken and a Stihl 18-inch chainsaw and a red Craftsman tool box were taken. Call the PA State Police at 570-465-3154 with any information.
On Feb. 26 between 9:00 - 9:30 p.m. someone threw a metal post through a neon sign at Lunkerdz Deli, Clifford. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
Someone arrived at two vacation trailers on Creek Rd., Gibson Township, owned by Paul Smith, Exeter, and Joseph M. Parodski, Hatfield, and smashed windows to gain entrance. The entire trailers were ransacked and things were broken. Removed were two portable deer stands belonging to Smith. Parodski was not able to check for stolen property. The incidents occurred between Feb. 20-29. Anyone with information is asked to call the Gibson Barracks at 570-465-3154.
Jim Susavage, New Milford, and James Moran, Hallstead, engaged in a mutual fight in the parking lot of Maloney's Bar, Hallstead, on Feb. 21 at 1:30 a.m. Both were arrested and charges were filed with District Justice Peter Janicelli.
Ken Bryden, New Milford, was arraigned before District Justice Peter Janicelli and released on posted bail of $5000 after he was shooting a handgun in the air and pointed it at the family. The incident occurred on Lackawanna Street, New Milford Borough, on Feb. 28.
Two vending machines, a "spiral" gumball machine and a plush toys claw machine were located outside the Great Bend Exxon on the sidewalk. Someone stole the gumball machine and smashed the toys machine then stole some stuffed animals. The machines belong to Vail Brothers, Inc. Apalachin, NY. The incident occurred sometime between Feb. 1-27. Call PA State Police with any information.
Exxon Gas Station, New Milford Township, reported a drive-off worth $14 on Feb. 26. The vehicle was described as a newer model Chrysler white minivan.
Between Feb. 14-21, a Heart Lake residence, Bridgewater Township, was broken into. The residence belongs to Gary A. Gelatt Jr., Kingsley.
On Feb. 24 between 7:40 a.m. and 3:10 p.m. someone stole a green tailgate from an F-150 at the Hayloft Bar, Lawton.
Someone damaged a mailbox belonging to Earl Kelly, Township Route 648, New Milford Township, on Feb. 21.
April Kassett, Montrose, was traveling north on State Route 267, Middletown Township, when she lost control of her 1997 Ford Taurus. The vehicle went across the roadway and struck a guide rail on Feb 24. No injuries were noted on the police report.
Between Feb. 21-24, someone pushed in the plexi-glass window on the front door of Amy's Hair Salon, Susquehanna Depot. Contact PA State Police with any information.
Someone smashed a window out of an overhead garage door on Erie Ave., Susquehanna Borough, at Culnane's Garage on Feb. 24.
Someone stole some tools from Charles H. Ross at Township Route 385, Lenox Township between Feb. 21-23.
Therese J. Rood, 47, Great Bend, was traveling east on State Route 706, Bridgewater Township, on Feb. 23 at 11:40 p.m. and struck a utility pole with a 1996 Toyota Corolla. No injury occurred.
On Jan. 30 at 11:43 p.m., Claudia Peralpa, New York, NY, and Michael Perez, Brentwood, NY, pumped gasoline into their vehicle at the Pump n Pantry, Great Bend Township, and fled prior to paying. Their license plate was obtained and, when caught they stated they forgot to pay. They then paid, and were not prosecuted.
HIT & RUN CRASH
On Mar. 6 at about 10:50 p.m., someone struck and damaged a utility pole on State Route 3001, Elk Lake Rd, Bridgewater Township, and fled the scene toward Elk Lake. Call PSP Gibson with any information.
No injury occurred when Stephen T. Wills, 34, Montrose, ran off of State Route 706, New Milford Township on Mar. 6 at 4:45 a.m. He crashed through a small stand of trees and his vehicle came to rest in a wooded area. He left the vehicle at the scene and failed to report the crash. He stated he fell asleep.
On Mar. 5 at about 12:10 a.m., Casey Shea, 22, S. Gibson, was traveling on State Route 92 near S. Gibson when he lost control of his vehicle while negotiating a curve. The vehicle then struck a tree and came to rest in a pasture. Shea failed to promptly report the crash to police as required, and faces vehicle code violations as a result.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Benjamin Tolerico, 28, Carbondale, was traveling west on State Route 374, Clifford Township, on Mar. 6 at 12:01 a.m., when he failed to negotiate a curve, traveling into the south berm where he hit a utility pole. He was not hurt.
Joan Long, 57, Hallstead, was not injured when a right tire blew out on her vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway, then collided with a tree on State Route 11, New Milford Township, on Mar. 4 at 10:15 a.m.
Someone removed a road sign on State Route 547, Harford Township, that belonged to Jeffer's Farm, Kingsley, between Feb. 21-22 and Mar 2. Anyone with information please contact the PA State Police Gibson at 570-465-3154.
A warrant was served on William Emerson Norton, 21, Clifford, as he turned himself into PSP Gibson. He is charged with burglary, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief, unsworn falsification to authorities and corruptions of minors regarding an incident on Dec. 8-9, 2001.
Arlos Country Store, State Route 171, Ararat Township, reported a drive off of gasoline on Feb. 28 at 5:50 p.m. The suspect vehicle was a white Dodge Dynasty, last seen traveling west on Fiddle Lake Rd.
On Mar. 3 at 12:40 a.m., Mark Steven Swingle, 22, Forest City, lost control of his 1991 Buick Regal on State Route 247, Clifford Township, which went off the roadway and struck a ditch with its front end. He had minor injuries and was taken to Marion Community Hospital for treatment.
Sometime between Dec. 3 and Mar. 2, a cabin at East Lake, New Milford Township, belonging to Robert Loucks, Great Bend, was burglarized. Taken were a Sylvania DVD/VCR player, a computer tower and monitor, 3 Nintendo games and about 25 other games. An investigation continues.
On Mar. 2 at 12:30 p.m., someone drove off with $12 in unleaded gasoline from the Pump & Pantry, Bridgewater Township.
Joseph Lee Rogers, State Route 3001, Bridgewater Township, reported that on Mar. 1 at 7:30 a.m., a burglary took place at his residence in Maple Park. The value of the items was approximately $3.
Montrose, PA "The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), with the National Weather Service (NWS) will conduct a statewide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Friday, March 19, at 10:10 a.m.," said Mark Wood, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for Susquehanna County.
"This EAS test, with David Sanko, Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency providing the message will follow a statewide exercise of severe weather emergency response plans and procedures conducted by the 67 county emergency management agencies with community-based special care facilities," he commented.
According to the coordinator, the exercise provides county and local emergency personnel, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and day care centers the opportunity to test and refine their emergency plans, under non-emergency conditions.
"The National Weather Service and PEMA will provide exercise-related weather information over our normal weather communications systems," the coordinator said.
"As the scenario conditions become more serious, we will alert key county staff, municipal officials and those special care facilities where staff can review their procedures about what to do, had this been an actual weather emergency.
"Essential to effective community public safety is our ability to alert and inform residents of approaching severe weather conditions so that appropriate precautions can be taken," Mr. Wood said. He continued with, "The EAS network allows state and county officials to broadcast essential information and instructions about developing conditions that could threaten public safety."
The Emergency Alert System is a voluntary network of more than 300 radio and television stations across the state that have agreed to provide authorized federal, state and local officials access to their broadcast capability. This system is an essential communications link between government and the public.
When conditions occur that threaten public safety, emergency management staffs activate the EAS system by contacting a designated radio station. Using an electronic notification system and the procedures defined in the states EAS plan, area radio and television stations receive and re-broadcast the information from the emergency management agency.
During Weather Emergency Preparedness Week in Pennsylvania, emergency preparedness officials urge residents to identify what could happen where they live and to develop a family emergency response plan. This plan describes what to do and where to go if severe weather occurs. It should be in writing and should be discussed with all family members.
Oakland Boro council had important decisions to make at their March 11 meeting; whether to opt into enforcing the states new Uniform Construction Code, to allow the Department of Labor & Industry to enforce it, or to designate a third-party inspector? And, if it was decided to opt in, who would be the boros designated building inspector, the current CEO, who would be "grandfathered" in for a three-year period, an independent concern, or an entity such as COG? After a lengthy discussion with CEO Shane Lewis, a motion carried to designate Mr. Lewis as the inspector of record. Mr. Lewis said that, as of now, he does not intend to take the courses necessary to become a certified inspector, which take about six months, but that he could change his mind in the next year or so. And, Mr. Lewis could continue as the boros CEO even after the three-year period. Mr. Lewis can be the designated inspector for residences for three years, and five years for commercial structures with the exception of buildings that require handicap accessibility. Inspection of those would be the province of the state Department of Labor and Industry. Inspections would be required for new structures, and for existing buildings undergoing alterations or additions.
Mr. Lewis reported that he had met with a representative of L & I regarding the new codes. There would be one repercussion in enforcing the new UCC regulations. Those structures where there are "stacked" apartments would need to be registered with L & I and subsequently approved by them; side-by-side apartments would not apply. The registration entails an 18-page application, which must also include a state inspection. While discussing this same topic with Susquehanna Boros council, Mr. Lewis said that, at the suggestion of councilman Ron Whitehead it had been decided to hold a public meeting so that affected property owners could be made aware of the registration requirements. Oaklands council agreed that this was a good idea, and will plan to hold a similar meeting.
In other business, Mr. Lewis gave council an update of several codes violations. One complaint dealt with garbage being dumped; Mr. Lewis noted that the new UCC regulations require adherence to DEP regulations, which entail a wide range of restrictions on burning or burying of waste. Local municipalities would be responsible for enforcing Act 97, which covers those actions.
Chad Crawford updated council on the streets committees projects, including several drainage problems that are in the process of being addressed.
Continuing discussion on a retaining wall on River Rd., council president Ron Beavan reported that a CDBG grant application has been approved by the county commissioners and has been submitted to Harrisburg for approval. Reports indicate that there is an excellent chance of the grant being approved, by the end of June, in the amount of $20,000. In the meantime, it has been determined that the wall is the boros responsibility. Replacing it could cost $30,000, with the balance to be paid by the boro. The project cannot be put out to bid until the grant is approved; one grant requirement is that an engineers report will be necessary to determine the cost of replacing the wall.
Council had previously discussed whether to fence in the water plants well heads, or plant shrubbery around them. Councilman Dubanowitz had obtained prices for six-foot lilac trees, which are not attractive to deer (for feeding). Price, $25 each, planted and mulched, total $150 for six. It was agreed that this is a more attractive and cost efficient option than fencing.
New members of the water committee will be Randy Glover, who will replace Bob VanFleet, and possibly Dave Dibble, to replace Chad Crawford. Mr. Beavan indicated that Mr. Dibble had expressed an interest, but as Mr. Dibble was not present at the meeting, Mr. Beavan did not want to commit him to serving on the committee.
During public comment, concerns discussed included an exposed sluice pipe, a hole at the edge of a road, water on Prospect St., potholes, and what one resident perceived as continuous harassment, by council and residents alike, of boro employees. Roadmaster Jack Agler agreed to see what can be done about a water shutoff valve; the valve housing is considerably higher than the road and has been damaged several times by vehicles.
Mr. Beavan read a letter from the boros emergency management coordinator, George Smith, detailing what equipment could be purchased to prepare for community emergencies and admonishing council members not to be apathetic to the needs of the boros residents.
In a related subject, Mr. Beavan reported that Mr. Smith had responded to a structure fire in the boro, and had been told by a member of the ambulance crew to leave the scene. He commended Mr. Smith for, in effect, seeing to his responsibilities as emergency coordinator. A letter will be sent to the fire department, explaining that Mr. Smiths position was approved by the governing council and stressing that he did not interfere with emergency personnel.
Cynthia Beavan, councils representative for River Bounty and for SOLIDA, gave an update on those entities. A River Bounty meeting is scheduled in the near future; its last meeting had been canceled due to lack of a quorum. As for SOLIDA, the county commissioners plan to pass an ordinance to take responsibility for the access road to the industrial park, making it a public road. There is a problem; the railroad has closed the crossing on the property, making part of the tract inaccessible to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Legal avenues are being explored by the church.
Mr. Beavan and councilman Doug Arthur had met with a representative from an organization called Recap, which could assist in writing grants for improvements to the boro building property. Mr. Beavan also met with Liz Janoski, director of the county Department of Economic Development, to discuss obtaining grant funding through the KOZ program (the building is listed with KOZ). There were some questions he has, such as whether grants would need to be repaid if the building is eventually sold. But, in the meantime, the building is eligible for a complete assessment by an engineer, to determine its structural integrity and what repairs are in immediate need of being addressed. This would be at no cost to the boro. There have been numerous discussions as to what should be done with the building; repair it, or sell it and build a new boro building. After discussion, it was agreed to pursue grant funding to have an old fuel tank removed and to get the engineers report. Once those goals have been accomplished, council will take another look at its options and decide how to proceed.
Mr. Beavan commented that there have been a number of suggestions made for the buildings use, such as a day care center, or even a community center, ideas that should be explored further. He added that he would like to see more community involvement in the boro; community affairs such as dances or block parties could be organized as well as projects, like cleaning the park. "Id like to see the community pull together," he said.
Council members Crawford, Dubanowitz and Arthur agreed to continue on the streets committee. At Mr. Crawfords suggestion, the committee will compile a long-range plan for paving the boros streets.
And, there was a question posed to Mr. Agler about (small) stone trucks using the boro streets. It was noted that there is a ten-ton limit on Westfall Ave., which would prevent any heavier vehicles from using other, side streets. Mr. Agler agreed to relay this information to the quarry owner.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 8, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
With Lathrop Street Elementary School principal Greg Adams and his counterpart at the Choconut Valley School, Chris McComb on hand, Montrose Area School District board members heard superintendent Mike Ognosky make another impassioned plea to move forward on making full-day kindergarten a reality.
The basis of Ognoskys argument aside from an expressed need for it by parents and administrators was a $254,000 grant from the state that needs to be put to work next school year, and next school year only. Ognosky expressed that he would prefer to use this money "for things we can get that will be here longer than a year" like full-day kindergarten.
He also had on hand statistics that indicated an additional savings of about $111,000 (principally in transportation) if, in fact, full-day kindergarten were to become a reality.
Ognosky thinks the quarter million from the state will do it a "golden opportunity" he called it and wants to move along briskly on the budgeting and other processes involved. Hed like to get an estimate of the total cost and savings to directors as soon as possible so that they can "look at it as something feasible in the budget." And, with the $251,000 needing to be used, he didnt think June 27 the budget date for the next school year would give the district enough time to be ready for full-day kindergarten come the fall. (The $111,000 would be a savings in terms of the budget in the first year of an operational full-day kindergarten program, and not something to carry forward in subsequent years.)
And despite Ognoskys enthusiasm, the Board wants to build a process. Board president Ken Gould wants to "see if we can afford it first; its [full-day kindergarten] impact is everlasting in recurring costs." Board vice president Celeste Ridler agreed, saying shed love to see a proposal. Thus, it appears that Ognosky, secretary Lewis Plauny and the elementary school principals will be teaming up to provide the Board with the numbers that it wants first, before it decides how it wants to move forward, and put the $254,000 from the state to work for the district.
In other elementary school-related discussion, secretary Lewis Plauny requested the boards go-ahead to allow Highland Associates engineers to work on two phases of the Choconut building renovations, instead of just the one, allowing them economies of scale that would save the district more than $8,000 if they were done separately.
The work involved is not only the more secure entrance and reconfiguration of classrooms/office to the right of it, but also having a garage built that would get oil tanks and mechanical equipment out of the building. This space would then be reworked for teaching and storage.
The Board also asked safety and security director Rick Clapper to go out to bid on upgrading the student lockers in the boys and girls room. This would mean not just a new place for students to put their stuff, but also fixing the showers, tiles and a spruce up in these areas in general.
Ognosky also ran the proposed 2004-2005 school calendar past the group. As presented and following feedback from other area school districts, the first day (actually, first full week) of school would be Monday, August 30, wrapping up on June 3, for 180 student days. Five snow days are built in, and the calendar accommodates seven teacher days (the first two in the week before school opens).
A couple of the directors thought that perhaps it was too much to ask the kids to come back to a full week of school after summer recess. Ognosky responded that this was discussed with other school administrators and dropped because the schedule includes Pennsylvania assessment testing for all required grades in March. These would be half-days. In the past, these half-days would be
taken at the end of the school year, but because, Ognosky said, "this is high-stakes testing," school administrators want to do what they can so that students do well, including providing breakfast on testing days at the elementary schools and snacks at the high school. (As an aside, Ognosky noted that some schools have, in the past, told their slower learners to stay home during testing days something they wont get away with under No Child Left Behind, which requires all testing for all students.)
The calendar, as noted, is a proposed one, and provided as a kind of preview to the directors before its formally acted upon at a regular board meeting.
In other discussion, directors agreed to scotch the purchase of transportation radios, because, as most area cell-phone users know, of the number of dead-reception areas on several routes. Members expressed the hope that eventually there would be a cell tower, or perhaps affordable satellite radio, that would accommodate such communication.
The next work session of the Montrose Area School Board is scheduled to immediately follow its 6:30 regular meeting on April 16 at the high school cafeteria.
Susquehanna Boro Council met on March 9 with Vice President Matis presiding in the absence of President Williams.
At a previous meeting, council had discussed a request from retired police officer David Scales for a cost of living adjustment; Mr. Williams had wanted to obtain additional information on the matter. As Mr. Williams was not present his findings were unavailable to council at this time, the matter was tabled until the next meeting.
The mayor reported that two of the boros police officers had aided in a rescue at a serious fire in Oakland Boro, where a house and a garage had been fully engulfed.
Under new business, council discussed an inquiry from the branch library, regarding putting up directional signs at four entrances to the boro; the library is looking into what state regulations apply and asked councils support in the project. Council agreed that the signs are a good idea, and that the streets department could help out by putting the signs up once they are purchased. No action was taken pending further information.
It was noted that streets commissioner Steve Glover had recently been honored for twenty years of service on the municipal authority board.
Barnes-Kasson Hospital will be celebrating its 100th birthday, and requested councils support for a celebration planned for July 10, including a parade. A motion carried to approve.
The boros Crimewatch organization is, as always, looking for volunteers. Beginning in April, monthly meetings will be held; the meetings had been suspended for the winter months but will now be held year-round. Meetings are held the fourth Thursday of the month, 7 p.m. in the boro building. The group will be planning fund-raisers, proceeds to be used to buy Crimewatch signs.
The lengthiest discussion was regarding the states new Uniform Construction Code, which goes into effect on April 8. Municipalities need to opt in or out of enforcing the codes, and to designate an inspector. A motion carried to designate CEO Shane Lewis as the boros residential inspector; as the boros inspector of record prior to the new law going into effect, he will be "grandfathered" for a three-year period for residential inspections. Labor and Industry will conduct inspections of exterior structures where handicap accessibility is needed.
Mr. Lewis reported that he had met with a representative of L & I to discuss some outstanding issues with the new code. One concern is that any "stacked" units (apartments) must be registered with L & I, the same as commercial structures. A law has been in existence since 1927 requiring registration but hasnt really been enforced. But, with the new codes going into effect, property owners will have to comply. "People are going to be upset," Mr. Lewis said, "but we have no choice." The boro will provide copies of the necessary paperwork, which also requires a floor plan from a certified engineer or architect. There are some situations where an owner could be exempt, such as two family homes where both units are occupied by family members. And, there are some situations where variances for old, existing structures might apply.
Once the form is submitted to L & I, they will review it, as well as the plans and contact the owner if there are any concerns.
It was agreed to schedule a public meeting, so that information could be made available to owners whose properties are affected, and give an opportunity to have their questions answered. Mr. Lewis said that the local L & I representative is in charge of a three-county area and most likely will not be available to attend the meeting, but he will be invited to do so. In the meantime, council will set a date for the public meeting at their March 17 meeting.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue. Council reconvened briefly, to approve hiring of Michelle Summers, part-time to the police department. Ms. Summers will be used on a fill-in basis, whenever an officer is not able to work a scheduled shift.
Directors of the Forest City Regional School District Board of Education indicated by silent vote last week that they are not ready to pursue a suggestion that the district consider installing seat belts in school buses.
Following a presentation on the subject by Patricia Chesnick, transportation director, and Karen Forsette, business manager, board President Tom Baileys asked the directors if they had any interest in pursuing the proposal. There was no response.
"Not a single board member is interested in pursuing it further," Mr. Baileys said. "I think the Democratic process has been served," he added, indicating that the school district responded to a parents suggestion by looking into it before deciding not to pursue it.
In their presentation, Mrs. Chesnick and Mrs. Forsette presented pros and cons on the issue. Board members contributed some doubtful thoughts on the subject.
The speakers opened the program with statistics that revealed more children are killed or injured in automobile accidents than in school bus crashes. They quoted from reports compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that shows students are nearly eight times safer riding in a school bus than in cars.
Some reasons why school buses are safer than cars include the clearly recognizable yellow color, special equipment that attracts attention, such as the flashing lights and pop-out stop signs, and motorists cannot pass school buses.
The speakers also said that adding seat belts would reduce a present 72-passenger bus to 48 because it would eliminate the current practice of three students in a seat. They said the end result in Forest City Regional would be the need for four additional school buses.
While the NHTSA did not endorse seat belts, the agency said it was considering some changes to existing federal regulations. Most prevalent suggestions would be to increase back height from 20 inches to 24 inches to reduce the potential for passenger override in the event of a crash; a requirement that buses under 10,000 pounds have lap/shoulder restraints; and, develop standardized test procedures for voluntarily installed lap/shoulder belts.
The NHTSA report concluded that requiring lap belts on large, new school buses would appear to have little, if any, benefit in reducing serious-to-fatal injuries in severe frontal crashes. In rare circumstances, tests indicate that in some severe frontal crashes there may be increased risk of serious neck injuries and possibly abdominal injury among young passengers wearing lap belts.
Of concern to some of the school directors was the problem that would be created if some teenagers do not stay buckled up in their seats.
"What do you do about that?" Director Hank Nebzydoski asked.
"Would the driver have to stop the bus and secure the kids who unbuckle themselves?" Mary Emmett added. She said it could cause the buses to be late arriving at school if the driver did have to stop the bus periodically to secure the kids.
In another matter, Superintendent Bernice Lukus said the district was awarded a tutoring grant of $31,250. She said the money will be used for tutoring before and after school and for a summer school program in August.
The board approved the following motions:
-Accepting the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 general operating budget for the fiscal year of July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005 in the amount of $2,765,181. The district will pay $13,208 toward the new budget, an increase of $620.
-Adding the following teachers to the 2003-2004 substitute list: Dayna Paciotti, Timothy Hauenstein, Diana Burns, and Kathryn Fonash.
-Appointed Mary Yale as an assistant cook effective March 8.
-Awarding bids for general school supplies to Kurtz Brothers, Phillips Supply Co., and School Specialty.
-Approving the following new high school courses: Modern World History, Pennsylvania History, Geography and Local Government, Introduction to Economics, and Technical Communications.
-Reinstating ninth grade boys basketball program for the 2004-2005 school year after an absence of two years.
-And, adding 7th grade boys and girls basketball coaches as extracurricular positions.
High School Principal Anthony Rusnak reported a student enrollment of 430 and Elementary Principal Ken Swartz said the grade school enrollment is 466.
The Clifford Township Board of Supervisors learned last week that they have until April 30 to decide whether or not to proceed with a plan to install sewers in the Dundaff/Crystal Lake areas of the township.
Bruce Evans, manager of the Greenfield Township Sewer Authority, told the commissioners that failing to reach a decision by then might impact on the townships application for a federal grant that could pay 75 percent of the total cost of the project. He said the grant could be reduced when the 2000 census figures kick in on April 30.
John Regan, chairman of the Board of Township Supervisors, said he will set up meetings prior to the deadline so the supervisors could get answers to some questions about the project. If Clifford goes ahead with the plan, it will connect to neighboring Greenfields sewerage treatment plant on Route 247 near Newton Lake. Mr. Evans provided the supervisors with revised costs for the township to tie-in to the Greenfield plant. He said the bottom line has not changed but the way to arrive at it has been altered.
For example, he said the initial hookup fee of $1,200 per unit has been dropped but the dollar amount is reflected in the townships plant buy in fee. The buy in fee, which is estimated at $520,000 is based upon the cost of expanding the Greenfield plant to accommodate sewage from approximately 150 Equivalent Domestic Units. One EDU equals a single-family two-bedroom house.
The permit fee of $4,000 per household will include the grinder pump, special fittings approved by the Greenfield Township Sewer Authority, electrical panel to operate the pump, plumbing and electrical inspections and office expenses. Mr. Evans said that after the initial 150 hookups, the permit fee will be set at $5,200 which is the same as Greenfield residents are charged.
The user fee of $330 per year has been replaced by carving the cost three ways: $150, treatment fee; $73, transmission fee; and, $107 maintenance fee. Mr. Evans said the user fee will be the same as the sewer authority charges its customers in Greenfield Township.
In another matter, the township passed a public safety and parking ordinance that requires the removal of all vehicles from township roads during periods requiring snow removal. Violators will be cited and fined $500 plus prosecution costs. Moreover, the car owner will pay all costs if the township hauls the vehicle away.
Mr. Regan said there are some township residents who simply refuse requests to move their vehicles so the streets can be plowed.
Griff Reynolds, who has filed for a number of grants for the township, remains confident that the township will get money for a new pitched hip roof on the municipal building. And, Mr. Reynolds said he expects the township will receive grant money for some playground equipment and the restoration of restrooms in the municipal building.
"There is no guarantee," Mr. Reynolds said, "but we are in line."
Mr. Regan said the township needs to prepare roof specifications for bidding the project. Mr. Reynolds said he would prepare them. According to Mr. Reynolds, the hip roof will be pitched and will have aluminum soffets and 40-year shingles.
Mr. Regan said he expects to secure a grant from the Susquehanna County Conservation District to repair four dirt roads in the township. He said the township will qualify for the grant because the surface water on the roads is finding its way to fishing streams. The four roads are School House Road, Mud Road, Abbotes Road, and Janes Lane.
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