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At a workshop on March 22, the Blue Ridge School Board began the first round in its budget deliberations for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Business Manager Loren Small laid out preliminary figures for the revenue side of the budget, cautioning that levels of state subsidy could be difficult to predict, in light of the budget battles in Harrisburg last year that continued well into December. Mr. Small is projecting total revenue next year of just over $13.5 million. Board President Alan Hall said that he was not anticipating an increase in taxes this year.
State subsidies account for almost 56% of Mr. Small's revenue budget. Local sources make up just about 40%. The remainder is Federal money and miscellaneous sources. The Federal "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act has brought major changes to the way schools teach and do business, but it hasn't brought a lot of money along to help. The Board regularly hears reports from school principals about their preparations for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests, and subsequent results; curricula and text books are developed and selected for their application to test requirements. The PSSA is Pennsylvania's response to the NCLB's requirement for regular measurement of student performance. At this workshop, Superintendent Robert McNamara told Board members that some students claimed they had to forego other activities because they were busy preparing for the exams. It's important to "make our students interested in the PSSA," said he.
Board member Joel Whitehead, noting the small impact of Federal money in the overall budget, wondered aloud whether the district could get by without it, and just ignore the unfunded requirements. Mr. McNamara reminded members that, although they might forego Federal money, state law requires schools to participate in most of the programs through legislated mandates, whether or not they are supported with government funds. Federal funds at Blue Ridge aren't expected to top $600,000 next year, less than 4% of the total.
A relatively trivial revenue problem got a lot of attention at the session when Elizabeth Janoski, new Director of the County's Department of Economic Development, appeared to present her case and answer questions. Her predecessors had promoted the state Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program that offered tax relief to developers who promised to start businesses and employ local workers on selected parcels of land. A couple of years ago The Blue Ridge Board got the full-court press on a property near the Gibson exit on Interstate 81, and agreed to give away 12 years of taxes (worth about $1,500 per year) on 122 acres in exchange for 50 or more manufacturing jobs - and two $500 scholarships - from a businessman with local roots who said he would move a plant there from Newark, New Jersey. "They promised us the world, and we got absolutely nothing," Mr. Hall told Ms. Janoski.
When Jim Miller of Miller Brothers construction company, the developer and owner of the parcel, appeared before the School Board with Peter Gulick, the investor, and Annette Senior, then Director of the county Economic Development Department, the Board heard assurances that they would have some say in what happened to the property. The land has now been sold and the county appears to have tossed aside whatever agreement Blue Ridge might have had with Miller Brothers and Mr. Gulick. Ms. Janoski, a veteran of the Montrose Courthouse wars, recommended that the Board contact its solicitor for advice. "I don't know what they're going to do," she said, offering no support and taking no responsibility for the role her office took in the fiasco in the first place. She said she wanted to "put [her] time where it's best spent for the betterment of the county." Ms. Janoski will face a very skeptical Board should she come before it again with a similar proposal. In fact, the old Hallstead Foundry property is a candidate for a similar tax abatement program, although buildings on KOZ property can be included only if they are "up to code," which the foundry visibly is not. Board member Priscinda Gaughan called the "contract" with the developers of the Miller property a "farce." Mr. Hall told Ms. Janoski that his board had been "'deceived' by your predecessors and prior commissioners." In the end, Board members generously wished Ms. Janoski well in her new position, and hoped to work cooperatively with her.
High School Principal Michael Thornton reported that the new fitness room is in full operation, all students currently signed up have been through the required assessment process, and all High School Physical Education classes are using the equipment. Some staff have also been using it, after school, and the baseball team has started using the equipment for conditioning. He said that further use of the facility outside of normal class time would require the attendance of qualified supervisors, and that ideas are now under consideration for summertime use by the community. The National School Fitness Foundation, developer and financial supporter of the program, recently held a seminar for other nearby schools at Blue Ridge. Middle School Principal John Manchester said that his older students are now being prepared for introduction to the fitness center when they move to the High School next Fall.
The Board's workshop was preceded by committee meetings, and the Activities Committee under Mr. Hall instructed Mr. Thornton to rein in an obstreperous softball booster club. For the past several months Mr. Hall has been on the warpath about the proper use of the school colors (red and white), and the fundraising proclivities of some of the schools' support organizations, including the many booster clubs. He has demanded that each of the organizations be properly registered as tax-exempt, non- profit entities, and their fund-raising activities be vetted by the Board's Activities Committee. This time he asked Mr. Thornton and Activities Director James Corse to have the softball boosters respond to the committee about their "unauthorized" fund-raising activities. He also ordered Mr. Thornton to quash the club's current fund-raisers, and to have the club refund any money already collected.
The Committee also agreed to recommend the appointment of Suzanne Seamans as advisor to a new Math Club for the 4th and 5th grades. The club would meet after school, and was originally the idea of Ms. Seamans, who is the district's coordinator of programs for gifted students, but not a state- certified teacher. Mr. Hall had asked that the new position - which would be added to the list of Schedule B posts attached to the teachers' contract - be posted for suitable applicants. Ms. Seamans was the only applicant, and so will be recommended by the Committee for the job.
A proposal that surfaced a couple of months ago from a parent will come to life on April 16th when family night for the elementary grades will offer a movie with popcorn in the gymnasium. The idea is to help engage parents with students in the schools. Parents will be required to participate with their children, and are encouraged to bring something to sit on. The Committee was enthusiastic to try this out, and there will be no admission fee, although they expect to charge 25 cents for a bag of popcorn, and maybe 50 cents for a drink. The first movie will be "Brother Bear," and will start at 7:00 p.m.
The next public meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will be on April 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Susquehanna Boro council met on March 23 with Chad Haley and Bill Kuiper not in attendance.
The mayors report gave a summary of a meeting held earlier that day, the second advisory committee meeting of the Susquehanna River Trail project, which is an attempt to get federal designation for our part of the river. Representatives of neighboring municipalities, in both PA and New York, met to discuss what services are available along the river; local business owners were also invited. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for some time in August.
Council was apprised that proposed changes to the ordinances regarding curfew and parking were just made available earlier in the day; those were tabled until council has time to review them. Three resolutions were approved; the first, requesting that the PA 92 Byway designation be introduced into (state) legislation. The second, allowing the boro to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Susquehanna Community Development Association to form a Main Street committee, and the third to approve submission of the DCED application for Main Street Affiliate status. The application is expected to be submitted to Harrisburg shortly.
Streets commissioner Steve Glover reported that he and Robbie Hall have been patching potholes. The sweeper has been checked out, in preparation for spring cleaning of the streets. It is in need of some parts; funds are available in the budget to pay for them. The sweeper itself does have some rust spots, in need of patching; Mr. Glover plans to fix those himself. The boro has a 40-hour obligation through the Agility program to clean Main Street, the Veterans Memorial Bridge and part of Lanesboro. As the present agreement expires next year, Mr. Glover recommended that council consider what services should be exchanged when the agreement is renewed; the agreement covers a five-year period. He said that a representative from PENNDOT would be willing to come to a meeting to discuss which services qualify, on both PENNDOTs part and the boros. Hopefully, the sweeping will be started in April, keeping with the past schedule of Tuesdays and Thursdays, although it would depend on the weather. Days where there is light rain are usually better.
At Dave Bakers request, Mr. Glover and several council members will inspect the upper portion of High St. Mr. Baker has purchased the last house on the road and is renovating it. The inspection will be to determine what repairs are needed. Mr. Glover felt that it would need to be regraded, and have some drainage work done. Also to be determined is whether or not a turnaround will be needed for the snow plow; it is possible that a proposed road, connecting to East St., would be able to be used, eliminating the need for a turnaround.
Fifteen street sign posts need to be ordered; some old ones were knocked down during the winter and cannot be reused. The signs are for no parking and speed limits; funds for the poles are available in the budget.
Already planning for next winter, Mr. Glover requested that 2RC and anti-skid be put out to bid; usually, he said, he obtained price quotes. But, putting the material out to bid could allow the boro to get a better price. PENNDOT forms would be used, with bids to be opened at a council meeting. He added that the state auditors do prefer that bids be advertised for these materials. Lastly, Mr. Glover reported that the 1997 truck had needed some repairs.
After Mr. Glovers report, he was given a certificate of appreciation by council, in recognition of his twenty years service on the board of the Tri-Boro Municipal Authority.
After review of the monthly codes and police reports, council adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, April 13, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Raid Nets Three
Three men were arrested last week after Susquehanna County Chief Probation Officer Jeff Shoemaker chased down a tip that one of them was brewing a batch of methamphetamine in his Bridgewater Township home.
Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that is closely related to amphetamine but the nervous system effects of it are greater. Street methamphetamine is often referred to as speed, meth and chalk.
The principal figure in the arrest was identified as 24 year-old Marvin Brotzman of Terrace Park, Bridgewater Township. Others arrested were Brian Brown, 45, of Laceyville, and Norman Fassett, 42, of Mehoopany. All were charged with drug-related offenses and Mr. Brotzman faces an additional charge of parole violation.
Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg was notified and represented the Commonwealth at their arraignments before District Justice Watson Dayton. Mr. Dayton remanded them to the Susquehanna County Jail after they failed to produce bail.
According to an affidavit of probable cause (APC), Mr. Shoemaker received information on March 24 that Mr. Brotzman may have been involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Mr. Shoemaker went to the Brotzman residence, along with probation officers Allen Smith and Sami Bourizk.
When they arrived, they detected a strong chemical odor coming from Mr. Brotzmans mobile home. When they entered the trailer, Mr. Brotzman admitted he was manufacturing methamphetamine. State Police from Gibson Barracks arrived a short time later and Trooper Curtis Szczecinski filed charges against the three suspects. At the Gibson Barracks, Mr. Brotzman told Trooper Szczecinski that he stole ephedrine pills the day before his arrest. He also said that he purchased Thrust, a solvent, and with his friends, went to Jessup Township where they began the chemical process of making methamphetamine. The manufacturing process was continuing the following day when Messrs. Shoemaker, Smith and Bourizk made an unexpected visit to the mobile home.
PSSA tests are being given in various school grades to help evaluate a school district's educational success by comparing results with other schools in the state. The results are used to measure progress in student learning and relates to the fairly new "No Child Left Behind" programs.
At Elk Lake's latest school board meeting the district directors learned of the good and the bad side of these tests. First, the good news. Elementary School Principal Chuck Pirone described how Elks' 6th graders were doing relative to others in the state. The 6th grade is tested on writing skills, and 69 percent of Elk Lake students fell in the advanced or proficient levels, compared with 56 percent at the state level. Another 25 percent fell in the basic category, not quite up to par, and 6 percent were below basic. State figures for the two were 31 percent and 13 percent respectively. Therefore larger percentages of students made a good or very good score compared with the state averages, and less made a fair or poor (below standards) score than the rest of the state.
On the other hand, one student refused to take the 11th grade PSSA tests recently. This has created a situation since the state says that 95 percent of students must be tested or there will be consequences for the district. Warnings can be given to the schools, and over a couple of years, at the extreme, those warnings could lead to state take-over of the district. In small schools, one student's refusal could reduce the participation to below the 95 percent benchmark.
An attempt to cope with the student who refused to take the test was made by calling in the parents and informing them of the fall-out that could come back on the district, to no avail. High school principal Ken Cuomo called the state to find out how to deal with this so that they didn't fall into the "warning" category. Apparently, there are no ways to exclude that student from the count. After much discussion, Cuomo was finally told that the state suggested disciplinary action, since areas of exclusion didn't apply here (special education students, parental request for exclusion for religious reasons and extended absence).
Cuomo asked the board to consider disciplinary actions to "put the responsibility back on the student." These included 10 days of out-of-school suspension, removal of driving privileges and removal of school extracurricular activities.
The most severe discipline would occur with 11th grade students who could be refused a diploma at graduation, since "technically, students can't receive a diploma unless they meet the requirements as determined by the statewide test."
Options for a student at that point would be to transfer to a private school, be home-schooled, attend cyber school, or quit school. To be continued.
The energy savings program that was approved at least month's board meeting contingent upon approval of a contract has apparently come upon a snag. Energy was to be saved through installation of more technologically advanced lighting, ventilation, water cooling, and a new system for the pool area.
Superintendent Bill Bush recommended at this most recent meeting that the program be put on hold, and received permission to advertise for bids for the dehumidification system for the pool. The only explanation was that the district was "not choosing to go ahead with the contract at this time" with the energy company.
The administration has said from the beginning that the pool system is waiting for a malfunction to happen, and have felt it might be better to put in a new system on their own timing rather than allow a malfunction to determine when a new system is installed.
A math curriculum change was approved which would allow students taking Algebra and more advance math classes to re-take the class if their grades were barely passing. It also would give the students an additional credit for the second attempt. The rationale here was that if they are only just passing, they have less chance of success in future math classes. After considering this change for a month the board approved the change, with Ann Copeland and Alice Carr voting against it.
Approval was given for application of an EETT grant which addresses technology in the school which has been evaluated as being in need of some help. A grant of about $33,000 would give the school money for staff development as well as software and hardware.
Board members were encouraged to approve a resolution denouncing a back-end referendum which is part of proposed state legislation regarding school funding. The PSBA (Pennsylvania School Board Association) has regularly encouraged its members to fight the referendum, giving them materials for inclusion in letters to their legislators, etc. The resolution passed.
At the Career & Technology Center board meeting, two bids were awarded to further the house construction project. The foundation was only bid upon by Benedict Construction which offered two options. The lower one which received the award was for $25,358. Two excavation bids were received with Gary Darrow Construction offering the lowest bid at $9,950.
Tuition for adult students for 2004-05 at the Career and Technology Center was set at the same figure as the last year, $6000. In the automotive area, a tech prep grant of $10,000 will be matched with a little more than that from the Center, $10,016.42, to bring equipment up to date and secure an excellent rating on their program.
Kenneth Lee Ferger, 46, Jackson Township, and Penny Jo Krishan, 48, Jackson Township.
Leroy Cottrell, Jr. to Leroy Cottrell, Jr., Donna M. Harding and Lori A. Cook in Clifford Township for $1 on Jan. 15.
Kenneth M. Doolittle to Kenneth M. Doolittle in New Milford Township for $1 on Feb. 4.
Kenneth M. Doolittle to John A. Knapp II and Karen Knapp aka Karen Reno Knapp in New Milford Township for $100 on Feb. 26.
Kenneth M. Doolittle, John A. Knapp II and Karen Reno Knapp to John A. Knapp II and Karen Reno Knapp in New Milford Township for $30,000 on Feb. 4.
John A. Knapp II and Karen Knapp aka Karen Reno Knapp to Kenneth M. Doolittle in New Milford Township for $100 on Feb. 26.
Roger D. Bennett and Elizabeth S. Bennett to Charles Kritch and Nancy L. Kritch in Lenox Township for $54,000 on Feb. 19.
Louis W. Hawley and Natalie J. Hawley to William L. Chamberlin in Montrose Borough for $57,000 on Feb. 27.
Edmund Goldenberg and Sybil Goldenberg to Steven E. Goldenberg in Apolacon Township in Susquehanna County and Warren Township in Bradford Township for $1 on Feb. 4.
Village of Four Seasons Association, Inc. to Village of Four Seasons Association, Inc. in Herrick Township for $1 on Jan. 31.
Clair S. Swingle, Jr. and Barbara R. Swingle to Barbara R. Swingle in Friendsville Borough for $1 on Feb. 11.
R. Scott Tingley to R. Scott Tingley in New Milford Borough for $1 ogvc on Mar. 11.
Jesse Manzer and Minerva M. Manzer to Frank H. Holtsmaster in Lenox Township for $4,000 on Mar. 11.
Mary F. Donnelly to Mary F. Donnelly and Edward Donnelly in Forest Lake Township for $1 on Feb. 24.
Catherine E. White to Sara K. White in Clifford Township for $1 on Mar. 5.
Kenneth M. Doolittle to James B. Biagi and Patricia A. Biagi in New Milford Township for $149,900 on Feb. 26.
David B. Smith and Paulette E. Smith to Robert J. Bastek and Jane Jones in Forest City Borough for $57,700 on Mar. 6.
Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Albert J. Fassett and Linda Fassett in Great Bend Township for $1 on Mar. 3.
Albert J. Fassett and Linda Fassett to Michael A. Carpino in Great Bend Township for $23,200 on Mar. 10.
Richard Patrick Donnelly and Mary L. Donnelly to Maryjo Donnelly Gana in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Mar. 11.
Richard Patrick Donnelly and Mary L. Donnelly to Nick L. Holofchak and Paula J. Holochak in Silver Lake Township for $20,000 on Mar. 11.
Nick L. Holofchak and Paula J. Holofchak to Nick L. Holofchak and Paula J. Holofchak in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Mar. 11.
John E. Keelen as Executor of the Estate of Wilma Mary Keelen to Three Little Bears LLC in Thompson Township for $202,900 on Sept. 10, 2003.
Esther L. Newman to Glenn A. Newman in Ararat Township for $1 on Feb. 25.
Lawrence T. O'Reilly and Christine M. O'Reilly to Joseph K. Thomas and Rosemarie P. Thomas in Lenox Township for $74,750 on Mar. 13.
Walter Holtzman and Eustina Holtzman to Eustina Holtzman in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $1 ogvc on Feb. 14.
Eustina Holtzman to Sylvia D. Aldrich and Carolyn H. Gow in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $1 on Mar. 12.
Robert E. Lee Jr. to Mary Kay C. Walsh, Michael D. McCoy and Joan Ann McCoy in Herrick Township for $9,000 on Mar. 10.
Christopher C. Boyd and Phyllis W. Winterberg, Successor Co-Trustees of the Millard C. Boyd Trust to Ronald C. Boyd in Gibson Township for $10 on Feb. 25.
Sharon L. Delaney and Michael E. Delaney by Sheriff to Countrywide Homes Loans Inc. in Ararat Township for $1,070.22 on Dec. 15, 2003.
Lorenzo DeLarco and Fern DeLarco to Kenneth W. Beckman and Julie F. Beckman in Susquehanna Depot Borough for $4,000 on Feb. 27.
Thomas J. Sousouris and Shelly R. Sousouris to Thomas A. Rieselman and Elizabeth M. Riesilman in Silver Lake Township for $36,000 on Mar. 16.
Robert Burshnick, individually and as Executor of the Estate of Mary Burshnick, James Burshnick, Rev. Francis J. Burshnick, Gerald Burshnick, Frederick Burshnick, Margaret Jones, Ann Deason and Barbara Mitchell to Robert Burshnick in Forest City Borough for $1 on Feb. 2.
Dean A. Johnson and Valerie Johnson to Carl Van Horn in Oakland Township for $42,500 on Mar. 14.
Frank Nardone and Susan Nardone to Frank Nardone and Susan Nardone in Forest City Borough for $1 on Mar. 15.
Adam M. Diaz and Julie E. Diaz to Adam M. Diaz & Julie E. Diaz in Brooklyn Township for $1 on Mar. 11.
Diaz Enterprises to Adam M. Diaz & Julie E. Diaz in Brooklyn Township for $1 on Mar. 11.
Dorothy M. Spoonhower to Pamela A. Ervin in Susquehanna Borough for $1 on Mar. 4.
Hilda Williams and Edward J. Williams to William F. Kane in Great Bend Township for $5,000 on Mar.15.
Jack Yeager and Ruth Yeager and A. Ralph Taylor to Mittman Holding, LLC, in Montrose Borough for $1 on Mar. 5.
Thomas M. Dietrich, Thomas L. Dietrich and Freiderike Dietrich aka Friederike Dietrich to Thomas L. Dietrich and Freiderike Dietrich aka Friederike Dietrich in Bridgewater Township for $1 on Dec. 8, 2003.
Joseph Eagan, Executor of the Estate of Nora C. Eagan to Jessica L. Reed in Great Bend Borough for $60,000 on Mar. 12.
Wayne Robert Williams, 55, Lenox Township, and Scheryl A. Rood, 50, Lenox Township.
Christopher John Rockwood, 41, Bridgewater Township, and Kelli Jean Eisenbach, 38, Bridgewater Township.
Jeremy B. Russell, 24, Endicott, NY, and Katherine A. Fuller, 24, Endicott, NY.
Michael I. Gandy, 22, Meshoppen, and Jedta L. Roberts, 16, Meshoppen.
Margaret Patricia Princenthal to Ann Kane in Springville Township for $117,500 on Feb. 12.
Robert Wolski & Santa Wolski to Donna Cosmello in New Milford Township for $69,061 on Mar. 15.
Gary Allen Mekeel and Terri Lynn Mekeel by Sheriff to Brad Schmidt in Bridgewater Township for $45,500 on Feb. 24.
Thomas A. Rieselman and Elizabeth M. Rieselman to Derek B. Packer and Lori A. Packer in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Mar. 17.
Richard Price to Eugene R. Price and Donna Price in Ararat and Herrick Townships for $1 ogvc on Feb. 27.
Richard J. Vankuren and Suzanne Vankuren to Greg Smith and Darlene Smith and Timothy Harris and Melody Harris in Forest Lake Township for $1 ogvc on Mar. 17.
Richard J. Vankuren and Suzanne Vankuren to Greg Smith and Darlene Smith in Jessup Township for $1 ogvc for Mar. 17.
Village of Four Seasons Association, Inc. to Arthur Inden and Sheila Inden in Herrick Township for $75,000 on Jan. 31.
Lillian E. Huggler to Matthew McClain in Brooklyn Township for $110,000 on Mar. 4.
Gladys R. Barney, as Executor of the Estate of Raymond A. Barney aka Ray Barney to Gladys R. Barney in Silver Lake Township for $1 on Dec. 12, 2003.
US Secretary of Housing & Urban Development to James A. Viola and Elizabeth K. Viola in Lenox Township for $40,744 on Mar. 12.
Williams Rogers and Catherine E. Rogers to Peter Bryn and Arietta Bryn in New Milford Borough for $33,000 on Mar. 16.
Evelyn Troost to William G. Albert, Jr. and Cathleen M. Albert in Brooklyn Township for $21,460 on Mar. 18.
Adam Griffis to Nathan Small and Amanda Small in Forest Lake Township for $1 ogvc on Mar. 18.
Nathan Small and Amanda Small to Adam Griffis in Forest Lake Township for $1 ogvc on Mar. 18.
Patricia Kollar, Administrator of the Estate of John M. O'Shea, to Patricia Kollar in Herrick Township for $1 on Feb. 26.
Frank W. Hunt to Joseph Madigan and Doreenann Madigan in Ararat Township for $123,000 on Mar. 16.
Jerry Falk and Bonnie Falk to Jerry Falk and Bonnie Falk in Herrick Township for $1 on Feb. 5.
Gladys Sheppard and Earl Armon, as Co-Executors of the Estate of Anna Armon to Gladys Sheppard in New Milford Borough for $1 ogvc on Mar. 19.
Ronald McNeil and Diana McNeil to Michael W. Solebello and Susan E. Solebello in Herrick Township for $47,400 on Mar. 15.
Elmer W. Price to Robert Fabiszewski and Eileen Fabiszewski in New Milford Township for $100,000 on Mar. 3.
Gary A. Shields and Gail M. Shields to James A. Bunnell and Ruth Ann Bunnell in Dimock Township for $2,000 on Mar. 17.
Jeffrey R. Strohl and Lisa Ann Pickering tdba L. J. Company to Konstintinos Konstas and Sophie Konstas in Montrose Borough for $1 ogvc. on Mar. 16.
Samuel W. Carrico, Sr. and Connie L. Carrico by Sheriff to WM Specialty Mortgage LLC in New Milford Township for $1,511.47 on Mar. 9.
James Wells and Muriel Wells to Forest City DG Ventures LLC in Forest City Borough for $87,500 on Mar. 8.
Roger E. Griffith and Linda G. Griffith to Eric Wilson and Susan Wilson in Montrose Borough for $75,000 on Feb. 5.
Russell K. Garis to Charles R. Skiba, Jr. and Delida N. Skiba in Great Bend Township for $60,000 on Mar. 19.
Christopher T. Tracy, Executor of the Estate of Marjorie L. Tracy to Daniel Connelly and Linda Connelly in Herrick Township for $22,500 on Mar. 19.
Michael C. Tugend and Carolyn A. Tugend to Michael C. Tugend in Lenox Township for $1 on May 14, 2002.
Tri-County Realty Agency, Inc. to Patrick M. Hannon, Jr. and Linda A. Linko in Clifford Township for $240,671.57 on Mar. 19.
Ralph Cottrell, as Administrator of the Estate of Fred E. Cottrell, and Ralph Cottrell to Leroy E. Cottrell, Jr. in Ararat Township for $10,000 on Mar. 10.
Jesse Colwell to Jesse Colwell in Oakland Township for $1 on Mar. 18.
Jesse Colwell to David T. Baker Jr. and Wendy D. Baker in Oakland Township for $200,000 on Mar. 18.
Linda L. Streznetsky to Jeffrey Streznetsky and Rose Ann Streznetsky in Gibson Township for $1 on Mar. 23.
Bruce Pabst and Roseann Pabst to Jeffrey A. Jarnagin and Jill M. Jarnagin in Clifford Township for $146,500 on Mar. 12.
Charles H. Cook and Jean L. Cook to Kenneth J. Manny and Christina M. Manny in Silver Lake Township for $182,000 on Mar. 22.
Thomas J. Drumm and Debra J. Drumm to Thomas M. Maloney and Laurie K. Maloney in Gibson Township for $15,000 on Mar. 16.
Its been about 12 years since the late Warren Williams set his sights on a new Welcome Center for Susquehanna County. Mr. Williams was chairman of the county Board of Commissioners at the time and saw the Center as a means of inducing passing motorists on Route 81 to stop and visit the county.
Subsequent county administrations made token efforts to monitor the project but for the most part the Welcome Center was buried somewhere in Harrisburg. State representatives from the area may also have mentioned the Welcome Center from time-to-time but nobody pursued the project with the enthusiasm and energy that Mr. Williams dedicated to it.
Last week, Liz Janoski, director of the countys Economic Development Department, told the commissioners she has been advised that groundbreaking for the new center will take place April 5 at the site in Great Bend Township. Mrs. Janoski said she received a letter from Rep. Sandra Major advising her that funding for the $2.2 million project has been finalized. "I think this is fantastic," Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners, said. "There is no doubt about it, this will be a tremendous help to our county."
Mrs. Kelly said the Welcome Center will be an economic boost to many municipalities in the county. She said it would attract motorists who in turn might want to have something to eat while they are in the area or perhaps visit some of the countys historic sites.
"My experience," said Mrs. Janoski, "is that a lot of travelers stop for information and then look for coupons for restaurant meals or discounts in overnight lodging."
Welcome Centers play a key role in promoting tourism that generates more than $28 billion a year in total visitor spending. It is Pennsylvanias second leading industry.
In other business, the commissioners dealt with still more personnel changes as the revolving door just keeps spinning and new employees keep coming and going.
As expected, Michael Villanella resigned as manager of the Conservation District and accepted a state job. He was replaced by Jim Garner who has been employed in the Conservation Department for a number of years.
Mr. Garners appointment split the Republican majority on the board. But Minority Commissioner MaryAnn Warren teamed up with Mrs. Kelly to support Mr. Garner. Because of his years of experience in the department, Mr. Garner started at $34,000 which is $2,000 more than Mr. Villanella was paid.
Commissioner Jeff Loomis opposed the appointment. He said he was not included in any discussion regarding Mr. Villanellas replacement or the higher salary given to Mr. Garner. He said he was not opposed to Mr. Garner but to the way the matter was handled.
Personnel matters occupy a great deal of Chief Clerk Suzanne Brainards time prompting the commissioners to create the position of Personnel Director. A summary job description lists about 17 items that the new director will be expected to handle including a catch-all that states the director will "perform other clerical duties as may be required." The salary for the new position was left open and the commissioners said it will be "commensurate with experience."
The commissioners resolved another personnel problem by giving Sharon Depew an additional $2.75 an hour to process payroll and all payroll reporting. Mrs. Depews new job title will be Accounts Payable/Payroll Clerk and her increase will be retroactive to March 19.
"Sharon approached us and wanted the job," Mrs. Kelly said. Jeff Loomis said Mrs. Depews new responsibilities may "entail additional hours."
The commissioners passed a proclamation designating March 21 as "Helen Phillips Casual Day" for the purpose of supporting colorectal cancer awareness. Mrs. Phillips succumbed to cancer and her husband, Harry Phillips said the motive behind the proclamation is to make people aware of colon cancer and to urge periodic colonoscopies.
A second proclamation passed by the commissioners designated April 11-17 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.
The commissioners appointed Mary Jane Taylor of Kingsley and Loren Small from Montrose to three-year terms on the Advisory Board of the Susquehanna County Services for Children & Youth.
Nicholas Conigliaro was promoted from part-time to full-time corrections officer at the county jail.
City Approves Project
At a special meeting last week, the Forest City Borough Council passed a motion to participate in a joint project with the Lackawanna River Basin Sewer Authority (LRBSA) aimed at stopping raw sewage from overflowing on land owned by Forest City Partnership and Rails-to-Trails.
No dollar figures have been projected but the LRBSA has said it anticipates a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that will pay for 55 percent of the cost. The authority would pick up the tab for half of the remaining 45 percent and the borough would pay half. If one "guesstimated" cost of $300,000 is close, the project could cost the borough in excess of $60,000.
The councils motion, which was made by Bernard Scalzo, pass unanimously although Councilwoman Mary Twilley did suggest that the action be delayed while additional remedies are sought. She pointed out that the project offers no guarantee that the problem will be eliminated and that the future governing bodies could find themselves facing the same problem.
Gary Wilding of KBA Engineering, the boroughs engineering firm, acknowledged that Mrs. Twilley could be right. He said the proposed project is only band aid treatment and is not intended to last forever.
However, the sewer authority advised the borough that it will proceed with the project with or without the boroughs participation and will still bill the borough for a share of the cost. Then, too, council is hoping the plan will satisfy the owners of land that is being contaminated by the sewage overflow and that they will abandon their threat of legal action against the sewer authority and the borough.
Mayor Joseph Garrick of Vandling, a recent appointee to the LRBSA, advised the council that the Lackawanna County Board of Commissioners is taking steps that would wipe out the sewer authority. He said the commissioners would prefer to have the county control the operation instead of the sewer authority. And, Mr. Garrick expressed an opinion that the Lackawanna County Commissioners may not look too kindly at a sewer problem in another county. Forest City is in Susquehanna County.
"My concern," Mr. Garrick said, "is what will the county do? Will Lackawanna County be concerned about Forest City which is in Susquehanna County and Clinton Township which is in Wayne County? I have been assured that if this plan is passed by Forest City (before the sewer authority is abolished), it will go through even if the county takes over the authority."
Mr. Garrick pointed out that the sewer authority has not raised its rates in 13 years and that it has a surplus fund of $500,000. He said the money belongs to the authority and its customers and that a county takeover might see that money dumped into the countys general fund.
"I am against the sewer authority being taken over by the county." Mr. Garrick said. "That money is ours."
Mr. Garrick said he asked Dominic Surace, director of the LRBSA, if the Forest City project is the best solution to the sewage problem. He said Mr. Surace said it was and that it should also do away with the threatened lawsuit.
By order of Rick Pisasik, Chair of the Harford Township Board of Supervisors, the matter of the Odd Fellows Hall is on the agenda for every meeting, until further notice. And so it was the sole item of old business at the Board's meeting on March 23. This time the focus was on bees.
The stucco building, alternately known as the Harford Town Hall, has sported a sheet of weathered plywood on its eastern end for several years, following an operation to remove a colony of bees. The bees have since come back, and last Fall the Supervisors were asked to do something about the swarming horde. Researching the matter, and reluctant to simply exterminate the insects, they were told by a local apiarist that the best time to remove them would be in late February or early March, when most of the stored honey had been used up. So now it's mid-March.
A recent inquiry indicated that removal might cost nearly $1,000, not to mention work to repair further damage that might be done to the building during the removal. Is the effort worth the expense if the old building is to be demolished or renovated anyway? Mr. Pisasik said at the meeting that the final disposition of the building is still uncertain, and may not be clarified for several more (bee) "seasons." The question will remain on the table at least until the Supervisors meet next on April 10.
Cleanup topics tend to show up on municipal agendas when Spring is in the air. The Supervisors have tentatively scheduled the annual pickup in Harford Township for the week of June 7-11. They authorized themselves to hire additional labor for the week, and tentatively decided to keep the fee at $35 for a truckload.
About a week later the county will host a tire recycling day at the Harford barns. This event moves around the county from year to year, and Harford will ask the county to try to schedule it for June 19. On the designated day, the county will collect old automobile tires for $1 each from residents who pre-register. Harford charges $3 per tire, but will pick them up. By scheduling the county program soon after its own cleanup week, Harford residents will have two chances to dispose of tires, and the township can conveniently turn collected tires over to the county for $1 apiece.
The county is also proposing to use labor from the county jail on a litter pickup program, and is asking municipalities if they would care to participate. The county proposes to pay all costs to collect the trash and bag it. Municipalities would be responsible for disposing of the bagged material. The Supervisors agreed to sign on to the program and will ask the county to designate the most heavily trafficked areas in Harford Township.
It's unclear what those prisoners might wear while collecting litter along country roads, but Harford's insurer would like to see the township's workers attired in "slime lime" day-glo vests and jackets for greater visibility. According to Supervisor and township Secretary Sue Furney, the road crew has day-glo orange outfits, but she was unsure how often they are used. Supervisor Terry VanGorden found a catalog with suitable clothing that might cost up to $600 for the entire crew, including lettering. Mr. Pisasik suggested that the question be tabled for further research.
The cost to audit the sewer system's books has gone up 10%, to $4,400. The Supervisors renewed a contract with Johnson, Lauder & Savidge for the annual review that is required under the terms of the system's government loan subsidies.
Want to hear more about the Odd Fellows Hall? The Harford Township Supervisors meet on the second Saturday of each month beginning at 10:00 a.m., and on the fourth Tuesday of each month beginning at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are held at the township building on Route 547, half a mile south of Interstate 81.
Following is the Lanesboro Police incident report for the year 2003, submitted by Lanesboro Mayor David Slater.
Traffic Citations 282
Motor Vehicle Accidents 7
Hit & Run Accidents 5
Driving Under the Influence 6
Underage Drinking 2
Driving Under Suspension 1
Passing School Bus 1
Abandoned Vehicle 1
Assist Elderly 1
Dog Citations 11
Disorderly Conduct 8
Use of Tobacco (School Property) 7
Shooting in the Boro 1
Burglar Alarm 5
Mutual Aid Other Departments 11
Following is the Susquehanna Borough Police Report, as submitted, for February, 2004.
HARASSMENT On Feb. 5, Connie White of Prospect St. reported Bernard Smith of Susquehanna to be harassing her and children via telephone. Calls have since stopped.
DUI/UNDERAGE DRINKING On Feb. 6, Police arrested "Mark Dutter" of Carbondale, PA for DUI upon a routine traffic stop. Investigation led to a minor also being in the vehicle who was arrested for underage drinking.
BURGLARY/RESISTING ARREST On Feb. 8, Police responded to a 911 call for domestic. Through investigation, Jason Reed of 209 Vine St., Susquehanna was arrested for entering the residence of Joseph and Bobbi Jo Nusbaum, at 413 Jackson Ave. with the intent to commit a crime. Reed resisted and was also charged for resisting arrest.
BURGLARY On Feb. 11, Christopher Getter reported someone to have come into his home during afternoon hours, taking a "300 Musi Guitar" with case and accessories belonging to his son. Police are still investigating. Please call 8533147 with any information.
WARRANT SERVED On Feb. 12, Carbondale Police notified Susquehanna Police of two robbery suspects in the area with warrants. On Feb. 13 Susquehanna Police apprehended "Mark Dutter" of Carbondale for the warrant out of Lackawanna County.
ANIMAL NUISANCE On Feb. 14, police seized a dog at 306 Universal Terrace for animal cruelty and abandonment. Hours later, Police were able to contact and return animal to Martin Bickford (owner), same address, who has since made dog legal.
WARRANT SERVED On Feb. 14, Police received a tip of the other Carbondale robbery suspect being in Oakland Borough. Lanesboro Police called and State Police - Gibson called. Hours of investigation led to Police apprehending "Gerald Nagoda" of Carbondale at a house on Wilson St. in Oakland. Susquehanna Police greatly appreciate assistance from the State Police and Officer G. Gow of Lanesboro PD for their hours of assistance. State Police took suspect to Lackawanna County.
TRAFFIC COLLISION On Feb. 14, around 3:30 p.m. a crash occurred as two cars collided traveling towards each other in the 500 block of Jackson Ave. Drivers were Steven Cavanaugh and Lisa Smith of Oakland. Smith was charged for driving without a license and having no insurance on the vehicle she was driving.
FELONY WARRANT SERVED On Feb. 25, Matthew Francis of New York turned himself in to Police for felony charges resulting from an incident in Susquehanna occurring in November, 2003. Francis was charged with Aggravated Assault, Fleeing and Eluding Police, Receiving Stolen Property and Reckless Endangerment. Francis was taken before District Justice Janicelli.
THEFT FROM A MOTOR VEHICLE On Feb. 22 it was reported of items being taken from a motor vehicle in the 500 block of Washington St. after midnight. Any information, please call Susquehanna PD.
CRIMINAL TRESPASS On Feb. 24 someone broke into Amys Hair Salon at 311 Jackson Ave. Anyone with information is asked to call Gibson State Police who are handling investigation.
TRAFFIC COMPLAINT On Feb. 27 at 8:55 a.m., a BS Quarry truck was forced to an abrupt stop causing load on the rear of truck to shift while traveling West on Main St. at Exchange St. According to driver, someone had pulled out in front of him and then left before Police arrival. Driver was able to secure load. No charges filed.
HIT AND RUN On Feb. 27, between 9:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., someone fled after hitting a Dodge van parked in the Barnes-Kasson upper parking area. Van owned by Penny Gregory of Susquehanna. Vehicle had rear windshield shattered. Any witnesses are asked to call Police at 8533147.
UNDERAGE DRINKING/FLEEING AND ELUDING POLICE On Feb. 28, Susquehanna Police attempted a traffic stop on a 1990 Plymouth Laser being driven by Paul Conklin of 616 Washington St. Conklin fled in vehicle going through Lanesboro, fleeing Lanesboro Police. Departments have worked together to also charge Conklin with Reckless Endangerment, Reckless Driving and Disorderly Conduct filed at District Justice 34-3-02.
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