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Two representatives of a Clarks Summit design firm were invited to sit at the table next to President Alan Hall at a workshop of the Blue Ridge School Board on August 2nd. The sole purpose of the special session was to try to hash out some of the details of what promises to be a multi-million- dollar collection of infrastructure projects at the school that is expected to include a significant expansion.
Last winter, at a cost of some $18,000, Burkavage Design Associates produced a "facility study" for the district that incorporated a broad wish list of changes and enhancements to the physical assets of the campus. In June the Board balked at a proposal by Mr. Hall and District Superintendent Robert McNamara to start work on "PlanCon A & B" to implement many of the recommendations in the study. The PlanCon, a plan to be presented to the state in anticipation of reimbursement for part of the cost, would have cost the District about $45,000 to develop and submit, an expense some Board members were not prepared to swallow right away, at least without further discussion. Last month reluctant Board members agreed to move forward when Mr. Hall and the Administration scheduled this special workshop to allow more debate on the details of what might end up costing the District another $4-5 million bond issue.
The project - actually a number of projects that will be wrapped up in a package in the final plan - is intended to maintain and improve the campus facility in a deliberate way. Mr. Hall blamed many of the perceived deficiencies to be corrected by these projects on the $20 million renovation project that was completed almost 10 years ago. He also hopes that the District will plan to apply resources to maintain and upgrade its facility in a planned and organized fashion. "You either put money into the school every year, or you wait 20 years and put it in all at once," he said.
The largest single project in the plan involves the addition of a wing to the Elementary School. The original design was for a two-story octagonal structure off the back of the current building. In addition, the District's Business Office would have been consolidated in its own new space off the end of the High School. And a new "competition" gym would be added to the outside of the new Elementary School wing. The workshop eliminated the Business Office addition, electing instead to relocate it where visitors could approach it without having to pass through instructional areas. The octagonal design for the new Elementary School wing was intended to ensure adequate daylight in each of about seven new classrooms. Board members, however, asked for a cheaper and more efficient rectangular design that might add 8 classrooms in the same space. In either case, the new classrooms would be on the second floor; the lower level is intended as a multi-purpose facility.
It was not immediately clear what use might be made of the additional classrooms, given declining enrollment. When the study was first presented, Mr. Hall questioned state projections that expect consistent declines at Blue Ridge beginning in the mid-1990's and continuing as far out as 2013. Local Blue Ridge estimates apparently anticipate a small but steady increase in enrollment into the future.
The new gym, Blue Ridge's third, wasn't finally adopted at the workshop. Mr. Hall argued strongly that the school needs another gym "with seating" so that it can host more and larger competitions. In fact, a goal seems to be to make Blue Ridge a candidate to host regional, and even state- wide, athletic events. In addition, the potential role of the campus as an emergency facility for surrounding communities is envisioned in both the gym and the multi- purpose room. The gym itself might be housed in a separate structure, perhaps a so-called "Butler building," whose semi- isolation would make it more suitable for such purposes.
One of Mr. Hall's objectives with the location and design of the Elementary School expansion and the new gym was to avoid encroaching on land that was long ago planned for yet more future expansion. An early long-range plan outlined some additional structures out beyond those contemplated this time around, and Mr. Hall was anxious not to jeopardize such future possibilities.
Another major element of the plan would resurface the track and refurbish the main soccer field. Mr. Hall has been convinced that the track was improperly installed originally. It has begun to deteriorate, but it seems that such a track could be expected to deteriorate over 10 years without maintenance. Options included simply repainting the track, recoating it, or resurfacing.
The soccer field is the only major playing surface on the campus. Burkavage representatives were promoting a synthetic turf in part because, since Blue Ridge doesn't really have a good "practice" field, a natural surface on the soccer field would take too much punishment. Nevertheless, Board members couldn't get enthusiastic about "Astroturf," so grass it will be. Grass needs water to grow, so provision may be made for some sort of irrigation system as well. Grading and seeding the field properly could cost nearly $400,000. Board member Harold Empett asked that administrators look into the possibility of developing a second field on property down toward route 11.
To be available for major competition, the soccer field not only needs a good surface, but spectators need a place to sit. The plan projects a 500-seat bleacher system for about $114,000. It also proposed a combined concession stand and press box, but Board members seemed to reject that as a needless frill.
The plan also provides for expanded parking, by adding two more lots.
Many more elements of the plan would be realized indoors. A serious debate arose over the flooring in the High School lobby, which is now deteriorating badly. Mr. Hall seemed to favor terrazzo tile, a surface that would last indefinitely - but cost considerably more. The "vinyl composition tile" that is there now could be replaced much more cheaply. Engineers and administrators will also look at a possible bluestone option. Door systems will be modified to minimize the effect of ice buildup at the entrances that lead to sprung doors and loss of heat and security.
Mr. McNamara told Board members that most of the High School still does not enjoy air conditioning. But for now, air conditioning will be extended only to the two existing gyms, the choir room, and the new fitness room.
Lighting will be upgraded in many areas throughout the schools, both inside and out, including "rope-style" lighting in the auditorium. Emergency lighting will be upgraded from battery-power to a new emergency generator system. According to the engineers, the existing emergency power system cannot handle both heat circulation and water supply at the same time. A new generator would be sized to support both of those, as well as the upgraded emergency lighting.
The Administration is requesting a $98,000 upgrade to the school telephone system. The current system dates to 1994, and, although there don't seem to be many complaints about its functioning, a new system would add several modern features. The Board asked for more information on this one.
Mr. McNamara pleaded for about $170,000 to upgrade the schools' computer networking facilities. Blue Ridge already spends about $80,000 to maintain and upgrade computers and related equipment each year. The additional money would allow a higher-speed network to support newer software. "In order to function as a modern school, we're going to have to upgrade," said he.
The extensive plan is hardly cast in stone yet. At least one more workshop will likely be scheduled to review design changes arising out of this one. Project planners will also have to come up with firmer estimates for the overall cost. The District hopes to offer the plan at least in part as a remediation - and therefore a continuation - of the project completed nearly a decade ago; it may also present some of the elements as related to "safety and security." Mr. Hall is hoping that 30-35% of the overall project cost would be reimbursed by the state; levels of subsidy could vary for different elements of the project.
The Blue Ridge Board may assemble at least once more to settle some details before the project comes to a vote. Meanwhile, the next scheduled meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will be on Monday, August 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The Forest City Borough Council will not be passing an ordinance supporting the Susquehanna County Readdressing Program. Council members agreed at last weeks meeting to ignore the ordinance and stick with the present house numbers most of which have existed for almost a century.
Council received petitions containing more than 250 signatures all opposed to the readdressing program. And Councilman Paul J. Amadio, who supported the program from the onset, reversed his decision and said he would no longer support it.
"When it was first mentioned to me that it would save lives," said Mr. Amadio, "I jumped on it because I felt that anything that would save lives is important. I spent last week on the phone getting the facts regarding the readdressing program. I learned that the program was started by an organization known as the National Emergency Numbering Association (NENA) and that there is no law, state or federal, that compels us to participate in this program.
"I was also advised by NENA that, because Forest City borders Lackawanna County and is a beginning point of Susquehanna County, the current house numbering in the borough is adequate. Actually, the readdressing could bypass Forest City and start on Route 171 in Clifford Township and head north.
"This council should stand united against this program in light of the information that has been uncovered. As far as I am concerned as council president I would say this is now a dead issue," Council President Jim Lowry said.
Councilman Nick Cost reported unsightly conditions at residences on Delaware, Hudson and Susquehanna Streets and suggested the code enforcement officer be given the addresses and take appropriate action.
Mr. Cost further suggested that the borough take immediate action to raze a burned-out home on Dundaff Street. He said it is an eyesore that should have been torn down long ago.
Mr. Lowry said that processing the paper work required to obtain funds and subsequently advertising for bids to tear it down could delay the demolition until November.
Council President Jim Lowry appointed Mr. Cost and Councilman Bernard Scalzo to a committee that will work with the Coal Miners Monument Committee on a clean-up campaign at the monument site on Main Street.
The appointments came on the heels of a suggestion by Mr. Cost that the borough take an active role in maintaining the monument and the grounds around it.
"That is a beautiful monument and the borough should help to keep it and the grounds around it clean," said Mr. Cost.
And, on a motion by Mr. Cost, council agreed to advise holders of any contracts with the borough to notify the borough 30 days before a contract expires.
Because of the Labor Day weekend, council approved changing the next regular meeting from September 6 to September 1.
Reviews Sewage Project
Vice President Andy Gardner presided at Thompson Boro Councils August 2 meeting due to the absence of president Dennis Price. Council member Diane Sabatelli was also not present.
Mr. Gardner noted that most restoration work to properties from the sewage construction project has been done, although final tallies of the costs have not yet been made available. Once council receives this information, they will compile a priority list of additional work to be completed with the remaining project funds, such as extending the sidewalks in some areas.
The owner of one property that has not been connected to the sewer has not responded to correspondence from council; a notice sent to the owner of record was returned as undeliverable. The boro solicitor has been notified; council will await word from the solicitor before any further action is taken. It was noted that real estate taxes on this particular property are in arrears. Council member Allen Lloyd suggested that council could look into acquiring the property for the boros use, for office and storage space. It was agreed that the idea has merit, but it could take years to acquire the property through a tax sale.
The owner of another property that was not in compliance with the sewage ordinance has applied for a permit.
In response to questions raised by some residents, Mr. Gardner had contacted PA American Water regarding their billing for monthly sewer usage fees. Those homeowners who are current customers of PAWC received their first bills, but were only billed for a partial, month to date amount. Those customers who are not PAWC will be billed at the end of the month for the full (monthly) amount.
Plant engineer Larry Travis was present; he will review a "punch list" for the plant (items in the contract specs, but not yet completed), to see which have been done and which have not, and add any items in the contract that were not included on the list.
Mr. Travis reported that there have been some problems, such as paint peeling in one of the plant tanks. Mr. Gardner pointed out that the boro is still holding back monies, which may have to be used towards addressing these problems if the contractors dont take care of them.
There has been a problem with the sump manhole from the control building filling with water. Mr. Travis pumped it out and found gravel plugging it, most likely from the construction. It will need to be dug up or high-pressure cleaned. And, a ground fault outlet in a manhole shorted; he put a new one in, but there is too much moisture; he recommends that the outlet be relocated outside the manhole.
Mr. Travis suggested that council consider some improvements to the plant that could be done so that the plant will last longer; a guard rail at the bank in front of the plant to protect it from vehicles skidding on of icy roads, state mandated safety equipment, cost about $6,000 to $7,000, and a storage shed over controls. They are waterproof, he said, but added protection would keep them in good condition and allow additional storage space. And, a security system (motion detectors) at the plant, to discourage vandalism. Mr. Gardner suggested that Mr. Travis prepare a list of suggested items, along with approximate cost and which items should receive first priority.
Council agreed with Mr. Travis suggestion to form a committee, which would meet with him at the plant; the committee could see plant operations to better understand areas of concern, and bring recommendations back to council. Council members Sheptak and Sheldon agreed to be on the committee, with Lloyd and Gardner if scheduling allows.
Mr. Travis and Mayor Delaney opened manholes to check on an increase in flow to the system during recent heavy rain; measured amounts rose from 14,000 to 30,000 gallons the next day, indicating that the increase is possibly from a break in the line, but due to the amount of increase, most likely from storm water being emptied into the system. The amount was too high to be from water infiltrating the system through air holes in the manhole covers. It was noted that it is not legal to drain storm water into the system from homes; an ordinance is in place giving council the right to inspect the lines, in which case there are penalties involved if sump pumps are emptying into the system. The sewage committee will discuss recommendations on how to address the problem.
In answer to a question from an audience member, Mr. Travis said that there has been a problem with odor coming from the plant due to the type of system it is, and because only half of plant is working at the present time due to paint peeling in one of the tanks, which is not being used until it is repainted.
The boro will be responsible for a invoice from Pioneer, the project contractor, from August, 2003, from work done in front of Hobbs Market, total $969. The bill is for repairs of damage caused by construction, but, because adequate markings were not posted to show where the wildcat sewer was, the boro is being held responsible. The bill will be included with a requisition to RUS for reimbursements from the project. A motion carried to pay whatever portion of the bill that is not reimbursed. Also included on the requisition will be the semi-annual loan interest payment; this item is only eligible this one time because the construction was underway during the time frame the boro is allowed for reimbursement. A motion carried to pay whatever portion of the payment that is not reimbursed.
Council will set up a work session with CEO Shane Lewis to discuss the UCC, and determine which code books need to be ordered.
The next item addressed led to a lengthy discussion; it seems that one property owner had received grant funding to pay for a hookup for one EDU at her property, but there is also a second EDU (apartment) there. During construction, there had been a problem with sewage backing into the basement and, as a result, both EDUs were hooked up. It was thought that because this was an emergency situation and a health hazard, someone at the county level approved the second hookup, even though the permit had not been paid for. The owner tried to obtain a loan to pay for the second hookup, but had been unable to. She had offered to pay the hookup fee in monthly installments, but was unable to come up with the entire amount all at once.
Mr. Gardner noted that the boros ordinance allows for termination of water service if the monthly usage fee is not paid, but there was some question as to whether this ordinance would also cover unpaid hookup fees. One audience member suggested that the apartment be "shut down" if the fee is not paid. "We all had to pay, why shouldnt she?" Another audience member pointed out that, technically, the property owner was not in violation of the hookup deadline, as the work had been completed before the cutoff date of July 1.
A motion carried to contact the boro solicitor, to see what action council should take. Mr. Lloyd voted "yes" to the motion, but did so under protest. "This is not an individual who is refusing to pay, it is someone who cant pay," he said, the person in question had shown a willingness to work with council. Mr. Sheldon agreed, "You have to try to work with people, you cant just shut it (the apartment) down."
"We are going to address the matter," Mr. Gardner concluded. "We will take the appropriate action, when we find out what the appropriate action is." Council will ask the solicitor what options are legally available in this situation. And, it was noted that a collection had been taken for a business in the boro, to help with the hookup fee; perhaps residents would be willing to do the same in this instance.
Council reviewed a contract for work being done at the Delaney property, where a garage is being converted to a residence. Because the project had begun before the boros adoption of the UCC, it was agreed that a contract would be the best avenue to take. The sewer is hooked up, and the hookup fee has been paid. Usage fees wont start until bathroom and kitchen fixtures are installed. A motion carried to accept the contract.
Council will contact their insurance carrier, to straighten out a question that had arisen with having to add the new sewage system to the boros policy. Apparently the insurer was under the impression that a new entity, a sewer authority was being formed to oversee the system. But, that is not the case, the boro will be administering it.
Mr. Gardner reported that council had received a complaint about a water problem; investigation showed that the area in question is private property, and not the boros responsibility.
Another complaint was about the old "wildcat" sewer system; there is a lot of water coming out of the pipes, apparently from storm water being emptied into it. Plugging the lines could cause water to back up into basements. It was agreed to check with the solicitor, to see if the boro is legally obligated to plug up the system, and whether or not the boro can "vacate" the system and terminate its responsibility.
Mr. Gardner gave council an update on ESCP activities. A survey is being prepared, which will be mailed to 25% of the population of the six ESCP member municipalities, randomly chosen from public records. Anyone in those municipalities who wishes to fill out a survey is invited to do so; copies will be available from municipal officials, and at public places. Information from the surveys will be used to determine how to approach municipal planning, to see how things have changed, and what changes people would like to see, all of which will be used to come up with a planning document to reflect the wants and needs of the people in the area. ESCP will also host public meetings, in which all are welcome to participate. ESCP meets on the third Monday of the month, with the next being on August 16, 7:00 p.m. in the Thompson Township building.
The matter of the acquisition of the property where the sewage plant is located has been settled by the court; value of the property was set at $8,280, based on an appraisal. This amount must be paid by the boro, to its former owners. A motion carried to proceed with payment.
There was some question of whether it would be necessary to advertise for bids for plowing and cindering, or if council could proceed based on its existing service contract. It was agreed to contact the solicitor, with a motion carried to advertise if necessary.
A motion carried to appoint Mr. Lloyd as president pro tem, to preside at council meetings in the event that both Mr. Price and Mr. Gardner are not present.
Council had contacted Thompson Township regarding some grading work on Erie and Water Sts. A motion carried to approve the townships doing the work at the quoted price, contingent on the township supervisors approval of the agreement; the township meeting was scheduled for the same evening and it was expected that the agreement would be approved by the supervisors.
Police Chief Rivenburgh reported that he had responded to ten calls in Thompson, and eight in Ararat.
In response to a question, he said that the dog warden had been contacted about complaints about a particular dog; a fine had been involved, but Mr. Rivenburgh did not know any further details. Mr. Lloyd will contact the warden to get the answers to some questions he had, such as whether the county requires that fines be levied, if the property had to be posted with warnings, if there were liability insurance requirements, or whether the dog has to be muzzled.
Due to the Labor Day holiday, next months meeting will be on Tuesday, September 7, 7:30 p.m. in the fire hall.
In the early evening of August 1, Seth Stevens of Springville lost control of the 1994 Mercury Topaz he was driving on State Road 3004 in Springville Township. After hitting a speed-limit sign, the car continued to travel west, striking a utility pole and spinning counter-clockwise, coming to rest facing east on top of a stone wall and up against a tree. The police report contained no information about injuries to Stevens and passenger Jonathan Stevens of East Smithville. The car was towed from the scene.
Victor Wagner, 21, was arrested after an altercation on the afternoon of June 24 at the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility with prison guard Clement Naylor, 36, Hallstead, who was treated and released from the Endless Mountains Health Systems as a result of the incident. Wagner was arraigned in Montrose and remanded back to the facility on $10,000 bail.
On the afternoon of August 2, Thomas Traver, Friendsville, was operating an ATV traveling west on Township Route 693 in Choconut Township while a truck driven by Jerome Fives, Friendsville was traveling east. The truck and the ATV met on a curve and collided after Traver failed to stay on his own side of the road. The Police report noted that the ATV never should have been on the road in the first place, and Traver will be charged accordingly. ATVs are off-road vehicles, and are not authorized to be driven on roads.
The body of Barbara Jean Hankey, 43, Montrose, was discovered in her apartment on August 2 at approximately 11:30 in the morning. State police are pending further investigation and autopsy.
Denise Vega and Ramon Vega, both of New Milford, were arguing in the early hours of August 1 when Ramon Vega allegedly slapped and grabbed Denise Vega and then began throwing her personal belongings out of the apartment they shared.
A female subject left the Bi-Lo Food Mart on Route 11 in Great Bend Township on the evening of August 1 without paying for a shopping cart full of groceries, valued at approximately $100.
On August 3, a 13-year-old juvenile in the Hop Bottom vicinity was reported as being a runaway. However, it was determined that the juvenile was with a friend and forgot to tell his parents.
A clerk at the Shell Station at the intersection of Routes 106 and 29 in Lenox Township reported that a man described as African-American and driving a NJ-registered, blue Chevy Corsica pumped $10.19 of gas into his car and drove off without paying on the morning of July 31. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
After an argument on the night of July 30, Diane Rafferty, 46, was awoken on the following morning by her husband Shaun, 37, banging her in the head with a cordless phone while calling her derogatory names. Her husband voluntarily left their residence on Franklin Hill Road [no municipality given], and has been charged with harassment in that he struck the victim with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm her.
An unknown young white male, approximately 14-15 years old and riding a small bike, entered the residence of Hugh Bunnell in Rush Township while Bunnell was away for lunch. When he returned, he saw the bike in his yard and entered his residence where he discovered the young male going through a chest in an upstairs bedroom. Bunnell and the intruder had a conversation but Bunnell did not observe anything missing so he let the boy go and did not report this to the police. He later realized that a Colt .38-caliber revolver, a cell phone and a portable CD player were missing. This incident occurred between noon and 12:30 on July 21. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
Unknown person(s) arrived at the old residence in Springville Township owned by Edward Zajaczkowski and entered through an unlocked door. Once inside, the unknown person(s) removed a ram and salmon mount, Playstation with six games, and a couple of turkey calls. This incident took place mid-afternoon on July 22. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT (FATAL)
This accident occurred on the evening of July 29 when James Burchell Jr., 22, Susquehanna, was traveling north on State Route 92 in Oakland Township in his 2004 Acura RSX. He lost control of the vehicle, which traveled into the southbound lane of the road and struck a 1996 Dodge pick-up truck driven by Jeffrey D. Babcock, 31, Susquehanna. Burchell, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene by Susquehanna County Coroner Anthony Conarton. Babcock sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Wilson Memorial in Binghamton for treatment. An investigation is ongoing.
In the early morning of July 18, Karen Tellep, 22, Forest City, lost control of her vehicle on the downhill crest of State Route 106 near Clifford. The vehicle left the road and hit several mailboxes and a utility pole. Tellep was wearing a seat belt and was not injured, but faces the charge of driving on roadways laned for traffic in this incident.
The vehicles driven by Chad Burman, New Milford, and Jason Perez, Nicholson, collided on the ramp of Exit 206 (Lenox Township) of Interstate 81 in the late evening of July 16. While Burman complained of pain, he refused ambulance treatment upon its arrival.
A bit after 10 on the evening of July 28, a suspect entered the Ultimate Massage on Route 11 in Hallstead and held employees at gunpoint while he took from them cash and personal belongings. The suspect is described as an African-American male, approximately 5 4", in his late teens to early 20s and wearing a gray sweatshirt, baggy jeans and a baseball hat (worn backwards). He is also described as having a gap in his front teeth and a gold tooth, and apparently had a silver handgun with a scope. The business employees were not injured, but the suspect fled the scene before State Police arrived. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154, and refer to incident number RO5-0542601.
An unknown person(s) removed a 1993 white utility box trailer belonging to Martin Gallagher, Uniondale, from a property in the village of Melrose sometime between June 4 and July 24.
Between June 17 and August 15, an unknown person(s) broke into the unoccupied property in Auburn Township belonging to Charles Woodruff of Schenectady, NY, and stole an oval mirror with gold-color frame and a ceramic apple shrub ornament.
Donald R. Finan Jr. and Kathleen A. Morgan Finan to Robert Barone, in Jessup Township for $200,000.
Lance E. Birchard and Renee Birchard to Lance E. Birchard and Renee Birchard, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Joseph A. Melnick to Nicholson Investment Partners, in Lathrop Township for $110,000.
Joseph A. Melnick, Peter J. Melnick and Simone Melnick to Nicholson Investment Partners, in Lathrop Township for $25,000.
Deborah H. Weidow to Mark D. Hemak and Jeffrey C. Hemak, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Emma Rauschenberger to Anthony Maloney and Maureen Maloney, in Clifford Township for $137,000.
Eugene StClair, Carol StClair, Sherri L. StClair, Randy StClair, and Sherri L. Rose (nbm) to Richard Bidwell and Diane Bidwell, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
James Eller and Phoebe Eller to Joanne Bowers and William J. Bowers, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
George H. Stover Jr. and Judy Y. Stover to George H. Stover III, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
John D. Tocco Jr. (est), Suzanne M. Tocco, and Patricia Ssmith to Suzanne M. Tocco Evans, in Bridgewater Township for $357,000.
Paul R. Wells to Fred D. Conrad and Theresa A. Conrad, in New Milford Township for $36,500.
Paul J. Healey and Marilyn J. Healey to Robert M. Williges and Joanne M. Williges, in Springville Township for $243,500.
Raymond J. Shuta to Michael L. Shuta Jr. and Doris Shuta, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Clifton W. Emerson and Virginia W. Emerson to Patrick A. MacConnell and Amy A. MacConnell, in Great Bend Township for $55,000.
Joseph Brilla to Todd Schmidt and Jennifer Schmidt, in New Milford Township for $45,000.
Terry Jay Rosengrant and Gena R. Rosengrant to Susan Kelley, in Dimock Township for $30,000.
Timothy M. Smith and Susan M. Smith to Kenneth L. Cooper and Susan F. Cooper, in Silver Lake Township for $275,000.
Blaine G. Warriner and Alberta :M. Warriner to Donnalee T. Benscoter, in Dimock Township for $20,000.
Frances Ulco to George H. Stover Jr. and Judy Y. Stover, in Great Bend Township for $35,000.
Charles K. Gaulin, James F. Gaulin and Joan Marie Gaulin to James F. Gaulin and Joan Marie Gaulin, in Springville Township for $25,900.
Jerilee N. Turner to Robert J. Turner and Karen Kielty Turner, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Theresa Pelton to Douglas Pelton and Theresa Pelton, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Michael S. Berry and Diana Berry to David J. DeMark and Laurie DeMark in Clifford Township for $189,000.
Victoria Geisler to Victoria Geisler, in Silver Lake Township, Liberty Township and Montrose Borough for one dollar.
Robert F. Garvey and Karen A. Garvey to Stuart Krasavage and Jacqueline A. Krasavage, in Middletown Township for $16,000.
Timothy R. Decker and Janice L. Decker to Lawrence M. Grasso (revocable living trust), in New Milford Township for $30,000.
Sylvia J. Kline (estate) to Robert F. Edwards, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Theodore H. Jones and Josephine F. Jones to Stephen J. Caprio, in Apolacon Township for $162,000.
John M. Levin (by agent) and Anne Marie Levina to Robert J. McCormack, in New Milford Township for $233,000.
Peter Zygnerski (estate) and Genowefa Zygnerski to David G. Talabiska, Lesha L. Talabiska, and Dennis Latwinski, in Lenox Township for $95,000.
Marion G. Wargo (aka) Marion S. Wargo to Carol L. Roth and Stephen B. Roth, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Vincent Esposito and Ellen M. Esposito to Ellen M. Esposito, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Ellen M. Esposito to Ellen M. Esposito and Robert Gaffey, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Bruce A. Slocum, Anna T. Slocum (nka) Ann T. Romanofski to Penny A. Slocum and John T. Tarbox in Susquehanna for $60,000.
Dale A. Rumage and Monique A. Rumage to Ahmed Attia, in New Milford Township for $125,000.
John J. Demer and Dorothy M. Demer to Joseph L. Demer and Robin L. Demer, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Martin P. Schoenleber, Florence Schoenleber, Joseph Schoenleber, Stephanie Schoenleber, Heather Schoenleber (nbm) Heather Tashjain, and Ronald Tashjain to Michael Gray in Herrick Township for $72,000.
Bruce D. Barlow, Union Dale and Heather M. Tinney, Union Dale.
Albert Leroy Weaver, Springville and Caroline Marie Testani, Springville.
Emmett Carl Sheptock, Susquehanna and Christie Lynn Williams, Susquehanna
With the crisis over the ambulance service resolved for now, the Great Bend Borough Council could relax to mull over a range of lesser issues at its regular meeting for August on the 5th. The most popular questions for local government often seem to be related to streets and roads, and so it was with Great Bend this month.
Bridge Street has been nagging Council for several months, particularly with regard to the bridge over the railroad. The sidewalk on the bridge itself is crumbling and the Borough would like somebody else - anybody else - to pay to have it fixed. Council President Ray Holtzman tried to get the railroad to take responsibility for it, and when he finally found somebody at the railroad who would give him an opinion on it, he was told that since the trains don't use the bridge itself, the bridge itself is somebody else's problem. Bridge Street isn't a state road, and the state department of transportation doesn't want to hear about it, but Council wants to contact state legislators for help.
In the interest of service to the community, Council in the end decided to repair the walkway - but without accepting any responsibility for ownership or future maintenance or repairs. Or at least so the motion was worded. So the little, friendless bridge will get a minor facelift from its foster family, the Borough's taxpayers; adoption formalities will have to wait.
For most of the summer Council has been trying to find a way to clean and fill the cracks in Borough streets to keep them from deteriorating further as long as there is no money for actual paving. Two bids were received, both quoting prices per gallon because there was no estimate available of the size of the job. One quote was twice as high as the other, so Pennsy Asphalt will get the work. Council was a little reluctant to award the contract on an open-ended basis. A couple of telephone calls during the meeting produced an estimate of as much as $27,000, assuming about 900 gallons of sealant per mile of streets.
Rick Franks proposed removing the one-way restriction from Williams Street between Main Street and Franklin Street. He said that no one pays any attention to the signs anyway, not even school buses. There will be some cost to rescind the one-way designation because an ordinance must be advertised, and perhaps perused by the Borough's attorney.
Last winter the kitchen in the Borough Building, used by the Blue Ridge Senior Center, the major tenant in the building for several years, sustained some damage due to frozen pipes in the outer walls. The Borough's insurance company wants an estimate for repairs, the only contractor found to bid on the project wants $75 for an insurance estimate, and Barnes-Kasson Hospital, which operates the Senior Center wants three bids on the project. The hospital has been using paper plates for the meals it serves at the center every weekday, but its new budget does not allow them to purchase more paper plates. So, for want of money to buy paper plates, the Borough will try to find a couple more contractors to bid on the work.
Council member Joe Collins is preparing to order four signs for the Borough's three parks that will list rules and regulations for using the parks. The signs were adapted from similar signs in New Milford, with a few local additions. Installation of the new signs was instigated in part by the Borough's insurance carrier, and in part by the state police, who refuse to enforce local regulations in the parks when they don't know what the regulations are. Mr. Collins quoted a price of about $170 per sign. He will also be adding a late provision to prohibit the using of all- terrain vehicles in the parks.
Mike VanGorden has agreed to become the Borough's new Emergency Management Coordinator.
The Borough has received word of a grant of up to $500 that is available for upgrading office technology. Since the Borough recently purchased a new computer, Secretary Sheila Guinan requested the replacement of the office copier.
Council received a hand-written offer of $100 for the Borough's old garden tractor. They were happy to be rid of it, and wondered that anyone would offer to buy it.
The Borough received a letter from the Bradford- Susquehanna EMS Council which oversees ambulance services in the area, that the Borough's arrangements for emergency medical services were accepted and implemented on July 26. Under what is hoped will be a temporary stopgap, the Montrose Minutemen and Broome Volunteers will be dispatched by the county 911 center on a "closest available" basis for advanced life support. There was no recent word from the Susquehanna volunteers as to whether they were willing to resume basic life support coverage in the Great Bend area.
The irrepressible Great Bend Mayor, Jim Riecke, took special note of the Great Bend Fire Company's efforts to put on the Sidewalk Day event in the town in mid-July. "Thank you so much, for the community," said he. "What a show! The Fire Company does it all."
The Great Bend Borough Council meets on the first Thursday of each month, in the Borough Building on Elizabeth Street, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Following are the minutes of the July 6 Lanesboro Council meeting minutes, as submitted.
Present: Chris Maby, Bob Page, Bob Mireider, Ray Barnes, Regina Dilello, Paul Corse, Dan Boughton. Also Present: Mayor Slater, Secretary Gail Hanrahan, Aileen Shay, Officer VanFleet, Code Enforcement Officer Shane Lewis. Visitors: Cal Arthur, Jeannine Keefer, Sandy and Jerry Benson, Mel Gruber and Adrienne Rigo.
Chris Maby called the meeting to order.
Motion carried to accept minutes after changes are made.
Cal Arthur, on behalf of the Bridge Committee, needs help with cleanup around the stone bridge. Will furnish trailer and truck to haul debris, but needs manpower. Tried talking with probation officer for community service persons, but to no avail. Asked about policy of residents cleaning up yards. Maby stated that in his opinion, of the three Boroughs, Lanesboro is the cleanest and is working on further cleanup. As for assistance with cleanup, the borough is working on a limited budget and road maintenance is essential. Council members Mireider and Maby offered their services, asking for a few days notice.
Mel Gruber asked about properties adjoining his. Maby replied Shane Lewis is working with the lawyer on the ordinance to get the situation with the properties resolved. Also, Mr. Gruber asked about the speeding situation on Viaduct Street. Officer VanFleet stated that the budget does not allow for full-time patrols. Furthermore, there were thirty-one speeding citations in June and July. More patrols will occur in this area.
Adrienne Rigo questioned the raceway on her property filled in due to the quarry. Maby stated that he discussed the issue with the Pennsylvania DEP local government liaison, and was informed it was the homeowners responsibility for the maintenance and any cleanup. Tom Boles of B & S Quarry spoke to the council prior to the meeting, and indicated that he would be doing the cleanup as soon as he can, as a courtesy to the landowners.
Police Report: 31 Speeding violations, Dog Calls, Warrants, 911 Hang Up Calls.
Mayors Report: Steve Glover of Susquehanna will return with the street sweeper after repairs are made. Tire pickup will be held July 31, 2004.
Street Commission: Ozzie Miller has patched all the potholes. G & G Paving has been contacted for estimates for road paving. Council will meet when estimates are received.
Community Center: Regina Dilello stated that there were two rentals and bottle recycling. Two rentals were booked for August.
Treasurers Report: Motion carried to accept.
Unfinished Business: EMC update County needs to know residents with special needs or conditions. Letter to be mailed to each resident, to be returned to the Boro with such information.
Code Enforcement: Shane Lewis has looked at certain properties and advised owners of cleanup ordinance. Council requested hiring of Myron Rauch as backup to Shane Lewis for code enforcement. Motion to hire carried.
New Business: Susquehanna resident asked about plugged ditch and pipe on Convent Street, and what could be done because of the excess water. Lanesboro agreed to clean all of the ditch within Lanesboro, and the portion in Susquehanna to the plugged pipe. The plugged pipe would also be cleaned.
Motion to adjourn carried.
At the August 2 regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council, Ed DeWitt representing the Kiwanis-Lions-Rotary Clubs that sponsor the Fourth [this year, the Fifth] of July gala made a plea to members for clemency of a sort for some people whose vehicles were ticketed that day.
The celebration of our countrys birthday draws thousands to the town for its parade and festivities on The Green. Parking can be a challenge in and around streets reasonably close to The Green and which must also be left open enough for access by emergency vehicles.
Borough employees, working from a map developed some years ago for the event, also put up special and temporary "No Parking" signs on streets which, on any other day, are open to parkers. They did not, however, put up such a sign on the right side of Cherry Street between Church and Maple Streets about two blocks and an easy walk from the center of the celebration and which has a permanent "No Parking This Side of Street" sign on it. About 6-8 vehicles that parked along this stretch were ticketed, and DeWitt requested that Council exonerate these parkers/tickets or provide the joint clubs with the names and addresses of those who were, in which case the clubs would reimburse those for the $5 parking violation ticket.
DeWitt acknowledged that, with the permanent "No Parking" sign on the street, the tickets were potentially warranted and he had no issue whatsoever with the police officer who did his job when he did the ticketing. But he also pointed out that Montrose takes pride in welcoming its guests on the Fourth, and he didnt want them to think that they did anything illegal. DeWitt noted that his organization has already received one letter with accompanying photos from someone who was ticketed. "We want to show to our guests that Montrose is a good place, and not one that takes advantage of a day when parking is at a premium," adding that this was the first time in 30 years that the sponsoring organization has had any kind of problem with ticketing.
Council member Jack Yaeger said that if the police officer who wrote those tickets would be willing to void them, he had no objection. "The amount the borough would receive from those half dozen tickets theres no comparison [with the benefits of bringing people to town]."
Police officer John Walker issued the ticket to the picture-taking alleged parking violator and reported that on the day of the parade, the police department received a complaint from a representative of the fire department at the corner of Church and Cherry Streets, saying that vehicles could not move up or down the street because of cars parked on both sides. He said the department also received complaints from a resident on the street "who was justified for making a complaint of a violation" on a street posted with a sign in compliance with state regulations.
Said Walker, "I support your actions and activities. But as an officer in Montrose, I am required to guarantee the safety of our residents and guests. And in my opinion, reimbursing or voiding the tickets to those who failed to observe the signs is fair to no one." Walker stated the department issued a total of 18 tickets that day, including those on the street in question, and towed one vehicle.
DeWitt understood that the police need to act on complaints, and several times thanked Council for all the assistance it receives from the borough. But because the street in question was not marked with the temporary "No Parking" signs, he thought that led to some confusion. "Parking tickets are not a way to present our happy hamlet," he said.
All agreed the lack of a temporary sign would not happen at next years event. In the meantime, Council president Joel Maxey was not in favor of voiding the parking tickets or sending the money back to people who may have paid them. But he had no problem with borough secretary Annette Rogers providing DeWitt the names of those who were ticketed in said area, for their contacting and reimbursement of any parking violation signs.
(In a follow-up with Rogers a few days later, she reported that the police department will not provide information on those who parked illegally. Further, the only information the borough has is the plate number of the vehicle on the issued ticket. Rogers noted that it is illegal for the appropriate government agency to look up the name of a license plate holder without just cause and payment of the $5 fines by the clubs would not seem to be one. The ticket for the vehicle owner who sent a letter and photos had yet to be paid as of August 6.)
Council opened its meeting by introducing John Oakes, a representative from W&D Smith Paving Company, which was the lowest bidder for a portion of street paving received by the borough. It was also an unknown entity to Council, which was unaware of any track record of the company. Thus, at the last meeting, it awarded the bid to Broome Bituminous the next-lowest bidder and a firm with whom the borough has worked in the past with what council members said were good results.
Oakes was there to respond to any questions members might have about the company. Maxey summarized the proceedings of the last meeting and why Council made the decision it did. He also reported that after the meeting, he spoke with Scott Andre whose company did a lot of work with W&D Smith and spoke very well of the company, and passed along the names of others with whom Smith has worked.
Maxey informed those present that he then spoke with borough solicitor Jason Legg, whose advice at that time was that since the bid for the particular paving had already been awarded, Legg thought "that was the way we should continue going," reporting Maxey. He added that, as a taxpayer himself, he would like to save the $6,000 difference between Smith and the next-lowest bidder (Broome). "I wish I knew [what Andre said] about you. I wish we didnt make the decision that night [the date of the last meeting]. We will certainly entertain a bid from you next year," he said. Noting that someone from council or the borough is usually at the borough building during business hours, Maxey thought Smith would have been well served to stop by and introduce itself, and Yaeger agreed, saying, "Had you come down and made contact with us and told us some of things you told us tonight, undoubtedly you would have gotten the bid."
Smiths Oakes asked if there was anything in the request-to-bid information that a company representative had to be in attendance at last months meeting, and if the bid request required any background information on the bidder. The answers to both were no. Oakes stated that W&D Smith provided everything requested in the request to bid, and, as a matter of fact, had signed ten contracts this past summer with various municipalities whose decisions were based on the lowest bid. "It is my understanding," he said, "that no contract has been signed. I understand the borough has the right to reject any and all bids. But theres nothing I havent done to warrant the rejection of my bid."
Maxey replied that at this point, council would rely on the advice of its solicitor, with whom it would be meeting later on in an executive session. "Nothing will change from this moment until we talk to our solicitor," he said. Maxey instructed Rogers to send a letter to Oakes.
"It just boggles me a bit, I guess," said Oakes as he left. Leaving shortly after Oakes was a representative from Broome Bituminous, who attended the meeting but said nothing at it.
(In a follow-up, Rogers reported that, Council decided in its executive session to stand by last months decision to award the contract to Broome Bituminous.)
Council heard a short presentation by Barbara Fairchild, district manager for Berkheimer Earned Income Tax. She pointed out to members that 80 per cent of municipalities in the state have an earned income tax, and Montrose is not one of them. An earned income tax is generally one assessed against a person who worked in a municipality but does not live in it. It is a source of revenue for municipalities, and she estimated in very rough ballpark figures that, should council consider a 1 per cent earned income tax, it would bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000-$150,000 in 2005.
She also briefly explained why it is important for the borough to consider such a tax. Under the new state rules on gambling, much of the proceeds from those ventures will be dedicated to state school districts that enact an earned-income school tax. The maximum tax is 1 per cent. Should the school district enact one, along with the borough, then the school district maximum would be one-half of 1 per cent. If the borough doesnt adopt the tax, the district could access/adopt the full 1 per cent.
Fairchild noted that her firm collects earned income taxes for the Elk Lake School District, Hop Bottom Borough, Rush Township, and many others. She requested a meeting with councils finance committee to present a formal proposal. Council will make the appropriate arrangements to make this happen.
Members also heard a short presentation by Ted Russell, a representative from AFLAC, who was there under the recommendation of PSAB to inform PA municipalities about the voluntary benefit plans available from AFLAC to municipal employees who want to pay the entire cost for the AFLAC benefits. These benefits are in addition to and meant to supplement any non-contributory or partially contributory benefits a municipality provides to employees.
Council heard a request by a representative of the Montrose Minutemen, asking it to sign a resolution stating that the Minutemen are the primary ambulance for the borough, something the group is requesting from all the municipalities it covers. Council member Craig Reimel brought up the fact that, because the borough houses the Minutemen, it also pays the workers compensation insurance costs for it. He did not believe that other users of the service were reimbursing the borough for their share of the cost, and thought they should. He asked if council could get copies of the resolutions signed by other municipalities the Minutemen service. The representative replied that he could not make that decision, but suggested that a council representative attend the next board meeting of the ambulance company to make its request.
In other borough business, council responded to a request by streets foreman Ken DiPhillips for portable radios for use while the street crew is on the job. They will find out how many are required, and then take a telephone poll of council members as to whether to purchase them. There is money left in the capital expenses/streets budget for their purchase.
Maxey stated that there was no codes enforcement officer report because CEO Shane Lewis resigned the day after Councils last meeting. At that meeting, it decided to opt out of the UCC, meaning that it made property-owners responsible for finding a certified inspector for UCC-required inspections of residential and commercial properties. At the executive session that followed the meeting, Lewis resignation was accepted.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council is scheduled for September 7 at 7 p.m. in the Borough Building.
Last Thursday evenings regular monthly meeting of the New Milford Borough Council meandered through a variety of items, on the agenda and not, with members Chris Allen and Joe Carr unable to attend it.
Council members who were there heard from several residents who attended the meeting. One of them purchased a home last year in what he acknowledged to be a flood zone. With a wet year, he said that additional problems are being caused by what us an underground waterway that passes through his property, further hydrating it and the properties of his neighbors. The waterway was apparently put in or approved way-back-when by the borough to route water away from roads.
The resident requested that council consider rebuilding this waterway with pipe or rerouting it. "Its getting awful," he said.
Council member Rick Ainey stated that if the borough put in the waterway, there had to have been an easement type of agreement made at that time and included in the deed to the property. He suggested that the resident review his deed for the information, which he will. In the meantime, secretary Amy Hine will research borough records for information about the waterway, as well as what the state may be able to do about the situation, since the affected properties sit off Route 11. Once all parties contractual obligations have been researched and understood, council will further discuss what course of action may be able to taken on the situation.
Another newcomer to town asked what the borough was doing to promote and attract businesses to it. She admires the beauty of the town and would like to see others share it in a way that would not detract from its charm.
Ainey, noting that some 70 businesses were located in the town, cited a long list of what the town has done with limited funds, beginning with working hard to develop the infrastructure that would attract businesses to it. A new water system, central sewage that is tied to a regional system. "Anything built on 3-lane Route 11, while outside of the town limits, benefits New Milford Borough as well," he said. He mentioned zoning that protects residences and spells out to businesses what they can and cannot do.
Ainey reported with regret opportunities on which council worked hard, with former county economic development director Justin Taylor. Taylor, as county residents know, was essentially removed from office when the new batch of commissioners took office. He was also noted for successfully working with small towns throughout the county, and not just in the area around the county seat, to help give them a leg up economically. This included working on a business incubator in a vacant factory whose property the borough designated a KOZ which meant they got a tax vacation, but also that the structure would have to be updated and brought up to Code and made an asset to the town.
Talk of the incubator has stopped, and the new Rail Authority has not seemed to show the same interest in New Milford as an off-loading zone in the future as it did when the Authority operated as a commission.
The resident asked if any brochures were available about New Milford, either as a place to do business or a tourist destination. Except for information included in various Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau and other association-type booklets, there are none specifically dedicated to New Milford. Neither was such kind of promotion by the town feasible, considering its operating budget.
Ainey spoke for council when he said it would be happy to work with any business that would relocate here and retain the quality of life it enjoys now. He and Council also welcomed the participation by the residents and any others like her, in volunteering to contact whomever and wherever about promoting the borough whether by contacting the county commissioners and other local government officials, or working as an ad hoc group within the town. "We have land-use controls, we have an infrastructure in place, we are well located for transportation," said Ainey. And the resident who heard this said that she will pitch in.
Making better the Peck Hill situation, it appears, keeps getting postponed by the property owner whose land-use practices have caused major problems for residents down the hill from him. At a hearing in April, the property-owner was told what needed to be done, and Codes Enforcement Officer Jim Silletto has been working with him and the DEP to see that they are. But they havent yet been.
The property owner will be sent a certified letter stating that council will start action at its next regular meeting to revoke a variance he received earlier, should he not immediately begin making the appropriate and recommended changes. Council also discussed whether property owners on Peck Hill could sue the violator for damages to their properties because of his action indeed, whether the town could sue him for damages done to the town road. Hine will get the letter out forthwith.
Council president Scott Smith read a letter it received from the Broome Volunteer Emergency Squad explaining their basic and advanced life support services. A representative from the New Milford Fire Department, which provides basic services to the town, spoke up and said that he thought the state was looking to get rid of volunteer corps in favor of paid corps by making it hard for the volunteers to operate. Emergency services are a concern, especially to residents of neighboring Hallstead and Great Bend Borough and Township, which must currently rely on outside corps while awaiting recertification of its local group.
Council did not want to get into the middle of anything because of what might be happening outside the borough. "We have a great ambulance corps here," said Ainey, and Council decided to send the letter to the New Milford corps for their comments before taking any action.
Members were also apprised that there was a tree just about dead in the park, which should come down. It was his concern that if it isnt, nature would do it, and perhaps take down the lines surrounding the trees. Council will follow up.
It also discussed the readdressing system being strongly recommended by the Country emergency communications center. As this newspaper reported recently, readdressing is not required by state law, but rather is being promoted by an association as a way to help ensure rapid response to properties in the case of emergencies. It is not mandatory, and Ainey stated that no one had yet given him an argument as why New Milford had to have it, considering that quick response to emergency services has never been a problem. Council will continue to review the request.
It will also spend some $30 for a low-cost motion-detector light on or near the gazebo, and keep their fingers crossed that some idiots will not come along and destroy it. Council member Teri Gulick reported that she heard that some kids from outside of town tried to burn it down. A resident in the audience said burn marks are inside it. The state police have been notified and will keep an eye on this town treasure when they pass through the borough.
Another resident pointed out that, with the work of putting in the sewers in full swing, some roads were being asphalted over where excavation took place, while others were not. He, and the rest of us, were informed that the state right-of-ways had to be filled in by end of day, while borough streets did not.
The agreement with the contractor who is doing the work states that the contractor has to put back to the best of its ability, what was in place before its work. With boring under the streets to each property yet to be done, it was thought that the contractor might be waiting until near the end of the project to make right. Hine noted that, at the end of the project, certain monies could be withheld for final payment of the project until the borough was satisfied that the contractor met its obligations.
Said council member Chris Phillips, "Its our responsibility to watch and to see that these things are taken care of, but also to work with the contractors so they can get the job done." With work seeming to progress as neatly and efficiently as possible, with little disruption, he advised that residents let them do their thing now, see what develops and what concerns they have as the project begins to near its end, and then move forward on any disputes.
In the meantime, residents are advised to take photos of their properties which the contractor did for each property before any work was begun near it as documentation down the road for any disputes they may have with the work done by the contractor.
And while the meeting opened with the boroughs Good Neighbor recognition, this report will end with it. Recognized this month was the Parkview Hotel, and Mickey Thatcher was on hand to accept the certificate. Some members were a bit bemused, because many recalled times when the establishment seemed to be the alleged cause of complaints. But that was then. As Ainey said, it is a place where everyone can meet. It helps those less fortunate and seems to have a benefit every other month. It has been a part of the history of the town for a long time, he said, has always been a good place to eat, a welcome addition to the community, and Ainey said it was a good neighbor to him when he lived next to it in years past. Said Thatcher in expressing her appreciation for the recognition, "Its taken a lot to get the Parkview to where it is," and she thanked Council for their thoughtfulness.
The next regular meeting of the New Milford borough council is scheduled for September 2, 7 p.m. in the borough building on Main Street.
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