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It was an evening of presentations at the regular monthly meeting of the Montrose Borough Council held on October 4, and they were made before a full council house, plus borough solicitor Jason Legg.
Street Foreman Ken DiPhillips led off with his monthly Streets report. A large metal drainpipe has rotted and caused a lot of problems on Prospect Street. He recommended that it be replaced with a plastic pipe to the tune of around $2,000, including the pipe and materials and preparation for it. Council agreed with DiPhillips, and the funds to do this project will be taken out of the boroughs liquid fuel account.
DiPhillips also reported that he is working with contractors to get this years paving plan finished before it gets too cold. Gravel has been put down on the streets slated for it and he thinks they should hold up well over the winter. He will be overseeing micropaving of other targeted streets over the next couple of weeks. Going forward, DiPhillips mentioned that hed like to put together a road plan for next years paving agenda. Kelly Street, which he put some patch on, is one that hed like to see on the list.
Next up was Mike Pasteka, a representative of Building Inspection Underwriters (BIU), an organization certified to perform both residential and commercial inspections under the state UCC code. Pasteka is also BIUs representative to COG. Pasteka, and coworker Chris Cole were at the meeting to address questions from council members who, on July 1, decided to opt out of codes. What this decision basically meant is that borough residents are on their own to obtain permits and inspections for both residential and commercial construction and certain residential remodeling all of which must conform with the UCC. Opting out does not mean the building codes do not apply in the borough.
What it resulted in was having some construction taking place in the borough without any overseeing or permitting and perhaps with noncompliance with the new building code. Council is rethinking its decision and can change its mind and opt in. Some council members believe this is resulting in a kind of willy-nilly approach to building that is not only not in compliance with UCC, but with the towns own ordinances regarding construction. It seems that what it wants to do is regain control over the process.
Pasteka gave them several scenarios. A third-party inspector like BIU could become the boroughs inspection agent should it decide to opt in. It would maintain a space in the borough building for files and for to-be-determined office hours, but would rely on borough secretary Annette Rogers to handle most of the requests for permits and inspections as people who want to build come in for them, and BIU would follow up. Pasteka noted that Lenox Township has hired BIU as its third-party inspector.
The borough also has the option of joining 25 other municipalities in the county by joining COG, which Pasteka says is open 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, has an efficient process in place, quick turnaround on requests, and takes care of all residential and commercial construction permitting and inspecting in member municipalities. BIU fees are also lower through COG than when BIU works direct with a non-member municipality because, essentially, of volume discounts that come with a larger group.
Pasteka pointed out that in the more populous counties, like Lackawanna, there is not an organization like COG, so they contract direct with a third-party administrator or hire their own certified inspectors. More rural counties, such as Wayne and rural parts of Luzerne, have a centrally located COG available to respond to requests in a timely manner from residents of their member municipalities.
Council member Craig Reimel asked Pasteka what happened when a municipality opted out. Pretty much what is happening in Montrose, he replied. Pasteka noted that he gets calls from residents in municipalities which have opted out; they cant get hold of a municipal official, and they need a permit and/or an inspection. BIU does these, but also charges a higher fee because there is more work involved for an opted-out municipality.
Council president Joel Maxey asked Pasteka if BIU could work up a cost for their services for the borough, and they will do that. Reimel also thought that if council does decide to opt in, it might also be a good time to bring borough ordinances regarding construction in line with the UCC.
Barbara Fairchild from Berkheimer Associates was on hand to report back to council on some preliminary research on what the borough could expect in increased revenue should it decide to adopt a 1 percent earned income tax. She quoted an estimate of $46,000 in nonresident money, and also noted that residents who work in NY would have their liability to Pennsylvania basically wiped out by an earned income tax that they already pay in NY because of a kind of reciprocity between the states. Fairchild also reported that new income could be as high as $175,000, depending on what the Montrose Area School District decides to do about Act 72 legislation that ties property and other taxes to recently enacted gambling in the state. She also noted that 80 percent of municipalities in the state do have an earned income tax.
Council will discuss the issue with Jason Legg and get back to Fairchild.
Debbie Nagle, executive director, and Pam Kelly, president, of the Montrose Restoration Committee described where the MRC stands as far as its project to improve the sidewalks and lighting in downtown Montrose. Nagle said that it could take advantage of pundits Hometown Streets program which would cover up to 80 percent of the total cost. They are looking to secure non-federal matching funds, equivalent to 20 per cent of the cost, from local contributions, state grants, bank loans, and so forth. A full project design, including detailed engineering and construction specifications, must be developed first, and the MRC asked council for $5,000 that would go towards the engineering study.
Jack Yeager, council member and member of this particular MRC project team, called the project perhaps the towns last hope for its downtown sidewalks, and would like to include the $5,000 in next years budget. It will be one of the items council will discuss as it develops next years budget over the next few weeks.
Borough solicitor gave his input on a request by the Montrose Minutemen that the town sign a resolution naming them its first-responder. Basically, Legg didnt see any reason why the Minutemen would need such a statement. He also thought that, by signing such a resolution, the borough might be put on the liability hook because it would give the Minutemen a kind of stamp of approval and, he said, "I dont want to be putting our stamp on them. You dont see who they hire, how they train and people should not think they work for the borough."
Council will not, it seems, be signing the resolution.
Multiple phone calls to council member Randy Schuster about parking on Public Avenue where it turns into Lake Avenue led council to decide to make that area between the courthouse and the annex, basically a no-parking area. Apparently, there are two spots in this area, and the same two cars are always parked in them. In addition, when these places are parked in, it makes for a very congested and skinny street to get through, especially emergency vehicles. So that stretch will not be a no-parking area for a 90-day trial period.
Secretary Rogers opened fuel bids, and the high prices were not a great surprise to anyone who has pumped gas into their cars or warmed their homes with heating oil. Hinds will be providing both the boroughs unleaded gas because it bid the lowest discount on market price, and diesel fuel because of lower price. Hinds and Mirabito bid on fuel oil, and with oil prices high and unstable, it decided to purchase it on the spot market, rather than lock into a price with Mirabito, or sign up for oil at fluctuating market price with either Mirabito or Hinds.
DiPhillips, they thought, could determine when the oil tank in the borough building would need the filling and theyll order it then.
Its last order of businesses before going into an executive session was to set Halloween Day for Halloween Day! with trick-or-treating from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council is scheduled for November 1 at 7 p.m. in the borough building.
Sometime before the end of this year, all property tax payers in Pennsylvania will receive forms allowing them to apply for property tax relief under the new Act 72 measure passed by the legislature this summer. The Blue Ridge School Board is urging all property owners to return the forms promptly. Why? Because the school district is responsible for mailing the forms, mailing follow-up forms if necessary, and managing the process. And all of that costs money and time. According to Business Manager Loren Small, a single mailing would cost about $2,200. The actual mailings will be done by a private firm, InfoCon, under a contract involving a number of cooperating school districts.
Under Act 72, owners of property may be eligible for a reduction in taxes, depending on how the property is used. The rules are complicated, and eligibility is determined by county tax assessors. Relief under the program may not appear in tax bills for another 2-3 years, because it is tied to state gaming (gambling) revenue; gambling activities in the state were broadened by companion legislation. But you can't get the benefit without the application, so school districts are encouraging taxpayers to return the forms promptly.
This was a subject of some urgency to School Board President Alan Hall and his administrators at the Board's business meeting on October 4. According to Mr. Hall, there are over 4,600 property-tax payers in the district, about a third of whom do not actually live here, and would therefore probably not qualify for relief under Act 72; but only those who apply can get the benefit.
The otherwise routine meeting covered the usual range of personnel issues, funds transfers and the like. Only once did the subject of the proposed expansion project come up, and that indirectly. A women's softball coach rose to tell the 25-35 people attending the meeting that it has become "tremendously hard" to schedule practice time; in some cases he has taken his team to Binghamton to find space. The Blue Ridge women's softball team won its state- wide division championship last year. To maintain that level of performance, the coach said the team "needs to practice 10 months a year." In Susquehanna County, that means practicing indoors much of the time. And that means that the softball program is competing with basketball, wrestling, and all the other activities that need space in the two available gyms.
Speaking of which, the Board added a second coach to the Junior High wrestling program at nearly $2,000 per year, and hired Raymond Allen for the position. Mr. Allen was present to accept. A Board member asked why an additional coach was necessary. Activities Director James Corse said that at some competitions, more than one Blue Ridge wrestler may be in action at the one time, and each competitor should have a coach present for the event. Another Board member asked why the job was for a "Junior High" coach, when Blue Ridge has a Middle School but no Junior High School. He was informed that the term "Junior High" is used by the athletic associations and encompasses grades 7, 8 and 9.
Board member Joel Whitehead reported that the Transportation Committee is gradually moving toward a "single-tier" busing system. The single-tier system would have all buses making only one trip in the morning and one in the afternoon, which the district hopes will help minimize cost. Asked if single-tier would be in place for next year, beginning in September 2005, Mr. Hall said, "most definitely."
Middle School Principal John Manchester reported that the district's new coordinator of programs for the gifted, Janelle Mead, is on the job and busily learning her way around. He also reported on the SuccessMaker program, a computer-based learning enhancement program used in both the Elementary and Middle Schools. The Middle School hosted an assembly on radon in the home, and distributed free kits to students who can use them to test their homes for the low- level natural radiation produced by radon in the ground. Mr. Manchester also noted that the Fall Festival to benefit the Ross Park Zoo has been rescheduled, to October 23, to avoid competition with Halloween.
Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz reported that Family Math Night was a huge success. According to Mr. Dietz, based on past experience, of the 28 families registered for the event, only about 22 were expected to attend. Instead, 40 families showed up for the session that is intended to help parents and children to work and learn about mathematics together.
Superintendent Robert McNamara echoed remarks of his Elementary and Middle School Principals encouraging parents of eligible students to apply for $500 tuition grants for the Classroom Plus program. Students across the state who are struggling to meet performance standards may be eligible for additional attention after school hours. The cost of the tutoring sessions is paid by parents, who may be able to get a voucher from the state department of education.
Mr. McNamara also said that, with all the attention given to Act 72, taxes, and the like, "[educators] need to focus our attention on our intention," where the "intention" of the schools is to educate our young people.
Whatever your intention, you can express it at the next meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board, to be held on October 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School. The session will be a workshop, expected to concentrate on the proposed expansion project.
A seasonal residence in Oakland Township belonging to Diane Frankes Troy, Centereach, NY, was burglarized by an unknown person(s) sometime between March 1 and September 20. Stolen were a water pump, large kerosene heating unit and miscellaneous household items.*
A vehicle driven by Tiffany Tingley, Harford, and one driven by Barry Bibalo, Forest City, collided in front of the Lunkerr Deli on State Route 106 in Clifford on evening of October 4. Neither driver was injured but both were cited.
On October 6, someone pumped $33 of gas into his/her vehicle at the Penn-Can Service Station in Harford Township and drove off without paying.
An unknown person(s) pumped 18.61 gallons of gas into what is thought to be a red Chevy Suburban on October 4 at the Liberty Exxon Truck Stop in Harford, and drove off without paying.
The Pump-n-Pantry in Kingsley also had gas stolen from it on October 4, when an unknown person(s) pumped $25 dollars into a teal two-door Chevy Cavalier and drove off without paying.
Just after midnight on October 1, state police patrol members saw Richard Lee Saab, New Milford, driving his 1991 Ford Tempo erratically on State Route 11 in Great Bend Township. He was stopped, failed field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI. Charges are pending in District Court.
The front door plate-glass window of the Checkers Express Mart at the intersection of State Routes 29 and 3004 was smashed in sometime between late-night of October 4 and 5:30 a.m. the following morning.*
FATAL TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
Walter Damorris, 40, Levittown, NY, was pronounced dead at the scene after he lost control of a Polaris Sportsman 500 ATV he was driving along State Route 4014 in Apolacon Township. He went off the road and was ejected from the ATV, which came to rest approximately 37 feet from Damorris. The Little Meadows Fire and Rescue Co and the Susquehanna County Coroners Office assisted at the scene of this accident that occurred in the early evening of October 4.
On September 20, Tony Weaver, Montrose, reported illegal dumping of building material on his property, the Delaware Stone Quarries, just off State Route 29 in South Montrose.*
Elk Lake High School was the victim when unknown person(s) drove to the school entrance at State Route 3001 and School Road on the night of October 2 and damaged the school sign located there. A silver Jeep was seen in the area at the time of the incident.*
On the night of October 1, Timothy Sutton, 19, Montrose was traveling at Block 6 along State Road 3023 in Dimock Township when he struck a cow that was in the roadway. Sutton was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.
Unknown person(s) entered a garage owned by E. Ross in North Jackson and removed two Stihl brand chain saws. This theft took place sometime between September 11 and October 1.*
Andrew Freeman, Montrose, was driving an ATV along State Road 2053 in Bridgewater Township on the evening of September 17 when he tried to turn around and went to the shoulder of the road. He failed to safely turn the vehicle, and it slid down an embankment. Freeman was able to jump clear before the ATV rolled over. He was treated at Tyler hospital for a minor injury.
An unknown person(s) removed a mailbox and its post from the ground and laid it in the grass nearby along Airport Road outside of Clifford sometime between September 29 and 30.
Sharon Kramer, 59, Gaines, PA, abandoned her trailer in Lathrop Township, but that didnt stop unknown person(s) from stealing a furnace, bathroom sink and medicine cabinet from it sometime between August 28 and October 11.
A shed belonging to Clarence Stone, Dimock Township, was broken into sometime between August 29 and September 12 and the following fishing equipment was stolen from it: two electric motors one black, one black and green; a light-brown plastic tackle box; a red pail with ice-fishing tip-ups; a blue hand ice auger and a minnow bucket.*
CRIMINAL TRESPASS, THEFT
On the night of September 14, a white male entered a garage belonging to Francis Worden, New Milford, and attempted to remove items. He was scared off by the homeowner and drove away in a tan Chevy Blazer with New York registration plates.*
The mailbox belonging to Andrew Banko, Jackson Township, was removed from its post outside his residence in the early hours of September 12.*
On the morning of September 30 in the Peoples National Bank in Hop Bottom, a known suspect attempted to pass a check on an account of Vernon Smith, 42, Kingsley which the suspect had forged. Charges are pending.
A 2001 Pontiac driven by R. Osterhout, 65, no address given, was driving behind a 1996 Chevy driven by T. Newberry, 21, no address given, on State Route 171 in Oakland borough. The Chevy slowed for traffic ahead and was stuck from behind by the Pontiac. Both drivers were wearing seat belts, Osterhout was uninjured, Newberry received minor injuries, the Pontiacs air bag deployed, and both vehicles received major damage.
* Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the State Police at 465-3154.
Victor Cappucci Jr., Mildred Cappucci, Richard Place, Charlotte Place, and Cappucci Trust (by trustee) to Nicholas E. Repoley and Dorothy T. Repoley, in Dimock Township for $43,500.
Christine M. Rosecrans, Charles A. Rosecrans to Jesse Baker and Jaclyn Baker, in Liberty Township for $75,000.
Guido Richard Kumetz Jr. to Samuel Christian and Rose Christian, in Rush Township for $150,000.
Jean R. McNamara (estate), Roberta Houlihan, Kathleen Borowicz, Andrew Borowicz, Ronald Brainard, Dale Rockwell, E. Margaret McNamara Doran, and Jeffrey Doran, to Floyd E. Kline and Julie Kline, in Jackson Township for $24,500.
JP Morgan Chase Bank (by attorney), and Truman Capital Mortgage Loan Trust 2002-2 (by trustee) to Terry M. Vincent and Cheryl L. Vincent, in Great Bend Borough for $14,500.
Harris D. Stephens (estate) to Denise R. Comfort, in Springville Township for $41,500.
Kenneth A. Kenyon (estate) and Albert T. Kenyon (estate) to Allan K. Little and Mary J. Little, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Carol L. Dailey aka Carol L. Dailey Sr. to Ronald R. Dailey Jr. and Susan Mae Dailey, in Thompson Borough for one dollar.
Ron Waddy (trust by trustee), Harriet Waddy (trust by trustee), Ronald E. Waddy, and Harriet M. Waddy to Ciro A. Magliulo and Pauline Magliulo, in Susquehanna for $30,000.
Mary R. ONeil to Deborah Ann Ucci, Kevin ONeil, Mike Williams, Nancy Loomis, Patricia Decker and Kelly White, in New Milford for one dollar.
Olitha Wiseman (by POA) to Dennis E. Whitney and Ronald W. Whitney, in Jackson Township for $4,000.
Maria C. Nathans to Roy S. Nathans, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Maria C. Nathans to Roy S. Nathans, in Rush Towship for one dollar.
Richard Mensel, Julia Mensel, Clarence Mensel, Carmella Mensel to Elaine Banuat, in Lenox Township for $145,000.
Elmer Hoover Jr. and Alice Hoover to Danny Hoover and Linda Hoover, in Dimock Township for $80,000.
Carl McAllister (by sheriff) and Constance McAllister (by sheriff) to Mark R. Wilmot and Sandra Wilmot, in Clifford Township for $27,000.
David E. Klinshaw to Mark Hammell and Paula Hammell, in Ararat Township for $119,000.
Laurel Lake Aquatic Association to Laurel Lake Association Inc., in Silver Lake Township for $5,594.
Albert H. Cleveland, Carolyn Cleveland (by attorney, aka) Carolyn R. Cleveland (by attorney) to Albert H. Cleveland, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Edwin M. Dotten and Suzanne Dotten to Mark E. Dotten and Jeannine F. Dotten, in Harford Township for $233,500.
James L. Karg and Suzanne S. Karg to Richard B. Smith and Carol V. Smith, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Lawrence T. OReilly, Christine M. OReilly and Thomas J. OReilly to Jeffrey P. Hamar and Laurie J. Fortner, in Apolacon Township for $38,900.
James R. Baker and Christine M. Baker to James P. Snell Sr. and James P. Snell Jr., in Bridgewater Township for $108,500.
Bernard J. Singer and Christine M. Singer to Jesus Gonzalaz and Maria Gonzalaz, in Brooklyn Township for $52,000.
Louis J. Grisafi and Barbara J. Grisafi to Louis J. Grisafi and Barbara J. Grisafi in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Winona Kilmer (by attorney) to Cecil Kilmer and Marilyn Kilmer, in Lenox Township for $110,000.
Inge M. Michel to Dean A. Johnson and Valerie Johnson, in New Milford Township for $25,000.
Patricia A. Pickering (nbm) Patricia A. Lyman and Eric P. Lyman to Erick P. Lyman, Patricia A. Lyman, Abraham J. Pickering, Angie Jean Pickering, and Andrew James Pickering, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Jamie D. Dawes to David S. Grier, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Mary E. Snyder to Thomas J. Stepnosky and Carol N. Stepnosky, in Thompson Township for $31,500.
Wanda S. Bell to Stephen L. Bell, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Jack H. Reynolds and Elizabeth M. Reynolds to Christopher Morath, in Jessup Township for $20,000.
Thelma Green (estate) to Barbara J. Shingler, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Lawrence T. OReilly, Christine M. OReilly and Thomas J. OReilly to Scott D. Leister and Linda J. Leister in Apolacon Township for $43,500.
Floyd Richard Benett (estate, aka) Floyd R. Benett to Carolina E. Wilbur, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
William Tyler (aka) William B. Tyler to Brian G. Tyler and Nancy L. Tyler, in New Milford Township for $100,000.
MaryLynne Twining and Donald Twining to Matthew A. Kilmer and Ashley Twining (nbm) Ashley Kilmer, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Citifinancial Mortgage Co. Inc (aka) Associates CDC to Maura Jordan, in Clifford Township for $115,000.
Priscilla M. Carey to John J. Gazzillo Jr. and Kimberly Gazzillo, in Springville Township for $20,000.
Jay W. Colwell, Susquehanna, and Kelley June Vangasbeck, Susquehanna.
Jospeh M. Gates Jr., Hallstead, and Jennifer M. Henning, Hallstead.
Chester Thomas Chilewski III, Susquehanna, and Jamie R. Rodriguez, Susquehanna.
Christopher M. Isaah, Kirkwood, NY, and Cheryl L. Bailey, Kirkwood, NY.
Shawn Richard Burns Susquehanna, and Julie D. Rockwell, Susquehanna.
Stephen Thomas Smith, Little Meadows, and Julie A. Mott, Little Meadows.
Brian Lee Penny, Hop Bottom, and Ruby June Ainey, Hop Bottom.
Frank V. Sanfilippo, New Milford, and Margaret M. Olszewsic, New Milford.
Jeremy Michael Wagner, Montrose, and Christy L. Scarinzi, Jessup Twp.
Mark Lee Benedict, Hop Bottom, and Teresa Ann Manganella, Carbondale.
Joseph Robert Callahan, Susquehanna, and Julie Christine Finch, Susquehanna.
Nicholas Robert Hardy IV, Fort Bragg, NC, and Kimberly N. Dotson, Binghamton, NY.
Kevin D. Carey, RR1, New Milford, vs. Vicki C. Carey, Hallstead.
Joanne Brozana, RR1, Montrose, vs. Stephen J. Brozana, RR1, Montrose.
Michael G. Schwartzbeck, Conklin, NY, vs. Florence A. Schwartzbeck, Hallsead.
Mary F. Eddy, RR2, Montrose, vs. David A. Eddy, RR5, Montrose.
A long search for somebody (else) to take responsibility for the bridge over the railroad on Bridge Street came to an end at the October meeting of the Great Bend Borough Council on the 7th. After canvassing PENNDOT and the railroad company itself, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission responded with a detailed report outlining the history of the bridge, and assigning ownership to Great Bend Borough.
The report said that in 1953 there were four crossings over the tracks in the area. The bridge in question was built at the time by the railroad with the understanding that, once complete, responsibility for maintenance of the street, railings and sidewalk on the bridge were to become that of the Borough. The railroad built the bridge because the Borough didn't have any money at the time. The Borough still doesn't have any money, but now they have the bridge. In the words of Council President Ray Holtzman, "we are totally responsible."
The agenda for the meeting was closely spaced by efficient new Borough secretary Sheila Guinan, and Mr. Holtzman, as usual, was hard pressed to keep his charges in line. Among the first items was the need of a resolution requiring an affidavit by property owners building structures exempt from the new Uniform Construction Code as "recreational cabins." A $100 fee must accompany an affidavit, which must declare that the structure is to be used for recreational purposes only. The purpose is to keep buildings constructed outside the code from becoming domiciles.
Council was asked for permission to install additional drainage pipe on Hayes Street. A difficult situation with water in the area led to the installation of a pipe to carry water from a Borough street away from private property. With recent heavy rains it was evident that the drainage would have to be extended. However, some of the pipe was laid across private property. The Borough's attorney, Frank O'Connor, said that work like that on private property could lead to problems later on without proper permissions and documentation. He suggested that the Borough request a letter from the property owner actually requesting the work, to be followed later by a formal easement assigning access to the Borough.
Council has been struggling with the purchase of cinders for the upcoming winter season. Actual cinders are becoming hard to get, since the state has refused to certify most cinder products for use on state subsidized roadways. The only products generally available now are so-called "anti-skid" materials, a small stone product that Council members aren't particularly happy with. Nevertheless, they accepted a bid from F. S. Lopke for anti-skid at $9.75 per cubic yard.
Council decided to close the parks for the season on or about October 16. Borough maintenance worker Alan Grannis reported only a few remaining details to be cleaned up before the parks could be closed.
Mr. Grannis has a part-time temporary helper whose further employment was a question. No one was eager to lay off a good worker, and Council decided to retain him at present rate and hours at least until Council's next meeting, on November 4.
A project to clean and fill cracks in Borough streets caused some consternation when Councilman Mike Wasko expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the work, calling it "deplorable." He said that many cracks that fit within the project's specifications were not treated at all. Unfortunately, the contract was let based on gallons of material used. Moreover, the contractor's bill has already been paid. The contractor will be asked back to review the job. And Mr. Wasko asked that, in future, only day-to-day maintenance costs be paid without Council approval. He said that, in cases like this, Council could be called into special session to review performance and consider paying a bill.
Ms. Guinan reported to Council on the progress of the plans for sprucing up Route 11 through Hallstead and Great Bend as part of the Bridging Communities initiative. She said that PENNDOT has denied access (for now) to the area of the "flats" between the two boroughs. Moreover, PENNDOT requires that curbs can be constructed only when attached to sidewalks. PENNDOT "owns" Route 11, which is also Main Street through the area. Council decided to concentrate whatever money is available through Bridging Communities in the business district of the Borough.
The Borough will be required to refund almost $3,000 to PENNDOT as the result of an audit of liquid fuel subsidies for 2 years ending December 2003. The state pays municipalities for fuel used to maintain roads and streets. PENNDOT periodically audits municipalities to make sure they're getting only what they're entitled to, and municipalities like Great Bend Borough may spend state funds only on roads and streets.
A letter from Sandra Kazinetz described an investigation into the pension plan provided to members of the now-defunct police department that once served New Milford, Hallstead and Great Bend Boroughs, and Great Bend Township. It appears that money accumulated in the pension fund may have been excessive. There is a possibility that the Borough may receive a refund from the plan, based on the results of the investigation.
A representative of the Great Bend Fire Company attended the meeting to report that the town of Windsor, NY does not intend to make monthly payments for its contribution to the workers' compensation policy carried by Great Bend Borough for its fire company. However, they have agreed to a larger annual payment to the fire company for coverage in their area, which the fire company will refund to the Borough to cover the cost. Windsor has also tentatively agreed to reimburse about $900 for their contribution for last year.
The fire company is also planning a membership drive. They want to emphasize that the drive is "not a money drive. We're not in financial trouble," he said. "We want people's time." He said the current membership is getting older, and that "we don't have any young ones coming in." The fire company recognizes that not everyone will want to charge into burning buildings. But the firemen can use people with all types of skills and interests. "We have room for everybody." He asked for the support and participation of the Borough Council.
He will certainly get Mayor Jim Riecke's support. Mr. Riecke made a special point of thanking the Fire Company for everything they did during the recent severe storms, including pumping out basements. The firemen also expect to put up the town's holiday lights early this year, before the weather gets bad.
And finally, Ms. Guinan gave each Council member a copy of a draft budget for next year and asked that members review it, make comments and suggestions, and prepare to propose it formally at the November meeting, for passage in December. Council President Holtzman refused to make the draft available to the press until it has been formally accepted by Council.
If you want to hear about the budget, or what part of it they will talk about, you can attend the next meeting on Thursday, November 4, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Borough Building on Elizabeth and Franklin Streets.
Following are the Lanesboro Council meeting minutes of September 7, as submitted by Secretary Gail Hanrahan.
Present: Ray Barnes, Dan Boughton, Regina Dilello, Chris Maby, Bob Mireider, Bob Page, and Paul Corse. Also Present: Mayor Slater, Secretary Gail Hanrahan, and Code Enforcement Officer Shane Lewis. Visitors: Gerry Benson, Sandy Benson, Dale Rockwell, Stan Rockwell, GeorgeAnn Wannatt-Darling, Bernhardt Gruber, Mr. and Mrs. Sexton.
Motion made by Paul Corse seconded by Regina Dilello to accept minutes as presented. Boughton suggested a change to a quote. Motion not withdrawn, staying to approve as presented. Opposed by Barnes. Motion carried. Barnes asked that minutes be forwarded for review as soon as possible after the meeting for which they are documenting.
GeorgeAnn recently rented the community center for an auction. She feels the boro did not treat her fairly, the cost of rental was too high, and that chairs that she expected to be there were missing. Council explained that the cost is and has been set for quite some time - $50 for Lanesboro residents, $75 for non-residents, and $150 for commercial ventures, regardless of size. Following a discussion, she was asked if there was anything that could be done to satisfy her. She asked for a refund, stating that she had not been charged that amount the last time she rented it. Council responded that a refund was not an option and that the boro was more than fair in allowing her to store auction items for five days without any added fees.
Mr. Sexton noted that the traffic seems to have slowed down since the last meeting, and was glad to see additional patrols in his neighborhood.
Correspondences and Resolutions:
Gail read or offered for distribution miscellaneous correspondence.
A letter was read from the boro solicitor regarding Jefferson St. The letter was written at the request of the boro, and asked the owners of B&S quarries to provide a detailed agenda and specifications for the repair of Jefferson St., as well as updated bonding certificate, since the one on record expired in 2002. The letter, sent via certified mail, asked for a written response by the September meeting. A response letter from B&S was received but it did not contain any specific information the boro requested. It was specifically mentioned in the letter they would not provide any set dates on repair, as their intent is to wait until constructing a new road to Rt. 171 prior to beginning repairs on Jefferson St. After much discussion, including possibly closing the road to anything higher than the posted 5 ton limit, agreement was reached on sending a second letter, responding to the B&S letter. Council unanimously agreed to reply with exact wording and letter from the solicitor. Council does not want the road to be unpaved through the winter. Boro is requesting a copy of a signed contract with dates between B&S and a certified state contractor for all work on the road to be completed by November 1. If B&S would like to wait until the spring to do the permanent fixes, the boro is willing to accept a "temporary" repair to the road this fall. A signed contract with a certified contractor for all temporary repairs to be completed by November 1 is also requested. Failure to provide this information by the October council meeting will result in the closing of the road to all traffic heavier than the posted 5 ton limit, with strict enforcement of the closing.
PENNDOT is offering a seminar on Liquid Fuels fund spending. The closest location is Lackawanna County, with a meeting date of November 10. Barnes, Corse, and Maby are planning to attend. Boughton will contact Maby if he can get the time off work. Cost is $15 / attendee. Maby will fill out the paperwork and give to Gail so that a check can be mailed in with it.
District Attorneys office wrote council a letter announcing a household hazardous materials disposal day.
Got Agenda and regular reports from COG.
Mayor Slater spoke with the County regarding the relocation of the polling booths from the Boro Building to the Community Center. County told Mayor a letter or resolution from the boro is needed, and a letter or endorsement from the Judge of Elections (Sandy Boughton) would be preferred. Resolution passed authorizing the relocation of the polling booths in time for the November 2004 election was unanimously approved. Maby to forward copy of resolution to Gail for printing on letterhead and forwarding to the County. It will also be forwarded to Sandy Boughton asking for her endorsement.
Code Enforcer Report:
Shane provided a list of multiple inspections and permits. Also discussed was how to proceed with the Braungard and Pooler properties. The Braungard property is under advisement with the solicitor regarding condemnation and removal of structures. Lewis noted that he feels both structures should be demolished, but the owner has stated the she intends to repair one and move back into it. As for funding, the town could do it and ask for reimbursement, or force the owner to do it under a court order. Shane asked the owner for a plan on what she plans to do, but nothing was provided. After discussion, Council agreed that the matter should be presented to Judge Seamans.
Two letters have been regarding the Pooler property. It appears that a minimal effort has been put forth to bring the property into compliance. Council discussed and agreed the matter needs to be processed. Shane will contact the solicitor and follow normal protocol. An update will be provided at the next meeting.
Dale Rockwell asked about a basement drain from the Sheridan property that drains onto Jefferson Street, which causes puddling and ice buildup in the winter. Shane will look into the matter and see what can be done.
Mayor Slater provided the police report - 21 speeding violations.
Maby stated he received two complaints (with a third lodged during the meeting) about barking dogs at the former Ryder residence, now owned by Matt Orner. The dogs are not running loose, but bark continuously during the day. Mayor Slater to speak with Officer Caninni about visiting the residence the next time he is on patrol.
Also discussed were some recommendations that came from the traffic calming meeting held recently:
Do Not Pass signs installed throughout town; stop signs for all directions at the Jefferson St. / Main St. intersection, as well as the Viaduct / North Main / Main intersection; signs placed at boro limits, exact text to come from police; use of a second unmarked car for patrols; discussions of what type of tickets are being written; reducing the amount of patrols near Grand Street and along Rte 171, and increasing the amount of patrols in town closer to the majority of the boro population; continue to use the Saturday morning garbage patrol with a few modifications.
Maby noted that all of the recommendations were just that, including what the council has agreed or disagreed to. State code clearly defines the police department as under control of the mayor, who by default is considered the "chief of police" in Pennsylvania.
Mayor Slater stated that everything is running good. The truck is good.
A paving company was contacted for a price on resurfacing paved boro roads. Additional bids are needed to comply with State code. Council authorized Maby to make telephone calls to other paving companies for pricing.
Regina stated that there were a few rentals and provided deposits totaling several hundred dollars.
Maby stated that he has made repeated calls attempting to contact with a glass buyer on establishing a price for recyclable glass without success. Council discussed whether to proceed, and agreed that the Community Center is starting to sustain itself on rentals. Decision made to abandon the bottle collection, at least for now.
Regina is selling the remaining bottles previously collected by the case to a citizen at reduced rate to get rid of them. She will continue to collect the cans for recycling, with the proceeds going to the Community Center account.
Gail made several calls to the local oil suppliers for locating the cheapest prepay price. A contract with Mirabito was signed for 500 gallons with an upset price limit as well in the event we use up our prepay amount.
Motion made by Page, seconded by Mireider to approve the bills as presented, with additions for the yearly donations to the Bridge Committee and the Library. Unanimous so carried.
Processing of delinquents - There are several individuals the boro has judgments against for lack of payment on their utility bills. Some have agreed to and are making payments, while others have totally disregarded the judgment against them. The boro has three options - 1) do nothing other than hold judgment, 2), record a lien against their property, or 3), request a sheriff's sale to clear the judgment. After discussion, Council agreed to place liens against all properties we have judgments against, including those who are making payments. As soon as the bill is paid in full, the lien will be released. Corse to discuss filing procedure with District Magistrate, with boro filing themselves if allowed. Council agreed to authorize Corse or Solicitor to proceed with liens against G. Braungard, E. Barnes, E. Marshall, R. Foote, and J. McKinney. The remaining list of delinquent accounts will be updated and forwarded to the Magistrate for processing.
Maby received a call from John Robinson, head of the Pennsylvania historical marker committee. The roadside Starrucca Viaduct Sign that was misplaced several years ago was found in Harrisburg. He was unsure of how it got there, and forwarded pictures of the sign to Maby. John noted the sign has been shipped out to have several breaks, cracks repaired, and then will be repainted. The State would like to send the sign, along with a new mounting post, to Lanesboro. John asked if the boro would install it. Maby told him that it should not be a problem, but wanted to discuss it with Council. John said he was unsure when it would ship, but would notify Maby as soon as he hears something. John suggested holding a small ceremony to unveil the sign, with invites to the appropriate dignitaries. Council thought it was a good idea. Maby to follow up with John and forward pictures of the location the sign will be placed. Additional information will be disseminated, as it becomes available.
There are two training EMC classes coming up. The first is Initial Assessment and Damage Reporting on 9/20 from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. The second is Terrorism Awareness, scheduled for 9/30 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Maby will be attending as EMC, and asked if anyone would be interested in attending. Corse is interested in Initial Assessment and asked Maby to give him a reminder call a few days before.
Maby arranged to provide a four in one child activity center for the upcoming Pumpkin Fest on October 11, on behalf of Lanesboro. Money generated from the activity center will be donated to the Community Center. He asked if any council members would be interested in donating some time to help run it. Corse offered to work two hours at the Fest, and may have a lead on firewood for the bonfire. Boughton will check with the firm that donated all of the wood for last year's Santa bonfire as well.
Motion to adjourn.
HARRISBURG On behalf of Gov. Edward G. Rendell, state Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., announced that $7.8 million in capital budget funds has been awarded for projects that will help preserve rail-freight service and stimulate economic development across Pennsylvania. The eight projects are expected to create nearly 980 jobs.
"The efficient operation of our railroads contributes to economic development, job creation and safer highways," Secretary Biehler said. "These grants provide the capital necessary to maintain and expand essential rail-freight operations in Pennsylvania."
The Secretary said transportation is an important ingredient in the economic-development mix. "Keeping short-line and regional railroads in good operating condition means were keeping the freight moving, supporting employers, jobs and families," Secretary Biehler said.
Included n the funding is Delaware and Hudson Railway Company, Inc., of Clifton Park, NY, $1 million, to rehabilitate portions of 127 miles of the railroads mainline through Susquehanna, Lackawanna, Luzerne and Columbia counties. The project will create five new jobs.
Jim Shaw, New Milford resident for 38 years, thought he was asked to come to last Thursdays regular meeting of the New Milford Borough Council because it had a job for him. What council had instead, on the recommendation of a resident, was its October good neighbor recognition certificate for him, and it was nice that there were a bunch of people to witness it instead of the couple or five residents who usually attend a meeting.
Council member Rick Ainey noted that "anyone whos lived in New Milford for any length of time know that when you call Jim Shaw, he will help you. Hes active in the church, has been the assistant fire chief, worked on the sewer project, contributed good wisdom as a member of the municipal authority, and has made the town a better place by being a resident."
For his part, Shaw realizing there was not another borough job for him to do told council that he "was just doing my neighborly thing. I want to emphasize that its a great town to live in, to run a business in. Its a wonderful town."
Shaw was warmly applauded by the standing-room-only crowd who was at the meeting for other purposes. They all had to do with events that occurred when Hurricane Ivans tail swept through the area and what it wanted the borough to do about what Ivan left behind.
When council president Scott Smith asked if there was public comment before Council went into agenda items, he got a lot of response.
First up was a resident who presented council with a petition and photos. The petition was in response to a report that borough would be seeking $100,000 funding for damage done to the Blue Ridge Park by the small-stream flooding that plagued the borough and other lower-lying municipalities. The resident, with photos of an eroded Salt Lick Creek, wanted the funds directed instead to property erosion and debris left behind in the creek as it runs down Maple Street, down to Main Street and down to Johnston Street, where she said another flood would threaten homes whose owners signed the petition along the streams course.
Council member Chris Allen principally responded to questions about the flood during the evening, although all council members contributed. Allen has been in daily contact in person, on the phone and oftentimes many times a day with FEMA, PEMA, DEP, PENNDOT, borough employees and other council members, about setting the streams back to rights.
He responded to the resident by stating that the town, like others hard-hit, provided FEMA and other possible funding agencies with estimates based on information from various contractors on what it would take to put back what was there before the flood. These towns are erring on the side of over-estimating, should they get the funding. Similarly, an estimate was also provided on repairs to the stretch of the creek the resident was more concerned about, although it was for significantly less than $100,000.
At Blue Ridge Park, as residents who have been there recently know, nearly 100 feet of the ball field is now somewhere down the river, and about a third of the foundation of a building in the park was also washed away. That will require some work.
Getting back to the creek as it tumbles down to Johnston Street, another resident pointed out that there is now but two to two-and-a-half feet of clearance between the water level and the top of a railroad bridge. "The creek bed is at least five feet higher than it should be where it goes through that underpass," he said. "If we have an ice jam this winter," he added, "you will have a lot of homes flooded."
Allen said that he has spoken with FEMA, PENNDOT and railroad officials at the site of the bridge. Both agreed that the viaduct is plugged, that there is a problem, and that the railroad would help to fix it, once approval came from railroad "higher-ups." Once unplugged, the pressure upstream will be alleviated with not just water but also debris having a lot more clearance.
Allen reported that the DEP official said the creek under the bridge could be dredged out. He also noted he is gearing up borough employees and equipment to go in and do its part once the railroad does theirs. Allen also reported that PENNDOT and FEMA walked with him upstream as well, identifying where roads have either been damaged or are threatened, for PENNDOTs repair.
The resident said the town couldnt wait for the railroad to give its approval before something was done, and asked why the borough could not go into the creek to clean it out and then get reimbursed for it. The petition-resident recalled how years ago the town would go into the creeks and clean them out. Its not that way anymore. Allen reminded the audience that times have changed and regulations are in place specific to who can go into a stream, when and to do what.
The dilemma is that the town does not have the funds to put out to do all the work, and FEMA will not reimburse what is someone elses responsibility to clean up like the railroad. Allen clarified that FEMA aid is not a grant, as some residents thought.
In fact, he said that if a towns request for funding were approved and requesting funding does not mean a town will get it FEMA would pick up 75 percent of the cost, with the town paying for the remaining 25 percent.
Which is why Allen said it was so important to work with the railroad. For other bridges, such as those owned by PENNDOT, he said that their owners have the right to clean 50 feet on either side of the bridge. Bridges like these, and the railroad bridge, will be taken care of by their owners to the extent allowable, and "we can take care of the rest." He also reported that hes asked the DEP for a letter that would allow it to clean out under the Church Street bridge and either side of it, and to maintain the creek for bridge flow.
When Allen told the group that he would be meeting with railroad representatives the following day to try to move things along, another resident familiar with working with "nice folks at the railroad with a chain of command that can go on forever" offered a suggestion. And that was for the borough to notify the railroad that there was a good possibility that the bridge could completely block with another big rain, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and possible liability to it. No one likes to see the word "liability," he said.
Council liked the idea a lot. In fact, in addition to sending such a letter to the railroad, it will also send it to PENNDOT, FEMA and state and federal representatives. Hopes are high that the letters describing the "imminent danger of stressed creeks that are a concern by residents" will get someones attention pronto, speeding up the parties rehabilitation of the situation.
Borough resident and county commissioner Mary Ann Warren also attended the meeting, and reported that she, along with FEMA and PEMA and DEP representatives, went through and assessed New Milford, Great Bend Township and Lanesboro the areas hardest hit, and shes been on the phone with these agencies every day as well. "Everyone is putting claims in, and the team of emergency managers in the courthouse are helping as quickly as they can," she reported. "Keep calling me, and I will continue to make the phone calls."
Addressing comments about who would clean up or restore property eroded by or lying close to the bank of a creek, council member Teri Gulick informed the group that it is the property owners responsibility, at his or her expense, to do so. Property eroded by and which extends into a creek can be reclaimed, she said, if the DEP approves a permit request by the property owner to do so. Some in the audience thought it was the boroughs responsibility. It is not.
Then there was the lake/dam upstream from Susquehanna Street in New Milford Township and from where, on the morning of the flooding, word went out that it might break and borough residents began evacuating.
Had anyone been up to the lake yet?, Council was asked. Gulick replied that they did, and inspected the wall holding back the lake. It is a man-made, concrete wall, and Township officials deemed it safe. Inspectors recommended that another drain be installed in another part of the lake to alleviate it should the area ever get rains like the big ones it just had. Gulick reported that "the people in the township didnt understand the evacuation because they knew the wall was okay."
Which brought up the evacuation and who set it in motion. One resident reported it was the state police that issued the warning that the dam/lake could possibly go. Another said it was someone from the fire department. It was unclear who said what, but it seems clear that people were running down from the dam and yelling to those who passed something along the lines of "Evacuate now. The dam is going to break."
And so people left their homes quickly, some being told to evacuate by teenagers knocking at their doors. Some who left could not get to the school, the evacuation point, because of high water. And one who did not later on called a Red Cross representative to find out from her about whether the Red Cross was informed about the evacuation. The representative said she was not, and that she wanted to meet with the borough to talk with them about their evacuation plan.
Close to a year ago, this representative did meet with council and informed them that all it took for the Red Cross to set in motion an evacuation plan was one phone call to the organization. The phone call was made. Fact is, the borough has, for the past nine months, been attempting to reach the representative and have her attend another borough meeting so it could learn more about emergency management. They will continue their efforts to schedule a meeting with her.
Another resident thought someone should be assigned to handle things in a disaster. The borough did, and Jim Carpenetti was here, there and everyone on the night of the flooding, but he could not be in every place at the same time.
"We have no fire siren to warn of these things," said others. The firehouses old siren went kaput some time ago (Hallsteads is still in working order, it was noted), and today, fire fighters respond to a fire via pagers each carries. Still, the borough, working with the firehouse, has applied for two grants to purchase one of the $15,000 sirens, has been turned down both times, and will continue to seek a grant for one.
At this point, council member Rick Ainey observed that the room was rehashing what happened. He thought the borough might be better served by looking forward. "Lets look at the evacuation plan. Why dont we review emergency management with the county emergency manager? Have them and Jim [Carpenetti] met with us and reevaluate our plan? Lets see what should have happened," he said. Thats what council members will do, and they will report back to residents at a public meeting.
Added Warren, "I think council did an excellent job with handling the unforeseen situation, and with sitting here tonight." She told the crowd that the county EMA coordinator reported that Carpenetti did "everything right and was one of the first to call in." She reminded members that Carpenetti is a volunteer and trying hard, that council members went out in the middle of the night to help. (In fact, when most of the crowd left the meeting after flood concerns were addressed, one who stayed noted that most people would agree that it was better to have evacuated and had nothing happen regarding the dam, than to have stayed and have it rupture.)
So, with a long list of things that it will do, council and the group moved on to other business. Many in the audience took advantage to ask other questions. Some registered complaints about residents they thought were violating ordinances, and these will be followed through on. Another suggested that council put up a "two-hour parking" sign (except for Sundays) by the post office and thats what they will do. Two volunteered to help council as they redevelop emergency plans, and then more than half of the audience left.
Council spent a good deal of time discussing a letter it recently sent to COG Codes and Codes response to it, both at Codes last meeting and in a response letter to the borough. An original member of Codes nine years ago, New Milford has used, since then, Codes CEO to enforce its building and zoning ordinances. They are pleased with the work that current CEO Jim Sellitto has performed on behalf of the borough and assumed that he would continue to be taking on the same duties as his predecessors. Recently, however, council has been told that Codes does not do zoning. Hence councils letter to Codes for clarification as to why this change in practice.
Codes responded that it does not do zoning and that the council did not hire Sellitto independently to be its zoning officer. Council member Jane Zick, the boroughs COG representative, reported that Codes president Ted Plevinsky said that prior zoning duties performed for the borough was "a mistake" on their part.
Ainey went through some of the various COG CEOs who have served the borough and handled its zoning including, in one situation, Plevinsky himself when he took over as CEO, Ainey thought, during an illness of the then-CEO. Ainey had copies of two zoning permits that Plevinsky signed. Ainey asked Sellitto, who reports on his work for the borough at its regular meeting, if he did driveway permits. Sellitto said he did, for some municipalities. (New Milford does not require driveway permits.) Ainey then said that if Codes is saying that it lacks the experience to do zoning, he questioned whether it had the expertise to do driveway permits. "Ted [Plevinsky] apparently had the expertise to do zoning permits." Smith added that the borough has been billed by COG and has copies, it was assumed, of those bills, for work done on zoning permits in the past. "If they werent supposed to be doing zoning permits, why did they charge for them? Perhaps we have to go after Codes to give a refund to the people for whom it did zoning permits."
To help resolve this misunderstanding, the borough will invite members of Codes executive committee to a work session to, well, work out the situation.
In other business and/or news, correspondence included a letter from an attorney stating that the borough has been named a beneficiary of the estate of Harry B. Donnelley.
Planning commission member Gulick reported that they are looking for a volunteer to fill a vacant seat on it.
When the economic development item on the agenda arose, Warren asked if county economic development director Liz Janoski had been in touch with New Milford borough at all. She hasnt called or visited, they replied. Warren suggested that council send a letter to the county commissioners apprising them of this, and council will do that. Ainey recalled that former director Justin Taylor worked with the town on an incubator and the railroad and stopped by monthly. Warren reported she understood that Janoski is working on a "no-walls incubator" that could be years in the making.
Regarding the rail authority, Ainey thought that his term would expire at the end of the year. Warren reported that she had submitted two names from the New Milford area for the rail authority, who will be interviewing people for the slot. She did not know what happened with the names she submitted, but thought that a member should be replaced with a member from the same area. She reported that, when it completes its interviews, the authority will then submit names to the commissioners for their review and selection.
Council also approved Kyle Herbert to fill a vacant seat on the municipal authority for the remaining term of four-plus years.
And, on behalf of council, Smith wanted to thank everyone who helped on the night the town needed it Jim Carpenetti, emergency response coordinator; the fire department; the National Guard; St. Marks Church; the Blue Ridge school for opening its doors, and for the many people who got out there and worked together. "Thank you, all," he said.
After one last piece of business, council recessed but did not adjourn, because of that piece of business. It will advertise for bids on the clean up work that needs to be done in the borough, and it would like to advertise, open and award those bids within the time limits and in a public meeting as required by law. Its next regularly scheduled meeting would normally be on November 4. With time of the essence, then, Council recessed until a meeting scheduled for October 28 during which it will open and review bids and adjourn this meeting that started on October 7.
Thompson Boro Council heard from two members of the Thompson Hose Co. at their October 4 meeting, regarding a request from the Montrose Minutemen to pass a resolution designating them as the boros primary providers for Advanced Life Support services. The Minutemen are one of two Advanced Life Support service providers in the county, with the other being the Broome Volunteer Ambulance, based in Kirkwood, NY. Council heard that the Thompson company has worked with the Minutemen for years, and has had a good working relationship; because the Minutemen are based in Montrose, they are closer during the daytime, being based at a substation in Harmony Village. If ALS services are required during the night, the next closest unit is called, which is usually from Scranton, Honesdale or points south. And, if the Minutemen are not available, Broomes service would be the next one dispatched. After some discussion, a motion carried to adopt a resolution appointing the Minutemen as the boros primary ALS responder.
A final inspection of the boros new sewage system was scheduled for October 12 at 10:00 a.m.; at that time the project engineer would be asked to recommend some type of structure to be put over the tanks and electrical equipment at the plant, to protect it during winter. By that date, final figures of the projects cost were to be available so that a decision could be made as to what other items could be included in the project. Items remaining on the "punch list" (complaints by residents) were expected to be addressed prior to the inspection. In the meantime, council member Andy Gardner had composed a letter to be sent to residents to apprise them of concerns that had arisen from at least one resident illegally using the system to dispose of storm water. The letter will explain that, during recent torrential rains, the systems intake had increased to near capacity at the plant; as few as one home doing so could be responsible for overtaxing the system and could cause system failure and/or property damage, which could affect everyone in the boro as the costs to address a failure or damage would be passed along to all boro residents hooked into the system. The letter states that council is not interested in pursuing the person(s) responsible for illegal use of the system, but only in putting a stop to this problem.
Included with this letter will be another, giving an overview of the codes/permit procedure homeowners must follow, including a contact person (council member Scott Halesky), the steps needed to be taken to obtain a permit, a list of the relevant permit fees, and the enforcement procedures that will be taken in the case of non-compliance.
The boros solicitor has sent a letter to the heirs of a property owner who failed to connect to the sewage system by the June 30 deadline; although the prior owner of record had died, there is no record of filing of an estate in the county; the (presumed) owners were notified that if the property is not in compliance, the boro will file a lien which will include the cost of a hookup permit, delinquent usage fees, legal fees, and inspection fees, which could prevent a possible sale by the heir(s); and, through the boros agreement with the Pennsylvania American Water Co., the water service to that property could be shut off.
Continuing discussion from prior meetings regarding winter plowing/cindering, council member Allen Lloyd had some figures available for the cost ofmaterials (anti-skid) the boro will have to purchase. But, he had some questions; would the material have to be state certified, and could liquid fuels funds be used for its purchase if it is not? He agreed to contact PENNDOT and the Thompson Township Supervisors for more information (the boro had approved a contract with the township for winter plowing and cindering, but the boro would need to purchase materials used for cindering). One concern is whether any material used would be suitable for the boros recently paved roads. A motion carried to authorize Mr. Lloyd to proceed with purchase of the material pending his findings.
And, now that paving has been completed in conjunction with the sewer project, the streets committee will look into addressing runoff problems on Pleasant Ave and Willow St.
Mr. Halesky agreed to go to the next fire company meeting to discuss a continuing problem with water runoff at the fire hall property. Council reviewed a copy of a letter sent to the fire company from a resident regarding damages to his/her property from water runoff, particularly when an adjacent creek overflowed. As the situation is a matter between the resident and the fire company, no action was taken, although the residents letter will be kept on file.
During flooding caused by Hurricane Ivan, while the flooding at the area near the fire company was at its worst, council president Dennis Price was called, as at that time the boro did not have a designated emergency management coordinator; the flooding was pretty bad, Mr. Price said. The road had been temporarily closed, while the Thompson Township road crew dug a ditch to divert the water. It was not known whether a bill for services would be forthcoming from the township.
Following this discussion, a motion carried to appoint resident Mark Carmody as the boros emergency management coordinator.
During public comment, there was a question; if a trailer were to be placed on another persons property, who would be responsible for obtaining the necessary permits? Mr. Price responded that it would be the property owners responsibility; whatever financial arrangements were made between the property owner and the trailers owner for the permits costs would be between those two parties, but, as the owner of record, the property owner would be responsible for obtaining any permits required. The boros only interest would be ensuring that the proper permits were obtained. Any changes to the taxes levied would be handled on the county level, not through the boro.
Proceeds from the boros town fair were used to purchase four "Welcome to Thompson Borough" signs, to be posted at the boros main entrances. The new signs will have a hunter green background, with gold lettering. The sign committee will be contacting PENNDOT and any residents who own property with a right-of-way where the signs are to be posted to ensure proper placement and agreement for placement from the owners of those properties.
Diane Sabatelli reported that a public meeting held on September 20, hosted by the Eastern Susquehanna County Partnership had resulted in a poor turnout. Surveys sent out by the ESCP were still coming in at a favorable rate, results of which will be posted on the ESCP website. Information from those surveys, as well as from public meetings, will be used by the membership municipalities to draw up a comprehensive plan. The next public ESCP meeting is scheduled for November 15 at the Thompson Hose Co.
In response to a letter from Oakland Boro, regarding an application for CDBG grant funding to rehabilitate that boros park, a motion carried to send a letter in support of Oaklands grant application.
Several council members had met with CEO Shane Lewis to discuss residents permit procedures; as contact person, Mr. Halesky will be the person to contact if residents have questions about permits; he will have the relevant information available, or refer inquiries to Mr. Lewis if need be. In some instances, permits may be issued by the boro but in others, by Mr. Lewis.
Halloween (Trick or Treat time) in Thompson will be on October 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A Halloween parade is planned for October 29; council approved use of the fire police during this time.
During discussion concerning placement of protective sleeves for tee connections (to the sewer lines) that are on driveways, Mr. Gardner suggested that property owners be requested to mark tees that might be on driveways or near roadways with flags, to avoid damage during winter plowing. The projects contractor had waived installing the sleeves, as well as the amount to have been paid for installation. This item would be discussed during the October 12 inspection, to see if "leftover" funding from the project could be used to install them.
Residents who are aware of any street lights that are not functioning properly are asked to contact a council member with information, including the pole number where the light is located, so that the problem can be reported to Penelec.
Mr. Gardner reported that, in response to some problems encountered with PAWCs billing for monthly sewer fees, a plan had been set in motion by PAWC to straighten out the problem, but, some reported subsequently being "double billed." Mr. Gardner agreed to request that a representative of PAWC come to boro with a data printout, to be compared to the boros data, hopefully on October 12 while the sewer system inspection was to take place.
Council reviewed information regarding filing of emergency claims (from Hurricane Ivan); FEMA would have representatives at the county Courthouse until October 7; any resident who wished to file a clam should first contact FEMA, at 1-800-621-FEMA to get a claim number.
Sewer plant engineer Larry Travis reported that the plant was working well. There were still some problems that needed to be addressed that werent on the "punch list," all of which had been brought to the project engineers attention. He noted that, during Ivans rain storm, there had been a total of 77,000 gallons through the system the day of the flood, but intake had been back to normal by 5 p.m. that day. On September 25 and 26, the pump station controller needed to be reset (it was a replacement); the manufacturer has been contacted to apprise them of the problem.
Police Chief Rivenburgh reported that he had responded to seven calls in Ararat during September, and eleven in Thompson.
The remainder of the meeting was spent reviewing and discussing a preliminary budget for 2005.
The next meeting will be on Monday, November 1, 7:30 p.m. in the fire hall.
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