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The Susquehanna County Commissioners appointed Jeffrey Shoemaker as administrator of the county’s JNET program. The commissioners said Mr. Shoemaker, who heads up the county’s adult probation department, will not be paid any additional money for the added responsibility.
Pennsylvania’s Justice Network (JNET) program is a computer link that will allow law enforcement agencies almost immediate access to criminal, prison and driving records plus photographs at the click of a mouse for downloading at police headquarters or in patrol cars equipped with laptops.
JNET is connected to the Pennsylvania State Police Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network (CLEAN) where criminal history information, arrest records, protection from abuse information and other files relative to law enforcement are readily available for participating law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Shoemaker’s appointment is in keeping with a statewide recommendation that all counties name an administrator. He will need to attend training to stay up to date on new applications developed by JNET, but he said the only cost involved would be for meals and transportation.
“This is a great program,” Mr. Shoemaker said, “and a tremendous opportunity for law enforcement agencies to expedite searches regarding suspects.” He said the availability of information provided by JNET has already proven effective by enabling officers in the field to identify and apprehend suspected individuals.
Mr. Shoemaker said criminal justice information can be obtained from sources across the country through CLEAN which is connected to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center.
Another feature of JNET is the Criminal History (CH) User Application which will provide a portal for managing criminal history users. This innovation will replace the former process of mailing requests for criminal history upgrades.
Mr. Shoemaker said municipal law enforcement agencies and others entitled to participate in the JNET program should fill out request forms to get connected. He said additional information could be obtained by calling him at his office in the county courthouse.
In other business at last week’s commissioners’ meeting, a motion was approved seeking bids for renovations in the Recorder of Deeds and Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts offices. Commissioner Jeff Loomis said the county has the money to finance the project.
Changes in these offices are an offshoot of the juggling required to make room for an elevator currently in the installation stages in the courthouse.
Other motions approved by the commissioners included-
-authorizing the use of the county’s hotel/motel room tax for the printing of 20,000 copies of a 2005 tourism map as requested by the county’s Tourism Committee. The project is expected to cost $7,600.
- accepting the resignation of Steve Fisher from the position of Watershed Specialist, effective November 19.
-and, changing the status of Jennifer Joines from full-time to part time corrections officer.
In a salary board matter, Jacqueline Halesky, case management specialist in Drug & Alcohol received a pay increase from $23,278 to $24,209 for additional responsibilities she assumed due to the vacant administrator’s position.
The Mountain View School District Board of Education public meeting on November 8 was called to order and roll call taken. Those present were Bryce Beeman, President, John Halupke, First Vice President, Kevin Griffiths, Second Vice President, John Beeman, Susan Christensen, Sondra Stine, James Zick, and Carolyn Price, Secretary. Absent were Ordie Price, Treasurer and Ronald Phillips. Also attending the meeting were Arthur Chambers, Superintendent, Colin Furneaux, High School Principal, Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal Patrick Heaton, Athletic Director, and Mary Hvezda, Director of Special Services.
John Beeman gave the Treasurer report and the cafeteria report in the absence of Mr. Price. With regards to the General Fund Accounting check summary, a public member questioned a number of high cost items listed and asked why there was not a more detailed description of purchases. For instance, check number 00003380 was paid to “Fell Charter School” for the amount of $7,445.24. In explanation, this amount was paid to that school for tuition for 14 students in the district attending that school. Also, check number 00003422 was made out to NEIU 19 District in the amount of $47,214.74. The reason given for this high expenditure was that it covered professional special education services for students in the district. Lastly, check number 00003472 in the amount of $8,002.48 paid to a law firm was described as for legal representation at due process hearings involving accommodation of special education students. Mr. Chambers commented that the phenomena of school districts being challenged about the adequacy of special education services by advocacy groups seems particular to the northeastern Pennsylvania area and it is necessary to have appropriate legal representation in such matters.
Regarding other financial items, Mr. Griffiths made motions which were seconded and ultimately approved by the board to confirm payments of the General Fund Bill list, Cafeteria Fund Bill and other payments in the amount of $1,597,500.08. Although passed, Mr. Halupke voted against the approval of a 2003-2004 General Fund Budget increase of $274,205.00 because of the disclosure methodology used.
The board approved an Education Service Agreement between Friendship House of Scranton and Mountain View School District for the 2004-2005 year at a rate of $52.00 per day, a plan to complete the Plan Con J final cost data forms by retaining a Harrisburg firm at a fee of $3,000.00, and the purchase of Compass Learning Software in the amount of $36,265.00.
Discussion of Budget Goals and Calendar, and Bidding Calendar for 2005-2006 was limited, but the board’s consensus was to maintain the previous goals and calendar because they were effective for the previous year. It was suggested however, that bidding for the activity bus contract begin in May so that a contract could be in place by July 1st.
The need for the board to organize and prepare for Act 72 was noted by Mr. Chambers. He suggested that the ramifications be discussed in full and plans made to address it, starting in December, 2004.
Correspondent note to readers: Act 72 is known as “The Homeowner Tax Relief Act”. School districts have the option of participating in Act 72. In addition, it gives local voters a greater voice in local tax decision-making through Front-End and Back-End Referenda. Local taxpayers and residents need to be familiar with Act 72 so they can make informed decisions about it. The Homeowner Tax Relief Act is intended to reduce homeowners’ and farmers’ real property tax bill, through a combination of new money from state gaming revenues and higher local income taxes. The real property tax reductions will be targeted to homeowners and farmers through Homestead and Farmstead Exclusions, rather than being given to all property owners (such as local businesses, landlords, and non-residents). School districts are not required to participate in Act 72, but must choose by May 30, 2005, whether to accept its provisions. To participate and receive state gaming funds (which will be allocated to districts through a state Property Tax Relief Fund), they must make a “qualifying contribution” by raising their local income tax (or levying it, if they currently do not) by 0.1 percent. This can be done through a simple resolution by the district, or through a voter referendum (called the “Front-End Referendum”). Source: Timothy W. Kelsey, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Penn State University. Available at: http://www.cax.aers.psu.edu/taxreform/Act%2072.htm
The Human Resources, Policy and Labor Relations Committee solicited the board’s approval for additions to the teacher substitute lists, the appointment of supplemental salary positions, re-advertising for Junior High Wrestling and Track and Field coach, and appointment of a reading specialist. All motions were approved.
A first policy reading for Interscholastic Athletics (IA) was newly on the agenda. A complete schedule for IA was to be provided to the board for the second reading of the policy. There being no suggested changes, second readings of numerous policies were referred to the school board association for draft. A general policy on Community Engagement was included. The third and final reading of the Student ID badge policy was completed. Student ID badges will be issued, to be used initially in the library, and ultimately in the cafeteria.
There was significant discussion of the Student Athletic Handbook, specifically with regards to consistency of penalties for drug and alcohol use by athletes. Mrs. Christensen recommended that penalties should be reiterated in the athletic handbook, based on incidents which have occurred in other school districts. Mr. Furneaux felt that the general district policies should be followed and there should be no inconsistency in the athletic handbook. He and Mr. Heaton agreed to review the handbook and district policies for consistency and report back to the board. Another issue discussed centered on release of students from away games to travel home with parents/grandparents/others. Mr. Heaton reported that a form and process has been developed for parents/guardian permission for students who travel to away games/events by means other than the school bus. Mr. Halupke reminded the board that district policies currently do not allow students to travel with other students.
Mr. Halupke reported that there was a meeting with the support staff on November 1, and negotiations continue.
The report of the building and facilities committee consisted of approval to obtain quotes for demolition of the Annex building. Because the costs would be under $10,000, Mr. Chambers did not see the need for a more formalized bidding process.
With regards to the education committee, the board approved numerous conferences for employees and teachers, and field trips for students and teachers. Mr. Chambers reported that a group from Troy, PA had agreed to present to the board on “Blended Schools.” No date has been set for the presentation.
The board approved an agreement with Keystone College, LaPlume, PA. Sara Keating, Director of Admissions at Keystone provided an overview of the Scholastic Certificate Program offered by Keystone and the benefits of the agreement. Basically, Mountain View High school students will be able to sign up for scholarship monies to be used at Keystone after graduation based on yearly high school grade achievement. Depending upon the grade (minimum of 77) a student can earn and “bank” up to approximately $2,000 per year to use for college attendance at Keystone. Students receive certificates to be applied to their college tuition. Theoretically, as much as $5,500 in scholarship money could be “banked.” In addition, the amount is transferable to the next college year so that up to $22,000 in scholarship money would be available for a student who attends four years at Keystone. Open enrollment in the Keystone program will run through December 22, 2004 at Mountain View.
During the second hearing of visitors, a previous busing request was addressed and the board agreed to the extended bus pick up on a trial basis. Other busing and transport issues were to be discussed in executive session, held after the public meeting.
The meeting was then adjourned.
Great Bend Borough Budget Balanced
At a special meeting on November 10, the Great Bend Borough Council finalized its budget for 2005. Balanced at $93,291, the new spending plan is $13,000 higher than the 2004 budget, but calls for no increase in taxes.
The brief session was expedited by the super-efficient preparation of Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan, who was able to answer all questions by Council members quickly and authoritatively.
Comparisons with the current year budget are difficult to make, since Council was stymied in the last months of 2003 by computer problems and difficulty getting revenue figures.
In 2005, Great Bend Borough expects to receive about $48,000 from taxes, and just under $20,000 in state subsidies (mostly for liquid fuels).
On the expense side, reflecting her stellar performance to date, Ms. Guinan will get a hefty raise. There was a major drop in workers' compensation premium due to the loss of the local ambulance service. Emergency services that cover the town can bill for workers' comp based on activities in Great Bend. It is also possible that the ambulance service will recover from its recent difficulties.
The new budget will receive formal approval by Council at its December meeting, on the 2nd, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the Borough building on Elizabeth Street.
With all members present, the Susquehanna boro council met on November 9. Correspondence read included an invitation to a reception to introduce the boro’s new website, to be held on November 10, and a thank you from the Susquehanna Branch Library for council’s support; the library is dealing with a 36.5% cut in state funding for this year, and a projected 23% shortfall in funding for the coming year. The letter noted that the library has seen an increase in materials checked out, a 20% increase this year over 2003 figures.
Secretary Judy Collins’ report included the information that she had received forum documentation from Martin Works for the boro’s new website; a thank you has been sent to Aser Cuevas for an outside showcase display unit that he donated to the boro; the phone has been turned off at the Prospect St. park for the winter; more pest control has been completed at the boro building as per a contracted agreement (to deal with the unusual number of spiders making their home on the outside of the building recently); the 2004 visitors guide is available from the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau; and, a Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, November 20, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Blue Ridge High School. The fair will offer free health screenings.
Although she was not present, a report was read from Mayor Hurley. She had met with representatives from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region the previous Monday. A brochure for the Susquehanna River Trail Project is almost complete and should be ready before the season begins next year. The EMHR had a successful river sojourn this past June, when 125 paddlers canoed and kayaked the Susquehanna River from Sayre to Pittston. Next year’s sojourn will take place June 17-24, beginning on the Chenango River in Great Bend and ending in Sayre. The EMHR would like to hold a one-day river event, to coordinate with an event in Susquehanna, possibly in early June. EMHR has requested to have the boro’s boat launch ramp repaired as a temporary solution for next year; the boro will need to inquire about a permit from Soil Conservation to do the work. Matching grants are available through EMHR for such projects as renovating historic buildings and improving museum exhibits. EMHR will be sending more grant information in the near future.
PSAB will be hosting a conference, “Finding the Role of Police in Your Community,” on December 2. Several council members expressed interest in attending.
During public comment, a Washington St. resident asked if the west end of Washington Street, past Center Lane, is a boro road, or is it a private one? She owns property on the west side of Center Lane and would like to use it to park her car in winter, but would like to be sure that it is okay to use the access road. Council member Roy Williams agreed to look into it and contact her with his findings.
Council received notice from Adams Cable that residents’ monthly fees will be increasing as of December 1. Mr. Bronchella questioned whether Adams’ agreement with the boro stipulates that Adams must send a representative to council before any increases could be put in place. To answer this and any other questions that might arise, council will request a representative from Adams attend a meeting.
Economic Development has been an ongoing project of council’s, and of several organizations in the boro (the Susquehanna Community Development Association, the Railroad Committee, Parks and Rec., and other volunteer groups). Mr. Williams suggested that a central location would be beneficial to this endeavor, with the most logical location being in the boro building. The space could also be used for researching and applying for grants. Mr. Whitehead agreed; at present, a computer obtained through the Main Street program is in the secretary’s office, which limits access by those who need to use it. And, its present location is on Mr. Whitehead’s desk which presents a problem when he needs access to his desk. After discussion of several possible scenarios it was agreed that the most logical move would be to relocate the mayor’s office to what is presently the lieutenant’s office in the police department. It was agreed to meet with members of the police department and the mayor to discuss the idea.
LTAP has been contacted regarding a traffic study, preparatory to limiting right hand turns by trucks onto Erie Ave. Councilman Lewis will be meeting with LTAP on December 14 to discuss it.
Mr. Williams has completed the necessary paperwork detailing damage to the Drinker Creek Park from Hurricane Ivan, and has submitted it to FEMA. Council will consider setting aside funds in the 2005 budget, to be used for repairs in the event that FEMA funding does not cover it all.
Continuing discussion from prior meetings, regarding limiting usage of the ground floors of buildings in the business district, Mr. Lewis reported that rooming houses or multi-family dwellings would be allowable but, there are requirements that must be met to change a building’s use. He will continue to look into it.
Another subject continued from prior meetings is the need to address situations with dangerous animals. Mr. Matis said that the boro’s present ordinance would cover this; complaints are put on record, with the information used for subsequent complaints. But, he cautioned that that the provisions in the ordinance should only be used for serious complaints and not for minor instances. Mayor Hurley has sent letters to the mayors of Lanesboro and Oakland Boroughs, to ask if those municipalities would be interested in a cooperative effort to find a way to kennel dangerous animals.
Council approved additional amendments to the snow removal ordinance, prohibiting sledding, snowmobiling, construction equipment and ATV’s on boro streets or alleys unless a street has been designated as a “play area,” closed to (other) vehicular traffic.
Mr. Kuiper asked why council has not been receiving monthly schedules of hours worked by police officers; council had been receiving them, but not lately. The schedules were to have been submitted to council along with activity reports. It was noted that these reports are for council’s information, and would not be made public. Schedules are to be made available so that council members know which officers are working at any given time in the event of an emergency, and to document how many hours probationary officers have worked, information that is used towards designating an officer as a permanent employee of the boro.
A report from Parks and Rec. president Tom Kelly was read; the committee has expressed a willingness to be involved in the rebuilding of the Drinker Creek Park, all but destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. The committee’s November report noted that the baseball field has been rebuilt, using advertising revenues from signs at the park. Water at the park has been turned off for the winter, the soccer season has ended, stone has been ordered for the access road to the boro’s riverfront property, and committee members will attend council’s budget meeting.
Mrs. Frederick noted that, while the baseball field is “in beautiful shape,” the softball field is in need of work. It had been her understanding, she said, that the revenues from the signs at the park were to have been used for the entire park, not just the baseball field. The obvious neglect of the softball field is not fair to the girls who use it. This subject will, presumably, be brought up at the next Parks and Rec. meeting.
Council scheduled a meeting for Monday, November 15, to work on the 2005 budget.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session; after reconvening, a motion carried to accept a new contract with the police officers’ union.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 23, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Kristin Carrea to Kristin Carrea, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Kristin Carrea to Kristin Carrea in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Bruce H. Migdalof and Joan S. Migdalof to Earl E. Cottrell Sr. and Carolyn Rooney Cottrell, in Thompson Borough for $68,000.
John Lezinsky and James Lezinsky to Nealton Dias, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Anne A. Dooley, Mary E. Ahearn Wayne, and Dorothy Shrader to Anne A. Dooley, Mary E. Ahearn Wayne, Dorothy A. Shrader, and Patrick Ahearn, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Joanne Powers (aka) Joanne Powers DelSordo to Samuel F. Thompson, in Jackson Township for $150,000.
Sue E. Carlsen (nbm) Sue E. Busch, and David Bush to James E. Carlsen in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Alexander Wozniak (est aka) Alex Wozniak (estate) to George Matreyek and Barbara Matreyek, in Clifford Township for $335,000.
William A. Whalen, John Whalen (estate), Florence Grovenor (estate) to Craig W. Whalen, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Joel M. Welch, Kelly Jo Welch (nbm) Kelly Jo Greene, to Kelly Jo Greene, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Charles S. Ross III, Sherridan Ross (aka) Sheridan Ross, to Charles S. Ross IV and Corinne A. Ross, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Milo D. Douglas (aka) David Milo Douglas, Carol J. Douglas to Robert Ralston, in New Milford Borough for $25,000.
Wachovia Bank of Delaware (fka) First Union National Bank of Delaware, to Deann Parker and Robert I. Parker, in New Milford Township for $75,000.
Cecilia M. Pannepacker and Vincent J. Pannepacker Jr. to Steven E. Chichester and Melissa Chichester, in Jackson Township for $230,000.
Leon T. Mock to Joseph J. Johnston Jr. and Kimberly J. McNeal, in Apolacon Township for $7,500.
Dale Rockwell and Diane Rockwell to Diane Rockwell, in Thompson Borough for one dollar.
Michele Hackett and David T. Hackett to Michele Hackett and David T. Hackett, in Bridgewater Township and Montrose Borough for one dollar.
Helene E. Wilmarth (by attorney) to Mary Jane Taylor and Brian E. Taylor, in Harford Township for one dollar (corrective deed).
Edward J. Lauer to Burton Grinley and Gloria Grinley, in Silver Lake Township for $83,000.
Holly Tyler (nbm) Holly H. Bialy, and Kevin C. Bialy to Kevin C. Bialy and Holly H. Bialy, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Hilda Lois Delp to Karen M. Faillace, in Dimock Township for $225,000.
James Tomazic and Joanne Tomazic to Jane Kutch, in Forest City for $87,500.
June Lloyd Wescott (fka estate) June Lloyd (estate), Willard Wescott, and Elizabeth Lloyd to John Nelson and Stefanie Nelson, in Thompson Borough for $85,100.
Thomas A. Manley, Stephen N. Manley, Diane L. Sculthorpe to Thomas A. Manley and Diane L. Sculthorpe, in Harford Township for $90,000.
Donna M. Fekette and Thomas J. Lopatofsky Jr. to John J. Carson, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Sharon E. Newhart to Robert Davis and Arline Davis in Bridgewater Township for $75,000.
Irene Kasiarski (aka) Irene Kosiarski to Patricia E. Guitelli, in Franklin Township for $54,000.
Thomas Joseph Oven and David Anthony Oven to Evelyn M. Pantzar, in Forest City for $32,236.
Rose Connor to Devin Lyn Connor and Stacy Connor, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
James W. Zick and Carol Zick to I-Fong Wu and Pei-Chi Tu, in Harford and Lenox townships for $317,500.
David D. Florance and Lynette S. Florance to David C. Eaton and Jaynne L. Eaton, in Great Bend and Oakland townships for $165,000.
Jean Meriwether to Donald S. Serafin, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Margaret Shanahan (nbm) Margaret Bidgood, and Stewart Bidgood, to Jeremy D. Harris, in New Milford Borough for $50,000.
Lenore M. McGowan, Thomas J. McGowan, and Matthew Urbas to John R. Brunette Jr. and Jeanette Brunette, in Forest City for $67,840.
Francis T. Yankauskas and Elizabeth Yankauskas to Tracy L. Mead and Margaret G. Mead, in Forest City for $67,840.
Salvatore Giresi and Dorothy Giresi to Richard B. Bloxham and Erin E. Bloxham, in Forest City for $78.000.
Neil J . Dougherty (aka by poa) Neil J. Dougherty III (by poa) to Graham Kiskaddon and Jean Kiskaddon , in Herrick Township for $191,000.
Bonnie Swanson to Steven F. Serfillippi and Laurie M. Serfilippi, in Ararat Township for $175,000.
William J. Stewart and Marylu E. Stewart to Christopher A. Wright and Rebecca A. Wright, in Jackson Township for $81,000.
Winona K. Long to Samuel R. Long, in Union Dale for one dollar.
Richard M. Storr to Agnes M. Jones, in New Milford Borough for $5,000.
Susan Koziel to John A. Tracz, in Montrose for one dollar.
Gregory Stewart and Jennifer Stewart to Roy J. Gordon and Michelle A. Gordon, in Hallstead Borough and Great Bend Township for $87,500.
Gertrude L. Schaffer (estate) to Louise Lonzinski, Michael Lonzinski, Charles R. Canfield Jr., Henry David Schaffer, Pearl C. Schaffer, Carol Warner, Audrey Steinsto, Paul Schaffer, James Schaffer, and Linda Canfield.
Jed A. Woodruff and Joan M. Woodruff to Jed A. Woodruff, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Thomas Mitchell Gazda and Carol L. Gazda to Thomas Mitchell Gazda and Carol L. Gazda, in Silver Lake Township, for one dollar.
Gregory Pelly to Joseph Dorohovech Jr. and Erin K. Kilker, in Silver Lake Township for $107,500.
Gary J. Youmans, Endicott, NY, and Diane Marie Wood, Montrose.
Andrew C. Lewis, Newark Valley, NY, and Kathleen E. Barrett, Newark Valley, NY.
John Michael Dombkowski, Union Dale, and Michele May Kielar, Union Dale.
Edmund Joseph Wasnock, Herrick Center and Deborah Ann Butler, Herrick Center.
Kristy L. Bliss, Hallstead vs. Donald C. Bliss, Hallstead.
Jed A. Woodruff, Hallstead vs. Joann M. Woodruff, no address.
Sometime between the evening of November 10 and the following morning, an unknown person(s) damaged the right front passenger window of a 2001 Mercury Marquis belonging to Diane Wallis of Clifford Township.*
Steven Sekely, 43, Hop Bottom, lost control of his vehicle going around a curve on State Road 3023 in Lathrop Township on the night of October 30 and hit several trees. Sekely was wearing a seat belt and was not injured. As a result of state police investigation, Sekely was charged with DUI and driving a vehicle at unsafe speed.
THEFT OF MOTORCYCLE
A red and white 1994 Honda XR 250 was stolen from where it was parked alongside a barn in the Salt Spring State Park sometime between the evening of November 1 and the following morning.*
William D. Barton, 40, received a minor injury on the evening of November 4 when his 1989 Chevy was totaled when he lost control of it on a curve on State Road 2024 in Brooklyn Township and hit several trees. The Chevy rolled onto its roof, and Barton fled the scene.
Marie Strawn was driving her 1997 Ford on State Route 171 about a mile from Hallstead in Great Bend Township on the morning of October 29 when a deer jumped onto the roadway and was struck by her vehicle.
HIT AND RUN CRASH
An unknown person driving an unknown vehicle struck a mailbox, mailbox post and a barbed wire fence along Township Road 582 in Herrick Township sometime between the evening of November 7 and the following morning.
CRASH AND DUI
Judson J. Barnes, New Milford, was driving his 1995 Oldsmobile sedan too fast for conditions shortly after midnight on October 3. As a result, his car flipped onto its roof on State Route 492 in New Milford Township. Barnes was arrested for DUI and transported to the Endless Mountains Health System to obtain blood and to determine BAC. Charges are pending the results of the blood test. Vogel’s Towing of New Milford removed the Olds from the scene.
Someone pumped almost 13 gallons of gasoline into their vehicle at the Great Bend Exxon on Route 11 on the afternoon of November 6 and drove off without paying the $26.05 cost of the gas.*
Between the night of November 6 and the following morning, someone drove a vehicle through the yard of a residence on State Route 374 in Herrick Township.*
No one was injured in a two-car collision that occurred shortly after noon on November 7 when Zachery Pomeroy, 16, Great Bend, was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Routes 11 and 171. While starting to make a left-hand turn onto Route 171, he put his vehicle into the path of Derek Gardner, 21, New Milford, who was traveling north. Gardner’s car then struck Pomeroy’s in the intersection. Pomeroy was cited for Vehicles Turning Left.
The right front passenger window of a 2002 Saturn belonging to Douglas Potter, Jackson Township was damaged when someone threw a Budweiser beer bottle through it sometime between the night of November 4 and the next morning.*
Erin Kasten, 22, Hallstead, was driving north on Route 11 in New Milford when her vehicle went off the roadway and onto the east side of the road, where her right front tire struck the curb of the Sunoco gas pump. The New Milford Fire and Rescue assisted Kasten at the scene for a minor injury, and her vehicle received minor damage in this accident that occurred early in the morning of November 6.
On October 8 at around 3 a.m., state troopers responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle on State Road 3023 in Lathrop Township. There, they found Richard Lyon Arnold, Montrose, passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle which was running and in gear. Arnold was arrested for suspected DUI and charges were filed at district court.
Early in the morning of October 26, state troopers attempted to stop William Wallace Conrad IV, 22, Union Dale, for traffic violations on Route 11 in Great Bend Township. Driving a 1990 Plymouth Acclaim, Conrad refused to stop and led troopers on a short chase. He stopped his vehicle on Spring Street in Great Bend, showed signs of intoxication and was placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI. His car was taken from the scene by Marv’s Towing, and charges are pending the results of the Breathalyzer test.
A 2002 Nissan Altima received minor to moderate damage after it struck a deer along State Road 4006 in Silver Lake Township. Neither driver, Nicholas Pappas, 42, Binghamton, nor his passenger were injured in this crash that occurred on the afternoon of November 4.
* Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the State Police at 465-3154.
The November business meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board on the 8th began with a brief presentation by a representative of Murphy, Dougherty & Co, the district's outside auditors who proclaimed, "the Blue Ridge School District has committed itself to financial excellence for many years. In addition, the School District system of financial planning, budgeting and internal controls are well regarded."
The 52-page audit report for the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2004 noted that the district overspent its budget, which itself anticipated outspending revenues. However, total revenues were also higher than expected even though about $845,000 in taxes have yet to be collected. State and Federal subsidies were somewhat higher, and a one-time windfall of over $200,000 was realized by reissuing bonds at a lower interest rate. Local property taxes accounted for 38.5% of total revenue last year. About 57% of total expenditures were allocated to instructional purposes.
Blue Ridge still sustains a long-term debt load of over $15 million, on which the district paid some $355,000 in interest in the last fiscal year. Most of this covers the renovation project, which was completed in the mid-1990's.
The school district carried over a "fund balance" of about $1.5 million, down a little from last year, and still well within state guidelines. The fund balance is an operating surplus that may accumulate over time, and which may be allocated as the Board seems appropriate. In recent years, the Blue Ridge board has apportioned part of the balance to capital reserves and part to debt service. The Board may also choose to fund a projected current-year operating deficit from the fund, as it did last year.
Board President Alan Hall, gratified by the conclusions of the independent auditor, also reported that state Department of Education auditors gave Blue Ridge high marks for financial management for the 2002 and 2001 fiscal years. Calling that one "another excellent report," he said the state investigators noted a "couple of issues" including "one that we're contesting." State auditors examine all aspects of school operation, and, according to Mr. Hall, they have questioned certification procedures for the program for gifted students at Blue Ridge.
Among a routine list of personnel actions the Board accepted the retirement of Lally Snell as food service manager. High School Principal Michael Thornton also reported that Jennifer Yannone began work in her new post as full-time Middle and High School Librarian. Angela LaPergola was taken on as a long-term substitute English teacher in the High School for Mrs. Petula, who recently gave birth.
As a matter of fact, there appears to be something of a population explosion at Blue Ridge. And immediately following his report substituting Ms. LaPergola for Mrs. Petula, he described some of the details of a year-long program focusing on prevention of teen pregnancy. Guidance counselors, nurse and health teachers have formed a committee to find ways to "increase students' awareness of these issues and promote good decision making." For example, students recently attended a presentation on abstinence called, "I'm Worth Waiting For."
Mr. Thornton's emphasis has always been on academics, and he noted especially the achievements of Abbie Onyon, named NEIU Scholar of the Year for Blue Ridge, and Justin Herbert, named a finalist in the Wendy's High School Heisman program. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas created the program in 1994 to honor "senior female and male students who have excelled in academics, athletics and community service."
The McKelvey Scholarships are the most generous currently available to many students in rural Pennsylvania schools. Winners of McKelvey Gold scholarships are awarded a full four-year program at any one of a number of Pennsylvania private colleges. This year Beth Giangrieco, Danielle Gulick, Abby Onyon, Felisha Schaffer and Rachael Whitney will travel to State College for intense interviews that try to elicit students' personalities and entrepreneurial predilections.
The Blue Ridge Middle School, led by its 6th graders, raised about $2,600 for the Ross Park Zoo in a high-profile effort over the past several months, culminating in a festival at the school, all targeted at saving the only zoological park in the twin tiers.
And the Elementary School predicted the winner in this month's presidential election. According to Principal Robert Dietz, the youngsters voted nearly 3 to 1 in favor of George W. Bush in a mock election. He said that if their record holds up for another 20 years or so, perhaps their vote might be featured on the evening news as a predictor of the national polls.
The Board voted to continue its support of the county library system in this year of deep cuts in state support, by donating $750.
Members discussed at some length licensing and qualifications for two personal care aides hired to assist a handicapped student. The preference in such cases is for registered nurses, which may not always be available. Superintendent Robert McNamara said that they try for RN's to begin with, then LPN's (licensed practical nurses), but would never put someone in such a position who was not qualified to care for the student properly.
More discussion focused on a group of changes to the District's enormous policy manual. Most of these policies are drafted to meet the requirements of state and federal laws and regulations. The changes this time brought several policies in line with changes in mandates on such topics as handling HIV infections, suspensions and explusions, extracurricular activities, the use of electronic devices (such as cell phones) by students, student discipline (including the use of force), and local Board procedure. Mr. McNamara said he hoped to have the policy manual available from the District's web site.
Mr. McNamara also wanted to correct a misstatement in a recent report about the expected savings from a switch to "single-tier busing." The savings might be closer to $32,000 per year (after state subsidy), rather than the $200,000 estimate reported earlier. The actual subsidy provided by the state is computed according to a very complex formula that does not relate the cost directly to miles driven.
An observer asked for more information about the proposed change to single-tier transportation scheduling. It was suggested that he attend the meeting of the Board's Transportation Committee scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on the evening of November 22 to get more details.
The Facilities and Grounds Committee will also meet that night, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The full Board gathers for a workshop the same evening, beginning at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Clifford Township is expected to introduce its 2005 municipal budget this week and to no one’s surprise, the township is also expected to keep its real estate tax among the lowest in the county.
At its brief regular meeting last week, John Regan, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the board would hold a special meeting on Nov. 18 to adopt a tentative 2005 municipal budget. Mr. Regan proudly called attention to the fact that the township’s real estate tax of 1.25 mills is extremely low and will probably remain near the bottom of the county’s 40 municipalities.
How does the township do it? The answer is quite simple. The supervisors do not provide anything more to its taxpayers than the barest essentials. The roads are kept in decent repair and are plowed and cindered in the winter; the police department is adequate though perhaps not completely satisfactory; and the emergency equipment and manpower is a well-oiled unit that functions quickly and effectively with volunteers.
There is also one additional item that is responsible for holding the line on taxes – township residents. They do not ask for much from the township and a lot of them give to the township as much or more than they receive.
The township’s Alliance Team, for example, is a group of volunteers who pitch in and help whenever and wherever they see a need. At the present time, the team is planning the Main Street Christmas Lighting Program, a project it took over a couple of years ago that has been getting bigger and better each year. Team members also pitch in when manpower is needed, such as the work that was done around the township building and the playground behind it.
The Alliance Team has members who are familiar with grants and grant applications and have been instrumental in securing a lot of dollars for the township. Money has come into the township for playground equipment and Alliance Team members can also take credit for the expected grant that will pay the loin’s share of the new roof that will be installed on the municipal building.
Most of the township-owned roads are dirt covered and there is no rush on the part of the township or its people to pave them. In fact, most residents would prefer that they not be paved because the dirt roads slow down traffic. Well, not all the time perhaps, but much of the time. The township oils the roads periodically, fills in the potholes that are inherent with all types of roads, and keeps them open during winter snowstorms. That’s about all the residents expect and that’s about what they get.
And so, between the conservative-minded supervisors, the volunteers, and the somewhat complacent taxpayers, township homeowners pay $1.25 in local real estate taxes for each $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Is the tax rate appreciated? You bet it is. At last week’s meeting, Tax Collector Harry Phillips reported that almost 90 percent of the township residents have paid their 2004 township taxes and he expects to collect another two or three percent.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the supervisors agreed to advertise for bids on snow plowing, an item for which the township generally pays an hourly rate, and will advertise for bids on the sale of the township’s 1995 Chevy police car.
The Forest City Regional District Board of Education last week approved, on first reading a key revision to its discipline policy. The addition will now be available to the public at the superintendent’s office for a total of 30 days from the night of its introduction.
If approved at the next board meeting, the revision will provide for in-school suspension of students as an alternative to out-of-school suspension. While he did not specifically refer to this change, board President Tom Baileys said the board generally follows recommended guidelines on policy matters from the Pennsylvania School Board’s Association.
Mr. Baileys said school administrators are in the process of reviewing policy matters that were adopted two years ago and will make their recommendations to the board. Final decision on policy matters rests with the board.
After the meeting, Director Henry Nebzydoski told The Transcript that he is a strong supporter of in-school suspension.
“If we allow out-of-school suspension,” Dr. Nebzydoski said, “the students feel they won. This way we know where they are rather than have them on the streets.”
In another matter, the board unanimously approved a change in the rates for bus/van contractors for the 2004-2005 school year. The move provides a two percent adjustment over the state-approved daily rate for bus contracts and a penny a mile increase for van transports.
The board said the move was made due to the “drastic increase in fuel prices this year.”
Mary Ann Durko, a bus contractor, thanked the board for the rate changes. After the meeting she told The Transcript that the rate change will not cover the increases in gasoline and diesel fuel but she was grateful to the board for what it did.
The board said the adjustments will remain in effect through the end of the 2004-2005 school year unless the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel drops below the price that was payable at the pumps when the board put the rate changes into effect. The fuel adjustments will be paid in two installments - at the end of December and at the end of June.
Motions approved by the board completed the following business:
Allows the high school trip to California from May 18 through May 22, 2005 and will provide a nurse for the trip at district expense.
Added Maryann DeNucci, James Kull, and Robert Gavern Jr. to the substitute teachers list for the 2004-2005 school year.
Accepted the resignation of Cristina Toraldo, chemistry teacher, effective Dec. 12, and named Audrey Nebzydoski to replace her.
Approved Bernadette Twilley as advisor for the Environthon at a stipend as provided in the teachers‚ contract.
And, approved Dr. James Zefran as a volunteer assistant coach for the fifth and sixth grade girls basketball program.
The board announced the reorganization meeting will be held December 6 in the high school library. There will be no work session in December.
Montrose, PA – Executive Director Charles G. Perkins reported that Susquehanna County will receive funding as a result of US Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman’s announcement that USDA is providing an initial allocation of $1,398,200 in Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding to Pennsylvania.
This funding is provided by the 2005 Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed by President Bush on October 13, 2004, under which $150 million is authorized for ECP.
Secretary Veneman said that the announcement “marks the first program rollout under disaster legislation that provides more than $3 billion in relief to farmers, ranchers, foresters and agriculture related businesses that suffered losses due to severe weather conditions in recent years. USDA will announce program details and sign-ups for the legislation’s other disaster aid programs as quickly as possible.”
The program is administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) state and county committees. Locally-elected county committees are authorized to implement ECP for all disasters except drought, which is authorized at the national office of FSA.
Perkins said that Susquehanna County will share the $1.4 million with 36 other counties. The funds will be allocated based on estimates of damages submitted earlier by the local FSA office. Susquehanna County has received funding totaling $67,000.
“ECP provides financial and technical assistance,” Perkins said, “to help producers remove debris from farmland, restore fences and conservation structures, provide water for livestock in drought situations and grade and shape farmland damaged by a natural disaster.”
More information on ECP and other disaster assistance programs is available at FSA office located at Route 706 East of Montrose or call (570) 278–1197 ext. 2.
Shared Codes Progressing
After approval of the minutes of last month’s meeting, the treasurer’s report, bills for payment and a review of employees’ time sheets, the floor was opened to CEO Shane Lewis.
Mr. Lewis reported that the committee set up to oversee the shared codes program with Susquehanna Boro had met the previous Tuesday to discuss a plan of action. Regarding violations in Oakland, Mr. Lewis said that a hearing is scheduled for February 2 for a Wilson Ave. property. He will check with the boro solicitor to see if a letter has been sent to another property owner; in this case, he said that some cleanup had been done but there were still more items of concern that need to be addressed. The property at 60 State St. was purchased through a tax sale (this property had been an ongoing problem for several years). The new owner is in the process of removing garbage and has begun renovations. Mr. Lewis will request that the solicitor send a letter to a (different) State St. property owner to be sure that he/she is aware that he/she must continue cleanup. Mr. Lewis had checked into a complaint about a van up on blocks, and had spoken with the owner of a property where several junk vehicles are located. As the property owner is not the owner of the vehicles in question, Mr. Lewis said that he furnished information about what the property owner could do to get the vehicles removed. Once these issues have been addressed, he will be looking into three more issues.
Mr. Arthur relayed that he had received complaints about debris being dumped over a bank, into a nearby creek. Mr. Lewis said that he had spoken with the owner of a property below this area; some of the problem had been taken care of. But, Mr. Arthur said that others have since taken to dumping debris at the same site. Mr. Lewis will look into it.
As with other municipalities in the state, the boro will be required to file a quarterly report of all building permits issued under the new UCC regulations, and to include a $2 fee for each permit issued. When the boro’s permit fee schedule was drawn up, the fees were based on the time and number of inspections that would be required for each item. Although some leeway was left for the boro’s administrative costs, the fees charged for some items would be a “break even” situation or, in some cases, actually cost the boro money. It was agreed to take another look at the fee schedule; if any changes were to be determined, they could be put into effect through passage of a resolution.
A bid request has have been put out for replacement of the retaining wall on River Road. A special meeting has been scheduled for November 19 to open bids.
A special meeting was scheduled for Saturday, November 13 to work on the 2005 budget. The water committee planned to meet later that same day to discuss the water company budget.
The boro is in need of representatives to serve on the boards of SOLIDA and River Bounty; interested residents should contact council. Resident Paul Dudley has agreed to be the boro’s Emergency Management Coordinator. And, council would be willing to hear from any resident willing to volunteer to do research into grant funding and to work on applications for those funds. Mr. Crawford has been looking at applying for grants for equipment for the streets department.
Several residents were heard from during public comment. One offered to repair the sidewalk at the corner of High St. and Westfall Ave. Another had a concern about the condition of the walks on State St., beyond where new sidewalks had been put in; Mr. Crawford said that he would look at both of these concerns.
Another concern brought up was speeding vehicles on State St. As this is a state road, the boro is limited in what it can do to address it; speed bumps or speed limits would need to be imposed by the state, but the boro does have the right to patrol and issue citations. Mr. VanFleet said that the area has been patrolled, and citations have been issued, in some cases multiple violations committed by the same drivers.
Mr. Dibble commented that people often complain that more speeding tickets need to be issued, but when they are, people then complain about getting tickets. “It’s a losing battle,” he said. Mr. VanFleet noted that he had received a number of complaints about speeding from an individual, who was himself cited the following day for the same offense.
Mr. VanFleet wanted residents to be aware that he has not been patrolling during weekdays lately due to a family situation; but, things should be going back to normal soon, and he will be patrolling more often.
A resident reported that he had heard of an incident, where the boro’s streets employee had used foul language in dealing with a female resident. Mr. Arthur said that council had been aware of the situation, and had discussed it at an executive session. Mr. Crawford added that residents should not be approaching an employee with complaints, or to tell him what to do; there is a complaint process that must be followed.
Council was given a photo of a crew patching potholes; why, the resident asked, was the boro paying a contractor $60 per hour for pothole patching? Mr. Crawford explained that outside workers were needed because the boro does not have the equipment needed to do this work. “Everyone has been complaining (about the potholes),” he said. “It takes what it takes to get it done.”
Mr. Beavan was pleased to note that Jeff Wayman has passed his water technician’s test, “No small accomplishment.”
Mr. Arthur made information available to council, regarding resources to answer questions about the UCC, from a workshop he had attended that covered this topic. One thing people should be aware of, he said, is that if rough cut lumber is used for residential building, it must pass dryness criteria before it can (legally) be used.
Mr. Beavan also had a lot of information brought back from a Liquid Fuels workshop he and Mrs. Brush had attended.
The boro building received considerable damage from vandalism on Halloween night. Several windows were broken, which will be costly to repair. Mr. VanFleet said that he had arrested several youths that evening, who had been riding around firing off a paintball gun. Mr. Beavan thought that forming a Neighborhood Watch might be the answer; council would be willing to assist if any residents are interested in getting one started.
Mr. Beavan reported that Windwood Hill Dance Academy, which rents space in the boro building, has seen a decrease in enrollment in recent months. As the academy is an asset to the community, would council consider a temporary reduction in rent, until after the first of the year when it is expected that enrollment would be higher? After some discussion, a motion carried to waive December’s rent, and to offer a reduction in the rent for January, February and March.
The boro’s cost for fire protection for 2005 will see a 5% increase, which, all agreed, is not unreasonable.
The Susquehanna Branch Library extended a thank you to council for the boro’s continued support.
And, in closing, Mrs. Brush noted that, month after month, all council ever hears are complaints, and rarely do they hear about the good things that are done. But, she wanted to commend the Community Cares group, whose members had volunteered their time on a Saturday to go door to door and collect food goods for the boro’s needy. “If we had a little more of (things like) that, maybe we’d have less complaints,” she said. Resident Wendy Dudley commented that the group (of which she is a member) was impressed with the results of their collection; over 300 items were donated, as well as cash. “Very good results for such a small community,” she said.
The next regular meeting will be on Thursday, December 9, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
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