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Rick Pisasik, chair of the Harford Township Board of Supervisors, announced at a meeting on February 12 that the township had reached an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to pay $7,000 to the Pennsylvania Clean Water Fund. The money settles a dispute over a "notice of violation" issued by DEP that might have cost the township sewer system as much as $35,000.
Mr. Pisasik said the violation was a result of delays in paperwork required by DEP to re-license the township sewage plant. DEP requires that applications for license renewal be submitted six months in advance of license expiration. Harford's application was submitted only three months ahead of time. In part because of the delay, the Harford sewer plant operated for a short period without a valid license. Mr. Pisasik said he felt that blame for the snafu could be shared among the township, the township's sewer contractor, and DEP itself.
He said that there were a few other minor documentation complaints, but that "absolutely nothing was found wrong with the plant" itself. The supervisors did not accept the original assessed fine; subsequent negotiations led to the result which Mr. Pisasik said was affordable. The supervisors adopted a resolution documenting the township's acceptance of the settlement.
Indeed, the sewer system can afford the fine. Its accounts ended last year with over $119,000 in the bank. The state account, which is used exclusively for road maintenance, finished up with about $70,600. The township account, that covers everything else, and is paid for from local taxes, had a balance of over $122,000 at year's end. Which should be enough for another truck.
Just a couple of months ago Harford Township bought a Mack truck chassis and a new nine-foot dump box to replace some aging equipment. Now the road crew will get another one just like it. While plowing recently, the old L8000 truck rolled in a ditch and was counted a total loss by the township's insurer, which paid $6,400 on the claim – for a truck that cost only about $7,000 when it was purchased in 1990. Its replacement will cost a total of about $14,285.
On the recommendation of new Roadmaster George Sansky, the township will purchase the equipment from New Penn, and from Powell Sales. In response to a question from Supervisor Terry VanGorden, Rick Pisasik said the purchase did not have to be bid because the chassis and the box would be bought from separate vendors.
Mr. Sansky was promoted to Roadmaster with the agreement of Bob Simons, and will get an increase in pay in addition to the three percent awarded to all of the township's employees for the new year.
Sue Furney, the township's secretary as well as a Supervisor, will share in the increase in a special way. She had been paid as a part-time salaried employee, but had been putting in extra hours, which was greatly appreciated, but perhaps under-remunerated. So Ms. Furney's status was changed to full-time, or "regular", and she will now be paid on an hourly basis. The township's auditors accepted the recommendation of her colleagues and will set her wages accordingly.
Ms. Furney recommended soliciting bids for 3 types of stone based on last-year's requirements, which Mr. Sansky said were sufficient. The township will not try to use cinders next year, and Ms. Furney recommended delaying bidding for diesel fuel based on a recommendation from the township's current supplier, Mirabito Fuel Group, that prices may be expected to go down when the heating fuel season ends in the Spring. She also recommended delaying the purchase of calcium (used for dust control) for similar reasons.
The township was notified by Thomas Rutherford, Jr., that the Tyler Lake dam will undergo major repairs upon final approval from DEP. The renovations will include a new spillway, and will require that the 34-acre lake be drawn down somewhat. Since Tyler Lake has long since ceased to be a source of water for Harford village, the township has no specific interest in the project, which will take place on private property.
And, last but not least, for those who are still interested, there was no news on the Odd Fellows Hall. The process of removing restrictive clauses from the deed on the property is still in the hands of the lawyers.
The Harford Township Supervisors meet on the second Saturday of each month, beginning at 10:00 a.m., and on the fourth Tuesday of each month, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The Blue Ridge School Board business meeting on Valentine's Day was attended by a group of bus drivers and contractors, and a group of tax collectors. By the time the meeting ended, one group was happy, the other was not.
The meeting opened with a presentation by Technology Coordinator John Ketchur, describing recent work to upgrade the campus computer network. Liberally studded with the arcana of computer technology, Mr. Ketchur's talk outlined a prodigious amount of work already accomplished - and more yet to come - to try to keep the district's computers, and the network they share, stable and reliable for staff, faculty and students.
Blue Ridge now has its own network domain - brsd.org - and a high-speed connection to the Internet. Many of the upgrades Mr. Ketchur listed are intended to make use of the new network capacity, as well as to protect it from attack, to help improve network management, and to protect students from exposure to inappropriate material on the Internet.
Until recently, Blue Ridge got its networking support from the Northeastern Educational Instructional Unit (NEIU, or "the IU"), a shared resource that was sometimes unresponsive. Now Blue Ridge has its own up-to-date e-mail system and every member of the staff and faculty has his/her own e-mail account accessible from anywhere on the Internet.
To do this, according to Mr. Ketchur, "we changed almost everything." And to make sure that it remains manageable, an ongoing phase of the work is to trace all of the cabling in the buildings, and to document it. Mr. Ketchur has a few advanced students to help him out, but he has done most of the work himself. Most of the recent updates were done over the winter break. "The only day I didn't work was on Christmas Day," said he.
Not everyone at Blue Ridge can be expected to work that hard, but Robert Dietz, Elementary School Principal, noted some productivity growth: three of his teachers became parents recently, with more on the way.
Among the routine personnel matters handled by the board, a salary adjustment was made for the two custodial and maintenance supervisors to make them more "compatible" with each other.
The board also approved a retirement incentive package for faculty. Such incentives are offered most years to encourage older faculty to retire to make way for younger teachers, who, among other things, can be expected to cost less. The package includes a five-year pension sweetener, and a 10-year medical insurance supplement.
Some retired teachers keep coming back. Harvey Zelkowitz has offered to lead an after-school program in "truth, beauty, goodness and commitment." Under the auspices of the gifted program, the seminar will be open to juniors and seniors, may meet weekly for a month or so, and will discuss the ideas of the great philosophers.
Meanwhile, seniors will have an opportunity just prior to graduation to visit Cleveland, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among other sites. The two-night trip is planned for June 5-7. So far 52 have signed on for the excursion.
The administration got approval to proceed with the first steps toward replacing and repairing the High School lobby floor and other building entrances. Estimated at about $75,000, the work would not be reimbursable by the state, but a plan has to be submitted to the state anyway. Board President Alan Hall hastened to note that these planning documents do not commit the board to anything: no bids have yet been solicited, no work has been authorized, no money allocated.
That money has to come from somewhere, and, until now anyway, it was collected by six people, one elected for each of the six jurisdictions covered by the Blue Ridge District. The local tax collectors are currently paid $2.75 for each occupation tax bill, and $3.00 for each real-estate tax bill they handle. Among the six, that averages between about $2,000 and $3,000 per year income for handling school district tax bills. They also handle tax billing for the county and the municipalities that they represent.
Tax collectors are elected for a four-year term. They all come up for re-election next November, and will begin their new terms in January, 2006. Their efforts on behalf of the school district are generally concentrated during 6 months of each year.
Most years the tax collectors have approached the school board seeking a small increase in the handling fees, and occasionally the school board has agreed. It now appears that the school district thinks it has a better idea. At this meeting the board decided to offer $0.60 (60 cents) for each bill handled. That would be a cut of about 80%.
Although the purpose of the dramatic reduction is clearly to force the tax collectors out of the business, allowing the district to handle their own tax bills directly, the measure was put forward as simply a change in the amount the district was offering to pay.
Five of the six district tax collectors attended the meeting, trying to get the board and the administration to understand the processing required to handle tax bills, and to reconsider the action they were about to take, keeping in mind the substantial reduction to their income. Evidently on the advice of their attorneys, the board, under the guidance of Business Manager Loren Small, declined to debate the implications of the move. Standing firm, the board insisted that the issue in question was simply the amount the district is offering to pay them to handle the bills.
Under the circumstances, the tax collectors have three choices. They can accept the new handling fee and continue as before at the new rate. Or they can resign their offices, in which case the district board (and the other municipalities affected) would appoint replacements. Since they are up for re-election this year and the new handling fee wouldn't go into effect until next year, they could simply not stand for election.
As elected officials, they could also simply refuse to collect taxes for the school district (presumably while continuing to collect for the other jurisdictions). (There is nothing illegal in an elected official choosing to do, or not do, something.) In that case, the surety bond company that covers their official actions would appoint replacements.
The idea, of course, is that if nobody else is collecting taxes for the school district, then the district administration itself could be appointed (or appoint itself) to do it. And, according to Mr. Hall, Blue Ridge would stand to save as much as $25,000 per year by handling the tax bills itself.
Mr. Hall said that the issue had been under review for as long as eight years, and that the tax collectors were aware of the district's position well in advance of the letters they were sent the week before the meeting. When one of the tax collectors said that "[60 cents per bill] is not a fair reimbursement for the work," Mr. Hall told them, "we're paying you more than it would cost us to do the work." He said that this type of change is occurring at school districts across the state.
Mr. Small said he had carried out an extensive analysis of the matter, which led to the new amount the board was offering. But when the tax collectors asked to see the study that resulted from the analysis, claiming that, since they were severely affected by the change they should be allowed to review the analysis, Mr. Hall told them, "You're allowed to know that we're offering 60 cents." And that was that.
Two board members voted against the change, but it passed anyway, and the tax collectors, of course, were not happy. Some of the money goes to pay for transportation - the school buses. The state reimburses the district for a large part of transportation costs, which constitute one of the major expenses of a modern school district. Since last June, the district has been considering changing the bus schedules to a "single-tier" system, where each bus would make only a single run each morning and each afternoon. That idea was not popular, with teachers, parents, nor especially with drivers and bus contractors, who stood to lose money on the deal.
After several months of discussion, and a deeper analysis of the relative costs, the question was brought to a vote. With two exceptions (Joel Whitehead and Harold Empett), members voted to rescind last year's decision and keep the bus schedules as they are. The bus drivers and contractors attending the meeting did not comment, but must have been pleased with the outcome.
According to Mr. Hall, the purpose of the wrangling, debate and difficult choices the board is making is to "squeeze every dollar" out of the budget, so that taxes don't have to be raised unnecessarily. With a new budget coming up for review very soon, all of these questions will become even more significant.
District Superintendent Robert McNamara reported that a challenge may be made to Act 72, the school tax reform package passed by the state legislature last summer. Act 71, a gambling initiative that was intended to finance the reforms in Act 72, is already under attack in the courts. With all the uncertainty, there is a move under way to push back the deadline until April, 2006 (from May of this year) by which time school districts must choose whether or not to participate in the changes. The local budget depends heavily on what happens in Harrisburg, but whatever the tax collectors decide to do on their own, there will be more difficult decisions to be made by the district.
To hear, and have a say, visit your school board in public session. The Blue Ridge board meets for a business meeting on the second Monday of each month, and for a workshop on the fourth Monday of each month. The next workshop will be on February 28. All meetings begin at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
A Susquehanna County man was sentenced to a term of three years to six years in a state correctional facility last Thursday when he appeared before President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans on a rape charge.
The defendant, 58-year-old Robert D. Baker of New Milford, will be placed on probation for eight years after he is released from prison. He was also fined $1,000 and must pay $250 DNA costs. Mr. Baker cannot have any contact with persons under 18 and must receive counseling as a sex abuser.
After an investigation, Trooper Rebecca S. Warner filed charges of rape against Mr. Baker along with a number of sex-related charges including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault. An affidavit of probable cause indicates Mr. Baker sexually abused a young girl in Harford Township over a period of time from 1998 to 2002.
Joshua Allen Baker, 19, of Montrose, was remanded to a state correctional facility for a period of 18 months to 48 months on an assault charge in the Susquehanna County Jail in Bridgewater Township on August 13, 2004.
Mr. Baker will be placed on probation for five years after he completes his jail term. He was also fined $500, must receive psychological evaluation for anger management and must pay $250 DNA costs.
State Trooper James Bernosky said his investigation into an incident at the jail revealed that Mr. Baker assaulted Garret James Yakoski. Both men were inmates at the time.
Trooper Bernosky reported that Mr. Baker punched Mr. Yakoski, then slammed his head against a concrete wall and kicked the victim after he had fallen to the floor. Mr. Yakoski was taken to Endless Mountains Health Care Facility in Montrose where he was treated for the injuries.
In another incident at the jail, Judge Seamans sentenced Victor Carl Wagner, 21, of Montrose to serve one year to two years in a state correctional facility for assaulting a jail guard. Mr. Wagner will be given credit for time served in the county jail.
An affidavit of probable cause indicates that on July 24, 2004, Mr. Wagner shoved jail guard Clement W. Naylor from behind causing injury to his lower back. Mr. Naylor was treated at Endless Mountains Health Services.
The following individuals were also sentenced last Thursday:
Kenneth G. Burgess, 21, of South Montrose, 2 1/2 months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail for theft by unlawful taking in Hop Bottom on September 16, 2004. Mr. Burgess also received 2 1/2 months to 23 1/2 months for fleeing or attempting to elude police in Hop Bottom on September 21, 2004. The second jail term will run concurrent with the first one. Mr. Burgess was also fined a total of $550 and must do 50 hours of community service.
Shawn P. Kane, 36, of South Gibson, three months to 18 months in the county jail for theft by deception in Great Bend Township on July 31, 2004. He received an additional 3 months to 18 months on a separate theft by deception that occurred in Great Bend Township on August 20, 2004. And he was fined a total of $500.
Clifford Cheatum, 36, of South Montrose, four months to 18 months in the county jail, with credit for time served, for flight to avoid apprehension in Hop Bottom on December 4, 2004. He was also fined $500 and will do 25 hours of community service.
Susan P. Popeck, 49, of Clarks Summit, seven days to one month confinement and $300 fine for drunk driving in Clifford on December 27, 2003.
Cindy Lou Holgate, 42, of Hop Bottom, one month to 12 months in the county jail, with credit for time served and work release, for possession of drug paraphernalia in Hop Bottom on September 17, 2003. A second sentence of one month to 12 months in the county jail for a similar charge on May 22, 2004, will run consecutive to the first sentence. Ms. Holgate was also fined a total of $500 and will perform 25 hours of community service.
Eugene Alee Labbe Jr., 39, of Waterloo, NY, six months to 18 months in the county jail, suspended, for theft by unlawful taking in Little Meadows on January 6, 2003. He was also fine $500.
Donald J. Kinney, 36, of Meshoppen, 90 days to 15 months in the county jail with credit for time served and work release for drunk driving in Springville Twp. on January 30, 2004. He was also fined $500 and ordered to do 25 hours of community service. His case was transferred to Wyoming County.
Members of the board of the Hallstead-Great Bend Ambulance company were present at the February 17 meeting of the Hallstead Boro Council to inform the board of the latest developments concerning the ambulance’s ongoing situation. Board president Tony Conarton reported that the company’s license renewal application has been approved (by the Bradford/Susquehanna EMS Council and the state) and that the company would be back in business on February 18 at noon. For the present, Mr. Conarton said, the company will probably not be able to answer every call; it would be tough in the beginning, but “we’re going to grow, and come back strong.” The company will be staffed by 14 EMT’s and four first responders. A first responder class will be starting in mid March, with at least eight candidates interested in taking the course and an EMT class is slated to be offered early next fall. Mr. Conarton requested that council name the company as the boro’s primary Advanced Life Support service for the boro.
The only question council members had was regarding workmen’s compensation; who would be responsible for it? Mr. Conarton said that, as in the past, it would be split between Hallstead and Great Bend Boros. Letters would be forthcoming from the service to those boros.
On behalf of the boro, councilman Joey Franks commended the group for their efforts and wished them “all the luck and many thanks. It’s a fine thing you’re doing. Anything we can do to help...”
Mr. Conarton introduced the other members of the board who had accompanied him to the meeting, all of whom were applauded by council.
In other business, numerous complaints had been received regarding the recent quality of cable TV reception. After discussion, secretary Cindy Gillespie was asked to contact Adams Cable to let them know that residents have contacted council with complaints.
Discussion about potholes led to further discussion about which roads should be scheduled for paving work this coming spring or summer. It was agreed that Pine Hill is most in need of work; discussion will continue at next month’s meeting as to which streets will be paved this year.
Another lengthy discussion ensued regarding a request from the Hallstead-Great Bend Sewer Authority for an easement to run a power line at the ballfield park on Route 11. The proposed line will be an overhead, running from the back of the park to a pump station.
Some time ago, a lease agreement had been drawn up for the ballfields, but had never been finalized. So, it would seem that no other entities would need to be involved in any discussion about granting the easement. But, as there were some questions that council felt needed to be addressed, it was agreed that no action would be taken for the time being. Council president Michele Giangrieco, who is the boro’s representative on the Sewer Authority, will ask the authority to clarify some of those questions, and in the meantime the boro solicitor will be asked to review the easement agreement.
A motion carried to allow maintenance supervisor John Gordon to replace several signs (no parking, and stop signs) that had been removed during construction of the new Route 11 bridge, and had not been replaced. It was thought that the boro does have the signs needed in storage and it would not be necessary to purchase new ones.
FEMA has reviewed all the pertinent paperwork regarding flood damage to the Route 11 park, and it is expected that the boro will shortly be receiving a check to cover damage repair.
Through the bridge beautification committee, grant funding has been obtained to replace sidewalks along Main St., to continue work done by PENNDOT after replacement of the Route 11 bridge. Consent forms have been sent to property owners to allow replacement, but as of the date of the meeting all had not returned them. So far, only 22 responses had been received, with eight or nine still pending. The project would involve not only replacement of the sidewalks, but new curbing and skirting along driveway entrances. Ms. Giangrieco agreed to contact those property owners who had still not responded.
Council members have been invited to attend a meeting on February 24, hosted by the county Planning Commission in New Milford to discuss future use of municipal land. Also received was information about a “Kids Night,” to be held at the Blue Ridge School on March 3. The program will cover a number of topics relevant to parents today.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 17, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Mary J. Koes, Kingsley, was traveling north on Route 11 in Great Bend Township when she veered her 1998 Dodge Stratus to the left to avoid a vehicle that was backing up from Airport Road. As a result, Koes lost control of her car on the snow-covered road, veered right, struck a sign, went across both lanes of travel, left the roadway and hit a light pole before it came to a stop. Members of the Hallstead Volunteer Fire Department assisted Koes who injured her wrist in this accident that happened on the evening of February 17.
Around 5:30 a.m. on February 11, Michael Place, Thompson, was driving south along State Route 171 near Herrick Center when he lost control of his vehicle on the snow-covered road. The vehicle struck a tree and Place, who received moderate injuries, and other occupants of the vehicle were treated at CMC in Scranton and released.
A Nissan driven by N. Scott, 23, Montrose, was driving north on State Route 171 in Great Bend Township with a Toyota driven by S. Wolfe, 58, behind it. Scott lost control of her vehicle on the icy road and veered across the opposite lane, struck a guardrail and then veered back into the northbound lane. At this point, the Toyota struck Scott’s car on its right rear, causing it to roll over and come to rest at the end of a dirt driveway. After Wolfe’s Toyota hit the Nissan, she veered to the right, went off the road and hit a dirt embankment, causing the Toyota to roll over onto its roof and come to a stop next to the Nissan. Great Bend Fire and Ambulance responded to the scene. Both Wolfe and Scott wore seatbelts and reported no injuries from this accident that happened around 8 on the morning of February 10.
Roger Thomas, Kingsley, Harford Township, reported that sometime between February 2 and 3, an unknown person(s) damaged his mailbox.*
Unknown person(s) damaged a mailbox along Shea Hill Road in New Milford Township sometime between February 5 and 6.*
Anthony Grillo, 42, Brooklyn Township, reported that someone stole a Mossberg 12-gauge black shotgun and a Sylvania TV/VCR combo, Model No. SRC2213W from his residence sometime between February 2 and 3.*
Jennifer Rebernik, 26, received minor injuries when she lost control of her 1998 Chevy Blazer on a slippery State Road 0247 in Clifford Township on the morning of February 14. The Blazer hit an embankment and rolled over onto its roof. Rebernik was wearing a seatbelt, and the Blazer received moderate damage.
Sometime between December 20 and February 4, unknown Person(s) arrived at the Schmitt residence in Dimock Township and entered a garage through a side door, taking two all-terrain vehicles and many small items, including a battery charger and two Stihl chain saws. One ATV is a blue 1994 Suzuki Quad; the other, a green 2004 Honda Rancher 400cc. Vehicle identification numbers are available from the State Police.*
Audrey Erat reported that sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. on February 9, someone damaged the mailbox at her residence in New Milford Township.
Tammy Muzzy, New Milford Township, reported that sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. on February 9, someone damaged the mailbox at her residence.
Unknown person(s) used a rock to break the windshield of a logging truck parked along Creek Road in Kingsley sometime between February 4 and 8.
HIT AND RUN CRASH
Joel Spry, 39, Brackney, lost control of his vehicle while driving around a curve on State Road 4001 in Silver Lake Township. The vehicle continued straight through the curve and hit a tree. Spry left the scene, failed to report the crash and faces appropriate charges for it. This accident happened on the night of January 30.
Between 2-4 on the afternoon of January 28, someone went into Marv’s Service Center in Great Bend Township and took three Pennsylvania State Inspection stickers.*
On the evening of February 8, Samuel Merrill, 56, Montrose, was driving his 1999 Mercury Gran Marquis west on State Route 706 when he lost control of the car, went off the road and hit an embankment which caused the car to become airborne and hit a tree. Merrill received moderate injuries and the Mercury was towed from the scene.
Theresa Schlep, 38, Forest Lake Township, reported that her family received letters of a harassing nature in its mailbox between December 1 and January 31.
At around 8 on the evening of February 10, an unknown white male stopped at the Penn Can Truck Stop in Harford Township and pumped $50 of gas into his white pickup truck with a white cap on the box and drove north on the Interstate without paying for the fuel. The pickup had the letters “VDI” on its rear and both doors.*
BURGLARY AND ASSAULT
At 5:30 on the morning of January 1, Jamie Heaman, Hallstead, went to the home of Dominique Winn, also of Hallstead, and assaulted her and Gerald Fletcher, Daniel Brown and a juvenile. Heaman then left and returned to the residence that she shared with Brown. Brown and Heaman had a domestic dispute at that residence. Both were released on their own recognition bail set by district justice Janicelli.
Two female juvenile students at the Montrose Area Junior/Senior High School stole a purse belonging to another juvenile from her locker. Charges of theft were filed with county juvenile probation for this incident that took place on the afternoon of January 28.
Sometime between the afternoon of January 30 and the following morning, an unknown person(s) went into the Elk Lake Community Church, Dimock Township, and took various items from the office area.*
Patrick Kelley, Bridgewater Township, reported that sometime between January 5 and 7, someone broke into his barn and took a lot of tools.*
A 1996 Arctic Cat, Thundercat 900 snowmobile was stolen from property belonging to Louis V. Galambox in Clifford Township between January 22 and 24.
DUI TRAFFIC COLLISION
Shortly after noon on January 24, James Hanrahan, 51, Susquehanna, received moderate injuries when he lost control of his 1996 Ford Ranger on a snow-covered Brushville Road in Oakland Township. He crossed into the oncoming lane and had a head-on collision with a 1996 Nissan X-Cab truck driven by Gloria Kyle Haur, 53, Hallstead. Haur and passenger Lori Jo DeWitt, 42, received moderate injuries. Both vehicles were severely damaged. Hanrahan was cited for traffic violation. All people were wearing seatbelts, airbags were deployed, and Susquehanna and Hallstead EMS responded to the scene.
HIT AND RUN
A 1996 Dodge driven by Jeremy Heiber, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, was turning into a driveway on Route 171 in Ararat Township when his car was hit in the rear by a Subaru driven by Dale Ross, Thompson, who then fled the scene. Ross was found and will be charged with misdemeanor charges for this collision that occurred on the evening of February 4. Both Heiber and Ross were wearing seatbelts and neither was injured.
* Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the State Police at 465-3154.
Ann T. Koteles to Charles Newell, in Dimock Township for $15,000.
Richard A. Bulger to Richard A. Bulger and Yvette S. Bulger, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Dorothy Shirley (by sheriff) and Robert C. Shirley (by sheriff) to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. and CDC Mortgage Capital Trust, in Little Meadows Borough for $4,657.
Raymond R. Lasher and Melanie Ely Lasher to Raymond R. Lasher, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Martha Ann Fisher, Robin Fisher, Douglas Fisher, Kris Fisher, Scott Fisher to Uncle Miles Crack of Noon Club, in Clifford Township for $115,000.
Linda VanDuser to Thomas Mott, in Oakland Borough for $10,000.
Martin Stratton to Mary Ross-Robertson, in Choconut Township, for one dollar.
Gerald R. Feeney and Pamela K. Feeney to Douglas M. Whitenack and Lynda M. Whitenack, in Jessup Township for $222,500.
Edward P. Dorak and Michael A. Dorak to Edward P. Dorak, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Edward P. Dorak and Michael A. Dorak to Michael A. Dorak, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Steve Kozokas and Danielle Kozokas to Gerald Feeney and Pamela Feeney, in Silver Lake Township for $187,000.
James Fink to Kevin Stone, in Montrose for one dollar.
Ruth E. Morris to Rose Marie Smith, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Irene Kasiarski (aka) Irene Kosiarski to David Rodriguez and Madeline Rodigruez, in Franklin Township for $155,000.
Michael O’Hara and Pauline O’Hara to Michael O’Hara and Pauline O’Hara, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Elizabeth R. Timmons to Vito J. Rinaldi and Louise A. Rinaldi, in Springville Township for $35,000.
Leslie A. Brown and Olive M. Brown to John M. Riley, in New Milford Township for $30,007.
Robert T. Edwards and Maureen E. Edwards to Paul J. Everett and Joanne S. Everett, in Clifford Township for $140,000.
Kevin Stone to Linda L. Hibbard, in Montrose for $50,000.
Ruth E. Morris to Howard C. Morris, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Fred J. Mayer to Todd J. Hinkle and Valorie Hinkle, in Oakland Township for $115,000.
Paul W. Gardner (estate) to Richard C. Lyman and Susan L. Lyman, in Springville Township for $66,900.
Joyce A. Kocak to Ronald E. Kocak, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Thomas J. O’Reilly to Carmen W. Marzocco Jr. and Constance L. Wilson, in Springville Township for $75,000.
Richard B. Himko and Jeanette Himko to Richard B. Himko, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Nathan Councilman and Angie Mae Councilman to Archie J. Ellsworth and Connie Ellsworth, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Richard C. Dixon and Margaret A. Dixon to William H. Dixon Jr., in Lenox Township for one dollar.
William H. Dixon Jr. to Bryan Carey and Jodi Lynn Carey, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
WGN Co., Susan Lavelle, William Gerber (estate) to John J. Ward, in Herrick Township for $15,000.
John J. Ward and Pamela Ward to Robert R. Gustafson and Heather P. Gustafson, in Herrick Township for $19,500.
Lisa Lovell Ayres and Edward Ayres to Charles S. Dorniak and Rita M. Dorniak, in Bridgewater Township for $230,000.
Jonathan Carol Pudish and Ashley Ellen Mayle, both of Susquehanna.
Nathan P. Stark and Anne Kimble, both of Susquehanna.
Brian Todd Hall and Lynn N. Christina, both of Harmony Township.
Trudy Gall and Kenneth E. Gall Jr., both of Montrose.
Richard B. Himko and Jeannette M. Himko, both of Montrose.
Council of Government chair Elliot Ross decided to reposition the agenda’s first order of business – election of officers – until after a presentation by its guest speaker. This was county chief assessor Jennifer Pisasik, and she was there to pass along to COG members, composed of representatives of member municipalities, what she has learned about a recent change to the state’s Clean and Green laws through seminars and other information.
She acknowledged that there’s still a lot that needs to be confirmed by Harrisburg, and reported that because the effective date of the law (officially Act 235) was February 8, county taxpayers would see the effects not this year, but for the 2006 tax year. That’s because the cut-off for the county’s year end reporting is the end of January; too many changes to the underlying documents and the software that calculates tax need to be made to accommodate the new law and that won’t happen for 2005 taxes.
She did pass along what is clearly understood by the law, and that includes three key definitions that will guide determinations under it. The first is “ag use,” and it’s applied to parcels where actual farming or other agricultural production is going on (for instance, dairy farming, maple-syruping or honey collection). The second is “forest reserve,” which means that a parcel must be 10 or more acres and be wooded. The third is what Pisasik described as a catchall – “ag reserve,” which is applied to parcels that don’t fit into either of the first two definitions. She noted that property-owners who can claim this definition, however, have to make their property open to the public, with the property-owner’s permission. A property owner can limit the use for “passive enjoyment” – such as a hike to enjoy the scenery, but not, say, for snowmobile or ATV use, or to take a dip in the pond on the property. Someone asked who would be liable if someone was injured on the property; Pisasik didn’t know and said she didn’t even want to attempt a legal opinion.
She also noted that farm-related activities (that can include hiking, camping, boating) or which are entertainment-related (such as corn mazes or hayrides) would not necessarily make a property ineligible for clean and green.
Pisasik reported as well that, other than a base acre (generally, that part of the property where the residence sits), a parcel that was previously enrolled in clean and green can be taken out of it if certain criteria are not met.
A member asked whether back taxes would have to be paid on a parcel that was rolled out of clean and green. Pisasik replied that if a property was rolled out, they would not. However, if a property were registered incorrectly, if the property-owner is not in fact using it for clean-and-green purposes or has changed its use, then penalties would apply.
She also said that a base acre would remain at preferential land-use value if more than 50 percent of a contiguous property on the clean and green application is dedicated to agricultural use. Pisasik gave as an example a 50-acre parcel with 26 acres of it for ag use. Another example: If a property-owner has two non-contiguous parcels under the same application that total, say, 25 acres, then both parcels must have a minimum of 10 acres; if more than 50 percent of the parcel where the homestead is cited is for ag use, then the base acre would remain at preferential land-use value. Pisasik was careful to note, however, that these are her tentative understandings until the state department of agriculture started disseminating information, something they had not done as of February 16 – the date of the meeting.
Another question from the crowd: Ten acres of a 25-acre property is wooded reserve; does there have to be a base acre in it? Pisasik said there didn’t; “If it is vacant land, it will remain preferential. If you have utility on the base acre, it will be the value of that utility; anything with buildings on it will be put at market in base acre. If 50 percent or more were forested, then you would have the base acre added back in.”
What about 20 acres of woods that are lumbered every 20 years? Still considered forest reserve? They are.
Pisasik also clarified that there is no income level that a property in clean and green has to attain for ag use, except for parcels under 10 acres that are not contiguous with and on an application with another parcel and which have a $2,000 annual gross income level. She reported that there is no way for the county to find out how many parcels are less than 10 acres, because some are connected to another one on the same application. However, she added, “We are going to pull the applications out by hand and we are going to look at them. It may take us awhile.”
She explained the problems the county faces in implementing the act, beginning with the fact that the assessment office has property broken down into open forested land and not into ag use or forest reserve. “There is no way for us to predict how much is actually used for farming.” She said some have tentatively suggested that a questionnaire be sent to those in clean and green, asking for delineation on the use of their property. But for the present, her office is awaiting changes to its software system that will take the Act 235 changes into account.
Of importance to COG members, of course, was what effect the recent changes would have on their municipalities’ tax base with a possibility of recapturing base acres into their tax bases. One asked if it were possible to have some sort of evaluation from the assessment office sometime in October, when municipal budgets are planned and tax income estimated for the following year.
This might be tight. The office has targeted July 1 as the date it wants to get its notices out to property-owners; regulations require that they be allowed to appeal a notice by September 1, with appeals heard by October 31 and the process wrapped up by November 15. Nevertheless, Pisasik said she’d be happy to provide a verbal estimate – and not a certified one – of what the office has, come October. She also passed along that the office maintains a list, by municipality, of properties in clean and green which COG representatives could request.
Pisasik wrapped up her informative discussion by noting, once again, that there could be changes to the information she passed along. The agriculture department will let the state know at some point.
With that, Ross turned back to the agenda and the first item on it was election of officers. He announced that because of family reasons, Bill Bayne, the group’s treasurer and Liberty Township supervisor, resigned from both positions. With both Ross and vice chair Charlie Fahringer in the second year of three-year terms, a new treasurer was needed and Bob Boyanowski was nominated and elected to it.
Secretary Cheryl Wellman informed members about a series of meetings sponsored by PSATS and put on by PENNDOT throughout the state about what it’s calling a Mobility program; the closest meeting to the county will be held in Dunmore. Member Mike Greene will be attending, and thought it a good opportunity to talk with PENNDOT about roads in the county and area municipalities.
Wellman also noted that she has not heard back from Starrucca Borough in Wayne County. The minutes of COG’s January meeting indicated that the group is a member of COG, pending receipt of its resolution to join COG and pay its dues.
In committee reports, Ross reported that he’s been busy making up street and road signs for several member municipalities. Greene reported that he was elected president of the planning commission, has met with Bob Templeton and has “some ideas where we need to go.” As the commission goes forward, he will brief COG about its activities.
Ross noted that with Bayne and Rick Pisasik resigning (see below), the bylaws committee was down to one person, Dave Darrow. He asked for volunteers to serve, and Green and Harvey Rosenkrans put up their hands. A member noted that COG and its two committees – Codes and Sewage – each had separate bylaws. Didn’t it make sense, asked one member, to have one master set of bylaws to govern all three, with variations to take into account special needs of Codes and Sewage? It did, and the group will meet to consolidate the bylaws.
Before adjourning, Ross noted that commissioner Mary Ann Warren was at the meeting and asked if she wanted to share anything. Mostly she said she wanted to see if COG members had any questions, and they didn’t. But she passed along that she recently spoke with PENNDOT about working with New Milford Township to get rid of the abandoned, sway-backed trailer that’s been sitting off Route 11 just south of the borough for about forever. It will soon be gone.
SEWAGE ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE
Rudy Mattes, vice president, sat at the table at the start of this meeting which began with secretary Karen Trynoski reading an email from president Rick Pisasik who was unable to attend because he was out of town. She also read a letter from Pisasik that announced his resignation, with great regret, as the committee’s president, effective February 15, because of additional responsibilities as well as educational pursuits.
Mattes proceeded to the election of officers, and Harvey Rosenkrans was nominated and elected to succeed Pisasik as president, for a one-year term. With that, Mattes turned the meeting over to Rosenkrans, who oversaw the nomination and election of Rudy Mattes as vice president (three-year term) and Fred Jackson as the alternate member of the executive committee (four-year term). Reappointed SEOs were Duane Wood and Adam Griffis.
Three members were appointed to serve as hearing officers at a hearing about a Reddon violation in Dimock Township, tentatively set for March 16 and at which COG counsel Jason Legg will be present. The nature of the violation cannot, noted Trynoski, be disclosed prior to the hearing.
SEO Duane Wood reported that he’s been working with the DEP as well as Legg on the Dunn Lake development in Ararat Township and is waiting for some issues to be resolved. He and Griffis are otherwise keeping busy, and plan to attend a seminar in Conklin about peat-moss filters.
There was no other new or unfinished business, and the meeting was adjourned.
CODES ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE
Elliott Ross was appointed temporary president while officers of the committee were nominated and elected. The result was to go with the current slate: Ted Plevinsky, president; Mike Greene, vice president; and Chuck Mead, secretary-treasurer.
In a short meeting, Plevinsky noted that he wanted to send new CEO Randy Williams to a seminar in Bethlehem, Pa., about state property maintenance codes. Secretary Karen Trynoski noted that some member municipalities have passed such codes while others have not. Members approved the education and will pick up the $150 cost of the one-day course and $75 for a room the night before it. They also did not object to giving Williams a dollar-an-hour raise, from $10 to $11. When Williams was hired, Plevinsky said, he was put on a one-month probationary period and he passed it; the executive committee recommended the increase in pay.
Plevinsky pointed out to members that an ordinance about sewage permits for any type of habitable structure was attached to their agendas, should their municipalities want to consider adopting it or part of it. Trynoski explained that the ordinance basically says that a person needs to have a sewage permit prior to getting a building permit – whether it’s for a house, trailer, cabin, and so forth. COG members took these sample ordinances and went home.
The next regular meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for March 15 at COG offices in the New Milford borough building on Main Street.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION. The following information is taken from the approved minutes of the December 2004 and January 2005 meetings of COG which the Transcript was unable to attend.
Codes Enforcement Committee. December, 21, 2004: President Ted Plevinsky stated that a meeting was held on December 9 with the executive committee, office staff and representatives from Building Inspection Underwriters to address some concerns, which included billing as well as administrative issues and especially with the computer program and capabilities. A BUI rep. assured the group that although it has spent $20,000 on the current program, it is going to scrap it and move to a new system they’re having designed and expect to have up and running by the first of the year. A member stated that BUI indicated they will be bringing another inspector on board the first of the year.
January 18, 2004: President Ted Plevinsky introduced new codes officer Randy Williams who started on January 17. Plevinsky went on to explain that due to many reasons, the executive committee let Jim Sellitto go. Randy came recommended by Duane Wood [sewage enforcement officer] and worked for Bendix. When he left Bendix, he started a Jiffy Lube in Tunkhannock and, after selling it, was seeking part-time employment [not from minutes: the part-time position was not advertised.] Secretary Karen Trynoski explained that a setback ordinance was attached to agendas for municipalities’ review and use if desired, and reported that the recreational cabin affidavits cannot be restricted from use. Per Mitch Hoffman, DCED, the way this law was written, a municipality has to allow for recreational cabin affidavits; therefore, if the municipality has not established a fee for it, they may want to.
Sewage Enforcement Committee. December 21, 2004, SEO Duane Wood proposed the purchase of a Xerox scanner for the office to allow for scanning of maps and such. President Rick Pisasik explained that there is $2,000 left from the grant the group received and which could cover the $1,000 cost of this scanner that would be adequate for the committee’s needs; other larger scanners would cost up to $5,000. Members voted to approve the purchase. Pisasik announced that Jim Tracey, who served the committee for some 12-15 years, resigned. Rick stated that with Tracey’s help, the Committee was able to get 85 percent reimbursement. His resignation is effective on February 1, 2005. With Tracey’s retirement, SEO Wood will be in need of some assistance; therefore, the executive board is proposing to hire Adam Griffis who has helped out over the last year with some perc tests.
January 18, 2004: SEO Wood reported that things have slowed down but work is still going on, weather permitting. Adam Griffis installed the new scanner. Secretary Karen Trynoski explained that the Dunn Lake planning module was received on December 23 and except for a few minor items it was determined complete; the Committee has 50 days to review the plan, which has been sent to McFarland and Johnson, Codes engineers, for review, with a management to Jason Legg, counsel, for his review. Comments and concerns are due back by February 8.
Got Milk? Not yet, but the Forest City Regional School District will have it soon in vending machines that might also include chocolate milk, yogurt, string cheese and flavored water.
The move to bring milk machines into the school was urged last week by Amanda Zembrzycki, Susquehanna County Dairy Princess, and Kathryn Nebzydoski, Wayne County Dairy Maid. Both girls are eleventh grade students at Forest City.
While the members of the Board of Education did not take any formal action on the subject, the directors said a board motion is not necessary and that the machines will be brought in after some additional research. One of the concerns is whether the school district should acquire their own milk vending machines, with help from the county’s dairy farmers, or opt for a company that installs machines when milk is purchased from that firm.
Ms. Zembrzycki and Ms. Nebzydoski did a superb job of outlining the benefits of having milk vending machines in the school.
Prior to making their presentation, the girls did a student survey that supported their belief that milk vending machines would be well received. Besides a refreshing change of pace from soda, the girls quoted publications that stated milk could help individuals lose weight and provide nine essential health nutrients. They also cited changes in the Child Nutrition Act that gives schools the authority to offer milk at anytime and anywhere on school premises or at school events.
And, School Director Tom Baileys, who represented the board at recent federal conferences, said another law change will stop beverage companies from obtaining an exclusivity clause in any contract signed after July 1, 2005. Under existing laws, some beverage companies made generous financial offerings to school districts in exchange for exclusive rights to have only their beverages available in the district and to bar 100 percent milk from being sold on school grounds.
The girls also pointed out that the installation of milk vending machines will not affect a law that makes milk a mandatory part of the federal school lunch program. While milk is available in the school cafeteria at breakfast and lunch times, the machines would provide a milk outlet during student breaks.
Last, but certainly not least, the girls presented some financial information from the Mountain View School District that shows milk vending machines are profitable. For the months of September through January, Mountain View realized a profit of $643 from milk sales and $809 from flavored water sales.
Besides Mountain View, Elk Lake and Blue Ridge school districts also have milk vending machines in their schools.
In another matter, the board approved a motion allowing nine Future Business Leaders of America students to compete in the state Leadership Conference at Seven Springs, April 13-15 at an estimated cost of $2,900.
The students earned the trip by virtue of their performances in the FBLA regional competition that saw Forest City finish in fifth place among the 11 participating school districts. Students who move on to the state competition are: Heather Cook, Danielle Nebzydoski, Dan Rokavek, Andrew Seaman, Adam Salvi, Corrine Navajoski, Jen Boyde, Lindsay Coleman, and Georgia Galvin.
The resignation of one teacher and approval of a leave for health reasons by a third teacher results in some faculty changes authorized by the board.
Marie Ardis Templeton resigned as an English teacher and was replaced for the remainder of the school year by Joanne Holgate; Renee Czubowicz resigned as Spanish instructor and was replaced by Lisa Harris; and Christina Mangiaracina was hired as a science teacher replacing Louis Cicci whose sabbatical leave for health reasons will keep him out of the classroom for the remainder of the school year.
A motion to accept the resignation of Renee Dzubowicz, Spanish instructor, died for lack of a second.
Other motions passed by the board included-
-hiring the following substitute teachers for the 2004-05 school year, Lynn Cavagnaro, Leslie Rumford and Sharon Milewski (pending paperwork).
-reappointing Director Joseph Lucchesi as the board’s representative on the NEIU Board of Directors through June 20, 2008.
-appointing Dennise Yankauskas as girls junior varsity softball coach for the 2005 season, and Bill O’Dell and John Risner as volunteer assistant coaches in boys softball.
-approving the standard mileage rate adjustment from 37.5 cents to 40.5 cents retroactive to Jan. 1, 2005 as per a Federal rate change.
-increasing the transportation cost index formula for 2005-2006 from 4.334 to 4.477. Board members said another increase could be forthcoming due to higher gasoline and diesel costs.
-naming Kimberly Valente and Rebecca Kilmer as substitute secretaries and substitute teacher aides for the 2004-2005 school year.
-authorizing Berkheimer & Associates to impose and retain costs of collection on delinquent taxes.
-appointing the tax collectors of the six sending communities as delinquent per capita tax collectors. They include: Nancy Orasin, Joseph Svecz Jr., Beverly J. Durko, Marlene Sample, Clara Keast, and Marianne L. Thorpe.
-accepting the resignation of Brian McCormick as Junior High Baseball Coach due to his elevation to varsity baseball coach.
The Mountain View School District Board of Education public meeting meeting, February 14, was called to order and roll call taken. Those present were Bryce Beeman, President, Kevin Griffiths, Second Vice President Ordie Price, Treasurer, John Beeman, Susan Christensen, Ronald Phillips, Sondra Stine, James Zick, and Carolyn Price, Secretary. Absent was John Halupke, First Vice President. Also attending the meeting were Arthur Chambers, Superintendent, Colin Furneaux, High School Principal, Eliza Vagni, High School Assistant Principal, Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal, and Mary Hvezda, Director of Special Services.
The minutes of the January 24, 2005 meeting were approved as corrected with a name spelling correction. Mr. Price gave the Treasurer report and the cafeteria report. Beginning balance in the General Fund checking account as of January 1, 2005 was $3,520,496.60; Receipts totaled $400,765.42 and Disbursements totaled $1,510,197.71 for an ending balance on January 31, 2005 of $2,411,064.31. The report was accepted. A public member questioned a high cost item listed on the General Fund Accounting Check Summary for Career Technology Center tuition in the amount of $75,937.49. Mrs. Price explained that although the purchase description was listed as “nurses aid training”, the amount actually covered all vocational training for high school students, and not just nurses aid training. Other items on the check summary that were clarified included the purchase of a reference book for special education and catering fees for school opening events.
The report of the financial services committee was given by Mr. Griffiths. Among financial items, the board approved a number of routine disbursements for payroll, transportation, cafeteria, fringe benefit payments, list of bills, budget transfers and fund transfers. In addition, the board approved the athletic activities financial reports.
Mrs. Price discussed the possibility of using alternative investment instruments such as 12-13 month Certificates of Deposit (CD) for the Debt Service Fund verses using Bonds. This would allow a higher rate of return and increase the investment yield. Mr. Phillips suggested a mix of shorter and longer term CDs with staggered maturity dates from 6-18 months as an alternative. This would be discussed further at the financial services committee.
The special education contract with NEIU # 19 for the 2005-2006 school year was approved, as was tax collector compensation /percentages and minimum compensation amounts over the next three years. Bids were awarded to various suppliers of athletic equipment and supplies and a car/van driver contract was awarded for the 2004-2005 school year.
The board had been presented with an exhibit showing the proposed school district budget with previous years’ budgets summarized for comparative purposes. Mrs. Price reviewed the subjects, revenue materials and condensed revenue summaries for comparison in order to demonstrate use of the modified accrual system. This will allow the board to see approved items listed in the budget as of a specific date, the amount of revenue, and the amount budgeted. In this way, areas that are exceeding or lagging can be identified. Also, spreadsheets following the condensed reports show local, state, and federal revenues. Trends noted include a slight decrease in federal revenues and slight increase in local revenues, with state revenues remaining stable. The approximate average revenue source breakdown was given as follows: Local 42%, State 53%, and Federal 5%.
Further review of the district level budget and expenses format included breakdowns of various services such as school board services, treasurer services, tax collection, legal services, superintendent’s office, business office (including recommended insurance amounts), debt services (bond schedules and fees to J.P. Morgan), cafeteria fund transfers, athletic department, etc. A comment was made regarding the fact that the advertising budget had doubled from $5,000 to $10,000. Mrs. Price acknowledged this saying that the costs of newspaper ads had risen sharply and indicated that other means of advertising for open positions, such as the internet, needed to be evaluated. One notable format change is that the legal expenses connected to special education services has been moved to the special education budget. It was noted that a budget committee meeting was scheduled for February 21, 2005.
Mr. Phillips gave the report of the Human Resources, Policy and Labor Relations Committee. Several teachers were added to the substitute list pending receipt of all documentation, an NEIU #19 board representative was appointed (Mr. Phillips), and approval was given for a long term substitute position for Karen Purcell, who has served in a substitute capacity for over 30 consecutive days.
The resignation of C. Martens as year book advisor was accepted. Other resignations accepted were S. Petrochko (monitor position) and J. Warner, due to retirement at the end of the 2004-2005 school year. Advertising was approved for a replacement monitor.
Supplemental salary positions for boys track, wresting, cheerleading, volleyball, year book and National Jr. Honor Society were approved except for the position of assistant boys track, which was delayed pending additional information. Negotiations with the support staff were noted as ongoing.
Mr. Beeman reported that the building and facilities committee would have a more complete report with respect to the cafeteria project at the next meeting.
The report of the superintendent of schools included a presentation by Earle Wootton, Director of the Susquehanna County Community Foundation (SCCF). Mr. Wootton explained that the largest interest by SCCF, an independent, non-profit organization, was in the development of scholarship funds for high schools in Susquehanna County. He discussed how SCCF might build relationships with local school districts to make such scholarship monies available. The use of alumni associations were considered to be good vehicles for the establishment of endowments for particular schools and several members of the Mountain View-Harford alumni association were on hand at the board meeting. Providing legal and investment services, SCCF would depend on school districts and/or alumni associations to develop criteria for student eligibility for scholarship funds. Members of the Mountain View School Board were interested, but had concerns about the legal structure of such endowments and financial investment strategies. Mr. Chambers indicated that further discussion would take place at the next alumni association meeting and he would follow up through future communications with the school board.
As a matter of note, Mr. Chambers commented that a public meeting on Act 72 needed to be scheduled. At the present time, he noted that he would have a difficult time recommending that Mountain View opt in and that legal challenges to the Act by the state school board association and others, may lie ahead.
Mrs. Stine commented about the praise Mountain View had received at a recent association meeting, whereby several other school boards commended Mountain View for its self evaluation process. Apparently this is unique, in that self appraisals among school boards is not commonplace. Mountain View board members have agreed to share their self evaluation process with other school districts interested in implementing self assessment programs.
The report on the education committee was given by Mrs. Christensen. Numerous conference attendance requests and educational field trips were approved as listed, as was an adult education program and a revised 2004-2005 school year calendar.
The meeting was then adjourned.
The Susquehanna Community School board met on February 16; all members were present with the exception of Mike Kosko.
The board approved the minutes of the, January 20 meeting, filing of the treasurer’s report, the general fund bills, the food service report, filing of the activity fund and athletic fund reports. There was no correspondence.
Superintendent Bronson Stone reported that the district will be participating in a pilot program, for which only 35 districts throughout the state have been chosen. Federal Title programs will be undergoing compliance monitoring in April, and the district has been chosen to participate in on-line reporting for these programs.
Mr. Stone noted that the weather has been cooperating lately, as not as many snow days have been needed. And, he said, there are “good things on the horizon” for the district.
On March 8, from 6:30 to 8:00, the district will be hosting an All Curriculum Expo, rather than the usual Math and Science Expo of prior years. It will be open to all district students, and so far over 100 projects are scheduled to be presented.
Thanks to the efforts of the Saber Golf coach, Chuck Ficarro, students who participate in the golf program will be offered free memberships to the Lake Lorain Golf Course to hone their skills. This was made possible through the annual tournament fund-raisers that Mr. Ficarro organizes.
The staff is beginning the budget process for the next school year.
Finally, Mr. Stone reported good news from Harrisburg; the governor has held firm at keeping accountability grant amounts locked, so the district has an excellent chance of receiving the same amount as last year. The funds from these grants are used for the district’s pre-K program.
Elementary Principal Bob Keyes proudly showed off the efforts of some first graders, letters written to the board in honor of School Directors Recognition Month in January.
Elementary students have been donating their change for tsunami relief funds. A total of $766.07 was collected. Half will go to the Red Cross, the other half to Unicef.
Third grade students participated in a Creative Communication poetry contest, and twelve of those submissions were selected for publication.
Parent teacher conferences held earlier this month were not as well attended as earlier ones in the fall and spring; only 78 families were represented. But, Mr. Keyes said, this conference was more along the lines of an open house, without scheduled appointments.
Dean of Students Mark Gerchman presented a demonstration of “video streaming,” made possible through public television station WVIA. It provides short video clips on just about any subject imaginable, to be used as support material that can also be downloaded and printed. A subject was chosen at random, the purchase of Alaska, with the results conveyed from a desktop computer, to a projector, and then to a “smart board.” A smart board is a projection screen, but can also be used like a touch pad, where items can be chosen by touch, much like a computer screen’s cursor. And, a teacher can use the board to write notes for use in class, which can also be e-mailed to a student who is out sick.
The video streaming subjects, Mr. Gerchman said, are set up according to individual state standards. Mr. Stone added that it is cost effective; initially the district paid a fee of $1.00 per student, per year. Under a new agreement, the cost next year will be reduced to 70¢.
The district was able to purchase two smart boards, one for each building, through funding from an EETT grant, and expects to be able to purchase at least two more next year.
Business Manager Ray Testa has been working on the budget for the coming year, and presented “pencil” copies to the board members for their review.
During public comment, former student Ron Parsons introduced himself and his wife, Margo. Mr. Parsons was a 1977 graduate and, after a number of years living in other areas, has returned to live in Susquehanna. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons are the owners of Northeast Exposure and offer custom photography services. His purpose was to ask the board to consider Northeast Exposure for any photography opportunities; they are currently working with several organizations in the district on photography projects.
Mrs. Parsons commended elementary teacher Jeff Hall, who has started a sixth grade debate club. It was an excellent way to give kids a broader perspective on why they are doing what they are doing in class, she said.
In other business, the board granted permission for the business office to solicit bids for general, maintenance, industrial arts, sports and computer supplies for the 2005-06 school year, and for Mr. Stone to file federal and state program applications for the 2005-06 school year. Mr. Stone said that he and Mr. Gerchman will also be looking into applying for funding through other venues, such as corporate grant programs.
A revised ESL (English as a Second Language) program policy was approved, in accordance with changes in state regulations. A Special Education Services contract/resolution for the 2005-06 school year was approved.
A request from Teresa Marino to create a chapter of Tri-M (National Association of Music Education Honor Society) for students in grades 6-12 was approved. Mr. Stone noted that this is a wonderful opportunity for students to be recognized for their musical skills.
An intent to retire at the end of the 2004-05 school year was approved from Vincent Rock, secondary English teacher.
One addition to the substitute list was approved, Shirley Motyka, secondary Biology/Life Science.
The board approved hiring of Dick Bagnall, head football coach and Phil Stein, co-junior high softball coach. There has been a strong participation by students in the junior high sports programs, Mr. Stone added.
One volunteer position was approved, Kenneth Travis, girls’ fifth and sixth grade basketball.
The customary lists of activities, workshops, and fundraising requests were approved.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 16, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
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