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The Great Bend Borough Council covered a lot of ground at its April meeting on the 7th, which lasted nearly three hours. It began with a discussion of State Police coverage in the borough with Corporal Brian Cawley, of the Gibson Barracks, Troop R. Corporal Cawley was sitting in for the Troop's community affairs specialist, and gave council members a detailed and responsive outline of what the State Police have done and can do for the borough. According to a flyer, the nearly 4,300 state troopers are the primary police agency for 1,700 municipalities in the Pennsylvania, as they are for Great Bend.
The two major concerns among council members seem to be speeding on Main Street (U.S. Route 11) and vandalism in the town's three parks. Corporal Cawley said that troopers monitoring traffic in the borough have not found a significant problem with speeding. "The numbers are not showing that there is a drastic problem, that we can tell." He told council that a motorist must be traveling at least six miles per hour over the posted speed limit to warrant a stop. The speed limit on Main Street in Great Bend Borough is 35 mph. The limit is 40 before entering town from the north. The posted limit in Hallstead Borough is 25 mph. Corporal Cawley has noted that police presence on a straight stretch like Main Street is often advertised when motorists who notice a police car monitoring traffic "flash" cars traveling in the opposite direction.
Asked if lowering the posted speed limit to 25 would help, Corporal Cawley said that such a change would be up to the Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), since U.S. 11 is a state road. William Wellman, a local resident, presented a petition to council to ask the borough to work with PENNDOT to make just such a change.
Corporal Cawley said that the Hallstead/Great Bend area has been a special focus of the Gibson Barracks for more than a year, because of the population density and the number of reported incidents. The State Police have been able to use Federal money for overtime pay to increase the presence. He said that the 3-to-11 shift often sends cars into the borough, and they are required to visit each of the parks at least once during the shift. Since the parks are now posted with signs listing the hours the parks are open (and closed), the police can detain people in the parks after hours, but they are expected to use discretion about actual arrests. Warnings are generally not effective, he said, because they are not recorded.
The State Police have met with business owners in "the flats" between Hallstead and Great Bend in an effort to reduce the incidence of "drive-offs" – drivers who pump fuel without paying. The police also maintain a toll-free, anonymous "tip line" (1-866-326-7256) that people can call to report information about gangs and illicit drug trafficking. He said that gangs are not a significant problem in Susquehanna County, but the prevalence of methamphetamines is growing everywhere.
Asked about enforcement of local traffic ordinances – stop signs, for example – Trooper Cawley said they would make a stop only if they happen to see a violation. Parking ordinances are not usually enforced unless there is an obvious hazard. The State Police will remove abandoned vehicles only from public property.
The new Welcome Center just north of town may cause an increase in traffic, but Commissioner MaryAnn Warren (who attended the meeting to support Planning Director Robert Templeton, see below) said that motorists entering the center from the Interstate will not be able to exit onto Route 11. Corporal Cawley told council that he didn't expect the police to assign more troopers because of the center, but there might be a greater "presence" because of the truck weighing and inspections that will be performed there from time to time. He said that incidents at the southbound rest area in Lenox are very rare.
Thanking Corporal Cawley, Council then heard from Robert Templeton, who is promoting "multi-municipal planning." Mr. Templeton said that there are already two areas in the county that have developed regional planning procedures and policies. The Northern Tier Coalition, the oldest, brings together 12 municipalities; the Eastern Susquehanna County Partnership is a cooperative venture of six townships and boroughs.
The latest effort is in the U.S. Route 11 corridor, where the greatest growth is likely to take place. At least two meetings have sounded out the interest of townships and boroughs in the area so far. Mr. Templeton is trying to bring together New Milford Borough, New Milford Township, Great Bend Township, Great Bend Borough, and possibly Harford Township. Hallstead Borough has already indicated its lack of interest in the idea. Great Bend Borough Council member Rick Franks is a member of the County Planning Commission and vigorously supports the initiative.
The primary purpose of these programs is to implement zoning. Most municipalities in the region have no control over what can be built where; zoning would restrict activities of some types to some areas, others to other areas, and additional restrictions can be placed on how sites and structures are configured. According to Mr. Templeton, the idea isn't so much to keep something out, but to "protect what you have."
Any municipality can implement zoning on its own. Actually setting it up, however, can be a lengthy – and expensive – process. The multi-municipal approach would share the expense among a group of neighboring communities, and could become a way for smaller towns to "join and fight for your own interests." Moreover, the state tends to be more generous with money for such things when communities band together.
A "comprehensive plan" covering the Route 11 corridor might cost as much as $40,000–50,000 to develop. State money is available that could cover up to half of that expense. To get the money, municipalities must formally agree to cooperate, and must each pass an ordinance supporting the process. According to some rough estimates provided by Mr. Templeton, Great Bend Borough might have to spend up to about $2,000 of its own money over a period of about two years as its share of the cost of such a plan. The entire process to complete a formal comprehensive plan could take up to three years.
These two lengthy discussions did not deter Council from considering its own detailed agenda for the evening.
Last month Council decided to move what seemed to be a useless street light from the end of Depot Street to the bridge over the railroad. Council chair Ray Holtzman managed to get Penelec to agree to move the light. But Bea Alesky was absent last month. She told her colleagues that the light on Depot Street illuminates the back side of at least two businesses, including her own. So Council amended its prior decision and agreed to ask Penelec to install a new light on the bridge, leaving the old one where it is.
There was some extended discussion of the possibility of installing curbing on some borough streets. It is possible to rent a machine to do the job, but the borough's sole maintenance worker said that he had no idea how to run such a machine. Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan was asked to find out how much it might cost to do such work. There was some disagreement about whether or not the borough had the right to close off private driveways with curbing.
The borough received a report from its insurer's loss control specialist that recommended a few improvements in the playground in Memorial Park, including maintenance of soft bedding underneath the swings. Mr. Holtzman noted that some municipalities have been forced to remove swings from playgrounds for this reason.
Council member Joe Collins asked that council consider repairs to the basketball equipment in Memorial Park, as well as extending the paved surface, to prevent injury. He also recommended the installation of some kind of benches in the park.
When Corporal Cawley was asked about how to handle abandoned vehicles, what was in mind was a small collection across the street from the Kost tire center. It was thought that the property belonged to the tire business, but now no one is really sure who owns that bit of land. Who owns it will determine who is responsible for the junk cars.
A letter from a resident complaining about what appeared to be an auto repair business taking form in a neighboring garage, made some think again about the virtues of zoning. At present, the borough has no authority to regulate any such enterprise.
The recently revived Great Bend-Hallstead Ambulance Service has requested a letter of support from its home borough so that it can apply for grant subsidies. Council member Jerry MacConnell said he had attended a recent meeting of the Ambulance Service and was greatly impressed with the effort he saw. The service has responded to more than 50 calls since coming back to life in late February. They will be soliciting memberships soon, at $25 per year, and are appealing to residents for donations for special types of protective clothing.
Great Bend Borough is responsible for the workmen's compensation insurance for the Ambulance Service. The service provides primary emergency medical coverage for three municipalities, and the borough is entitled to recover some of that cost from the others. Council decided to split the bill even, three ways. Annual premiums for this coverage comes to over $6,000 per year.
And the woman who has been cleaning the Great Bend Borough building recently resigned. Council has employed Mary Riecke to keep the building clean for the Blue Ridge Senior Center, and for the borough council meetings, which take place on the first Thursday of each month, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
It was billed as a nonpartisan forum scheduled to give taxpayers in the Forest City Regional School District the pros and cons of Pennsylvania Act 72. But as the forum dragged on, it became more and more apparent that it was anything but unbiased.
The guest speaker, Pamela Price, director of Board Development Services, Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSAB), found an audience willing to accept a one-sided explanation seasoned with objections to Act 72.
Ms. Price gave a slide presentation on a huge screen that started off with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association logo and then moved ahead with what was labeled “A Citizen’s Guide to Act 72.” A more appropriate title might have been, “PSAB’s Guide to Act 72.”
Unfortunately, when it decided to sponsor a public forum on Act 72, the Forest City Regional School District only invited a PSAB representative to speak. No supporter of Act 72 was invited for rebuttal to anything that Ms. Price was spoon-feeding her audience. And while most of what she discussed appeared to coincide with the major provisions of Act 72 some of her remarks cast shadowy innuendoes.
For example, the back-end referendum is required of any school district that is eligible to receive state gaming allocations. It is also regarded as being the most challenged provision in Act 72 because it requires eligible school districts to seek voter approval for proposed tax increases over an established index. Ms. Price said some school districts in other states were forced to cut out some programs because voters would not approve tax increases proposed by their respective school boards. Specifically she cited sports programs and mentioned that in some schools, students had to pay in order to participate in sports.
In response to a question regarding PSAB’s position on Act 72, Ms. Price said PSAB favors local control of school districts. She said she would not want to see school districts run by Harrisburg or Washington. There is nothing in Act 72 that indicates a takeover by state or federal authorities.
After the meeting, Dr. Robert Vadala, superintendent of schools, was asked if the proponents of the bill were going to be invited to present their side of the issue. Dr. Vadala replied that the forum that had just concluded was presented in a nonpartisan fashion. Dr. Vadala’s comment came on the heels of a closing statement by Forest City Regional School Director Henry Nebzydoski. Dr. Nebzydoski took the microphone from Ms. Price and promptly declared Act. 72 the “biggest bunch of bull I have ever seen.”
Ms. Price said the bill is designed to reduce the school property tax burden on senior citizens and shifts regressive property taxes to income-based taxes. But she emphasized on more than one occasion that Act 72 does not provide any new dollars for education but merely shifts the lion’s share of the cost from property taxes to earned income and/or personal taxes.
While she explained in detail what could happen if a school district opts into Act 72 or wants no part of it, Ms. Price also took the time to toss out a few questionable “ifs” that could impact on a school district that opts into Act 72. She said there would be less property tax relief for higher income families and for two-income families. In response to a question of what would happen if voters defeated a back-end referendum, Ms. Price said it was a good question and she answered it with a question.
“Will voters approve an increase in taxes?” she asked. She said homeowners with no income are better off and homeowners with low income also benefit. And she said the more money a family earns the less likely they will benefit from Act. 72.
She then tossed out another worrisome question, asking aloud if school programs could be cut because of the defeat of a back-end referendum. She repeated that Act 72 does not give school districts one dollar toward education. Then she answered her own question by stating that if the school tax is set by applying an established index and the voters reject any increase, that district may be looking at cutting programs.
However, a PSAB bulletin states that if the back-end referendum fails to pass, the board may approve a tax increase of not more than the established index that is an average of two percentages; the percentage increase in the statewide weekly wage and the employment cost index for elementary and secondary schools. So the board can increase taxes of not more than the established index but if the back-end referendum is defeated at the polls, the board cannot levy any additional tax increase.
And, in a summary of the major provisions of Act 72 of 2004, the same PSAB bulletin proclaims that school districts may, without seeking voter approval, increase the rate of a tax levied for the support of the public schools by more than the index if two conditions are present. They are the revenue raised by the allowable tax increase under the index is insufficient to balance the proposed budget due to one or more of the expenditures contained in a list of exceptions; and the revenue generated by increasing the rate of a tax by more than the index will be used to pay for one of a long list of reasons outlined in Act 72. So there is what appears to be escape clauses that would allow a school board to increase school taxes for certain conditions.
“The governor said,” Ms. Price stated near the end of her presentation, “that he is the best friend education ever had but it is not in this bill (Act 72).”
Ms. Price said the dollars that are used to provide property tax relief under Act 72 are gleaned from a 34 percent tax on gross receipts of gaming revenues across the state.
“There are no dollars for education in this act,” Ms. Price said. “There is not going to be any legislation that will extend money for any educational programs. The act is all about property tax relief. All the money will be used for property tax relief. The legislature has been looking for tax relief for quite a number of years. This law is designed to reduce property tax primarily for senior citizens.”
Act 72 requires school districts to utilize a homestead/farmstead exclusion to provide property tax relief to owners of eligible homestead and farmstead properties. The amount of relief available will depend on the amount of funds districts will have to reduce property taxes under Act 72 and the number of eligible properties in the district. The county assessor is responsible for determining the eligibility of properties for the homestead/farmstead exclusion.
Ms. Price said Boards of Education across the Commonwealth will have until May 30 to decide whether or not to opt into Act 72. She said PSAB intends to file a lawsuit seeking a one-year extension in order to allow boards of education additional time to study the act more thoroughly.
The Forest City Borough Council extended its police agreement with neighboring Vandling Borough for a full year and both municipalities appear to be satisfied with the arrangement and the cost.
The only change in the contract is an agreement to work together on a change in cost to coincide with the ever-increasing price of gasoline. Current financial terms call for Vandling to pay Forest City $550 per month for three daily police patrols and $30 an hour additional when Forest City police are detained by incident investigations or court appearances.
The motion, which was approved unanimously last week by Forest City’s governing body, will provide for police coverage in Vandling until October 1.
Jim Lowry, president of the Forest City Borough Council, said members of the Vandling Borough Council that met with Forest City on the contract extension indicated most residents of Vandling are a bit more comfortable since regular police patrols have been initiated in the borough.
Reports filed by Forest City Police Chief Paul Lukus show that whenever possible more than three patrols a day are made in Vandling. Chief Lukus said his department has been able to fulfill its contract obligations with Vandling without jeopardizing police coverage in his own borough.
In another police matter, Council agreed to purchase a new Dell computer for the department. It will replace an outdated model that the police have been struggling with for months. In the motion to purchase the computer, Council agreed to allow Chief Lukus to purchase programs vital to the department’s obligation to file monthly reports with state law enforcement agencies in Harrisburg.
And, finally, the police department’s monthly report shows a total of 315 calls received during the month of March. The department made 13 arrests last month and assisted other departments four times. There were five motor vehicle accidents in the borough in March and three incidents of criminal mischief.
Paul Peterson, borough solicitor, reported that warning letters were sent to a number of borough residents urging them to correct violations of borough laws. He said if the letters are ignored, citations will be issued.
Nick Cost, chairman of the street committee, asked Council to consider appropriating funds for re-surfacing North Street from Railroad Street to Hudson Street. Mr. Cost also said portions of Maple Street near Lake Erie need attention as well as Maxey Street from Delaware Street to Susquehanna Street. Council suggested that Mr. Cost obtain estimates on having the work done.
Council agreed to sponsor a Spring Cleanup, but Susan Coleman, borough secretary, said she checked with the borough’s trash hauler and no dates are open until June. Council suggested to put the borough on the list for a June cleanup.
Mr. Cost also reported that large trees in the 500 and 600 blocks of Delaware Street need to be removed. He said they extend into the road and make it extremely difficult for snow plowing.
Councilman Paul J. Amadio, who is chairman of the finance committee, said removing the trees would be an expensive project and no money was appropriated for such a huge project. He asked Mr. Cost to get prices on removing the trees and also to find out if the trees could be pruned rather than removed.
Chad L. Towner (aka) Chad Towner (by sheriff) to Fannie Mae, in New Milford Township for $1,529.
Victor Samero and Claudia M. Samero to Francis J. Glodek and Astrid W. Glodek, in Ararat Township for $3,000.
John Valentine to John Walter Valentine, Christine Valentine, Joseph Valencine, and Lisa A. Valentine, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Joann S. Lindsey to Mark Lindsey, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Mark T. O’Neil Jr. and Ann D. O’Neil, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Brian E. Burke and Pamela D. Burke to Bradley J. Talcott and Rebecca Talcott, in Auburn Township for $47,000.
Judith A. Stugus to Anthony Sunderman and Stacy Sunderman, in Harford Township for $132,000.
Shirley A. Searles (estate), Patricia Kathleen Searles, Carrie C. Searles, Edward Searles, Stacey Searles to Alexander Pritchyk and Kathleen Pritchyk, in Cllifford Township for $5,000.
Theresa Nielsen to Robert B. O’Neil, in Oakland Borough for $74,910.
Amy Anderson MacConnell, Patrick MacConnell, Sara Anderson Hunt, and Charles Hunt, to Amy Anderson MacConnell, Sara Anderson Hunt, and Sherry Vanvranken, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Christiane Meunier-Abdale to Gwendolyn Bartlett, in Montrose for $127,000.
Marlene M. Vauter to Jean Ann Skubic and Ludwig F. Skubic, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Ruth E. Morris to Thomas Chamberlain, in Susquehanna for $2,394.
Guy L. Craft Jr. (by poa) and Pauline S. Craft to Mark R. Craft and Elizabeth Craft, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Albert H. Stickney and Doris J. Stickney to Martha A. Loerke and Ellen J. Loerke, in Choconut Township for $47,500.
Ann Marie Strope (nbm) Ann Marie Morrison and Gregory T. Morrison, to Jon M. Strope and Patricia Strope, in Dimock Township for $150,000.
Kenneth Luff (aka) Kenneth J. Luff and Melanie Luff to Kenneth J. Luff and Melanie Luff, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
John E. Tait and Erlane D. Tait to William L. Neifert Jr. and Doreen Neifert, in Harford Township for $34,900.
Norman N. Norton Sr. and Tammy Norton to Joseph Zawisky, in Oakland and Jackson townships for $600,000.
Chad Miner and Ann M. Miner to Stephen L. Yanochko in Lenox Township for $46,000.
Jerry A. MacConnell and Joanne T. MacConnell to Jerry MacConnell and Joanne T. MacConnell, in Great Bend Borough for one dollar.
Leon C. Button, Barbara L. Button to Button Family Partnership, in New Milford Township. Re-determination additional municipal tax due.
Francis A. Licordare III and Gail T. Licordare to John D. Coughlin and Shjaron Coughlin, in Ararat Township for $125,000.
Harold J. Fehlberg and Evelyn U. Fehlberg to Mark Fehlberg, in Franklin Township for $65,000.
Martha Lozada Montero (aka) Marta Lozada-Montero, and JoAnna Yglesias (by attorney) to Montrose DG Partners for $362,500.
Marjorie J. Wilkins to Brian Post, in Choconut Township and Silver Lake Township for one dollar. (Corrective deed)
Jeffrey L. Benthin and Pamela M. Benthin to J. Kevan Busik, in Choconut Township for $64,000.
Layton W. Greene (by sheriff) and Cheryl Lynn Greene (by sheriff) to Deutshe Bank National Trust Company (custodian fka) Bankers Trust Company of California.
Kristel L. Webbe to Conrad J. Gemmer, in Harford Township for $220,000.
Emil J. Nemeckay and Elaine G. Nemeckay to Lisa Gerhardt Bamford, in Lathrop Township for $308,000.
Peoples National Bank to Alice M. Davis, in Montrose for one dollar.
George Lawrance Funkhouser III to Endless Mountain Recreation Inc. in New Milford Township for $175,000.
The Internal Revenue Department of the U.S. Treasury has filed federal income tax liens in the Susquehanna County Courthouse as follows:
Gordon Lambert Inc., 197 Main St., New Milford, $75,966.
RDJJ Inc. Corp., 730 Main Street, Forest City, $497.
Susanne Beier, 729 Rear Main Street, Forest City, $10,627.
Matis Manufacturing Co., PO Box 221, Susquehanna, $32,990.
Ernest Lederer, RR 2, Union Dale, $15,964.
Kris V. Conforti, Johnson City, NY, and Stacy L. McNish, Vestal, NY.
Matthewe D. Gorton and Marla D. Appley, both of Hallstead.
Richard Warren Ramey and Michele Lori O'Brien, both of Dimock.
Judith A. Sabo of Hallstead vs. Michael Sabo of Somerset.
Cheryl B. Greene of RR 3, Susquehanna vs. Edward B. Greene III, no address.
Denise E. Adelsberger of Wyomissing Hills, vs. Paul V. Adelsberger of Meshoppen.
Eric S. Kilmer of Binghamton, NY, vs. Tina Marie Kilmer, no address.
Thompson Boro council president Dennis Price updated other members on an eleventh month inspection of the sewer system that had been held on March 31; council members Price, Scott Halesky and Mayor Jim Delaney had met with engineers to inspect the system.
A manufacturer’s representative will be meeting with plant operator Larry Travis to address some continuing problems with the system.
Nassaux-Hemsley (the project’s engineers) will compute the overall cost of operating, plus the operators’ time and do a comparison to see if it would be more cost effective to have excess product pumped out, to deal with an accumulation that has resulted from a more active system than had been anticipated and the ongoing problems Mr. Travis has encountered.
While looking for information regarding what new users to the system should be charged for tap-in fees, Mr. Price was given a rather detailed formula that must be used to calculate the fee charged (as mandated by law). The formula is based on the system’s capacity, the cost of operating the treatment plant and pump station, special purpose usage, the number of gallons that go through the system per day, an index for future increases and costs, and a number of other factors. Since the law requires that five years’ worth of figures be used, which would not be available with a new system, the law allows that the formula may be based on an engineer’s reasonable estimate of those figures. The catch is, the cost to have an engineer determine what the tap-in fee should be is approximately $2,000, an expense that was not expected. After discussion, it was agreed that council should check with the boro’s solicitor and with RUS, to see if this cost was included in the boro’s original contract with the engineer. Since there are legal time constraints to have a fee set, a motion carried to appoint Nassaux-Hemsley to compute the calculations, contingent upon input from the solicitor and RUS if it is determined that this was not included in the original contract.
A letter will be sent to Pioneer, the project contractor, regarding some complaints that have not yet been addressed, such as a wall that was not re-placed in its original position and a buckled sidewalk in front of the post office. Council has requested that Pioneer provide copies of photos or videos that were made prior to construction to help address any future complaints that may arise.
There was a lengthy discussion regarding delinquent sewer usage fees, and an up-to-date list of delinquent accounts was reviewed. A motion carried to adopt a uniform policy to deal with arrears. When an account is 90 days in arrears, a notice will be sent giving the property owner 30 days to make up-to-date payment. If payment is not received, the solicitor will be notified to place a lien on that property, which will include legal fees and filing costs.
An incident of vandalism was discussed, where (unnamed) juveniles had broken into a shed that houses a resident’s water supply and contaminated the water. The juveniles have been charged with criminal mischief and will be held responsible for the cost of cleaning the water, and the building has been secured. In light of this incident, Mr. Price noted that there are several structures in the boro that are in dilapidated condition; there is concern that other incidents could occur at other structures that are possible hazards as well as eyesores. After speaking with CEO Shane Lewis, he recommended that Mr. Lewis attend the next council meeting to discuss what steps can be taken to ensure that these buildings are secured or demolished.
Council will need to make some decisions about police protection, as Chief Rivenburgh will be leaving his post in July. Does the boro want to continue having boro police protection and, if so, how much? And, Ararat Township will be notified that Mr. Rivenburgh will be leaving, as well as what council’s decision is regarding continuing police services (Ararat contracts with the boro for those services).
Prices will be obtained, to see if it is feasible to have the streets swept, and the material used for cindering this past winter recycled for next year.
Emergency management coordinator Mark Carmody agreed to check with the county emergency management for information regarding grant funding for flood management, as there have been two serious floods in less than a year affecting boro properties.
Council reviewed a proposed budget for sewer operation for the coming year, based on expenses/revenues to date.
The next meeting will be on Monday, May 2, 7:30 p.m. in the fire hall on Water Street.
MONTROSE, PA – The American Red Cross offered protection from rising waters during the recent flooding, opening almost 50 shelters in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as extensive flooding forced many people from their homes. The potential for more rain, combined with melting snow and already saturated ground, could now cause expanded flooding in parts of New England. The American Red Cross will continue to provide vital disaster response assistance for all who need it.
Use the following tips to prepare for and remain safe during a flood.
Be Prepared – know your area's flood risk--if unsure, call your local Red Cross chapter, emergency management office, or planning and zoning department, and check local weather updates. If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood. Call your local Red Cross chapter to find the location of any shelters that may be opening. If you experience flooding and need assistance, call your local authorities immediately.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing – first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, at least three gallons of water per person, protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags, battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries, special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members, written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so (remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on), identify where you could go if told to evacuate. Choose several places, a friend's home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.
Know flood terms and what they mean.
When a flood WATCH is issued: move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home; fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
When a flood WARNING is issued: listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
When a flash flood WATCH is issued: be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.
When a flash flood WARNING is issued: or if you think it has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly! Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades, they are there for your safety. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
A lot of business was accomplished with surprisingly efficiency at the meeting of the Great Bend Township board of supervisors on the evening of April 4. Decisions ranged from voting to donate $150 to the Hallstead-Great Bend ambulance for protective clothing, to opening bids on loan rates from area banks to finance a road maintenance plan.
The lowest bidder of five on an (up to) $165,000 loan was M&T Bank out of Wilkes-Barre, which offered a 7-year, 4 per cent loan (4.15 per cent for 9 years). Supervisor chair Bib Squier noted that the group had budgeted about $25,000 a year for loan payback, so it was good news that the annual anticipated payment over 7 years will be $23,571 ($18,333 over nine years). The board prefers faster payback, and opted for the 7-year proposal. They will make it formal once an ordinance is advertised about it.
Walt Galloway also apprised the group and a small audience of the township building plans. They have been approved by UCC building codes inspectors as well as Labor and Industry. Specifications for a project what would renovate the building for handicap accessibility and restrooms, as well as for a project that envisions a new building, will got out to bid shortly.
Supervisors also updated the public on the second meeting with other municipalities about developing a comprehensive plan that would guide growth. Supervisor George Haskins passed along an amazing statistic that came from a researcher on land fragmentation in the state: to wit, that 50 percent of the buildings and urbanization in the state has occurred within the last 15 years; further, it is projected that one-half of all buildings existing in 2030 will not have existed today.
In the township alone, three new businesses are underway: construction has begun for a Dunkin’ Donuts and car wash in the Hallstead Plaza. Bob Squier and Mary Jane Squier have received approval for a subdivision, and from the sewer authority to continue their efforts to open a Dollar General Store on Route 11 south, in the building vacated by the old auto parts store.
The township supervisors, along with their counterparts in New Milford Borough and Township and Great Bend Borough, believe that a comprehensive plan makes sense to guide growth. The more municipalities that participate in such a plan, the lower the cost to develop and implement one.
Galloway explained that the process is a long-term proposition, with plenty of opportunities for public meetings about it along the way. The next meeting of regional municipalities to discuss a plan and options is scheduled for April 27, and the township intends to be there.
Before giving Nick Mase’s roadmaster report, George Haskins noted that he would like to go out to bid with specifications on taking care of the Graham Hollow Road slide, now that the township has received a DEP permit to go ahead. He also said that a correction needed to be made to the awarding of bids on township materials that was decided at its last meeting. It turns out that #1 stone of the lowest bidder is egg-sized, whereas the township needs pea-sized #1 stone. Thus, this bid was awarded to the next-lowest bidder of appropriate-size #1 stone, which was F.S. Lopke. Lopke was also the lowest bidder of wash-sand, which the board overlooked at its last meeting but made right at this one.
Haskins also noted that the township received a letter from the Susquehanna Conservation District about dirt and gravel road grants which may not be covered by FEMA funds (such as Towner Road and Graham Hollow). Township secretary Sheila will follow up with her usual efficiency.
The road crew, Mase reported via Haskins, was busy with washouts on several roads, particularly Airport Road. Some materials were put down on several roads, some ditches scooped out and some broken culvert pipes quick-fixed in what is admittedly a band-aid solution until the first Monday of May when the crew – weather permitting – can start work on longer-term road repairs, ditching, and replacing or repairing culvert pipes. The backhoe has been serviced and is ready; Charles Haley, said Haskins, is set to work for the township again this summer. As Haskins noted, “We’re going to go great guns with no looking back.”
One thing that will have to wait is the sidewalking that’s part of the Bridging Communities project. Haskins spoke with Rick Woidt of Plan B engineering, who is working on the sidewalk project. Woidt, who also spoke with project director Debbie Dissinger, said it would require full engineering, including surveying. He also noted that with concrete being so expensive, he did not see the project being done all at once, and that the participating communities would need to prioritize what gets done first. More details, said Haskins, are expected soon, but it Woidt noted that it won’t get done this year because of the DEP approval process. The best scenario, reported Haskins, is to go out to bid this fall and start first thing next spring.
In other business, the board agreed to purchase a communicator radio recommended by emergency coordinator Dixie Russell. It will follow up on various complaints about build ups of junk and unregistered cars on several properties throughout the township that were brought to their attention by residents. These properties are on Route 171, New York Avenue, Old Route 11, and off Randolph Road. One resident noted that junk on a neighboring property devalued his well-kept property, and he was prepared to ask for a lower assessment should the eyesore not be taken care of. Another of the properties was said to resemble a junkyard, and research will be done if, in fact, it is. In which case, said Squier, reassessment from residential to commercial property could be an option.
The next regular meeting of the Great Bend Township board of supervisors is scheduled for April 18 at 7 p.m. in the township building.
Two “good neighbors” were the audience at New Milford’s monthly council meeting last Thursday night to be recognized for the help they give the borough and making it a nice place to live.
Contractor Ron Kowaleski received April’s good neighbor recognition. He also happens to be a tenant in the borough building. As council member Rick Ainey put it, “You not only pay us rent, you plow our parking lot. You pitch in, like when we almost lost a concession stand in the park flooding and you quickly came to help us out. You make the town a better place to live.”
Rep. Sandy Major, unable to attend the entire March meeting, was recognized, said Ainey, “for representing us well. You know where we are.” Majors thanked council and mayor Joe Taylor for the honor, telling them “it’s important that we establish partnerships and work together. I am pledged to do that.”
It’s unfortunate Major was unable to stay for the entire meeting, because she would have heard about what looks to be a lack of partnership, or at least communication, between the borough and those who will be making the decision on the location of district magistrate Peter Janicelli’s office.
The office is currently in New Milford, and three months ago, county representatives and the magistrate approached council about the possibility of doing a study to see if the borough building could accommodate the magistrate office; Council was told that the preference was to keep the office in the town if possible. Council members voted to invest some money for preliminary renovation plans to retain the office in the borough. At one time or another, commissioner MaryAnn Warren, the county sheriff and Janicelli were in the building and spoke with Todd Schmidt of KBA Engineering, who was doing the plans. Reportedly, the county representatives and Janicelli thought they would work well.
At last month’s meeting, the owners of the building that has housed the magistrate’s office for some time reported that they, too, were (they thought) working with the magistrate on renovations to their space in order to keep the office.
In an attempt to clarify the situation, council member Teri Gulick reported that she invited commissioner Roberta Kelly to council’s April 7 meeting, but Kelly had a prior commitment. Gulick reported that she told Kelly that the borough was anxious for an answer, having already invested about $2,000 in various preliminary plans and reluctant to spend more in the absence of direction. Kelly’s response, reported Gulick, was that she should tell the borough council that “we, the county, are seriously considering another building.” The “we,” it seems, are the commissioners, Janicelli, the sheriff and the county solicitor. The other building was thought to be the Orange Roof building, outside the borough on Route 11 (although a resident piped up that it was reported at a recent Tri-Borough Business Association meeting that the owner of the Orange Roof doesn’t want to rent it to the county for 10 years at $1,200 a month).
And while Gulick added that “no one has said to me that it’s over,” this report took council by surprise. Secretary Amy Hine reported that on the Tuesday prior to the meeting, Janicelli and the sheriff were in the borough building, tape measure in hand. As for other buildings, Warren reported that “I am not part of ‘we;’ I have no idea who has looked at other buildings [for the office].” She will, she said, “sure try to find out” what is happening. Mayor Joe Taylor thought that “if the county doesn’t think it should go with the building, I think we should send the county a bill for $2,000.” The current landlords, who have revised their proposal and were about to send it to the county, said that no one told them anything, either.
So, it was a roomful of people, taxpayers all and a commissioner among them, who wanted to know what was going on.
Ainey expressed council’s deep disappointment following what for all intents and purposes appeared to be the expressed satisfaction of both Janicelli and the sheriff with the borough’s space and its efforts to provide it. “We’ve been straightforward. We tried to resolve a problem that they brought to us. We thought we were walking hand in hand, that people were behind us. Now we look back and there’s nobody there. They [the county] may spend their money that way, but we don’t. We look after taxpayers’ money.”
He suggested that a certified letter be sent to the “we” decision makers, reminding them of “the investment and commitment made by the borough to formulate a plan at their request; of council’s disappointment that it has not heard anything officially; and of its serious concern about the location of the magistrate’s office, strongly urging that it stays in the community at either its current location with renovations, or the borough building.”
The remainder of the meeting was more business as usual and one piece of it was something that residents will appreciate. Bids were opened for work that will make council member Joe Carr’s paving plan a reality. The bids were for three phases of the plan: everything west of Main Street; everything east of it from Susquehanna Street to Broad Street; and the remaining streets and the south end of town.
Three contractors submitted bids for all three phases. They ranged from $252,948 to $353,735. Council accepted the bids and will send them along to PENNDOT for its review and recommendation.
Hine read codes enforcement officer Mike Dopko’s report, which included responding to a complaint about a roving weekend barbecue in the town. Dopko notified the griller that he needed a peddler’s permit, and should contact the Department of Health as well.
Taylor’s mayor report noted that Ron Kowaleski has donated his time and equipment to haul and deliver a huge stone that will be engraved and welcome visitors to the town. He also passed along other good news: the Men’s Club is donating $250 of the $500 it will cost to remove the trailer that’s been falling apart on Route 11 south in the township. He asked if the borough wanted to contribute, too – adding that he was going to make the same request to New Milford Township. Borough council did, and voted to make a donation to the Men’s Club Community Restoration Project in an amount equal to what the township donates.
Council member Chris Allen reviewed street activities and pointed out that many of the town’s catch basins are so plugged up, that at least one required a full day by two employees to clean it out. Allen told council about a company that vacuums out plugged basins at a cost of $95 an hour, with an 8-hour work minimum. Allen thought that if the basins were cleaned out this way – and he suggested this happen after the paving plan – it would be easier for the crew to maintain them. He’ll look into which is more efficient cost-wise: the pay of borough employees and time they take, vs. the estimated cost of the basin vacuum cleaner.
Allen also requested a “man basket” which is kind of hoist that could be put on the front of the skidster and lifted with a person in it, making it easier and safer for employees to put up banners, Christmas lights and so forth. A chain hoist, too. Allen had the means to pay for both. He suggested that the old yellow dump truck be put out to bid, with the proceeds applied to the basket. Council liked the idea, and told Allen to go ahead and order both. It would like to have the flag banners up in time for Memorial Day.
Gulick, who also sits on the borough’s planning commission, reported that the commission gave town solicitor Jason Legg a copy of the streamlined parking ordinances for his review. The commission spent a lot of time going through decades of parking-related ordinances and combined them into one. But for Legg’s addition of temporary parking regulations during emergencies, they looked good. The ordinance was advertised and council adopted it. Parking-related signs will soon be put up, and restricted-areas will be painted on some streets.
The Parks Committee will follow up and see if an $8,800 bid the borough received last year to install a new sidewalk in front of Midtown Park is still good. If it is, employees will take up the old sidewalk and make the area ready for a new one.
Council members also briefly discussed a bequest of $20,000 the borough received from the Donley estate. They thought about asking the community for suggestions one what to do with it as a permanent memorial to the Donley’s.
Members also heard a resident who requested a tax map change, extending commercial from the borough building to Union Street, to accommodate a gift shop. The resident applied for a variance, which was, he said, neither approved nor denied and will, he understood, be taken up again at the zoning board’s next meeting.
The resident wanted to go ahead with a zoning map change, even if the zoning board approved his request for a variance. A hearing was scheduled for May 12, at 7 p.m. and the request for a map change will be advertised.
Before adjourning, Warren thanked council and the borough for letting her use its building to speak with county residents. She reported there was quite a crowd on the prior Tuesday.
The next regular meeting of the New Milford Borough Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Borough Building on Main Street.
Following is the March, 2005 police report, as submitted by the Silver Lake Township Police Dept.
On March 1 at 03:42 a.m., Silver Lake Police responded to a domestic dispute at the Christiana Trayes and Anthony Cauola residence on Arrowhead Lake. The parties were separated upon police arrival. Cauola was later served a PFA pending resolution in the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT/ LEAVING THE SCENE OF ACCIDENT
On March 4 at 04:10 a.m., SLTPD responded to a vehicle crash on T803 Britton Road. Investigation determined that 3 individuals were in a 2002 Toyota when it slid off of the road and over the bank causing major damage to the vehicle. All occupants fled the scene and were unidentified. The owner of the vehicle was charged with failure to immediately notify police of an accident.
On Saturday morning March 5, numerous calls started coming in regarding homes being paint balled Friday night or Saturday morning throughout Silver Lake Township, Montrose Borough and Bridgewater Township. Multiple agencies and other sources investigated and resolved this activity.
BURGLARY/ FRAUD/ FORGERY
On March 5, Sandra D. Kirk, from Silver Lake Township, reported that someone entered her residence during the night through a bedroom window, took her money, a credit card and her vehicle keys, before taking her vehicle from the driveway. Investigation resulted in the arrest of Joshua E. Delong for Burglary, Fraud, Forgery and other charges. Delong was arrested on a warrant and sent to the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility awaiting an April arraignment.
MOTOR VEHICLE ROLLOVER
On March 9 at 0551 a.m., SLTPD responded to a one vehicle rollover on SR4002 at the Lake Front Road intersection. Mr. Roland Dube was on his way to work when he lost control of his 1993 Dodge P/U on the icy roadway and flipped it over onto Lake Front Road after crashing into the “Lake Front Road” road sign. Mr. Dube suffered no injuries.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT/ DUI
On March 19 at 07:49 p.m., SLTPD responded to a two-vehicle crash on SR4002 approximately .2 miles east of Lake Front Road. Each vehicle contained only the drivers and no injuries resulted. The vehicles sustained major damage. The driver of one of the vehicles, William Russell, was transported to Endless Mountain Health Systems in Montrose for blood testing and charged with DUI.
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
On March 26, Thad Capwell reported that his white 1996 Chevy Tahoe had been stolen from his residence driveway on SR 4001 Brackney Hill Road. The incident was under investigation by PSP Gibson and subsequently resolved.
TRAFFIC STOPS/ DRUG ACTIVITY
Several routine traffic stops have resulted in confiscation of drug paraphernalia and possession of small quantities of drugs.
Any information or questions for Silver Lake Township Police, please call 278-6818 or 663-2760, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. All information will be held strictly confidential.
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