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Driver training for Blue Ridge students will be cheaper this summer, and those who demonstrate sufficient skill will be able to get their licenses on the spot. At its meeting on April 11, the Blue Ridge School Board approved the behind- the-wheel program to begin in late June, and cut the tuition rate for district residents by two-thirds.
The district began charging for driver training in the mid-1990's when finances were tight. More recently, driver education classroom instruction has been available to all sophomores as part of the regular school curriculum. For the past several years the district has charged local students $75 for six hours of practical, behind-the-wheel instruction in the summer. Participants who do not live in the Blue Ridge district area are charged $141 for the course. High School Principal Michael Thornton said he knows of a few cases where the fee has discouraged students from participating, and he recommended cutting it.
Board member Harold Empett offered a motion to eliminate the fee entirely for district residents, but his motion did not get a second. Mr. Empett said that he didn't care what the program cost if it prepares better drivers. Other Board members thought that the fees should at least cover the program's costs, which include salary for an instructor, leasing a vehicle, and fuel.
In the end, the Board agreed to cut the fee for local residents to $25. Superintendent Robert McNamara said the lower tuition would not cover costs, but, calling it "an important program," he was prepared to accept the additional expense of less than $1,000, after reimbursement by the state.
According to Mr. Thornton, as many as 100 students might benefit from the summer driver-training course. Only about 35 have signed up so far. A new state initiative called "Driver Education End-of-Course Skill Test" may encourage greater participation, because it will make getting the license much easier. Under the PENNDOT program, driver-education instructors are authorized to sign off on a student's license, eliminating a trek to Dunmore to finish the licensing process. The Board agreed to adopt this program, with the understanding that it will be properly administered and audited. Board President Alan Hall said it seemed like a way to "outsource" the license- issuing process to the school districts.
Whatever the reason, the easier licensing procedure will likely encourage more students to take the summer driver-training course. That will boost income, even from a lower fee, but there was some question about where the program would find 600 hours to get all the sophomores behind the wheel; it would also boost fuel costs.
The full summer-school program at Blue Ridge will run from June 20 through July 18.
The Board had to change the school calendar again, so there won't be much vacation time for those who will participate in summer school. The last day of classes for everyone except graduating seniors will be June 14.
Students who will be in sixth grade at Blue Ridge next Spring can look forward to the annual trip to Washington. Creative Adventures for Education, a local outfit that organizes the trip each year, has selected April 19-22, 2006 for next year's excursion.
Paying for all of this gets more and more complicated, what with looming changes in the funding and tax structures promised by Act 72. Several county school districts have offered information sessions for taxpayers, but, according to Mr. McNamara, the ones at Susquehanna, Elk Lake and Mountain View have been poorly attended. Montrose will host another such program on April 22.
Blue Ridge is trying to corral expenses wherever it can. One way has been to absorb some programs that had been contracted out to the Independent Unit. Since bringing all computer networking services in-house over the past several months, by the end of the school year, the district will no longer purchase those services from the IU. Changes in technology have allowed Blue Ridge to save as much as 50% over the more than $20,000 per year the district was spending for such services with the IU.
The IU's communications services provided to participating schools have been subsidized in part from the federal E-Rate program. Blue Ridge administrators believe they are due an accounting of E-Rate discounting over the past several years. The Board authorized a request to the IU for a full and detailed accounting within 21 days.
However they're trying to save it, the district is still spending money. Maybe just not quite so much more than they expected. A recent request for bids on a two-part renovation of the building entrances yielded only one response. Business Manager Loren Small had originally estimated the cost of the project at about $75,000, at least until a "hydronics" package to heat the pavement outside the entrances was added to it. The bid that was received did not include the hydronics section, but was still priced at over $148,000. The Board agreed to divide the project into four parts and re-advertise, hoping to elicit more bids for the smaller and simpler sections from local contractors.
Beginning with the workshop on April 25, the Board will be considering a new budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. According to preliminary figures from the business office, Blue Ridge spending in 2005-2006 may top $15 million for the first time, an increase of nearly $800,000 over the current year. At this stage in the process it seems unlikely that this Board will do anything that will raise property tax rates, even though neither local revenues nor state and federal subsidies are expected to rise appreciably. With enrollment gradually declining, it has been difficult for the district to justify major expansion programs. And administrators and Board members claim to be trying to squeeze every dollar. A new contract with district teachers was reached amicably last year. As in any major organization, salaries and benefits are one of the biggest single expenses. According to Mr. Small's early figures, salary and benefit increases account for nearly all of the projected budget increase; and of that, more than half of the increase is in health insurance benefits alone.
Another major budget item each year is for books to replacing aging texts. Mr. Hall has asked administrators for an inventory of all current textbooks to include their copyright dates. Each of the principals develops his own budget for presentation to the Board, and this year's individual schools budgets each request significant amounts for new books.
Developing a $15 million budget for a school district is a painful and painstaking process. If you're up to it, sit in on one of the sessions between now and mid-May to learn all the gory details. The Blue Ridge School Board generally meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The chairman of the recently created Susquehanna County Railroad Authority was refused help from the county commissioners last week when he asked for a $3,000 interest free county loan.
Rowland Sharp told the commissioners the authority has been promised a grant of $15,000 for start-up money and said the county loan would be paid as soon as the money arrived. In the interim, he said, the authority finds itself in a “very serious cash flow situation.”
Commissioner Mary Ann Warren said she talked with the county solicitor about the loan and he advised against it. The only other remark came from Chair Roberta Kelly, who chided Mr. Sharp for putting his request in an email.
“I would recommend, Rowland,” Mrs. Kelly said, “that if you have a request like that it should come more in a formal letter than an email and you will get a response back from us.”
After the meeting, Mr. Sharp said the authority has also been promised $25,000 for preliminary engineering work on a site under consideration by the authority. And he said Senate Bill 844 approved on November 17, 2004, includes $4 million for the acquisition and development of the site for a railroad siding in the New Milford area.
The authority has not received any encouragement from county officials since the present commissioners fired Justin Taylor, who was director of the county’s Economic Development Department and a strong supporter of the move to bring back additional rail service into the county.
Mr. Sharp said the last time the authority needed the services of an attorney he paid for it with his own money.
Commissioner Jeff Loomis also commented after the meeting, stating that he is a supporter of the rail authority but his hands are tied because he cannot get any support from either one of the other two commissioners.
For reasons that no one has been able to document, Susquehanna County has problems getting contractors to bid on projects.
Bids for a new roof on the county office building on Public Avenue were scheduled to be opened for review but alas! There were no bidders on the project. The same results occurred when Chief Clerk Suzanne Brainard advised the commissioners there were no bids received for the repair of a recycling baler at the recycling center in South Montrose.
A lone bid of $16,900 received March 23 from R. DeVincentis Construction Company for repair of a bridge deck on a county-owned bridge in Franklin Township was rejected because PENNDOT advised the county that the repair job should not cost more than $12,000.
Regarding the roof on the county office building, Mr. Loomis suggested the commissioners ask the county solicitor if the county can proceed without bids since the roof is in such bad shape. Mr. Loomis suggested some local contractors be contacted and offered the project.
The commissioners approved proclamations declaring April 10-16 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, and proclaiming the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Acting on recommendation from Sue Adamec, director of Children and Youth Services, the commissioners increased foster care daily board rates retroactive to January 1 as follows: 0-5, $13.40 to $16; 6-11, $15.90 to $20; 12+, $18.35 to $25. Specialized Foster Care, 1, $24.40 to $35; 2, $30.45 to $45; 3, $33.45 to $55; 4, $44.60 to $75.
Meeting as the Salary Board, along with Treasurer Cathy Benedict, the commissioners approved the following motions:
- Setting the hourly rate of pay for Elwin Henry, part-time correction officer, at $11.34 an hour effective March 31. At the last meeting the board had set Mr. Henry’s rate at $15.72, the amount he was receiving as a fulltime employee before his retirement.
- Eliminating the position of Susquehanna County 4-H Coordinator and will pay half the salary and benefits of a coordinator that will now fall under the jurisdiction of the Penn State Extension Service.
- Set the rate of pay for Pamela Fisher, part-time cook at the jail, at $11.34 an hour with a probation period of six months.
And, meeting as the Board of Elections, the commissioners approved a polling place change in Brooklyn Township from the Universalist Church to the Brooklyn Township Municipal Building.
After one year of research and two years of procrastination, the Clifford Township Board of Supervisors agreed to proceed with a plan to sewer the Dundaff/Crystal Lake area of the township.
The approval didn't come easy and there are still some doubts about financing the project, but the light finally turned green and residents of the area in the audience at last week’s meeting breathed a sigh of relief.
Supervisor Randy LaCroix’s motion to go forward with the plan drew support from Supervisor Adam Baron. The motion passed by a 2-1 margin after John Regan, chair of the board, voted no. After the meeting, Mr. Regan told the Transcript he has reservations about the ability of some homeowners to pay the hook-up fees.
In September 2002, the township supervisors hired the engineering firm of David D. Klepadlo & Associates to update the township’s Act 537 Plan for resolving sewage disposal problems and to provide for the future sewage disposal needs of the municipality. And, in January 2003, the plan to sewer the Crystal Lake/Dundaff areas appeared to be on its way with word that the project might be eligible for a grant equal to 75 percent of the cost from the Rural Utilities Service of the US Department of Agriculture.
As presented by Mr. Klepadlo, the plan called for the Crystal Lake and Dundaff areas to be connected to the Greenfield Township Sewer Authority’s collection lines and treatment facility off Route 247. Premature costs of the project were estimated at $1.9 million but Mr. Klepadlo said the cost could change dramatically between then and actual construction time.
The cost did not look bad on paper with the USDA paying three fourths of it. Had that happened, the township’s debt service would have been about $438,000. The USDA also said it would loan the township the remaining needed money with a four and one-half percent loan and the township would be looking at an annual payment of $23,807.
However, to reach that low payment, township residents living in the area to be sewered would have had to come up with a one-time hook-up fee of $1,000 to Clifford Twp. Greenfield Township was also after a hook-up fee in the amount of $5,200. That was then and now the picture has changed dramatically. For openers, the USDA outright grant of 75 percent of the project has now been cut to 59 percent and could be lower before the township is finally ready to move. This could just about double the township’s share of the construction costs and impact on the hook-up fees.
Mr. Regan said he was hoping there would be additional grants available to help finance the project but so far there has not been much. There have been pledges of $50,000 in state monies from Sen. Charles Lemmond and Rep. Sandra Major and another $60,000 is expected from the Clean & Green Act. While every cent helps, it still appears the hookup fees per dwelling could hurt a number of homeowners. Supporters of the proposal say about $1.7 million has been pledged to the township but township officials are skeptical.
In March of 2003, Mr. Regan said the township wants to move forward on the project but he emphasized that if the USDA grant did not equal 75 percent, the township would not proceed. As stated earlier, the grant is now down to 59 percent and could be lowered by the time installation of the needed lines begin. Since talk of the project began in 2002, the township’s share of the cost has risen from 25 percent to 41 percent.
In a related matter, the supervisors held back a bill from Mr. Klepadlo totaling $50,000 for engineering and other services relative to the project. Township officials indicated the engineering fees will be paid from grant money expected when the project gets off the ground.
The recent rain storms did a lot of damage in Clifford Township, according to Mr. Regan, who is roadmaster. He noted a bill received for $8,000 and estimated the total damages will exceed $35,000. He also pointed out that the Owego Turnpike, a state road, is closed.
The supervisors announced that township employees will be at the municipal building the second and fourth Mondays of the month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the purpose of issuing building and sewer permits.
In other action, the supervisors said a Spring Clean-Up will start on April 23 and will finish on May 7. Residents are urged to bring their trash and throw-aways to the township grounds where the junk can be tossed into dumpsters.
William T. Searles and Jean M. Searles to Richard D. Herman and Jean F. Herman, in Auburn Township for $7,000.
Peter J. Anderline and Tamara A. Anderline to Arthur and Darlene Walters, in Clifford Township for $142,500.
John Bender and Lisa Bender to Margaret E. Nichols, in Clifford Township for $75,000.
Wachovia Bank (fka) First Union National Bank to Michael K. Miller, in Susquehanna for $34,500.
Andrew G. Solomon, Jeanne M. Solomon (nbm) Jeanne M. McVicker to Claude Y Boisson and Lois Ann Rasch, in Great Bend Township for $150,000.
Richard N. Lake and Mary Ellen V. Lake to Richard N. Lake, Christopher Lake and Mary Ellen V. Lake in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Lawrence Tracy, Kelly Tracy, Christopher T. Kelly, Cathleen Kelly, Skip M. Tracy to Skip M. Tracy, in New Milford Borough for $120,141.
Roy M. Force and Kristie J. Force to Terry H. Tingley and Elizabeth S. Tingley. in Susquehanna for $1,000.
Walllington M. Simpson and Shirley Simpson to Shirley Simpson, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Lawrence T. O’Reilly, Christine M. O’Reilly, Thomas J. O’Reilly to Robert W. Diehl Sr. and Duque Diehl, in Oakland Township for $89,000.
Merle Jennings to Frank L. Jennings, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Wayne R. Adams, Anne Adams to David J. Payne and Jonathan D. Payne, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Byron L. Charles and Barbara A. Charles to Karen Spence, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Richard G. Nice and Elizabeth Jeanne Nice to Richard G. Nice (trust) and Elizabeth Jeanne Nice (trust), in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Betty R. Williams to William J. McFadden and Judith R. McFadden, in Montrose for $130,000.
Michael J. Hall and Lorraine Hall to Bryon C. Bendock and Patricia A. Bendock, in Hallstead Borough for $35,000.
Nathan H. Green and Margaret Green to Ann E. Green, Margaret M. Green, Elisabeth R. Green, in Dimock and Auburn Townships for one dollar.
Thomas J. O’Reilly to Harold L. Beppler and Margot Beppler, in Springville Township for $75,000.
Marie J. Hardic, Donald R Hardic, Arnold D. LaRue, Terry L. LaRue to Micki L. Herman, in Rush Township for $82,000.
Gregory Rickard and Audrey Rickard to Gregory P. Deck and Diane J. Deck, in Great Bend Township for $25,000.
Gregory P. Deck and Diane J. Deck to Gregory P. Deck and Diane J. Deck , in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Joyce E. Smith to Charles B. Latwinski, in Rush Township for $125,000.
Helen Paolo (estate) to John E. Paolo, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Victoria Geisler to Giovanni Amato and Massimiliano Amato, in Montrose for $32,500.
Jesse Del Corpo (by sheriff), Jeremy Giberson (by sheriff), Debbie Giberson Williams (by sheriff), Franklin G. Giberson III (by sheriff), Wendy Rivera-Giberson (by sheriff) to Deutsch Bank (as trustee) and Long Beach Mortgage Trust 2002-5, in Ararat Township for $2,240.
Thomas J. O’Reilly to Walter J. Last and Sarah M. Last, in Springville Township for $77,000.
Mario Button to Joan Brush, in Oakland Borough for $69,900.
David Louis Ragnacci to Frank Minelli and Dorothy Minelli, in Lenox Township for $57,500.
Daniel J. McGowan, Barbara A. Ross, Andrew Zudans, Nancy Zudans to Andrew Zudans and Nancy Zudans, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
RALLG Associates, WNG Co., Susan Lavelle, Margaret W. Rockey to Bart Geentiens, Toni R. Geentiens, John S. Hock Jr., Sandra L. Piervallo, in Herrick Township for $21,000.
Nellie Franklin (by attorney) to John A. Franklin, in Lenox Township for $104,000.
Michael George Repchick and Nicole Marissa Forba, both of Montrose.
Tim David Smith and Roxanne Carol Brainard, both of Kingsley.
Richard Warren Ramey and Michelle Lori O'Brien, both of Dimock.
Brian M. Wagstaff and Heather L. Harrington, both of Kirkwood, NY.
Matthew L. Fischer of Hallstead and Elizabeth J. Seman of Thompson.
Some time between last September and April 10, unknown person(s) went onto the property of Jeffrey L. Butts, Harmony Township, and stole the following from his boat that was stored at his home: a motor guide energy trolling motor valued at $800; two Hummingbird depth finders, valued at $700 and one Garmin GPS unit, valued at $150.*
A 13-year-old male was cited for criminal mischief after he spray-painted graffiti on the concrete railroad underpass on Pine Street in Hallstead on April 10.
At 10:30 on the morning of April 9, Elizabeth O’Malley, Montrose pulled out in her 2004 Mercury from a stop sign at Lake Avenue and Locust Street in Montrose and into the path of a 1998 Jeep driven by Joan Golis, New Milford. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts and were not injured.
Sometime between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on April 4, a 3-foot by 1 1/2 foot, cream-colored ceramic pot with a crack at the top was taken from the yard of Edward Donahue, 39, Harford Township.
Felisha G. Schaffer, 18, was backing a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am coupe out from its parking place at the New Milford Market late in the morning of April 6 and struck Charles J. Scarborough, 22, who was standing at the rear of a parked vehicle. Scarborough received an apparent injury to his legs; Schaffer was not injured.
Between April 7 and 8, someone tried to get into a tool room belonging to Donald Richardson, Hallstead, by prying open the door. The attempt failed and the would-be burglar(s) fled the scene.*
Between April 6 and 7, someone damaged a window on the building of Masters Concrete in Kingsley, and then damaged, with a BB gun, a rear window on a 2002 Ford Ranger parked in the parking lot.*
VEHICLE DUI CRASH
A 2005 Silverado truck driven by Charles Pratt, 66, Hallstead, was going north on State Route 171 about one-quarter mile north of State Road 374. He was followed by a 1991 Tempo driven by Dale Ross, 39, Thompson, which struck Pratt’s truck from behind. Ross then pulled into the opposite lane and passed the truck, continuing north for about one-quarter mile. Pratt followed Ross to the point where he pulled back into the right lane and stopped to check damage. Ross showed indicators of intoxication and was arrested on suspicion of operating his vehicle DUI. This incident occurred on the afternoon of March 19.
Between March 26 and April 3, someone entered the basement of an apartment building on Route 11 in Hallstead and took a DeWalt reciprocating saw and an electric drill.*
On the night of March 28, an unknown person(s) smashed the rear window of a 2000 Chevy Cavalier belonging to Robert and Betty Lavin, Lenoxville, while it was parked at Lenox Propane in Lenox Township.
Dale Webster, Council, ID, lost control of a vehicle at around 4 a.m. on April 3 and hit a concrete culvert on State Road 4007 in Forest Lake Township. Webster was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured; however, passenger Nicole Squire was not wearing a seatbelt and sustained unreported injuries.
This accident occurred when a 1999 Ford F350, driven by Corey Sinnett, 21, Hallstead, was traveling north on State Route 11 in Great Bend Township at 3:30 a.m. on April 1. Sinnett lost control of the truck going around a curve, left the roadway and rolled into a ditch. Sinnett was wearing a seatbelt and received minor injuries; his truck was towed from the scene by Marv’s Towing.
At around 3 a.m. on the morning of March 31, a 1999 Pontiac Sunfire driven by Abigail Rounds, 21, Hallstead, was driving south on State Route 11 in Great Bend Township and hit a concrete curb and sign. Rounds was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured, although the Great Bend-Hallstead Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.
This accident happened as Aaron Nichols, 18, New Milford was driving east on State Route 106 in Harford Township on the evening of March 30 and lost control of his vehicle, which left the road and hit a tree.
Richard Bembas was driving a 1999 Jeep Cherokee on State Road 2065 in Lenox Township shortly after midnight on April 3 when it went over a recently repaired drainage ditch. The ditch had been filled in with rocks, which damaged the underside of the Jeep to the extent that it could not be driven.
Sometime between the evening of April 1 and mid-morning the following day, unknown person(s) threw a full can of beer at a residence belonging to Hattie Hunter, Hallstead, and damaging a window screen.
Alfred Helmet Kuss, Harmony Township, reported that sometime between the evening of April 1 and noon the following day, someone smashed his mailbox.
Sometime between the afternoon of March 29 and noon the following day, and unknown person(s) smashed a mailbox at an unreported residence on Old Route 11 in Hallstead.
Between 10 and 11:30 on the night of March 28, unknown persons traveled down State Route 374 and adjoining roads between Interstate 81 and Elk Lake and threw rocks through car windows and windows of businesses and residences, causing a lot of damage.*
Shortly after 6 on the evening of March 14, an unknown driver of a black SUV stole $9.06 of fuel from the Hinds Oil Company on State Route 492 in New Milford Township.*
This accident happened on the afternoon of March 24 when a vehicle driven by Normal Millard, 68, Montrose, pulled into the lane of travel of Annie Hunsinger, 72, Springville, on State Road 3001 in Bridgewater Township. Millard’s vehicle struck the driver’s side of Hunsinger’s. Millard was not wearing a seatbelt and received moderate injuries. Both Hunsinger and her passenger were wearing seatbelts, and received minor injuries.
Between March 30 and 31, someone slashed the spare tire cover on a van belonging to Gordon Heath, Great Bend, while it was parked in the borough.*
HIT AND RUN ACCIDENT
This accident occurred when Brandon Scott, 33, New Milford, was driving a 1987 Pontiac Firebird on State Route 11 in New Milford Borough at a high rate of speed. Scott lost control of the car, went off the road, hit a phone pole and overturned several times before coming to a stop. Scott fled the scene and all efforts were made by the State Police to contact him. He chose to ignore any response, and numerous traffic charges were filed against him in the district magistrate’s office in New Milford.
Gerald Fletcher, 36, and Joseph Warner, 48 began to argue at around 1 a.m. in Warner’s home on March 31. The argument escalated and Fletcher is accused of shoving Warner to the floor and punching him in the face several times. Assault and harassment charges were filed against Fletcher with the district magistrate.
* Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the State Police at 465-3154 or 800-506-0372.
Following are the March 1 minutes, as submitted, of the Lanesboro Borough council.
Present: Ray Barnes, Dan Boughton, Chris Maby, Bob Mireider, Bob Page. Absent: Paul Corse, Regina Dilello. Also present: Mayor Slater and Secretary Gail Hanrahan, visitors Dennis Martel, Gerry Benson, Sandy Benson, Jeanine Keefer, and Bill Roberts.
Minutes: Motion to accept minutes as presented carried.
Visitors: Mr. Martel stated that he is most likely moving, due to the inability to find someone to help with the water and heating issues at his home, which are a result of Tropical Storm Ivan last fall. He asked how the town handles billing for sewer and garbage on an empty house. Council responded that by ordinance, garbage is billed for the year if occupied at any point during the year, so that he would be responsible for all of 2005. Sewer is continuous billing, regardless of occupation. Mr. Martel asked how long it would be after the bills became delinquent that a lien would be placed on the property. Maby stated the process occurs after an account falls three months behind. A letter is sent, giving 30 days notice to arrange for payments. After 30 days, the matter will be presented to the magistrate for further action, including placement of a lien.
Correspondences and Resolutions: Gail read or offered for distribution miscellaneous correspondence from Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, Susquehanna County Recycling Coordinator, PAWC, and the Blue Ridge School District. PSAB has several seminars available, although the closest locations are Harrisburg and State College. Susquehanna County Recycling letter states Lanesboro needs a no-cost license form the county for municipal waste hauling, and has to provide a generation report to them. Gail will coordinate paperwork and submit. PAWC has grants available, up to $10,000, for watershed protection related projects. Maby asked and received permission for the council to review the application and consider responding if he feels a borough project is potentially eligible. Blue Ridge School District held a Kids Safe night at the campus on March 3.
Code Enforcer Report: Jordan property visited to determine whether single or multifamily dwelling. There is no interior access between the first and second floors. After discussion, council still considers this a two-family dwelling and will continue to bill as such. Letter will be sent indicating that interior access between floors is needed for structure to be considered single family. Council will gladly reconsider the matter if such access is constructed and reviewed by Code Enforcer Lewis.
Hanrahan property visited to determine whether single or two-family dwelling. Report notes two new interior access points. Structure deemed single family, billing to be changed accordingly.
Police Report: Officer VanFleet provided a report for himself and Officer Canini, no report given for Officers Gow and McDonald. Officer VanFleet expects to stripe roads for speed patrols as soon as the weather breaks.
Mayor Report: Garbage truck starter was rebuilt twice, seems to be working OK now. He noted the police car is now parked with his school buses when not in use, to provide an easy access point for the policemen.
Community Center: Insurance will cover damage to back wall and ceiling. Tabled for further discussion until next month, so that Corse can provide an update on discussion held with contractor who constructed the roof.
Secretary/Treasurer’s Report: Motion to approve the bills as presented.
Unfinished Business: Maby provided an update on the closeout meeting held early February with FEMA. FEMA funding will cover $19,924 of the roughly $34,000 work that was completed. An additional $3434 for work at the Bedford residence can be recovered through the Individual Assistance program by going through the homeowner. Maby has contacted the Bedford’s, who are helping to try to secure the funding. FEMA feels the remaining portion is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers or NRCS. To that end, Maby has written a 20-page document to them, explaining the situation and requesting assistance.
Council reviewed a draft delinquent municipal utility letter composed by Solicitor DeWitt. Letter gives notice of a 30-day period in which to respond and make payment arrangements, after which the matter will be presented to the District Magistrate. After brief discussion, motion to use letter as presented and distribute to all property owners whose accounts are three months or more behind carried.
New Business: Page asked for use of Luciana Park, on behalf of Barnes-Kasson Hospital. They would like to use the park for an Easter egg hunt on March 26. Council agreed, asked if they needed to provide a letter. Bob said that he would inform them.
Gail noted that the 2004 audit did not pass state review. What Council thought was an audit by someone hired by the town turned out to be nothing more than filling out of some paperwork and turning it in. The books were not checked. After discussion, Council agreed to have someone else look at the books. Gail will contact someone she knows. If that doesn’t work out, Bob Page will speak with someone and will hold a special meeting if neither is interested.
Paulette Potter from NTRDPC called. Gail and Chris have made multiple return calls without getting in touch. In a phone call with Chris the day of the meeting, she stated that she is interested in whether or not Lanesboro has any zoning. The request is for a grant they are processing for B & S Quarries. She needs a one-line FAX from the town stating whether it has zoning. Maby stated he recalled seeing a sketch about zoning that was dated 1968 several years ago, but did not know the location of it now. He also reviewed all of the ordinance books, and did not find anything related to zoning within the boro. The county planning commission has no knowledge of zoning within Lanesboro either. Page is concerned there may be some; thought perhaps the Solicitor may be able to provide guidance. Council noted that if anyone would know, it would have to the borough. Mayor stated he didn’t believe there was any, and thought the map Maby mentioned was something the council was using to identify land use at the time, not zoning. After brief discussion, agreement was to send letter, stating, “Lanesboro has no record of community zoning.”
Maby is going to a HardHat construction show in Syracuse. There will be at least two safety booths there, which is a good opportunity to get EMC items such as cones, flares, flags, etc. at a reduced cost. He asked permission to spend EMC grant money on these types of items, plus purchase a radio if an acceptable one could be found. Mayor Slater noted he could get a radio locally, relatively cheap. Council agreed to have Slater/VanFleet order a radio (same type as policemen’s), and have Maby use remainder of grant to purchase items at the show.
Motion to adjourn carried.
Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors for May, 2005 to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, main courtroom, Montrose, PA on the second day of May at 9:00 a.m.
Auburn Twp.: Michael Allison, John Barnes, Lloyd Benscoter, Blanche C. Burgess, William R. Newhart, Patricia Roe, Nicole M. Ruhf.
Bridgewater Twp.: James W. Conrad.
Brooklyn Twp.: Ellen K. Robbins, Frank Summa.
Clifford Twp.: Frederick Heller, Jr., Annette M. Lynch, Gerald J. McCawley.
Dimock Twp.: Joseph R. Dafcik.
Forest City Boro 2W: Carl A. Struss.
Forest Lake Twp.: Susan M. Bores, Forrest Damon, Heather Demarest, Gladys H. Potts, Frederick P. Swingle, Jr.
Franklin Twp.: Linda A. Wellman.
Gibson Twp.: Paul Dorang, William D. Fickes.
Great Bend Boro: Donald J. Waterman, Jr.
Great Bend Twp.: William T. Allen, Michael J. Jones, Leslee A. Krall, Wayne Wayman.
Hallstead Boro: Dennis J. Mudge, Stephanie Stone.
Harmony Twp.: Frederick Stanton, Jr.
Herrick Twp.: Janet T. Bendyk.
Hop Bottom Boro: Deborah Norton.
Jackson Twp.: Sheila Gulley, Joseph R. King, Carmen B. Rockwell.
Lathrop Twp.: Bernice L. Palmer, Paul J. Pozniak.
Lenox Twp.: Barbara Snyder, Louise Venne.
Liberty Twp.: Edwin H. Shafer, Roger L. Teed, Phillip Yeomans.
Middletown Twp.: Teri L. Olcott.
Montrose Boro 1W: Evelyn Linaberry.
New Milford Boro: Bonnie Balmer, Jeanne M. Button.
New Milford Twp.: Harold L. Empett, James E. Marcy, Jr., Carlton W. Whitehead.
Oakland Twp.: Margaret M. Broad, Barbara J. Welch.
Rush Twp.: Ronald O. French, Amy L. Knapp, Joseph S. Manzek.
Silver Lake Twp.: Karen Jean Cooper, Edward C. Montross, Karol Roman, Jr., Frederick B. Short.
Springville Twp.: Foster Singer, Karlyn Orazi Warnero.
Susquehanna Boro 1W: Clara B. Groover, James White.
Susquehanna Boro 2W: Ruth Clift, Ted Hall.
Thompson Twp.: JoEllen S. Greene, Lori Lynn Hubal.
The April 11 meeting of the Mountain View School District Board of Education was called to order and roll call taken. Those present were Bryce Beeman, President, John Halupke, First Vice President, Kevin Griffiths, Second Vice President Ordie Price, Treasurer, John Beeman, Susan Christensen, Ronald Phillips, Sondra Stine, James Zick, and Carolyn Price, Secretary. Also attending the meeting were Arthur Chambers, Superintendent, Colin Furneaux, High School Principal, Mary Hvezda, Director of Special Services and Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal.
The minutes of the March 28 meeting, and the April special public meeting were approved as presented. Mr. Price gave the treasurer’s report. Beginning balance in the General Fund checking account as of March 1 was $2,110,622.72; receipts totaled $735,363.75 and disbursements totaled $1,257,088.68 for an ending balance on March 31 of $1,588,897.79. Of note was a 13-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) at the Community Bank & Trust in the amount of $250,000 (interest rate 2.96 with a 3% yield.)
Beginning balance for the Debt Service fund as of March 1 was $154,106.29. There were zero receipts, expenditures in the amount of $150,000.00, for an ending balance of $4,106.29. The expenditures equaling a 13-month CD (interest rate 2.96 with a 3% yield).
Beginning balance in the Capital Reserve account as of March 1 was $1,918,498.63; interest receipts totaled $43,508.68; cash disbursement expenditures totaled $5,896.91, for an ending balance on March 31 of $1,916,110.40.
Beginning balance in the Capital Projects Fund account as of March 1 was $21,398.80; dividend receipts totaled $35.74; there were zero project expenditures, for an ending balance on March 31 of $21,434.54.
The opening balance for the Cafeteria for March was $18,157.65; total receipts were $459,890.29; disbursements equaled $40,878.61, for a total closing balance as of March 31 of 437,169.33. The report was accepted.
During the first hearing of visitors, several check payments/purchases from the General Fund were questioned by a public member. Descriptions for these checks included faculty development consultant fees in the amount of $711.56, sporting equipment in the amount of $2,912.00, an NEIU educational program in the amount of $500.00, and driver training rental equipment in the amount of $300.00.
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. Advertising was authorized for bids for the 2005-2006 school year for refuse removal, custodial maintenance supplies, computer supplies, internet services, athletic supplies, wood chips, snow removal, Washington trip, Harrisburg trip, milk, and school photography. The board unanimously approved for the 2005-2006 school year, award of bank depository to Community Bank & Trust, with an alternate depository to Penn Star and Pligit for short-term investment purposes. Tri-County Insurance Agency was appointed as Mountain View School District Insurance broker for the 2005-2006 school year. A discussion of uniform shirts for custodial/maintenance personnel was tabled.
Mrs. Price provided the highlights of the 2005-2006 budget in terms of the following budget goals: 1.) to increase student achievement; 2.) to treat employees fairly; 3.) to support a millage rate that is fair; 4.) to maintain the district’s facilities. In review, contract salaries were budgeted at $6,776,970; Social Security payments at $563,568; Retirement $345,630; Healthcare $1,341,694; Dental $43,174; Life Insurance $12,385; Disability $21,269; Workers Compensation $53,322; Tuition Reimbursement $42,500; Employment $8,533; and Other $31,934, for a Total Budget of $2,464,210.
Revenues by local, state, and federal funding sources were reviewed. It was noted that revenues from real estate taxes were unknown at this time but an increase was projected in earnings on investments. Revenues from Federal funds and from other districts such as special education funds were projected to remain around $100,000 with no increase for the coming year. With regards to State revenues (the largest source of revenues), a 2.5% increase was expected, but it was noted that this was the smallest percent increase from the State since the 1996-1997 school year. While the State’s basic education funding is projected to increase by 2%, other subsidies such as those received by small districts will be lost in an estimated amount of $126,774. Other small increases such as funding for vocational education, special education, and extra grants for educational assistance in mathematics are expected. In light of the reduced revenue projections, the finance committee agreed to meet, discuss the budget, and make recommendations for budget cuts.
In lieu of Mr. Halupke’s report of the Human Resources, Policy and Labor Relations Committee, the dress and grooming policy was discussed in follow up to the special public meeting held on April 4. Mr. Phillips summarized what he thought the public input was at the April 4 meeting by noting two common themes: 1) that something should be done about the dress code and, 2) that whatever is decided, it must be enforced uniformly. In his opinion, Mr. Phillips said he would be in favor of collared shirts for boys—eliminating T-shirts and the problem of inappropriate logos and prints, requirements that shirts and tops for all students be long enough to be tucked in, No pajamas, and no cargo jeans that fall below the waist, exposing underwear. Blouses and shirts for girls should have a neckline that does not fall below the collarbone.
Mr. Zick disagreed with these specifics and said the problem of inappropriate dress was due to the current policy not being enforced. He gave the example of flip-flops being worn – they are not allowed for safety reasons. Mr. Chambers interjected and said that because the current policy was unclear and open to interpretation, it was difficult to enforce. Mr. John Beeman agreed with Mr. Phillips’ position, saying that the pictures, symbols, and prints on T-shirts should be eliminated because they were offensive to some, and open to interpretation.
Mr. Griffiths disagreed, saying that if all T-shirts with symbols and logos were disallowed, that would preclude students from wearing shirts that display athletic achievements, and that is not fair to those students.
Mrs. Christensen opined that the current policy was too vague and complicated, and advocated a simplified policy which would be easier to enforce. She said she does not favor any child missing education time over their clothing. Mr. Price agreed that the policy needed to be simplified.
Mr. Halupke weighed in by saying the policy should state what is acceptable as well as what is not acceptable dress, and clearly state what the penalties are for non-compliance. He supported parental notification of inappropriate dress. He agreed that the current policy contains too many items, was outdated, and when revised, needed enforcement.
Mr. Furneaux agreed with Mr. Halupke in that the policy should clarify what is acceptable dress. He noted that on average, Administration addresses 20 students per day regarding inappropriate dress, chronic offenders had their parents notified, and 3-4 students per week were sent home. These numbers do not include those students addressed by the classroom faculty.
Mr. Chambers asked the policy committee to take up this issue and draft a revised dress and grooming policy. Mr. Phillips said that the whole board should be involved in the new policy development. The board agreed to meet as a whole to work on the new policy.
Mr. Beeman reported that the building and facilities committee had just received finalized architectural information on the cafeteria project and would be making recommendations on it once they had an opportunity to review it.
For the report from the superintendent of schools, Mr. Chambers welcomed Mr. Heaton, athletic director to present achievement awards to two outstanding athletes. In honor of being the first girl at Mountain View to make the Class AA all-state girls’ soccer team, Whitney Williams was awarded a plaque, and in honor of being the first at Mountain View to make it to the Class AA state wrestling championships, Matt Panasevich was also awarded a plaque.
Mr. Chambers brought up the need to set a date for a public information session on Act 72, and May 4 was selected and approved by the board. The board suspected that the public knew very little about Act 72; its intent is to make use of gambling (slot machine) money to fund education in the state and provide reduced homeowner taxes. Mountain View School District would have just one time to opt in or out of Act 72 participation, as currently stated, and must decide by the end of May, 2005. There was some discussion as to whether an outside presenter should be brought in to provide information at the session, but in the end it was felt that the board had enough information at its disposal to present on the topic. Mr. Halupke reiterated his absolute opposition to participation in Act 72, leaving the question of whether the May 4 session would actually present both pro and con sides of Act 72 participation for the district.
The report on the education committee was given by Mrs. Christensen. She noted that the educational committee met this evening to continue discussion on blended schools (cyber school), address plans for remediation of students not placing as “proficient” in areas tested under the “No Child Left Behind” act, and continue discussion of an autism program. Mr. Zick noted that consideration was being given to using days under Act 80 for faculty to review Senior projects instead of hiring substitutes, which was rather costly. In addition, he recommended students do their research paper in 10th grade, and not wait until senior year. Also, the board approved several conference attendance requests and educational field trips as presented.
At the second hearing of visitors, several public members had comments and questions.
The first question was whether the May 4 public session on Act 72 would be audio taped for those who could not attend. Mr. Chambers said that all public board meetings are audio taped for anyone who misses the meetings.
The second question was related to whether there would be any parental input for design of an autism classroom. Mrs. Christensen replied that there were parents already serving on the task force and offered to provide more information as requested.
A representative of the Community Bank & Trust thanked the board for approving the bank as a depository, then went on to ask if the issue of flavored water being stocked in the milk machines had been resolved. Mr. Chambers said that in discussions with the vendor, it was agreed that only milk, juice, and water would be stocked in the machines.
Under new business, Mr. John Beeman noted that the PA School Board Association would be holding a regional meeting on May 3, in Pittston, PA, to update the status of Act 72 in the state with an attendance fee of $32.00. Both Mr. Beeman and Mrs. Christensen expressed interest in attending. Mr. Halupke didn’t see the need for anyone to attend. Other board members thought that they should be able to go if they needed more information on this important topic since the board had to decide whether to opt in or opt out by May 30 – assuming the date was not postponed by pending state lawsuits in the matter.
The meeting was then adjourned.
At the April 14 meeting of the Oakland Boro Council councilman Leon Dubanowitz and mayor Art Towner were not present; all others were in attendance as well as secretary Flo Brush, chief of police Bob VanFleet and a number of residents.
The meeting opened with a moment of silence in recognition of military personnel serving our country, and for Mr. Dubanowitz and Mr. Towner, both of whom have been facing health problems.
For the first order of business, president Ron Beavan turned the floor over to streets/water employee Jeff Wayman to give an update on what has been happening in the boro in the wake of the area’s recent flooding, and to answer any questions that might be directed to him.
Mr. Wayman reported that drainage work will begin on Brush Street in early May, with Prospect St. to follow. The truck was in the process of repairs. A sluice pipe on River Road had broken. There were two major water line breaks on State and Westfall; repairs that had not been done as of this evening were scheduled to be done the following Monday, and there were also two minor line breaks on State Street. A power failure earlier in the week had caused problems at the pump house; approximately 300,000 gallons of water had leaked out. Repairs had been done to address the immediate problem, with more permanent repairs to be scheduled later. And, an inspector from DEP had taken a tour of the system the day before the meeting.
Addressing the problem of the broken sluice on River Road, Mr. Beavan will be looking into grant funding to repair a portion of the road that has washed out from flooding, and to put in guide rails.
Next on the agenda was Jim Davis of DGK Insurance to discuss the boro’s policy for the coming year. There were no significant changes to the policy, other than inclusion of the water tank which had been erroneously omitted from the current policy. There would be an increase in workmen’s compensation, due to a rate change (by the state).
Doug Arthur updated council on a codes meeting held the previous Tuesday, and read a list of violations that are in the process of being addressed.
Mr. Beavan reported on a meeting he had attended with PENNDOT’s municipal services representative, which had included an inspection of drainage on State St. and Westfall Ave. Repaving of Rte. 171 has been scheduled, and should begin shortly.
Mr. Crawford recommended that PENNDOT be asked to consider putting in a closed drainage system in the area on Westfall, between Brush and Boyden Streets, to help direct the amount of storm water in that area. It was also suggested that PENNDOT be asked to fix a bump on State St. (Rte. 171) that has been a continuing problem when the paving is done.
A number of malfunctioning street lights were reported to Penelec; many had been fixed as of this date.
Mr. VanFleet asked council to look into a large, broken tree branch on State St. that is overhanging the road. His monthly activities included 12 vehicle arrests, two crimes code arrests, and one complaint about dogs running “at large.” He has also been spending time monitoring traffic at the stop signs on Westfall and State, as there have been a number of complaints about drivers ignoring it.
Resident Paul Dudley was in attendance, and he, too was “put on the spot” by Mr. Beavan and asked why he had decided to run for a council seat, and what some of his goals are, as other candidates had been asked at last month’s meeting.
During public comment, resident Wendy Dudley discussed an area near her home that has seen continuing water problems. To get technical guidance to address the problem, she contacted the Conservation District for information, and asked if council would approve her efforts to apply for grant funding to take care of it; council approved. Mr. Beavan said that he and Mr. Crawford had gone to look at the area, to try to determine where the water is coming from. It was his opinion that it was, at least in part, caused by ruts made by four-wheelers that were, in effect diverting water from its natural course. Mr. Crawford concurred that the ruts were acting as streams, and causing the water to change its natural direction. He noted that there have been several significant rainfalls in the past several months, at extreme levels.
Another topic brought up by residents was the number of dogs roaming throughout the boro. Mr. VanFleet said that if complaints are brought to his attention, he does contact the dog warden, who does investigate them. Several particular nuisances were discussed; Mr. VanFleet asked if council could send a letter to at least one of the residents mentioned to ask that their dogs be kept tied up.
There were complaints about ATV riders who are not only causing a disturbance with the noise their vehicles make, but are (illegally) riding on boro streets. Mr. VanFleet said that if a resident would be willing to make a complaint and identify the rider, he would be more than willing to make an arrest.
One bid was received for replacement of the retaining wall on River Road, from Warren Stone in the amount of $18,000, which was more or less the amount council had expected. A motion carried to accept the bid, and discussion continued on whether to finance at least part of the cost with funds in a savings account and borrow the remainder, or to take a loan for the entire amount. After discussion it was agreed that the savings should be left on hand to deal with any emergency projects that might arise, and to take a loan for the project, which could be paid off sooner if the savings were not needed elsewhere.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 12, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
President Ron Whitehead presided at the April 12 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council with all members present except Pat Fredericks. Also present were secretary Judy Collins, mayor Nancy Hurley and a number of visitors.
Secretary Collins reported that pest control has been done at the boro building; an ad has been placed for a part-time streets worker; notice has been sent to the solicitor to proceed with litigation of the property at 202-204 Main St., as council had voted to do so at a special meeting held on March 31; activities and meeting dates have been posted on the boro’s website; the boro has received its yearly Liquid Fuels allocation, in the amount of $34,664.78; council should start thinking about a theme for the boro’s Hometown Days parade float; and, a synopsis of the most recent SCDA meeting.
Mayor Hurley reported that she had recently been invited to Salt Lake City (Utah) to meet with representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), who have been making plans for their site in Oakland Township that include a chapel, a welcome center, and a replica of Joseph Smith’s house. The LDS representatives, she said, indicated that they are very anxious to direct tourists to Susquehanna Boro.
Requesting time on the agenda was architect Gene Beautz, who came to update council on the extended sidewalk renovation project, and to answer any questions that might arise. The project is entering its second phase, to extend the walks along Main St. to Center Lane; word had been received earlier that day that grant funding has been approved to extend from Main to Prospect Street along the west side of Center Lane.
Mr. Beautz said that some property owners may choose to keep their bluestone walks; those requests would be honored. Steps near the intersection of Main and Depot Street will be left intact. Most of the walks will be in the same location as the present ones, although some will be wider. Where there are driveways, the walks will be reinforced.
In response to a question from the audience, he said that, in some instances, it is not possible to meet exact requirements for handicap accessibility. Some areas already completed do not meet those requirements, as there are a number of factors to be considered. An attempt is made in every situation to comply with those specifications and, when they are not met there must be a valid reason.
Council asked if there will be an opportunity to discuss a “punch list” when the project is complete, to address any concerns that might arise. Mr. Beautz said that there will be, and that a contractor’s representative will be present at any meetings held to discuss/review the project.
There was considerable discussion about the first phase of the project, with a number of people expressing dissatisfaction with the outcome. Several factors were mentioned, which had contributed to the final outcome. Mr. Beautz was asked who would have input into which contractor is awarded for the next two phases, and if it would be possible to insure that the one chosen is a masonry contractor. Mr. Beautz responded that there must be a good, solid reason to reject a bid; the lowest bid must be accepted unless there is a good (legal) reason not to. And, any contractor chosen must be on PENNDOT’s list of approved contractors. He added that all parties involved would endeavor to ensure that problems encountered on the first phase do not recur on the next two.
Another question Mr. Beautz was asked was in regard to trees along the sidewalks; will the walks go around them if necessary, or will the trees be removed? Mr. Beautz replied that any tree removal will be an item in the construction contract, homeowners will not be responsible for the cost of removal. And, homeowners would have some input as to whether or not the trees need to be removed.
During public comment, resident Margaret Biegert thanked councilman Roy Williams for his efforts to obtain FEMA funding to repair flood damage at several sites in the boro; Mr. Williams in turn thanked several other people who had worked with him on the (seemingly) endless endeavor.
Council tabled (until the next meeting) a request to increase the fees paid to the boro’s tax collector until further information was available.
Shane Lewis reported that he had received a complaint about a broken storefront window on Main St., which he had had boarded up. A bill will be submitted to the building’s owner for the cost.
A motion carried to adopt a resolution to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Pennsylvania State Association of Boros in support of lobbying efforts to continue the CDBG program.
It was agreed that a title search should be done on the River Bounty property before deeds are finalized; the cost will be split evenly with the fire department and the sewer authority. Obtaining title insurance had been suggested, but the cost was said to be prohibitive.
Mr. Williams reported that the police pension fund has been seeing a return of 6.5%, which is above average. He noted that the fund had seen a significant decrease due a pensioner’s early withdrawal. The fund administrator has expressed a willingness to attend a meeting to answer any questions/concerns, or to answer same if any council members call.
A motion carried to proceed with a deed transfer to Tom Chamberlain of the old steps between Willow and Erie Avenues. Mr. Chamberlain will be responsible for the legal and appraisal costs involved, as well as the $200 appraised value.
A motion carried to hire a local contractor to clean and buff the boro building floors at a cost of $688, and to purchase a congratulatory ad in a booklet commemorating the 125th anniversary of St. John’s Church, cost $75.
Council extended their condolences to the family of recently deceased past council member Dorothy Spoonhower.
Streets commissioner Steve Glover reported that he has been quite busy addressing damage caused by recent flooding. The spots worst hit, he said, were on East, High and Front Streets, Center Lane, and Franklin Ave. Rain water, combined with melting snow resulted in a lot of washouts in these areas, and Drinker Creek overflowed, causing the lower end of Exchange Street to be closed for three days. Reports have been sent to FEMA; he recommended that any funding received be used to put in bigger drain pipes.
Asphalt plants were expected to be open the following Monday; materials will be available to start filing in potholes. Mr. Williams noted that a number of complaints have been made about potholes or streets needing to be resurfaced. But, water problems need to be addressed first, so that any repairs are not washed away. The worst areas will be targeted first. The backhoe needs work, which should be completed shortly. And, the street sweeper is running; Mr. Glover plans to continue cleaning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as he has done in the past.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 26, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
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