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Issue Home May 3, 2005 Site Home

HEADLINES:
Susky Council President Resigns
Commissioners Increase Wood's Salary
FCR Taxes Will Increase

Courthouse Report
Gibson Barracks Report
No Increase In Blue Ridge
Mt. View Vs. Dress Code
No Increase In Blue Ridge
Harford P.O. Gets A Lift
COG on the Move?

 

Susky Council President Resigns

Susquehanna Borough council met on April 26 with President Ron Whitehead presiding; all members were present with the exception of Roy Williams and Bill Kuiper.

Secretary Judy Collins reported that, after the subject was discussed at council’s last meeting she had spoken with the boro’s tax collector, who indicated that she is perfectly satisfied with what she is receiving and would rather see residents have the benefit of keeping taxes lower rather than receive an increase. And, the time to set tax collectors’ fees is each year the position is up for reelection, which in this case is in 2009.

Attorney Aliano has been notified not to proceed with a title search of the River Bounty property. Letters have been sent to the Parks and Rec., Tri-Boro Municipal Authority, and the fire department to set up a meeting on May 10 in reference to questions concerning the River Bounty property.

The Parks and Rec. Committee requested that council send a letter to state representatives to help set up a meeting with DEP and PENNDOT (to discuss the restoration of Drinker Creek Park) along with boro representatives and others who should be involved in the project.

Mayor Hurley’s report included an invitation extended to council to attend the grand opening of the National Guard facility in New Milford on May 12. And, the new Council on the Arts has met and are in the process of locating space to display their works.

The meeting adjourned to an executive session during which interviews were conducted for part-time police officers.

When the meeting reconvened, it was agreed to schedule interviews for the part-time Streets position in May.

The boro has received FEMA funding to address the damage done to the Drinker Creek Park by Hurricane Ivan, in the amount of $97,000, which is 56% of the expected cost of restoration. The balance will be sent by FEMA upon completion.

There is no expectation of any funding forthcoming to repair damage from additional flooding that occurred earlier in the month, as our county was not declared a disaster area.

The boro building floors will be stripped and waxed on May 5 and 6, and permission was given for the Susquehanna Branch Library to use the conference room on Monday, May 16 from 3:30 to 4:30 for their annual meeting.

As the boro office and the Tri-Boro Municipal Authority are in need of storage space (for records), two options were discussed, to build two separate closets in the meeting room, or to purchase them, pre-made; it was agreed to look into the costs of both.

Council approved mulching and tending of the trees on Main St. by J & J Landscaping, who planted them, at a cost of $125.

Council discussed possible themes for the boro’s float in the July 15 Hometown Days parade. Council will again sponsor a fishing derby on Saturday, July 16, during Hometown Days. Kids up to the age of 12 are invited to participate; all who do must be accompanied by a parent. Details will be posted on the boro’s website.

The Dept. of Community and Economic Development recommends that municipalities review Flood Plain Management regulations for coordination opportunities with the UCC; this matter was tabled pending further information.

The boro will sponsor its annual scrap metal drive on June 4, from 8 a.m. to noon. No refrigerators (or other items that contain Freon) or propane tanks will be accepted. Residents are asked to have their items at curbside by 8 a.m., and should call the boro office ahead of time if they have items that they are unable to get to the curb. And, council cautioned, do not leave out any items that you do not want taken; this was in response to an incident at last year’s drive, where a barbecue was mistakenly picked up.

Mr. Matis reported that topics discussed at the last Streets Committee included rebuilding catch basins. A systematic approach was being taken, he said, to deal with water problems that had to be taken care of before any road repairs, such as fixing potholes would be done, so that any repairs would not be ruined. He asked for residents’ patience until the potholes are taken care of.

Mr. Lewis gave his monthly Codes report for Susquehanna and Oakland Boros, and noted that there are 24 ongoing litigations.

Correspondence reviewed included a complaint about water runoff from West Main St. onto Front St., possibly from a plugged drain. A wall had been damaged, and water went into the house; the resident requested that this area be given primary designation. Mr. Lewis stated that the Streets Committee is looking at getting drainage and paving for that area taken care of through the Agility program.

Also received was a letter from resident Albert Cuevas, who expressed an interest in being appointed to the Parks and Rec. committee. Mr. Whitehead thought that such inquiries should first be sent to the respective committees before any action was taken by council, but Mr. Matis felt that as council would have to approve any appointments, a vote should be taken; a motion carried to approve.

The next item of correspondence read was a letter from Mr. Whitehead, resigning from the presidency and from council. It said that he was unable to devote the necessary time to see to council business and felt that, in fairness to the boro and its residents, his resignation was necessary. He thanked the residents and council members, past and present, for their support and urged council to continue to move forward. He added that he would like to remain on the Railcar Committee. His resignation was accepted, with “deepest regret.”

The meeting then adjourned to another executive session to conclude interviews with applicants for the police department. When the meeting reconvened, a motion carried to hire two additional part-time officers, Eric Brush and Robert Bastek.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 10, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.

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Commissioners Increase Wood’s Salary

The Susquehanna County Salary Board rewarded Mark Wood, Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, with a temporary pay raise for assuming the responsibilities of 911 coordinator while the county searches for a new one.

By a 3-1 vote, the board gave Mr. Wood an additional $4,000 retroactive to April 1. The increase puts his salary at $38,981.

Roberta Kelly, board chair, voted against the increase. She said she has taken the position that since the county raised taxes this year a number of departments have taken on added responsibilities without extra compensation so she did not feel Mr. Wood’s increase was necessary.

In the meantime, the commissioners said they have been advertising for a 911 coordinator to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Dawn Watson Zalewski who held the job for the past 16 years. Mrs. Zalewski’s sudden resignation came on the heels of what was described as a “heated meeting” with commissioners Kelly and Mary Ann Warren.

Meeting as the Retirement Board, the commissioners learned that the county’s retirement fund is recovering from some bad investments at the turn of the century. The fund reportedly has grown from $4.8 million in 2002 to $8.4 million through the efforts of Smith Barney Citigroup that assumed responsibility for investments when the county hired a new investment consulting group.

County officials said they were pleased with the progress made since the Steven K. Flanders Group took over the fund nearly five years ago. Figures released by the Group show investment returns of 14.5 percent since October 1, 2002.

Motions passed by the commissioners at a meeting that preceded the salary and retirement board meetings are as follows:

Adopting a resolution continuing a mutual aid agreement for emergency services with Bradford County.

Adopting a resolution allowing the United Fire Company of Montrose to install equipment on the county communications tower at the fairgrounds property.

Adopting a resolution setting up a grant agreement between the Susquehanna County Drug & Alcohol Single County Authority and the Department of Health, Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs for the period of July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2010. The maximum grant agreement for the programs is $1,468,130.

Reappointed the following individuals to the county’s Tourism Committee through May 7, 2006: Sandy Conklin of Susquehanna, Eleanor Lemke of New Milford, Michele Suchnik of Hallstead; Kim Ross of Union Dale; Lee Brown of South Gibson; Sue Fitch of Thompson; Al Aronowitz of New Milford; and Amy Payne, Susquehanna County delegate.

Reappointed Alice Deutsch to the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau’s Board of Directors for a two year term.

Reappointed John Lester, Joyce Donahue and George Hill to the county Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board for three year terms.

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FCR Taxes Will Increase

Real estate taxes to support the Forest City Regional School District will increase again this year according to figures released by the Board of Education at a special meeting last week.

Unless there are some changes between now and when the 2005-2006 school budget is adopted in June, the tax millage for the participating municipalities will be as follows with the current millage in parenthesis: Forest City, Herrick Twp. and Union Dale, 30.1 (28.9); Clinton II and Pleasant Mount, 11.1 (10.3); and, Vandling Borough, 72.4 (68.2).

The new budget totals $9.9 million an increase of about $700,000 over the 2004-2005 budget. Of this amount, $4.7 million will come from local sources, $4.6 million from state sources and, $230,000 from federal sources. The district also anticipates a beginning fund balance of $329,000.

As usual, the biggest chunk of money, $3.7 million, will come from real estate taxes. Other noticeable income includes: wage taxes, $360,000 wage taxes; delinquent taxes (all levies), $275,000; other federal revenue, $193,000; real estate transfer tax, $60,000; earnings on investments, $50,000; and $41,000 from other so-called nuisance taxes.

A look at some of the state appropriations shows $2.8 million for basic instructional subsidy; $439,000, special education; $405,000, transportation; $371,000 construction reimbursement subsidy; $195,000, Social Security payments; $121,000 Pennsylvania Accountability Grant; $119,999, retirement; $72,000, extra grants; $48,000 educational assistance; and, $20,000, charter school.

Instruction costs will eat up more than one half the school budget, or a total of $5.9 million. The numbers include $4.1 million for regular programs in the elementary and secondary schools; $1.2 million for special education programs; $227,205 for vocational education (high school); and, $134,000 for federal Title I and Title VI programs.

Karen Forsette, district business manager, said additional funds inserted in the budget includes an increase of $150,000 for special education; $64,000 for a school psychologist/social worker who will focus most of his attention on special education students; $60,000 to transport a special education student to a school in another state ; and, $30,000 for a new truck equipped with a snowplow.

Mrs. Forsette also pointed out that health insurance has increased by $167,000; and, $297,000 will be added to the budget for renovations to pre-kindergarten classrooms, but she pointed out the new pre-kindergarten program will not cost the taxpayers a cent. Another $18,000 has been included for new bleachers in the gymnasium and there is also an increase of more than $100,000 for the retirement fund.

The cost per pupil at Forest City Regional will be $9,222 in the 2005-2006 school year and remains below the state average of $10,212. The school anticipates a student enrollment of 902 at the start of the next school year. The district employs 70 teachers and 49 of them qualify for additional salary increments by virtue of having attained advanced degrees.

Board President Fred Garm said contract problems with teachers are a bigger financial burden to the school district than salaries. He cited increases in health insurance and retirement costs and said the government is not doing anything to control the increases.

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Courthouse Report

DEEDS

Marie Briggs Willerton Bundy and Robert Leroy Bundy to Robert Leroy Bundy, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.

Marie Briggs Willerton Bundy and Robert Leroy Bundy to Robert Leroy Bundy, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.

Robert W. Sanderson and Susanne S. Sanderson to Susanne S. Sanderson, in Lenox township for one dollar.

Richard D. Fries and Martha Fries to Richard D. Fries, Martha Fries and Craig G. Fries, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

Three Little Bears to Trehab Center, in Susquehanna for $44,000.

Ray M. Ellinger and Kathleen L. Ellinger to Scott Ingerman and Seth Silow, in Forest Lake Township for $98,000.

Roselyn Johnson (estate) to Robert Johnson Jr., in Jessup Township for one dollar.

Jeffrey R. Norris and Mary Anne Norris to Jeffrey R. Norris, in Montrose for one dollar.

Mary Anne Norris to Jeffrey R. Norris, in Montrose for one dollar.

Equity Once Inc. to Kimberly A. Ross, in Lenox Township for $33,000.

Marguerite Mary Williams (aka) Marguerite Williams (estate) to Duane Warner, in Little Meadows Borough for one dollar.

Ruth E. Morris to Thomas J. Chamberlain, in Susquehanna for $4,820.

Dennis Robinson and Donna Robinson to Thomas J. Chamberlain, in Susquehanna for one dollar.

Deborah A. Kern (nbm) Deborah A. Davis, Ronald E. Davis Jr., to Deborah A. Davis, in Lenox Township for one dollar.

Leonard Przybyszewski to Leonard Przybyszewski, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Walter E. Griffin, Walter E. Griffin Jr., Robin L. Griffin, Lisa M. McNally to Walter E. Griffin Jr., Robin L. Griffin, in Lenox Township for $4,200.

John J. Yashkus to Carol Ann Sefczek and Jean-Pierre Sefczek, in Harford Township for one dollar.

Denise E. Adelsberger to Paul V. Adelsberger, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Daniel J. Comfort, Christie L. Comfort to Jeremiah L. Fearnley and Nicole S. Fearnley, in Apolacon Township for $175,000.

Harry M. Wilkins III (estate) to Martin David, in Choconut Township for $95,000.

Sean McGraw (aka by sheriff) Sean R. McGraw (by sheriff) and Christy McGraw (by sheriff) to Wells Fargo Bank (sbm) Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc., in Silver Lake Township for $2,368.

Ronald J. Cosklo and Gail Cosklo to Daniel K. Hamil, in Clifford Township for $163,000.

Robert Bruzek and Diana M. Sena to Diana Marie Sena and Lynne J. Monsey, in Franklin Township for $20,000.

Robert B. Cooley and Rebecca J. Cooley to Robert B. Cooley and Rebecca J. Cooley, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.

Lake Omeadow Corporation to Bradford and Susquehanna Shoreline Naturally Inc., in Apolacon Township for $1,000.

Lake Omeadow Corporation to Lake Omeadows Lake Owners Association Inc., in Apolacon Township for $10,000.

William J. Bishop to Michael A. Daniels and Brenda L. Daniels, in Brooklyn Township for $30,000.

Ray M. Ellinger and Kathleen L. Ellinger to Karen Vandegriek, in Rush Township for $152,000.

Frederick L. Dombkowski (by atty), Lisa A. Dombkowski to Martin H. Semken Jr. and Esther C. Semken, in Clifford Township for $215,000.

Clara B. Lyman to Esther L. Clarke and Lorne P. Clarke, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Andrea E. Acomb to Patterson Trust, in Jackson Township for $125,000.

Harvey Lee and Susan E. Lee to James I. Kimble and Anne M. Stark, in Oakland Borough for $32,000.

Richard C. Wagner and Carol A. Wagner to Michael Schmidt and Jennifer Schmidt, in Lenox Township for $10,000.

Belinda L. Johnson (nbm) Belinda L. Malkemus, Norman Charles Malkemus to Roger A. Johnson Jr., Michael A. Johnson, John R. Johnson, in Dimock Township for one dollar.

Mark Hinkley and Gail E. Hinkley to Nathan Place, in Springville Township for $10,000.

Murray Geisler and Victoria Geisler to Paul A. Kelly, in Liberty Township for one dollar.

Maggie F. Johnson to Paul A. Kelly and Pamela E. Kelly, in Liberty Township for $10 (water rights).

George E. Seamans (estate) to Kenneth Seamans, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Ethel Swartz, in Harford and New Milford townships, for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Kenneth Seamans and Ethel Swartz, in Harford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Elbert Seamans, in Harford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Doris Sainato, in Harford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Hollis Seamans, in Harford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Bruce Seamans, in Harford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Ethel Swartz, in Harford Township for one dollar.

George E. Seamans (estate) to Kenneth Seamans, in Harford Township for one dollar.

Kimberly A. Roody (nbm) Kimberly A. Kappler to Daniel Vinsko Sr. and Daniel Vinsko Jr., in Susquehanna for $88,000.

Robert J. Fitzsimmons and Ruth Ann Fitzsimmons to Erin Fitzsimmons, in Forest City for one dollar.

Kenneth W. Seamans and Suzan D. Seamans to Hollis Seamans, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Ethel Swartz to Elbert Seamans, in New Milford and Harford townships for one dollar.

Ethel Swartz (aka) Ethel M. Swartz, Kenneth Seamans to Elbert Seamans and Hollis Seamans, in Harford Township for one dollar.

Robert Robinson and Virginia Robinson to Kenneth Bostwick and Pamela Bostwick, in Choconut Township for $175,000.

Margaret H. Black to Thomas J. O’Reilly, in Forest Lake Township for $83,850.

Adolph S. Romeika and Charlotte M. Romeika (by attorney) to R & J Marcho Family Ltd. Partnership, in Gibson Township for $60,000.

Harley D. Hall, Pauline B. Hall, Larry D. Hall, Deborah N. Hall, Martin T. Smith, Rachael Smith to Martin Smith and Rachael Smith, in Jackson Township for $26,400.

MARRIAGES

Mark Joseph Choplosky and Audra R. Secor, both of Hop Bottom.

John D. Nonnemacher Jr. and Evelyn Kay Mowry, both of Sugar Run.

Clayton Michael Marcum Jr. and Elizabeth Arellano Tanueco, both of Susquehanna.

DIVORCES

Jennifer A. Cobb of Montrose vs. Timothy M. Cobb of Arkport, NY.

Robert L. Bundy of Brackney vs. Marie Briggs Willerton Bundy of Brackney.

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Gibson Barracks Report

BURGLARY

Sometime between February 13 and April 4, an unknown person(s) entered a home on Pine Street in Hallstead through an unlocked front door, went into the master bedroom, took various pieces of jewelry that we in two boxes in a bureau drawer and left undetected.

VEHICLE/PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT

This accident happened on the morning of April 27 when the 1999 Jeep Cherokee that Christopher Gendrelli, 19, New Milford, was driving suddenly accelerated while he was making a turn in the Blue Ridge High School parking lot and struck a 16-year-old female student walking through the lot. She was transported to Barnes Kasson with moderate injuries. Gendrelli was cited for reckless driving.

TRAFFIC CRASH

While Paul and Mary Ferraro were in the Beacon Bar/Restaurant in Forest City on the night of March 26, their 2003 Pontiac Vibe was damaged in a hit-and-run while the car was in the parking lot.*

TRAFFIC CRASH

Neither Walter Baker, Susquehanna, nor Diana Shreggler, New Milford, were injured when the vehicles they were driving collided in the southbound lanes of Harford Road shortly after noon on April 1. A 1995 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Baker tried to pass a 2004 Ford driven by Shreggler, apparently believing the Ford was not moving. She was trying to turn left into her driveway.

ROBBERY

Christopher O. Walters, 28, New Milford, was arrested by the State Police for the robbery of the Pump-N-Pantry in Great Bend Township shortly after two a.m. on April 24. He was arraigned before the district judge, bail was denied and he was sent to the county prison awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 2.

THEFT

Paul Stanley, Vestal, reported the theft of a yellow New Holland, skidsteer (model number L785) from the area of Lake ‘O’ Meadows Road in Apolacon Township and which apparently happened sometime between April 20-23.*

TRAFFIC CRASH, HIT AND RUN

State police are investigating a hit-and-run incident that occurred in Susquehanna at around 3:30 on the morning of April 24. The violator is driving an earlier model, full-size, red and silver Dodge Ram pick-up with substantial damage to its front end. The violator went down Broad Avenue, stopped at the intersection and failed to safely turn left onto State Route 171, colliding with a utility pole and fleeing the scene.*

BURGLARY

An unknown person(s) arrived at the home belonging to Leslie Hunsinger, Dimock Township, sometime during the evening of April 22, smashed two windows, entered through a basement door and stole a red 2003 Honda TRX 400 all-terrain vehicle with a flat left-rear tire.*

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF

Vicki Wooden, Montrose, reported that between the evenings of April 22 and 23, someone tipped over a flagpole at the entrance to her driveway, breaking the pole from its base.*

TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

Dale Rumage, Hallstead, was driving on State Route 706 in New Milford Township in his 2002 Dodge Durango when he became distracted while using his cell phone. He lost control of the vehicle as it drifted off the road and hit a tree. He was cited for careless driving. New Milford Columbia Fire Company assisted at the scene.

DUI HIT AND RUN

Donald E. Meshach, Nicholson, parked his 1996 Chrysler Sebring in front of Johnson Motors in Lenoxville early in the morning on April 9 and went to sleep there. A passing member of the Clifford Township Ambulance noticed him and called it in as a medical emergency. When the ambulance pulled up behind Meshach’s car, Meshach suddenly drove off and damaged a parked vehicle while doing so. Supplied with the license plate information for the Sebring, state troopers found Meshach at his uncle’s home in Lenox Township. Meshach failed to correctly perform field sobriety tests and showed signs of being under the influence of alcohol. He was placed into custody and transported to the Marion Community Hospital in Carbondale, where his blood alcohol content was tested as over the legal limit. DUI and other vehicle summary offenses were filed against him.

RETAIL THEFT

A young white female driving a black Nissan Altima drove up to the fuel pump at the Pump N Pantry in Lenox and pumped $23 of gas that she didn’t pay for before heading north on Interstate 81 shortly after noon on April 22.*

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF

An unknown person(s) smashed a mailbox belonging to Dennis Barnum, Little Meadows Borough, sometime between the night of April 22 and the following morning.

ASSIST IMMIGRATION

On the morning of April 21, the state police stopped a vehicle on Interstate 81 in New Milford Township for a moving violation. The driver, Fernando Castejon, 19, and his passenger, Santos Pinot, 39, both from Honduras, were found to be in the United States without proper authorization. Officials of US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) were contacted and the pair was found to be in the US illegally. ICE did comprehensive database checks and determined they were not a threat to public safety or national security, and both men were released, although the driver was issued traffic citations.

HARASSMENT

A 17-year-old male was skateboarding near the intersection of two state roads in Dimock Township on the evening of April 12 when the driver of a green Jeep drove by and threw a plastic McDonald’s cup that hit the skateboarder in the chest. The driver, a young white male, kept traveling south on State Road 3001.*

THEFT

At around noon on April 11, Penelope Dougherty, New Rochelle, NY and the estranged wife of Walter Dougherty, Silver Lake Township, entered his Chevy truck while it was parked in his driveway and took from it personnel papers. Penelope Dougherty was charged with theft in district magistrate’s office.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF

Between 2 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. on the morning of April 20, someone broke the right front passenger window of a 19965 Plymouth Neon belonging to Brandi Gunn, Hallstead, while it was parked behind Maloney’s Bar in Hallstead. *

RETAIL THEFT

On the afternoon of April 19, someone pumped gas at the Pump N Pantry in Great Bend Township and left without paying. An employee provided state police with registration information, and an investigation continues.

BURGLARY ARREST

Robert Lipinski, 32, Taylor, was arrested for breaking into the Lenoxville apartment of his ex-girlfriend, Kristina, Snyder, 33. Lipinski has been charged with burglary as well as other charges, and bail was set at $5,000 on 10 per cent. An investigation is continuing.

FOUND PROPERTY

On April 14, a bike was left at a residence on Wallington Street in Hallstead. Any one claiming a lost bike may contact state police at 465-3154.

HIT AND RUN

A 1995 Dodge sedan driven by Rebecca Cooper, Little Meadows, was traveling south on state road 858 in Little Meadows while a 1999 GMC pickup driven by Jeff Hellman, Apalachin, NY, was traveling north. The left side of the pickup hit the left side of the sedan; both vehicles came to a stop and Hellman fled the scene without giving the necessary information. The investigation is continuing.

ASSAULT

Richard James Upright, 23, Susquehanna, was arguing with James David Brock, 47, Port Crane, NY, at about 2:15 on the morning of April 16 outside a home on Jackson Street in Susquehanna. Upright punched Brock in the face, knocking out two teeth.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF

Sometime between April 2 and 9, an unknown person(s) entered an unlocked vehicle on Binghamton Road in Friendsville and threw eggs around the inside of it. The person also took four fishing poles that were leaning against a nearby garage.

ASSAULT

On the afternoon of April 10, Jake Threimer, 18, was riding his bike behind Envirocycle in Great Bend Township when he had a verbal altercation with an unknown white male, approximately 5’8” tall, who slapped Threimer and punched him in the mouth. An investigation is continuing.

CRASH

Jessica Mead, 23, Montrose, was not hurt when the 1998 Toyota SUV she was driving on the morning of April 12 went off State Route 706 in Jessup Township and hit an embankment, causing the SUV to flip over onto its roof. The Montrose Fire/Rescue assisted at the scene.

* Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the State Police at 465-3154 or 800-506-0372.

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No Increase In Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge School Board meeting on April 25 wasn't exclusively about the budget – but for most of two and a half hours board members grilled administrators on their requests for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. And they seemed to agree – informally at this stage – on a spending plan that will require no increase in tax rates. The board will have to consider formal adoption next month with considerable confusion still clouding the tax reforms enacted last year in Harrisburg (referred to as Act 72, and its funding counterpart, Act 71).

There are indications that the legislature or the courts may give school districts more time to "opt in or out" of the Act 72 provisions that require increases in earned income taxes and voter approval of some budget measures in exchange for property tax relief. Board President Alan Hall told his colleagues that there will probably be two business meetings in May to give formal consideration to all of these issues, including the budget. State courts are just now considering challenges to both enabling Acts; if Act 71 is struck down, then the funding for school taxes out of expanded gambling revenue will disappear.

Assuming that the Act 72 changes go forward, there will be more work yet to do. According to Business Manager Loren Small, of 3,602 forms mailed to district property owner this past winter, only 1,587 were returned. County-wide, just under 63% of the forms were returned; of those, 70% were approved. That means that roughly 40% of properties in the county would get tax relief under the Act 72 program. Superintendent Robert McNamara said that about 50% of taxable non-business properties in the Blue Ridge district are for recreational use; only properties used as primary residences are eligible for tax reduction under Act 72. Mailings will have to be continued each year to maintain records of eligible properties.

Since Act 72 is intended only to change the method by which schools are funded, not the level or the amount they can spend, gambling revenue and local earned income taxes (EIT) are to make up the difference. School districts choosing to participate will have to enact an EIT of 0.1% on all wage earners who live and work in the district. There has also been talk of a local "personal income tax" (PIT) down the road.

The new budget under consideration by the board does not anticipate any revenue from Act 71/72 sources, which couldn't be expected for a few years in any case. Other changes in the Clean & Green program, which will affect how the "base acre" is taxed, are not expected to be implemented by the county until next year. So revenue to the school district for next year is not expected to change very much. According to figures provided by Mr. Small last month, and a new projection for next year, next year's total revenues will be about 6.2% higher than was budgeted for the current year, but only 1.8% higher than actual total revenue expected to be collected by the end of June. 39.7% of the total for next year is to come from local sources, 56.1% from the state, and 4.2% from the federal government.

The new budget expects to spend a total of just under $15 million; revenue is projected at about $14.4 million. The difference is to come from the "fund balance" remaining at the end of this year, expected to be about $1.6 million. The fund balance will shrink slightly next year, but state auditors don't like fund balances to get too large anyway. And the district has been squirreling away a part of accumulating fund balances in capital reserves that can be used for major infrastructure projects, such as the renovation of the building entrances that is now out for bids.

Each of the school principals, and Activities Director James Corse, were questioned closely about their budget requests, which do not include salaries, the largest single item in the budget and not subject to much review since salaries for teachers are covered by contract.

Outgoing High School Principal Michael Thornton's budget showed the largest increase – more than 28%. A large chunk of that, some $54,082, is for new textbooks in social studies, mathematics, English, foreign languages and science. One applied math book now in use is 17 years old. A "global studies" text used in the 11th grade is nearly 10 years old.

Mr. Thornton said that most of the older texts "pre- dated the standards movement" and have been re-written to provide activities that target standards testing. In addition, "mainstreaming" students with special needs in regular classes requires different treatment in some texts. Some new texts also come with CDs which contain the book's complete text as well as supplementary material. Mr. Thornton said that purchases of textbooks average about 100 copies each.

The high school will also spend an additional $8,000 next year for musical instruments, recording equipment, and choir robes for the music program; board member Joel Whitehead said, "Our music program is the best."

Mr. Corse's activities budget is actually slightly lower overall than last year, although he said that if the athletic conference decides to require three coaches at wrestling matches instead of the two now used, costs would increase somewhat. Otherwise, he said that the Blue Ridge athletic facilities are "top notch." "That's why everybody wants to come here" to compete, he said.

John Manchester will probably inherit the high school budget, since he is slated to move to the senior circuit next year. He is leaving a lower budget overall for his successor in the Middle School, however; he is not asking for new textbooks. The only major line-item increase will be the purchase of additional classroom projectors. Mr. McNamara called the modern multi-media projector the new version of the old chalk board. He hopes to have one in each classroom within the next few years.

The Elementary School budget, presented by Principal Robert Dietz, is up by a modest $5,000, mostly for increments in supplies and books, the latter mostly replacements. He also asked for additional funds to support the artist-in-residence program, which is partly subsidized, but only for longer programs.

The Blue Ridge School Board is clearly striving to keep budget increases within the limits of generally rising revenues. Mr. Small said that one additional special education teacher slot is included, as was done for the current year, just in case another is needed. Mr. Dietz reported that so far 69 children have been registered for kindergarten next year; he expects a total between 75 and 80. Under board guidelines, kindergarten classes must be kept small, so if enrollment increases dramatically, another position could be required there as well.

For many years, until April 23 of this year, Blue Ridge has budgeted for the operation and staffing of their own sewage plant. Mr. Hall reported that the new municipal sewer system is now connected to the campus and operating; the old plant has been decommissioned and the worker reassigned to the maintenance staff. The effect on the budget will be minimal.

The district continues to search out funds for new as well as existing programs. A new federal pilot program will subsidize 100% of the cost of providing snacks and lunches for students participating in summer programs at the Blue Ridge campus. Mr. McNamara said the program will be closely monitored and audited, but, as Mr. Small said, "free lunches and no new taxes" should be popular.

As the school year winds down, some programs come to an end. Board member Denise Bloomer said that the successful elementary dance program will have its last class shortly, and the last family "media night" is scheduled for May 13; the movie will be "Racing Stripes."

Pictured (l-r) are Blue Ridge high achievers Abigail Onyon, Neil Dawes and Justin Herbert.

Awards and scholarships also celebrate the end of a school year. Mr. Thornton reports that Abigail Onyon has been named the NEIU 19/Community Bank and Trust Scholar-of- the-Year for 2005. She expects to pursue a degree in animal science at Delaware Valley College. Neil Dawes and Justin Herbert have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2005. Mr. Dawes claims the highest grade point average in his class and hopes to continue his studies in math and science. Mr. Herbert, who also holds the Blue Ridge record for most career wins in wrestling, plans to major in environmental science at Franklin and Marshall College.

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Mt. View Vs. Dress Code

The Mountain View School District Board of Education public meeting of April 25 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, James Zick, and Carolyn Price, Secretary. Absent were Ronald Phillips and Sondra Stine, Also attending the meeting were Arthur Chambers, Superintendent, Colin Furneaux, High School Principal, Eiza Vagni, High Scholl Assistant Principal, Mary Hvezda, Director of Special Services, and Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal. Representing the high school student council were two seniors, Jered Bradley and Carl Parsons.

The minutes of the April 25, 2005 meeting were approved as presented.

At the first hearing of visitors, several questions were posed. The first, regarding the Activities Financial Report, was whether there was a separate account for the high school play. Mr. Furneaux replied that there was an account entitled Music/Theater Arts and gave the balances in those accounts as $2,563.00 for the high school and $1,887.82 for the elementary school. The second question was what the location of the special board meeting, to be held on May 4 regarding Act 72 was and Mr. Chambers replied that that had not yet been decided, but possibly would be in the elementary library since 75-100 people were expected to attend. The last question related to an upcoming field trip to the Lackawanna Stadium to attend a Safe Driving Competition—how were the 6 students selected for that competition? Mr. Furneaux said he did not know but would find out.

The report of the financial services committee was given by Mr. Griffiths. Among financial items, the board approved general budget transfers and fund transfers, accepted the athletic student activities financial reports, approved agreements for the dental program and appointed Russell Swetter, DDS as the school dentist (which included a $50.00 flat fee for equipment sterilization), approved audit services (with one vote against from Mr. Halupke), approved Rock Creek Golf Course as the home course for the 2005-2006 school year, and authorized advertising for a Special Board meeting to be held on May 4 to discuss Act 72.

A report on 2005-2006 Federal Funding was given by Karen Voigt, who painted a bleak picture of anticipated federal monies for the coming year. Describing Federal Grants by Title, Mrs. Voigt explained that several amounts were not yet budgeted because of unsure allocations. Salaries for 6 full-time Title 1 teachers had been budgeted in spite of a 12% cut (about $44,000.00) for Title 1 which results in a $64,000.00 deficit. Some carry over will be calculated to make up some of this deficit, but the grant does not allow a carry over of more than 15%. In light of this, a decision would have to be made about continuing the Reading Recovery Program and summer Title 1 services.

Predictions for Title 2 Part A were more encouraging to include maintenance of staff development and class size reduction funding levels, support for 2 elementary teacher salaries, and compass learning, with no limitations on carry over funds.

Title 2 Part D funding projections included a dismal 20.8% cut in allocations. One positive note was that remaining monies would pay for technical support to the compass learning program and associated staff development. Title 5 Funds were cut 33% for the coming school year, and would be cut 55% next year. Mountain View used these funds for Library Books. Mrs. Voigt explained that poorer, urban areas and districts with low PSSA scores would gain additional funds with a possible educational assistance pool next year.

The Perkins Grant, funding the business department and FBLA student education, was estimated at $25,000.00 with additional monies targeted for high schools. A Safe & Drug Free Grant was estimated at a 25% reduction for the coming year, with no monies for the following year. This supported weekly counselors at the high school and elementary prevention programs.

In light of the Federal cuts explained above, Mr. Griffiths discussed the 2005-2006 Budget and reviewed the goals of the budget:

Goal 1.) to increase student achievement using the following targets: Math PSSAs 70% proficiency, Reading and Literacy 75%, Attendance 96%, and Post Secondary Enrollment 70%; Goal 2.) to treat employees fairly; Goal 3.) to support a millage rate that is fair; and Goal 4.) to maintain the district’s facilities. With regards to Basic State revenue, (the largest source of revenues) a 2% increase was expected, but it was noted that this was the smallest percent increase from the State since the 1996-1997 school year.

Challenges to meeting budgeted expenditures also include an anticipated 15% rise in health insurance costs and continued increases in tuition costs for students attending Charter Schools.

The board would have to make some hard choices with regard to raising taxes, cutting expenditures, cutting educational programs, and reducing staff. If taxes were raised, a 3-4 mill increase was not out of the question, but it was hoped that it could be kept to 1 ½ mills and staff reductions made through attrition and retirement rather than cuts. Another less desirable option included using monies from the General Fund. Reducing programs was not desired because it would affect the primary goal of increasing student achievement.

Mr. Halupke reported on the Human Resources, Policy and Labor Relations Committee and the board approved numerous additions to the substitute teacher lists, appointed a hall/lunch monitor, appointed a supplemental salary position (assistant music director), approved sports volunteers, and authorized advertising for summer school teachers. There was nothing to report on negotiations.

Discussion of the dress and grooming policy consumed most of the remainder of the meeting. A new policy had been drafted and presented as a starting point for discussion. Mrs. Christensen immediately applauded the purpose of the policy – to promote a positive learning environment. Mr. Griffiths said the draft policy was way too stringent and urged modification of the existing policy instead. Mr. Halupke reminded the board that the draft was intended to be a starting point only. Mr. Bryce Beeman asked the board for input on whether they wanted to work from the new draft or start with the existing policy. In roundtable fashion, four board members opted to work from the new draft verses one member against the new draft and one who said either one was fine.

Each board member either voiced an opinion on additions/deletions to the draft, which was discussed, debated and contested ad nauseum, and/or replied with an opinion when asked by Bryce Beeman, who attempted to coordinate the discussion. The main issues (among many) included whether Tee Shirts should be eliminated as approved school clothing, what requirements would be needed with regards to length of shirts (to cover the back and behind when seated), allowances or disapproval of logos, slogans, pictures, and emblems (which can be inappropriate or offensive, depending upon one’s interpretation), footwear safety, and whether jeans/denim pants would be allowed.

Because it affects the decision regarding Tee Shirts, a most popular apparel, much discussion centered on the issue of logos, slogans, pictures, and emblems which adorn most Tee Shirts. One item of agreement was the inherent difficulty in remedying the issue of discretion – what one individual finds inappropriate or offensive, another does not. Ms. Foster related an incident with an elementary student recently whereby, when contacted about the inappropriate terms and references on their child’s shirt, a parent was indignant and insisted that there was nothing wrong with the terms on the shirt. And so, this exemplified the problem of enforcement – if there could be no agreement as to what is or is not offensive, then enforcement is impossible. By disallowing print, photos or wording on any clothing, this problem is eliminated.

Several board members suggested allowing “school spirit” logos and emblems or those relating to athletic or academic achievement and barring all others. It was about this point that Mr. Chambers asked for input from the two student council members present at the meeting. Both students, who were wearing Tee Shirts with “sayings” and TV show photos, indicated that they personally would not have a problem if the logos and emblems were not allowed. From their point of view, they knew that sometimes these logos tended to “define” where kids purchased their clothes, creating a “class” situation where those who wore “no brand” clothes were picked on or discriminated against.

The remainder of the discussion included some cases where the court defined appropriate school dress codes, studies showing that culture plus dress code effects positive change and not dress code alone, difficulty buying plain Tee Shirts with no logos, and the topic of allowing jeans/denim pants. Most opined that jeans were ok, if not the cargo type that were falling down exposing underwear (boys) and not ill-fitting and too tight (girls). The board agreed to change the draft policy to reflect the discussion and agreements, and to continue to fine-tune it to where it would be an acceptable compromise that would be enforceable.

Mr. Beeman reported that the finalized architectural information on the cafeteria project from the building and facilities committee had been provided to the board. He asked that it be reviewed for the next meeting.

The report on the education committee was given by Mrs. Christensen. A number of conference and field trip attendances and 3 textbooks were approved. There would be an education committee meeting prior to the next board meeting.

At the second hearing of visitors, numerous public members had comments and questions.

First, regarding the sterilization of dental equipment, it was asked who performed this service, the contracted dentist or an outside third party? It was noted that it was the responsibility of the dentist but no one was sure who actually performed the service. Next, why was there such an increase in the number of students attending Charter Schools, thus requiring the payment of tuition to these schools for district students? It was generally agreed that this is a national trend due to an overall dissatisfaction with the public school system. Lastly, were other school dress codes evaluated when drafting the policy? Mr. Chambers replied yes, that several other policies were used and the trend was to standardize the dress code.

Another member, a local dairy princess, handed out a brochure on nutrition and dairy products and reminded the board of the problem of the milk machines frequently being empty. There was some discussion on the sugar content of flavored milk and how it really was not that nutritious. Separately, a recommendation was made to survey underclassmen, not just seniors on the dress code, as the draft policy was overly restrictive.

Still on the topic of the dress code, several public members/parents were outraged at the draft policy. One said the school was a “country” school and jeans should be allowed. Another had valid issues with a special needs child and could not comply with the policy as drafted for medical reasons, and furthermore did not want the child to stand out anymore than necessary. Still others voiced objections to a stringent policy because of difficulties in purchasing plain shirts, and noted that it was not realistic since all booster clubs provided sweatshirts with logos for sports and other achievements. Mrs. Christensen reminded all present that the draft was just that – a draft – to be discussed and worked on from there.

Lastly, a public member questioned the selling of candy by the elementary students as a fundraiser. Ms. Foster said it was a limited thing, now over, and did not go very well. Another question was back to the budget for the high school play – it was noted that $1,500.00 was in the budget for the auditorium. In conclusion, a bill for $1,000.00 on the bill list for cleaning of student athletic uniforms was questioned – shouldn’t laundering of uniforms be the responsibility of the student/parent? While not in disagreement, Mr. Halupke stated that the bill probably included other items on the invoice, but not broken out, and this was a billing issue.

One additional item was approved by the board prior to adjournment and included re-authorization of advertising for the position of Business Manager/Board Secretary.

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No Increase In Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge School Board meeting on April 25 wasn't exclusively about the budget – but for most of two and a half hours board members grilled administrators on their requests for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. And they seemed to agree – informally at this stage – on a spending plan that will require no increase in tax rates. The board will have to consider formal adoption next month with considerable confusion still clouding the tax reforms enacted last year in Harrisburg (referred to as Act 72, and its funding counterpart, Act 71).

There are indications that the legislature or the courts may give school districts more time to "opt in or out" of the Act 72 provisions that require increases in earned income taxes and voter approval of some budget measures in exchange for property tax relief. Board President Alan Hall told his colleagues that there will probably be two business meetings in May to give formal consideration to all of these issues, including the budget. State courts are just now considering challenges to both enabling Acts; if Act 71 is struck down, then the funding for school taxes out of expanded gambling revenue will disappear.

Assuming that the Act 72 changes go forward, there will be more work yet to do. According to Business Manager Loren Small, of 3,602 forms mailed to district property owner this past winter, only 1,587 were returned. County-wide, just under 63% of the forms were returned; of those, 70% were approved. That means that roughly 40% of properties in the county would get tax relief under the Act 72 program. Superintendent Robert McNamara said that about 50% of taxable non-business properties in the Blue Ridge district are for recreational use; only properties used as primary residences are eligible for tax reduction under Act 72. Mailings will have to be continued each year to maintain records of eligible properties.

Since Act 72 is intended only to change the method by which schools are funded, not the level or the amount they can spend, gambling revenue and local earned income taxes (EIT) are to make up the difference. School districts choosing to participate will have to enact an EIT of 0.1% on all wage earners who live and work in the district. There has also been talk of a local "personal income tax" (PIT) down the road.

The new budget under consideration by the board does not anticipate any revenue from Act 71/72 sources, which couldn't be expected for a few years in any case. Other changes in the Clean & Green program, which will affect how the "base acre" is taxed, are not expected to be implemented by the county until next year. So revenue to the school district for next year is not expected to change very much. According to figures provided by Mr. Small last month, and a new projection for next year, next year's total revenues will be about 6.2% higher than was budgeted for the current year, but only 1.8% higher than actual total revenue expected to be collected by the end of June. 39.7% of the total for next year is to come from local sources, 56.1% from the state, and 4.2% from the federal government.

The new budget expects to spend a total of just under $15 million; revenue is projected at about $14.4 million. The difference is to come from the "fund balance" remaining at the end of this year, expected to be about $1.6 million. The fund balance will shrink slightly next year, but state auditors don't like fund balances to get too large anyway. And the district has been squirreling away a part of accumulating fund balances in capital reserves that can be used for major infrastructure projects, such as the renovation of the building entrances that is now out for bids.

Each of the school principals, and Activities Director James Corse, were questioned closely about their budget requests, which do not include salaries, the largest single item in the budget and not subject to much review since salaries for teachers are covered by contract.

Outgoing High School Principal Michael Thornton's budget showed the largest increase – more than 28%. A large chunk of that, some $54,082, is for new textbooks in social studies, mathematics, English, foreign languages and science. One applied math book now in use is 17 years old. A "global studies" text used in the 11th grade is nearly 10 years old.

Mr. Thornton said that most of the older texts "pre- dated the standards movement" and have been re-written to provide activities that target standards testing. In addition, "mainstreaming" students with special needs in regular classes requires different treatment in some texts. Some new texts also come with CDs which contain the book's complete text as well as supplementary material. Mr. Thornton said that purchases of textbooks average about 100 copies each.

The high school will also spend an additional $8,000 next year for musical instruments, recording equipment, and choir robes for the music program; board member Joel Whitehead said, "Our music program is the best."

Mr. Corse's activities budget is actually slightly lower overall than last year, although he said that if the athletic conference decides to require three coaches at wrestling matches instead of the two now used, costs would increase somewhat. Otherwise, he said that the Blue Ridge athletic facilities are "top notch." "That's why everybody wants to come here" to compete, he said.

John Manchester will probably inherit the high school budget, since he is slated to move to the senior circuit next year. He is leaving a lower budget overall for his successor in the Middle School, however; he is not asking for new textbooks. The only major line-item increase will be the purchase of additional classroom projectors. Mr. McNamara called the modern multi-media projector the new version of the old chalk board. He hopes to have one in each classroom within the next few years.

The Elementary School budget, presented by Principal Robert Dietz, is up by a modest $5,000, mostly for increments in supplies and books, the latter mostly replacements. He also asked for additional funds to support the artist-in-residence program, which is partly subsidized, but only for longer programs.

The Blue Ridge School Board is clearly striving to keep budget increases within the limits of generally rising revenues. Mr. Small said that one additional special education teacher slot is included, as was done for the current year, just in case another is needed. Mr. Dietz reported that so far 69 children have been registered for kindergarten next year; he expects a total between 75 and 80. Under board guidelines, kindergarten classes must be kept small, so if enrollment increases dramatically, another position could be required there as well.

For many years, until April 23 of this year, Blue Ridge has budgeted for the operation and staffing of their own sewage plant. Mr. Hall reported that the new municipal sewer system is now connected to the campus and operating; the old plant has been decommissioned and the worker reassigned to the maintenance staff. The effect on the budget will be minimal.

The district continues to search out funds for new as well as existing programs. A new federal pilot program will subsidize 100% of the cost of providing snacks and lunches for students participating in summer programs at the Blue Ridge campus. Mr. McNamara said the program will be closely monitored and audited, but, as Mr. Small said, "free lunches and no new taxes" should be popular.

As the school year winds down, some programs come to an end. Board member Denise Bloomer said that the successful elementary dance program will have its last class shortly, and the last family "media night" is scheduled for May 13; the movie will be "Racing Stripes."

2 1/2" pic.

Pictured (l-r) are Blue Ridge high achievers Abigail Onyon, Neil Dawes and Justin Herbert.

Awards and scholarships also celebrate the end of a school year. Mr. Thornton reports that Abigail Onyon has been named the NEIU 19/Community Bank and Trust Scholar-of- the-Year for 2005. She expects to pursue a degree in animal science at Delaware Valley College. Neil Dawes and Justin Herbert have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2005. Mr. Dawes claims the highest grade point average in his class and hopes to continue his studies in math and science. Mr. Herbert, who also holds the Blue Ridge record for most career wins in wrestling, plans to major in environmental science at Franklin and Marshall College.

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Harford P.O. Gets A Lift

"We are not closing anything." With those words, Michael New, a real estate specialist with the United States Postal Service (USPS), opened a brief presentation and question-and-answer session with Harford residents concerned about the future of their post office. The new owner of the old Deli Llama store building had been expected to move the post office facility in the village to the renovated store from the tiny, historic building it now occupies, and which he also owns. It seems that plan has run into some difficulties, and so the Postal Service has to find other options.

Mr. New, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is responsible for the physical facilities of post offices, large and small, all over the east coast. He attended the Harford Township Supervisors' meeting on April 26 to outline the situation as seen by the USPS, and to field questions. He was an immediate hit, saying all the right things, and giving residents reason to hope for their post office.

Mr. New told the meeting that he was there to ask for their help locating a building or property for a new post office. He said that in about a month he would be issuing advertising that will solicit property suitable for a new post office from anyone who has something to offer. The current post office, now undergoing some period renovation, is about 300 square feet, total, is not easily accessible by the handicapped, and has no off-street parking. Mr. New said he is looking for either an acre or so of property, a building of 1,000 square feet or so, or some combination thereof, for sale or lease.

He would not discuss what kind of money the USPS might have to put into a new post office in Harford, but he did say that offers have to be reasonable. After all, "this is your stamp money," he said. No tax money is involved. He said he was offered one three-acre parcel in a New Jersey town for $20 million. " [The USPS is] a business; we have to operate as a business," he said. He said that he has a long list of similar projects, and that if Harford (or any of the others, for that matter) became too difficult, too expensive, or too complicated, they would have to pick the next on the list to work on. But he said that he wanted to make the Harford post office "bigger and better." "We want to see [the process] move quickly." The whole project could be expected to take 1-2 years.

One of his hearers asked if a new post office would be in town; she had been walking to the old one for 70 years already. Mr. New replied, "If I don't have an offer in town, I can't put it in town." On the other hand, he said, "We want to keep it in the community."

Asked what such a new post office might look like, he told the room, "I want something that looks nice." They would try to make it fit into the appearance of the surrounding neighborhood; it would not necessarily be a modular unit, or even one of the standard brick-faced buildings.

Mr. New said that once he receives some offers, they will be evaluated and the community will be invited to another meeting to hear the results and offer input. He told the group honestly that the community doesn't have a veto, or even a vote, but citizens will have an opportunity to have a voice. He cautioned that the paperwork involved with transfer of property to the postal service can be intimidating. "We're the government. We do red tape, we do paperwork real well," he said. However, he said that he was prepared to work closely with property owners to get it done as quickly and easily as possible.

Except for the fact that the township itself owns property in the center of the village, the Supervisors have no more role in the siting of a post office than anyone else; they just made the meeting available to the Postal Service to help get the word out. Nonetheless, some of the 20 or so people crammed into the small township office for the meeting were clearly thinking about the Odd Fellows property as a possible location. After all, there was a bank there for a while at one time.

The meeting actually opened with a report by Terry VanGorden that the situation of the Odd Fellows Hall is "still in the lawyers' hands." He said the lawyers were working "diligently" with the Fire Company and the Odd Fellows to prepare a petition to the court to clean up the deed to the property so that the next step -- whatever that might be -- can be taken.

The second item on the brief agenda was a request by Ron Whitaker for a contribution to the Harford/Lenox Little League baseball program. As usual, the Supervisors voted their annual contribution of $500.

It's probably fair to say that most of people who attended the meeting went away an hour later satisfied, and not just to hear that their post office seems to have been rescued from oblivion. Roadmaster George Sansky reported that, at a final meeting with representatives of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the township was told it could expect about $48,000 in reimbursement for damage incurred as a result of hurricane Ivan last year.

Hear more good news from Harford on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m., or on the fourth Tuesday of each month, at 7:30 p.m., or both. Most meetings aren't quite as crowded.

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COG on the Move?

Elliot Ross presided over the April meeting of the Council of Governments in which members discussed the possibility of purchasing a piece of property and putting up its own building. They also discussed a few situations that have arisen about Starrucca’s membership in the organization.

Starrucca is a Wayne County municipality that recently became a member of the Susquehanna County COG. (A COG in northern Wayne County was established a few months ago, and Starrucca chose not to join it.) BIU is the third-party contractor for both the local and the Wayne County COG, and it’s not known whether the contracts differ as to either services or price. Distance as it relates to COG costs also comes into play.

Travel is an issue, and any court hearing that might arise about Codes in Starrucca would be held in Honesdale – significantly further than Montrose. Further, Wayne County DEP would be the agency for Starrucca sewage. Ross thought that, however these issues were addressed, cost to COG should not be greater than the group’s current costs. Its executive committee will discuss the situation further, and he thought it would have something to report at the next meeting.

Dave Darrow discussed with members recent activities by the executive committee about office space. COG rents space for its offices from New Milford borough in the borough building. The borough’s recent efforts to accommodate district justice Janicelli’s offices concerned COG because, said one, “the first option in its KBA feasibility study was to throw us out of here.” In addition, COG says its running out of room and parking can be a problem. Some members would also prefer putting the amount of its current rent towards a mortgage for something the group would own. While, as Ross said, the borough is a gracious landlord, these several issues led COG to look into the idea of purchasing a 3-plus-acre property that recently was on the market in New Milford. That property was sold, however, at higher than its appraised value.

COG next advertised for developable land on Route 706 between New Milford and Montrose, for site consideration for its own building. The response to the ad was not reported, although one member thought that because Montrose is not a member of COG, it might be appropriate to select a site, if any, within a member municipality.

Darrow reported the possibility that grant money might be available for land and a building for a group that continues to grow. The possibility was discussed about a pre-fabricated building that would include a separate office for each COG staffer, a meeting room, conference room, file and storage room, for a zoning staffer should more municipalities adopt zoning down the road, and room to grow.

The group had no objection to continuing to look into the feasibility of various options that would give the group ownership of its offices.

Darrow also reported that COG has established monthly meetings with the county commissioners. The most recent resulted in having the county sheriff address the group in the fall about recognizing signs that a meth lab might be operating in a municipality. Residue from one was recently found in Salt Springs State Park. One member reported that he was pretty sure of the existence of one in his municipality, but that the state police seemed uninterested in following up his report on it. With most municipalities lacking a police force, some insight perhaps might be given as to whom to call when they have knowledge about a possible lab.

The group agreed to establish an open-records policy, based on one provided by PSATS. The policy sets a minimum, prepaid fee of $5 plus the cost of the public-record material being requested.

Secretary Cheryl Wellman reported on a new cooperative purchasing program that appears to be taking the place of the L3P program in the state’s department of general services. Online registration for the program is free and one member who registered reported that it’s easy and only takes a few minutes. Wellman will research this more for the next meeting.

In committee reports, a member noted that the county planning commission would be presenting its new land-development ordinance later in the week. In street/road signs, Ross reported he’s finished and is working on signs for a few municipalities. The bylaws committee is proposing some significant changes to the group’s governing document; copies were distributed to members for their review and discussion at a later meeting.

The last piece of correspondence reported by Wellman was an invitation to COG members from member Ararat Township to the dedication of its new township building on May 14 at 10:30 a.m., and the celebrations to follow.

Sewage Enforcement Committee Meeting

Dave Darrow presided over a meeting that saw its three most-senior officers unable to attend. He reported on the work of the executive committee since the group’s last meeting that included a proposed fee schedule, changed in response to a request by Gibson Township about chemical (portable) toilets, principally for large public gatherings. (Gibson is the only member municipality to have a portable-toilet ordinance, in response to a large music festival hosted within the township.) The changes to the fee schedule were approved.

The remainder of the meeting revolved around reporting on recent hearings for violations. For the Reddon violation in Dimock Township, a payment plan has been set and payments have already been made. Hawkins Homes has requested another hearing about a situation in Liberty Township that has been going on for close to three years; three members volunteered for the hearing. The Vadovsky violation is going to court again with Vadovsky appealing the fines assessed against him for a situation in Ararat Township.

Negotiations between Dunn Lake developers and COG attorney Jason Legg are ongoing and COG hopes to have a proposal soon on which all parties agree.

Codes Enforcement Committee

Ted Plevinsky presided over a meeting during which a member shared information on what sounded to be enforcement of nuisance ordinances. The member learned that a municipality cannot go onto anyone’s property to take pictures of a reported violation, and enforcement of the ordinance cannot be selective – that is, one property-owner cannot be singled out for a violation unless other violators in the municipality are also notified about possible violations.

Secretary Karen Trynoski passed along information from Codes BIU inspector about manufactured housing. Inspections are required for anchoring the housing; in addition, plumbing and, in most cases, electrical also have to be inspected. This research was in response to a member’s question that arose upon his review of the year-to-date report that all members receive on Codes enforcement in their municipalities.

The regular meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 17 at COG offices in the New Milford Borough Building.

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