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Oakland boro Council met for their regular meeting on May 12 with almost a full house; very few audience seats were left empty. All council members were present with the exception of Leon Dubanowitz and Chad Crawford, and Mayor Art Towner.
The Park and Rec. Committee was highly commended for all the work that has gone into improving the boro park. A retaining wall is in progress, new bleachers have been put in, and the concession stand has a new ceiling and roof. Unfortunately, the boro is not on the “first pick” list of recipients for grant funding (for more improvements) that had been applied for, but the news was not all bad. If, for any reason, a municipality on the first pick list chooses not to proceed with their particular project, Oakland will, as runner up, be next in line to receive the funding. And, there is an excellent chance that the boro will be on the first pick in next year’s round of funding.
President Ron Beavan, Jeff Wayman and Wendy Dudley met with a representative from the Conservation District to discuss a problem area on Franklin Ave., to see what could be done about water runoff. The problem would seem to be from an increase in the amount of rainfall seen by the area in recent months, causing reservoirs to overflow; removal of trees in the area would also seem to be contributing to the problem. Work already done by the boro and what is planned is in line with what the Conservation District would recommend to deal with the problem.
Replacement of the retaining wall on River Road will cost a bit more than had been anticipated. Once the ground was dug for footers, a bed of old cinders was found. As the wall needs a firm base, the footers had to be dug deeper, and the height of the wall increased. The additional cost should be no more than $4,000. It was agreed that the boro’s savings will cover the increase, rather than refinance the loan taken out for the project; a motion carried to take the additional funds from this account.
A tree on State Street that was in danger of falling down has been removed.
Mr. Glover gave a rundown of codes violations, with details about their current status and what steps will be taken in cases where the property owner does not address them.
Mr. VanFleet gave his monthly activity report. He had received a lot of calls about disturbances at the park, mostly with kids fighting. While this is clearly a situation that requires parental supervision, he opened a discussion about what could be done to address this particular problem. Mr. Beavan stated that all residents need to be vigilant and call police if there is a situation occurring. Another suggestion was to post a closing time at the park, perhaps at dusk. Mrs. Dudley commented that many of the boro’s youth had actively helped with improving the park. “We need to give kids a fair shot,” she said. It was agreed to table the matter for the time being, to be discussed again at next month’s meeting if the problem continues.
Ditch work on State Street has been put out to bid, but the lowest bid received was considerably higher than the funds available. Council had two options: rebid the project for a smaller scope of work, or find a way to come up with the additional funds, in excess of $13,000. It was agreed to rebid the work.
Cynthia Beavan reported that River Bounty has received inquiries from two individuals interested in the hydro-electric plant on the Susquehanna River. One is interested in leasing the plant, while the other is apparently interested in purchasing it. She will keep council apprised of any further developments.
Mr. Arthur suggested that it might be a good idea to keep track of how many (boro) hours are spent on maintenance of state roads, as it could prove to be in the boro’s favor should the need arise. It was noted that the boro did not enter into the Agility program with PENNDOT, but it was agreed that it might be a good idea to keep track.
As he had put several candidates for boro office “on the spot” at previous meetings, Mr. Beavan was asked what his future plans for the boro are. He outlined some projects that are in progress, and some that he would like to see initiated.
During public comment, a resident noted that other municipalities have Christmas decorations; why couldn’t Oakland get some? Mrs. Beavan, a former council member, noted that the other municipalities mentioned have a much higher tax base than Oakland. “Would you like to see your taxes go up to buy Christmas decorations?” she asked. Mr. Dibble added that, if the boro were to get some, volunteers would be needed to help put them up and take them out, as Oakland only has a one-person streets department. And, the boro of Susquehanna had new decorations largely through the efforts of a citizen, Chris Davis, who had organized a number of fund-raisers to finance them. He suggested that Oakland’s residents could raise the money for them, especially in light of their success with raising money for park improvements.
Another resident complimented Mr. VanFleet for the decrease in ATV traffic he has seen on Prospect Street.
Mr. Wayman reported that drainage work was scheduled for Prospect Street the following Monday, after which he would be working with the Tri-Boro Sewer Authority for work on Brush Street.
Council approved a resolution to allow Berkheimer Associates to increase the amount of their fee for collecting delinquent taxes. Although the boro has since gone with another collector, there are a number of accounts still being handled by Berkheimer.
The boro has changed their insurance carrier to H.A. Thompson, which necessitates enacting an intergovernmental policy (where premiums from member municipalities are pooled). The ordinance required to enter into this agreement is in the process of being reviewed by the boro’s solicitor, and should be ready to begin the process to enact it at the next meeting.
And, Mr. VanFleet has delayed his retirement plans and will be taking the necessary certifications to continue as the boro’s police chief; he is willing to stay on the job until December, if need be while council works on finding a replacement.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, June 9, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
With vice president Mike Matis presiding and all members present, the Susquehanna Boro Council met for their regular meeting on May 10.
Secretary Judy Collins reported that information has been released to the press for the scrap metal pickup scheduled for June 4, from 8 a.m. to noon. Information for the Hometown Days fishing derby has been posted on the boro website. And, she read a letter from John Bry, the new Eastern Services Coordinator for the PA Downtown Center, with whom a meeting was tentatively set for May 13. The SCDA has also been invited to attend the meeting.
Mayor Hurley reported that the police department has been approved for a $10,000 grant which will be used to purchase equipment. She gave details of a meeting held on May 3 to discuss the Drinker Creek Park restoration project with representatives of DEP, Conservation District and PENNDOT. On May 5, she and several members of council met with the Parks and Rec. Committee to discuss the Drinker Creek Park project and the land the boro has acquired through River Bounty, particularly the walking trail that is planned along the river. According to DEP, as long as the land is not disturbed to change water levels the trail can be developed. The boro will check with their insurance carrier to see if there are any regulations concerning the walkway for liability. And, there were concerns about possible contamination in the area and future costs incurred for cleanup. She gave details about a seminar she had attended, along with several police officers, on suicide prevention; information is available at the offices of the mayor and police department.
The floor was opened to nominations for the position of president, left vacant by the resignation of Ron Whitehead. After a unanimous vote, Mike Matis accepted, which then required nominations for the position of vice president; after another unanimous vote, Roy Williams accepted.
Mr. Matis read a letter of interest from Allen Wolf regarding the vacant council seat; a motion carried to appoint Mr. Wolf to council, after which he was sworn in by Mayor Hurley.
Motions carried to donate an old computer monitor to the SCDA office, and to hire Thomas Romanofski part-time for the streets department, for fifteen hours per week.
Mr. Williams reported that he had met with representatives of FEMA and PEMA to discuss the restoration of Drinker Creek Park. Since the damages amount to over $55,500 it has been deemed a permanent project, which allows for an eighteen-month span (from the date of the incident) to complete the work. If an extension is needed it can be applied for. Specific guidelines must be followed throughout the project, and all work must be documented. The Parks and Rec. Committee is in the process of getting bids. Another inspection was conducted to assess damage from the April flooding, both at the park and on Franklin Ave. Mr. Williams urged residents who suffered flood damage not covered by their homeowners insurance to register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). They may be eligible for funds, he said, but must apply as soon as possible as the deadline to register is June 13.
Mr. Matis reported that at the last Police Committee meeting, leasing a new vehicle had been discussed.
Correspondence reviewed included a request from Streets Commissioner Steve Glover to use accumulated comp time from May 23 to June 2, which was approved, and an invitation to the year’s final Leadership 2020 session and graduation on May 24.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 24, 7:00 p.m. in the borough building.
Is there a better way to finance public schools in Pennsylvania than the property tax? Maybe, and the state legislature and governor have made a stab at it with something called Act 72, an example of legislation as sausage: you may have to eat it, but do you really want to know how it's made?
The state legislature is adjourned for the election, and Sandra Major of the 111th District was the only legislator who troubled to attend a session for county school boards and administrators at Blue Ridge on May 12. She offered a sometimes exasperated description of the process that led to the mess that is Act 72, and could provide no clear guidance to local school districts about their looming decision to participate or not.
Legislative information sessions are hosted periodically by one of the school districts in Susquehanna County to hear from whatever legislators deign to appear, as well as from the school boards' lobbying organization, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), this time represented by the well-traveled Karen Devine, the PSBA's "network operations director" in the office of governmental and member relations.
Ms. Devine led off with a brief run-down of some pending legislation that could affect schools in Pennsylvania, but Act 72 was the big gorilla at the table, because school districts across the state are faced with deciding by the end of the month whether or not to participate. And they must decide with little hard information about the act's confusing and complex provisions, and in the face of uncertainty about the financing that is supposed to support it.
Ms. Major herself did not support or vote for either Act 72 or the collateral measure, Act 71, that is supposed to finance property tax reform out of gambling revenue. She said that she didn't think the measures were in the best interest of her district. She said she supports property tax reform, but had no clear idea how it might be achieved. Act 72 was the legislature's "best shot" which leaves the ultimate decisions up to local school boards.
According to Representative Major, Governor Rendell was not particularly interested in property tax reform, but he was interested in collecting revenue for the state from gambling. When the Republican-dominated legislature demanded changes in school funding through property taxes, the Governor agreed to link his favorite -- Act 71 -- with theirs, and that became Act 72.
Some of the dozen or so representatives of school boards around the county wondered if the sales tax might not be a simpler and better way to fund schools. Ms. Major said that changes in the state sales tax are still being considered in Harrisburg, but anything definitive is still a long way off. The most lively ideas involve increasing the sales tax rate from 4% to 6%, and broadening its coverage, perhaps to include food and clothing.
One of the objectives of Act 72 was to retain some measure local control over public school financing. For schools to depend on state-administered sales or income taxes would require that enabling legislation contain funding guarantees. Considering the way government subsidies to education fluctuate already, how likely is that?
Of some 501 school districts in Pennsylvania, 26 have so far decided to "opt out" of Act 72; 23 have decided to "opt in." (Under Act 72, the Philadelphia school district is required to participate.) That means that most districts are waiting until the last minute to choose a direction, hoping to hear something definitive that will clarify the many issues swirling around the issue. The Blue Ridge School Board will vote its decision on May 23.
Thomas Calcaine and Veea D. Calcaine to Jerome M. Washo and Dawn L. Washo, in Montrose for $30,000.
Kenneth D. Corbin and Dawn Corbin to Robert Thomas and Judy Thomas, in Brooklyn Township for $4,000.
Kenneth D. Corbin and Dawn Corbin to Robert Thomas and Judy Thomad, in Brooklyn Township for $2,000.
Gary L. Butts (estate) aka, Gary Leroy Butts (estate), and Sharon S. Butts aka Sharon Swinehart Butts to Andrew Panzo and Patricia Panzo, in Herrick Township for $360,000.
RALLG Associates, WNG Co., Margaret V. Rockey, John J. Lavelle Sr., Susan Lavelle to Dennis Cawley and Cheryl Cawley, in Herrick Township for $19,500.
Kimberly A. Holgate (nka) Kimberly A. Aldrich to Kimberly A. Aldrich, in New Milford Borough for one dollar.
Michael J. Stack, Patricia Stack, Lawrence E. Stack, Andrea Stack to Catherine A. Staros, in Thompson Borough for $40,000.
Richard E. Oswald and Diane L. Goodspeed to Richard Clark, in Liberty Township for $33,000.
Patricia Taylor (aka) Patricia A. Castorina to Norman Norton Sr. and Tammy Norton, in Liberty Township for $450,000.
Willard F. Anglemyer, Lorraine Anglemyer to Ryan Paul Johnson, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Willard F. Anglemyer, Lorraine Anglemyer to Aaron W. Anglemyer, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Willard F. Anglemyer, Lorraince Anglemyer to Willard M. McCoy, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Forest City DG Ventures to David Colachino, in Forest City for $30,000.
Wilhelmina H. Pierson to Mark D. Wayman and Dianna M. Wayman, in Bridgewater Township for $115,000.
Michael A. Yannone and Anne M. Yannone to Alexandra A. Konsur, in Susquehanna for $79,500.
Delores A. Parks to Allen C. Schell, Sarah E. Traver, in Liberty Township for $108,000.
National City Home Loan Services Inc. (fka) Altegra Credit Company to Roman Luzniak and Maria Luzniak, in Lenox Township for $75,000.
Victor Cappucci Jr., Mildred Cappucci, Richard Place, Charlotte Place, Cappucci Trust (by trustee) to Gregory C. Repoley Sr. and Linda Repoley, in Dimock Township for $57,000.
Douglas D. Hine and Louise B. Hine to Wendy Lou Oakley, Timothy G. Oakley, Jacalyn Elaine Randall, Richard S. Randall, Karee Michelle Battle, Charles Battle, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Shane L. Hunter, Rebecca Hunter to Larry D. Kratzer and Delores Kratzer, in Franklin Township for $115,000.
Alexander J. Burik, Mary G. Burik to Brendan Tomaino and Jennifer Tomaino, in Clifford Township for $125,000.
Barbie Jane Gale to Barbie Jane Gale and Charles D. Gale, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Colleen Raub (aka) Coleen Raub to Willliam R. Brown and Nance J. Brown, in Silver Lake Township for $40,000.
Citifinancial Mortgage Co. Inc. (fka) Associates Homes Equity Consumer Discount Co. Inc. to Kathleen S. Marvin, in Hallstead Township for $55,500.
Arnold Manning, Alice M. Manning to Justin M. Conrad, in Gibson Township for $18,000.
Graydon L. Frazier, Lucille S. Frazier to Brian Natzle, Alicia Fraser Natzle, in Forest Lake Township for $300,000.
Susan M. Smith to Timothy M. Smith, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Brent M. Kelly and Kevin T. Kelly to Brent M. Kelly, Kevin T. Kelly and Brian R. Kelly, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Thomas Jim Tyler and Marnette Tyler to Joseph D. Ritter and Deborah Ritter, in Lenox Township for $52,900.
Kenneth Ross and Marcella Ross to Christopher Palmer and Ronda Palmer, in Silver Lake Township for $172,900.
Daniel Cox and Roxann Cox to Gary Lehrer, in Springville Township for $105,000.
Joseph A. Sperone, Lorraine Sperone, to Richard Waldron Sr., Jacqueline Waldron, Richard Waldron Jr., in New Milford Township for $120,000.
Jacqueline Scheideler to Anthony Balsamo, in Great Bend Township for $109,000.
Stephen A. Raynic to George Gregory and Todd Gregory, in Auburn Township for $12,000.
Donna Walker, James S. Walker to Robert J. Cerwin, Patricia Cerwin, in Jackson Township for $75,000.
Fox Enterprises Inc. to Denis M. McNamee and Deborah M. McNamee, in Susquehanna for $41,000.
J. Thomas Phillips Jr. and Lenora B. Phillips to Jamie C. Phillips and Jennifer L. Phillips, in New Milford Township for $122,000.
Joseph Nugent (trust by trustee) and Nora Nugent (trust by trustee) to John Lonergan and Maria Lonergan, in New Milford Township for $150,000.
Charlotte Mae Empet and Spencer L. Empet to Charlotte Mae Empet and Spencer L. Empet, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Stanley John Rockwell and Alice Anne Mills, both of Susquehanna.
Jonathan Francis West and Elizabeth A. Hitchcock, both of Montrose.
David Wayman and Susan M. Snyder, both of New Milford.
Christopher R. Dedonis and Amanda Renee Smales, both of Meshoppen.
Donald Newart of Montrose and Susan E. Kelley of Springville.
Debra P. Luce of Summerville vs. Stephen J. Luce of Montrose.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT INVOLVING SCHOOL BUS
This accident occurred on the afternoon of May 11 at the intersection of State Route 247 and State Road 2014 in Clifford Township. Paul T. Baron, 89, seat-belted and from Owego, NY, drove his 1996 Chevy Caprice through a stop sign while traveling west, didn’t heed a flashing red signal at the intersection and struck a 2001 Freightliner school bus that was going through the intersection and heading north. Twenty children were on the Mountain View School District bus; a male student and a female student were transported to Marion Community Hospital in Carbondale for treatment of minor head injuries. Bus driver Laurie Fuller, 41, Hop Bottom, was not injured; Baron received moderate injuries, was transported to CMC in Scranton for treatment, and cited for stop-sign violation and careless driving.
Melissa Henry, 37, Clifford was driving west on State Route 374 in her 2000 Pontiac Sunfire shortly after midnight on May 10 when she failed to make a right curve. The car traveled off the road and rolled. Henry was not wearing a seatbelt and was not injured, although the Pontiac was severely damaged.
John Aaron Birchard, 36, Montrose, was driving north on State Route 2678 in a Dodge Caravan on the night of May 7. As he rounded a corner and into a straight section of the road, he was unable to avoid hitting a deer in the roadway, causing him to lose control of his vehicle which veered to the left, went off the road, rolled onto its right side and spun 180 degrees before coming to a stop in a ditch, facing south. Birchard was wearing a seatbelt and received minor injuries in this accident that caused the vehicles air bags to be deployed.
At 5:30 on the morning of May 9 on State Route 11 at Old Route 11 in New Milford Township, Sean Raymond McGraw, 36, Montrose, lost control of the 2003 Kenworth tractor/semi-trailer he was driving. The trailer left the road and hit the metal guardrail and a utility pole. The truck-tractor and semi-trailer then overturned and hit some trees. The trailer broke open, causing the load to spill. McGraw received injuries of unknown severity and was transported to an unreported hospital by helicopter.
A 2000 Chevy Malibu driven by Lisa A. Starkey, 18, Greenfield Township, was traveling north on State Route 247 in Clifford Township just before noon on May 9. Starkey failed to negotiate a sharp curve, and her car hit a utility pole. She received minor injuries and the Chevy was moderately damaged.
FATAL TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
Shortly before 8 on the evening of May 7, Joseph James Rafalko, Jr., 57, Scranton, was driving a 1991 Toyota south on Dubois Street in Hallstead when he lost control of the car on a turn. The car left the road and came to rest between two trees. Rafalko was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rebecca Zawisky, 28, Liberty Township, sold a car over the Internet and the cashier’s check that was delivered to her was forged. An investigation is continuing. This incident took place between April 21 and May 2.
Between May 4-5, someone removed two signs that were tacked to trees on East Lake Road in New Milford Township. One sign advertised “East Lake Camp,” a business owned by Scott Young, New Milford, and the other sign was blue with a picture of a tent on it.*
This accident happened at 3 p.m. on May 5 when vehicles driven by John C. Creps, 21, Montrose, and Jennifer Garney, 42, Dimock, were traveling south on State Route 29 in Dimock Township. Garney slowed down, put on her turn signal and began to turn left just as Creps was passing another vehicle. The front end of Creps vehicle hit the left side of Garney’s. Garney’s vehicle then hit two trees before coming to a stop. All involved, including a passenger in Creps’ vehicle, were wearing seatbelts. Creps was cited, and United Fire Company in Montrose assisted at the scene.
Between April 27-28, someone entered a Ford Escort belonging to Eric Kasten, New Milford, while it was parked on Lackawanna Street in Hallstead and took 36 CD’s from within it.*
Non-traffic citations were filed against Kelly Alexander Taylor, 36, and Sherri Lee Marie Taylor, 35, both of Gibson Township, for harassment, after they were involved in a physical altercation with each other at 1:30 a.m. on May 2.
Betty Jane Rick, Bridgewater, reported a burglary/theft at her residence some time between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on April 27. The value of items taken or damaged is approximately $28.48.*
Some time between the mornings of April 24 and 25, someone took the electric meter from the power box at the railroad crossing on State Road 1017 in Lanesboro.*
State Police are investigating a fire that occurred at a house across from the Flying J Truck Stop in New Milford Township shortly before midnight on April 23. The fire, which was set on the second floor of the residence and burned into the roof area, was determined to be arson.*
Brett Benner, 33, Springville, was driving a 1997 Dodge Ram 2500 truck southbound on Route 29 near the intersection with Meshoppen Creek Road, when he failed to make a sweeping right-hand curve. The truck crossed into the opposing lane, went onto the eastern berm, traveled along a drainage ditch, hit a concrete culvert pipe in the ditch, continued to travel along the berm, struck a deep hole at the edge of the intersection, flipped and rolled and landed on its roof on Meshoppen Creek Road, where it slid into the guardrail. Benner left the scene before police arrived at the scene of this accident that happened at 9:35 p.m. on April 28. Citations were issued to Benner, who received minor injuries. The truck had major damage.
This accident happened at 2:45 a.m. on the morning of April 24 when David Kilmer, 21, Clifford, was driving south on State Road 2014 in Clifford Township. He lost control of his vehicle, causing it to leave the road and hit a tree. Kilmer was not wearing a seatbelt and received moderate injuries. Clifford Fire Company assisted at the scene.
Between 7:05 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on April 30, someone entered the residence of Sonya Lewis, Great Bend, through a rear window and left through the front door. Lewis reported that as of the date of the burglary, she didn’t notice anything had been removed.*
FRAUD AND FORGERY
An unknown person passed a counterfeit $20 bill at the BiLo Market in Great Bend Township between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on April 29.*
Unknown person(s) entered a Kime apartment in Great Bend through an unlocked door sometime between April 7-13, went into a bedroom, lifted a mattress on the bed, and took $2,000 from a bank envelope containing a substantial sum, and then left the apartment undetected.
Shannon Abbott, 36, Conklin, was arrested on charges of simple assault and harassment stemming from a domestic dispute with Laura Ellis, 25, New Milford Township at 1 a.m. on April 18.
CHILD SAFETY SEAT TECHNICIANS
The Pennsylvania State Police will be conducting a child safety seat check at the Montrose Price Chopper on May 21 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on May 22 from noon to 3 p.m. Anyone interested in having a child safety seat installed and/or inspected is welcome.
* Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the State Police at 465-3154 or 800-506-0372.
A lot of things are beginning to happen in Clifford Township and most of them are good for the community and its people.
For instance, at last week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, plans were unveiled for a new township garage, some additional work on the recreational complex behind the municipal building, and another step forward in the township’s plan to install sewers in the Crystal Lake/Dundaff areas of the township.
The supervisors agreed to advertise for bids for the construction of a township garage that will put the township’s equipment indoors. The building will be 40 feet by 90 feet and it will not come quick enough as far as the township police is concerned. Not long ago the police department’s all-wheel-drive SUV was ruined when culprits poured Clorox into the fuel tank.
The township will also be seeking bids for the construction of a 30 feet by 50 feet salt shed.
Thanks in part to the township’s civic group known as the Alliance, some additional work will take place this summer at the recreation complex. Plans call for the construction of an outdoor basketball court that may also double as an ice skating rink in the winter months. The baseball field will also get some sprucing up and some new playground equipment is anticipated.
There is good and bad to be said about the coming sewer system. The good is that Crystal Lake will be pollution-free, a move that is long overdue. The bad, or perhaps sad, part of the project is anticipated hook-up fees that will hover around the $6,000 figure. Last month, John Regan, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, cast the only negative vote on a motion to proceed with the sewer plans. After that meeting, Mr. Regan told the Transcript that the hook-up fees are what kept him from supporting the project.
“Not everyone can afford to part with $6,000 for the hook-fee,” Mr. Regan said. Mr. Regan said he would have preferred that the township continue its hunt for state and federal grant money that might lower the hook-up costs.
The township has grants pledged that are expected to exceed $1 million but the total cost of the project could top $2 million. Mr. Regan said he would have preferred that the project be delayed until more grant money could be obtained.
In a related development, the supervisors agreed to go money shopping. The township is looking to borrow about $230,000 in “start-up money” so that engineering and design plans for the sewer system could begin.
The township police department had a busy April. The monthly report listed an assortment of investigations including harassment, loitering and vandalism. During the month, police issued six citations for speeding and four stop sign violations.
The supervisors agreed to donate $6,000 to the Clifford Township Fire Department.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners worked their way through a quiet agenda at last week’s meeting and managed to complete two pubic meetings in less than one hour.
Little, if any, of the business disposed of appeared noteworthy other than the appointment of a new 911 coordinator. As reported in The Transcript a day before the meeting, Arthur Donato Jr. replaced Dawn Watson Zalewski whose resignation was finally accepted officially by the commissioners prior to Mr. Donato’s appointment.
Mr. Donato, who had been a part-time dispatcher at the 911 communications center for the past 18 years, will be paid $35,000 a year plus benefits, according to action of the Salary Board that met immediately following the commissioners’ meeting. He began his new assignment on May 16.
Once again the commissioners found it difficult getting bids to install a new roof on the county office building on Public Avenue in Montrose. One lone bid was submitted by Dunmore Roofing and Supply. The Lackawanna County firm offered to replace the roof at a cost of $78,700.
The bid price along with the scope of the work will be reviewed by the county architect before any contract is awarded.
Two annual proclamations were passed by the commissioners. The first proclaimed the month of May as Older Americans Month and the second proclaimed the week of May 15-21 as Emergency Medical Services Week.
Other motions approved by the commissioners included:
-hiring Deanna Haluska of Factoryville to the fulltime position of West Nile Virus Program Coordinator effective May 16. Ms. Haluska, who will receive $24,000 plus benefits, has a four year environmental degree.
-adopting a resolution that allows the Susquehanna Fire Department to lease space for radio equipment on a county-owned tower near the borough. The lease cost the fire company one dollar.
-appointing Mary Ann Warren as delegate on the Resources Conservation and Development Council and naming Jim Garner as first alternate and Tom Helmacy as second alternate.
The New Milford Township supervisors convened for the monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m.
No minutes were provided from the last meeting and no agenda was afforded the public.
Minutes were read into the record however. Chairman Buzz Gulick explained that the format of the meeting would be altered allowing public comment first.
Mr. Bill Williams, President of East Lake Conservation Association, read a letter of gratitude thanking the Supervisors for their enforcement of sewage codes with regards to the East Lake Campground, encouraging them to stay the course and serve the citizens of New Milford Township. This letter was referencing the recent court hearing in which a temporary injunction was granted to close the campground to protect the public pending the township suing the camp for allegedly dumping raw sewage. This posturing received a clapping from few people present. Williams referenced the recent hearing which has been continued. This is the same William Williams that penned a letter dated November 2, 2004 “To whom it may concern …I did not see any raw sewage on the ground…nor did I see any evidence of raw sewage…” Meanwhile the campground remains closed angering many campers according to the owners who provided comment after the township meeting. At prior township meetings Gulick adamantly refused to allow citizens to mention the campground.
A property owner at another lake community asked the supervisors what they could do to assist property owners to install a sewage system. Supervisors noted that previously it was not feasible to run sewage lines to that area and it may still be unfeasible.
Residents inquired as to the repair intentions of Stump Pond road. The roadmaster informed them it will be repaired but that is a lengthy process.
Old Business was discussed. Gulick noted that inquiries were made to obtain 911 Terrorism grants, as suggested by citizens however to date nothing was discovered.
Oliver Road will be improved with the assistance of a grant obtained by efforts from the Susquehanna County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
A reading of county code 2314 by Gulick caused a discussion of the application of that code with regards to repairs on roads.
Supervisors voted to pay $25 for the tax collector to be better insured.
In new business: Two comparable bids were received for liquid calcium so a vote was taken to approve to purchase the service and product of Vestal Asphalt.
Gulick reminded the public that New Milford Township is required to only reduce dust in front of homeowners or businesses.
The new hotel at the 81 interchange will be called Holiday Inn Express.
Several properties received Clean and Green approval.
A lively discussion ensued regarding the benefits or drawbacks of getting organizations to band together to plan development in the community and completing a comprehensive plan. The cost is $5,000-$10,000 just for creating the plan. The planning or lack their in was mentioned with regards to the Gibson exit ramps and businesses. The high cost to comply with all the new regulations and permits was discussed. A woman added that people will pay a fine instead of the high cost of permit fees and this “will make honest people crooks.” Darren Gentilequore stated that he moved here and owns 16 acres and is looking to purchase considerable more acreage in this area and “I completely oppose any regulation of my property…If other townships want to do it go right ahead but don’t push it down our throats.” Gulick took an informal count “out of curiosity” of who would want a comprehensive plan. The vote was 11 to 9 in favor, basically 50/50. Gulick stated he is personally opposed to zoning.
Bills were paid and the meeting adjourned.
Harrisburg – The deadline to apply for disaster aid for the April 2-3 rain and floods is fast approaching. Residents in disaster-designated counties have one month left to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for possible federal disaster assistance. June 13 is the deadline to register for assistance.
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) joins FEMA in urging residents and business owners with disaster-related damage that occurred to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number for those with speech or hearing impairment is (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Area residents can contact Mark Wood, County EMA Coordinator, at (570) 278–4600 ext. 257 for info and/or questions.
A welter of year-end business occupied the Blue Ridge School Board for nearly two hours on May 9, including a mini- workshop devoted to Act 72.
The meeting opened with a short concert by the High School choir under the direction of Antonino Bennici, who also offered an appreciation of support for the music program from the board, the administration, the community, and especially the students. Resplendent in scarlet robes, the choir sang three selections, demonstrating why they have topped regional competition for 10 years running.
The choristers were followed by Food Service Manger Linda Cole-Koloski, who gave a short presentation and answered questions about the summer program that will offer free lunches to all youngsters participating in programs at the school. Ms. Cole-Koloski said that the pilot program, fully funded by the federal Department of Agriculture and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will cover all but about three weeks during the summer. Anyone between the ages of 1 and 18 who is on campus "for a specific reason" will be fed.
Four new teachers attended the meeting to accept the Board's welcome following a vote to hire four for the Elementary School and one in the High School. Janelle Mead, Sharon Watkins, Cheryl Farrell, and Sarah Sienko will start in the Elementary School in August. Former Blue Ridge Board member Joseph Conigliaro will become the new High School business education teacher.
Mr. Conigliaro's new boss will be John Manchester, approved to replace Michael Thornton as High School Principal. Mr. Thornton offered Mr. Manchester a wad of keys as a badge of office, but Mr. Manchester said he wasn't sure the keys might not weigh down his trousers. He takes office officially on July 1.
The new teachers will be joining the Blue Ridge Education Association (BREA) – the local teachers' union. Current BREA President Judy Kelly, who is retiring at the end of the school year, introduced her successor, long-time Blue Ridge personality Jane McNamara (who also happens to be sister-in-law to Superintendent Robert McNamara).
Among other typical year-end items:
* Summer session teachers were named: Michael Ostrowski, English; Jane McNamara, Science; Alicia Ross, Social Studies; and Richard Mackrell, Mathematics.
* Harold Empett was renewed in his position as Board Treasurer. The Blue Ridge treasurer is paid $1,500 for his trouble, and is bonded in the amount of $15,000.
* Business Manager Loren Small was reappointed Board Secretary.
* Peoples National Bank, Pennstar Bank, Salomon Smith Barney, and Community Bank and Trust were named depositories for the coming year.
* The law firm of Sweet, Stevens, Tucker and Katz were retained as Blue Ridge solicitors.
* Barnes-Kasson Hospital remains responsible for physician services at the same rate of $90 per hour.
* Dr. Alan Hinkley is kept on as school dentist at the same fee of $7.50 per exam.
The Child Evangelism Fellowship of Susquehanna County was again approved for a school-release program of religious instruction. Current year enrollment in this program was 7.
And, almost as an afterthought, the Board approved a preliminary budget for the 2005-2006 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. Only trivially different from what had been discussed during workshops over the past couple of months, the budget still calls for no increase in tax rates, which are now: property taxes – 43 mills; occupation tax – 130 mills; per-capita tax – $5.00 under Act 511 and $5.00 under Act 679; and a 1% real estate transfer tax. Total expenditures are expected to be $14,952,753. The public will have 30 days to review the budget before final passage in June.
If Act 72 actually happens, the public may have more to say about school budgets in Pennsylvania in the future. This very complex bit of legislative legerdemain hopes to "reform" the property tax and school funding structure in Pennsylvania, and includes provisions for several types of referenda. As complicated as it is, several school districts around the county that have offered special public presentations on the subject have been poorly attended.
Act 72 – and its counterpart, Act 71, which funds the reforms from anticipated gambling revenue – are under attack in the courts from several angles. The uncertainty is giving many school districts headaches, trying to decide whether to "opt in" or "opt out" of the program, which (at least so far) they must do by May 31. A school district that "opts out" is choosing to leave school funding as it is. There is no provision for allowing recalcitrant districts to join the program later. However, the consensus seems to be that referenda on school budgets is in the future for Pennsylvania in any case. Districts that "opt in" will be required to enact an "earned income tax" (EIT) of at least one-tenth of one percent (0.01%) to be levied on all wage-earners in the district. There is also a provision for converting the EIT to a PIT (personal income tax) at some later date, following another referendum.
Figures provided by Blue Ridge administrators indicate that the maximum property tax relief that could be realized under Act 72 by qualifying Blue Ridge district property would be about $533. But the formulas for calculating changes in the tax structure are very complicated, and based on current data. Since most of the provisions of Act 72 won't actually go into effect until state gambling revenue approaches $1 billion (not anticipated for at least 2 years), the actual amount of tax relief that will become available cannot be known precisely yet. In any case, the program is supposed to be "revenue neutral" to the school districts; that is, they cannot expect any windfall from gambling or EIT revenues, which are to be offset by reductions in property taxes. And property tax reduction is the major incentive that school districts feel are pushing them to opt into the program.
These issues will be a major focus of the legislative information session to be held on Thursday, May 12 at Blue Ridge for county school administrators and board members. The Blue Ridge Board itself will decide at its own meeting on May 23 whether to opt out, or to opt in and impose the earned income tax. A proposed resolution based on a draft offered by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) will be considered at that time. Titled a "Conditional Resolution", the document reluctantly accepts participation in the Act 72 provisions and reserves the right to withdraw its own adoption should major changes in the program undermine the funding formulas upon which it is based. The resolution says, in part, "The board of school directors declares that it has been induced to adopt this resolution solely on the basis of representations by the Governor and General Assembly of the Commonwealth that Act 71 gambling tax or assessment revenues will produce an aggregate of one billion dollars to be available for allocation to Pennsylvania school districts for purposes of property tax relief beginning in the 2007-2008 school year."
At the very end of the business meeting, an observer asked about a trip to a conference in California attended by four members of the Blue Ridge Board. Expenses for the trip were funded out of the Blue Ridge budget.
A parent then came forward threatening the District with legal action in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the school dress policy. Claiming that his daughter was treated in a "retaliatory" manner by the principal over the clothes she was wearing, he asserted that the district had no right under the school code to impose such restrictions. Superintendent McNamara said that, on the contrary, the law indeed gives the district the authority to impose a dress code, which is published in the Blue Ridge policy manual and the student handbook. When Mr. McNamara asked if the parent had approached the administration about the matter for a possible solution, the father said that he had "decided to go straight to the ACLU."
Meanwhile the business of education continues. The High School announced that two students, Abby Onyon and Felisha Schaffer, have each been awarded up to $10,000 per year by the McKelvey Foundation to attend one of 18 selected private colleges in Pennsylvania. The so-called McKelvey "Gold" scholarships are offered to "low to middle income high school seniors attending school in the rural communities of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. The Foundation selects students based upon their demonstrated `Entrepreneurial Spirit', which requires a written essay and involvement in their community and at school." A third high- achiever at Blue Ridge declined a McKelvey "Bronze" award of up to $3,500 and $500 per year.
Following (as submitted) is the Susquehanna Borough Police report from March and April, 2005.
On March 14, charges were filed against John Deakin, Jr. of Susquehanna for 10 counts of Forgery, Theft and Criminal Solicitation. An investigation was started in January of 2005 when Pennstar Bank and Peoples Bank reported forged checks. Investigation also resulted in Robert Smith of Susquehanna charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Bad Checks. John DeRose of Susquehanna was charged with Criminal Conspiracy.
On April 3, Albert Bishop, Jr. was again charged with Public Drunkenness after police were called for him putting traffic cones in roadway (Main St.). He’s since been sentenced by District Court 34-3-02 for time in the Montrose Correctional Facility with community service for multiple counts of Public Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct.
FLEEING AND ELUDING/RESISTING ARREST
Also on April 3, a routine traffic stop was initiated on an Isuzu truck traveling East on Church St. Driver who was later identified as Kevin Dubanowitz fled in truck to Turnpike St. in Lanesboro. Dubanowitz then went to relatives’ house on Turnpike St. and ran inside. Upon arrest, Dubanowitz resisted and was taken into custody. The case has since been sent to the Court of Common Pleas from District Court 34-3-02.
On April 8, a routine traffic stop was initiated when the driver, Jamie Severance of Montrose was found to be intoxicated. He was arrested for DUI with traffic violations and is awaiting Preliminary Hearing in the Montrose Correctional Facility.
On April 10 at 2:00 a.m., Peck Milbauer of Susquehanna was cited for Disorderly Conduct after causing a disturbance with his vehicle on Main St.
On April 16 at 11:30 p.m., Dermot O’Hare of Susquehanna was also cited for Disorderly Conduct after causing a disturbance with his vehicle on Main St.
On the evening of April 18, Chris Barnes of Susquehanna reported a rear window broken on his vehicle parked at 412 Elm St. Jeffrey Fisk of Susquehanna was charged with Criminal Mischief.
Sometime during the evening of April 17 someone entered the residence of 415 Elm St. through a sliding door while no one there. Nothing was taken and there were no signs of forced entry.
On or around 3:30 a.m. on May 22, Jeffrey Decker of Susquehanna reported his vehicle to have been vandalized while parked on Washington St. Danielle Baker of Susquehanna has since been charged for Criminal Mischief.
On the evening of April 28, Chris Barnes reported someone to have vandalized his vehicle while parked at 412 Elm St.
RECKLESS DRIVING/DISORDERLY CONDUCT
On April 30, at 5:55 p.m. a juvenile reported that a white Grand Am had attempted to hit him while walking on Prospect St. An investigation led to Michael Treacy of Susquehanna being charged with Reckless Driving, Disorderly Conduct and Driving without a License.
** Any information please call Police at 853-3147 or E-Mail: SusqPol@Epix.net
As Memorial Day approaches please remember to “Click it or Tick it!” Police will mobilize this program from May 16 to June 5 with conjunction of the DA’s Office and County Sheriff. If you’re drunk, you will be arrested. The only thing between you and a drunk driver is the painted line in the middle of the road. Your safety is our business!
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