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The Susquehanna Community School Board met on May 18 with vice president James Bucci presiding in the absence of president Terry Carter. Also not in attendance was board member Johnine Barnes. The district’s new Business Manager, Gary Kiernan sat in for his first “official” meeting.
Reporting on Title I and the Strategic Plan, Superintendent Bronson Stone said that a Title I funded summer program (for K-2) will be held to prevent regression, and the process to update the Strategic Plan will begin in September and continue throughout the year. The state Dept. of Ed. has consolidated the plan process with the processes for Act 48, Induction and Technology plans, so that one would cover all areas.
Mr. Stone went on to say that it has been, overall, a very positive year, with improved student achievement results; the faculty has worked diligently to see that students succeed
Elementary principal Bob Keyes noted that all have been busy with end of the year activities. This year’s winner of the county principals’ Scholar Citizenship Award was sixth grader Kristen Wentzell. One student from each of the county’s school districts is chosen for this award, with winners honored at a luncheon. And fourteen (more) students have been chosen to have their poetry published in a biannual compilation.
John Ord took the floor to update the board on some of the new technology items that have been made available to the district, including hardware that allows audio and video to be broadcast to a specific area by setting up a temporary video system, and software that will inventory software and hardware from all PCs used by the district.
Assistant Principal Mark Gerchman reported that final exam schedules were available; schedules needed to be revised due to an extra period being added to the school day, and, PSSA data was to be released back to the school the following week.
High School Principal Mike Lisowski reported good success with athletic surveys that had been given to students. An exit survey is being formulated for seniors to fill out before the end of the school year. He was pleased to note that students have been honest, sincere, and candid with their answers. Results of the exit surveys will be shared with the board upon completion.
Kathleen Hinkley reported that the Education Association’s annual car show was a success. Proceeds raised go towards scholarships for students going into the field of education; three will be given this year. Plans for a dinner to honor district staff members who are or who have retired are up and running.
During Public Comment Period, Leslie Swan, Past Governor of Moose Lodge 794 told the board about a Moose Youth Awareness program offered by the Moose Congress. Two students, senior, junior or sophomore are invited to a yearly conference at the lodge’s expense to learn about the program and then go to younger classes with presentations during the school year. Participation allows the two students to become eligible for scholarships of $7,000, $3,000, or $2,000, and all materials are provided through the Moose Congress. Information packets have been made available to the Guidance Department.
Earle Wooten, Chairman of the Community Foundation, presented the board with copies of the foundation’s recent newsletter. Later in the meeting, the board approved creation of the Susquehanna Community School District Foundation as an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Susquehanna County. Through this affiliation, perpetual scholarship funds can be managed and invested and future endeavors are being explored, such as forming an alumni association.
Under New Business, the board approved the following:
- Revised millage rate for Wayne County to reflect the county’s reassessment rate from 172.4 to 9.12. Mr. stone explained that the 200 Wayne County properties in the Susquehanna School District were valued at $850,000 last year, and due to reassessment, this year are valued at $15,000,000. Although the millage rate has to be readjusted, the dollar amount stays the same.
- A tentative District Budget of $12,238,439.50 for 2005/2006, a $5.00 Per Capita Tax under Act 511, a $5.00 Per Capita Tax under Act 679, and setting the district millage at 37.75 in Susquehanna County and 9.63 in Wayne County for the 2005/2006 school year. This represents a 5.5% increase, or two mills (one mill equals $25.30). Compared to other districts, Mr. Stone said, the district’s millage is considerably lower. The increases are due to rises in expenses, particularly health insurance costs, retirement contributions, heating oil and retirement incentives. He added that under Act 72 guidelines, the district would have been allowed an increase of 6.7 mills for the period of 2001 to 2006 and has, in fact, only increased a total of 3 mills in that time frame. Projects highlighted in next year’s budget include after-school tutoring programs, an IEP program, summer programs for K-2, new reading and language arts series, Science lab, radios for school buses, and facility issues such as the parking area, electric work, doors, gates and stages.
Other actions by the board included:
- Bids for supplies for the 2005/2006 School year and giving the business office permission to order supplies.
- Election of a board treasurer for the 2005/2006 School year. There were two nominations, Martha Stanford and Steven Stanford, with the final vote being four for Martha Stanford, three for Steven Stanford. A motion was made to set the treasurer’s salary at $4,500; however, five votes are needed and only four were positive. It will be readdressed at the board’s June meeting.
- Election of a board secretary for a four-year term, beginning with the 2005/2006 school year. Nomination of Evelyn Cottrell received six votes, with Mary Wescott voting against. Mrs. Wescott clarified that her vote was in protest of the salary and benefits that (traditionally) go along with this position. Mr. Bucci noted that the salary will be determined at the June meeting.
- Peoples National Bank as the depository for the District Funds for the 2005/2006 School year.
- Appointment of Attorney James A. Kelly/Joseph Gaughn as the District Solicitors for the 2005/2006 School year.
- Appointment of Parente Randolph, PC Accountants as District Auditors for the 2005/2006 school year.
- Appointment of G.H. Harris Associates, Inc., Dallas, PA as the Delinquent Tax Collector for the District for the 2005/2006 school year.
- An agreement with Thomas P. Theobald, Government Software Services, Honesdale, PA for the printing of tax duplicates for Starrucca Boro for 2005.
- An agreement with Infocon Corporation, Ebensburg, PA (used by the County) for the printing of tax duplicates for the District for 2005.
- An agreement with DeHey McAndrew Consultants, Scranton, PA for information services for the 2005/2006 school year.
- Permission for Attorney James A. Kelly/Joseph Gaughn, District Solicitors, to bid the Tax Anticipation Note in the amount of $1,000,000.00 for the 2005/2006 school year.
- An addendum to the Fundraising Policy of June 21, 1995. The change clarifies use of money raised by students for participation in certain events, and clarifies transfer of leftover funds to the next class, rather than to a grade as a whole.
- A revised job description for the position of Athletic Director. The old one, written in 1964, was quite humorous, Mr. Stone said, and included such duties as maintenance on school buses.
- A School Consortium Contract with the Cognitive Learning Centers of NE Pennsylvania, LLC for the 2005/2006 school year. This guarantees the district’s use of the center’s new facility in Scranton, where neuro-psychological evaluations can be performed at a reduced rate.
- A list of textbooks for the 2005/2006 school year.
Hiring of the following, effective the 2005/2006 school year, was approved: Athletic Director – Denise Reddon; English Department Head – Pamela Weiss; Student Council Advisor – Dan Demora; Girls Varsity Basketball Coach – Kristen Grausgruber; Extended School Year – Melissa Urbas; and volunteer Gary Folk – Girls Softball.
The following resignations were approved: Mary Mazikewich – District Newsletter Co-Advisor – effective end of the 2004/2005 school year; Brenda Reddon – Elementary Aide – effective end of the 2004/2005 school year; Karen Janson – High School Aide – effective May 5, 2005.
A Title I Parent Involvement Policy was approved, as were three bus contract changes, Released Time Instruction for students in Grades 1 – 6 with Child Evangelism Fellowship of Susquehanna County, Inc. for the 2005/2006 School year, and homebound instruction for two students.
A special meeting to make a decision on whether to opt in or out of Act 72 was scheduled for Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) at 7:30 p.m. in the administration office. Districts have until midnight on May 30 to render a decision on participating.
The customary list of activities and fund-raising requests was approved.
The next regular meeting will be on Wednesday, June 15, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
The first item of business at the meeting of the three supervisors of Great Bend Township was about fire hydrants. The current hydrant in the Hallstead Plaza is in the way of the new car wash and needs to be moved. Before it can be, and be relocated, approval must be obtained from both the township and the water company, and must be approved by the Great Bend Fire Company.
A representative of the fire company was at the meeting to propose moving the current hydrant to the lawn area between the Colonial Brick motel. To ensure coverage for the plaza, the fire company is proposing the installation of a new hydrant by a utility pole on Route 11 between Dobb’s and the Sunoco station. The company will get together with the water company to see if it agrees. The fire company will install the hydrant, and the township will pay for its maintenance.
Randolph Road will also get a fire hydrant; one was approved some time ago, and now council will go forward on this and the Plaza hydrant.
A representative from DGK Insurance also attended the meeting to go over the township’s insurance policies with the supervisors and secretary Sheila Guinan. The bottom line was the best – premiums have gone down. The rep suggested that that the tax collector’s residence be added to the policy, since valuable paperwork and records are kept at her home office.
A resident requested permission to connect a sewer line across McHugh Hill Road to connect to his residence and has already obtained permission from the sewer authority to do so. Before the board would give its permission as well, it wanted to see some drawing as to where the line would be put, but it didn’t anticipate any problems with the process so long as everything was done right.
Another wanted to know where Downes Road stood in the line-up for repairs. Roadwork is done by area, and chair Bob Squier explained that Downe’s would probably happen later this summer. Currently, the road crew is working in the Sienko Road area, and next will be Baptist Hill. Supervisor Walt Galloway also noted that the township is still dealing with the tremendous amount of washouts from the recent rains – not to mention still taking care of hurricane damage, added Squier.
Squier also read Nick Mase’s roadmaster’s report that included a new pipe on Towner Road, calcium on Highland Road, fillings in washes along Sienko Road, mowing, and equipment maintenance and repair.
After doing further research on the bids it opened at its last meeting for repair of Graham Hollow Road, the board awarded the bid to lowest bidder ($14,200) CDG Construction. Per specifications, the township will provide stone and materials, and, thus, agreed to arrange for dump trucks to deliver them at a rate no higher than $50 an hour.
With repairs for Old Route 11 slated soon, supervisor George Haskins wanted to make it clear that the road will be repaved with a cold process mix, with grindings from Interstate 81 purchased under a state piggyback. The township will shortly put out to bid the equipment, trucks, labor and washed stone for the project, and, if possible, begin the ambitious project in July.
Bids for the new township building were scheduled to be open at the meeting, but in a big surprise, there weren’t any to open. Galloway did get calls, however, from contractors commenting about the paperwork that was sent and would be required. Thus, the board decided to extend the date for bids until June 6, when it’s hoped the additional time will result in some competitive bids. Galloway also wanted a meeting date arranged with KBA Engineering to, along with another supervisor, speak with them about engineering costs.
Squier noted that the May 25 meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Great Bend Borough Building for municipalities about an intermunicipal comprehensive plan would be the one that decides whether there is a group to pursue a regional comprehensive plan and gain grant money and other benefits of coordinated efforts. There has been concern by some that a comprehensive plan would lead to zoning. Not true. Haskins noted that a plan identifies different classes of properties – commercial, agricultural, residential, to plan growth out some 20 years. Zoning would be taking a plan a step further. And a plan would make those who participate in it eligible for all sorts of grants. Haskins mentioned a county which recently received one for $500,000 for a recycling center.
This prompted one resident to remark that people with junkyards on their properties could continue to keep them like that; that new ones could spring up, and nothing could be done about them. Haskins pointed out that in those cases, ordinance would have to be enforced, and that could take time.
Nevertheless, the sentiment appears to be that organized communities that work together on a comprehensive plan is a good thing for the future of the area.
Squier read a letter that he planned to send to surrounding municipalities about working together to form a watershed association to lead efforts to stabilize the many problem creeks that flood roads, properties and homes; leave behind major damage when the waters recede; and severely erode their banks and silt up bridges, the river and bays. Haskins reported that representative Sandy Majors expressed an interest in participating as well, and a resident at the meeting volunteered to work on the project.
The next regular meeting of the Great Bend Township board of supervisors is scheduled for June 6 at 7 p.m. in the township building.
Vandling Borough residents expected their taxes would increase when Lackawanna County finished its reassessment program. There hasn't been a reassessment in the county in more than 25 years and borough taxpayers know the value of their homes has increased and with it comes an increase in assessment values which translates into higher real estate taxes.
The new assessments have not gone into effect yet and still Vandling residents will pay more school taxes for the 2005-2006 school year. But, then again, so will the property owners in the other five municipalities that send their children to Forest City Regional.
What Vandling residents did not expect was another big jump in their real estate taxes. For the 2004-2005 school year, real estate taxes in Vandling went up 4.9 mills and for the 2005-2006 school year the increase will be 4.2 mills.
Mrs. Aldona O’Boyle of Vandling asked the Board of Education at last week’s special meeting why Vandling seems to get the biggest tax increase and has the highest millage rate. She was told that the Pennsylvania Tax Equalization Board determines the real estate market values for the regional school district and the market value in Vandling is used to determine the borough’s school tax rate.
“We have no authority to set the tax ratio,” board President Fred Garm said. He pointed out that the millage may appear higher than other municipalities that are enrolled in the regional school district but with the current assessments in effect in Vandling, a house of equal value in another community would probably pay as much school taxes as Vandling.
“Your millage is high because your assessments are low,” Director Tom Baileys told Mrs. O’Boyle. Mr. Baileys resigned from the school board abruptly last week, one day after a humiliating reelection loss to former director Rita Lowry.
Director Al Dyno, who represents the Borough of Vandling on the school board, may have offered the most logical explanation for Vandling’s sizeable school tax increase. Mr. Dyno said the recent sale of Jerry’s Sports Center, the biggest industry in the borough, lead to a tax appeal and a subsequent reduction in the assessment of the center. Mr. Dyno said he did not know whether Vandling Borough Council will appeal the reduction.
In another matter, the board awarded bids for the elementary school project that will result in three renovated classrooms for pre-kindergarten classes that will start in the Fall. Contracts will be awarded to the following low bidders: heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Master Mechanical Corporation of Berwick, $66,682; electrical, Spectrum Electric Services Inc. of Montrose, $26,700; Jim Lagana Plumbing and Heating, $38,300; and, A.J. Guzzi General Contractors of Clarks Summit, general contractor at $138,831.
At a special meeting earlier this month, Karen Forsette, district business manager, said the project will not cost the taxpayers any money. Some of the money will come from a state grant and the balance from leftover construction funds from a prior improvement project and the capital improvement fund.
In response to a question, School Superintendent Robert Vadella said it will be impossible to install windows in the pre-kindergarten classrooms because they are below ground. Dr. Vadella assured parents that the rooms will be environmentally safe and climate controlled.
In other board action-
– the board approved the payment of $15,603 to John Kropcho Jr. for architectural fees associated with the improvement program.
– passed a motion approving the budget for the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna at $5.5 million. The average cost per student will be $4,318 a decrease of $46 per pupil.
– appointed Duane Benedict to the position of technology coordinator at a salary of $53,000 effective July 5.
– Announced that a special meeting will be held on May 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the school library and the next regular board meeting has been changed from June 13 to June 6.
Jack McKeeby and Rhonda Ralston to Stanley Colwell, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Lawrence T. O’Reilly, Christine M. O’Reilly and Thomas J. O’Reilly to Theodore Betker Jr. and Sara R. Betker, in Apolacon Township for $92,000.
Peter M. Milaccio, Joan Milaccio to Peter M. Milaccio (trust) and Joan Milaccio (trust), in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Duane Root and Marilyn A. Root to Duane Root and Marilyn A. Root, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Kimberly M. Kooiman (nbm) Kimberly M. Aukema, Jason Aukema to Jason Aukema and Kimberly M. Aukema, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Sigrid J. Reddon to Michael S. Fabrizi Jr. and Liane M. Fabrizi, in Oakland Township for $110,000.
Darlene Linares to Harry O. Gretzinger, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Jake A. Romain, Tonya L. Romain, Tonya VanGorder (nbm) to Bradley A. Westgate, in Great Bend Township for $65,920.
Jerome Chervanka and Evangeline Chervanka to Adam Smith, in Forest City for $60,000.
Susan K. Schiavone and David K. Schiavone to Snake Creek Lodge, in Franklin Township for $108,000.
Janice Rosenkrans to James Bledsoe, in Montrose for $59, 000.
William Frihart (aka) William C. Frihart to James Kiley and Darlene Kiley, in Apolacon Township for $20,000.
William H. Bloomer Jr. and Patricia T. Bloomer to Christopher W. Bloomer, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
William H. Bloomer Jr. and Patricia T. Bloomer to Elizabeth Bloomer Nesvold, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
William Frederick Dean (estate) to Gerald E. Burke and Gail Burke, in Auburn Township for $18,000.
Terry L. Ralston Sr. and Anna J. Ralston to Terry L. Ralston Sr. and Anna J. Ralston, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Mary E. Snyder and Charles H. Snyder to Thomas J. Kapcsandi and Lori J. Kapcsandi, in Thompson Township for $35,000.
Robert J. Hanson Jr. and Mary Jo E. Hanson to Robert J. Hanson Jr. and Mary Jo E. Hanson, in Union Dale Borough for one dollar.
Robert J. Hanson Jr. and Mary Jo E. Hanson to Robert J. Hanson Jr. and Mary Jo E. Hanson, in Union Dale Borough and Clifford and Herrick townships for one dollar.
Richard V. Weida and Jill Weida to Edward McGrady Jr. and Cindee McGrady, in Lenox Township for $68,000.
Suzanne K. St. Pierre to Neil Alan Mack, in Auburn Township for $11,000.
Bron W. Sklaris to Chester E. Kilmer Jr., in New Milford Township for $60,000.
John Brown and Constance Brown to John W. Pendergast and Margaret A. Pendergast, in Harmony Township for $106.000.
Carolyn L. Francis to Andrew C. Francis, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Phyllis R. Sanders and Charles R. Sanders to Scott Charles Sanders, Melissa Lee Ankeny and John Ankeny, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Mark Daniel Derwin to Mark Daniel Derwin and Ann Katherine Derwin, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Donna M. Fekette and Thomas J. Lopatofsky to Paul Molter and Jocelyn Molter, in Lathrop Township for $50,000.
Joseph Tangorra and Lorraine Tangorra to George J. Steinmetz Jr. and Barbara Steinmetz, in Lathrop Township for $155,000.
Virgina K. Mussari to John F. Lane III and Elizabeth L. Lane, in Clifford Township for $553,276.
Dora Jane Smith (estate) to Donald W. Brink, in Great Bend Borough for one dollar.
Tina Barlow (nka) Tina Smith to Bruce Barlow, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Borden-Gerber Inc. to Matthew Ferrel and Daniel Hollis, in Herrick Township for $25,000.
Robert C. Kilmer to Thomas F. Roberts and Sally J. Roberts, in Clifford Township for $225,000.
Edna H. Hayden, Susan Mae Albright, Wayne Albright to Joseph Mazzocchi and Jennifer Mazzocchi, in Harford Township for $63,000.
Mary Alice Bush Hawley, Leslie Hawley, Edwin A. Bush Jr., Sheila Bush, Susan M. Bush (nbm) Sara M. Burh Barefoot, Susan M. Bush Pratt, Kelly Pratt, Julie E. Bush Capwell (estate), Michael S. Bush, Amy L. Bush to Mary Alice Bush and Julie E. Bush Capwell (estate), in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
FEDERAL TAX LIENS
The United States Department of Revenue has attached liens in favor of the United States on all property rights to property belonging to the following people for the amount of taxes shown:
Dieter Beier, 729, Rear Main Street, Forest City, in the amount of $10,627; and, Richard Suraci, Union Dale, in the amount of $52,796.
The New Milford Municipal Authority has put liens against the following for delinquent accounts:
Carroll Dewey, $468.76 and Ernest and Anna Woosman, $643.17.
Gregory A. McNamara and Maggie R. Harmon, both of Vestal, NY.
Robert Bernard Yannick Jr. and Melina Kay Goodrich, both of Morrisville, NC.
Jason Michael Galloway and Michelle Marie Feiller, both of Forest City.
Christopher Michael Gennarelli and Sarah Marie Perera, both of New Milford.
John J. Lawler Jr., Carbondale vs. Sandra Lynn Meloni Lawler, Mayfield.
Joy Sacco vs. Stephen Sacco, both of Moscow.
The Council of Governments Codes Enforcement Committee marked its 10th anniversary, and after its May 17 meeting, there was cake to celebrate the occasion. Which may be why the COG, Codes and Sewage meetings proceeded apace.
Codes’ chair Ted Plevinsky, in opening the meeting, recalled when the group didn’t have $100 in its checking account. That’s not the case today, with scores of members – many relatively recent – who look to Codes for guidance and enforcement of the state’s revamped uniform construction codes that became effective last year.
In fact, one of the recommendations of the group’s audit committee (which reported that it found good processes and no discrepancies) was to hire an accountant to do next year’s audit. A considerable amount of money is going through Codes – much of it from Codes permit and inspection fees, and much of that paid, in turn, to the group’s third-party inspection company. Members thought a CPA made sense, too.
Secretary Karen Trynoski read correspondence from a UCC administrator clarifying that all lateral standards are part of the UCC. This means that (and especially for residents of New Milford Borough which is currently connecting to city water/sewage) a plumbing permit and electrical permit and inspection will be required to hook up to the system.
CEO Randy Williams reported that Bridgewater Township has recently done away with its mobile/manufactured homes assessment permit, one that existed prior to UCC regulations. With permits now required under UCC for plumbing and electric on mobile homes, the township supervisors thought the assessment permit fee was just too much. Trynoski pointed out that appropriate information regarding inspections is sent to the county assessment office, and that Codes had a sample ordinance available for members to look over.
Plevinsky updated the group on a hearing held about a Franklin Township storage building that was put up without a permit. While the building owner has sent in money for a permit, fines and extra fees had not been paid as of the meeting date.
He reported that a fine assessed on a property in Liberty Township is growing. The owner failed to have the appropriate sewage, driveway and trailer permit and was in court because of it – a couple of times, as a matter of fact. Now, with a failure-to-pay fine of $100 a day continuing to grow into a substantial number, Plevinsky said the next step would be put a judgment against the property and put it up for sale.
At the Council of Governments meeting that preceded the Codes committee meeting, Jane Zick, COG representative from New Milford Borough, wanted to apologize for any misunderstanding that COG may have had about its feasibility study on expanding the borough building, where COG currently has its offices, to accommodate the district justice’s office. At its last meeting, COG discussed the need for a building of its own – perhaps buying property and putting up a manufactured structure. Zick told members that the borough did not want COG to leave the building; that if it needed more room, the borough would be happy to work with COG on making it happen. She pointed out that, with the feasibility plan, it was never even brought up that the borough wanted COG to leave; the plan would be to turn over borough offices to the district magistrate, and expand in the rear of the building for borough offices, leaving COG’s as is.
At the Codes meeting, Dave Darrow began to report on responses to ads for appropriate property. One was from the owner of the skating rink in New Milford who didn’t want to sell the building, but would lease it. However, a Codes representative wondered if the group wanted to talk about moving or building with the press in attendance. Plevinsky asked members to think about whether they wanted to put money aside to have their own building, and the meeting was adjourned.
COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS
COG president Eliot Ross announced to members that Starrucca Borough had decided to resign from COG. Several potential problem areas were discussed at last month’s COG meeting – different counties and governments, different DEP representatives, and the distance factor – and apparently Starrucca was thinking much the same things. As soon as COG receives official notification in writing from the borough, it will refund Starrucca’s membership fee.
Proposed revisions to COG by-laws were discussed, and one of them explicitly changed language about membership as being any municipality in Susquehanna County. Much of the discussion (and the meeting) however, revolved around whether a committee chair or COG president voted on issues only to break a tie, or, because the chair or president would also be representing his/her municipality, could vote on an issue as that municipality’s representative. Members didn’t have a resolution at the meeting, and were asked to review the by-laws for a vote on them at its June meeting.
In new business, Dave Darrow spoke with county sheriff Lance Benedict and arranged for him to address the group about meth lab training at its June meeting. Mike Greene reported that the county planning commission made minor modifications to land-use coordinates and the commission expects to pass them next month. The changes, said Greene, will be posted on the county website.
SEWAGE ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE
Harvey Rosencrans chaired an amazingly short meeting: The Dunn Lake development is still waiting for an engineering report; another hearing is scheduled for the Hawkins Homes violation that’s been going on for some years now; the Vadovsky appeal in front of Judge Seamans resulted in payment of fines and costs to the committee of $3,500 (which has been paid, and was, according to COG counsel Jason Legg, one of the biggest he’s seen on a violation like the Vadovsky one); and the SEO is busy.
The next regular meeting of the Council of Governments is scheduled for June 21 at 7 p.m. in COG offices in the New Milford Borough building on Main Street.
Hallstead Boro council met on May 19; members Theodore Loomis and James Gillespie were not present. There were a number of visitors present. First up, Boy Scout Jonathan Wilber asked for council’s approval to put a pavilion at the Route 11 ballfield park, as a community project which will help him to become an Eagle Scout. He brought designs and specifics of what he would like the pavilion to look like, and the materials used. Council unanimously agreed to approve the project with the stipulation that Mr. Wilber first check with the Blue Ridge School District, as there are plans for replacing an existing concession stand. It was agreed that it would be better to determine what the exact dimensions of the new building will be before the pavilion is put up, to ensure that there is no conflict with the location of the pavilion.
Bob Templeton, Director of the county Planning Commission, invited council to attend a meeting scheduled for the following Wednesday with neighboring municipalities to discuss multi-municipal planning, with the goal to draft a comprehensive plan for the area. Prospective scenarios would be discussed. Mr. Franks said that he had considered the matter further after council’s last discussion on the topic. While the boro is pretty well built up and there is not much room for growth, there is concern that if a structure in the boro were to (perhaps) burn down or otherwise be demolished, council would have no say in what was then done with the property as the boro does not have zoning.
Mr. Templeton cited two other joint efforts in multi-municipal planning in the county, the Northern Tier Coalition and the Eastern Susquehanna County Partnership, both of which are drafting comprehensive plans. In both of those situations, he said, a member municipality would have the option of deciding whether or not to go along with every part of the plan, and would not be locked in to doing what other municipalities want.
Grant funds are available to help with half of the cost of drafting a comprehensive plan, with joint efforts standing a better chance of receiving the funding; the total cost would depend on the number of municipalities participating. The time frame to develop a plan could take about two years. He closed with an invitation to council to “come and learn in the process.”
Next up was a resident who had requested council’s help in addressing the dangerous intersection near the Route 11 bridge. Secretary Cindy Gillespie had contacted PENNDOT for information on getting a traffic light installed. There are two options; the boro could finance it, which would cost approximately $100,000. The second option would be to request placement on PENNDOT’s waiting list (for PENNDOT to install the light), but that would take six or seven years.
Mr. Franks said that an individual he contacted for information suggested that the boro hire a policeman to keep an eye on the area, hire police services from a neighboring municipality, or find out what steps the boro would have to take to hire someone to hand out violations.
After discussion, it was agreed to take several courses of action. “No parking” signs, removed during construction of the new bridge will be replaced. Council will request placement on the waiting list for a traffic light. State representatives will be contacted to see if they can help. And, the boro’s solicitor will be contacted to see what legal options are available.
Council approved a variance for the Mills property on Prospect Street. Since the Mills approached council on the matter last month, they have since decided to replace their existing trailer with one slightly smaller than they had planned. No variance would be required from their next nearest neighbor, but one would be needed from the boro. Mayor Canfield had gone to check the property, and reported that allowing the bigger trailer would still leave plenty of room for emergency access along the fire road.
Several concerns by citizens were discussed. Part of the sidewalk under the viaduct has heaved up and will be sloped with blacktop. An old sign base on Main Street will either be removed or pounded down below ground level. A stop sign will be straightened. And, cinders left over from winter at intersections will be removed. Many residents have taken care of the accumulation of cinders in front of their homes, but there are still piles at some of the boro’s intersections.
The boro has received a check from FEMA, for the flood damage caused to the Route 11 park, some of which is reimbursement for work already done after the flooding. There was discussion as to whether the park should be restored as best it could be, or to just close it down. It was agreed that people do use the park and it should be kept open. What will happen if it floods again is in question. What is left of the FEMA funds will be used to reinforce the pavilion floor, which was undermined; the rest will be applied towards replacing or repairing playground equipment.
The boro is in need of an assessor, whose job it is to keep track of residents who move into or out of the boro, and their occupations for taxation purposes
Angie Wolfe has requested that a donation from the Civic Club be used to place a park bench in the Franklin Street park; council approved.
A motion carried to advertise for bids to pave Pine Hill. It was agreed that this is the road most in need, and will be paved its entire length.
In checking prices for the boro’s insurance policies, Mrs. Gillespie reported that the boro presently has the best coverage for what is being paid.
And, council discussed a letter received from Building Inspection Underwriters, Inc., asking council to contact legislators to urge that two bills currently under consideration not be passed. According to the letter, the first, HB 1254 would limit a municipality’s ability to exclusively contract with any third party agency, and would strip a municipality’s ability to govern how it elects to monitor construction and the inspection process. It is a revised version of HB 2149, which was defeated last year. PSATS has voiced opposition to the bill. HB 881 would establish permit fee limitations on commercial projects. The letter went on to outline what time limits and fee schedules this bill would allow for inspections versus current practices, with the state requirements adding more time and fee costs to completion of commercial projects.
After discussion, it was agreed to send letters in opposition of these bills.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, June 16, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Senior Master Sergeant Charles A. Vitale is 82 years old, suffers from a variety of ailments, and misses his wife terribly. He remembers, and as he remembers, his blue eyes light up, and a smirk appears on his full lips, the same smirk you see in the many pictures from his long career that he is proud and eager to show you. A veteran of service to his country and his community, he has more to be proud of than even he can remember.
Charles Vitale was born in Scranton, but spent many of the summers of his youth living with his Grandmother in Hop Bottom and working on a farm. His father was seriously injured in the First World War, and his mother died young.
Senior Master Sergeant Charles A. Vitale
Charlie was 20 in 1942 when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He skipped basic training, because the skills he acquired at Scranton Technical High School, and the discipline he learned in 18 months with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), were in high demand early in World War II. To hear him tell it, however, it wasn't all business. SMSgt. Vitale remembers best what made him laugh.
At one time, on guard duty at a base in South Carolina, he shot a pig. The pig wandered into his area of responsibility in the dark, and didn't respond properly to his challenge. Being a humane man, Charlie didn't kill the pig, which belonged to a neighboring farmer. It was herded into a pen, and a notice put abroad. The porker's owner eventually showed up and was grateful that the Army hadn't made a meal of the animal.
On the other hand, there was the flock of 50 chickens at a base in England that diminished to 45 before the farmer came to claim them. Not much of a carouser, Charlie preferred to spend his free time in more productive ways. He worked in a grocery store ... because he liked the owner's daughter.
Mr. Vitale served most of his time during WWII with the 452nd Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force near Deopham Green in England, rebuilding electrical equipment for B-17's flying into occupied Europe. He acquired some familiarity with celebrity, beginning with an assignment to show Jimmy Cagney around the base. The end of the war found him in South Dakota, of all places, where he hunted pheasant with Clark Gable before mustering out.
Charlie was the middle of three boys in his family, all of whom served in the Air Corps in Europe in the war. One of his brothers, a gunner in a B-17, was shot down and spent 14 months as a POW in Germany. All three survived the war.
Charlie came home to Scranton where he worked at a silk mill until he was called up again early in the Korean War. He spent most of that time in Japan, salvaging electrical parts, but he did visit the war zone for about a month. When that war ended, he decided to stay in the service. He liked the Air Force. He was married, and his two young sons were growing fast.
In 1961 Mr. Vitale found himself in Saudi Arabia, still working on airplanes, but with a sideline in pizza, which he had learned to make at a restaurant in his youth in Scranton. The aroma of fresh pizza in the hangar attracted Muslims he worked with. Unfortunately he made his pizza with sausage and pepperoni.
Soon his career took a turn toward outer space. He was assigned to what became Cape Canaveral, at Patrick Air Force Base, in Florida, where he served for 10 years at the Atlantic Missile Test Range, with the 6555th Aerospace Test Wing. He worked on Atlas and Titan missiles, and was on hand for the first missions in America's manned space program. He knew many of the early astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
Just before he was to retire after more than 26 years on active duty, he was assigned to work with a Hollywood crew filming the movie "Marooned," with Gregory Peck, David Jansen, and Richard Crenna. This time he not only shepherded actors around the base, but found himself in the movie as an extra.
In 1971 SMSgt. Charles Vitale retired from the Air Force and moved back home once again. All that time he spent around airplanes and rockets, he never did fly very much. He is convinced that mankind needs to travel into space. "The Earth is getting too crowded," he says. Yet, asked if he wished he could have gone to the moon himself, he says, "I like the Earth too much."
In 1972 Charlie put his skills to work in his community, working for a contractor in the flood areas of Wilkes Barre. He finally retired for good when his job at Bendix in South Montrose went to Mexico. But he became a volunteer fire- fighter in Hop Bottom, where he is still a member with more than 32 years of honored service.
Charlie says his service in England during WWII were the best of his life. But he is clearly proudest of his work with the Air Force at the birth of space travel. His many albums document his long career of service and demonstrate his love of flowers. Best of all, the photographs show the same cherubic smirk that still graces the warmth in his jolly face.
Harford is a dry township, in the summer in more ways than one. At their meeting on May 14, the township Supervisors selected suppliers for liquid calcium used to suppress dust on dry summer roads, and for diesel fuel to keep the trucks running that lay it down.
The Supervisors chose Mirabito Oil to provide 5,000 gallons of #2 diesel fuel at a fluctuating price based on a standard price index, plus a 10-cent per gallon differential.
They also chose Pennsy Asphalt to deliver 50,000 gallons of 34% calcium chloride solution at 72.6 cents per gallon.
Roadmaster George Sansky says he is "working on dust and potholes." He and his crew are experimenting with new methods and materials that might work better on the roads. They have been applying salt brine (at 10 cents per gallon) in selected areas to see if it can be made to work and save the township money to boot.
They are also beginning to implement some new approaches to maintaining roads by not ditching some areas, which tends to result in the road level falling over time. As a road falls by scraping the surface, berms need more maintenance, and the road gets gradually narrower and eventually ends up in a trench. Mr. Sansky is trying to minimize that effect, and is researching still other new materials and techniques.
The township bought him a utility truck to help. For $3,810 they acquired a Ford F350 that had been used by the railroad and is now available to keep road crews supplied with fuel and to help them get around the township without having to use private vehicles.
Supervisor and Township Secretary Sue Furney, and Supervisor Terry VanGorden attended a meeting recently to learn about "multi-municipal comprehensive planning," an initiative being promoted by County Planner Bob Templeton. Mr. Templeton has invited representatives of municipalities along the U.S. 11/Interstate 81 corridor to learn more about collaborative efforts that could lead to more effective zoning. So far the process is still in the exploratory stages, and Ms. Furney will be attending more sessions to gather more information.
Except for a brief note accompanying the latest bill, the township has heard nothing substantive from its lawyers since April 8 about progress toward clearing the deed for the Odd Fellows Hall in the village. The latest bill was for over $4,400. Ms. Furney promises to have an accounting of total costs for this effort so far by the next meeting on May 24.
The township is also grateful to Ms. Jessie Frederici for the donation of flowers that will be planted on the Odd Fellows property in the village. Ms. Furney is soliciting the help of someone with a roto-tiller to break up the soil where the flowers are to be planted.
The Harford Supervisors meet on the second Saturday of each month beginning at 10:00 a.m., and on the fourth Tuesday of each month beginning at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are at the Township building on Route 547, about half a mile south of Exit 217 on Interstate 81.
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