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The Forest City Borough Council approved a three-year extension of the fulltime police officers’ contract last week.
The move came on the heels of a letter from Police Chief Paul Lukus and Assistant Chief Joseph Nolan suggesting the extension, and stating they would ask for considerable increases in wages and benefits if the council refused the offer. They also said they would take the negotiations into arbitration if council failed to meet their demands.
The contract extension will give the two fulltime officers pay increases of 2.75 percent in 2006 and three percent in 2007 and 2008. More importantly, the contract again provides the officers with 100 percent borough-paid health and life insurance coverage, $550 annual clothing allowance, $300 to be applied to any dental or eye treatment, 18 days annual vacation and 7 paid holidays.
Councilman Paul Amadio, who cast the lone vote against the contract, urged his colleagues to reject the contract. He said when the last contract was awarded in 2002, council agreed to negotiate a contract in 2005 that would have chiefs Lukus and Nolan contribute toward their Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance.
Other council members indicated they would rather pay the health insurance for Lukus and Nolan than pay the arbitration fees. The monthly health insurance premiums for both officers are expected to total about $1,500 plus anticipated increases for 2006.
Council President Jim Lowry pointed out that the contract gives the borough the right to investigate alternative health care plans and offering them to chiefs Lukus and Nolan. However, Mr. Amadio said the final wording on this states the officers have the option to accept or reject any policy changes.
Council members who voted for the contract included Mr. Lowry, Bernard Scalzo, Nick Cost, Ruth Fitzsimmons, and Alan Gordon. Mr. Amadio voted no and Councilperson Mary Twilley was absent.
In another matter, council awarded a paving contract to Contour Construction Company of Binghamton, NY, in the amount of $131,725. And, in a related motion, council agreed to borrow $100,000 from Community Bank and Trust to help finance the project. The bank offered the borough the loan at 3.95 percent interest for five years. It was the lowest interest rate of five banks that had been contacted by the borough.
Mr. Amadio again cast the only negative vote. He said he favored the project but had concerns that the proposed Dundaff Street sewer project scheduled to begin this year could cost the borough money that it doesn’t have and end with another loan. He said two loan payments could impact on next year’s tax rate.
Mr. Lowry said he was pretty certain that all the money for the Dundaff Street project will come from state and federal grants.
Streets to be paved include Susquehanna Street from Dundaff Street to the regional school; Maxey Street from Delaware Street to Susquehanna Street; Maple Street from Dundaff Street to Lackawanna Street; North Street from Railroad Street to Hudson Street; and portions of Lackawanna and Higgins streets.
All members were present at the June 14 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council with the exception of John Bronchella.
Secretary Judy Collins’ report included a recap of the May 25 SCDA meeting. Information has been sent to Beyer-Barber regarding the police pension plan, and the quarterly report on the Main Street project has been submitted to the Downtown Center. A visit was scheduled for that morning with the boro’s insurance carrier to look over the River Bounty property. Information for council to review was received from the solicitor regarding banning right-hand turns onto Erie Ave. Don Jacobs from PA Outdoor Life has been invited to broadcast during the Hometown Days fishing derby on July 16 (it does not seem to be a possibility). And, 66 Susquehanna Elementary students from the classes of Mr. Presley, Mr. Hall, Mrs. Conklin and Mrs. Loscig conducted a cleanup in the boro by picking up trash from Front St., Erie Ave., the Shops Plaza, the boro monument and Main Street.
Mayor Hurley extended her regrets to the family of Oakland Mayor Art Towner, who had recently passed away. Mrs. Hurley said that a letter had been received from Great Bend Boro, expressing interest in resuming talks about shared police services. Several council members, she said were interested in “bringing it back to the table.” Great Bend is still interested, and included with their letter a copy of an agreement used by Abington Township, which contracts services to Ransom Township. Their agreement is similar to what Susquehanna would propose to Great Bend, she said. With impending raises in (police) salaries, insurance and related costs, taxes would need to be raised. With the budget for next year coming up, a shared services agreement and grant funding are being looked at to save taxpayers’ money.
Mr. Williams asked why this was being discussed again with Great Bend, when a motion had carried in February to cease discussion. It had also been discussed, he said, that the initial discussion with Great Bend had been started without the knowledge of all council members. “Why was it not brought up to council? They have been approached without our knowledge. That’s not the way to do business.” He added, “I am not pleased with the way this was done.”
Mr. Matis said that it had been discussed by the Police Committee, and that the committee feels that a public informational meeting should be held. And, the last time it was brought up, there was very little feedback from the public.
A resident in the audience noted that surveys sent out to residents some time back indicated that streets are peoples’ first priority. “Boro taxpayers pay for this police department,” she said, “not Great Bend Boro. It should be brought to the ballot, for the people to decide.” Mr. Matis said that a referendum on the ballot is an option the Police Committee should discuss.
Another resident expressed disapproval of shared services, especially with a municipality ten miles away. Aside from providing officers, there would be increased wear and tear on the boro’s police vehicles. He suggested that perhaps some of the concerns could be addressed by better scheduling of officers.
Mayor Hurley said that many municipalities contract out services to help fund specific departments. Hourly rates, insurance costs and related expenses would all be figured in to what would be charged for services, so as not to increase taxes to the boro any more than needed. “It’s a way to be able to make some money; only a few hours a week would be enough.” She added that when the time comes to discuss the coming year’s budget, either taxes will be raised or a way must be found to generate income. Mr. Williams responded, “There are more options.” Mrs. Hurley noted that the boro has been looking at contracting out street services. The resident replied, “It isn’t going to work. We contracted before, we lost our butts. And our cops were never here.” Mr. Matis answered, “This is a totally new department.” Mr. Lewis added, “We have to make money, or we’re all going to be hurting.” Mayor Hurley said that the best thing to do would be to hold a public meeting, and bring someone in from the state to answer any questions.
There was also a complaint about the Crimewatch, with a resident stating that if she found one of their members “snooping” in her car one more time, she would have the individual arrested. Mr. Matis said that this was something that should be brought up at a Crimewatch meeting. The resident also complained about patrols on Main Street, waiting for patrons to come out of the Legion or the Moose Club. Mr. Matis said this, also should be brought up at a Crimewatch meeting.
Another topic brought up during public comment was the River Bounty property. Mr. Lewis said that there is a list of items concerning the property needing to be considered that could be very costly. A resident said that he felt that council was deliberately trying to make the proposed park look bad. “A lot of people worked very hard to get it,” he said. Mr. Lewis said that the outlook does look bad. “We’re going to have to do our homework. There is going to be more of a cost (than had been anticipated) for this.” The resident asked about rumors that the property would be used for dumping yard waste. Mr. Lewis said that it has been considered to use the property for recycling of organics.
In other business, Mr. Matis thanked Barnes-Kasson Hospital for donation of manpower and equipment during the recent boro scrap metal pickup, which had been a great success.
A motion carried to open a (separate) checking account for the April flood disaster projects.
A request from the Parks and Rec. Committee to replace wooden picnic tables with aluminum ones was tabled. Mr. Matis suggested that the committee be contacted to discuss replacing the tables with wood ones built by community service workers to save money.
At the recommendation of the tax collector, a motion carried to approve removal of an individual from a list of delinquents being prepared by the firm the boro uses for collection of delinquents.
A rider to the boro’s insurance policy has been requested for the Hometown Days celebration in July.
Council discussed the float they will enter in the Hometown Days parade on behalf of the boro.
Mr. Williams said that two bids were expected to be submitted the following Thursday for work on the Drinker Creek Park. One permit for dredging is pending, and another has been obtained. He had contacted the owner of the adjacent parking lot to inform him that a portion of it would need to be closed off during work. He said that the owner was not very receptive to this, and asked that clearance be given by the managers of the two businesses there. Mr. Williams also indicated that it was his impression that the individual is looking for some kind of financial compensation, whether it be monetary or paving of the entire lot. Mr. Williams said that repairs of damage caused by working on the park would be included in bids, but any additional work on the lot would be unreasonable. Mr. Lewis said that he would contact the owner for further discussion.
A letter from the boro solicitor indicated that there would seem to be no outstanding liens on the River Bounty property or other matters that would adversely offset transfer of the deed to the boro, the fire department and the Municipal authority. He further recommended that these three entities reimburse River Bounty for the cost of transferring the property to them. Mr. Matis said that would be discussed with the Parks and Rec. Committee.
Apparently in answer to concerns that had been raised about the boro’s liability if the property were to be used as a park, Mr. Williams made information available concerning state legislation that indicates that the boro would not be liable if the property were not overdeveloped with such things as a water park or amusement rides. Commonplace precautions would have to be taken, such as posting signs that swimmers, etc. would be taking their own risks.
The last item discussed was a new printer for the secretary’s computer. As there is not much left in the allocation for supplies, Mr. Matis suggested buying an inexpensive one and applying for grant funding for a better one. Yearly grants are available through the NTRDPC for items such as this, and the boro can also apply for an anti-virus update for the Streets Department computer. Mrs. Frederick questioned spending money now, and then spending more later for a better printer. She suggested that a little more homework be done to find a better price before any action was taken.
Minutes of a special meeting held on June 7 were approved (the County Transcript was not aware that one had been scheduled). According to the minutes, a motion carried to designate Roy Williams as the agent for the April flood disaster project. A resolution was approved for an amended emergency operations plan. Two resolutions were approved to change names on signature cards for boro bank accounts and CD accounts, and to change names on signature cards for the codes checking account and savings accounts. And, a motion carried to open a checking and savings account for the Ivan disaster projects.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 28, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Clifford Township will be 200 years old in 2006 and plans are underway for a gala celebration.
The township history dates back to April, 1806 when it was a part of Luzerne County. In 1810, Susquehanna County was carved out of Luzerne County and Clifford Township was made a part of the new county.
At last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, reports from a Bicentennial Committee and from the township’s Alliance, which has been instrumental in so many successful township endeavors, point to a commemorative occasion that will long be remembered in the township.
Sandra Wilmot of the Bicentennial Committee said a video will be produced and television stations will be asked to televise some of the events so area residents can enjoy the celebration. The township supervisors agreed to give the committee $1,325 to be applied toward the video production. Mrs. Wilmot said copies of the video will be sold by the Bicentennial Committee at a price at or around $19.95. John Regan, chair of the board of supervisors suggested $25 but Mrs. Wilmot disagreed.
“The celebration is not intended to be a fund raiser by any stretch of the imagination,” Mrs. Wilmot said.
Speaking for the Alliance, Cherie Swetter said the group is receiving a lot of positive support for the bicentennial.
In another matter, the supervisors tabled action on bids received for the construction of a township garage. The township received three bids as follows, Don Frick, Hamlin, $52,700; Machel Construction, Clifford, $58,400; and, Unique Building Systems, Springville, $62,500. The 40x90-foot building will have three bays, six windows, metal roof and metal siding, and a 14-foot ceiling. There will be no heat or electric.
“Heat is an option,” Mr. Regan said.
“Before we are done,” said Supervisor Adam Baron, “we will have $100.000 in the building.”
A member of the audience suggested the township consider contacting companies that manufacture metal buildings because they often have cancellations on buildings that are ordered and sell them at reduced prices.
“We might get a cheaper building,” Mr. Regan said, “but I prefer that we buy it from one individual and let it be right when it is put together. We got the money and we should get the building now or we'll never have it.” Supervisor Randy LaCroix was absent, leaving Mr. Regan with no choice except to support Mr. Baron’s motion to table the matter.
The supervisors agreed to update its burning code, after a report that failing to enforce the code could impact on the township’s grant applications.
The township police car was replaced and the only cost to the township was the $250 deductible. Last month it was reported that the police car was ruined when someone poured Clorox into the gas tank.
The police issued 16 traffic citations during May, including two for speeding, investigated two criminal mischief incidents, and cited one person for an ordinance violation.
Walter Harvey Sr., Joan Harvey to Aaron A. Beardslee, in Springville Township for $85,000.
Roy M. Force, Kristie J. Force to Robyn McGuane, John McGuane, in Susquehanna for $85.000.
Robert L. Gunn, Sharon J. Gunn to Beverly B. Lee, Robert E. Lee Jr., in New Milford Township for $35,000.
Claudia A. Mendyka, Richard Mendyka to Jeffrey A. Christiansen and Frances Christiansen, in Middletown Township for $30,000.
James B. Hickey, Jamie Lynn Hilton, Jamie Lynn McNerney, John McNerney to Anthony S. Orefice, Maureen A. Boyle Orefice, in Union Dale Borough for $50,000.
Bert Weber (aka) Bert C. Weber to Joseph Wynne and Marie Wynne, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
William C. Burchell, Margo J. Burchell to William C. Burchell, Margo J. Burchell, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Julian W. Chechatka, Rose M. Chechatka to Wayne Harrison, Ralph J. Viggiana, in Choconut Township for $48,152.
James H. Politi Jr. to Zoed E. Edgar, in Hallstead Borough for $78,000.
Hartwig Hans Held to Larry Lathrop, in Forest Lake Township for $30,000.
Timothy H. Kinney, Kimberly Kinney to Nancy C. Bruce, in Brooklyn Township for $105,000.
Ralph C. Sikos, Linda Sikos to Walter S. McCracken (trust), in Springville Township for $270,000.
William C. Burchell, Margo J. Burchell to David Grizzanti, in New Milford Township for $250,000.
Carl F. Pease, Ethel D. Pease to Caesar J. Siedlecki Jr., Edith M. Siedlecki, in Liberty Township for $175,000.
Kurosky Living Trust (by trustee) to Andrew G. Weller, Jennifer L. Button- Weller, in Montrose for $185,000.
Jeffrey Gargiulo, Laura Gargiulo to Kenneth E. Clark, in Forest Lake Township for $178,000.
Margaret Wickizer to Leroy P. Spadine, Judith A. Spadine in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Wells Fargo Bank (sbm) Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc. to James Earley, Daniel Caine, in Jessup Township for $35,500.
Oscar A. Miller Jr, Kathleen E. Miller to Eric James Bixby, Jennifer Lynn Bixby, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Sandra M. Conklin, Donna Davidson, Lynn Davidson, to Sarah G. Phillips, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Roy L. Heller (estate) to Oksana Luzniak, in Great Bend Township for $98,000.
Kenneth Pier Ely and Deborah Louise Roblyn, both of Brooklyn Township.
Adam Roberet Kehoe and Mary Katherine Truswell, both of Moravia, NY.
Paul Howard Gross and Sandra J. Hollenbeck, both of Binghamton, NY.
Ryan C. Madugno, Hancock, NY, and Jessica Marie Brienze, Susquehanna.
Chad William Haley and Crizzie Lee Cantone, both of Susquehanna.
Joel Matthew Salansky and Rachel Marie Marquez, both of Royersford.
Larry Strohl and Judy R. Liprulo, both of Montrose.
Charles Edward Bunnell and Mandy Lynn Birtch, both of Montrose.
Christopher John Nabinger and Daisy M. Gorton, both of Hallstead.
Frederick Richard Swingle II and Alaena Marie Stufflebeam, both of Exeter.
Kelly M. Cook of Hallstead vs. William P. Cook of RR2, Hallstead.
Timothy J. Masters of Montrose vs. Jaime L. Masters of South Montrose.
Martin Johnson and Erica Latina, both of Montrose.
Teresa L. Rogers of Kingsley vs. Joshua D. Rogers of Brooklyn Township.
Marty H. Shatinsky vs. Bernard J. Shatinsky, both of Laceyville.
Thomas M. Shelp of Brackney vs. Denise Shelp of Endicott, NY.
The school year is over, all the grades are in, graduates commenced and summer settles over the Blue Ridge. The school board has work yet to do, analysis of the year past, preparation for the one to come. Their meeting on June 13 had a little bit of all of those.
A major Sunday section in a local newspaper recently graded school districts in Northeastern Pennsylvania based on a variety of statistical measures (covering the 2003-2004 school year). The Blue Ridge Board wasn't sure if it should be concerned by the B the district was given, or delighted at the improvement over the C it earned last year. The statistics used in the story came from various sources, but much of the data can be found on the Web at http://www.schoolmatters.com, a service of Standard & Poor's.
Some board members, including President Alan Hall, are frustrated that evaluations like this, as well as the PSSA tests, the No Child Left Behind Act, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) figures, are especially hard on small, rural districts like Blue Ridge. One significant measure is attendance, which at Blue Ridge averages in the 95-98 percent range. With fewer than 1300 students, how can the school improve on that? If all students were like high- achieving graduate Justin Herbert, there would be no way to go but down. The champion wrestler has scored perfect attendance for his entire Blue Ridge career. He's "never missed a day," said Mr. Hall.
Another measure of performance is the number of students who go on to higher education. According to Career Counselor Christine Whitney, 73% of Blue Ridge seniors will attend college, junior college, or technical schools next year. Assessment statistics tend to stress four-year colleges. Yet schools like Blue Ridge help to educate and train young people who become contributing members of the work force. Where is that recorded in the statistics?
Ms. Whitney's efforts over the past year earned her a reward from a student who attended the meeting to plead with the Board to continue her position, telling members "she should stay." In her own statement, which reviewed her achievements over the past year, she asked the Board for a "timely" decision about the future of her position at Blue Ridge. The district's new budget "does not reflect" the position, but she is completing a master's degree and would like to become a member of the school's professional staff.
Mr. Hall told her, "You have done an excellent job for us this year." But he would not commit to a review of her position for the next school year.
The board's budget is committed, however, to taking over "life-skills" and "emotional support" programs from the Intermediate Unit (IU) next year. These programs for students with special problems have been run by the Unit at the Blue Ridge campus for several years. Now the district will run them itself, supported in part by fees other schools pay for their enrolled students.
At the meeting the Board approved hiring an emotional support teacher for a whopping $60,510 per year, with benefits. The teacher, Jane Wilmet, was running the program for the IU and elected to continue with Blue Ridge. Aides for both programs were also hired.
When the position of life-skills teacher came up, Board member Joel Whitehead asked for an executive session. When the Board reassembled, the hiring was approved over Mr. Whitehead's objection (which he declined to explain), along with another aide. The teacher, Laurie Klenchik, accepted the Board's welcome in person.
Just in case, the Board also voted to retain Margaret Ainey as district Truant Officer for next year. According to Superintendent Robert McNamara, "we don't use her a lot, but we have used her a number of times." She is paid an annual fee of $1,200, plus mileage. One wonders if Justin Herbert and Margaret Ainey have ever met.
Granted that meetings like this don't offer much competition to Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. Except when students perform for the Board on special occasions, attendance generally hovers around three. Recently, Roberta Gulick, district tax collector for New Milford Township, has been attending to help keep the Board on its toes. Mr. McNamara sent her a letter last month encouraging her to refer taxpayer questions about policies and procedures at Blue Ridge to his office. Ms. Gulick objected to the tone of the letter, which she said seemed to single her out.
Preparing well in advance for the school year to come, the Board accepted a request from C.A.F.E. (Creative Adventures For Education), the local group that arranges the annual sixth-grade trip to Washington, DC. They wanted to change the dates for next April's excursion. The bus trip to Washington via Harrisburg next year will run from Tuesday through Friday, April 18-21.
Board member Priscinda Gaughan, who has made this trip several times as a chaperone, told her colleagues that a Sunday-Wednesday schedule doesn't work because everyone is too tired the next Thursday. And Wednesday through Saturday doesn't work because Saturdays are always too crowded in Washington.
And to show what the trip can be and mean to the students, Ms. Gaughan introduced a multi-media presentation of this year's trip, prepared by a parent. She said that the group met with Representative Sandra Major in Harrisburg, and had an unexpected encounter with U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. The computer-based presentation showed a sequence of photographs of highlights along the way, and the faces of many happy Blue Ridge students, none of whom can vote yet, and all of whom are now on summer vacation. Yay!
The next meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will be a workshop on June 27, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
With only Ted Loomis absent, the Hallstead Boro Council met on June 16 for their regular monthly meeting.
There is an effort underway to form a local watershed association. With most of the neighboring municipalities represented, a meeting had been held recently to discuss the possibility. Council president Michele Giangrieco had attended, and filled council in on what is involved. Each of the municipalities would appoint a representative, who would attend meetings and give input as to their individual municipality’s concerns.
There is a program funded through Growing Greener that will help fund any legal fees involved to incorporate the association, advertising, and other related costs. There would be a minimal cost to the individual municipalities. Through the association, grant funding could be obtained to help address the many problems the area has experienced with flooding. Ms. Giangrieco stressed that it would not be an overnight process. Applications would need to be prepared and submitted, with larger groups standing a better chance of getting funded. If funding is obtained, projects would need to be put out to bid. There are many avenues of help available; Sen. Madigan, Rep. Sandra Major, the local DEP and Conservation offices have all pledged their help. One of the main areas of concern is Salt Lick Creek, which runs through several municipalities that have all seen damage from two major flooding incidents in recent months.
It was agreed that the association would be a worthwhile endeavor. A motion carried to appoint Ms. Giangrieco and Mr. Franks to serve as the boro’s representatives.
Discussion moved on to the foundry property, which was referred to as the “main eyesore” in the boro. Recent rumors had been circulating that one of the property’s owners had passed away; Mr. Franks said that he had found out that that is not true. Council discussed what should be done to determine what the status of the property is; Mr. Giangrieco agreed to call one of the owners for an update.
Next discussed was the Bridging Communities project. There was a lot of news “on the grapevine,” and a lot of unanswered questions, but nothing concrete. It was agreed to request that a representative attend the next meeting to let council know what the status is.
Except for some debris that needs to be hauled away, the Route 11 park is ready to be used. Playground equipment is in place, and concrete has been poured around the pavilion.
A motion carried to adopt COG’s bylaws, required of the boro as a member municipality. COG’s codes enforcement officer had been contacted about three properties in the boro in need of cleanup. The properties had been inspected and photographed, and the owners sent letters warning that they must be cleaned up or a $300 fine would be levied. It was reported that two of those properties were definitely cleaned up, and possibly all three. The boro’s bill for this action and for issuance of a building permit came to $74; it was agreed that this was money well spent.
The cost of COG issuing the building permit led to a discussion about the fees the boro charges for permits. What the boro charges homeowners does not cover what it is charged by COG; it was agreed that the fee schedule needs to be revised. Council will contact COG for more information on what to expect to be charged when permits are issued before a revised fee schedule is adopted. It was noted that the boro is not looking to make money on issuing permits, but would like to recoup the cost of issuing them.
A special meeting was scheduled for Thursday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m. to open bids for street paving.
And, “no parking” signs have been purchased for the Route 11 intersection near the bridge but, special posts are needed to put them up on the new concrete sidewalks. Maintenance supervisor John Gordon reported some difficulty in locating the correct posts, but he will contact several (other) suppliers to find them.
The next regular meeting will be on Thursday, July 21, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
One hundred twenty-five loads of all sorts of stuff was picked up by Harford Township employees in the first week of June, a record that helps the township improve its appearance, and gives residents an easy way to be rid of old refrigerators, beds, steel pipe, rugs and other stuff not otherwise easily disposed of.
At the township Supervisors' meeting on June 11, Terry VanGorden commended the road crew and others who pitched in - including Supervisor and township Secretary Sue Furney. "We got the job done," said he. Ms. Furney said that, at $35, Harford was nearly half the price of other municipalities in the area. Harford uses its own employees (plus an extra hire for the week) to keep the cost down, and salvageable materials are sold to help cover the rest.
The Harford Supervisors will be making a further effort on the notorious Stephens (Stevens?) Road, a three-mile thoroughfare from Tingley Lake to Kingsley that once was paved. Material taken up from recent work on the Interstate will be used to cover an 18-foot wide stretch of the road at the Kingsley end for about a mile. The township will have to make some additional investments of labor and rented equipment to put the material down, roll it out, and seal it with oil.
According to Mr. VanGorden, Stephens Road is "probably one of the biggest problems we've got." So the township, having already received the material free of charge, is planning the work on Stevens Road as a special project. Asked about the future cost of maintaining the road, the Supervisors figure that periodic applications of tar and "chips" should keep it healthy. "What we put down we plan to keep," said Ms. Furney.
The Supervisors also decided to spend $3,450 on Orphan School Road, to build up the surface in one location. Only one contractor bid on the project, which will be completed when the contractor happens to be in the same area on another job.
No one is really sure whether the township will end up keeping or destroying the old Odd Fellows Hall in village of Harford. Before making that decision, the Supervisors want to get the deed cleared. Legal efforts in that direction have been proceeding since last November's election. There was no progress to report on that, but the Odd Fellows organization is planning an auction to sell the contents of the third floor of the building. Among other things, the top floor houses a piano and a shuffleboard table. Nobody at the meeting knew who really owns those items, or how they might be extracted from the building, which has no elevator and has been closed to the public for the past few years.
Since the building is no longer insured for public use, the Supervisors will require that the public not be admitted to the building. Moreover, anything removed from the building for the sale must be carried away. The auction must not impose any cost on the township.
A subdivision plan for a property on Tingley Lake Road that would create seven lots and two driveways was provisionally accepted, pending clarification of the owner's promise to ensure that the sewer main line that runs across the two driveways is not damaged or disrupted.
The sewer system itself received eight new pumps for a total cost of $9,000. These are said to be of higher quality than the pumps originally installed.
The Harford Township 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 held at the township building on Route 547, a half mile south-west of Interstate 81.
Following are the Lanesboro Council meeting minutes, as submitted, from May 3.
Present: Ray Barnes, Dan Boughton, Regina Dilello, Chris Maby, Bob Mireider, Bob Page. Absent: Paul Corse. Also present: Mayor Slater and Secretary Gail Hanrahan. Visitors: Gerry Benson, Sandy Benson, Barb and Jim Bedford, Adrian Rigo.
Minutes: Motion to accept minutes as presented carried.
Visitors: Adrian Rigo stated that her family would like to make a donation for funding the construction of a basketball court. Maby explained that the exact price was not yet known, as council needed to firm up a paving price. Maby also mentioned that an individual from Conklin donated a used backboard with a collapsible rim, and that only a support was needed to make it useful. Council thanked the Rigo family for their donation, and the Cameron family as well who also made a donation. Maby will contact Adrian once pricing is secured.
Jim Bedford provided an update on the FEMA reimbursement for the work the town performed at his family’s property. FEMA asked them for proof the work was not paid by their insurance company. The sent the requested information to them and are awaiting further discussion. He will keep the town informed as to the goings-on. Council thanked him for his help in the matter.
Correspondences and Resolutions: Proposed bylaw changes to COG were available for review and comment. Council did not feel it was appropriate to comment on the matter, as Lanesboro is not an active member.
Mowing bids were opened: After brief discussion, council awarded bid to Walt Lesser, the low bidder. Boughton to meet with Walt after the meeting to discuss mowing in greater detail.
Code Enforcer Report: Borrowicz waiting on contractor. Council advised to provide update at June meeting, as there really isn’t anything that can speed the matter if the contractor is behind schedule.
Received a call from Mrs. Delaney about opening a knickknack store. Shane advised her of permits and other requirements from Labor & Industry.
Braungard contractor contacted Susquehanna secretary looking for Shane, leaving message that there is no fix for the Braungard houses. Shane has left four messages for the contractor, and asked Solicitor DeWitt to subpoena the contractor for the hearing in June.
Police Report: Officer VanFleet provided a report for himself and Officer Caninni – 36 vehicle, two crimes codes arrests, plus an additional 30 calls for non-crimes related issues. Officer Gow investigated a theft on Depot St. (theft items found and returned), multiple warning tickets for lack of lights on vehicles.
Barnes had a question about tolerance level of speed before tickets were written. Since the concern was about a specific incident, council suggested that Barnes discuss matter directly with Officer VanFleet.
Boughton asked how drivers caught with suspended licenses were dealt with. Officer VanFleet stated the driver is not allowed to drive away, and arrangements are made for the vehicle to be taken home.
Mayor Report: Garbage loads are running heavy due to the recent flood. A dumpster will be placed behind the Community Center for disposal of rental refuse. The dumpster will be monitored to make sure no one uses it as their personal dumpster. Anyone caught putting garbage in it from anywhere but the Community Center will be arrested and prosecuted.
Dave Baker providing an estimate for repairs to the back wall, including the two windows that were damaged by the ice buildup last winter.
Community Center: $103 in recycling, $375 in rentals (including two non-residents).
Kevin will be painting the floor. Paint and labor money to be taken from Community Center account.
Regina purchased 6’ tables for $195, spent another $15 on miscellaneous supplies.
Maby spoke with a representative from a contractor supply shop – they should be able to work with us for insulation and replacement windows for those damaged by the ice.
Secretary/Treasurer’s Report: Delinquent money is coming in response to the letters previously sent out. General discussion about how to handle those still not making an effort. Page suggested sending another letter advising them to make arrangements. Several others responded that they feel letters won’t do any good, as we have already sent letters and have judgments against them through Magistrate Janicelli. Maby noted that the situation could be handled three ways. 1. leave just as a judgment against the property; 2. record it as a lien against the property and 3. ask for a sheriff sale to recover the money. After discussion council consensus was that a lien would not recover the money as fast as hoped for, if at all. Secretary Hanrahan will contact the magistrate to find out more about sheriff sales and provide update at next meeting. Further discussion tabled until then.
The police phone account had some carryover from last year, in addition to getting billed for options we are not using. Hanrahan straightened the matter out with the telephone company.
Motion made to accept bills as presented carried.
Unfinished Business: TS Ivan – Hanrahan stated the first $7,000 was deposited. Maby to call PEMA to find out when the remainder will be distributed.
New Business: Maby provided a four-page handout discussing April 2 flood and possible reimbursement activity. The county was declared a disaster, so damaged roads and ditches are eligible for some funding. A copy of the handout discussing the flood will be recorded and kept as part of meeting minutes.
Page stated that he had spoken to Fred Jackson about doing the audit. Fred was interested and could do it in the next week or two. Council agreed, Hanrahan to touch base with Fred.
Maby stated that he contacted the county about the playground grant. The money should arrive late this month or early next month. He also wanted to clarify that the installation and site preparation are not part of the grant, although he was under the impression they were. Several citizens have volunteered to help with the installation, which will be supervised by someone from the equipment company. The supervision cost was included in the grant. His concern was that the town would need to spend some money on site preparation, which was not anticipated. Council noted that it appeared that we were running under budget, and consensus was to make arrangements for area to be prepared for the playground equipment.
Motion to adjourn carried.
With all members present, the board of the Susquehanna Community School District met on June 15.
Most of the meeting concerned good news for the district.
Correspondence received thank-yous from the Maby family for their support, and for allowing the facilities to be used for a Walk-A-Thon held in April, and from the Conservation District for the district’s support of their annual Envirothon, where students demonstrate their knowledge of environmental issues.
Title I summer programs were scheduled to begin the following week, with an aim towards preventing regression and remediation skills for students in kindergarten through second grade. At total of 42 students will be participating.
Superintendent Bronson Stone reported favorably on vocational students’ graduation ceremonies that several faculty members attended at the Elk Lake. He noted that the program has changed significantly in recent years, with students not only receiving hands-on training, but a majority of them going on to pursue higher education.
Meetings will begin in September and continue monthly throughout the year to work on the district’s Strategic Plan, which will also be integrated with plans that cover Act 48, induction, and local assessment.
Now for the really good news. Every year, a Scranton publication conducts assessments of the area’s public school districts, based on predicted test scores of fifth, eighth and eleventh grade students’ performance in reading and math PSSA and SAT testing. Last year, the district received a grade of D; this year the district received an A, which all who spoke on the topic agreed is more reflective of the district’s hard work.
During his report, Principal Lisowski commented on the district’s grading and likened what the district does to a sports coach’s job. "A good coach will develop a program. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.” With the help of assistant principal Mark Gerchman, he gave a rundown of many of the opportunities offered to students and faculty to address less than satisfactory test scores, overcoming economical disadvantages, improving study skills, on-line and self-tutoring programs, and tools and materials made available to teachers. “Do we want to pat ourselves on the back?” he asked. “No, but we do want to acknowledge that there’s some good stuff going on here.”
Reports of district personnel covered many topics, such as the on-campus extended school year program, a two-day curriculum writing workshop, transportation audits of 2002 and 2003 in preparation for a state audit, the elementary Title I newsletter, Child Study Team statistics, student support groups, the fourth grade camping trip, the junior class writing scores, perfect attendance, and new forms and formats for the IEP program.
In other business, the board carried a motion to approve a District Budget of $ 12,238,439.50 for the 2005/2006 school year, and awarded a bid for a $1,000,000 Tax Anticipation Note as per the District Solicitor’s recommendation to Peoples National Bank, at 2.95% per annum and a reinvestment rate of 3.25% per annum.
Also approved was participation in the Driver Education end of course Skill Test Program. Mr. Stone explained that this would allow students who have completed the required fifty hours of behind-the-wheel driving to take their driver’s test on campus at a course set up by PENNDOT. PENNDOT would also provide a check list of criteria to be met.
Hiring of the following personnel was approved: summer school, Social Studies, 2005, Mike Catalano; secondary math, begins 2005/2006, Ben Hibbard; secondary science, begins 2005/2006, Tracy Bergen; elementary library, begins 2005/2006, Gloria Glidden; elementary, one semester only, begins 2005/2006, Liza Dooley.
The board approved the resignation of William Burge, girls’ seventh and eighth grade basketball coach.
On a motion by Mr. Kosko, compensation for the position of treasurer for the 2005/06 school year was approved at $4,500; it had been budgeted for $7,123.08.
The next item, compensation for the position of secretary for a four-year term, July 1 2005 through June 30, 2009 led to three motions being made. The first was for a cap of $12,000, with $9,000 in salary and the balance being paid into the district’s health care costs; this motion resulted in a tie of four to four (secretary Evelyn Cottrell abstained). The second motion was to maintain the salary at the amount budgeted, $9,720.58 (plus benefits); this motion, too resulted in a four to four vote. The third motion, to keep the salary at the budgeted amount and not to increase it during the four-year term, carried five to three.
A motion carried to extend the contract year for Michael Reavey by fifteen days. Mr. Stone explained that Mr. Reavey has been transferred to the high school, and is doing work in the English department. The extra time would be appropriate to allow him to complete work after the school term that could not be completed before its end due to his extra duties.
Use of the facilities for the PA Free Masons to conduct a Child Identification Program (C.H.I.P.) during the coming school year was approved. C.H.I.P. offers parents the opportunity to have their children photographed and provides a saliva test kit, both of which would be invaluable in the event that a child was to be abducted.
The board approved Fran Durso’s request to hold summer softball (pick-ups) from July 14 to August 12.
A list of fund-raising requests was approved.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, July 20, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
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