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Busy with conferences and retreats, the Blue Ridge School Board hasn't met officially and publicly for more than a month, so when members gathered on November 21 they had a lot of ground to cover. The published agenda was typical and routine, but a number of significant issues came up, especially in the workshop that followed the business meeting, including establishment of a pre-kindergarten program that will go by another name.
The business meeting opened with presentations by Board President Alan Hall to Cindy Gillespie and Priscinda Gaughan. The certificates, from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), recognized their continuing service to their schools and communities. Ms. Gillespie has served on the school board for eight years; Ms. Gaughan has served for twelve years.
This board is actively involved with the PSBA, a lobbying group whose conferences and workshops are frequently attended by members, particularly Mr. Hall. Recently, two students attended the Student Delegate Program at a PSBA convention in Hershey in October, where they participated in mock school board sessions that gave them a chance to see what it was like to debate some tough issues. Brian Manchester took part in a discussion of gambling as a source of funding for public education. Alexis Axtell debated dress codes and uniforms. A faculty advisor, Michael Ostrowski, introduced the young people, who briefly and articulately described their experiences. And Mr. Hall read a letter from the PSBA organizers commending Ms. Axtell for her superior performance.
The PSBA also assists schools with policy development and compliance with shifts in the regulatory environment. At this meeting the board adopted a "student wellness" policy, developed by the administration along PSBA guidelines in response to legislation passed in 2004 that reauthorized funding for child nutrition and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The policy outlines in some detail nutritional goals for the school food programs, as well as more ambitious goals for physical education. A Wellness Committee is supposed to oversee the policy. Board member Denise Bloomer asked about a provision in the policy that suggests that physical education class sizes correspond to other class sizes at the school. Administrators said that some phys-ed classes had as many as 50 students, and Superintendent Robert McNamara said that many of the policy provisions were goals toward which the schools will strive.
Certainly some physical education programs are already achieving at a high level. Baseball, for example. Jordan Smith, four years in baseball at Blue Ridge and captain of his team, appeared before the board in his bright red and white varsity jacket to ask leave to take his team to Winterhaven, Florida next March to play in an invitational tournament that will be attended by teams from all over the country. Ms. Bloomer, whose son is also a baseball player, appealed to the community for help raising funds to get the team to Florida.
Football is another part of physical culture at Blue Ridge, in this case in cooperation with the Susquehanna Community School District. Several Blue Ridge students play on the Susquehanna Sabers team, an arrangement that was established three years ago. The original agreement was about to expire, so the board was asked to renew it, this time without a defined time limitation. The proposal occasioned some unusual maneuvering on the board.
The original cooperative football program was to cost Blue Ridge nothing. Transportation, for example, was left up to the parents of participating students. However, during the third year the district began providing an activity bus – "without board approval," said member Harold Empett – to bring players back from Susquehanna after practices. The recommendation to continue the football program includes provision for "transportation support as needed."
Mr. Empett tried to get the new agreement limited again to three years, and asked administrators to provide information about the cost of providing the transportation. The board turned his amending motion aside, and only he and Joel Whitehead opposed the program renewal.
Mr. McNamara also reported that academic performance continues at such a high level that all three Blue Ridge Schools will be designated Keystone Achievement schools for the second year in a row. The designation recognizes a school's achievement of "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) under the state standard testing program called PSSA.
The district is constantly looking to maintain or even improve academic performance. One way is to ensure that students get maximum class time. Administrators are concerned that some parents may be "making unnecessary excuses for their children," leading to excessive absenteeism. They have asked that the student handbook be changed to allow a maximum of ten days excused on a parent's request, not including family and educational trips. Additional days will be excused only at the request of a doctor or dentist, with exceptions made in special circumstances for court appearances "or other emergency situations."
The principals say that by the time the current 20-day limit is reached, often into the second half of the year, a student's academic performance may already be in jeopardy because of too many missed classes. Mr. Manchester even said that some students this year are already approaching the 20-day threshold.
Another major achievement was described by a representative of the district's independent auditors, who briefed the board on his findings for the fiscal year ended last June. The auditors' report was "unqualified;" that is, they found nothing wrong with the district's finances and had no recommendations to offer. In fact, they found that the district is being run "very efficiently." The district ended the fiscal year on June 30 with a surplus (called a "fund balance") of some $2 million, $576,000 more than last year, and a significant achievement, since the budget had called for the fund balances to actually decrease. But by increasing revenues through better collection, and actually under-spending the expense budget, the district ends up in a very solid position.
In fact, because of the board's decision last Spring to sign on to Act 72, they will be required to develop a budget earlier this time. Business Manager Loren Small said that he will make his first budget presentations in January. With "tax reform" a hot topic in Harrisburg, following the rejection of Act 72 by four-fifths of the state's school districts, there is uncertainty about what will actually happen this year. But Blue Ridge is continuing to operate under the Act 72 provisions that it has adopted.
About half of the money to keep Blue Ridge in the black comes from local resources, namely taxes. Blue Ridge has offered its 6 tax collectors only 60 cents to handle each tax bill in the six jurisdictions it serves, a cut of some 80%. The tax collectors attended the meeting to present the board with a letter requesting "a legal document that would exonerate [them] from any and all responsibilities and/or liabilities involved with the school taxes" should they refuse to collect for the district at the offered rate. According to the letter, four of the six tax collectors would resign their posts if they are forced to accept the new rate.
The same people also collect taxes for local townships and boroughs. They have asked those municipalities for similar support, and in most cases have been turned down. Mr. Hall accepted the letter and said that the district would consider it quickly. Said he, "We'll get it resolved for you so that it's not a problem," without committing to a specific response, presumably to await an opinion of the district's solicitors.
A very large part of the money goes for salaries and benefits for the staff. The teachers are paid under contract. Administrators are awarded a separate compensation package. The "Management Team Compensation Plan" passed at this meeting will cover the three school principals for the period from July 1, 2006 through the end of the 2009-2010 school (and fiscal) year. The package provides for annual raises of $1,800 for each principal, plus up to $1,200 additional based on performance as determined by the superintendent. The benefits package is in line with the "professional employees" (teachers) contract and includes comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage, term life insurance with a face value of $250,000, standard vacation and holiday schedules, mileage, as well as tuition subsidies up to 100% for credits accumulated at colleges or universities.
The workshop session opened with a discussion of the driver education program. Board member Harold Empett in the past has argued for moving behind-the-wheel instruction into the school year, but administrators have resisted for lack of scheduling time. Currently, Blue Ridge offers classroom driver training during the school year; virtually all sophomores receive this part (as much as 30 hours for one- quarter credit); the other part requires at least 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction led by a certified instructor, and such instructors are hard to find, particularly at rates the district is willing to pay. According to High School Principal John Manchester, on-the-road driver education "works well in the summer" when instructors can be found. At the suggestion of board member Lonnie Fisher, the administration will look into contracting all of the driver education program to an outside provider.
Several years ago, when Blue Ridge was considering shifting to a full-day kindergarten program, the board was told that early surveys showed that parents favored all-day kindergarten, and largely as a "baby-sitting" service. Now school districts are consulting experts who tell them that children do better in later schooling when they start schooling earlier.
"Pre-K" is beginning to take the place of kindergarten as a child's introduction to formal schooling across the country. Blue Ridge is preparing to jump in. Introducing the discussion at the workshop, Mr. Hall offered a lengthy list of financial benefits that could accrue to the district by establishing a half-day pre-kindergarten program. But because of the way some funding subsidies are classified, the new program would be officially termed "kindergarten for four-year-olds."
He said that a program for 20-30 children would probably require one teacher and one aide. With funding available for children eligible for the federal Head Start program, and increased subsidies for higher official enrollment and transportation (among other sources), the administration estimates that a half-day pre-K program would cost Blue Ridge approximately $88,000. Mr. Small assured the board that funds are available to cover that amount without a tax rate increase. Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz claimed that the half-day program could be accommodated in the available space and time; a full-day program might require expansion.
Proponents of pre-K assert that, over time, spending on "early childhood intervention" can help to minimize the rate of increase in special education costs. Mr. Hall estimated that diminished special education requirements could pay for the pre-K program over ten years. "In the long run it will be a cost saving to the district," he said. The Susquehanna Community School District was facing 28% of their student population in special education programs before it implemented a pre-K program last year.
Pre-K – ahem, kindergarten for four-year-olds – like "real" kindergarten, will not be compulsory, yet all four-year- olds will be eligible. Children will be screened for additional Head Start eligibility and attention. Meals would be provided (some scheduling slots would have to be stretched), and appropriate transportation made available. A formal recommendation will be made to the board in the near future.
But probably not by the time of the next board meeting, which will take place on December 5. Each year in December the school board reorganizes itself. No major changes are expected.
Otherwise, the Blue Ridge School Board normally meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
With barely a quorum present, the Susquehanna Boro Council met on November 22; members in attendance were president Mike Matis, John Bronchella, Bill Kuiper and Shane Lewis, and secretary Ann Kemmerer.
Mr. Kuiper requested that the minutes of the November 9 meeting be corrected, to reflect that council approved “proceeding with discussion of contracting out police services,” rather than “to proceed with contracting police services.” A motion carried to accept the minutes with the correction.
The bill list was approved, with the addition of back taxes from 2004 and 2005 for the River Bounty property; council had agreed to the payment when it accepted ownership of the riverfront property.
Continuing discussion from the last meeting, it was agreed to proceed with selling of the property where the Erie. Ave. steps are located, to an individual who had written a letter of interest to council, with the stipulation that the prospective buyer also take responsibility for any related costs. As a motion to sell the property was already in place, no further motion was required. Council had been made aware that another party is also interested in purchasing the property, but no letter of intent had been received.
Mr. Lewis and other council members have received a number of complaints about the condition of a commercial parking lot within the boro, where vehicles have been damaged by potholes. Mr. Lewis suggested that the boro solicitor be contacted to see what ordinances could be put into effect to regulate maintenance. He said that the property maintenance code does not include regulations for this situation; council should see what could be enacted to see that this property, and any other commercial property is maintained. Mr. Lewis said that Roy Williams had contacted the owner, who had agreed to have the lot paved, but had then canceled scheduled paving. A patron of one of the stores had brought a complaint about damage to his vehicle from the potholes to council and had been advised to look into filing a small claims charge against the owner. It was also said that the owner had, at one time, attempted to charge a usage fee to other businesses and a church whose patrons also use the lot. And, when the Drinker Creek Park repairs had been completed, the contractor employed by the boro had repaved more of the lot than necessary.
A motion carried to accept the resignation of police officer Eric Brush, with a vote of thanks.
A motion carried to enter into an insurance protection plan, through the federal reserve, to insure losses exceeding $100,000, at no cost to the boro. As the boro’s combined bank accounts exceed the $100,000 limit insured by the FDIC, it was agreed that the program would be a good safeguard in the event that it is needed.
New state regulations require that all police reports now be field electronically; recent changes include part-time police officers when formerly only full-time officers needed to comply. A Crime Network software program is available for filing of reports, at a cost of $200 per year. Free training is included for one officer to attend, in Harrisburg. A motion carried to approve sending one officer for the training, and to provide up to $200 for lodging for the two days required.
Action on approving Zavada and Associates as the boro’s auditors for 2006 at a cost of $4,000 was tabled until the next meeting so that additional price quotes could be obtained.
A motion carried to retain Myron DeWitt as the boro’s solicitor for 2006.
Last, council reviewed a letter from Adams Cable stating that Nextstar, the owners of WYOU and WBRE are demanding that a per-subscriber fee be paid to continue carrying those stations (CBS and NBC) for their subscribers, and that Adams is continuing to negotiate with Nextstar.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, December 13, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
The Harford Township Supervisors met for only 10 minutes on a cold, snowy night on November 22, giving their approval to a driveway permit and a subdivision and offering an update on the Odd Fellows Hall.
In an effort to dot all the i's and cross all the t's, the township's lawyers are asking just about everyone who ever had anything to do with the old place to sign something. This time they want the signature of one of the few remaining members of the Harford Lodge on a "Memorandum of Termination" of the agreement that transferred the building to the Harford Fire Company so many years ago. No one seems to know for sure how long it will take to complete the process of clearing the deed of language that restricts what the township can do with it, or even what completing the process will look like. But Rick Pisasik seems certain that it will all be done before year's end. So what happens then?
Mr. Pisasik said that the township has no interest in letting the building continue to deteriorate. The township continues to pay for two sewer connections that haven't been used in years. "We stopped heating the place because there's no interest in fixing it up," he said. Asked what specifically the supervisors might do once the deed is finally clear, Mr. Pisasik said, "We're going to talk about it." Then he said they would "go full speed ahead."
You can watch the Harford Supervisors operate at full speed 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.
The full trio of supervisors, plus secretary Sheila Guinan and a handful of the public, heard Great Bend Township board chair Robert Squier give a lengthy roadmaster’s report at the municipality’s regular meeting on the evening of November 21. The reason is that the township now has a new two-man road crew about whom supervisor Walt Galloway gave plenty of praise – conscientious, capable, doing a tremendous job, taking pride in the building, grounds and roads and, added supervisor George Haskins, coming to work early and leaving late.
In the two weeks since the township’s last meeting, the crew has cleaned a run-off ditch on McHugh Hill Road, filled potholes on Emerson Road, cleaned a variety of culvert pipes, filled in washout areas, put in gabion stone at others, got a lot of work done on the Ford F800 to make it ready for inspection and a snowplow. In addition, Haskins also pitched in, as he often does, and got behind the backhoe on a recent Saturday morning to fix a ditch.
Still, a resident in attendance wondered when the work started on Emerson Road would be completed. Haskins pointed out that a load of cold patch was recently delivered; once the snowplow was put together in anticipation of snow, he expected the patch would be placed on the road.
Squier also noted that the township was without a crew for about six weeks, and at this point, the crew is trying to get the ditches and culverts cleaned out to avoid clogs throughout the winter and early spring. He added that he hoped that the township would also be able to get more millings next year to use on Emerson and other township roads. They worked very well on both Airport Road and Old Route 11 in work done this summer.
Waiting until next year will be the striping down the middle of revamped Old Route 11, as well as consideration of a wing plow. At its November 7 meeting, the board approved the $14,000 purchase of a 1997 GMC Topkick truck cab and chassis. It passed on the nearly $17,000 wing plow for the truck. The truck will be used this winter and, noted Haskins, if the truck is good enough, then the board might want to consider a wing plow and go out to bid on it for it next year.
In other road-related business, Sheila Guinan continues to follow up on a matter that was discussed at the board’s November 7 meeting concerning Bill Leipinis, who started working a quarry on Graham Hollow Road and was asked to provide a bond or line of credit should his equipment result in damage to the road that recently underwent a costly reconstruction. Several months ago, he agreed to the bond/credit line, but the minutes of the November 7 meeting indicate that Leipinis now feels that he is being singled out. Guinan was charged with finding out the names of other quarry owners required to post a bond/credit line for road damage.
The board noted that a letter of credit from a homebuilder on McHugh Road will be renewed on August 6, 2006 for one year. The homeowner provided a $3,000 line of credit to the township for any repairs the township would have to make on the road because of a sewer line the homeowner placed across it. Squier reported that he took a look at the road, and it looks alright, but spring will tell.
The group decided not to participate in a free feasibility study, sponsored by COG and the Governor’s Center for Local Government, for regional police, citing what Squier referred to as a “fiasco you wouldn’t believe” with a police department a few years earlier, as well as what Galloway described as a prohibitive cost.
In Bridging Communities, supervisors approved changes to the original design of the sidewalking in Great Bend Borough, as requested by Debbie Dissinger. With this approval, the project seems about ready to go ahead.
As for properties that appear to becoming more junkyard than business, Galloway reported on a visit to one on New York Avenue which seemed even messier than a week earlier. The board has sent a letter to the property owner and is awaiting a response.
At its November 7 meeting, the board voted to send a letter to a business owner on Route 171, requesting him to have a fence put around his property within 30 days (as the owner indicated he would last spring) or the supervisors will take him to district court for lack of a junkyard permit. The owner recently left a message on the township’s answering machine, requesting a meeting with the supervisors and noting that his business is an auto clinic and not a junkyard. Supervisors and the public in attendance thought it looked like one, and some cited hazards to traffic because of cars, trucks or parts of both along the road. Haskins said he would call back the owner, and Guinan will refer to earlier documentation about the situation.
In other agenda items:
COG issued UCC permits to Kim and Bob Reynolds, and to Robert Rowe.
The board voted to donate $100 to the county library – Hallstead branch.
It approved the township’s 2006 budget with no changes to township taxes.
It approved hiring Sheila Guinan to clean the new township building twice a month at $50 per month.
The next regular meeting of the Great Bend Township board of supervisors is scheduled for 7 p.m. on December 5 at the brand new Township building on Route 171.
For Your Information. The Transcript was unable to attend the Township’s November 7 meeting. The following is from the approved minutes of that meeting: The board voted to pay off the Pennstar loan for the 2002 Ford F-350 pickup… Assessment permits were issued by COG to Robert and Kim Reynolds, and to Kevin Shibley; UCC permits were issued to Brian Hinkley and David Hinkley (Hallstead Plaza), and to Joseph Andusko…. A land development subdivision for Stanwood Snowman and Stephen Marshall was approved…It voted to fill out and return a municipal officials’ response form to PENNDOT on a project to replace a bridge on Randolph Road where it crosses Trowbridge Creek.
Burtrum S. Wisor Jr. (by guardians), Dorothy Wisor to Michael J. Foley, Philadelphia, in Auburn Township for $200,000.
Peter Bartolf, Barbara A. Bartolf to Martin Mellinger, Dawn Mellinger, Yorklin, DE, in New Milford Township for $5,000.
William C. Deutsch, Alice M. Deutsch to William C. Deutsch, Alice M. Deutsch, RR1, Susquehanna, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Jeffrey Haberle (TADBA) Neway Homes to Abram Haberle, RR2, Hallstead, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
William C. Deutsch, Alice M. Deutsch to Lawrence M. Grasso (Rev. Living Trust), Vero Beach, FL for $37,000.
Roger D. Bennett, Elizabeth S. Bennett to Shanna L. Rough, Scott A. Rough, RR1, Hop Bottom, in Hop Bottom Borough for $104,256.
Sherry Elizabeth Pauciello (estate aka) Sherri Elizabeth Pauciello, Margaret Mary Pauciello, Salvatore J. Pauciello (estate) to Robin Medovich, Catherine Medovich, Marlton, NJ, for $55,000.
Robert A. Simons (by sheriff) and Dorothy Simons (by sheriff) to Green Tree Consumer Disc. Co., Tempe, AZ (fka) Conseco Finance Consumer Disc. Co., in Harford Township for $3,677.
James J. Jones (by sheriff), Ruth Jones (by sheriff) to Champion Mortgage Co. Inc., Parsippany, NJ, in Franklin Township for $4,928.
Sally C. Carideo (estate) to Sally C. Carideo (trust) Cinnaminson, NJ, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Beulah Korbin, Peter Korbin (poa), Bradley E. Crum, Paula S. Crum, Olga K. Ladenburger, Arthur Ladenburger to Childs Hunting Club, Childs, in Clifford Township for $32,425.
Daniel Wormuth, Douglas Wormuth, John Wormuth, William Wormuth, Joseph Wahy II, Joseph Wahy III, Arthur Wormuth, Arthur Wormuth Jr. to Childs Hunting Club, Childs, in Clifford Townshhip for one dollar.
Melba Collum to Gerald M. Collum, RR1, Union Dale, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Daniel T. Clark, Cindy M. Clark to Cindy M. Clark, Dimock, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Richard Tumsuden (estate) to Richard Otto Tumsuden, Mt.Airy, MD, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Thomas Chamberlain, Christine Chamberlain to Japheth Stoltzfus, New Holland, in Susquehanna for $15,000.
Thomas Chamberlain, Christine Chamberlain to Japheth Stoltzfus, New Holland, in Susquehanna fior $5,000.
Mary Ellen Conboy (estate) to Dennis Coleman, RR2, Friendsville, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Mary Ellen Conboy (estate) to Willard Rockefeller,RR2, Friendsville, Marjorie Rockefeller, Gordon Rockefeller, Veronica Rockefeller, Frank Rockefeller, Joan Rockefeller in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Nathaniel J. Sorochka to Renee Geron, Hatfield, in Lenox Township for $44,000.
Maura Jordan, Michael Andzulis to Worthington W. White, Michelle L. White, Woodbridge, VA , in Clifford Township for $85,595.
McClellan F. Rosenkrans, Gladys E. Rosenkrans to McClellan F. Rosenkrans, Gladys E. Rosenkrans, Box 108, Nicholson, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Ray Wilmarth Jr., Ruth Wilmarth to Jason Gabriel, RR2, Kingsley, in Brooklyn Township for $71,000.
Harry Ronald Rivenberg, Beverly J. Rivenberg to Mark G. Hemmerly, Kelly Hemmerly, RR1, Nicholson, in Lenox Township for $128,000.
George Davis, Betty Davis to George Davis, RR3, Meshoppen, Betty Davis, William Davis, Lori Davis, in Auburn Townwhip for one dollar.
Bruce W. Vail Sr., Effie B. Vail to Daniel M. McGrath, RR4, Montrose, in Montrose for $58,500.
Robert A. Gremmel (living trust by trustee) to Charles R. Horvath, Hopatcong, NJ, in Jackson Township for $120,000.
Richard Otto Tumsuden to Robert J. and Barbara N. Reptsik, Payne Road, Susquehanna, in Gibson Township for $160,000.
Sandy D. McCollum, Sandy D. Schwenk to Sandy D. Schwenk, Michael A. Schwenk, Bank Street, Montrose, in Montrose for one dollar.
James E. Gow, Jean P. Gow, Diane E. Gow (estate) to Edward Foote, RR7, Montrose, Andrea McGrath Patten, Robert J. McGrath, David McGrath, in Bridgewater Township for zero dollars.
Chad D. Wallace, Christina A. Wallace to Steven C. Danatos, Edison, NJ, in Jackson and Ararat townships for $165,000.
Mary E. White to Peter W. Downton, Vickie L. Downton, 315 Shadigee Creek Road, Starucca, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
John D. Reuther, Sandra E. Reuther to David P. Vautrinot, Mary T. Vautrinot, 2 Elkview Dr., Forest City, in Clifford Township for $362,000.
Margaret H. Black to Thomas J. O’Reilly, RR1, Friendsville, in Forest Lake Township for $83,500.
Thomas J . O’Reilly to James L. Eldred, Donalisle V. Eldred, RR3, Montrose, in Forest Lake Township for $60,000.
Robert J. Hanson Jr. and Mary Jo E. Hanson to Thomas A. Pekarski, Debra H, Pekarski, RR1, Union Dale, in Union Dale Borough for $175,000.
Edward Crawley to Thomas B. and Diane M. Foster, RR1, Thompson, in Herrick Township for $25,000.
Ray M. Ellinger, Kathleen L. Ellinger, to Robert N. Davis, 18 Gow Ave., Montrose, in Montrose for $78,000.
Jeffrey Gargiulo, Laura Gargiulo to Bernadette Ryan, Philadelphia, in Silver Lake Township for $140,000.
Peter Marcho, Ina Marcho to Thomas Peter Marcho, Box 279, Clifford, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Benjamin William Lawrence, Sandra Lawrence to Bryant K. Beach, RR1, Hallstead, in Bridgewater Township for $82,000.
Craig G.Henry, Joann Henry to Charles A. Castrogiovanni, Kate E. Castrogiovanni, RR2, New Milford. in Bridgewater Township for $80,000.
David W. Harlan, Kerry D. Harlan to SIRVA Relocation c/o Larrabee Cunningham & McGo, Philadelphia, in Auburn Township for $175,000.
SIRVA Relocation to Melvin Rodney Traver, RR1, Laceyville, in Auburn Township for $170,000.
Charles R. and Bobbi J. Morris to Oral Marriott and Sheila Marriott, 219 Pine St., Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for $82,000.
Leon H. Salsman, Garnet G. Salsman to Mark C. Dorval, Emily O. Dorval, RR1, Kingsley, in Bridgewater Township for $165,000.
Peter J. Welsh (aka) Peter J. Welsh Sr., Dorreen C. Welsh to Robert M. Sedor Jr. and Marjorie Sedor, Binghamton, NY, in Bridgewater Township for $235,000.
Alfie Bajkowski (by attorney) aka A. J. Bajkowski (by attorney) to Jessica Michelle Bajkowski, RR1, Hallstead, in Great Bend Township for $14,000.
Clifford C. Coleman, Patricia M. Coleman to Clifford C. Coleman, Patricia M. Coleman, RR2, Hallstead, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Paul W. Schaefer, Liese L. Schaefer to Paul W. Schaefer, Danielle Schaefer, Belleville, NJ, in Jackson and New Milford townships for one dollar.
Leslie F. Thurston, Agnes B. Thurston to Leslie F. Thurston, Agnes B. Thurston, RR1, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Marion R. Conner (estate), John Lincoln, Nancy C. Bruce, William R. Conner, Kim M. Conner, George W. Conner, Nannette G. Conner, Sarah C. Lincoln to George W. Conner, Nannette G. Conner, RR2, Kingsley, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
William and Kathryn Boman to Leonard and Dolores Moye, East Rutherford, NJ, in Jackson Township for $95,000.
Matthew Sellers, Denise L. Sellers to Waldo M. Woods, Ithaca, NY, in Bridgewater Township for $4,100.
Anthony F. Grillo to Deborah E. Jones, RR2, Kingsley, in Brooklyn Township for $103,000.
Deborah E. Jones, Clinton R. Jones to Heather J. Shafer, RR3, Meshoppen, in Auburn Township for $129,000.
Darrell R. Seaman to Christina Yankauskas, 136 Center St., Forest City, in Forest City for $63,865.
Jeremy Lee Lutz and Michele Leigh Ellis, both of Brackney.
Kedith J. Delaney, Susquehanna, and Kathryn Irene Page, Corbetsville, NY.
Christopher Fish, Great Bend vs. Amy L. Fish, Hallstead.
Shirley D. Sheridan, Montrose vs. Raymond G. Sheridan Jr., Lenoxville.
Elta Barber, Montrose vs. James Barber, Somerset.
The Lackawanna River Basin Sewer Authority has filed municipal liens on the following persons:
Anthony and Stavey A. Lukasik, 821 Susquehanna Street, Forest City, $489.60
Lawrence K. White, 519 Susquehanna Street, Forest City, $1,525.56.
Steven Woody, 307 Susquehanna Street, Forest City, $489.60.
The Silver Lake Muncipal Authority has filed liens against the following the following customers:
George and Katherine Elmy, Brackney, $998.12.
Mark Lockett, Brackney, $1,327.94.
S. Maureen Wilson, Brackney, $778.84.
Charles C. and Joann A. Burr, Johnson City, $1176.24.
Wayne E. Morton, Brackney, $9013.14.
The Pennsylvania American Water Company has filed the following liens:
Tammy Sutton, Lanesboro, $344.88.
Eric Marshall, Lanesboro, $596.30.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners took care of a few employee problems during last week’s brief public meeting but the county budget for 2006 is not completed and apparently will be kept under wraps until Christmastime.
Not only are the commissioners extremely quiet about the new budget but this year there hasn't been a hint as to whether or not there is a tax increase on the horizon. About the only thing that appears to be for certain is that the county real estate tax will not decrease next year.
As expected, the commissioners ratified the hiring of Ellen O'Malley as chief tax assessor. She replaces Jennifer Pisasik who held the job for the past couple of years. Actually the payroll clock started ticking for Ms. O'Malley on November 14 when the commissioners pulled off another of their questionable deeds and hired her without waiting for a public meeting.
Ms. O'Malley has started her basic training and is expected to obtain her required certification sometime in March or April of 2006. The commissioners did wait for a public Salary Board meeting before they set her pay at $35,000 per annum plus a benefit package for a 40-hour work week.
Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners, abstained from voting on Ms. O'Malley's appointment because the two women are cousins. Commissioners Loomis and Warren approved it.
Patrick Daly, who resigned as law clerk to President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans to enter private law practice, is back on the county payroll again. Acting on a recommendation from Judge Seamans, the commissioners named Mr. Daly to replace Robert Hollister as part-time Conflict Counsel at $20,000 plus benefits.
Mr. Daly will serve as a public defender in cases that could be considered a conflict for the county’s two public defenders.
Meanwhile, Linda LaBarbera, the top gun in the public defender’s office, has asked the commissioners to put her on the agenda for their next meeting when she is expected to ask for an increase in her salary. While she continues to maintain a private law practice, most lawyers in the county shy away from the position because the paycheck is far from commensurate with the time required to do an effective job as chief public defender. At the present time, the county pays Mrs. LaBarbera about $36,000 a year.
In other employee matters, the commissioners continued their practice of filling job vacancies as they occur rather than waiting for public meetings. They ratified the hiring of Samantha O’Dell and Nancy Edgington as part time and fulltime 911 dispatchers respectively. Meeting as the Salary Board, they then set the hourly rate of pay for the new dispatchers at $8.50 an hour in accordance with the union contract.
Kristina Kantz was hired as a part time clerk/typist in the voter registration office at an hourly rate of $7.87 and Matthew Purdy was hired as a fulltime Program Specialist in the Conservation District at $9.70 an hour.
The commissioners adopted resolutions that will allowed them to appropriate $107,000 for the county’s participation in the ongoing Mental Health\Mental Retardation programs. Included in the amount will be a $25,000 interest free loan. Steve Arnone of MH\MR told the commissioners the money will be paid back to the county from state funds that are usually appropriated for the agency’s programs.
Commissioner Jeff Loomis suggested that the pledge to pay back the county be put in writing. When Mr. Arnone said he could not do that, Mr. Loomis voted against the appropriation but Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Warrant passed the motion.
The commissioners accepted with regret the resignation of Deanna Haluska as program coordinator of the West Mile Virus Program effective Nov. 30.
For the first time ever, the county approved a fee schedule for services recommended by county Coroner Tony Conarton. Mr. Conarton emphasized that money received as a result of the fee schedule will be turned over to the county. Some of the items in the schedule include payment for body bags, cooler storage, photographs, autopsy and coroner’s reports, cremation permits, and transportation.
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