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As the only school district in Susquehanna County that signed on to the Act 72 program that originally hoped to change the way schools were financed in Pennsylvania, Blue Ridge is required to make a budget available to the state and the public a lot earlier than everyone else. At their workshop on January 23, the Blue Ridge School Board heard a brief summary of the expense side of the draft budget, and, with little further discussion moved on to the next topic.
Nevertheless, with the complex Act 72 rules dogging them, the budget had to be the focus of the meeting. Blue Ridge must develop a budget proposal for voter examination by January 26, and must adopt a preliminary budget for submission to the state Department of Education by February 15.
Business Manager Loren Small's draft budget calls for expenditures of just under $15.8 million during the fiscal year beginning next July 1. Total revenue is expected to be just under $15 million. The difference is to be made up by transfers from accumulated fund balances (reserves) and capital funds. By the end of the next fiscal year he anticipates a remaining fund balance of just over $600,000. By borrowing from reserves, the budget can be balanced without increasing the local property tax rate.
Mr. Small told the board that health coverage for staff and faculty could go up by 16.5% next year; liability insurance could rise by about 12%; and the Blue Ridge share of pension contributions will rise from 4.6% to 6.5%. Most other components of the budget remain flat.
Under Act 72, the Board must formally adopt a final budget before July 1. However, if changes are made after the preliminary budget is provided to the public, tax increases above certain index levels would have to be submitted to the voters for approval. Neither Superintendent Robert McNamara nor Board President Alan Hall expect anything like that to happen. After February 15, only internal "fine tuning" might be expected. Mr. McNamara said that his school principals know how much they will have to spend in total; they will be responsible for working out how it might be distributed.
There are already proposals in the air for additional spending. Mr. Small, for one, would like to install a new digital video security system that he saw demonstrated at a local college. He said the equipment is actually cheaper than what is now installed, however, due to improvements in technology.
High School Principal John Manchester has asked for a new Schedule B position to coordinate honors night as part of annual commencement activities. This person would be responsible for ensuring that the thousands of dollars in donations for scholarships and awards at commencement are accounted for and properly handled. Mr. McNamara recalled one incident when a student was supposedly awarded a prize of $500, but the donor never paid up.
Mr. Manchester also reported that the new GradeBook system in use at Blue Ridge will soon begin to generate report cards directly. He also hopes to have grade information from the system available to parents on the Web. Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski told the board that his teachers are beginning to use their web pages more actively, and providing more current information.
Special education has been a growing issue for all schools, not least for Blue Ridge, where, according to Mr. McNamara, growth in demand for special education services is growing rapidly, particularly in the 8th grade right now, and the number of individual education plans (IEP) developed. A class action challenge known as the Gaskins Case was finally settled by the state Department of Education in late 2004 after 10 years. The agreement between the litigants calls for the creation of yet more boards, regulations, and acronyms with the goal of providing the "least restrictive environment" for special needs students under federal legislation in Pennsylvania. The additional monitoring requirements alone will add to the burden for school districts, and Mr. McNamara warned the board that an additional position may be requested to support the consequences of this court action.
The meeting was attended by a group of bus drivers and contractors who are eager to hear about rumored changes in bus schedules at Blue Ridge. Mr. Hall gave them an outline of the direction the district is taking, but told them that detailed work is still in progress. He said he wanted to get it right the first time, so that the contractors would not be misled.
Mr. Hall said that enrollment has declined so much – even considering the new extended kindergarten slated for next year – that some routes will be cut. He said they are currently considering cutting at least one high school run, and one or two runs for the elementary school. He told the contractors that the administration is hoping to employ more "micro buses" to replace, in some cases the full-size buses that are no longer needed. The plan also has to be organized in such a way as to maximize the amount of state transportation subsidy available, right now only about 80% of Blue Ridge transportation expenses. When the plan is finalized, Mr. Hall hopes that all of the contractors will be treated fairly. "We're going to reduce everybody a little bit," he said. Then he asked that any contractors who thought they might be willing to purchase and run new micro buses should submit a letter of intent to Mr. Small, which would not be held binding but simply as a gauge of interest.
Blue Ridge's representative on the board of the IU (Instructional Unit), Joel Whitehead, reported that the IU's budget will be rising slightly as well, by about 1%, increasing the Blue Ridge contribution commensurately. He told the board that the state is beginning to demand more intensive training for new school principals, and the IU will offer 12-hour programs for neophyte administrators like Mr. Nebzydoski.
Mr. Whitehead also reported on the IU's participation in a grant that would hope to improve access to broadband internet services for member schools. Blue Ridge is a member of that particular consortium, but already has its own high-speed service independent of the IU. The new service being proposed would be somewhat faster than what is now available at Blue Ridge, but would also cost perhaps twice as much as the $600 per month the district now pays. Mr. McNamara said that he hopes such a new, faster service would provide additional distance learning opportunities, and perhaps even internet-based telephone service.
Speaking of telephones, Mr. McNamara reported that the One Call service the district signed on for late last year still is not in operation (and Blue Ridge still isn't paying for it). The system allows the school to generate telephone calls to any group of people for any reason. For example, snow day announcements, early dismissals, etc. can be phoned to the homes of affected students. The system has a capacity of some 4,000 calls per minute. Unfortunately, the North-Eastern Pennsylvania Telephone Company, which serves a portion of the Blue Ridge district area, was overwhelmed by the call volume during testing. The service is on hold until those problems are resolved.
And finally, Activities Director Jim Corse is looking for coaches, for JV softball, for baseball, and for long- and triple-jump in track. He told the board that the schools' gyms are booked solid every night.
The next business meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will begin at 7:30 p.m. on February 13, in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The county got a new chief clerk, the farm community got additional funds for the agricultural preservation program, and suddenly the county commissioners appear ready to start working together.
Sylvia Beamer of Great Bend is the new chief clerk and she will begin her duties on February 1, when Cynthia Oruska’s resignation as acting chief clerk takes effect.
Mrs. Beamer has been employed by the county as personnel director since June of 2004. The Salary Board agreed to start her off at $40,000 which is $10,000 more than she was getting as personnel director.
At the last Board of Commissioners meeting on January 11, Commissioners Roberta Kelly and Mary Ann Warren refused to second Commissioner Jeff Loomis’ motion to increase the county appropriation to the ag preservation program from $40,000 to $60,000. But they did promise to take another look at the program and return with a decision at the January 25 meeting.
At last week’s meeting, Mrs. Warren made a motion that the county increase the 2006 allotment from $40,000 to $85,000. Mrs. Kelly quickly added a second to the motion and it passed unanimously. If Gov. Ed Rendell stands by his pledge to increase the state’s share of the program to $5.80 for every county dollar, Susquehanna County should get $493,000 for its $85,000 investment in the program.
Donna Williams, president of the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau thanked the commissioners and the audience applauded the commissioners’ action.
Commissioner Loomis said he made a New Year’s resolution to work closely with Commissioners Kelly and Warren for the betterment of the county. He said he knows it takes three commissioners to run the county effectively and that the three must get along.
Commissioners Kelly and Warren did not respond to Commissioner Loomis’ remarks.
In his letter of resignation as county solicitor, Michael Giangrieco said he would continue to participate in the county’s health insurance program by virtue of his position as solicitor for the Clerk of Courts, Prothonotary, the county sheriff and the county coroner. However Commissioner Loomis said he does not think that Giangrieco is now eligible for benefits.
The commissioners handled a number of personnel matters including ratifying some terminations and hirings as well as some resignations and retirements. Motions approved on the subject included-
-accepting resignations of Michael Giangrieco as county solicitor; and, Cynthia Oruska, acting chief clerk.
-accepting letters of retirement from Nancy Marr, part-time clerk in the office of District Justice Jeff Hollister and Ed Harden, security guard.
-ratifying the hirings of Bobbi Benedict as Second Deputy Prothonotary and Susan Stoud as clerk/typist in the Clerk of Courts office.
-ratifying the terminations of Ann Decker, switchboard operator; Kristina Kantz, voter registrar; and, Doreen Miller, custodial.
-and, hiring Amy Burt to the open position of part-time voter registration clerk.
The commissioners also appointed the Rev. Margaret McCarthy to the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board of Directors.
A Susquehanna County man was sentenced to serve 24 months to 48 months in a state correctional facility last week on two separate charges of simple assault.
It could have been worse for 35-year-old Jose Aponte Rodriquez of New Milford. Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans actually sentenced Mr. Rodriquez to a third jail term but allowed it to run concurrent with one of the assault sentences.
Mr. Rodriquez was sentenced to serve from 12 to 24 months for punching Stanley Wojtkowski in the face during a basketball game on September 29, 2004. He was also fined $300, ordered to make restitution and cannot have contact with the victim.
Five days after the first assault, Mr. Rodriquez was arrested again for simple assault. A State Police Affidavit of Probable Cause alleges that on October 4, 2004, Mr. Rodriquez assaulted Christopher Alan Phillips at the Parkview Hotel on Main Street, New Milford. He was sentenced to serve another 12 months to 24 months on the assault charge and 12 months to 24 months for recklessly endangering another person. The third jail sentence is to run concurrent with the second jail sentence. Mr. Rodriquez was also fined $500 on the reckless endangering charge.
Other sentences handed down by Judge Seamans included:
Linda L. Cohn, 56, of Hallstead, 48 hours to six months in the Susquehanna County Jail plus a $500 fine and $2,000 restitution for driving under the influence in Great Bend on March 6, 2005.
John Francis McAllister, 50, of Nicholson, two years to four years in the county jail for corruption of minors in Lenox Township between 1988 and 1994. He was also fined $1,500.
Christopher Allen Barnes, 21, of Susquehanna, one month to 18 months in the county jail and $500 fine for simple assault in Susquehanna on March 17, 2005.
Sherman Dean Porter, 27, of Hallstead, six months probation and $150 fine, 10 hours of community service for theft by unlawful taking on September 4, 2004 in Great Bend Township.
Robert B. Lipinski, 33, of Taylor, one year state probation, $200 fine for theft by unlawful taking in Lenox Twp. on April 15, 2005. He was also fined $100 for harassment in Lenox Twp. on April 17, 2005 and an additional $100 for criminal mischief, also on April 17, 2005 in Lenox Twp.
Bradley Taylor Greenough, 25, of Vestal, NY, one year state probation, $300 fine for simple assault in Silver Lake Township on June 26, 2005.
Michael J. Kerr, 46, of Factoryville, one year state probation, $350 fine, $1,200 restitution for receiving stolen property in New Milford on May 19, 2005.
David Nagel, 44, of Candor, NY, nine months to 36 months in a state correctional facility, $500 fine for theft by unlawful taking in New Milford on September 14, 2004.
Joshua Earl Delong, 25, of Brackney, two months to 15 months in the county jail, with credit for time served, $300 fine, 25 hours community service for theft by unlawful taking in Silver Lake Township on March 4, 2005.
Todd Lawrence Austin, 19, of Windsor, NY, two months to 15 months in the county jail, with credit for time served, $500 fine, 25 hours of community service for receiving stolen property in Lanesboro on March 6, 2005.
Gerald Fletcher, 37, of Susquehanna, 15 months state probation, $250 fine, for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in New Milford on April 11, 2005.
Timothy William Rogers, 27, of Hallstead, six months probation, $300 fine for driving under the influence in Great Bend on June 24, 2005. Also $25 fine for turning movements and required signal on June 24, 2005, in Great Bend.
Jason Lee Neer, 21, of New Milford, five months to 23 months in the county jail, $500 fine for arson in New Milford Township on April 23, 2005.
Daniel Ervin, 20, of Montrose, six months probation, $300 fine for driving under the influence in Susquehanna on August 24, 2005. Also nine months probation to run concurrent with first sentence, $250 fine, 25 hours community service, for escape in Bridgewater Twp. on July 1, 2005.
Jay W. Peters, 45, of Montrose, 12 months to 30 months in a state correctional facility, $2,500 fine for driving under the influence in Harford Twp. on September 24, 2005. Also nine months to 24 months in a state correctional facility to run concurrent with first sentence, $300 fine for reckless driving and six months to 24 months in state correctional facility also to run concurrent with the first jail sentence and $250 fine for fleeing.
Clifford Paul Johnson, 41, of New Milford, nine months to 23 1/2 months in the county jail, $750 fine for theft by unlawful taking in New Milford Twp. on May 19, 2005.
Clifford H. Grosvenor, 35, of New Milford, one year state probation, $300 fine, for simple assault in New Milford, on January 15, 2005. Also $150 fine for criminal mischief and $150 fine for harassment in New Milford on January 15, 2005.
On January 15, 2005, Mr. Grosvenor and Glen Whitney, a Pennsylvania State Trooper, went to the home of John Haggerty looking for Mr. Whitney’s wife. Both men were charged with assaulting Mr. Haggerty but a jury acquitted Mr. Whitney and found Mr. Haggerty guilty of simple assault. Judge Seamans found Mr. Grosvenor guilty of the harassment and criminal mischief charges.
The Mountain View School Board opened with the usual approval of minutes, treasurer and cafeteria reports on Monday, January 23. No visitors commented during their first hearing.
Budget transfers were approved for the 2005-2006 school year. Then a vote was taken to approve budget transfers for the December 19, 2005 meeting. The next vote by roll call authorized a five year agreement for participation in the E-rate Consortium for the procurement of telecommunications services and internet access.
The budget transfer for December 19 was again approved by a roll call vote. The repeat approval appeared to be a collective error. However the second time it was up for a vote several board members commented prior to the vote that they did not appreciate not being informed of this budget transfer which was used to cover a purchase until after it was executed. Administration admitted the 13 walkie-talkies were already purchased and owned by the school. After much prodding by the board Peg Foster, Elementary School Principal, stated that four signatures were on the purchase order. Foster however stated three names which included herself, Superintendent Art Chambers and Business Manger Jennifer Hilkert. After apologies and blame taking by Administration and Board President James Zick, Chambers acknowledged that in the future a “Memo of Need” should be presented.
Treasurer Ron Phillips inquired as to a cap on discretionary spending. Hilkert said she has not seen a policy like that. Hilkert did state there is an amount that must be put out for quotes ($4000) and bids ($10,000). The total cost for 13 walkie-talkies was $3614.00. After the discussion a vote was taken by roll call and passed 8 yes 1 absent with several board members reiterating their displeasure with Administration.
Special public board meetings were approved for budget planning to be held March 6 and 20, and April 3 and 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the boardroom at the elementary school building. The final issue of the finance committee was to approve the agreement with Substitute Personnel Solutions for services from January 24-June 30, 2006. This passed with a majority of five to three in favor. Chambers explained later that this is an automated secretarial call service to locate a substitute when needed and is just a trial program.
Personnel appointments were approved for seven substitutes pending documentation, one instructional aide, one intermittent family and medical leave and one long term substitute. One substitute car/van driver was also approved with reservations about the address of the person being in Montrose. A revision was made to a resolution regarding a resignation from the January 9 meeting.
The Policy Committee presented first readings and discussions for three policies as follows: Revised Dress and Grooming #221, Home Education Program # 137 and Board Governance Standards/Code of Conduct #011. The Dress Code received a few grammatical corrections and some item is not permitted to have words regarding chemical and drug use. The Home Ed policy will allow home schooled students to participate in activities such as the library or sports as now authorized by state law. One parent asked how come they are not allowed to personally review the policies prior to having the board approve the policy. Chambers stated once policies are approved parents can then raise concerns. The mother noted that does not make sense to approve a policy then give parents a chance to review and comment on the policy.
The Education Committee presented lengthy lists for both conferences and field trips. The school calendar was revised and approved. A motion involving a disciplinary action was rescinded from the December 19 meeting followed by a motion to accept the adjudication of a disciplined student. New members were added to the Wellness Committee.
No reports were given for either Building/Site committee or Transportation Committee.
In New Business Karen Voight, Coordinator of Curriculum & Instruction, explained a new grant program whereby a child needing tutoring in reading or math can receive .25 credits in the general elective category in an effort to make “adequate yearly progress.” This tutoring will be done during the school day and after school if needed. A board member pointed out since .25 credit is given the program is technically not tutoring and inquired as to whether a professional staff is needed as per the union. Chambers stated that this question may need to be explored by the Association.
A juried art show will be held in the Everhart Museum of Scranton on February 5 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. with three students from Mountain View participating out of a total of 20 students selected.
The last question from the public was “What is the bottom line cost of the confidential settlement?” That total was stated as $120,000 for all settlements. The meeting began at eight and ended fifty-three minutes later.
Frank Kamarauskas, Linda M. Kamarauskas to Burton H. Force, Sharon K. Force, Lawton, in Rush Township for $60,000.
Blair K. Caterson, Pamela Caterson (aka) Pamela K. Parker Caterson, (aka) Pamela K. Parker to Pamela K. Parker Caterson, RR2, Montrose, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Erich A. Hooper, Anne M. Hooper, Douglas P. Hooper, James R. Hooper II, Kathy Ann Farr to Timothy P. and Carol A. Kushmar, Slatington, in Apolacon Township for $235,700.
Steven James McDermott to Brandy M. McDermott, Des Moines, IA, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Adolph Stanley Romeika to Jerome Romeika, Esther Romeika, RR1, Susquehanna, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Daniel Brizzolara, Diane Brizzolara to Diane Brizzolara, RR2, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Andrew Wyzykowski to Denis Cullagh, Rosalie Cullagh, Plains, in Clifford Township for $200,000.
Martha Stiller-Kapcsandi to Joseph Kapcsandi, Martha Stiller-Kapcsandi, Starrucca, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Frank A. Summa, Adelfina Summa to George G. Plomchok, Philadelphia, Emily Plomchok, Virginia N. Plomchok, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
William E. Shager, Rowena J. Shager to Matthew S. Shager, Colleen E. Shager, South Gibson, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
William F. Haynes Jr., Aline Haynes to Richard J. Latwinski, Christine K. Latwinski, RR1, New Milford, in Harford Township for $32,000.
Alfred Joseph Knott, Kathleen Knott to Thomas J. Noone, Ann Marie Noone, RR1, Union Dale, in Lenox Township for $7,000.
Janet Schoffstall, James A. Schoffstall to Russell Very, RR2, Montrose, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Ralph R. Very, Marlene G. Very to Russell Very, Jean Very, RR2, Montrose in Jessup Township for $46,000.
Russell Very, Jean Very to Russell Very, Jean Very, RR2, Montrose, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
John Demianovich, Linda E. Demianovich to Kira Demianovich, RR1, Forest City, Mark Holeva, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Sherry L. Torre (by sheriff), Patrick A. Torre Jr. (by sheriff) to Wachovia Bank, Harrisburg, in Forest City for $1,926.
George A. Stagg Jr., Barbara Stagg to James T. Collum Jr., RR1, Kingsley and April A. Mecca, in Harford Township for $235,000.
William Kostick, Theresa A. Kostick to Jeffrey S. Hancock, and Lisa J. Hancock, RR3, Nicholson, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Diana L. Gilbride to Diana L. Gilbride, Clarks Summit, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Laura May to Carl H. Hagstrom, Beverly S. Hagstrom, RR4, Montrose, in Jessup Township for $50,000.
Kevin L. Purdy, Ruth A. Purdy to Kevin L. Purdy, Ruth A. Purdy, Kingsley, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Robert E. Gilleran, Alice H. Gilleran to Robert B. Gilleran, RR1, Starrucca, in Thompson Borough for one dollar.
Robert E. Gilleran, Alice H. Gilleran to James E. Gilleran, RD 1, Starrucca, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Camilla A. Plutino to Robin Murray, Susquehanna, in Susquehanna for $7,639.
Clifford W. Cain Jr., Amy E. Cain to Clifford W. Cain Jr., Amy E. Cain, Lompoc, CA, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Charles H. Snyder (trust by trustee) to Jack A. Braunstein, PO Box 52, Gibson, in Jackson Township for $39,500.
Thomas Donald Proof, Lawton, and Sarah Erin Stanley, Montrose.
Christy L. Lynn, Hop Bottom vs. Eric D. Lynn, Hop Bottom.
Sarah J. Neuls, Forest City vs. Jack R. Neuls, Scranton.
Rory A. Maginley, Johnson City, NY vs. Julie Marie Maginley, Susquehanna.
Shortly before 10 on the evening of January 12, Brian Canfield, 45, and Laura Lacey, 34, had a verbal argument which led to an assault outside the Lacey/Canfield residence in New Milford Township. Canfield was choking Lacey; her 15-year-old son observed the assault and yelled for Canfield to stop. Canfield let Lacey go, whereupon Lacey struck Canfield in the head with an unknown portion of an axe. Canfield fled the scene and was located walking along Cudo Road. He was transported to Wilson Hospital by New Milford EMS and released the following day. Both Canfield and Lacey will be charged under domestic violence law with simple assault and harassment. The case will continue.
James Montenegro, Uniondale, lost control of a 2004 Hyundai SUV on State Route 171 in Clifford Township at 5:30 in the morning on January 18. His vehicle left the road and hit a guide rail and embankment. Montenegro was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured; his vehicle received moderate damage and was towed from the scene by Casy Towing of Simpson.
Two unknown persons entered an unlocked, running vehicle parked at Valley Lane Bowling in Great Bend between 1:15-1:30 a.m. on January 16. The owner of the vehicle saw them as they tried to leave the parking lot. They left the vehicle and fled north on State Route 11.*
This incident happened at the residence of Brandon Brace, 23, Clifford Township, at 2:30 a.m. on January 7. He was arguing with his ex-girlfriend when Braden J. Norman, 20, South Gibson, got a rifle from his vehicle and pointed it at Brace before leaving. He was later taken into custody at his residence and arraigned in district court on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. Norman was remanded to the county jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.
Matthew Bowen was driving a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am south along State Route 367 in Lawton, when he went off the road after failing to safely negotiate a right turn. He was using a seatbelt, the air bag deployed, and he was not injured. He was issued a citation for driving a vehicle at safe speed. This crash occurred on January 11.
Sometime between the morning of December 7 and the evening of January 18, an unknown person(s) went into a residence belonging to Mercedes Henning, Springville, and took a variety of jewelry – namely, an opal birthstone, a 1944 gold Pittston High class ring with a ruby-colored stone, an amber silver gold ring, an aquamarine ring with a silver band, an amethyst ring with a purple stone, a turquoise ring with a silver band, a gold filigree, a Ford gold watch, a Ford wooden plaque, 3 gold chains, approximately $200 in old dimes and nickels, and about $100 in quarters. The person(s) fled the scene.*
Sometime between 7 p.m. on January 22 and 2 a.m. the following morning, an unknown person drove on the front lawn of Ken Burgess, Hop Bottom and fled the scene.*
Shortly before 7 on the morning of January 21, Katrina Moelder, 19, Hallstead, was driving a 1997 Ford Escort sedan north on Main Street in Hallstead when she fell asleep and lost control of the car. She was wearing a seat belt, the air bag was deployed, and she received minor injuries. The Escort received major damage.
At 11 on the morning of January 19, state police arrived at the residence of David Gowe, 37, Hallstead, in response to a disturbance. Upon arrival, Melinda Swartz, 43, Montrose, was fleeing the scene on foot and was apprehended by the state police. She was charged with criminal mischief for smashing a window in Gowe’s home and also smashing two of his telephones. She was arraigned in district court and remanded to the county jail in lieu of $1000 bail.
PUBLIC DRUNKENNESS, TRESPASSING
Kevin Compton, 36, Hallstead, was cited for public drunkenness and trespassing when he entered property belonging to Richard Osterhout, 56, Hallstead, on the night of January 18.
At 6 on the evening of January 16, Kenneth Travis, 59, Susquehanna, was driving a 1992 Chevy S-10 pickup west on State Road 374, while Richard Feduchak, 19, Hop Bottom, in a 1998 Chevy Silverado 1500, was driving east on the same road. Travis tried to turn left onto Interstate 81’s northbound ramp, but turned directly in front of Feduchak, causing Feduchak to hit Travis’ S-10 in the eastbound lane of travel. Travis received minor injuries, was wearing a seatbelt, was transported by EMS to CMC Hospital and released, and was cited for a traffic violation. Feduchak was not injured and was wearing a seatbelt. Both pickups were severely damaged and towed by Kozlowski Towing.
John Edward Shaffer, 35, Montrose, reported that sometime between September 1 and January 20, someone stole a 50-caliber, hand-crafted flintlock percussion rifle with a wooden storage case from his residence in Choconut Township. The rifle has a value of $1800.
THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING OR DISPOSITION
David C. Casey, New Milford, reported to state police that his son’s bicycle had been stolen sometime between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on January 10. The bicycle is a yellow Haro with foot pegs on the left side of the bike.*
Unknown person(s) damaged a piece of barn board on a barn belonging to Robert John Bobick, Lathrop Township, by prying it off. This happened sometime between the afternoon of January 16 and the morning of January 18. Total value of the damaged property is $15.
This accident happened at 7:30 a.m. on January 13 when Corey Hollister, Montrose, lost control of a 1991 Ford Ranger east on State Route 706 because of ice on the roadway. The Ranger slid off the road, rolled over and landed on its wheels. Hollister was taken to Endless Mountain Health Hospital for minor injuries. Montrose Fire and EMS responded; Kerrs towed the Ranger from the scene. Hollister was not wearing a seatbelt.
Shortly before 8 on the evening of January 15, a 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix was traveling north on State Road 4015 in Friendsville, when its operator lost control, went off the road and the car rolled onto its roof. The driver fled the scene before the state police arrived.
James Wood, 65, Oakland Township, received a suspicious and threatening phone call from an unknown caller at about 6:45 on the evening of January 15.
This accident happened shortly before 7 on the evening of January 14 when Robert Sainato, New Milford, was driving a 1994 Ford Explorer south on State Route 11 in New Milford Township and lost control of the vehicle. It left the road, slid down an embankment and rolled over. The Explorer was moderately damaged; both Sainato and his passenger were wearing seatbelts. The passenger was not injured; Sainato received minor injuries. New Milford and Montrose Fire and EMS responded, as did Marv’s Towing.
Unknown person(s) stole a black leather briefcase out of a truck belonging to Scott Birchard, Kingsley, while it was parked at PJ’s Bar in South Montrose between 6-9 p.m. on January 11.
At about 4:30 on the afternoon of January 12, Mary Ann Trecoske, Montrose, and Michael Buczeskie, Springville, were driving west on State Route 706 in Bridgewater Township. Buczeskie was stopped in a work zone and his 2003 Dodge was rear ended by Trecoske’s 1997 Chevy. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts and were not injured. Trecoske’s Chevy had to be towed from the scene.
*Anyone with information about the incident is requested to call the State Police at (570) 465-3154.
"We can go ahead now." With those words, Supervisor and Township Secretary Sue Furney declared the long and costly procedure to clear the deed to the old Odd Fellows property in the middle of Harford village finally complete.
The Supervisors' meeting on January 24 opened, as usual, with a discussion of an issue that has dogged the township for some years, ever since the pipes froze in the old building, which subsequently had to be closed to public access. According to Ms. Furney, the lawyers still want to get a "memorandum of termination" from the local Odd Fellows organization, but she said, "That does not hold us up." The final court judgment has given complete control of the property to the township, without restriction.
Rick Pisasik then renewed his pledge to go "full speed ahead" on the next phase, which is to decide what to do with the property. The Supervisors decided to give the public one last chance to have a say in the disposition of the decrepit town landmark. An advertisement will be placed soliciting serious suggestions and proposals, which should be submitted in writing (or by e-mail, to firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 21. Debate on the future of the property will begin at the Supervisors' meeting on February 28.
Mr. Pisasik acknowledged the receipt of several ideas over the past few years. Yet he wants to "open up the discussion" again. "There's nothing formal before the Board [of Supervisors]," he said. "We're open to suggestions on what to do." But he declared himself eager to move ahead, and was not inclined to allow the suggestion period to drag out.
The property – which is actually in two parcels – does not need another survey, according to Ms. Furney. But the township will solicit three appraisals. In the past there has been little mention of selling the property. However, a surprise visitor at the very end of the meeting was the very first to submit a proposal.
In the meantime there was other business to transact. The Supervisors voted to increase the wages of each member of the road crew by between 30 and 50 cents per hour. In addition, Roadmaster George Sansky was awarded a $750 bonus "for the absolutely outstanding work" and "extra effort" he demonstrated in the purchase and assembly of the two Mack trucks that now service township roads. For his assistance in these projects "above and beyond" requirements, Wayne Frederici was given an additional bonus of $100.
On Mr. Sansky's recommendation, the Supervisors will request bids for road materials as follows: 6,000 tons of 2RC stone, 600 tons of 2B stone, 400 tons of washed black cinders, 750 tons of anti-skid material, and 750 tons of something called ASPO-67 #2. Mr. Sansky described the latter as a slightly larger product than ordinary anti-skid that seems to work well on icy roads. The two materials will be mixed.
Mr. Sansky was asked for recommendations on the disposition of three old trucks. He said that two of them probably have no value other than as scrap. It could cost as much as $1,800 to tow the largest of them away, unless he can find a dealer who will take them away. The third is a model that has not been manufactured in many years; Mr. Sansky doesn't think there is much market for it, but perhaps the engine could be sold separately. If all else fails, the crew may simply cut up the old machinery and dispose of it during the annual township cleanup in June.
The Supervisors signed fire police cards for the local fire company, and passed the annual resolution authorizing the fire company to act in mutual aid outside of its defined territory, to conduct fund-raising activities, and to participate in events such as parades away from the township.
The fire company also requested the "loan" of about two tons of anti-skid material to be used in demonstrations during a hazardous materials (hazmat) training course to be conducted for area fire companies. The rigorous six-week course will only require the stone toward the end, after which it will be returned to the township. The fire company would also like the township to deliver and remove the stone.
Mr. Sansky was initially reluctant to commit material to such a purpose, particularly during the winter; the material is also purchased with state funds for use on the roads. However, although the hazmat training actually calls for six tons of sand, he said two tons of anti-skid should not be a problem, nor would delivery.
The Supervisors also decided to move the March Saturday meeting from the 11th to the 18th, to accommodate Mr. Pisasik's schedule.
And just before the meeting was to adjourn, Bronson Pinchot appeared and laid the first serious proposal on the Odd Fellows property before the board. He offered to purchase the property which abuts his own and "dismantle the building, with consideration towards any who may wish to reuse its woodwork." He would also "seed a beautiful rolling green lawn, with a few mature trees." He would not discuss what he might offer for the purchase.
Besides the building, constructed in 1917 and now considered by many an eyesore, the property has been home to a bank in a modular building. At one time the fire company proposed to erect a new building on the property. Some have suggested offering the property to the Postal Service for a new post office.
Mr. Pinchot also owns the property across Main Street, and the tiny historic post office that now stands on it. The prior owner of that property at one time approached the Supervisors with a plan to create a small commercial center at the location, to include a new post office. Mr. Pinchot himself also owns the old Deli Llama building, which he says is still available to the Postal Service.
So there is no shortage of ideas about the future of the village or its central attraction. If you have another one, send it to the township office by February 21.
President Tom Kelly presided at the January 24 meeting of the Susquehanna Borough Council; all members were present with the exception of Roy Williams. Secretary Ann Stewart was also absent, due to a family emergency.
Approval of the minutes of the last meeting was tabled, as Mrs. Stewart did not have them ready when the emergency arose.
Mayor Reddon reported that she had been contacted by Mark S. Sherman of Erie, Colorado, who has written a book about his great-uncle, Robert J. Sherman, a Susquehanna native who had been a prolific playwright. His family home had been on Broad Avenue, and what is now the Hilltop had been a theater, the Sherman Lodge. Mark Sherman is dedicating his book to both his uncle and the Susquehanna area, and would like its debut to be in Susquehanna, possibly some time in April. He will donate a portion of the (debut) proceeds from sale of his book to the hosting organization, and was looking for suggestions of organizations to contact. After discussion, the consensus was that the Susquehanna Branch Library should be contacted to see if there is any interest in hosting the debut and to suggest that Hometown Days might be a better time to hold it as the annual event draws many visitors to the boro.
Next topic discussed was police vehicles; while on patrol the previous Friday, the 1994 car had overheated. At meeting time, the car was at a local garage; no repairs had been done but they were expected to cost in the area of $1,000. Mayor Reddon thought council should wait for the cost estimate before proceeding; Mr. Matis thought council should look at other means for a vehicle. Mayor Reddon has been looking at prices for other vehicles, and felt that a new one could be gotten for around $18,000, considerably less than the $31,000+ the previous council had voted to spend on a Durango. “I’m not adverse to a newer vehicle,” she said, “but I don’t want to go out on a limb and buy something we can’t afford.” She added that a number of residents had told her that they were against buying such an expensive vehicle. Mr. Matis said that the cost of the Durango included factory setup (of equipment), which would be worthwhile. Mr. Kelly suggested that council look into getting a newer Cherokee, so that equipment from the one the department currently has could be transferred.
There was some debate on whether the end cost for a less expensive vehicle plus extended warranty and setup wouldn’t equal out to the cost of the Durango. A member of the audience suggested that dealerships in the Scranton area who supply vehicles for police departments in that area be contacted for additional prices. Mr. Matis agreed to do so, for both new and used vehicles, and to bring his findings to the mayor.
With the resignation of Codes Enforcement Officer Shane Lewis submitted earlier this month, a new inspector would be needed. At the recommendation of Margaret Biegert, council discussed hiring of Myron Roush, who would charge a per-inspection fee of $450 for new construction, with a fee of $65 for each follow-up visit. Fees for commercial inspections would be based on a number of factors, such as the size of the building. And, with this system inspections would not be financed by the boro as a whole (through salary, funded by taxes) as the individuals who are building would be responsible for the fees.
Mr. Lewis expressed concern about the fee schedule involved; council discussed other options, such as finding an inspector from the list of state-approved inspectors. It was agreed to table the matter until the special meeting set for the following Thursday.
Council will advertise for a property maintenance codes person, at seven hours per week. Duties would include working with the boro police on violations and preparing the necessary paperwork for building inspections. The motion carried, with Bill Kuiper voting against; Mr. Lewis voted yes, with the qualification that the individual would strictly work on the property maintenance code, as long as they don’t pertain to Uniform Construction Code.
Mr. Lewis still has one outstanding codes case, a commercial inspection. He agreed to do a final inspection after ascertaining that he would still be covered under the boro’s insurance. A motion carried to allow Mr. Lewis to conduct the inspection.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
A special meeting was scheduled for Thursday, January 26 to adopt the amended budget and to cover several other items of business.
The next regular meeting will be on Tuesday, February 14, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
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