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He didn't seem particularly comfortable becoming a politician, but Blue Ridge Schools Superintendent Robert McNamara nevertheless made it official at the opening of the School Board meeting on February 13 by announcing that he will run for State Senate, to take the 20th District seat of retiring Senator Charles Lemmond. He clearly knows how difficult the race will be, but he got a warm round of encouraging applause from his Board and other observers.
And that was only the very beginning of a meeting that covered a lot of ground in 90 minutes or so. The official agenda listed 31 items, and some of them came in for unusually lengthy discussion for this board. Along the way, Board President Alan Hall presented a certificate to Business Manager Loren Small recognizing him as a Pennsylvania Registered School Board Administrator by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. And Mr. Hall displayed a plaque from the county United Way recognizing Blue Ridge faculty and staff for the highest participation rate among the six school districts in Susquehanna County.
The business agenda contained a number of routine personnel actions, and then collided with some strong feeling about, of all things, driver education. For a long time Board member Harold Empett has promoted integrating all of driver education – including behind-the-wheel training – into the school year. Currently, classroom instruction for new drivers is given to all sophomores, but in recent years, road training has been offered only in the summer. The High School is now proposing to move the classroom instruction to the summer as well, to make room in the schedule for new electives in the business curriculum.
Mr. Empett argued that, in the interest of safety, all students should have a complete course of instruction in driving. High cost has hindered the Board's support for such a comprehensive program. As it is, a classroom instructor in the summer will have to be paid according to the teacher contract. Behind-the-wheel instructors have been hard to come by, given what the District is willing to pay. "We don't have teachers who will work for that price," said Mr. McNamara.
The discussion naturally focused on what the school might charge students for the full summer program, when it would be held, and how many sessions. Mr. Hall, however, tried to keep the focus on the narrow question of whether or not the program should be moved to the summer at all. In the end the Board voted to do so, over Mr. Empett's objection, leaving the details for some other time. Mr. McNamara noted that students in the Vestal schools in New York State pay some $300 apiece for instruction provided by an outside contractor. And he said that the Susquehanna and Montrose Districts both plan to move all driver education to the summer over the next couple of years.
With a little more room in the High School schedule, the Board voted to approve the creation of two new electives in business, called "Business Law" and "Sports and Hospitality Marketing." High School Principal John Manchester told the Board that he was "trying to expand the elective opportunities" for his students. He said the new courses were proposed a few years ago and attracted some interest from students, but were not implemented for administrative reasons at the time. The courses would be offered in grades 10 through 12, and should help prepare students for a two-year business program after high school. Mr. Manchester said he expected perhaps 20 students in each course, and, by discontinuing two sections of "personal keyboarding," could accommodate the new courses without adding faculty. The cost of textbooks for the new courses would come out of the high school textbook budget already established.
The Board then went on to create a position called "Honors Night and Graduation Coordinator." Last month this position was described as a focal point for handling donors and awardees of the many small scholarships presented during graduation at Blue Ridge. It was assumed that this was a "Schedule B" position, one of the list of auxiliary positions offered to members of the faculty under the teachers' contract. Mr. Hall said, however, that this one is not a Schedule B position, and the salary will be decided later, when the administration has presented a candidate.
The Board had some special disbursements to make at the meeting. For about $36,000, the District was released from a legal wrangle with Jay Business Systems. The dispute concerned an overage on an old copier under a contract with that company. Apparently the firm was entitled to payment for some three million extra sheets run through the machine over a period of years.
The Board also had to swallow hard to approve a settlement of some $57,000 with the family of a student in the special education program. Of that amount, only $10,000 is not covered by insurance; the full amount is specifically awarded under the agreement to a fund for the education of the student. The settlement was recommended by the District's attorneys in a suit that challenged the "due process rights" provided the student under state special education guidelines.
The Board moved along to adopt a lengthy resolution that will be forwarded, along with similar measures from many other school districts around the state, to the state Department of Education and General Assembly. The resolution lists the shortcomings in the state's Charter School Law that affect the funding and management of public schools. The Charter School Law permits virtually any organization to create an alternative school staffed and operated outside the strictures imposed on public schools in Pennsylvania. And those charter schools are funded based not on actual expenditure, but on formulas that place a burden on public school districts out of proportion to the way the charters are issued.
The Board also "chartered" a cooperative soccer program with the Susquehanna Community School District that will mirror the football program that has achieved such success. Blue Ridge students are eligible to play football in Susquehanna. Now Susquehanna students will be eligible to play soccer at Blue Ridge. The new arrangement will cover grades 9 through 12 to begin with. Mr. Empett argued strenuously that 7th and 8th graders be included. He said that the younger players would then have an opportunity to grow into the varsity program. According to the administration, however, Susquehanna wanted to start with the older students so that the local youth soccer program in that community would not be disrupted.
There will be no extra cost to Blue Ridge to accommodate cooperative soccer with Susquehanna. Activities Director James Corse said the influx of new players should help the program. "We need the numbers," he said, to give coaches the opportunity to field more offensive and defensive specialists, and to give the school a better chance to compete successfully in the league.
Among the new programs approved by the Board, one was stopped cold. Last month Mr. McNamara promoted a "wide-area networking" (WAN) service to be offered to members of a consortium under the Intermediate Unit. When the actual agreement came up this time, the Board balked. Blue Ridge now pays about $650 per month for "T-1" Internet service. The new service would provide more bandwidth (higher performance), access to a research network known as Internet2, and some equipment upgrades.
Under the agreement as proposed, however, Blue Ridge would be obligated for three years beginning in July 2008 without a guarantee of the services promised, and at a cost of as much as $2,500 per month. Mr. McNamara protested that the document was really more like a letter of intent, but to the Board it smelled like a contract. Mr. Hall said the Board would likely be willing to sign a letter of intent to help the IU in its negotiations with the service provider (Verizon), but recommended that his Board turn the contract aside for now. Which they did.
The Board did approve an agreement with the Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency and the Susquehanna County Chapter of the American Red Cross to allow Blue Ridge facilities to be used as a "mass care center" in the event of a local declared disaster. The school has always assumed it would be used as such if the time came; this agreement simply puts the arrangement on a more formal footing.
It was exactly one year – less a day – since the Blue Ridge Board announced what amounted to an ultimatum for its tax collectors. The District would offer them only 60 cents to handle a tax bill beginning with their new terms beginning in 2006. To the tax collectors, this was a cut of some 80% in their income. It was clear from the start that the Blue Ridge administration thought it could handle tax collections itself for far less than the six tax collectors were being paid.
For their part, the tax collectors have asked all of their municipalities to "exonerate" them from one of their duties, that is, to collect taxes for the Blue Ridge School District. Most of the local governments have chosen to stay out of the dispute. But last month Blue Ridge offered an agreement that would legally absolve the tax collectors in return for an assurance that Blue Ridge would receive timely notifications when taxpayers sent their checks to the wrong place. That agreement as written was unsatisfactory to some of the tax collectors.
This time the Board rescinded their approval of last month's action, and proceeded to approve a "resolution of exoneration" for each of the individual tax collectors that clarifies the relationship. The tax collectors present at the meeting seemed satisfied, by and large. The resolutions cover the terms of the current tax collectors, 2006 through 2009.
And, last but certainly not least, the Board approved a final version of a preliminary budget for fiscal year 2006- 2007. According to Mr. Small, the changes from the last review add about $22,000 to the revenue side, based on new assessment figures from the county. Under the new budget, Blue Ridge will spend about $15.8 million next year, borrowing from reserves to make up for revenue that will reach just under $15 million. Yet the budget still calls for a contribution to the District's fund balance of about $623,000 by June 30 next year. And all that without increasing the property tax rate.
The next public session of the Blue Ridge Board of Education is expected to be a workshop beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School on Monday, February 27. A major topic of discussion is expected to be transportation scheduling and bus contracts.
Hallstead Boro Council began their February 16 meeting with a presentation of a plaque to Kevin Miller in recognition and appreciation of his fifteen-plus years of dedication as the boro’s emergency management coordinator. Mr. Miller thanked council, and said that he would be willing to work with his replacement once one is found.
A complaint by a resident was discussed, regarding a sidewalk near the post office that is in need of repair; this area is included in the beautification project and the walk will be replaced. It was noted, however that sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner.
A letter was received from Simmons-Rockwell, releasing the boro from any damage that might occur to their vehicles while they are parked in front of the park on Route 11.
Discussion continued on the old foundry property. Council has been in contact with DEP and learned that the property owners are facing a possible $25,000 fine for burning of wood debris. DEP inspected the property in January, at which time the owners provided receipts showing that 133 tons of debris had been hauled away. But, there is hazardous sand on the site that needs to be removed. There have been rumors that a development group is interested in the property, but no definite news on that as yet. It was noted that, to date an accumulation of tires has been removed and the buildings are down, which is a positive note. It was agreed to keep in contact with DEP to keep abreast of any new developments.
The Route 11 park saw some flooding again recently. Council approved purchase of materials to put up a gate at the site to keep people from entering when conditions are unsafe.
Council also approved purchase of a cover for the back of the boro truck. It would prevent a fine from hauling without containment of materials and will also help during cindering as material is easier to spread when it is dry.
Council received two letters regarding the beautification project. One, from Debbie Dissinger gave an update on the status of the project. Great Bend Boro requested a change, requiring that the architect’s plans be amended and resubmitted to Harrisburg. The other, from Great Bend Township also gave an update of the project, and asked that Hallstead remain committed to it. After discussion, council agreed to ask for an accounting of expenses so far, and to be notified when the next meeting will be.
Next discussed was a property owner who is in violation of the boro’s nuisance ordinance, and how to approach notifying this individual who has, in the past, refused acceptance of registered letters. Council agreed on a course of action, which included giving thirty days notice to address the problem, after which further action will be taken.
And, Mary Rudock told council that there are two individuals who are willing to contribute a substantial sum towards a worthy project in the boro, whether it be for playground equipment or possibly improvements to the riverside park.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 16, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
Wesley W. Ditzel, Annette A. Ditzel to Wesley W. Ditzel Jr., Nancy D. Ditzel, Cranford, NJ, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Carmen Davella Jr. (est, aka) Carmen A. Davella Jr. to Mark Davella, Mary Davella, Glen Gardner, NJ, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Carmen Davella Jr. (est, aka) Carmen A. Davella Jr. to Gary Davella, Terry Davella, Glen Gardner, NJ, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Herbert A. Kline, Patricia A. Kline to Russell I. Heigh, Susan D. Heigh, Scottsdale, AZ, in Silver Lake Township for $30,000.
Herbert A. Kline, Patricia P. Kline to Gary B. Kline, Maureen Kline, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for $20,000.
Herbert A. Kline, Patricia P. Kline to Gary B. Kline, Maureen Kline, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for $10,000.
Maria Moser (by US Marshal), S. Kevin Moser (by US Marshal) to Timothy A. Carpenter, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for $38,000.
Virginia D. Harrison to John D. Charles, Leigh Ann Charles, Montrose, in Rush Township for $239,800.
Agnes M. Reilly (estate) to Thomas J. Reilly, West Pittston, John J. Reilly, Theresa M. Reilly, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Agnes M. Reilly (estate) to Thomas J. Reilly, West Pittston, John J. Reilly, Theresa M. Reilly, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Ronald J. Lewis, Janice E. Lewis to Marcia A. O’Reilly, Friendsville, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Kermit Vancott, W. Cooper Vancott to W. Cooper Vancott, New Milford, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
William H. Sweet, Eleanor M. Sweet to William H. Sweet, Plainfield, Eleanor M. Sweet, William H. Sweet Jr., Alan F. Sweet, Katherine A. Kann, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Shirley D. Sheridan to Christopher W. Harris, Montrose, Melissa Bodie, in Montrose for $63,600.
Frances Pauline Chauncey, (estate) aka F. Pauline Chauncey (estate) to Jonathan M. Reed, Janice Reed, Great Bend, in Great Bend Township for $20,000.
Sloat Family Trust (by trustee) to Roy Silfee, Kingsley, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Charles E. Freeman Sr., Millicent R. Freeman, to Millicent R. Freeman, Denville, NJ, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Harold R. Rinko, Dorothy A. Rinko to Harold R. Rinko, Hallstead, Dorothy A. Rinko, Christopher M. Rinko, Douglas G. Rinko, in Franklin and Liberty townships for one dollar.
Jerome P. Smyder, Frances M. Smyder to Robert D. Horwath, Ellen M. Horwath, Leonard, NJ, in Ararat Township for $235,000.
John T. Adams, Elizabeth Adams to Luke A. Quinn III, Philadelphia, Joseph J. Quinn Jr., in Silver Lake Township for $53,000.
Ira H. Schwed, Sandra Schwed to Ronald J. Ondishin, Hillsborough, NJ, in Herrick Township for $195,000.
Donna Palma, Patrick Palma, Donald Sachse to Donna Palma, Patrick Palma, East Hanover, NJ, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Stephen P. MacConnell, Amy L. MacConnell to David J. Fisher, Bound Brook, NJ, in New Milford Township for $5,000.
Sidney R. Cobb (by US Marshal) to Robert Rufe, Coopersburg, in Forest City for $20,000.
Christine A. Esslinger, Robert G. Esslinger to Christine A. Esslinger, Kingsley, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Robert G. Esslinger to Christine Esslinger, Kingsley, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Michael H. Shields, Jill T. Price to Michael H. Shields, Stroudsburg, in Ararat Township for $12,928.
United States Secretary of Housing & Urban Development to Jonathan J. Coyne, New Milford, in New Milford Borough for $42,000.
Patricia Funk to Kenneth J. Hughes, Lori L. Hughes, Hallstead, in Liberty Township for $95,000.
Joann Sabb (by sheriff) aka Joann Perry (by sheriff), Douglas Perry (by sheriff) to Holders of EQCC Asset Backed Certificates Series 2001-2, Hatboro, in Great Bend Township for $1,791.
Gregory H. Allender, Dawn Allender to Cendant Mobility Relocation Co., Danbury, CT, in Forest City for $125,000.
Cendant Mobility Relocation Co., Gregory H. Allender to Amanda Rumford, Forest City, in Forest City for $119,900.
Sharon Barondeau, Richard Barondeau to Davica L. Scott, Dawn E. Scott, Tampa, FL, in Forest Lake Township for $44,900.
Betty Glemboski to Francis Crane, Fords, NJ, Marie Graziano, in Lathrop Township for $275,000.
Robert M. Fleming, Nica Fleming to Joseph Fusco, Spring City, Carol Loeb, in Brooklyn Township for $13,500.
Eric B. Spangenberg (by sheriff) Dawn M. Borick (by sheriff) to Aurora Loan Services Inc., Scottsbluff, NE, in Forest City for $1,393.
Thomas Donald Proof, Lawton and Sarah Erin Stanley, Montrose.
Stephanie Purdy, Tunkhannock vs. Thomas Gary Purdy, Laceyville.
Julie Barnard vs. Timothy J. Barnard, both of Hallstead.
Kimberly A. Aldrich vs. Duane M. Aldrich, both of New Milford.
Barbara A. Aldrich vs. Keith D. Robinson, both of Great Bend.
The Internal Revenue Service has filed a federal income tax lien against Halford Crisman (deceased) and Hal Crisman Jr., South Montrose, in the amount of $11,337.
The Lackawanna River Basin Sewer Authority has filed a municipal claims lien against Clyde and Kathleen Sikorski of Forest City in the amount of $1,854.
Valentine's Day. Not the perfect holiday to be discussing drug addiction and despair. But any day may be a good day to become aware of a danger that seems to be growing in our rural community. It is the menace of methamphetamine: its manufacture, sale and abuse.
"Meth" (also known as ice, crystal, and a number of other terms) is a powerful chemical stimulant usually found in the form of a white precipitate crystalline material that can be smoked, snorted or injected to produce a long-lasting "high." The drug induces wakefulness, high energy levels, and, over long periods, wasting and deterioration of the body. Its effects are extremely addictive.
The Northern Tier Neighborhood Crimewatch organization usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month, alternately at the Great Bend Borough building, or at the American Legion in Hallstead. Valentine's Day just happened to be the second Tuesday this month. The meeting attracted some 20 people for valentine cookies and milk, and to hear from Susquehanna County's primary law-enforcement team, Sheriff Lance Benedict and District Attorney Jason Legg, about the growing drug problem in our county.
According to Mr. Legg, there have yet been few arrests and prosecutions for meth manufacture in Susquehanna County. In fact, he said we are now experiencing "a huge bubble of heroin." But he and Sheriff Benedict were there to increase awareness among the Crimewatch volunteers – and citizens generally. The meth problem apparently originated on the West Coast and has since spread across the country, most notably in rural areas.
Sheriff Benedict showed a video produced by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that graphically described the way the drug is produced, and the potential effects not only among producers and users, but to the environment.
Crystal methamphetamine is "cooked" most often under primitive conditions in what are known as "clandestine labs," frequently in private residences or abandoned buildings. Sheriff Benedict said that the drug can be produced by small labs carried around in the trunk of a car. Mr. Legg said that remote abandoned quarries are favorite locations in Susquehanna County; some cooking processes do not require heat or electricity.
The production process varies widely. There are a number of "recipes" used to make meth. All of them require quantities of common but dangerous chemicals. Once the crystal is made, the remaining waste materials, some of them very toxic, are often simply dumped, where they can create environmental hazards, particularly to water supplies.
Mr. Legg and Sheriff Benedict asked their hearers to look out for large purchases of some types of over-the- counter medications, like the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine used in some cold remedies; thefts or deposits of quantities of lithium batteries; punctured aerosol cans that are used for the ether in the propellant; lab-type equipment, such as beakers, tubing, ring heaters and the like; and burned equipment containing a powdery white substance. Some types of odors tend to be characteristic of labs producing methamphetamine, particularly ammonia – what Mr. Legg described as the strong aroma of cat urine.
The sheriff and the DA both strongly cautioned the Crimewatchers and others not to handle any of these materials or take any direct action themselves. The county does not have trained expertise to handle meth labs, nor the resources to clean them up, which can be extremely expensive. When one is discovered, the sheriff calls a Harrisburg office to dispatch a specially-trained hazardous materials (hazmat) team. The state police are also called in to deal with the specialized criminal aspects of the problem.
The effects of illegal methamphetamine production and use are not solely environmental, of course. Probably the most serious impact is on those who use the product. Mr. Legg showed a series of photographs of meth abusers, each in a pair of before and after shots that graphically illustrated the dramatic physical deterioration that can result from prolonged use of meth.
Fortunately, Mr. Legg waited until near the end of the meeting to show the horrific collection. The meeting was attended by members of the local Webelos scout troop, led by William Wellman, whose son led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance to open the meeting. Everyone including the scouts was suitably impressed with the gravity of the information they heard and discussed.
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett announced that the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection has filed 17 lawsuits against fraudulent home improvement contractors throughout Pennsylvania in an increased effort to crack down on fraudulent contractors.
"The contractors named in the lawsuits are con artists who have disguised themselves as legitimate contractors in order to victimize unsuspecting homeowners," Corbett said. "The Attorney General's Office will not tolerate this type of predatory behavior."
Corbett said fraudulent contractors prey on unsuspecting homeowners, who believe that the work will be done in a professional and timely manner. For most Pennsylvanians their home is their greatest financial investment, when they are ripped-off by a contractor, not only does it affect them financially, but emotionally as well.
"Last year the Bureau of Consumer Protection investigated nearly 3,100 complaints involving home improvement contractors," Corbett said. "That's nearly 10 percent of the 40,000 consumer complaints filed with the Attorney General's office last year. We believe there may be many more victims in Pennsylvania who simply aren't aware of their rights in dealing with a fraudulent contractor. Clearly, more needs to be done to help consumers protect themselves before they give their money to a dead beat contractor."
Corbett said as a way to help protect consumers from fraudulent contractors, he is supporting Senate Bill 1000, which is currently pending in the General Assembly. The bill requires home improvement contractors to register with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection and creates a criminal offense of home improvement fraud with penalties ranging from misdemeanors to a felony.
Corbett urged consumers who believe they may have been a victim of home improvement fraud to contact his office at 1-800 441-2555 or by filling out an online complaint form at www.attorneygeneral.gov.
Following is a description of legal actions taken against the Susquehanna County contractors.
John & Cathy Ball / Northeast Barn Builders, Inc. - Susquehanna County – Corbett identified the defendants as John Ball, RR-1, RD 1, 321 A-3, Montrose, and Cathy Ball, Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, Springville (formerly of RR-1, RD 1, 321 A-3, Montrose), doing business as Northeast Barn Builders, Inc. According to the lawsuit, the defendants engaged in a practice of securing payments for numerous construction projects, but failed to perform any work. They also failed to respond to consumer calls or complaints and failed to refund consumers' payments. Corbett said that in one case the defendants accepted a deposit of $10,331 from a Dunshore couple for construction of a house barn. Despite repeated calls from the consumer, construction on the barn was never started. In another case, the defendants were paid $11,395 by a Monroeton couple for construction of a garage. Despite numerous calls from the victims and their attorney, work was never started. On October 12, 2005, Cathy Ball was arrested in Florida after allegedly fleeing the Commonwealth to avoid prosecution on various criminal charges related to her business operation.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the lawsuits are available by contacting the Attorney General's Press Office at 717-787-5211 or at the Attorney General's website: www.attorneygeneral.gov.
After years of rejection and frustration, 2006 may be the year when residents in the Crystal Lake area of Clifford Township finally get the royal flush.
Steve Draus and Carl Shiner of the engineering firm of David D. Klepadlo & Associates, told the township Board of Supervisors last week that they are completing bid specifications and would like to seek bids sometime between now and April for the installation of sewer lines in the Crystal Lake and Dundaff sections of the township.
“The specifications are about 95 percent complete,” Shiner said. He said some permits are required from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that would allow the successful bidder to do construction work within the state highway rights-of-way.
Besides the PENNDOT requirements, the supervisors were also asked to approve an amendment providing an increase for engineering services. The added fees will cover extra engineering layout to allow for an additional 90 tie-ins bringing the total number of units to be connected to the system to 240.
Last March, the supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of proceeding with the project. John Regan, chair of the board, voted no. He expressed concern for township residents who must pay $6,000 to tie into the system.
In another matter, the supervisors again listened to complaints from some township residents who said their construction projects were held up by Thomas Andzulis, township sewage enforcement officer. For the most part the complaints came from the same individuals who addressed the board in the past.
“Why are were continuing to expose the township to lawsuits,” one individual said about Mr. Andzulis’ alleged delays in handling applications for septic tank permits. “I don’t see any point in keeping Mr. Andzulis,” he concluded.
“We are going to do what’s right for everybody,” Regan said.
The supervisors awarded a bid for black cinders to Browns Farm Enterprises, at a delivered price of $11.25 per ton. The only other bid came from Brozonis Excavating at $13.50 per ton.
The township received an insurance check in the amount of $14,329 for damage done by Katrina to the new roof on the municipal building.
The police report for the month of January shows citations issued for the following traffic violations: stop signs, seven; expired registrations, five; expired state inspections, six; suspended license, one; written warnings, eight. The police had a total of 38 incidents, including 27 traffic and 11 criminal.
Forest City Regional School District will begin placing more emphasis on its students and their accomplishments according to Dr. Henry Nebzydoski, president of the Board of Education.
Dr. Nebzydoski told school administrators their monthly reports should focus on achievements by individual students or groups of students. He said the sprawling K-12 school is there only because of the students.
“The only reason we are here is you,” Dr. Nebzydoski told Patrick Davis who was recognized by the school board as Student Council Student of the Month.
The board also recognized Stephanie Sterchak, Rotary Club Student of the Month, and Carl Urbas, girls varsity basketball coach who reached 400 wins during the current basketball season.
“I started watching Carl when he was a player,” said Director Fred Garm. “He was a great player in his own right. I think the Scranton Times-Tribune was remiss when they were picking greatest coaches in the area. Yes, they picked Coach Prezelski and he deserved it, but I hope as Carl’s record improves, he will also be recognized.”
Urbas, who was presented with a plaque commemorating his 400 wins as a coach, said he taught school for 35 years and coached for many of those years.
“I am now in second generation,” he said. He said he finds himself telling his players things like, “Your mother used to make that shot.”
In their monthly reports, Anthony F. Rusnak, high school principal, and Ken Swartz, elementary principal, focused on the students.
Rusnak cited the following students and their achievements: Graduation Project, Andrew Seaman; Penn State Honors Program, Tiffany Butler, Davis Costanzo, Michele Giles, Laura Heck, Tara Martines, Kathryn Nebzydoski, Robyn Powell and Stephanie Sterchak; PMEA District Band, Tiffany Butler, Michael Forsette, Shelly Giles, Joe Greco, Danielle Nebzydoski, Steve Scavone, Stephanie Sterchak; District Chorus, David Costanzo, Steve Scavone, Andrew Seaman.
Also, CTC Skills USA Districts, Brian Skotch, gold medal, related technical math; Math Counts Team, Scott Bosack, Chris Ogozaly, Matthew Terry, Cree Townsend; Individuals, Alyssa Corey, Kiersten Collins, Cassie Erdmann, Chat Paulin; Matt Terry, for scoring in the top 10 percent of the mathathletes, and Cree Townsend, second highest student, also in mathathletes.
Swartz singled out winners in the bumper sticker contest sponsored by the Susquehanna TREHAB Agency. They included Badley Meheltz, Rachel DeLucy and Wayde Loomis.
Motions approved by the board are as follows-
-Appointing Barbara Lesjack as a part-time instructional assistant at a salary of $7.26 per hour.
-Appointing Diane Bailey as a long term substitute teacher for the third grade.
-Naming Patty Esgro and Annabelle Ramos as substitute school nurses for the 2005-2006 school year.
-Approving Mike Hck and Mark Ogozaly as volunteer assistant coaches for the girls softball team for the 2005-2006 school year.
-Upgrading Mary Lee Martines as cafeteria manager effective January 24 and boosting her salary from $18,000 to $19,500.
-Appointing Patricia Chesnick as secretary to the school superintendent with no change in salary.
-Approving the reclassifications of administrative assistants, Donna Fortuner and Darlene Hamlyn, from non-exempt to exempt with a minimum work week of 40 hours and salary changes in accordance with the minimum required by federal law.
A very brief meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors on Saturday, February 11 – all of about 13 minutes – was nearly devoted to anticipating the next meeting, on February 28. Last month the Supervisors announced their complete control over the Odd Fellows building and property in Harford village, after a long and expensive legal process to clear the deed of restrictions that has hamstrung their ability to deal with what many consider to be an eyesore in the historic little community. They also appealed to Harford residents for ideas and proposals for the ultimate future of the property, to be delivered to the township by February 21. Those ideas and proposals will be considered beginning at the next meeting seven days later.
At the meeting, which was chaired by Terry VanGorden in the absence of Rick Pisasik, Supervisor and Township Secretary Sue Furney reported receipt of only eight submissions so far. "In my opinion, they've been slow in coming," she said.
Last month the Supervisors voted to get three appraisals on the property. Asked how this was coming, Ms. Furney said that state-certified commercial appraisers are "difficult to find." She hopes to have the appraisals available for the meeting on the 28th.
Township Roadmaster George Sansky reported activity filling holes and spreading anti-skid and cinders as necessary, as the so-far-mild winter begins to come to an end.
But the meeting generally was one of waiting, "preparing for the 28th" as Ms. Furney said. That one should be a little longer. For one thing, the Supervisors will also be opening bids for road materials.
It should also be better attended, as the Odd Fellows saga continues.
A full Board convened Monday, February 13 for Mountain View School District.
The Board unanimously approved the purchase of 23 cafeteria tables for the elementary students. The cost for the tables was $2360.00. Colors of the tables and seats will be selected to co-ordinate with the cafeteria. A cut-away sample was passed to the audience to examine. The tables currently used have been the item of many complaints due to damaged parts and malfunctions. The item was unbudgeted but was deemed necessary due to safety concerns. The purchase was discussed and reluctantly agreed to by Board members at prior meetings.
A food service worker resigned. Four supplemental salary positions were approved including an elementary play director. A high school play director was not appointed however. Tim Hutchins of Kingsley wanted the post and was present to inquire as to why he was not given the job. Hutchins currently is an eighth grade history teacher at Blue Ridge School. Hutchins stated he directs non-musicals but wants to direct musical plays. Hutchins added that he works with the Endless Mountain Theater Company. One parent inquired if the elementary and high school play director positions were advertised for together. Superintendent Chambers noted that the job was not advertised officially but would be discussed in executive session after the evening’s board meeting.
Three policies were given a second reading. These policies were: Dress & Grooming, Home Education Program and Board Governance Standards/Code of Conduct. All will be voted upon at the next meeting, after which time the complete policies will be made public.
Donna Porter, high school guidance counselor gave a presentation on the planned events for the Career Fair to be held Tuesday, March 28, for the ninth through twelfth grades.
Students will have an opportunity to listen to three speakers they personally select who is of interest to them. Porter is still seeking speakers from the local business sector especially in the following areas: Architecture & Construction, Finance, Information Technology, Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.
Six conferences were approved for attendance by staff. Field trips were also approved. Discussion ensued as to whether or not to pay for meals for the students scheduled to attend the High School Challenge in Dryden, NY. The outcome was NO --the school will not purchase meals because that would get expensive if meals were purchased for all students for all field trips. It was agreed that the board and teachers can not discriminate as to which group does or does not get meals purchased by the school. Suggestions by parents included fundraisers or sponsors to pay for meals for students experiencing financial hardships.
The PTO purchased a white board and donated it to the school. An interactive white board is like a chalkboard blended with a computer. The board communicates with the computer. It stores the written data for later retrieval and use. Students could then review information missed in a class via a computer.
A documentary is being put together with a grant that will follow students who participate in dance classes as part of the Culture Shock program. Graduation projects had been presented with an excellent response from both students and teachers. Five students have received a “no show.” Policy and grading may need evaluating to differentiate between “no shows” and “failures.”
Negotiations Committee scheduled meetings for January 30, February 17 and March 7. The public again inquired as to the purchase and use of the walkie-talkies. Concern was expressed that other options like cell phones, pagers, intercom use as well as the number of walkie-talkies needed and who carries them was not fully appreciated nor considered. Halupke suggested the administration needs to be up front about these issues and seek approval through the proper channels. Another parent expressed concern about the purchase of service for an agency to contact substitutes. The purchase was for six months of service but only about three months of actual service are anticipated as calculated by the parent. The board adjourned at nine o’clock and went into executive session.
With all members present, the Susquehanna Boro Council met on February 14.
During the finance report, Mayor Reddon updated council on the police car that had been out of commission. It has been repaired; it turned out not to be a bad head gasket as had been thought, but a cracked reserve antifreeze tank. A problem with the steering column was also fixed.
A question arose regarding a bill for pest control; Mr. Matis explained that when a problem arose some time ago with spiders, etc. a protection plan was purchased, with a service visit every three months.
Advertisement for a part-time CEO brought no results; one applicant was interviewed but had not been hired. The boro’s former CEO, Eddie Reddon, has offered to fill in temporarily, until a permanent one can be found. With council’s agreement, President Kelly would contact Mr. Reddon to reaffirm his offer. In the meantime, the position will be advertised again.
Streets commissioner Steve Glover reported that repairs to the boro’s truck have been completed. Some minor problems that have arisen will be fixed, as well as a broken spring. The vehicle is still under extended warranty.
On January 19, he met with PENNDOT regarding possible projects for the Agility program. Some things PENNDOT would be willing to do include some paving, crack sealing and digging for drainage. Work the boro could perform includes street sweeping.
Bids were advertised to sell the old street sweeper, with no takers. A motion carried to re-advertise.
And, council approved a bid for salt for next year, which is purchased through the state’s piggyback program, which saves the boro money for items like this.
Council agreed that it would be advisable to revert to the system of holding committee meetings during the month, with findings presented at the two regular council meetings; a motion carried to do just that. The streets committee will meet on the fourth Monday of the month and will discuss the Agility projects on the 27th. The schedule for streets and other committee meetings will be advertised.
Requesting time on the agenda was a boro resident who expressed displeasure with the boro’s police department. Her adolescent son had been attacked, harassed and threatened several times by an adult at the bus stop. When the first incident occurred, she called the boro police but none were on duty; when they were on duty she did not get a response to her call. She then contacted Mayor Reddon, who did respond to her concerns. And, earlier that day, the same individual had again attacked her son, resulting in a visit to the emergency room. The boro police were told (by her) that she wanted to press charges, but to her knowledge, none were. When the police did respond, the resident said, they did not speak with her, but with a neighbor, whose home her son was going to after school, but not with her.
Mayor Reddon said that she would speak with the boro police to determine who the individual is and what action had been taken by them. When she had received the complaint, she had spoken with the school superintendent, and someone from the school had gone to the bus stop to observe what was going on but nothing had occurred during that time. The resident said that her husband has been at the bus stop as often as possible, but nothing had occurred whenever he was there.
The resident said that this individual has made threats that he will kill her son; she reiterated that she wanted to press charges, is willing to file a formal complaint, and would also provide documentation of the prior incident. She and her neighbor, who had accompanied her to the meeting were given complaint forms to fill out. Mr. Kelly promised that council would find out what is being done, and Mayor Reddon said that she would speak with the police chief regarding the incidents.
Another resident wanted to know if the police have set duty hours, and what they are. Mr. Kelly responded that while it would be beneficial for residents to know when the police are on duty, it would also be a “double edged sword” in that criminals would also know and take advantage of times when there is no officer on duty. If a resident should be in need of an officer and there is none on duty, he said, 911 should be called.
During public comment, Ron Whitehead noted that over time council had received other complaints about the State Police not responding when the boro police were not on duty. He asked if council could send a letter, to go on record, asking for response when they are called. Council agreed that a letter should be sent; Mrs. Biegert will write up a draft for council to review.
Mayor Reddon noted that many times, callers are told to wait until boro police are on duty to report incidents. And, when the State Police are unable to respond to local calls, the boro police are asked to respond to calls in other municipalities. It bothers her, she said, that the boro is providing free police coverage to other municipalities. Mrs. Biegert responded that, at one time, council had been looking into charging other municipalities for mutual aid. Mr. Lewis disagrees with this idea and said that mutual aid is “one hand washing the other.” Mayor Reddon said that she would like more information and has asked for a detailed report on responses to other municipalities and time spent on them, as well as when and why other municipalities’ police respond to calls in Susquehanna.
Al Cuevas, a member of the Parks & Rec. committee, reported that they had met with a representative from the Fish and Boat Commission to discuss the particulars for a grant application to put in a boat launch at the boro’s riverfront property. They will also be meeting with a Fish and Boat Commission engineer to discuss the specifics involved in putting one in, and will invite a local contractor who would most likely be doing the work. The committee will go over the application paperwork at their next meeting.
Council continued discussion on getting a new police car. Mr. Matis said that one dealership he contacted had not yet gotten back to him, and he was also looking into places to get vehicles with police packages at auction.
Mayor Reddon had contacted several concerns that deal in used police vehicles. One, a 2004 equipped Crown Victoria with 60,000 miles could be had for $17,000 delivered, including a four-year warranty. A completely refurbished 2003 was available for between $10,000 to $12,000 but was not completely equipped, and had no free warranty, which would cost about $2,000 additional. She also found other 2003’s starting at $12,000. She suggested that if a lower priced vehicle were purchased, the difference could be applied towards savings for a newer, four-wheel drive in the future. Mr. Lewis had some concern about the mileage on these vehicles; Mayor Reddon said that it would be unlikely to find any with lower mileage, as many police departments are not replacing their vehicles due to budget constraints.
Several more options will be looked into and then brought to council for discussion. Mayor Reddon stressed that whatever route council decides to take, she wants to stay within the budget.
Mr. Lewis suggested that the mechanic who usually services the boro’s police vehicles be asked to look at any the boro is considering, to give his opinion as to whether or not they would be advisable to purchase.
And, the department has received a grant for purchase of equipment; council discussed whether some of this could be used to equip a lower-priced car if that is the route taken. Some of the grant has been earmarked for video surveillance equipment, which is expected to cost about $5,000. The mayor wanted to ascertain what the grant specifics are, and whether some of the funds could, in fact, be used to equip a vehicle.
At the January 24 meeting, council had discussed plans being made by author Mark S. Sherman, who has written a book about his great-uncle, Susquehanna native and playwright Robert J. Sherman, to hold a book signing in Susquehanna. Mr. Sherman had been contacted about possibly holding the signing as part of the Hometown Days celebration. Mayor Reddon said that Mr. Sherman has scheduled his book signing for April 7 and 8, but would be willing to make a return visit during Hometown Days.
Council approved the SCDA’s plans for Hometown Days, which will be held July 14 and 15, beginning with a parade on Friday and ending with fireworks Saturday night; it will be in the same location as last year, next to and behind the boro building and the fire house.
Mrs. Biegert gave council an update on the Elm Street project, which is a continuation of the Main Street program and provides revitalization opportunities for surrounding residential areas. The committee will be holding a vision meeting on February 22, 7 p.m. in the boro building, hosted by the SCDA. All are welcome to attend and discuss ideas, recommendations and opinions on the project, to be used to put together a working plan to coordinate with existing projects.
And, Mrs. Biegert submitted her resignation from council, effective as of February 27. Because of a work conflict relating to the Elm Street project, her involvement with the project would create a conflict of interest. A motion carried to accept her resignation, with deep regret.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session; no action was expected to be taken.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 28, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
With vice president James Bucci presiding in the absence of president Terry Carpenter, the Susquehanna Community School Board met on February 15.
Superintendent Bronson Stone reported that through Title VI funding, the district will be receiving $32,324 which will be used for improvements in reading and math through technology; smart boards and LCD projectors will be purchased for the high school classrooms, which should greatly aid in improving students’ achievement.
Mr. Stone also expressed strong support of the governor’s proposed budget, which would leave the district’s block accountability grant funding intact. This program funds the district’s pre-k program, which he said, would further promote student achievement. Also given support was the possibility of a county site for a satellite of Lackawanna Community College. He said that the district is very supportive of this opportunity to further education locally.
PSAA testing in writing has been completed in both the high school and elementary, with math and reading testing scheduled for March 21, 22 and 23.
A technology focus group meets monthly, and is looking at entering into a cooperative agreement with other local districts. The group looks at implementation of technology, from staff instruction in the basics to providing an e-mail exchange of ideas with other districts.
Congratulations were given to Matt Butts and Chris Baker, for being selected as SCCTC students of the month.
Spring sports are set to begin the first week of March, and it was happily noted that (so far) the calendar is still on schedule for a June 2 end of the year, as no additional snow days would need to be made up.
An average of 33 students in grades three and five took part in the Students for Standards of Success program, which offers extra math instruction.
The business office has been working on preparations for the upcoming state audit, and information has been submitted to the IU for next year’s oil bid.
The Special Ed department is in the process of evaluations for early intervention, where four-year olds needing special ed are screened to determine what services are needed.
The district’s recent All Curriculum expo was well received. As part of this year’s activity, the Parent Involvement Committee hosted a coffee house entertainment, the Mocha Moose Café. Included were a talent show, a book fair which raised over $1,000, and a free basket raffle for parents with goods and services donated by local businesses. The committee is already discussing ideas for next year.
With a relatively mild winter, the district saw a savings in fuel costs. But, the usual after-winter problems, like potholes will need to be addressed in the spring.
Preparations are underway by the Education Association for the annual retirement dinner for district personnel, with six or eight to be honored this year at a banquet on June 3 at the Starrucca House.
In other business, the board granted permission for the Business Office to solicit bids for General, Maintenance, Industrial Arts, Sports and Computer Supplies for the 2006-2007 school year; for Mr. Stone to file Federal and State Program Applications for the 2006-2007 school year; the Special Education Services Contract/Resolution for the 20062007 school year provided by IU 19; use of school facilities as Mass Care Centers During Disasters with the American Red Cross and the Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency; use of the school facility for District 9 Orchestra during the third week of January, 2007.
With the success of the district’s cooperative football program with Blue Ridge, the board approved a Soccer Co-Sponsorship with the Blue Ridge School District for the 2006-2007/2007-2008 school years. This will allow Blue Ridge students in grades 9-12 to participate in varsity level soccer, beginning with the 2006 season. And, students in grades 9-12 from Blue Ridge can participate in the Susquehanna Community High School football cheerleading program.
Approval was given for the following to serve on the district’s Strategic Planning Committee: Terry Carpenter – School Board Director; Steven Stanford – School Board Director; Bronson Stone – District Representative; Michael Lisowski – H.S. Administration; Bob Keyes – Elementary Administration; Michele Conklin – Elementary Teacher; John Dunn - High School Teacher; Carol McNamara – Ed. Specialist; Tammy Stone – Ed. Specialist; Barbara Frechen – Parent; Fred Jackson – Parent; Sara Iveson – Business Community; Ron Dubas – Business Community; Nancy Hurley – Community Member; Jessie Gow – Community Member; William McHale – Student; Andrew Crawford – Student.
Two additions to the substitute list were approved, Theresa Dowling – Bus Aide; Diana Hurlburt – Instruction.
Seven bus contract changes were approved and two volunteers were approved, Leanne Rhone – Track; Pete Downton – Baseball.
Resignations from the following were approved: Sami Bourizk – Assistant Football Coach; Jill Franceski – Junior High Softball Coach; Kristen Stanford – Drama; Phil Stein – Junior High Softball Coach.
Refunds of per capita taxes were approved for three individuals. Hiring/transfers for the following positions were approved: six teachers for Students for Standards Success program; Drama Advisor; High School Library Position; Junior High Softball Coach; Varsity Softball Assistant Coach; High School Personal Aide.
The customary lists of workshops, activities and fundraising requests were approved.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 15, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
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