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BRIDAL SPECIAL Featured In Our Mar. 15th Issue Of The Susquehanna County Transcript

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Issue Home March 7, 2006 Site Home

Blue Ridge Contractors Squeezed
Harford Odd (Fellows) Momentum
Courthouse Report

Great Bend Says Goodbye
County To Join In State Exercise
Keystone Awards Received
Susky Fills Vacancy


Blue Ridge Contractors Squeezed

Harold Empett presided over the first hour of the Blue Ridge School Board workshop on February 27, soliciting reports from administrators and awaiting the main event that the district's bus contractors had come for. Board President Alan Hall was more than an hour late arriving with the details of new transportation proposals that the rest of the board was happy to leave to Mr. Hall to explain.

In the meantime, the board examined a set of drawings from KBA Engineering detailing work that is planned at the main entrance to the building complex, as well as around several other entrances. The project has been in the works for some time already and has been put out for bids twice. All bids so far have been far higher than what administrators had estimated, or were otherwise unacceptable. The new designs will allow the project to be broken into several biddable phases that, it is hoped, will attract more suitable bids. All of the phases involve substantial concrete work. Administrators say that, because of the design revisions, it is possible that a single contractor might win the entire project, but that the phases could be accomplished separately.

Business Manager Loren Small told the board that the proposal to upgrade the campus security system with new cameras, which he introduced at a prior meeting, should probably be enlarged. New technology is expected to allow the installation of more cameras -- including several outdoors -- at a lower cost than would have been possible only a few years ago. He said the entire system could be in place for about $50,000.

The new cameras would be connected to the campus computer network. Indoor cameras would generate color video. The system is motion-activated, and can record up to 4 months of video. The system could be ordered under a state contract without the normal lengthy bidding process. Mr. Small would like to have the system installed this Spring.

Superintendent Robert McNamara said that Blue Ridge has a good record on vandalism, but the district does replace at least a few doors each year, at a cost of some $500 each. The new system will also survey the track area outside. The high-tech running surface was recently refurbished at a cost of about $70,000. In the past the track has been damaged by vehicle traffic that the new system may help to deter prevent.

Asked if the budget can accommodate the cost of the new system, Mr. Small said, "I have the capability in the budget to cover that," meaning, presumably, that while the expense is not specifically covered in the budget, money can be found if the board approves of the project at a future business meeting.

There was a half-hour recess while board and visitors enjoyed coffee and pastries waiting for the arrival of Mr. Hall.

When he finally showed up, Mr. Hall distributed to the board and the assembled contractors a package of materials that described in detail the new route structure the district is proposing as part of the new contract that the district is expected to offer the bus contractors. Giving them a little time to absorb the material, Mr. Hall then approached the contractors for their impressions. They were not particularly happy. He asked them to review the information over the next two weeks in the light of their own individual circumstances and approach the board with suggestions at the business meeting on March 13.

Mr. Hall said that the restructuring will cut runs for the large buses from 53 to 45 next year, and add 4-6 runs for new microbuses. He hopes to save the budget some $140,000. Some of the savings will come from enhanced state reimbursements by cutting the number of "deadhead" miles (when the buses are empty) that the district now pays for. State transportation reimbursement to Blue Ridge now runs about 85% of the total district cost. The state formula does not reimburse deadhead miles. Activities and Transportation Director Jim Corse told the contractors that some school districts have already begun refusing to pay bus contractors for any deadhead miles.

The major reason for the changes is declining enrollment. "Our enrollment is going down; we have to make cuts," Mr. Corse told the drivers. The High School now graduates over 100 students, but the kindergarten and first grade are enrolling only 70-80. That's a decline of 20-30 students each year. Mr. Hall said that the cuts this year will probably be followed by more cuts over the next five years if enrollments continue to fall.

For their part, the contractors are concerned that the cuts will virtually eliminate any slim profit they might be making now under pressure already from rising fuel and maintenance costs. According to Mr. Hall, the district tried to be as equitable as possible by distributing the cuts across all contractors. He said he had solicited letters of intent from the contractors about their interest in purchasing microbuses, but so far had received little response. Some of the contractors said that they hadn't been aware of a deadline for these decisions. But Mr. Hall told them that decisions on the microbuses had to be made soon so that the buses can be purchased and the schedules finalized.

Some ideas were broached by Mr. Hall and the contractors to help ease the situation. One of them apparently is NOT to have the district itself run the buses, or even to hire a large outside contractor. The board and administrators know and value highly the extra effort and personal attention they get from local contractors and drivers in the interest of Blue Ridge students, and they're not likely to chuck that.

Mr. Hall suggested that the school district could probably purchase fuel at substantially lower cost than the contractors. To do that, however, the district would have to install a fueling facility. He also said that the board might consider some "incentives" to the contractors to buy the new buses; a microbus might cost in the neighborhood of $50,000-60,000. He encouraged the contractors to present their own ideas at the next business meeting. When asked if the several small contractors might not do better if they formed a single larger contracting group, one of them said that would be like trying to herd chickens.

Curiously, the debate over the bus contracts covers only the most visible part of the transportation equation at Blue Ridge. The current crisis does not involve the activity buses, nor does it touch the substantial costs (over $100,000 per year) associated with transporting individual students with special needs.

In his discussion with the bus contractors, Mr. Hall emphasized his responsibility to the taxpayers. However the transportation issue settles out, Mr. McNamara was pleased to note that Blue Ridge has effectively completed its budget for next year while other neighboring districts are only just beginning, and it was done without a tax rate increase. As a fledgling politician, he said that other districts "have to meet our standard now."

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Harford Odd (Fellows) Momentum

Some 18 citizens attended the Supervisors' meeting in Harford on February 28 – not a record, but a comfortable crowd nicely filling the little office with the big table. Virtually all of them came to hear what might become of the Odd Fellows Hall in the middle of Harford Village. The long- standing issue appears to be nearing a resolution, and momentum seems to favor sale of the property.

Supervisor Rick Pisasik summarized the responses received to a solicitation for ideas from local residents. One featured most prominently, of course: the offer from Bronson Pinchot to buy the property, tear the old building down, and landscape the property with grass and trees. Mr. Pinchot promoted his offer with a half-page notice in this newspaper. According to Mr. Pisasik, at least 10 of the letters received on the matter were in support of Mr. Pinchot's bid.

Mr. Pisasik said that he would not support commercial development of the property, and he didn't think it was the right location for a (township-owned) park, nor did he think Harford village needed more space for parking cars. One suggestion – to create a sculpture garden – was received graciously, but declared impractical, and a potential vandalism and maintenance problem. At least one response hoped that whatever happens there does not involve more stone walls. Mr. Pisasik said that "virtually all [of the suggestions] involve tearing down the Odd Fellows Hall."

The general sense of the Supervisors, especially Mr. Pisasik, was that they "might entertain a sale" of the property. After studying the Township Code, Mr. Pisasik said that a sale could be accomplished in two ways: The property could be put up for bids, or the township could hold an auction. The township can also set a minimum bid or price. Asked what value recent appraisals have put on the property, Mr. Pisasik said he didn't think it was appropriate to reveal that for the time being.

Sentiment among those attending the meeting – and even among the Supervisors – strongly favored Mr. Pinchot's offer. A few were concerned about the long-term implications of selling the property to an individual, in this case an individual who already owns at least six properties in the village. Nevertheless, there seemed unanimous acclaim for what Mr. Pinchot has already accomplished in the village. Mr. Pinchot was informally represented at the meeting by a real-estate broker who has worked closely with him, as well as one of his attorneys, who remarked, "One good property owner is better than several bad ones." One prominent resident agreed, saying, "I wish all people who live in Harford had as much pride in their property as Bronson."

One person suggested that perhaps a long-term lease could be considered instead of a sale, allowing the township to retain ultimate control. Mr. Pisasik conceded that there is some feeling in the township that the community should retain control of the property. One village resident noted, "If you get rid of community land, it's gone." On the other hand, said Mr. Pisasik, "Why do we [the township] want it?" Mr. Pinchot's attorney suggested, "If you go the lease route, you [may] lose [Mr. Pinchot]."

The Supervisors were not prepared to make a decision at this meeting. For one thing, Mr. Pisasik wants more input from the township's attorney. Mr. Pisasik said that his preference for the property would be open space. To that end, should the property be sold, the township will probably attach some new covenants to the deed governing what can be done with it. Prominent among the requirements of a sale is likely to be a demand that the buyer remove the Odd Fellows building within a reasonable period of time (which was also part of Mr. Pinchot's original offer).

Certainly, if the property is sold it would return to the tax rolls, although it is hard to say how much additional tax revenue would result from a small additional area of greenspace. Moreover, presumably the two sewer basins on the property would be removed, along with that revenue to the sewer authority (being paid now by the township, that is, to itself).

These are all considerations the Supervisors will be mulling over the next few weeks, as they try to come to a decision. Sentiment is clearly in favor of selling to Mr. Pinchot, whose efforts in Harford are so warmly appreciated. It might be tricky to arrange a public auction or bidding process that would ensure that Mr. Pinchot is the winner. And what kinds of deed restrictions would capture the interests of the village and the township while still allowing a private owner to enjoy the use of the property?

Mr. Pisasik promised that the Supervisors should be in a position to vote on a direction by the time of the next meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 18.

Surprisingly, most of the little crowd stayed put for the rest of the mundane business of operating a rural township in Pennsylvania. In this case that included accepting a letter of intent from Johnson Lauder and Savidge, the township's auditors, to do the next audit for the same price as the last one, $4,750. Business also included opening bids for stone supplies. The Supervisors chose low bidder State Aggregates for 2RC, 2B and two types of anti-skid stone. Among the two bidders for cinders, only one could guarantee PENNDOT certified cinders. So, even though the bid was some $3 per ton higher, the Supervisors chose Matthews Trucking, on the advice of Roadmaster George Sansky, who said his crew had some difficulty in the past with the lower-quality materials supplied by the other bidder.

When Mr. Sansky launched into his road report, he got some unfavorable attention from a resident of the Wolf Lake Road area. The mother of schoolchildren complained that the steep hill from Fair Hill Road had not been adequately cindered, causing a school bus to slide dangerously. She said that when she called the township to report the problem, the response was unsatisfactory. Mr. Sansky said the crew had tried to improve the situation on that hill recently, and she allowed as how it was better. Mr. Sansky and Mr. Pisasik both tried to assure everyone that roads are the township's primary responsibility, and that concerns of this nature should be reported to the Supervisors so they can be investigated and corrected.

If you're interested in how much Harford pays for 2RC stone, or even in the next episode in the Harford Odd Fellows saga as it nears what may be its final season, consider attending the next meeting on Saturday, March 18, beginning at 10:00 a.m. If you can't make it to the meeting, you'll probably hear about it around town over the following couple of days. Or, you can wait a week and a half and get a comprehensive report right here.

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Courthouse Report

Courthouse Report

Compiled by P. Jay Amadio


Arnold Patricia, Sandra West to Alvin P. Stockholm, Hallstead, Dorothy J. Stockholm, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.

James A. Monteforte, Joseph A. Monteforte Sr. to Pennsylvania Pyro, Prairie Village, KS, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Rag Apple to John P. Kelley Jr., New Milford, Mara K. Kelley in New Milford Township for $169,000.

William D. Geesey Jr., Alan N. Geesey, Dorothy M. Thurston (aka) Dorothy G. Thurston to William D. Geesey Jr., Aston, Alan N. Geesey, Dorothy M Thurston (aka) Dorothy G. Thurston.

Peoples National Bank to Joseph J. Scott, Fort Myers, FL, Holly A. Scott, in Susquehanna for $22,000.

James F. Donahue (estate) to Joseph J. Scott, Fort Myers, FL, Holly A. Scott, in Susquehanna for $36,000.

Arthur J. Towner (estate) Arthur J. Towner (living trust by trustee) to Irene L. Woodruff, RR2, Susquehanna, Carl E. Woodruff, in Oakland Borough for zero dollars.

Arthur J. Towner (estate), Arthur J. Towner (living trust by trustee) to Irene L. Woodruff, RR2, Susquehanna, Carl E. Woodruff, in Oakland Borough for zero dollars.

Arthur J. Towner (estate), Arthur J. Towner (living trust by trustee) to Irene L. Woodruff, RR2, Susquehanna, Carl E. Woodruff, in Oakland Borough for zero dollars.

Arthur J. Towner (estate), Arthur J. Towner (living trust by trustee) to Irene L. Woodruff, in Oakland Borough for zero dollars.

Linda Venturini to Linda Venturini, RR2, Thompson, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

Linda Venturini to Linda Venturini, RR2, Thompson, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

Laurel Lake Tire & Battery, Dane E. Howell (TDBA by attorney), Tammie Howell to George A. Welch, Montrose, Beverly A. Welch, in Silver Lake Township for $115,000.

Edward J. Smith to Edward J. Smith, RR3, Meshoppen, Carolyn A. Smith, David M. Smith, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Edward J. Smith to Edward J. Smith, RR3, Meshoppen, Carolyn A. Smith, David M. Smith, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.

Charles L. Wayman to B-K Health Center Inc., Susquehanna, in New Milford Borough for $68,000.

Erminia A. Cola to Erminia A. Cola, RR2, Kingsley, Michael Cola, in New Milford and Brooklyn townships for one dollar.

Allan C. Potter (estate) to Frances M. Potter, RR2, Thompson, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

James D. Stoss Jr., Sheena M. Stoss to Mary E. Snyder, Susquehanna, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

Mario Munoz to Burhan Memisvski, Astoria, NY, in Susquehanna for ten dollars.

Marion B. Smith (estate), Richard B. Smith to Richard B. Smith, State College, V. Carol Smith, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Marion B. Smith (estate) to Richard B. Smith, State College, V. Carol Smith, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Marion B. Smith (estate) to Richard B. Smith, State College, V. Carol Smith, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Khosrow Kordbegli, Patricia A. Kordbegli to Khosrow Kordbegli, Bensalem, in Rush Township for one dollar.

Anne Smetana to Sharon T. Spaulding, Highland, NY, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Paul B. Traver, Noreen M. Traver to Walder D. Traver, Binghamton, NY, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Robert B. Lott (estate), Charles R. Lott, Celine F. Lott to Eileen Lott, RR2, Meshoppen, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Todd A. Lott, Marcha M. Crisman, Eileen Lott to Edward J. Watts, RR3, Meshoppen, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Jeffrey E. Osmun, Cindy C. Osmun, Blaine A. Fresco to Blaine A. Fresco, Lambertville, NJ, in New Milford Township for $145,308.

Jeffrey E. Osmun, Cindy C. Osmun, Blaine A. Fresco to Jeffrey E. Osmun, RR2, New Milford, Cindy C. Osmun, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Baldwin P. Scott, Deborah A. Baldwin to Kevin E. Schrader, Lake Como, in New Milford Township for $355,000.

John R. Demaree, Elizabeth L. Demaree to Nicholas D. Demaree, RR1, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.

Morris County Agency West Inc. to Christian R. Nielsen, Vestal, NY, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Richard K. Norris, Linda L. Norris to John Dininny Jr., RD3, Susquehanna, in Oakland Township for $1,200.

Ronald Olson to Mark Anderson, Lake Worth, FL, in Apolacon Township for $105,000.

Gregory Sperduto to Mario Gonzales, Staten Island, NY, Carolyn Gonzales, in Thompson Township for $160,000.

Helen M. Kozlowski to Helen M. Koslowski, RR1, Hop Bottom, Edward J. Kozlowski III, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.

Norman E. Fletcher to Connie R. Humbert, RR1, Great Bend, David Humbert, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.

Carl Ernstrom, Rita Ernstrom to Jay Levine, Binghamton, NY, Jinny Tauss, in Silver Lake Township for $355,000.

John Fekette to Frank V. Sanfilippo, New Milford, PA, Margaret Mary Sanfilippo, in New Milford Township for $189,100.

Jack M. Rood to Michael J. Wayman, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for $85,000.

Brian Shienr to Kimberly S. Belke, RR1, Friendsville, in Choconut Township for $142,000.

Jerome D. Fleming to Theresa M. Flemins, Great Bend, in Great Bend Borough for one dollar.


Joshua P. C. Hartjen, Apalachin, NY and Sarah A. Haner, Candor, NY.

Justin J. Seamans and Tiffany M. Shager, both of New Milford.


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Great Bend Says Goodbye

It had snowed all day, and Alan Grannis was tired. Mr. Grannis is Great Bend Borough's main man, and he had been on the town's streets since 7 o'clock in the morning, as he says, "going around and around and around" to keep the streets clear of the white stuff. Yet he still managed to attend the Borough Council's regularly-scheduled meeting on the evening of March 2.

Mr. Grannis wasn't sure there was going to be a meeting. Council members drifted in slowly, until, some 20 minutes after 7 p.m., Jerry MacConnell arrived to make a quorum.

Since Council President Bea Alesky was absent, her deputy, Rick Franks, began the meeting by calling for a moment of silence to remember Mary Jean Fleming. Ms. Fleming had been a long-time member of Council, its sometime President, and also occasionally Secretary for the town. She was remembered for her devotion and dedication to Great Bend, and Council agreed to donate a small sum in gratitude.

Consensus was to make the meeting as brief as possible, and Mr. Franks took his sometimes fractious charges through the sparse agenda in good order. They heard first from Tony Conarton, President of the Great Bend-Hallstead Volunteer Ambulance Service, who presented each member with a booklet representing an annual report. The Ambulance Service has just completed one year since its resurrection from a near- death experience. As most such organizations are, the Ambulance Service is still struggling to attract new members. But with a strong Board of Directors and a reinvigorated sense of itself, the service has achieved some strong results. Between February 2005 and February 2006, the volunteers have responded to 363 calls covering six different municipalities; the ambulances have been driven almost 7,000 miles; more than 2,300 man-hours have been accumulated on emergency calls. The 2006 subscription drive is currently under way. Residents in the service's coverage area can call 879-4483 for more information.

Council heard that several on-going cases of problem properties in the Borough have made some progress on clean- up since the Borough's solicitor sent letters urging improvement. With the recent snowfall, one large property has taken to parking cars on the street while clearing the building's parking lot, creating a hazard for nearby fire and emergency traffic. The Borough Secretary was directed to send a polite letter asking the owners for cooperation.

The Borough is still dealing with the after effects of its participation in a cooperative police force, which was declared defunct already many years past. It seems the Borough of New Milford has some concerns about its contributions to the pension fund, and how they were allocated. They have asked Great Bend to allow their attorney to talk with Great Bend's attorney on the matter. Council was not inclined to do anything that would cost the Borough money, so they decided to send a letter to New Milford, inviting their Council to attend Great Bend's meeting in April for discussions.

A new regional park is under debate among citizens of local communities, which would include a "walking path." Mr. Franks reported that meetings were taking place, and veteran's organizations seemed to be contributing resources. He was still unwilling to reveal possible locations for the park facility.

Since Mr. Grannis also takes care of Great Bend's three parks already, he might have had some interest in the details of the new project. His greatest satisfaction, he says, is hearing from residents when they are pleased with his work. On the other hand, he was too tired to think much about that, since he still had to get home to clear off his own driveway.

With some luck, he won't have to fight snow again in April, when the Great Bend Borough Council will meet on the 6th, beginning at 7 p.m., in the Borough Building on Elizabeth Street.

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County To Join In State Exercise

Montrose, PA – Roberta Kelly, chairman of the County Board of Commissioners, announced that Susquehanna County will join Pennsylvania's 67 county emergency management agencies, along with many area schools, hospitals, nursing homes and day care centers, in a statewide exercise to test severe weather emergency response plans.

Governor Edward G. Rendell proclaimed March 12-18 as “Weather Emergency Preparedness Week” in Pennsylvania. Part of the observance will include a statewide severe weather exercise and a series of local public education programs.

According to James R. Joseph, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), this exercise will allow county and municipal governments, as well as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers and other special care facilities across the state, to test their disaster preparedness and response programs.

During the exercise, the NWS will issue exercise-based severe weather reports over normal reporting channels, such as the NWS Weather Radio stations.

On Friday, March 17 at 10:10 a.m., a statewide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), formerly known as the Emergency Broadcast System, will be conducted originating in the state's emergency operations center in Harrisburg. EAS, a voluntary network of local radio and television stations, is the primary public alert and notification system for emergency information.

According to Joseph, the state contacted all schools, hospitals, nursing homes and day care centers in the state encouraging them to participate in the exercise. The state provided planning guides to assist these facilities in emergency preparedness and supplied schools with teaching materials about floods and other weather emergencies.

“Historically, the most violent storms occur during the spring and summer months,” Joseph said. “This ranges from floods to hurricanes to tornadoes.”

“In recognition of what has occurred in the past, and in anticipation of what could happen in the future, it is imperative that those responsible for the well being of others understand the potential for weather-related disasters and take those steps necessary to ensure a timely and effective response,” said Joseph.

According to Joseph, 1996 stands as an example of just how dangerous and unpredictable severe weather conditions can be. Pennsylvania experienced six presidentially declared major disasters in 1996 – a new national record. Five major floods and record-breaking snow storms impacted every county in the state.

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Keystone Awards Received

Mountain View School District board gave routine approval of the previous minutes and this month’s treasurer report and cafeteria report at the bi-monthly meeting on February 27 2006.

The next three items on the agenda received less than full support and further scrutiny. Receiving votes of 6 yea and 1 nay were both the January bill list and the February 27 bill list. The January list also included amongst others things, transportation contracts and fund transfers. Item three of the Finance Committee which was voted upon but not carried was the Budget Transfers for 2005-2006. This received a vote of 4 yeas, 3 nays (2 absent).No discussion or questions surrounded this vote. The fourth item receiving unanimous approval was the establishment of a scholarship fund. When questioned why the family set up the account through the school it was stated by a board member that it was to receive the benefit of a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. Quarterly reports are also to be made available.

All items from the Personnel Committee were passed unanimously. These items included accepting a substitute list and resignations due to retirement of three staff members. Superintendent Art Chambers took a moment to comment on the women retiring, Linda Whitney, Patricia Arnold and Holly Miller. Chambers said, “They long served Mountain View in an outstanding manner. They have positively influenced the lives of hundreds and hundreds of students...People will succeed them but they will not so easily be replaced.” Then Board President Zick informed the public that these women contributed over 100 years to the District.

Rounding out the personnel issues was the hiring of supplemental salary positions for Spring coaches and volunteers for JV and Varsity baseball.

The Policy Committee presented a motion to approve the “Revised Dress and Grooming Policy #221.” This vote did not carry by a vote of 4-3-2. The Home Education Policy #137 was approved unanimously. The final item presented by this committee was the “Emergency Operations Plan.” This plan was explained as a three part plan. The EOP is the umbrella plan that the district will follow. The other two parts are individual plans for the high school and the elementary school. The first part will establish assumptions and the purpose of the plan which is to ensure the safety of everyone present on campus. On any given day there will be not only students, teachers and staff, but also less informed people like parents, contractors and visitors whose safety will have to be ensured. The EOP establishes a succession of authority to direct the emergency response and establishes where the command post will be. The in-service training needed to facilitate this plan was also outlined.

The Report from the superintendent was presented. Chambers displayed the Keystone Awards for the progress made as per the No Child Left Behind Act. The elementary has made “adequate yearly progress” for three years in a row. The high school has achieved the same for two years in a row. A group of gifted students called “NASA Scientists” submitted an experiment to NASA for a module balloon project. Their experiment was chosen and it will go up in a balloon. The staff and perhaps the students involved will be present at the next board meeting to discuss their experiment with the public. Finally, Chambers announced that Lackawanna College is seeking to develop a satellite campus in Susquehanna County. An open house will be held at Mountain View on March 15 to determine the level of interest.

A Career Fair is scheduled for March 28 from 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Thirty representatives from the local business sector are scheduled. However various fields of occupations are not represented. Donna Porter can be contacted by any business owner who wishes to participate.

The Education Committee submitted resolutions for approval that included conferences and field trips. Spring Adult Education classes were approved but were not stated as to what they are. The school calendar was revised for this year. Next years calendar was approved. Disciplinary action for a student was also approved. The next meeting is scheduled for March 13 at 8:00 p.m.

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Susky Fills Vacancy

The Susquehanna Boro Council met on February 28 with members John Bronchella, Bill Kuiper, Shane Lewis, Roy Williams present, and president Tom Kelly presiding. Also present were Mayor Denise Reddon, secretary Ann Stewart and former council member Ron Whitehead.

At Mr. Kelly’s request, two items were added to the agenda; a resolution needed for the Elm Street project, and filling the council vacancy created by the resignation of Margaret Biegert.

The vacancy item led to a discussion on whether or not the opening required advertising. Mr. Lewis insisted that it did, and said that he had contacted the PA State Association of Boros for verification. Mr. Williams said that he had also contacted the PSAB and had verified that advertising was optional.

Reporter’s Note: This reporter researched the question, in the PA Borough Code and the Borough Council Handbook published by the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services. Both outline the timeframe within which a vacancy must be filled, but neither publication stiuplated any advertisement requirements. And, Mayor Reddon pointed out that both the County Transcript and the Independent included mention of the vacancy in their reports of the February 14 meeting.

When approval of the agenda came up for a vote, both Mr. Lewis and Mr. Kuiper voted no. With a majority of three votes, the motion carried.

When the vacancy came up for discussion, Mr. Kelly noted that council had received three letters of interest. A motion was made and seconded to appoint Ron Whitehead. Mr. Kuiper voted no; he felt that the position should go to another applicant who had run for council in the last election and who had received the next highest number of votes. Mr. Kelly pointed out that this individual had not received enough votes to be elected. “He doesn’t have any more right to (the appointment) than anyone else.” Mr. Lewis refused to vote. Still, the motion carried with three votes in favor. Mr. Whitehead was then sworn in.

When the current administration took office in January, it was discovered that a number of items were missing from the mayor’s and secretary’s offices. Letters were sent to anyone who had access, asking that the items be returned, “with no questions asked.” So far, they have not been returned. Missing are a number of files and the boro seal. The seal is of particular concern, not only because it may be used inappropriately, but because of its historical value.

The Streets Committee met on the evening prior to the meeting and discussed a prioritized list of paving projects. The Agility agreement with PENNDOT is in the process of discussion. Once it is determined what paving PENNDOT would be willing to as their part of the agreement, bids will be prepared for paving the boro will have done.

Purchase of a new(er) police car was discussed in depth. A 2004 fully equipped Crown Victoria is available, with 60,000 miles on it and a four-year warranty. Price is $17,000, delivered. As the price is within the boro’s budget and money would not need to be spent on equipping it, it was agreed to proceed with purchase. Council will ask the mechanic who services the boro’s vehicles to check it over once it arrives.

Council received resignations received from two police officers, Michael Devries and Michelle Hillard; motions carried to accept. Council will advertise for part-time officers in local newspapers, as well as in Scranton and Binghamton.

Former CEO Ed Reddon has agreed to fill in temporarily until a permanent CEO can be found. Council has received several applications and will conduct interviews on March 14, prior to its regular meeting.

A motion carried to adopt Ordinance 440, which will allow the fire company to bill out-of-town vehicle owners for emergency services.

In one of those inexplicable government requirements, action needed to be taken in regards to funds the boro had received from FEMA to repair damage caused in September, 2004 and again in April, 2005. Mr. Williams gave a synopsis of the events and the damage caused. FEMA approved funds for damage caused by both storms, with 75% paid up front. Of the funds received, the boro has a combined total of $46,109.68 left from the two projects. FEMA wants $68,797.50 to be paid to them as soon as possible, as well as the required close-out forms verifying that the projects have been completed. After receipt, FEMA will then refund $34,578.50 to the boro. And, if the boro does not comply by March 16, a “block” will be put on the boro, disqualifying it from receiving any FEMA funding in the future. After discussion, a motion carried to approve, pending written verification that the boro will receive the $34,578.50.

Council approved two resolutions, one assigning secretary Ann Stewart as the chief administrative officer for the police pension plan and authorizing the Main Street Committee, on behalf of the Boro, to file an application to request additional funding for the Main Street Façade Challenge Grant from DECD.

During review of the bill list, council discussed the fact that the furnace had needed five recent service calls. It was agreed to look into getting a service contract. A vote was then taken to approve the bill list; it was, although Mr. Lewis voted no with no explanation.

The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss an employee issue.

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