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When the Blue Ridge School Board signed on to Act 72 last year, one of the requirements was that a budget be offered much earlier so that taxpayers and the state would have a chance to review it before final adoption. When the Board duly proposed a nearly flat budget earlier this year there may have been reason to believe that it was done and over with. Not so, as principals in the three Blue Ridge schools found out at a Board workshop on March 27.
The overall budget was in fact passed a month ago, but the extra time before final approval also gives the Board an extra opportunity to fine-tune the details, maybe make some shifts, reallocate resources within the totals. The principals were asked to present their individual school budgets for scrutiny by the Board. Two of the three probably thought it would be a piece of cake, since they were asking for less this year than last. Not so again, as Board President Alan Hall led his colleagues in grilling each of them on the details.
The workshop actually began on a high note, so to speak. Ms. Holly Snitzer led an Elementary School choir in a concert of 10 numbers, beginning with the National Anthem, and ending with a Happy Birthday tribute to Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz. A fair crowd of parents and friends attended the concert portion and all received the music with warm applause before leaving the Board to more mundane business of raking its principals over the coals.
The Blue Ridge Elementary School choir performed for board members at their March 27 workshop.
As the newest and youngest of the administrators, Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski was first on the rack. His school's budget for next year is some $7,600 less than last year, but still he had to field a series of challenges about the details. For one thing, he is requesting about $11,000 for equipment. He told the Board that he wants to purchase an additional projection system for each grade, plus a high-tech interactive "whiteboard"-type system (product of a British company called Promethean) that will include another projector and software. He sold Mr. Hall on the whiteboard system with an enthusiastic description of its capabilities. He was so effective that Mr. Hall later suggested that the Board consider purchasing another one for the Elementary School.
Mr. Nebzydoski also requested the purchase of a new piano, the cost to be shared with the High School. Mr. Hall described the old pianos, two of which remain, as "junk," purchased at the tail end of the reconstruction project 10 years ago. He urged the schools to make sure the new piano will be of higher quality. Ms. Snitzer used one of the old pianos during the choral concert, so everyone could assess its quality for themselves.
High School Principal John Manchester also announced a budget lower than last year, but it didn't help him either. Unlike the Middle School, Mr. Manchester will be purchasing new text books for the coming year, principally for new elective courses in business law and marketing. He is also asking for additional equipment for physical education, including golf clubs and archery supplies (sports that were not offered when most board members attended high school; Activities Director James Corse will be buying golf "uniforms," too – no more blue jeans on the fairways). Mr. Manchester also specifically asked to "purchase a new baby." The diminutive artificial human is used in "consumer science" classes and costs about $1,000. For that price, one assumes it is more than a doll that can open and close its eyes and say "Momma!"
Principal Robert Dietz offered the only school budget that will be higher – by some $16,000 – than last year. The Elementary School will be expanding its kindergarten program to four-year-olds, so most of that is for supplies and equipment for the additional classes. (None of these budgets includes salaries or benefits, which are allocated at the district level.) Even so, Mr. Hall suggested that the board consider giving Mr. Dietz another $6,000 or so for another of the fancy whiteboard systems.
Mr. Corse announced a budget down $3,000 from last year, and some $20,000 less than two years ago. He said there were modest increases for coaches' salaries and officials' fees for the sports programs. Other than golf, all of the athletic uniforms are in good condition and not scheduled for replacement yet. He also asked for $2,000 for a new sound board for the auditorium. Like the pianos, the old board was purchased as part of the construction project, was cheap to begin with, and is beginning to malfunction. Mr. Hall requested that the situation be examined immediately so that end-of-year events, including graduation, are not adversely affected.
Most Blue Ridge School Board meetings aren't two and a half hours long. Try one. The next will be on Monday, April 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
This past January, Linda Jones-Newman and Kevin Newman of Thompson were cited with twenty-seven animal abuse violations, in what officials call one of the worst cases of animal abuse in Susquehanna County history. The couple was in court March 27 for a summary trial in New Milford, which took longer than officials expected. Now the case is on temporary hold, and will not resume until May.
A total of 73 animals were taken from the Newman's property in January, including cows, horses, chickens, cats, dogs, ducks, llamas, birds and a donkey. Dr. Ellen Johnson of Apalachin, NY has been the Newman's veterinarian since 2002. She tells The Susquehanna County Transcript that she had questions about the couple's care for their animals months ago. "I had prior concerns about the care of the animals since February, 2005". Johnson said that she pointed out concerns to the Newmans for months, who promised to take care of the problems. Eventually, less and less of the promises were resolved until January 9, 2005, when Dr. Johnson finally had to call the Pennsylvania State Police.
Between October and December of 2005, five horses had died. The Newmans finally called Dr. Johnson December 27, 2005, one day after a sixth horse had gone down, which had to be euthanized that day. When officials were able to search the Newman's property, January 12, 2006, they found five dead horses and were forced to euthanize at least four more animals. Dr. Johnson and others searching the property found dozens of malnourished animals, without access to sanitary shelter, food and water. Dogs were found in small crates and a dead goat was found in the woods. "This was the worst case of animal cruelty I had ever seen."
Since late last year, Linda Newman told Dr. Johnson that she thought one of the horses had died from colic, but she believed that the others may have died from contaminated grain. Two of the dead horses were tested at Cornell, which ruled out rabies, viruses and EPM. Dr. Johnson says that test results did come back with information consistent with two types of toxic contamination, but the report states that it is unlikely that the grain fed to the horses was contaminated.
Some local news reports have mentioned that the Newman's donkey had a deep wound, possibly from physical abuse, but Dr. Johnson thinks otherwise. "The injury is actually a healing wound from a prior surgery, but there was a lack of follow up care after the surgery". Although Dr. Johnson believes that there was no actual physical abuse, she believes, without a doubt, that Linda and Kevin Newman severely neglected their animals. The Newman's case will continue May 10, 9:15 a.m. in District Magistrate Peter Janicelli’s courtroom in New Milford.
The Mountain View Board had a full house of guests on Monday, February 27, for their twice monthly regular meetings. The board president Mr. Zick and Mr. Ordie Price were absent. Vice President Mr. Halupke chaired the meeting. After approval of the minutes, treasurer and cafeteria reports there was a time for visitors to speak.
Maria Diaz, Harford, questioned the purpose of several bills to be paid. One check was written to pay for a mailing to current and prior employees regarding Medicare Part D. This program has been highly controversial nationwide and information is widely available. Again at the end of the meeting, Diaz specifically asked the board to find out if all districts were paying for this mailing. Later in the meeting, Halupke stated that, “ Someone made a buck off the I.U. and all the school districts because there was no need for this.” Halupke voted no whenapproving the bill list. Another check involved payment for the substitute teacher calling service. This contract was approved on a trial basis at the January 23 meeting with a 5-3 vote. Diaz wanted to know who forwarded this idea to the board. Superintendent Chambers explained that “together as a team we decided to try out this service in an effort to be more cost effective.”
The Finance committee submitted four motions all of which were approved with little discussion.
The Personnel Committee submitted seven motions, two were put on hold.
Patricia Taylor was appointed for a part-time food service position. The many coaching positions in the district were vacated and approved for advertising as per the policy, explained Chambers.
The Policy Committee submitted four policies for their second readings. All were brought up for discussion and reviewed. These were: Title 1 Parent Involvement #918; Student Records #216; Confidential Communications of Students #207; and Behavior Support Program #113.2. They will be submitted for board approval at the next meeting.
The Wellness Committee held a meeting and is working diligently to meet the mandate to create a Wellness policy and related guidelines by the July 1 deadline. A three year plan is expected to be devised to implement the policy. Nutritional standards for competitive foods will be created. Snacks, birthdays, vending machines, food rewards and the like of non-essential food will likely become limited upon implementation of this policy.
Two gifted graduating seniors received praise and accolades for their leadership at Mountain View. Whitney Williams and Matt Panasevich were given the school flag to hang in their rooms as they go out into the world. Chambers admired the students who “blossomed into great scholars.” Mr. Phillips stated that “any parent would be proud to have you as a son or daughter.” Williams is planning to attend the University of Massachusetts. Panasevich will attend Cornell University. His headgear from wrestling will be placed in a display case. The Athletic Director listed both student’s individual accomplishments.
The Education Committee submitted two motions for approval. They were for conferences and field trips. A Program of Studies for Grades 9-12 was submitted for review.
No motions were submitted by the Building & Site Committee, Transportation Committee or the Negotiations Committee. Negotiations did have a meeting earlier in the week.
During the New Business part of the meeting a few issues surfaced. The new mission statement for the school was posted on the web site. Chambers did acknowledge that the statement was not approved yet but it has been presented by the Strategic Planning Committee.
It was requested that the minutes of the meetings get posted on the web site.
Debbie Suchnick thanked the board for approving the elementary play. However she disagreed with the process. Suchnick read a letter that several parents received outlining the wonderful qualities of their child and stating their child was “chosen” to be in the play. She asked, “What’s up with that?” By this she meant that only “select” children were chosen without knowing what was the criteria. She strongly believes that the normal audition, pass/fail process should have been followed. All parents present agreed with Suchnick, even if their child was or was not selected. Also there were no learning support or special education students chosen to be in the play. Another parent said the stress placed on the children being duly selected has caused animosity amongst the children. The students have apparently chided each other as to whether they were “the chosen ones.” Chambers stated the advice given was well spoken and much appreciated. A parent expressed remorse over the lack of support for the director. The show must go on and there is always next year!
Adjournment occurred at 9:00 p.m.
ONE CAR CRASH
Irene Kozokas of Friendsville, 75, lost control of her vehicle on an icy patch of SR 4007 in Forest Lake Township March 19. Her car slid off the road, hit a mailbox and flipped, landing back on its roof. Kozokas was wearing her seatbelt and was not seriously injured.
An unknown man walked into the Great Bend Sunoco on Route 11 March 24, displayed what appeared to be 10 inch long screwdriver and demanded cash. He fled on foot heading north with an unknown amount of cash. He is described as a white male, 5'11", 175 lbs. with short brown hair. He was wearing blue jeans, a white long sleeve shirt, gray sneakers and blue scarf. No one was injured in the robbery.*
Michael Ely Sr. of Montrose, 35, lost control of his vehicle March 9, on SR3004 in Springville Township, and hit a utility pole. Ely was taken into custody at the scene and now faces several vehicle code charges including driving while under the influence of alcohol. The Springville EMS and Commonwealth Telephone Company assisted on the scene.
John Guay, 20, Susquehanna, was found dead, March 30, 5:23 a.m. in his friend's apartment, 900 Prospect St. Apt B-5 in the Borough of Susquehanna. The apparent cause of death is believed to be a drug overdose, pending results of an autopsy.*
WEAPONS OR IMPLEMENTS OF ESCAPE
The Pennsylvania State Police were called to the Susquehanna County Jail in Bridgewater Township, March 13, when jail Warden William Brennan discovered Candace Carpenter of Montrose with a knife while visiting an inmate. Carpenter has been charged with Weapons of Implement for Escape.
The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses Church in Bridgewater Township was broken into sometime between March 26 and March 28. So far, nothing has been found missing or taken.*
A seventeen year old juvenile lost control of his 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII on SR106 in Clifford Township March 20. He lost control of the vehicle while making a left curve, slid across the road into an embankment and rolled several times. He and his passenger, Covey K. Salinas, 18, of Lenoxville were both wearing their seatbelts during the accident, and were both transported to CMC in Scranton. The Clifford Township Fire and Rescue Department assisted on scene. The driver has been cited for a vehicle code violation.
FATAL DUI CRASH
Jacob Herbert, 22, Hallstead, was traveling on SR2063 in New Milford Township, March 17, in his 1989 Dodge pickup truck when he rear-ended a 1997 Dodge Caravan, driven by Nancy Lindsey, 54, Susquehanna. Five year old Megan Thomas of Millport, NY was riding in the back seat of the Dodge Caravan properly restrained, yet was killed from the impact. Herbert has been charged with homicide by vehicle, and is now behind bars in the Susquehanna County Jail.
Mary J. Kelly, New Milford, called police after she found the rear window of her blue 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser smashed out. It happened sometime March 25 on SR1039 in Bridgewater Township.*
Carol M. Cox, 36, Montrose, lost control of her 2000 Chevy Impala on SR706 March 23. She was driving eastbound when she slid off the snow-covered road and hit a utility pole. Cox was transported to Endless Mountain Health System in Montrose. The United Fire and Rescue Company of Montrose assisted at the scene of the accident.
State Police are warning area residents of a potential phone scam. The unknown caller(s) are calling area residents, warning them that their checking account has been compromised. The caller asks for the numbers on the bottom of their check in order to verify the account. This information gives the caller full access to your bank routing number and checking account number, allowing them to access money in your account without your consent. State police urge residents not to provide any personal information over the phone unless you know it is a legitimate business relationship.*
ONE CAR CRASH
Four juveniles were involved in a one car accident, March 27 on SR 387 north of West Auburn. One juvenile driver lost control of the vehicle, drifting off the road, and hitting a tree. All four juveniles were not wearing seatbelts when the vehicle hit the tree, deploying the front airbags. The juvenile driver has been charged with not being able to keep the vehicle in the lane and driving without a license. The father has been charged with permitting the juveniles to operate the vehicle.
FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE
Scott Richard Layton, Conklin, NY, was a fugitive from New York, on parole for burglary, and violating his parole. New York officials were tipped that Layton was watching his brother’s home in the Harmony Village trailer park on Route 11, Great Bend Township. Several members of the Pennsylvania State Police, the Susquehanna County Sheriff’s Office, Susquehanna County Probation and New York Parole assisted on the scene, March 28. Layton was taken before Magistrate Peter Janicelli for arraignment, where Layton was unable to post bail. Layton is now locked up in the Susquehanna County jail.
Liane Fabrizi, 28, Susquehanna, was driving on SR92 in Jackson Township when she lost control of her car March 16. She lost control on an ice patch, hit an embankment and ended up flipping over her 2001 white Chrysler sedan. Fabrizi was wearing her seatbelt, and was transported to Barnes-Kasson Hospital with minor injuries by the Thompson Ambulance Department.
FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE
The Pennsylvania State Police were notified by Connecticut Adult Probation that Larry Taylor, Waterbury, CT, was staying with friends on John Fisher Road near Lake Walter Township, March 10. He was taken into custody by police for a probation violation, which resulted from an assault on his step daughter. Taylor was arraigned by Magistrate Gene Franklin and bail was set at $125,000. Taylor was unable to post bail and is now behind bars in the Susquehanna County Jail.
A white male walked into the Great Bend Pump & Pantry on SR171, March 13, flashed the clerk a knife and demanded cash. He left the scene on foot with an unknown amount of cash. The robbery occurred just before 4:00 a.m. The man is described as having a slim build, wearing a mask, black coat, stocking cap, black baggie pants and bright white sneakers.*
TWO CAR CRASH
Joseph Bonczek, 36, Union Dale, was driving his Dodge Omni when he fell asleep at the wheel on Interstate 81 northbound in Lenox Township, March 12. Bonczek drove his vehicle into the rear end of Antonio Aleluia's, 55, Maple, Ontario, 2005 ford F-350, which was towing a utility trailer. After rear ending Aleluia, he lost control of his vehicle and ended up upside down, on the median of the highway. Aleluia attempted to keep his pick up truck in control, but ended up losing his trailer, which also ended up in the median, flipped onto its side. Bonczek has been cited with careless driving.
*Anyone with information is asked to call the Pennsylvania State Police in Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
Susquehanna Boro Council met on March 28, with members Bill Kuiper and Roy Williams absent.
During review of the bill list, it was noted that Penelec has been charging for the Drinker Creek lights, which have been turned off for over a year as a result of damage/repair time from Hurricane Ivan. Secretary Stewart will contact Penelec to find out if the amount charged is, in fact a service charge. And, the lights should be back on by summer.
Another item discussed was a charge for a call to the boro’s attorney (for police matters). The boro does have a “team call” agreement, which entitles a certain number of free telephone consultations per year. But, team calls must be approved by council, and it must be specified at the time of the call that it is a “team call,” which this was not, so this bill would have to be paid.
Mrs. Stewart reported that all pertinent data has been submitted to Zavada and Associates for the 2005 audit, and no applications had been received for the positions of rental property inspector or police officers. Council approved her attendance at a training course for secretaries/administrators, cost $50.
The Streets Committee reported a problem with the boro’s proposed Agility agreement with PENNDOT. In return for services such as street sweeping, PENNDOT was to commit to some paving projects but later indicated that the paving might not be possible. Mr. Williams was scheduled to meet with PENNDOT the following Friday to discuss it.
The streets department will be focusing on sweeping during the next few weeks; council discussed ways of notifying residents of the (tentative) schedules so that vehicles could be kept off the streets in those areas during sweeping.
A problem arose regarding a property that is not hooked into the municipal sewage system, but has an on-lot system with a leaking tank. As there are only two or three homes within the boro with on-lot systems, the need for an SEO has not arisen very often. Council will contact the Tri-Boro Sewer Authority for the names of certified SEOs that can be contacted on an as-needed basis.
During public comment, a resident noted that the boro’s website is outdated; it still lists last year’s council members and no recent information has been posted. Mrs. Stewart will contact Martin Works, the site’s designers, for information on how to update it.
One bid was received for a police car, a 2004 Crown Victoria, completely refurbished, with 47,000 miles on it. It comes with a cage, a mag light, a light bar, new tires, and a four-year warranty, cost $17,500. Mr. Matis suggested that council should get the VIN number, and then get a Carfax report to ensure that the vehicle had not been in an accident, or possibly damaged by a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. He also questioned whether council should proceed with purchasing a car at all, with only two police officers at present, and two cars. Why not leave the money in the bank, he said, and build the department back up.
Mr. Whitehead responded that council is working on building the department back up; a new car would be needed eventually. Wouldn’t it be better to already have it? And, the Jeep is not being used as there is too much wrong with it.
Mr. Kelly commented that the police department is “not going away.” One way or another, the boro would have a police department, and a car is needed. He felt it would be better to be proactive, and to have the car ready when there is a larger force.
A motion carried to accept the bid, contingent on a good Carfax report. Mr. Matis was the only “no” vote.
Council has received word that author Mark Sherman will not be holding a book signing at the Susquehanna Branch Library.
The library has requested council’s approval to have an additional touch pad for the alarm system and a panic button installed. The library would pay for the equipment and its installation. But, council had some questions, particularly whether these changes would result in an increase in the monthly fees paid to the security company. The matter was tabled for more information.
The insurance carrier for Padula and Sons requested a performance letter from council (Padula and Sons installed the new sidewalks in the Main Street area). It was agreed to refer the matter to the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority, as they, not the boro had hired Padula and Sons.
Lastly, council extended their condolences to Margaret Biegert and her family. Mrs. Biegert’s mother had passed away the day before the meeting.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
HARRISBURG - Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) said that the deadline to apply for Pennsylvania's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended to April 14.
Additionally, the state has increased the maximum amount awarded for crisis grants from $300 to $600.
LIHEAP, which is funded by the federal government and administered by the state Department of Public Welfare (DPW), helps low-income households pay their heating bills and covers weather emergencies through energy assistance grants.
The 2005-06 program opened November 7, 2005. Eligible residents can continue submitting an application through the April 14 deadline.
Households with an annual income of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level qualify. People need not have an unpaid bill to receive energy assistance, and they need not be on welfare.
Those deemed eligible can receive cash grants to pay their home heating bills and crisis grants for unexpected fuel shortages or furnace purchases or repairs Grants are based on family size, income, type of heating fuel and heating regions.
For more information, contact the county assistance office at or call the toll-free LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095 (individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886). Internet users can access additional information at www.dpw.state.pa.us, keyword "LIHEAP."
Susquehanna County Judge Kenneth Seamans says that attending the funeral of a youngster killed as a result of alcohol abuse was "the hardest thing I've ever done." He's the only judge in the county, and he sees – and imposes – the consequences of underage alcohol consumption all the time.
Like the other six participants in a panel discussion focused on adolescent alcohol abuse held in conjunction with Kid Safe night at the Blue Ridge campus, he placed the responsibility for the growing problem squarely with parents. "We have to supervise our children," said the father of two. Parents set the pattern.
Trooper Devens, a community affairs officer out of Dunmore reminded the 30 or so people who gathered in the auditorium that the Pennsylvania State Police are often the first to witness the consequences. "We'll be one of the first ones to come in contact with [underage drinkers]," she said. What the police collect, the court disposes.
County Prosecutor Jason Legg told listeners that more policing can help, but that local police are becoming more scarce in rural Susquehanna County. In some western areas of the county a DUI crash can go completely unrecorded. He said that sobriety checkpoints operated by the State Police have a deterrent effect, at least for the one evening a month they run.
But, like the others, Mr. Legg says that the focus of the problem must be on the parents and other adults who are the enablers, who make it possible for young people to learn to drink irresponsibly. He recommended that the state legislature come up with new, stronger sanctions against adults who provide alcohol to underage youth. Furnishing an illegal drug that results in a death in many cases is treated as homicide – murder. Not so for alcohol, like tobacco, an addicting substance that is controlled primarily by private, legal businesses. According to Mr. Legg, providing alcohol to minors in Pennsylvania is a third degree misdemeanor, the lowest criminal category, and is often treated as a "nuisance" crime whose punishment may be only brief probation.
Chief of Juvenile Probation John Lester only gets to see the result of lenient attitudes toward alcohol among the young. And he says he sees children as young as 11 and 12 years old in trouble with alcohol. The trend seems to be affecting younger and younger children each year.
The social services agency Trehab steps in when asked. Bruce Rossman, Supervisor of Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Trehab said that just within the past nine months his office has received 40 referrals for underage drinking and/or drug abuse. He sees very few referrals from families, giving the schools credit for recognizing and referring when problems come up. "They have no idea what addiction is," he said, describing one youngster who brought Viagra to school. "It's part of the culture." He told a story of one father who appeared to be concerned about his son, yet maintained that he had a right to have his son drink in the home.
A common excuse goes something like this: "I'd rather have my child drinking at home than out somewhere on the street." All members of the panel warned against attitudes like this. Roselyn Hibbard, Trehab Prevention Supervisor, reported a survey of sixth graders. 72% of responses said that drinking regularly is "very wrong." But still, one in six saw nothing wrong with it. Ms. Hibbard described statistics that show the amount of public money – taxes, etc. – that is spent to deal with underage drinking and drug abuse could be substantially reduced by preventing the problem in the first place.
When a kid gets in trouble in Susquehanna County he may have dealings with all of these people. She/he may also be assigned one of two county public defenders. One of them, Linda LaBarbera, says her job is to protect a defendant's legal rights, but she also said it isn't necessarily her job to just "get them off." She said that for many youngsters, "it may be in [their] best interest to take responsibility" for the consequences of their actions.
Robin Kaminski-Waldowski moderated the panel discussion, which drew few comments or questions from the small audience. She heads the Susquehanna County Drug & Alcohol Commission, and is planning a series of these "town halls" on substance abuse. This one was organized as a part of Kid Safe night at Blue Ridge, an opportunity for parents to learn what they can do to keep their children safe – on the street, in school, or on the internet. The campus was busy from one end to the other, with health screening in the Elementary School cafeteria, to a broad array of information sources in a gym, refreshments everywhere, ending with the panel discussion in the auditorium. Be on the lookout for the next one. It could save your child's life.
"What will we have to talk about?" A curious question for Harford Township Supervisor meetings where the agenda recently has often been the single question of the Odd Fellows Hall.
The agenda on March 28 wasn't quite that narrow: the Supervisors also approved a subdivision at Tingley Lake (pending clarification on a few points), and decided to bid for dust control materials. But interest was clearly focused on the auction that will seek to sell the Odd Fellows Hall and property on Saturday, April 8.
The auction will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Township building on Route 547; the next scheduled meeting of the Supervisors will follow immediately. The Supervisors will presumably have something to talk about at that one.
Presiding Supervisor Rick Pisasik read from a memorandum prepared by the township's attorneys that lays out most of the details about the auction and sale of the property. The auction will be advertised beginning in the week of March 27. Persons interested in bidding will have been permitted to tour the property and the building by prearranged appointment beginning on March 20.
The township will accept no bids lower than $40,000. The winning bidder will have to pony up the full price by 4:00 p.m. on the day of the auction.
The purchaser of the property will be required to raze the building now located on the property "within six months following delivery of the deed by the Township." The Township will reserve the right to demolish the building itself, if necessary, and attach the property for the cost, should the buyer fail to meet this obligation.
The new deed will contain a covenant requiring that the property "be maintained as open space in perpetuity." Mr. Pisasik said that the Supervisors are willing to discuss additional details with potential buyers in advance of the sale, but will not discuss prices or potential bids. One subject might be just what is meant by "open space." Bronson Pinchot, in his earlier offer to buy the property that adjoins his own, proposed to plant it with grass and "mature trees."
The memorandum also says that "[t]he Township reserves the right to remove architectural items, including wainscoting, moldings, doors and similar items, from the building, prior to the commencement of demolition." This was also mentioned in Mr. Pinchot's offer. Mr. Pisasik said that the local remnant Odd Fellows organization will be asked to identify any property they would wish to preserve.
Mr. Pinchot's attorney attended the meeting and asked what the minimum bid was based on. The Township received two appraisals on the property earlier in the year; the Supervisors had not been willing to disclose appraisal information or the auction reserve price until now. Mr. Pisasik said the minimum price was based on those appraisals.
Mr. Pisasik estimated that it might take two weeks or so to finalize the sale transaction after the auction. Village residents can therefore look forward to a different view out their windows by next winter.
People who live in Harford village also benefit from paved streets. Not so for most township residents, who cope with dust most of the summer. Controlling that dust is largely the responsibility of the Township. In recent years, the Township has used a calcium chloride solution to try to stabilize dusty road surfaces, but they are finding that it doesn't always work very well. And this year the Township may have some difficulty finding enough liquid calcium to apply to the nearly 61 miles of dirt roads in any case. The Supervisors will be soliciting bids for up to 30,000 gallons of either calcium chloride solution, or a substance known as "AEP oil." The latter is thought to offer good results, but when applied needs several hours to dry. In the past, drivers have complained about such oil splashing onto their vehicles. It also needs different application equipment. Harford Township has not used oil for dust control for several years.
Discussion about what to do with the money received for the sale of the Odd Fellows property may help to fill the agenda for Harford Supervisors for a little while. If you want to have a say, or even to make a bid, mark Saturday, April 8 on your calendar. The roads shouldn't be too dusty by then.
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