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A total of 986 residential units were destroyed or damaged by flood waters that raced through the county the last week of June leaving a path of destruction that crippled some Susquehanna County communities so badly it may take years before things return to normal.
Mark Wood, Susquehanna County’s Emergency Management Coordinator, told the county commissioners last week that 110 businesses were destroyed or damaged, most of them in the Great Bend/Hallstead/New Milford areas. By press time, a total of 742 businesses and residents registered for financial assistance with state and federal authorities. Residents who have damage to report are urged to call 1-800-621-3362.
While no dollar amounts were recorded thus far for residential and business losses, Wood said damage to roads and bridges have been estimated at $21 million. When the final county tabulations are complete, it is expected that the total amount will exceed the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
A breakdown of the residential units destroyed or damaged included 673 single family dwellings, 167 multi-family units and 146 mobile homes.
The Disaster Recover Center will remain open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p. m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In a related matter, Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners, thanked all volunteer units and individuals who worked around the clock offering assistance to flood victims.
“The flood brought out some tremendous acts of kindness,” said Kelly, “and reaffirms the reason why our county is so great – it’s people. There are no words to express the generosity shown during the flood and that generosity continues during the recovering process.”
In another matter, the commissioners accepted, with regret, the resignation of Jail Warden William Brennan, effective July 26. Brennan is retiring after 31 years of service to the county.
Loomis, who is chair of the Inspectors of the Jail (aka Prison Board), indicated a willingness to retain Brennan as a correction officer on a part-time basis but said he was advised by the other two commissioners that they would not second such a motion.
“The man worked here for 31 years,” Loomis said. “I believe his request to be a guard should be honored but I do not believe it will be. In fact, it is pretty much guaranteed that it will not be.”
Regarding a replacement for Brennan, rumors that the position will be given to Deputy Warden Nick Conigliaro may not necessarily be true. If Conigliaro does get the position, he will have to prove himself better than other applicants. Kelly said the county will advertise the position.
Motions passed by the commissioners completed the following business:
-Ratified the termination of Terry Singer, corrections officer, effective June 14.
-Hired Gary Haskell as a full-time corrections officer.
-Ratified the rehiring of Rita Driscole by Tax Claim Director Catherine Benedict to the part-time position of tax claim clerk. The Salary Board set her hourly rate at $8.78 for the non-union position.
-Accepted the resignation of Daniel Smith, caseworker for Children and Youth Services effective July 22.
-Awarded a bid for trash removal at all county facilities to Joe’s Disposal of Hallstead.
The Salary Board authorized Mark Wood, EMA Coordinator to hire a temporary full-time clerk typist in EMA at $6.75 an hour and a temporary full-time operations/training officer at $9.70 an hour . Both jobs are non-union positions with no benefits.
The July 11 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council was nearly standing room only, with a number of residents on hand to offer comments on a proposed restructuring of the streets department. Some background on the issue: shortly before the scheduled start of the June 27 meeting, a state of emergency was declared due to flooding. The meeting took place, but was abbreviated and only lasted long enough to adopt Resolution 062606-A, to apply for funds through the Growing Greener program for improvements to the boro’s River Park. Without immediate action, the application could not be submitted by deadline. All other business was put on hold, including the streets proposal; because of that evening’s events, all council members had not received a copy. The proposal itself contained three changes to consider; to create a Department of Public Works; to abolish the position of streets commissioner and create the position of department head; and, reduction of the department’s work week to 24 hours, with the funds saved to be used to contract infrastructure work out to private contractors.
President Tom Kelly began the July 11 meeting by addressing the audience about the proposal, which, he said, was an effort to look at all aspects of boro management, as it is council’s responsibility to do. He also felt that it had been a breach of ethics on someone’s part to release the information, as it had not yet been discussed by council.
During public comment, many spoke up and commended Steve Glover and Robbie Hall and gave their opinions about the proposal. Just some of them were that Mr. Glover and Mr. Hall worked long hours during the winter, sometimes plowing for 24-30 hours straight. The boro needs full-time employees for its streets department, it could not be maintained with part-time help. Contractors would not care about the boro the way Mr. Glover and Mr. Hall do, and might well end up tripling what the boro spends on its streets. Both have put in years of dedicated service. Because of the rumored cuts, Mr. Hall had resigned, which never should have happened. Mr. Glover manages the department’s budget meticulously, and would be difficult to replace if he, too, were to resign. Both also dedicate time off the job to the community and are valuable assets to the boro. It was commendable of council to try to improve the boro’s infrastructure, but the number of residents present should demonstrate residents’ support of Mr. Glover and Mr. Hall. The boro’s residents would support any other effort to improve the infrastructure, but not this way.
Mr. Kelly responded that with a limited income to work with, there is a lot of paving that needs to be done, and ever-rising costs for fuel and fuel related products to contend with. He said that the proposal was just one window for council to look into, and it was unfortunate that council did not have the chance to look at it and discuss it before it got out (the way it did). “We would be remiss not to look into ways to save money,” he said. With as much work as the streets need, it would take a minimum tax increase of two mills, which many residents could not afford, especially seniors on fixed incomes.
As for the number of people who had shown up in support of not changing the streets department, Mr. Kelly noted that if the proposal had been made public, it is quite possible that an equal number of residents might have shown up to support it.
In response to a question as to where the proposal had come from, Mr. Matis said that he drew it up, to bring to council for consideration, as any issue should be.
Mr. Kelly stressed that council knows that Mr. Glover and Mr. Hall work hard, and that the proposal was not personal (against Mr. Glover or Mr. Hall), but was a look at the situation from a business point of view. He said that he hates to see Mr. Hall resign, and asked him to reconsider his resignation, which council had just received. Mr. Hall replied that cutting hours had been discussed a year ago, this was not the first time, and he had been assured that it would not be brought up again. He had already taken another job, and would not withdraw his resignation. It was later accepted with deep regret.
Mr. Kelly concluded the discussion by saying that the residents’ concerns and comments were duly noted, that the proposal had not yet been discussed by council, and he promised that if anything were to come of it, residents would be kept informed.
Mr. Matis commented on the number of residents in attendance, and expressed the wish that there was more community involvement, all the time. Usually, he said, only one or two people showed up for meetings. A resident responded that the lack of (usual) attendance indicates that people feel comfortable with council’s management of affairs. Another added that many people are involved in other ways, through membership in the fire department and other organizations, and do keep up with what council is doing, through press coverage.
Moving on to other business, Mr. Kelly commended all who “stepped up” to help in the recent flood, particularly Mayor Reddon, Roy Williams, Ron Whitehead, and Mike Matis. They had worked day and night and did whatever it took to help residents deal with the situation. They had spent their own money, and worked tirelessly. He also noted the participation of the 109th Infantry, who conducted rescues and delivered needed supplies. It had been, he said, an honor and a privilege to have their help, as well as from the fire department and boro employees, all of whom had put in extra hours to do what was needed. Particular thanks were extended to Chad Welch and Nate Stark and friends, who had been of invaluable help. Mayor Reddon commented on the heroic efforts extended by the firemen, and on the number of people who had refused help, feeling that there were others more in need. “The spirit of our community is absolutely outstanding,” she said.
Council members were reminded that all need to be NIMS certified. A course will be available in Montrose in September, or could be taken on-line.
Council has received information from The Upper Delaware Council, regarding a proposed high direct current electricity transmission line, to run from Oneida County (NY) to Orange County (NY). One of the suggested alternate routes would cross into Susquehanna County, through Great Bend, Oakland and Harmony Townships, as well as Great Bend, Susquehanna Depot and Lanesboro Boroughs, for a distance of 15.2 miles. Mayor Reddon has sent a letter to the New York State PUC, voicing council’s opposition to the alternate route, which would, she said, jeopardize the area’s environment and recreational values, and could pose a potential health risk. Mayor Reddon said that New York Regional Direct, which is developing the project, could conceivably use powers of eminent domain to get the project approved. She wants the public to be aware of it, and the impact it could have on the area. The Upper Delaware Council will keep municipalities informed of when and where a public hearing regarding the project will be held.
Last month, council had agreed to set the traffic light at the intersection of Main and Exchange Streets to blink continuously, to help alleviate bottlenecks from the turning lane on Main that had been blocked off. Feedback from residents was that the blinking light made it hard to make a left turn from Exchange onto Main, and that it made it difficult for pedestrians trying to cross Main St. It was agreed to return the light to normal mode between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., but with an adjustment in its timing.
A motion carried to approve a resolution stating council’s opposition to proposed changes in cable franchise legislation.
Three tax exoneration requests from full-time students were approved.
The Parks and Rec. committee submitted a report of summer projects that have been completed at the Prospect St. park. A picnic table, a hot water heater, and a freezer have been installed. Three benches from the Drinker Creek Park were put in at the Prospect St. park, the scoreboard glass had been replaced, and painting was in progress. A drinking fountain, donated by the Stonebridge Lions Club had been put in. And, the committee requested approval to use $5,000 to pave the walking paths. A motion carried to approve. In response to a question from the audience, Mr. Kelly said that the $5,000, which would be taken from the capital reserve fund, was actually Parks and Rec. funds, proceeds from the sale of the Washington St. park property.
A motion carried to appoint Ron Whitehead as deputy EMA director.
Before the meeting ended, council was asked if patching would be done; Mr. Kelly said that it would be. Another resident asked if council would look into putting in curbing in front of his property, as he has experienced runoff problems.
There was also some discussion about youths riding skateboards around town. Mayor Reddon said that it was a shame that there was nowhere for them to go, but she had received complaints about kids taking chances in traffic, and about damage to the curbing in the downtown area.
Lastly, there was some discussion about the rumors that had circulated on July 1, that the Sidney Dam had broken. Mayor Reddon said that excess water had been released over the spillway, as it is supposed to do.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 25, at 7 p.m.
The following is the latest information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) about ongoing recovery efforts after June’s storms and flooding.
7,307 individuals have registered for disaster assistance by calling the toll-free number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for speech and hearing impaired applicants. The lines are open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week, until further notice.
$5.07 million has been disbursed to help disaster-affected homeowners and renters who need a place to live or who may need to make repairs for their homes to be safe, sanitary, and functional.
$458,932 has gone to Pennsylvanians in the form of grants to help cover eligible disaster needs under the Other Needs Assistance program funded by FEMA and the Commonwealth.
To date, 21 counties have been designated to receive Individual Assistance Aid.
FEMA and PEMA continue to work together to assess damage to infrastructure including roads, bridges and other public facilities. To date, eight counties have been designated to receive Public Assistance aid: Bucks, Bradford, Columbia, Luzerne, Northampton, Northumberland, Susquehanna, and Wyoming. The disaster declaration makes federal aid available for debris removal and emergency protective measures, which may include reimbursement for disaster-related work to ensure public safety.
More than a dozen voluntary agencies are involved with recovery efforts. Numerous regional and local non-profit and faith-based organizations have been instrumental.
Disaster assistance registrations in Susquehanna County as of July 14 numbered 862.
Compiled by P. Jay Amadio
Gladys R. Ross (estate) to Charles W. Ross, Jr., Nicholson, Jackie Lee Ross, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Peggy A. Watts to David J. Harabin, Bound Brook, NJ, Jane S. Harabin, in Rush Township for $265,000.
Marco Celotti, Marbeth A. Celotti to David Capitano, Gisbonia, Elizabeth A. Capitano, in Middletown Township for $47,500.
Laurence R. Osterhout to Richard J. Andel, Endicott, NY, in Liberty Township for $25,000.
Phillip J. Rowlands, Erica Rowlands to Phillip J. Rowlands, Hop Bottom, Christine Rowlands-Kievitt, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Christopher J. Bisel, Charmarie V. Bisel to Thomas Christopher Bisel, Montrose, in Dimock Township for $110,000.
Community Bank & Trust Co. to Larry A. Holder, Susquehanna, in Oakland Borough for $66,300.
Hugh R. Coombs, Margaret F. Coombs to James J. Mangel, Hallstead, Kathleen O. Mangel, in Great Bend Township for $134,000.
Eugene S. Beautz, Lynne Beautz, Michael F. Beautz, Janet K. Beautz, Edmund S. Beautz, Carol S. Beautz to Edward J. Duddy, Port Jefferson, NY, Linda T. Duddy, in Thompson Borough for $60,000.
Ronald E. Kelly to Gerald F. Gow, RR3, Susquehanna, Jacqueline M. Gow, in Lanesboro Borough for $7,500.
Christopher D. Raub, Cynthia Raub to Edna L. Marshall, Montrose, in Oakland Borough for $42,400.
Roger A. Weber, Marguerite C. Weber to James W. McDonald, RR1, Hop Bottom, in Hallstead Borough for $70,000.
Alice Clink, Rolland Stephans to Wayne L. Faigle, Springville, Deborah A. Faigle, Deborah A. Faigle, Kellie J. Faigle, Jason L. Faigle, in Springville Township for $300,000.
Arthur C. Bennett, Naomi A. Bennett to Stanley A. Bennett, RR4, Montrose, Jill M. Bennett, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Thomas J. MacDonald, Lynn MacDonald to Steven A. Harth, RR5, Montrose, in Forest Lake Township for $122,000.
Catherine Capwell to Roland E. Decker, RR1, Nicholson, Nancy C. Decker, in Jessup Township for $170,000.
Michael T. Sterchak, Joanne Sterchak to Forest City Realty Inc., Forest City, in Forest City for $50,000.
Alfred Martinez, Lorraine Messier to Alanna Martinez, New York, NY, in Franklin and New Milford townships for one dollar.
Frederick O. Benson to Paul Scott Benson, Jr., Harford, in Lenox Township for $97,500.
David G. Taylor, Linda L. Taylor to Blair K. Caterson, Montrose, in Montrose for $82,000.
Wyoming Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (by trustees) to Watson Hill Bible Church, RR1, Susquehanna, in New Milford Township for $15,000.
Alanna Martinez to Jennings B. Birtch, Jr., RR3, Hallstead, Betty M. Birtch, in New Milford and Franklin townships for $75,000.
Mary Lynch Kurtz to Frank C. Shaw, Silver Springs, MD, Suzanne A. Shaw, in Liberty Township for $290,000.
Eric D. Lynn to Christy Lynn, Hop Bottom, in Hop Bottom Borough for one dollar.
Chris Tracy, Cathleen A. Tracy to Carol Sodon, RR1, Brackney, in Liberty Township for $18,000.
Robert L. Fitzsimmons to Timothy M. Tyson, RR1, Forest City, in Forest City for one dollar.
Dennis J.W. O’Donnell, Brian J. O’Donnell to Dennis J. W. O’Donnell, Conshohocken, PA, Brian J. O’Donnell, William F. O’Donnell III, Theresa O’Donnell, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Wells Fargo Financial Inc. to Amoon Bashir, Lenoxville, Martha Bashir, in Clifford Township for $72,000.
Thomas Talboys (aka) Thomas R. Talboys, Marilyn J. Talboys (nka) Marilyn J. Morgan to Thomas Talboys, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Russell E. Leichliter, Ruth H. Leichliter to Brighter Horizons LLC, Danbury, CT, in Oakland Township for $39,000.
Gary J. Hollister (by sheriff) to Citifinancial Mortgage Co. Inc, Coppell, TX, in Dimock Township for $1,146.
Duane S. Ely, Cheryl S. Ely, Merilys K. Hehasghan (aka) Marilys Henaghan, Charles G. Henaghan to Gary H. Ely, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Sharon Barondeau, Richard Barondeau to Kenneth L. Stimmel, Winter Springs, FL, Patricia G. Stimmel, in Forest Lake Township for $89,500.
Jason Paul Miller, Jermyn and Brandi M. Schermerhorn, New Milford.
Christopher E. Evans, Scranton and Teri Ann O’Reilly, Friendsville.
Jack Wesley Beamer, Susquehanna and Christen Renee Brady, Susquehanna.
Stephen Craig Nelson, Ithaca, NY and Katherine Lind VanGundy, Ithaca, NY.
Matthew J. Timm, Montrose, and Mayra L. Maldonado, Montrose.
Jose Manuel Fernandez, Little Meadows and Amy Lynn Potter, Castle Creek, NY.
Kevin D. Block, Clay, NY and Rachel E. Walker, Clay, NY.
Chad E. Groover, Susquehanna and Autumn Amber Heckman, Susquehanna.
Shane Patrick, Nicholson and Theresa Ann Mastronardi, New Milford.
Rhett C. Perdew, Union Dale and Sara Lynn Proctor, Union Dale.
Gerald C. Hollbrook, Susquehanna and Sharon Kay Short, Susquehanna.
Jim Thompson Ortiz, Lake Como vs. Lisa Ortiz, Susquehanna. Married February 17, 1996.
Douglas Peck, Friendsville vs. Jennifer Peck, Montrose. Married May 2, 1992.
By some measures, the effects of the Great Flood of 2006 in Harford were less serious than for Harford's neighbors to the north. Nevertheless, some 15 people turned out for the scheduled Supervisors' meeting on July 8 to find out what's going on, and to plump for the future of Tingley Lake.
They had to sit through the routine of a normal agenda first, however, including the standard approval of past minutes, bills, and a treasurer's report.
The Supervisors expected to open bids for fuel, but only one was received – from Mirabito Fuels – and that by FAX. Mirabito has been the only bidder in recent years. The Supervisors decided to table the matter until they receive a proper bid, and maybe one or two more.
Leading gently into Topic A, the Supervisors heard from Ted Batzel, the township's Emergency Management Coordinator. Mr. Batzel said that covering a township of some 32 square miles and 61 miles of road in a situation like this is too much for one person; he requested 2 deputies and nominated Rick Moser and Doug Phelps, who, like himself, are long-time members of the Harford Volunteer Fire Company. Mr. Batzel said that authorities had asked on Thursday for a report on all affected properties by the Saturday. That might have been difficult for even three people, but he got his deputies, hoping that he wouldn't need to use them, of course.
The Supervisors also heard from Jim Belcher, who has property on Tingley Lake and has been in a bureaucratic tangle since well before the flood trying to get a mortgage and required insurance. It seems that, to get flood insurance, his property would have to be within one of three classes of property with respect to the "base flood elevation" of Tingley Lake. Only the Army Corps of Engineers can define what that is, it's never been done at Tingley Lake, and could be expensive. Rick Pisasik said that the Supervisors would indeed look into it. If money could be made available for the study from the government, and it would cost the township little or nothing, as Mr. Belcher suggested, Mr. Pisasik said he couldn't see why the township shouldn't do it to benefit all the property owners at the lake at the head of Leslie Creek, two miles above Harford village.
The offending sluice on the Tingley Lake side.
Closer to the issue of more immediate concern, the Supervisors learned of the establishment of a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at the Blue Ridge school campus, opened on Monday, July 10. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) would front for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Susquehanna County through the DRC, and might have pre-paid dumpsters available for siting in the township where flooded household items could be deposited. PEMA might also be able to provide funding for additional equipment and contractors to collect debris around the township. Applications for any and all kinds of flood-related assistance should be made at the DRC, which was expected to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
Next the meeting heard from George Sansky, township Roadmaster, who said his crew was working on some 30 affected points in the township, taking them in priority order by degree of damage and the number of people affected. The worst by far seemed to be a bridge that was totally washed away on Pennay Hill Road. Mr. Sansky hoped to be able to get a temporary roadway established for residents in the area until engineers could determine what to do next. He estimated replacing the bridge could cost half a million dollars. Since the township doesn't have that kind of money, part of the project will be to try to get it.
As of July 8, according to Mr. Sansky only three roads were still closed in the township: Pennay Hill, 9 Partners Road, and Richardson Road. Orphan School Road was now passable, but it took several large loads of stone to fill in a gaping crevice at one location.
Mr. Sansky wanted to thank Rocky Estabrook for making himself and his equipment available for emergency repairs to township roads. He said that his ultimate goal as Roadmaster is to build roads and sluices in such a way that he can "sit home when it rains."
One large project that has been on his list for several years is the sluice under Stearns Road at the outlet from Tingley Lake. Several people at the meeting came to debate just that subject.
Downstream side of Stearns Road.
The sluice in that location is probably about 100 years old, and was probably plugged to some extent by debris during the flooding. Some lake residents would like a larger sluice installed and properly maintained to keep the lake level from rising so dramatically, as it did in this storm. Several properties around the lake were badly damaged due to the record-high water level – and to the length of time it stayed that way.
Mr. Sansky said a project at Tingley Lake to install a 5-8-foot sluice might cost about $10,000; and could be complicated by an old road (and sluice) on the downstream side of the road, and by the sewer line that runs under Stearns Road. If the old road (which now goes nowhere) has not been formally "abandoned," then the township can deal with it directly. Otherwise, the owners of the property will have to be consulted. All of that information has yet to be gathered. Supervisor Sue Furney said that the last time the township had its attorneys research the ownership of a road, legal expenses were very high. She said she didn't feel comfortable herself searching county records for the information.
Mr. Sansky told his listeners that the township has to work the projects in the order of their importance, particularly in situations like this. Moreover, the township's funds are not unlimited and have to be spent where they will do the most good. He said the Tingley Lake sluice "does take a lot of water . It just wasn't enough" in this case. Pressed for a timeline, he said the township might be able to get to it in about two years.
Mr. Sansky told of some old sluices that came to light in the past week that had probably been buried for many years, and others that weren't installed properly to begin with. Mr. Pisasik told the meeting that the township's goal was to "prepare now for the next storm," by ensuring that repair projects are done properly.
With Susquehanna County declared a disaster area, money will become available from the Federal government and the state for relief. How much and for what purposes remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Mr. Sansky remarked how quickly after receiving so much water that dust has become a problem again. Dust control will likely remain a low priority in Harford Township for a while, however.
The Board of Directors of Old Mill Village Museum announced changes to the summer program schedule due to building and grounds damage caused by the Flood of 2006.
All July programs and Featured Crafts have either been cancelled or combined with other events later in the season. The “WWII Living History” - July 22, and the “Underground Railroad and Black History” - July 29 and 30 programs are cancelled.
The following Old Mill events will be held at the Village Presbyterian Church on the Green, Main Street, New Milford.
August 1, 2 and 3 - Plant Dyeing Workshop by Esther Welden. Call to make reservations to attend, 278-1886.
August 6– Featured Crafts: Plant Dyeing – Esther Welden, Spinning – Cecily Roe, Chair Caning and Rushing – Tom LaMont, Quilting – Phyllis Goodrich and Dixie Russell.
August 27 – Ben Stone Memorial – 30th Annual Country Music Contest.
August 21–26: Stop by the Old Mill Village Museum / C.A.S.S. booth at the Harford Fair – there will be featured craft demonstrations going on all week.
For more information about the program schedule changes and updates about Old Mill Village Museum visit www.oldmillvillage.com or call Cindy Wooden, 278-3199 or Susan Pratt, 278-4649.
In last week’s issue under our Gibson Barracks report we inadvertently transposed the names in an incident.
We reported that Larry Cobb, New Milford, was cited for harassment.
In fact, Douglas Deboer, New Milford was cited after he reportedly started screaming profanities and verbally harassed Larry Cobb. Douglas Deboer has been cited with both harassment and disorderly conduct, not Larry Cobb.
We apologize to Mr. Cobb for any inconvenience.
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