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A fairly large crowd gathered on September 11 in the cafeteria in the Blue Ridge Elementary School – freshly painted in bright colors to welcome the beginning of a new school year – some of them to confront the School Board about its dispute with the tax collectors. They met a stone wall.
The meeting opened with a moment of silence in remembrance of the attacks of 9/11/2001 before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The official agenda covered a long list of mostly routine personnel actions. Jamie Swartwood was hired as a first grade teacher. A colleague, Kevin Davis, was appointed to a long-term substitute position, also teaching first grade. And Megan Williams begins work this year in eighth grade English. All attended the meeting to accept the warm welcome and applause of the Board.
Two teachers resigned their extra-curricular positions as grade-level team leaders. Rebecca Williams also left her other Middle School positions behind for her lateral transfer to the High School.
The Board also approved hiring bus-aides for the Pre- Kindergarten program (otherwise known as kindergarten for 4- year-olds). There are two buses supporting this new program, so there will be two aides appointed, at $7.25 per hour.
Last month the Board sent a recommendation back for more information that would appoint Doreen Smith to work in several areas (Blended Schools, SuccessMaker, Aleks, Homebound instruction, and Alternative Education). Board members seemed concerned about the open-ended nature of the appointment, which was to pay $24.58 each for "hours as approved by the superintendent." The motion that passed this time added the phrase, "not to exceed 25 hours per week."
During the discussion, Board members learned that Ms. Smith will spend most of her time on "alternative education" (attention to disruptive students). Support for homebound instruction is usually provided by special appointment to an advertised position; Superintendent Robert McNamara said that there are no homebound students currently enrolled, but that it was "inevitable" that there would be.
A recommendation to set the pay rate for non-instructional office substitutes at $7.25 per hour was tabled on a motion by Harold Empett. Mr. Empett said later that the recommendation needed further study.
A couple of parents attended the meeting to express concern about recent changes to bus schedules. One said that a bus picked up her children earlier than expected, and dropped them off later.
According to Board President Alan Hall, the changes were a consequence of the flooding in the area in late June and affected three runs; the changes went into effect on Monday, September 11. He said there were "a few situations that have thrown us for a loop." In addition to damaged roads, a number of students were relocated because of the disruption; the transportation schedules had to be adjusted to account for "where they are, where they're going."
One parent requested that more accurate schedules be published for affected parents as soon as possible.
All of the administrators reported an "extremely positive start to the school year" (Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski).
High School Principal John Manchester sent a letter to the Board asking consideration for a new robotics club. He said that high school robotics competitions could be "kind of expensive," but that they wouldn't compete in the first year anyway. He said a member of the faculty was interested in mentoring the club, and several students have expressed interest in the idea.
Mr. Manchester also reported a successful start in the Fall athletics programs: the varsity soccer team is so far undefeated after two games, and the first football game was a victory, with several Blue Ridge starters on the cooperative team with Susquehanna Community High School.
Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz noted that the McDonalds restaurant in Hallstead would be displaying artwork by his students this Fall. The Elementary School also wants to recruit more "Big Brothers and Big Sisters" in the High School. He is especially looking for high-schoolers who are not so heavily involved with other activities that they cannot devote their afternoons to their younger partners.
Mr. Hall reported on the effort to form a "Tax Study Commission" which the new Act 1 of 2006 requires be in place by September 15 to review the district's tax structure and make recommendations by December. Mr. McNamara, calling Act 1 the "no lawyer left behind act", said that there were no applicants for the six slots, even after advertising in local media. Mr. Hall said that in a small, rural district like Blue Ridge, where the largest single employer is the district itself (district employees are not eligible to serve on the commission; Blue Ridge employs about 150 people), it can be hard to find people willing to do this kind of thing.
Nevertheless, Mr. Hall solicited help from three citizens. Keith Brant will represent agriculture, Barbara Stone is a businesswoman, and Karen Hettinger is to represent a typical two-parent family with children. Mr. Hall himself will also serve on the commission. The rules permit one school board member to join the commission; Mr. Hall said that if anyone else on the Board had volunteered, he would have been happy to relinquish the honor.
Mr. Hall is still looking for one more person to fill out the commission, preferably a retired individual with investment income. The Board approved his nominees and also gave him the authority to find that last person to serve.
The commission that is empanelled may have the privilege of recommending what taxes we pay to support the schools, but in the Blue Ridge district there may remain some confusion about how and to whom those taxes are paid.
The long-running dispute between Blue Ridge and the six elected tax collectors erupted into a heated – but one-sided – confrontation at the meeting. In June the Board voted to appoint a district employee, Sharon Warren, to collect taxes for the district "as needed" for the period 2006-2009. This time they rescinded that action and appointed the Blue Ridge School District itself as tax collector. Asked for the reasoning behind this move, Mr. Hall said simply, "because the district will be collecting taxes."
And that was the most that anyone on the Board would say on the subject. Not a single member of the Board other than Mr. Hall said a word on the topic; they all nervously avoided any discussion about the issue at all. Priscinda Gaughan would only say that the district's solicitor had advised them all to say absolutely nothing.
In fact, the only substantive statement to come out of the Board or the administration on the matter was written by the district's attorney, Jonathan P. Riba, and read aloud to the meeting by Mr. Hall. The two-page statement recites the district's view of the affair from the original announcement on February 14, 2005 of a new rate to be offered to the tax collectors, to the order of Judge Vanston last month that two of the tax collectors "immediately commence collection of District School taxes." Saying that there was still some litigation in progress, Mr. Hall refused to comment further, saying, "we're still moving forward based on the recommendation of our solicitor." It was clear that the other Board members were following his lead.
Among the tax collectors present at the meeting, Vicki Drake made the loudest appeal to the Board to reverse their "mistake," suggesting that they could offer a motion to "turn back." "You can still do something about it," she said, addressing the members of the Board, claiming that the district was spending on legal fees what it hoped to save by cutting the pay of the tax collectors or doing the collection itself.
The tax collectors also argued that, if the district opens its offices to collect taxes in person as required by law, any number of people may be wandering the halls in the schools. Mr. Hall said only that "Mr. Small has it under control." Business Manager Loren Small has been in the center of the controversy from the beginning, and more personally involved since one of the tax collectors, Roberta Gulick of New Milford Township, put his home telephone number on her answering machine.
The tax collectors claim that, not only is the district's action illegal in unilaterally taking away 80% of their income, but the school board cannot usurp the functions of other elected officials (the tax collectors). One observer said that it appeared that the district was following a script developed by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) – of which Mr. Small is a member – to "motivate tax collectors out of office."
One property owner who said he paid some $15,000 in school taxes annually asked the Board to reconsider its position. He said he voted for his tax collector, and was applauded when he said, "you guys are taking my vote away." Others suggested that the Board retract its action and seek legislation to change the way taxes are collected. One said the Board was acting like "schoolyard bullies."
In the end, the appeals and arguments of the tax collectors and others were met with stony silence by the Board. Asked why the other members were not speaking, Mr. Hall would say only, "they're not responding because there's litigation."
With one side not speaking publicly, it's difficult to get a clear idea where all this is heading. One gets the impression that at least some Board members are having second thoughts, particularly as legal costs continue to mount. One tax collector said that Loren Small responded "evasively" when asked to provide detailed information what the district expects to spend to collect its taxes.
Some of the tax collectors vow to continue the fight. They are marshalling their supporters and their arguments for public debate. If you want to hear more, you might consider attending the next school board meeting, scheduled as a workshop, on Monday, September 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The Clifford Township Board of Supervisors last week delayed action on bids received for installing a sewer system in the Crystal Lake/Dundaff area. Instead, the supervisors agreed to sponsor a public hearing on the issue on a soon to be announced date.
The move came despite a recommendation from Stephen J. Draus, a project engineer with Malcolm Pirnie of Moosic, designers of the project, to accept the low bid of $1.9 million submitted by Chilewski Enterprises of Fleetville. Draus said his firm reviewed all the bids received and saw no reason why the township should not award the contract to Chilewski. When the bids were received in August, Draus reminded the supervisors that the bid prices were only assured for 60 days.
In January 2003, the township agreed to proceed further after receiving word that the project might be eligible for a grant equal to 75 percent of the cost from the Rural Utilities Service of the US Department of Agriculture. In addition, the USDA was prepared to provide the township with an attractive low interest rate on a loan to finance the rest of the cost. However, the outright grant of 75 percent has been reduced to 59 percent, increasing the township’s financial obligation for the project.
The supervisors appear to be procrastinating while awaiting word on additional grant money to finance the project. At last count, the township had pledges in the neighborhood of $1.2 million and promises of additional revenue but John Regan, chair of the board, has indicated from the get go that he wanted financial pledges, not promises. Several times he has said the township could be faced with financial problems if the state and/or federal governments do not come up with more money.
Regan has also expressed doubt that all taxpayers in the areas to be sewered can afford more than $6,000 in tie-in fees plus some additional installation charges.
In another matter, the supervisors received a petition urging the township to consider a full-time police department. At present there are a couple of part-time officers handling the police duties.
One gentleman said there has been a lot of vandalism in the township recently, including windows shot out by BB guns and cars being damaged. He also said he had heard a rumor that the township was going to eliminate the part-time police.
“We never planned on getting rid of the police,” Regan said. He said the township is spending so much money in litigation fees resulting from injuries to former police chief Tom Munley that it cannot afford to spend any more on police protection.
The township was advised that the fire department ambulance was chosen by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council for the 2006 Pennsylvania Ambulance Service of the Year Award. The award was presented to the fire company in recognition of its outstanding service and contribution to the development and growth of quality patient care within the community.
In response to a request from parents in Elk View Estates, the supervisors agreed to install “Children at Play” signs in the housing development, and signs advising motorists that the speed limit in the project is 15 miles an hour.
The township did receive some good financial news. It has received a grant in the amount of $12,500 to replace some windows and doors in the municipal building, and may receive an additional grant of $11,000 to install sidewalks at the municipal building.
Regan also said the township is considering the purchase of a large truck for the street department.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners almost got away from last week’s meeting unscathed and near another record for brevity. Almost! But the last speaker to be heard was Fred Baker III of South Montrose and that’s when the floodgates opened up.
Baker asked Mrs. Kelly how many meetings of the Barnes-Kasson Board of Directors and the hospital’s finance committee she attended so far this year, and then rubbed it in when Mrs. Kelly said she did not know. She said she is on 27 different boards and does not keep an attendance record but tries to get to as many meetings as she can.
Baker then asked her if she knew when the hospital made its last workman’s compensation payment and she did not respond. He told her it was in June and Mrs. Kelly told Baker to “shut up” about the hospital because it is being looked at by the county.
“The taxpayers,” said Mrs. Kelly, “should be well aware that the hospital is being well taken care of by people who are overseeing the bonds.” (Writer’s note: the bond is the loan the county co-signed and is responsible for if the hospital defaults on its payment.)
Baker then asked Mrs. Kelly if she is aware that an administrator in a hospital in Binghamton, NY, is making $80,000 a year and the administrator at Barnes-Kasson is making about $174,000 a year.
“We don’t run the hospital,” Mrs. Kelly said. “And we don’t set the salaries. But don’t think for one minute that we are not taking care of business. It is being handled by the legal authority needed. We don’t want to see it closed.”
Baker expressed surprise that the county does not do more investigating into the operation of the hospital and, specifically, its financial conditions.
“Many small hospitals go through restructuring,” Mrs. Kelly said. “Obviously you are not familiar with the inner workings of a hospital.”
In another matter, the occupation tax issue surfaced again and Commissioner Jeff Loomis passed out a summary of the tax that indicates the county made $33,566 on the tax in 2005. “And we need that money,” Loomis said.
But Jim Jennings of Brooklyn Township, who has been urging the county to repeal the tax, said figures he compiled do not jive with those circulated by Mr. Loomis.
Ellen O'Malley, chief county assessor, said the tax does generate some money but she also said there are more expenses involved than just paying the tax collectors who collect the occupation tax.
“I am not in favor of continuing the occupation tax,” Ms. O'Malley said. She said she would “work up some numbers” on the subject.
Loomis said if the county did abolish the occupation tax it would have to find another source of revenue to compensate for the loss.
Motions passed by the commissioners included:
- A resolution designating Central Bradford Progress Authority as the qualified agent to apply for finance assistance for development or expansion of business or industry in the county.
- Ratifying the termination of Amy Burt, part time voter registration clerk.
- Authorizing the commissioners to sign all grant agreements with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation relating to transit funding.
The Salary Board completed the following business:
- Creating the position of part-time clerk/typist in the Drug and Alcohol Department . It will be 19.5 hours a week at the rate of $7.75 an hour.
- Eliminating the fulltime secretary/planner position in the Planning Department and creating the position of fulltime clerk typist in the department at the rate of $7.75 an hour, 35 hour work week, as per union contract.
Donald J. Cole to Larry Cassidy, RR1, Thompson, William Cassidy, Bonnie Swanson, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Paul D. Gardella, Helen Gardella to Andrew M. Gagliano, Middlesex, NJ, Mary K. Gagliano, in Silver Lake Township.
Laurie Scott, Joseph Calamari to Stanley J. Biniewicz, RR1, New Milford, in Gibson and Harford townships.
Southern Union Company to UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc., King of Prussia, in Union Dale Borough for one collar.
Taisja Tworek, Richard M. Tworek, Marian Tworek, Zachary A. Tworek to Dennis Knowlton, Clifford, Sherry Knowlton, in Clifford Township for $115,000.
Margaret Fischer to Edward A. Biedenkapp, Forest City, Melissa M. Biedenkapp, in Forest City for $76,000.
William James Humber, George Humber, Jr. to Dave Stone, RR6, Montrose, Guy Parrish, in Bridgewater Township for $48,000.
Genevieve Dubanowitz to Leon B. Dubanowitz, RR2, Susquehanna, Sara F. Dubanowitz, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.
Thomas G. Giordano, Katherine R. Giordano to Katherine R. Giordano, Saint James, NY, in Apolacon Township for one dollar.
Brett S. Grover, Elaine D. Grover to Randi L. Tingley, New Milford, in Bridgewater Township for $45,000.
Ann Marie Walker, Robert J. Walker to Mary Curtis, RR3, Hallstead, in Susquehanna for $11,000.
Paul Grosvenor (aka) Paul Bryan Grosvenor, Susan Grosvenor, Marjorie Moseman to Paul Grosvenor, RR2, Kingsley, Susan Grosvenor, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Scott S. Williams, Margaret A. Williams to John Dermody, RR1, Little Meadows, Mary J. Dermody, in Little Meadows Borough for $145,000.
Marian E. Staff (by U.S. Marshall) to Tonyehn Madigan, Jermyn, in Forest City for $21,400.
Patricia G. Rinker to Jason P. Rinker, PO Box 108, Springville, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Armando J. Reo, Patricia J. Reo to Michael Gombita, Equinunk, Kelly A. Gombita, Alan Rutledge, in Herrick Township for one dollar (Corrective Deed).
Joseph March, Bernadine Marsh, Lois Pegg (by attorney) to Paul Scott, Brooklyn, NY, Judith Philips, in New Milford Township for $124,900.
Marion C. Nemire (by attorney) to Timothy T. Shaffer, Kent, WA, Wendy M. Shaffer, in Hallstead Borough for $94,500.
Norval J. Potts, Shirley A. Potts to Dean Michael Demer Sr., RR2, Hallstead, in Franklin Township for $128,000.
Stephen J. Pitonyak (estate, aka) Stephen Pitonyak to Katrina M. Phillips, New Milford, in New Milford Borough for $40,000.
James E. Jones, Joan C. Jones to Victor Giambrone, Scranton, Susan Giambrone, in Jackson Township for $65,000.
Richard G. Squier, Joann B. Squier to Kurt M. Sussman, RR1, Springville, Melody L. Sussman, in Springville Township for $51,000.
Alan Crawford, Carolyn Crawford to David Ryder and Mary Beth Ryder, Radnor, in Herrick Township for $117,000.
Alfredo R. Ambrocio, Elizabeth A. Ambrocio to J. Parker Properties, RR1, Montrose, in Brooklyn Township for $14,100.
Dean A. Johnson, Valerie Johnson to Andrew Nesevich, RD1, New Milford, Brenda Nesevich, in Franklin Township for $160,000.
Tina M. Fleming, Christopher L. Fleming to Tina M. Fleming, Newton, NJ, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Charlotte B. Demmer (rev trust by trustee), Peter Demmer, Jr. (rev trust by trustee) to Peter Demmer, Jr., RR2, Kingsley, Charlotte B. Demmer, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Darryl D. Heckman, Patricia L. Heckman to Lawrence T. O’Reilly, RR2, Brackney, Christine M. O’Reilly, Thomas J. O’Reilly in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Raymond S. Sniegos, Dorothea G. Sniegos to Raymond S. Sniegos, RR2, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Lawrence M Grasso (rev living trust by trustee) to Kurt A. Frey, RR2, Montrose, Amanda J. Frey, in Liberty Township for $35,000.
Richard L. Allen, Janet M. Allen to Christopher L. Allen, New Milford, Jennifer Allen, in New Milford Borough for $75,000.
Habitat for Humanity of Susquehanna County, Pa. Inc. to Gregard LLC, RR1, Susquehanna, in Susquehanna for $36,500.
Habitat for Humanity of Susquehanna County, Pa. Inc. to Gregard LLC, RR1, Susquehanna, in Susquehanna for $26,000.
Nicholas D. Cost (estate) to Nicholas Cost Jr., Forest City, Patricia Cost Dilley, Andrea Cost Cucura, Yolanda Cost DeSilva, in Forest City for one dollar.
Nicholas D. Cost (estate) to Nicholas Cost, Jr., Forest City, Patricia Cost Dilley, Andrea Cost Cucura, Yolanda Cost DeSilva, in Forest City for one dollar.
Arthur W. Dando, Dorothy Dando to Arthur W. Dando, Davenport, FL (as custodian for), Sandra Dando (as custodian for), John Michael Dando (as custodian for) in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Arthur W. Dando, Dorothy Dando to Dorothy Dando, Davenport, FL (as custodian for), Sandra Dando (as custodian for), Stephanie Dando, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Michael J. Vaccaro to Michael J. Vaccaro, Montrose, Judith A. Vaccaro, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Robert E. Severs, Carol A. Severs to Robert C. Severs, Thompson, Jenny J. Severs, in Thompson Borough for $115,000.
Milton G. Bainbridge (aka) M. G. Bainbridge, Pamela A. Bainbridge to William F. Gallagher, Sr., Fort Lauderdale, FL, in Clifford township for $210,000.
Erzsebeth Kovacs to Mihaly Kovacs, Jr., Clifford, Elizabeth Brown, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Dawn Zeigler (fka) Dawn M. Brigandi to Dawn Ziegler, RR1, New Milford, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Aurelia E. Lesjack (nbm) Aurelia E. Cole, Byron D. Lesjack, Carol Lesjack, Harold Cole to Bryan D. Lesjack, Hallstead, Carol Lesjack, in Liberty Township for $14,000.
Rush Township to Rush Township, RR4, Montrose, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Andrew J. Sprouse, Deborah L. Sprouse to Brenda L. Ahlbrandt, Montrose, in Montrose for $55,000.
James Leland Harris III, RR3, Montrose and Amber Rose Cunningham, RR3, Montrose.
Kirk Stephens Hinkley II, RR2, Hallstead and Danelle Marie Donmoyer, Fairburn, OH.
Ronald W. Gill II, RR2, Hallstead and Christine Andrew Kulikowski, RR2, Hallstead.
The United States Treasury Department has filed a federal lien against Charles R. Jordan, 627 Main Street, Vandling, in the amount of $3,361 for income tax for the year ending Dec. 31, 2003.
The Bridgewater Township Municipal Authority has filed a municipal lien against James H. Jump of South Montrose in the amount of $718.
The New Milford Municipal Authority has filed municipal liens against All American Housing LLC of Moosic, in the amount of $2,410 and Ronald and Della Whitaker of New Milford Borough in the amount of $810.
Sometime between the eighth and ninth of September, a 3D buck archery target was stolen form the front yard of the Redneck Archery/Taxidermy business in Lenox Township. The target is valued at $250.
PennDot recently reported that one of their trailers was vandalized while parked overnight at the Brooklyn cemetery. The unknown person or persons used a bladed instrument to punch holes in all four tires.
Henry Grant of Montrose is accused of using his son’s name and Social Security number to pay for electric bills, totaling approximately $800. His son is six years old. Grant is in jail for another crime, and this investigation is pending.
Between March 15 and August 30 someone was illegally using DirecTV at the expense of Dharmistha Patel of Susquehanna. The unnamed identity thief had unlawfully obtained Patel’s Social Security number and used it and a false name to open a DirecTV account at a residence in Philadelphia. When he or she failed to make payments Patel received a notification form from a collection agency. The investigation is continuing.
ASSAULT AND THEFT OF POSSESSIONS
On September 9, between the hours of 3 and 4 p.m., an unnamed 33-year old man from Meshoppen was moving out of his residence of six months in Auburn Township. After transferring his possessions into his vehicle he prepared to leave when he discovered that the key had been removed from the ignition. A female assailant then began verbally persuading her male companion to remove him from the vehicle and assault him, which her companion did, punching the victim repeatedly about the face and head. The victim fled the scene on foot, traveling south. The investigation is continuing.
On September 5, Jackie Snyder of Montrose went to the cabin of Donald Overfield, located behind PJ’s Bar on Route 29 south. After almost running him over, she stated that she was going to burn down his garage in Lawton. Approximately one hour later a fire was indeed set at Overfield’s garage. Charges are being filed against Snyder.
On August 19, around 3:30 p.m., two teenagers from New Jersey (a 16-year old girl and a 17-year old boy) were driving an ATV on Bear Swamp Road in Thompson Township. The girl was operating the vehicle. She lost control of it and rolled it in a pasture, after traveling through a barbed wire fence. Neither teen was wearing a helmet, and both were transported to CMC to deal with their injuries. Both the girl and the owner of the ATV are facing charges.
On September 13, one or more people entered the cabin of Suzanne Babcock in Montrose and stole from it a TV, DVD player, chainsaw, and camo phone. None of these items have known serial numbers. The perpetrator(s) then fled the scene.
On September 4, someone broke into the apartment of Jeffrey Hayslett and stole from him $210 and a check made to cash for $25. Mr. Hayslett lives in the Parkview apartment building in New Milford.
EGGS AND KETCHUP
On route 167, 1.8 miles north of Hop Bottom, someone smashed eggs and poured ketchup over the mailbox of Edward Kozlowski.
HARASSMENT, CRIMINAL MISCHIEF
An unnamed 16-year old female recently went to the Hallstead home of George Wayman, Jr. (19 years old) to retrieve her dog. During the course of pursuing this task she displaced an air conditioning unit from a window at his residence. As a result, he in turn punched and choked her, before she left with her property. Wayman was charged with harassment, and the girl was charged with criminal mischief.
On September 3, Brock Smith of Susquehanna was noted to be driving erratically at the intersection of Routes 11 and 171 in Great Bend Township. After being pulled over, it was discovered that he had full beer cans in his vehicle, and that he had been drinking alcoholic beverages. He was arrested for DUI and transported to Barnes-Kasson Hospital to have blood drawn. His vehicle was towed. There were also two female minors in the vehicle with him.
MULTIPLE VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On September 2, Peter Link of Patchogue NY was hauling quarry stone in a freightliner tractor trailer. He was traveling north on Route 92 in Susquehanna Borough, near the intersection of Route 171. He lost control of the vehicle while driving on a downgrade, and went onto Route 171, also known as Main Street. The truck struck a parked vehicle, causing it to travel over a large embankment and land on the passenger side in a plaza parking lot. The thirteen-year old passenger inside the car at the time was treated at Barnes-Kasson Hospital and released. The tractor trailer then continued on and struck a second parked vehicle on the passenger side, causing a chain reaction collision which affected four more unattended vehicles. Citations on the driver of the tractor trailer are pending following motor carrier inspection.
If you have information regarding any of these cases, please call the Gibson Barracks at (570) 465-3154.
With president Tom Kelly presiding, the Susquehanna Boro Council met for their regular meeting on September 12.
Police officer Dominic Andidora was present, to discuss an idea with council. The department’s newest officer, Laura Watson has a purebred German Shepherd; would the boro consider having the dog trained for police work? Not only could Officer Watson bring the dog with her while she is on patrol, but it would be invaluable in detecting illegal drugs. Part of the training would also involve teaching the dog how to bite when necessary. There is a facility in Olyphant that deals with such training, after which the boro would receive a certification certificate. The estimated cost would be somewhere from $1,200 to $1,500; the dog could be taken for an assessment, at no cost, after which a more exact price quote would be given.
Mayor Reddon said that she could only see benefits for the boro, especially with drug training involved.
There was a question of what the impact would be on the boro’s cost of liability insurance. Officer Andidora felt that, since the training is certified, there should not be much of an increase. Secretary Ann Stewart will check with the boro’s insurance carrier for information on just what, if any, increase there would be.
In other matters, the mayor reported that there have been some problems with getting the new surveillance equipment installed in the police vehicle.
Officer Andidora reported that Ms. Watson is doing a great job. During the previous month, 24-28 warning stickers were issued for illegal vehicles. Most owners, he said, have complied and took care of the problem, but about ten have resisted. One vehicle was towed away, possibly more will be. The driver of a truck that caused a traffic jam on Main St. by attempting an illegal right-hand turn onto Erie Ave. has been cited. Council was updated on two upcoming court cases. Thirty citations were issued during the last month. And, the police department is looking into software programs more suited to its needs, rather than renewing two that are currently being used.
Mr. Kelly gave a recap of the recent meeting of the Parks and Rec. Committee; two residents had attended to continue discussion on setting up a skateboard park. Information was shared, and council is looking into what liability insurance would cost. A possible location has not yet been decided, either; two suggestions are at the Prospect St. park or the riverfront property. Getting the park set up would probably take years, Mr. Kelly said, but if it can be done he would like to see it come to be.
Roy Williams and Mayor Reddon have received NIMS certification. It was clarified that only those directly involved in emergency management must be certified; others should be, but are not required to.
The boro’s 2007 Minimum Municipal Obligation (contribution) for the police pension fund is $17,186. This figure is based on the most recent actuarial valuation report, on January 1, 2005.
Only one bid was received for heating fuel, and no bids were received on a service contract. After discussion, a motion carried to accept the bid from Mirabito, at $2.429 per gallon.
Council approved the SCDA’s plans for a Pumpkin Fest, to be held on October 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the area between the boro hall and the fire station. The SCDA also asked if council would again be hosting a haunted house during the festivities; council declined, as not enough of them will be available on that day.
Mayor Reddon extended thanks to the fire company and local emergency personnel, for their response to the runaway truck incident on Main St. on September 2; they did an outstanding job, she said. She was also pleased to relay compliments to the community from the parents of the teen who had been in one of the vehicles hit. They were touched by the caring people they encountered during the incident. The mayor was not happy to report that she had contacted PennDOT about getting a sign posted on Franklin Ave., warning truck drivers that vehicles should use low gear when driving downhill to Main St. She was told that a traffic study would be required. After a very short discussion, it was agreed that the boro would post the sign, rather than wait the length of time it would take to get it through PennDOT.
In closing, the committee that put together a block party on Washington St. on September 9 were complimented. All had a great time. Mayor Reddon reported that a group on Laurel St. are considering putting together a sleigh riding block party some time during the winter.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 26, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
In the space of a few minutes, the September 11 meeting of the Montrose school board went from solemn to joyful, honoring both heroes of the past and hope for the future. After the usual opening exercises, all present observed a moment of silence in honor of the five-year anniversary of the Twin Towers tragedy. This solemn remembrance of what was lost was juxtaposed against what remains, when it was followed by a beautiful presentation from the children of Choconut Valley Elementary School.
The children came as representatives of the first annual computer camp, a program which was held at all of the elementary schools in the district. The month prior, this particular group had sent a thank you card to the board, and an invitation was extended for them to come to the next meeting to showcase what they learned. The camp was held over two weeks, for two hours a day. The children learned various programs and computer skills, including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and a movie-making software. They were given digital cameras and taken outside for lessons on how to take pictures, and what would and would not make a good photograph. They learned how to edit these pictures and use software to put them together into a movie, complete with music. The students present came up one at a time to relate their favorite aspect of the camp and/or have their PowerPoint presentations or movies shown. When asked, all of the students said that their favorite part of the experience was taking the pictures and/or making the movies. The adults present seemed quite impressed with the quality of the work produced by children so young. The leader of the camp, Miss Jessie Puzo, led the presentation, which displayed the work of students Josh Giles, Nicholas Amorino, Emily Hare, Kira Karpov, Tarah Ann Kelly, and Jessica Bulkey. Two parents also spoke up about the camp, relating how much their children loved it, and how much they, in turn, were able to learn from the kids, whose interest had continued after the program ended. Miss Puzo and the children were each awarded a certificate for their efforts, and shook the hand of each of the board members.
That is to say that they shook the hand of each of the board members at that time. Shortly thereafter this dynamic changed, as the board regretfully accepted the resignation of Joseph Reynolds as Board Director from Region one. Three candidates for the open position were introduced: Julie Humphrey, Pamela Staats, and Veea Calcaine. After opening statements and a ten-question interview, which showed each woman to be qualified for the position in different ways, the board took a vote and appointed Ms. Humphrey as a Board member until the reorganization meeting in December, 2007.
Also appointed at this meeting were the members of the district’s Tax Study Commission, mandated as part of Act 1 of 2006. Eleven applications were received for these volunteer positions, of which 7 were chosen. After board approval, the commission members are: William Whittaker, Barry Berkowitz, Dolores Quinn, Linda LaBarbera, Richard Niederberger, Richard Jordan, and Jim Hill. They will be provided with the district’s financial history, and will have until December 13 to study it and decide on a recommendation. Their first meeting will be September 21, at 7:00.
Flood information updates have become routine business in Susquehanna County, nowhere more so than in Harford Township. Certainly it will remain under Old Business on the agenda for some time to come, as it was at the Supervisors' meeting on September 9.
Rick Pisasik reported agreement from nearby landowners for a township contractor to work in Martin's Creek in Kingsley. Engineers from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) gave the go-ahead for that project and others in the township last month.
DEP engineers, however, weren't qualified to advise on the sluice under Stearns Road at the end of Tingley Lake, or the washed-out bridge on Pennay Hill Road. Another engineer is scheduled to take a look at Stearns Road soon, and Sue Furney was able to report that the owner of the land surrounding the abandoned secondary road downstream from Stearns Road has given permission to remove that second sluice. The depth of the sluice under Stearns Road, its size, and the location of a sewer line will be of special interest in designing a replacement.
The Pennay Hill bridge is expected to cost in the neighborhood of half a million dollars to replace. So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has pledged about $330,000 for the project. The township hopes the state will kick in most of the rest of the necessary funds. One serious problem remains: how to finance the project until the government money comes in.
One or more of the supervisors expects to attend a "mitigation" meeting soon at Blue Ridge with representatives of FEMA and its state counterpart. Government money for projects intended to keep damage from happening again is hard to get, and the supervisors are hoping they will hear something useful.
It seems unlikely that the Harford polling place will change for the election now only two months away. The township office is getting too small for the job, especially with the new computerized equipment required to service handicapped voters. The Fire Company has declined to offer the use of its facility. The Council of the Harford Congregational Church met to consider the matter, and, while they have not made their decision formally known, it is believed that, while the church is willing to allow the lecture hall to be used as a polling place, the church will provide no support, financial or otherwise, to set up the building for that purpose.
The township is considering two new ordinances. It seems that the county Recorder of Wills and Deeds is demanding that municipalities formally adopt ordinances that permit the collection of real estate transfer taxes. Of course they've been collecting them all along, with or without ordinances. And no one is saying that taxes paid without benefit of ordinance should be refunded.
And tax collectors would like to be paid for some extra services they provide, particularly to developers and purchasers of real property. Purchasers occasionally request copies of back tax bills and the collectors would like to be able to charge for providing the documents. The supervisors will study this one before taking action.
A sub-division request led to a discussion of how a lot is defined, in particular, when is a lot to be considered buildable. A lot which is to be built upon must meet sewage regulations. In this case, the sub-division is intended to provide a storage area for a quarry business. Mr. Pisasik said that the state generally assumes that all lots may ultimately be built upon, and likes to have sewage planning completed, even if the current owner has no plans to need sewage. The supervisors passed the sub-division application along, pending completion of the sewage planning process.
There was a time when sewage was just thrown into the street. That may have helped to keep dust under control. We don't allow that now. While we keep sewage under control, dust has a way of getting out of hand in the summertime.
A resident on Three Lakes Road appeared to complain that the township had spread calcium chloride in front of his neighbors' houses, while he was left dry. Mr. Pisasik said that resources for handling dust this summer were slim due to the flooding. But he said that the Roadmaster would be asked to determine what could be done. Ms. Furney said that several factors are generally weighed in determining where the calcium solution is applied, including how far a house is from the road, how much traffic uses the road, and how long it has been since the road was last "worked." In most areas, calcium chloride is added to the road surface during work early in the summer. This year, with money and labor stretched thin, some areas did not get a second treatment.
The Harford Township Supervisors meet in public session on the second Saturday of each month beginning at 10:00 a.m., and on the fourth Tuesday of each month beginning at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are at the township offices on Route 547, half a mile south of the Interstate.
“We don’t teach the kids how to march,” Forest City Regional Band Director John Olcese said. “We teach them how to play music.”
Olcese, who has been the band director in Forest City for the past 28 years, was responding to criticism of the small number of participants and the appearance of the band in the recent Old Home Week Parade. He points with pride to statistics that show 90 percent of the students who play in the school band are accepted in college bands when they apply.
“I am upset about this whole thing,” Olcese said. “Every year we have a parade and I am upset by the showing.” He said he has nearly 100 percent participation in parades that take place during the school year, but it is difficult to get the band members to participate in the summertime.
“It’s hard to force kids to do something in the summer vacation months,” Olcese said. He said some kids work during summer vacation, some participate in athletic events and some are on family vacations. He said he is working with School Superintendent Robert Vadella in an effort to develop a plan that requires the band members to participate in summer events.
Margaret “Pudgy” Paulin said she was embarrassed by the small number of band members that participated in the recent Old Home Week Parade. She said some of the band members wore short-sleeved shirts, some wore long-sleeves, some wore jeans, some shorts and some marched in sandals. And she said some were not in step as they marched along Main Street.
Mrs. Paulin said Band Director John Olcese does not march with the band but walks on the sidewalk. She suggested the school board hire a band director who wants to lead the band.
Olcese said he does not march with the band because “this is all about the kids, not about me. It’s not like I am ashamed of them, but it is all about the kids.” He said schools that have football programs have marching bands while Forest City is more of a concert band.
“Our concert band is excellent,” he said. He said the band has appeared twice at Disneyland.
Another parent at the meeting said her daughter is a band member but will not participate in the Old Home Week Parade because other students watching the parade harass the band members.
In a related matter, Dr. Vadella said he has secured a number of band uniforms from a school district in Western Pennsylvania. He said the uniforms were donated to Forest City and they are blue and gold in color, the same as Forest City’s colors. He said they will be dry cleaned and then be made available to band members.
In a special presentation highlighted by accolades and a standing ovation, Mrs. Sharon Longo was recognized for her achievements as a member of the National Education Association and a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Praxis School Guidance and Counseling examination. The examination measures knowledge and skills required of candidates who intend to become professional guidance counselors in public schools.
In a letter to Kenneth Swartz, elementary school principal, Mrs. Longo was cited for possessing “extensive knowledge of the guidance, counseling, consulting, coordinating and professional skills that are essential to being an effective counselor.” Mrs. Longo has been elementary guidance counselor at Forest City Elementary for 22 years.
Marissa A. Harrison, assessment specialist at Praxis, said Mrs. Longo has been an “exemplary contributor to the development of examination specifications and test items. With distinguished contributors such as Mrs. Longo serving on our development committee, we are confident in the excellence of our examination and we are assured that our Praxis examination remains a fair and valid licensure product for school guidance counselors.”
“She gives 110 percent of herself each day at school,” Mr. Swartz said.
Motions approved by the board-
- Approved Patrick Sherry as a substitute van driver.
- Rejected all bids for the 1989 John Deere lawn and garden tractor the district has for sale.
- Permitted the business manager to obtain income information from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue at a cost of $400.
- Appointed the following individuals to the district Tax Study Commission as required by Act I, Al Wildenstein, Ed Beautz, John Kameen, Mary Ann Logar, Al Dyno. Non voting members are Kathleen Kaczka, business manager; and, Dr. Robert J. Vadella, superintendent of schools.
- Approved the eighth grade class trip to Washington on April 19 and 20.
- Appointed Paul Roginski to a longer term substitute position as an elementary art teacher.
- Named Louis Cicci, JV Boys Soccer coach; Erica McGraw, Varsity Girls Volleyball coach; and, Jillian Zarnowski, National Honor Society.
- Hired Tanya Hentschel and Denise Kowalick as teachers’ assistants.
- Accepted the resignation of Anne Marie Cicci as senior project advisor.
- Student population was listed as 497, grades pre-K through 6; and, 442, grades 7 through 12.
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