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The Great Bend Borough Council meeting for February on the 1st got off to a late start, as three members awaited a fourth for a quorum. When Joe Collins finally arrived, Rick Franks opened the meeting in the chair, substituting for Bea Alesky.
The meeting began as Council listened to Borough tax collector Laurie Conarton propose that Great Bend consider imposing a "wage tax." She said that Montrose has implemented a 1% income tax that her husband, County Coroner Tony Conarton, now pays to Montrose. She said she would prefer to pay that money to the community where she lives, and suggested that Great Bend Borough may need to do this in order to compete with surrounding municipalities.
None of the immediately neighboring communities now use a wage tax. Although voters this Spring will have an opportunity to trade some property taxes for either an "earned income tax" (EIT) or a "personal income tax" (PIT) for the Blue Ridge School District, the EIT for municipalities is a separate issue.
It isn't clear how such a tax might be collected. Ms. Conarton said she thought it would be the responsibility of employers, but no one could quite imagine how that would work.
Council members agreed to keep the idea on the agenda, and to watch what other communities do about it. Mike Wasko was concerned that the small number of wage-earning young families in the Borough would be most severely impacted by such a tax. But everyone is concerned about the small property-tax base in the Borough, and they worry about where the money is going to come from for the services they are expected to provide.
The most prominent service is maintenance of the streets in the village. Council had asked Randy Decker, a PennDOT supervisor, to survey the Borough's streets and offer recommendations and estimates. According to Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan, Mr. Decker's report recommends borrowing to fix all the streets at once, which he estimates might cost nearly $300,000. With an annual budget now just about $100,000, that would put a severe strain on the Borough's resources, even through borrowing.
In other business, Council accepted a recommendation to reduce inspection fees for certain types of commercial warehouses and storage facilities. Building Inspection Underwriters of Pennsylvania, Inc. (BIU), in a letter to members of the Susquehanna County Council of Governments (COG), suggested that reducing such fees might make commercial development more attractive. BIU is the primary commercial building inspection service used by COG.
For a long time, Great Bend has been trying to get some kind of access to the Welcome Center on I-81 from U.S. Route 11. The original design plan included a provision for a locked gate that would permit access from that side, but the Federal government disallowed it. Then came the Great Flood of June, 2006.
For a while during the flood, Route 11 (Main Street in Great Bend Borough) was blocked at both ends; there was no way for residents to get out. Eventually, PennDOT brought in materials that allowed a ramp to be laid over the curbs to the center; the ramps have since been removed.
The Borough sent a letter to State Representative Sandra Major asking for help in getting some sort of gated access to the center installed. Her response was attached to a response from PennDOT, which said No.
Perhaps figuring that persistence may help, Council directed Ms. Guinan to keep pursuing the issue: maybe PennDOT headquarters isn't aware of what happened here last summer, and that it could happen again. As an elected Supervisor in Great Bend Township (where the Welcome Center is actually located), Ms. Guinan was asked if she could bring it before her board. That part of the township is sparsely populated; she said the matter affects many more people in the Borough, and she hasn't heard any complaints from township residents.
A related issue concerns a sluice under I-81 near the Welcome Center that flooded and caused some damage at the north end of the Borough during the flood. That question is to be discussed at a meeting at PennDOT's offices in Dunmore on Friday, February 9, beginning at 10:00am.
Much of what the Borough Council does is aimed at trying to maintain control over what happens in the town. They have asked their attorney to submit a draft ordinance that would impose a fee on utilities that pass through the Borough; the ordinance is targeted at the so-called New York Regional Interconnect, a proposal in that state that would construct a power line through upstate New York to supply power to New York City suburbs. There has been talk that one alternate route for the line would come through Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Attorney Frank O'Connor submitted a proposed ordinance, but few Council members had had time to study it, and, since three members were absent, the matter was tabled until the March meeting.
Council has been desperately trying to gain control of the proliferating problem of trash – properties that seem to collect old cars, rubbish and other junk. They passed a nuisance ordinance last year, patterned on one adopted in neighboring Great Bend Township. There is some question, however, how enforceable such an ordinance is.
Ms. Guinan polled her counterparts in Hallstead, New Milford and Harford about their success in taking legal action on issues like this in the county Court of Common Pleas, instead of going to a District Justice. Most such actions are settled out of court anyway, but only Hallstead reported one, which cost $500 in attorney's fees (although they were to be collected from the losing party). Harford had never brought such action, but their attorney has never won such a case for Abington Township in Lackawanna County court; the judge there seems to believe that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" and routinely turns aside nuisance actions.
Rick Franks asked his colleagues to consider an ordinance similar to one recently enacted in Berwick that would allow closer control of landlords. He said the Berwick measure imposes an annual fee from landlords that must accompany a report registering all of their tenants. The Borough of Susquehanna Depot has been wrangling with something like this for some time, in their case focused on building inspection.
High School Seniors are invited to contact the Borough office to apply for scholarships offered by the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB).
And finally, a celebration of the Flood of 2006 is being planned for July 23, to be held at the Hallstead Plaza. It is being organized by the Friends of Susquehanna County (formerly Friends of Barnes-Kasson Hospital) primarily as a fund-raising event for any and all charities in the area.
The next meeting of the Great Bend Borough Council will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 1.
Cellular phones have arrived in Susquehanna County.
Yeah, they've been here for some time, but their effectiveness was reduced by the lack of adequate equipment to transmit signals around the nation. North-Eastern Pennsylvania Telephone Company (NEP), a Susquehanna County-based utility, is in the process of correcting that and took the first step last week.
NEP is now prepared to offer wireless telephone service in an area that, up to this point, has been plagued with dead spots that interrupted conversations and tested the patience of cell phone users.
That’s not to say that NEP will eliminate all problems that have become synonymous with cell phones. However, the company is going all out to blanket its coverage area, using state-of-the-art equipment and putting up towers in strategic places throughout the area. To date, the company has put up 20 new towers, has obtained the use of an additional 12 towers in its coverage area, and in the spring will begin the process of doubling the number of towers.
Consumer Reports’ annual cell phone report shows that consumers experience problems with every national wireless carrier. It’s not only the nature of the beast, but the service often is subject to weather conditions, the physical features of roads, the terrain and locations, and the quality and condition of the cell phone.
Besides Susquehanna County, NEP’s cell phone coverage area extends into portions of Wayne and Lackawanna counties.
“But we offer nationwide service,” Ed Tourje, president of NEP, said. “We have vacationers in Florida using our cell phones through an agreement we have with Singular.”
At its grand opening last Wednesday, NEP had a steady stream of visitors, including many who purchased cell phones, some well-wishers and some that were just curious. Among the well-wishers was Roberta Kelly, chairman of the Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners.
Besides being able to purchase cell phones at NEP headquarters in Forest City, the company has established satellite outlets in Forest City, Clifford, Montrose, Susquehanna, Thompson, Greenfield Township in Lackawanna County and expects to open additional locations in Hallstead/Great Bend and New Milford.
“It’s really going well,” Tourje said, “but it has to keep going. We know there are going to be rocks in the road, but we will keep moving them and go forward.”
NEP traces its roots to Forest City where it started more than 100 years ago. Besides telephone service, the company offers cable television and computer internet service. Among the highlights of its new cell phone service, the company offers caller ID, voice mail, free incoming text messages, wireless internet that lets a customer check email, surf the internet and say in touch with home or office.
There is a book in our Montrose Library & Historical Society entitled, “Bioaerosols, Fungi, and Mycotoxins: Health Effects, Assessment, Prevention and Control.” Updated and Revised Reprint – Edited by Eckardt Johanning, M.D., M.Sc.
All through the scientific literature in Dr. Johanning’s 673-page study, scientists hesitate to make final judgments. Each individual must be tested, even though hundreds of students, teachers, office workers and families all become ill – often in different ways – and mold is seen and smelled, it is a sure thing that the toxins in these buildings and homes are the cause.
Any person who doubts the health hazards of toxic mold is advised to peruse this great book. Scientists from around the world participated and although much of the material is scientific, the summary at the end of each chapter is easy to understand.
There is another book in the library, “My House Is Killing Me,” by Jeffrey C. May. Jonathan M. Samet, M.D. of the Johns Hopkins School of Pubic Health gives the foreword.
This book is a “home guide” for families with allergies and asthma.
In both books you can observe the pictures of the different molds and what they can do to buildings, schools and your house. The book store in Montrose can also supply you with other books on the subject. The Toxic Mold File can give a lot of information – also available on-line. There is more information than you ever need to know!
There is another book – it is called the Bible. In Leviticus 14:33 to 54, the Lord gave Moses and Aaron the following regulations about houses affected by spreading mildew (good news, Bible). Anyone who has mildew in his house must go and call the priest. In plain words, clean it up, and if that doesn’t work, tear it down and carry the unclean material out of the city to an unclean place.
In the book, “Dealing With Mold Claims,” put out by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, one person wrote, “Property damage in mold cases will likely be more extensive than in other construction defect cases. Mold can infect everything within a structure (carpeting, furnishings, supplies, personal property, etc.) much of which may be deemed a total loss because of the mold. And what is not totally destroyed will most likely require extensive and expensive cleaning.”
Further, a mold infection, if spread throughout a building, may be so extensive that the only way to remediate the problem may be to destroy the structure.
After Harry and I learned all of this information, we realized we had carried live mold spores into our new house. Our friend, Paul Washburn of All Clean Services came and cleaned our house from top to bottom. We destroyed some furniture we had taken to that old house and some, that could be cleaned, we gave away.
I keep a sign in my basement that this is a mold free house. The realtors that showed my house when it was up for sale asked if it was mold free. The word has gotten out.
(AP) Farmers and an environmental group worry that a biotech corn suspected of containing toxic mold could contaminate the food supply, prompting them to ask Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to keep it off the market.
They want the corn blocked until tests can determine whether it caused some hogs and cattle in Midwestern states to become infertile.
Agriculture Department researchers suspected some Iowa cattle and hogs became sterile after eating the potentially moldy corn. An environmental group, Friends of the Earth, has sent letters to Veneman urging her to hold it from the market for more testing.
Larry Bohlem, a spokesman for the group, said farmers in Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa who have had problems with the corn product, supplied by Garst Seed Co., don’t want to discuss it publicly.
“They’re kind of afraid because they’re afraid to lose the value of their corn,” he said.
Bohlem said the agencies that regulate grain, including the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration, have failed to act quickly. He said he is concerned the grain will end up in tacos and tortilla chips.
Moldy grain and hay has killed many animals. A story is told that a general lost a war because his horses died from eating moldy hay and grain. Farmers often cut their hay when the weather is rainy. If it does not dry properly and if it is not taken care of, some mold will grow.
Mark B. Roth, Zachary Roth to Jonathon K. Ludwig, Pamela E. Ludwig, Endicott, NY, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Kathleen Malling, Donald S. Malling (estate) to Gregory Rebello, Jennifer Rebello, RR2, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for $215,000.
Edward R. Segeske, Nina F. Segeske to Edward R. Segeske, Nina F. Segeske, Nicholson, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Delbert H. Sparks, Alma R. Sparks to Thomas Howell, Lois Howell, Honesdale, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Thomas Howell, Lois Howell to Thomas Howell, Lois Howell, Honesdale, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Delbert H. Sparks, Alma R. Sparks to Kenneth Light, Marilyn Light, Forest City, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Kenneth Light, Marilyn Light to Kenneth Light, Marilyn Light, Forest City, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Frank B. Ridgeway, Phyllis A. Ridgeway to Frank B. Ridgeway, Kingsley, Phyllis A. Ridgeway, Cheryl Ann Decker, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Barbara A. Rhodes to Barry W. Rhodes, RR2, Hallstead, Paige Rhodes, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Edward J. Kraft, Sr., Marie Kraft to Charles Perkins, Medford, NJ, Marilynne Perkins, in Lenox Township for $24,900.
Elizabeth A. Bour to Mall East LLC, Irvine, CA, in Lenox Township for $4,000.
Edna Atkins to Edna Atkins, RR, Nicholson, William Atkins, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Cindy K. Tompkins, Bryan G. Parks, Colleen A. Parks, Catherine W. Parks, Francis H. Parks, Jr. to Francis H. Parks, Jr., RR3, Hallstead, Catherine W. Parks, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Cindy K. Tompkins, Mary W. Tompkins, Bryan G. Parks, Colleen A. Parks, Catherine W. Parks, Francis H. Parks, Jr. to Bryan G. Parks, RR2, Hallstead, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Cindy K. Tompkins, Mark W. Tompkins, Bryan G. Parks, Colleen A. Parks, Catherine W. Parks, Francis H. Parks, Jr. to Franklin Hill Cemetery Association, RR2, Hallstead, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Cindy K. Tompkins, Mark W. Tompkins, Bryan G. Parks, Colleen A. Parks, Catherine W. Parks, Francis H. Parks, Jr. to Bryan G. Parks, Colleen A. Parks, RR2, Hallstead, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Cindy K. Tompkins, Mark W. Tompkins, Bryan G. Parks, Colleen A. Parks, Catherine W. Parks, Francis H. Parks, Jr. to Cindy K. Tompkins, RD1, Montrose, Mark W. Tompkins, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Alan H. Hall, Sue Hall to Alan Hall, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Florence Grovenor (estate) to Timothy Hayes, Hallstead, Mary Anne Hayes, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Trehab Center Inc. to Trehab Center Inc., Montrose, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Diane R. Scott to Joseph Calamari, RR1, New Milford, in New Milford Township for $108,000.
Snyder Family Trust (by trustee) to David H. Snyder, RR1, Springville, Sharron Snyder Palmiter, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Kevin Upright to Kevin Upright, RR2, Thompson, David P. Sauro, in Thompson Borough for one dollar
Ray M. Ellinger, Kathleen L. Ellinger to Ginger L. J. Shadduck, RR3, Meshoppen, in Rush Township for $70,000.
Danielle M. Earl (by sheriff), Jason R. Earl (by sheriff) to Countrywide Home Loans Inc., Plano, TX, in Lathrop Township for $1,228.
Christine M. Arbour to Christine M. Arbour, Cherry Hill, NJ, Douglas George Arbour, Michael G. Arbour, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Ruth A. Gillespie (by sheriff) to Netbank (SBM), Columbus, PA, PSMG Inc., in Montrose for $3,033.
Gyidik Living Trust (by trustee) to Leonard J. Zalepa, Ann M. Zalepa, RR2, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for $5,000.
Teresa S. Tyler to Justin M. Sprout, Montrose, Klazina Sprout, in Montrose for $100,000.
Morgan S. Jones to Sharon A. Jones, RR4, Montrose, James D. Jones, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Carlton A. Gorton (by sheriff), Kelli S. Gorton (by sheriff) to Aurora Loan Services LLC, Scottsbluff, NE, in Choconut Township for $1,028.
Jeremy W. Hall (by sheriff), Sheila R. Decker (by sheriff) to Nationstar Mortgage LLC, Lewisville, TX, (fka) Centex Home Equity Company LLC in New Milford Township for $2,557.
FOUR VEHICLE CRASH
On January 25, an accident occurred on Interstate 81 South, near mile marker 218. The incident occurred when a Chevy Camaro, traveling Northbound, lost control on the snow covered roadway and crossed over the median into the Southbound lanes of travel. It struck the driver side rear trailer wheels on a tanker truck. It then stopped in the middle of both lanes. A Greyhound bus was attempting to pass by the car on the right side as another tractor trailer was attempting to pass the bus on the left side. The tractor trailer struck the Camaro, causing it to shift to the right and the Camaro struck the left side of the bus. The Camaro was severely damaged. The driver escaped unharmed but a passenger suffered moderate injury. The tanker suffered minor damage, but the driver was uninjured and it drove away. The tractor trailer suffered major damage to the front end, though the driver was uninjured. The bus suffered minor damage to the left side cargo area. There were no injuries among the bus driver or passengers, and they were able to drive from the scene. The injured Camaro passenger was transported to CMC hospital.
On January 28, a burglary took place at Hirsch's Agway in New Milford Borough. The actors entered the business via a back window, and upon entry activated the alarm. They then fled the area on foot and no items were taken.
There have been various propane thefts in the recent past. Sometime between the 3rd and 27th of January unknown offender(s) entered the property of Robert Eyet on Crescent Lake, Auburn Township and removed a 100 gallon propane tank. Richard Edwin of South Hampton reports that between November 24 and January 27, someone removed a 120 lb. Felix brand propane tank from his property on Terra Court Rd. in Brooklyn Twp. Sometime between the 3rd and 27th of January offender(s) removed an 80 gallon propane tank from Paul Shultz's property in Springville.
POSSESSION OF WEAPON ON SCHOOL PROPERTY
On January 24, the Gibson police responded to Elk Lake High School due to a report by school officials that a senior brought a pocket knife to school. He will be charged with Possession of Weapon on School Property.
TWO VEHICLE CRASH
On January 27, an accident occurred on SR 2067 at TR Williams Rd. in Clifford Township. The accident occurred when a Toyota Tercel driven by Michael Clark crossed the centerline while traveling South and struck a Northbound Dodge Dakota driven by James Lavelle, head on. All individuals were wearing seatbelts and received only minor injuries. All were treated at CMC in Scranton.
On January 23, on SR 706 at the interchange with Graham Rd. in Rush Twp., Kenneth Warner was attempting to turn left in a farm tractor. He was exiting a private driveway and entering onto SR 706. He failed to yield to Cynthia Jackson of Monroeton and a collision occurred. Jackson was wearing a seatbelt and suffered a minor injury. Warner was not injured.
On January 23, on SR 81 in Lenox Twp, ice flew off the top rear of a trailer driven by Vadim Kretsky of Ontario and struck the windshield of a Volvo driven by Artie Thompson of Owego. The windshield smashed. There were no injuries and the drivers exchanged information.
Lydia Manley and Thomas Calcaine of Montrose reported a possible burglary at their residence in Montrose on January 6. Two white males were reported to have exited their residence, wearing Rent-A-Center uniforms and driving a marked company van.
An unknown actor apparently attempted to gain entry into, or damage, the front doors of the Montrose Theatre (located on Public Avenue in Montrose) on January 6.
MISSING PERSON - RUNAWAY
Police are looking for a juvenile male who ran away from his home on Baker Rd. in Auburn Twp. on January 24. The boy is white, aged 17, 5'11” tall and 275 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes.
HIT & RUN ACCIDENT
On January 23, at 8:35 p.m. an accident occurred at the intersection of Chase and Pine Streets in Hallstead Borough. It occurred when a Dodge Dynasty, driven by Lyle Place of Laceyville, was traveling at a high speed on Pine street when it struck a Dodge Neon. The Neon was driven by Robbie Phillips, who had inched it out from Chase St. in order to obtain a view of any oncoming traffic. After point of impact the Dynasty traveled across the roadway and struck a traffic sign. Place then drove from the scene and did not fulfill the requirements of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code by exchanging information when involved in an accident. After his identity was confirmed, Place was cited with numerous traffic offenses, all of which were filed at the office of District Justice Peter Janicelli in New Milford, PA.
On January 22 unknown actor(s) entered the home of Maria Calla of Hallstead while she was away.
Someone apparently used a driver's license belonging to Joy Payne of New Milford to put in a claim with an insurance company. This investigation is pending.
HIT AND RUN COLLISION
On January 20 at 5:00 a.m. an unknown driver was traveling North on Cantone Road, SR 29, in Bridgewater Twp. He or she lost control of the vehicle, causing it to travel off the roadway and impact with a house. The vehicle struck the house then continued to travel north on SR29.
On January 17 a 12 year old boy was walking at the Intersection of T-436 and SR2037 in Lenox Twp. An unknown white male wearing a full faced helmet rode up to him on a camouflage colored ATV. He stopped the vehicle, dismounted, and fired three paintball projectiles at the victim. He then got back on the ATV and drove from the scene. The victim did not require any medical treatment.
On January 11 someone removed the contents of two pieces of mail from the mailbox of Mark Fitch in Bridgewater Twp. The actor(s) returned the empty envelopes to the mailbox.
Anyone having information regarding any of these incidents please call PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
Repeat issues, recurring problems and planning anniversaries make Yogi Berra's famous phrase "It's déjà vu all over again" appropriate to describe New Milford Borough's Council meeting on February 1. The Borough Council opened the meeting by first thanking Mark Wood for his efforts during the recent flooding and aftermath, naming him the Good Neighbor for this month. Councilman Rick Ainey made the presentation.
Ken Bondurant, representing New Milford Township, spoke about the Bi-Centennial anniversary of the Township this year, and the Borough's 150th in 2009. He suggested that the township and the borough combine their anniversary celebrations to plan for festivities in 2009. He said he had done some research into the 150th celebration held back in 1959, and discovered that Columbia Hose Fire Company had done most of the organizing and fund-raising for that anniversary. Apparently the fire department solicited local businesses for funds to cover the cost of the week-long celebration that was held. Any monies that were left over went into the coffers of Columbia Hose Company. While he realizes that the situation is different now, and the economy looks different than it did 50 years ago, Mr. Bondurant thinks it is still possible to get most of the funding for the festivities from local businesses. The closeness of the borough's and town's anniversaries would logically dictate that in order to not place an inordinate strain on local companies and concerns, that the two municipalities should combine their efforts. Mr. Bondurant also noted that planning the joint celebrations is "not too soon for two years from now," given the logistics and work involved. He also questioned if municipal funds could be used to cover the costs. Councilperson Ainey seemed to think that there is no ordinance that would prohibit such monetary assistance. The Borough Council agreed with Mr. Bondurant's assessment and Councilperson Teri Gulick stated she would like to assist.
County Commissioner Mary Ann Warren spoke briefly, thanking New Milford Borough for being the "good neighbor" borough during the most recent flood in its assistance to surrounding municipalities and residents.
Mayor Joe Taylor brought up a suggestion that code violators should pay for the code enforcement officer, as no citation is issued until after the 30-day period in which the violator has to comply. If they comply, there is no fine. Council President Scott Smith said that Mike Dopko, the code enforcement officer, "doesn't go out until we tell him to go out." The Council also stated that when the code enforcement officer issues a citation, he also needs to notify the Council that proceedings have been initiated. After lengthy discussion by the Council, the decision was that the process works as currently set up, but the Council agreed that better direction should be given to Mike Dopko about contacting the Council on enforcement decisions.
The wandering chickens issue of some local residents also has not been resolved. Mayor Taylor said he had visited the residence and the hens were out. Mike Dopko has visited the home also, but the chickens were inside when he saw them. A couple of neighbors have complained that the hens are not penned, and the code enforcement officer will make another visit.
In other business, Borough Council President Scott Smith said that Randy Decker of PennDOT had gotten the estimates done for the streets and that the project can now go out to bid. Mayor Taylor said the skating rink is now up in the park.
CECO Associates still have not responded to numerous requests to give proposals for the bridge inspections. FEMA money is available for repair of the bridges damaged by the floods, but only to "pre-flood" conditions. It was decided that Keith Sutton of KBA Engineering would be contacted to request that he inspect the bridges, as he has mentioned he was willing to assist the Borough in that capacity.
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