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Gary Wilder finally landed that county job he had been trying to get for several weeks. Last week, the county commissioners unanimously voted to hire Wilder as voter registrar. He replaces Laura Watts, who resigned and is now a candidate for county commissioner.
The move to get Wilder on the payroll began a few months back when Linda Hollenbeck retired. Commissioner Roberta Kelly made a couple of motions to hire Wilder but could not get her colleagues on the Board of Commissioners to second them.
A frustrated Wilder decided it was time for him to make a move and he did. Wilder filed suit against the county commissioners for rejecting him. He maintained that he had all of the qualifications for the job. He also had a trump card – a discharge from military service that is worth a few added points.
Despite his qualifications, Commissioners Jeff Loomis and Mary Ann Warren refused to hire Wilder. Instead, they opted for Laura Watts, who is believed to be a longtime friend of the Jeff Loomis family. Neither one of the dissenting commissioners offered a reason why they opposed Wilder.
The two dissenting commissioners teamed up and hired Mrs. Watts over Mrs. Kelly’s opposition. Mrs. Watts resigned once but then withdrew her letter of resignation. Her second letter of resignation was accepted and her job in the voter registration office was to end March 15. However, when she let it out that she was going to run for county commissioner, a quick check of the law revealed Mrs. Watts could not remain on the job once she had made it known that she was going to be a candidate.
Wilder began his duties as voter registrar on March 14. He will work a 35-hour week and be paid $10.85 an hour. He has not spoken about the lawsuit he filed against the county. Contacted by phone, Wilder said the lawsuit is continuing because he wants to make certain that all veterans are given the opportunity to take advantage of the Pennsylvania Veterans Preference Statute. The statute gives prefereence to veterans who are equally qualified for jobs over other applicants who had no military service.
In other personnel matters, the commissioners ratified the resignation of Brenda Landes as intake officer in Domestic Relations. Then they ratified the hiring of Ms. Landes as conference officer, also in Domestic Relations. Both moves were recommended by Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans.
In her new position, Ms. Landes will work 32 1/2 hours a week at the rate of $10.25 an hour plus benefits in accordance with the union contract.
After the motion died for lack of a second at its last meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously the second time around to hire Jon Record of Susquehanna to a part-time county detective position. Record will join the district attorney’s new law enforcement task force and will be paid $13 an hour when he works.
The commissioners adopted resolution 2007-08, authorizing them to sign the Department of Public Welfare’s transportation program that includes a grant allocation and an agreement/service plan assurance of compliance.
A second resolution authorized by the commissioners designates Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer to execute all forms and documents associated with obtaining financial assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
Proclamation 2007-03 approved by the commissioners designated March as American Red Cross Month.
The commissioners have abolished the Salary Board meetings that usually followed their regular bimonthly meetings. The board will reorganize as provided by law and, if it becomes necessary, will meet on call by the chair.
More than 43 people, including school employees and reporters, attended the March 12 Montrose School Board Meeting. This was an apt indicator of the importance of the meeting, which was fraught with discussion and debate about taxes, schedules, food, and freedom of speech.
It had been publicized that this meeting would see the school board voting on the Act 1 tax-shift referendum question, which likely accounted for some of the attendance. There was much discussion, once the floor was opened to the public, as to what this tax would and would not entail. Mr. Ognosky and the board answered what questions they could, some issues still not being fully decided or explained even at the state level.
It was mentioned that many people have wrong ideas regarding the implications of this Act, a fact that at least one woman blamed the press for. For this reason, some of the major points clarified at the meeting will be explained here. It was repeatedly stated, however, that at least some of the confusion is due to the complex and still unsettled nature of the legislation.
Theoretically, the purpose of the act is to provide a tax-shift. Through the incorporation of a new Earned Income Tax (EIT) or Personal Income Tax (PIT), property tax relief would be provided. This is done to benefit the elderly, whose property tax is increasing while they live on a restricted income. It could also be a benefit, as stated in a letter by a Tax-Study Commission member which was read at the meeting, to some of those who need it most: unemployed property owners, retired property owners, and those with a household income of less than $25,000 or so. An Earned Income Tax, in this sense, is a tax on salaries, wages, and tips only. A Personal Income Tax also taxes gifts, dividends, interest incomes, etc. It does not, however, tax Social Security or pensions. The tax-study commission for the district had officially recommended the EIT, but it was stated that this was done at a time in which they weren't sure the PIT could be effectively collected. Some members had said at the time that their decision might be different were this shown to be plausible. The district decided not to go with the commission's recommendation, and to pursue the option of a 1.1% PIT
The resolution which was passed on at the meeting did not serve to enact the tax, only to place a question regarding the 1.1% PIT tax on the May ballot. This was a point clarified carefully; it was even expressed that in one person's opinion, the worst thing which could happen that night was for the public to leave the meeting thinking the decision already made. The district is pursuing this because they are required to by law. The actual choice as to whether or not the tax-shift takes place is up to the public when they vote. All registered people can vote, regardless of Democratic, Republican, or Independent affiliation. If the shift is voted down, no change will be made; things will continue as they have been. If it is passed, there is a chance for the rate to increase, though not until next year. The tax is to be reevaluated every year, and the public would have to vote changes in.
The district does not benefit from this act at all. It receives none of the income; what is collected is used to provide property tax relief for qualified homesteaders and farmsteaders. If property owners were previously approved under Act 72 they automatically qualify under Act 1. If they were not, they should have received a card around January to fill out and mail back. The district had nothing to do with who does or does not qualify. It is, however, responsible for collection of the tax. They are currently looking into options for doing this should it become a reality. The district is allowed to use 2% of the tax to pay for collection, but may end up losing money if costs exceed this amount.
This tax is completely separate from the 1% EIT enacted by Montrose Borough. It will not replace it. The public will pay a 1.1% PIT to the school district, and an additional 1% EIT to the borough. In addition, the school district is not able to share this 1% with the Borough. Only school districts which already had an EIT in place prior to 2004 were able to take advantage of this sharing option. The Elk Lake School District was therefore able to do so; Montrose is not.
The Act 1 tax will not serve to bring money back into the district which would otherwise have been paid to other locations, an argument which could be used for the borough tax. The law under which the borough enacted its tax was written in 1965, and stipulates that if a person lives in a municipality which does not collect the tax, but works in a municipality which does, the money goes to the place in which they work. Now that the Borough collects the tax, the money which had gone to other municipalities will come to the Borough. Where you work, however, has absolutely no bearing on either of the Act 1 taxes. Only residents of the district will pay the tax, and it will be due regardless of where a person works. People working in New York, for instance, may not have to pay the Borough EIT but will have to pay the Act 1 tax if they reside within the district. This extends to renters and others not qualifying for the property tax reduction.
There may also be erroneous assumptions about the reduction itself. The possible relief to those qualifying in the Montrose School District is estimated to range between $164.48 and $274.14. This range is derived from the possible collection rate. When a visitor asked about the reason behind a range it was put thus: everyone owes taxes, not everyone pays. Thus the district was encouraged to allow for this possibility. If 64% of the tax was collected, the relief would be around the lower number; the higher number represents 100% collection. If more were collected – if the tax is raised in the future or more people pay than expected – the relief would increase in consequence. However, it is possible for a person or household to pay more in the tax than they will receive in relief. With the current estimate, if a household income exceeds $27,500/year, the tax paid will be greater than the benefit.
The act is written in a manner which implies that the relief would be concurrent with the tax. This seems impractical, however, and a year's lag between collection and relief was suggested. It was also suggested that the real property tax relief will come when the gambling revenue comes in, the timeframe of which is speculated about but still uncertain.
Documents regarding this matter were to be put on the district webpage. There is also to be a calculator, which will allow the public to calculate the effect the tax could have on their lives. In the end, the decision is up the district residents.
Taxes were not the only controversial topic touched upon in the roughly three and a half hour meeting. At what point a child should become responsible for him or herself was at the core of another key subject of debate.
After an incensed parent spoke at the January meeting about her child having his lunch taken away when his negative balance became too great, the district's lunch debt policy came under scrutiny. The policy had since been altered, adding another step wherein a phone call is made to parents in addition to slips being sent home with students. Students have also been sent to the cafeteria office for a slip which would allow them to eat, though the computers will not allow a child with a balance under -$2.50 to be entered. Cafeteria workers spoke of being afraid to deny a student lunch now, and the potential need to chase down a child who refuses to go to the office to ensure that he or she gets the chance to have one. Ms. O'Mally, however, had spoken with administration to express her concern that the high school cafeteria may run a negative account if this continues. Unlike many area districts, the Montrose cafeteria is a self-sufficient business, not supported by district funds. She also expressed concern regarding the number of phone calls having to be made. This responsibility had been passed on to the main office, and on the day of the meeting 24 calls had been made. At times the school still failed to connect with parents despite calling, and had to leave voicemails, etc. Mr. Ognosky wanted the board to discuss what they wanted to do. At what point, if any, ought secondary students to be denied lunch due to accumulated debt, and, if never, would the board and administration be willing to make good on any negative balance the cafeteria may accumulate? (Elementary students are never denied lunch, this is only an issue at the secondary school.)
In the end is it the student's responsibility to make sure their parents put money in the account, or is it the parents’? Are children deprived of a much needed lesson in responsibility when given a lunch regardless of the status of their account? These questions were discussed from various angles. One woman stated, from experience, that some children do tell their parents, their parents just refuse to take care of it. For some kids this may be the only square meal they get in a day, for some their first decent meal after a weekend. Cafeteria workers, however, while agreeing with the plight of these students complained of the attitudes of others. One register worker invited anyone to come stand by her register for a day and observe the attitude of kids as they zip by. Those on this side of the debate felt that by catering to the students and not providing sufficient repercussions for not encouraging/reminding their parents or packing a lunch, a disservice is being done to them as they fail to learn responsibility.
Various people proposed potential solutions, some of which had logical reasons they could not work. Parents cannot be forced to apply for free or reduced lunches, and many don't, or this might alleviate some of the problem for students who need the meals the most. In order to put student information online the system would have to be changed school wide, a solution which is not financially advisable. Putting money in a voluntary account for students could become problematic when those contributing leave, or stop giving for other reasons. In the end, many felt the best solution to be the application at the high school of the same policy used at the elementary school – students who don't have money in their account are given a sandwich and a drink. They don't get to eat the full lunch, but they are not denied lunch either. Mr. Ognosky advocated pursuing this policy until the end of the school year on a trial basis, with the board committing to pay any debt the cafeteria might incur from it. Not everyone was in favor of this proposal, however, feeling it be to the duty of the parents and/or the students to provide for their food. One woman asked why the school and, by dint of taxes, the public should have to pay if the parents wouldn't. The answer she got was because the school is there for the kids.
Near the end of the discussion Mr. Tallarico stated once again that the January incident was an isolated incident. He said that people have no idea what he and the other administrators do to ensure that students are fed, including giving money from their own pockets. He said that he did not want to read in the paper again that he was not feeding his kids. He agreed that students should be fed, and would like a policy which would allow this to happen.
In the end the board members also agreed that students should not be denied lunch regardless. Each member was asked individually for his or her opinion, and all were in agreement on this point. What remains now is to come up with a procedure which will best address the cafeteria's concerns while making it so that students are given something. It remains to be seen what the final decision will be, though it seems likely that it won't be the recommendation of one visitor. He suggested that if students were offered a liver and onion sandwich when money ran out instead of peanut butter and jelly they would bring money in a lot more quickly.
One of two rumors addressed that night also had to do with lunch. It was asked if the school was planning on shortening lunch periods, as had been rumored. Mr. Tallarico responded that more instruction time was needed, so they are looking at ways in which the scheduling could be changed. This may involve the shortening of lunch periods, though as of yet no decisions have been made. Other area schools already have half hour lunch periods.
The other rumor had much less grounds for truth. With the retirement of music and arts staff, the rumor had been circulating that the school was going to drop the music and arts program. Mr. Ognosky denied this rumor, referring to the budget which the district devotes to the arts, and the number of unusual number of full-time music staff it employs as evidence. Some positions vacated by retirement may not be filled, as is common, but the quality of education offered the students will be maintained.
March being Music in the Schools month, it was a good meeting to discuss this matter. Testimony was given to the importance of the school music program in individual lives. It was related that former Montrose students are now on Broadway in Paris, London, and N.Y. An invitation to the Jr. High Spring musical on March 30 at 7:00 was extended. Johanna Reed, president of the Sr. Band, spoke briefly on behalf of band students, thanking the board for their support and presenting them with certificates.
Finally, before the meeting closed, the school newspaper was once again brought up. This is another ongoing matter, regarding a recent article about the “friends with benefits” phenomenon in the school. A man involved when the decision not to censor the paper was first made spoke up, wanting to explain the history behind this decision. Prior to it, he related, there had been some problems with the school board. The students felt like no one was listening to them, one student had actually been told by a board member that he was just a child and didn't need to know what was going on. It was in response to this that it was decided to give the students a voice through the paper, and to give them the power to circulate that voice throughout the community. He argued that it was important to allow articles like this one because it is an issue which kids face. The article, he defended, was not smutty and did not promote the practice. Others have agreed with this view, maintaining that it was an important article for raising parental awareness, and providing opportunities for honest conversation with children. The other side of the issue was represented, however, by a mother at the meeting. She tearfully related how her second grader, whom she had allowed to read the paper as a school publication, had later asked her if (s)he had friends with benefits. There has already been one special meeting with the public regarding this debate, and it was slated to be discussed at the open curriculum meeting on March 19 as well.
Clifford is on the move again!
One of the few municipalities in this area where the residents respond in full force whenever the township supervisors need a job done, is making plans to develop the municipality and yet retain its décor and its rural environment.
Harry Phillips, township tax collector, will head up a group of volunteers who have been assigned the task of researching and developing a comprehensive plan for the township’s Main Street.
John Regan, chair of the Board of Township Supervisors said the plan will also include ways to keep the township free of “windmills and go-go places.” He said the township’s Main Street will definitely be in a commercial zone.
Mixed in with the plans for progress was a difference of agreement between Regan and James Sposito, a member of the township’s Planning Commission. Regan disagreed with a finding of the commission that would stop a township resident from dividing his lot in half so that one portion would be in the proposed commercial zone and the other half would remain residential.
Sposito said if the split is allowed, it would set a precedent that may force the commission to approve other similar circumstances. He also said it is setting a precedence that would make it difficult to enforce the township’s ordinance.
Regan said the split would create a “non-buildable commercial piece of property.”
Sposito said variances against the borough ordinance should only be allowed in hardship cases. He said there is no hardship attached to this issue and said enforcement of borough codes is a progressive move.
“We have a unique situation in our township,” Regan said. “We still care for our people and they do a lot for the township.” And he pointed out that the people care about the township and help it as much as they can.
In response to another minor complaint, Regan said, “You’re living in the past. Look out your front windshield, not the rear view mirror.”
In another matter, Regan said the township has received a $12,500 grant from the county to install new doors on the municipal building. He said the bid came in at $15,700 but he was confident the county would give the township the extra funds.
The township also learned that it may receive $250,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to complete repairs caused by the November floods.
The supervisors awarded Police Chief Don Carroll a two-dollar an hour increase, bringing his hourly rate to $13. Carroll works a 40-hour week but is still classified as part-time.
And a representative of the Clifford Alliance said the group continues to publish its newsletter that was started in conjunction with the township’s bicentennial celebration last year. The newsletter captured third place in a statewide contest that included newsletters from municipalities across the Commonwealth.
Genaro James Calciano, Lisa Calciano to John J. Meagher, Genevieve K. Meagher, RR1, Forest City, in Clifford Township for $435,000.
Horace E. Baldwin (trust by trustee) to Andrew S. Mallo, RR4, Montrose, Lisa M. Mallo, in Rush Township for $49,000.
Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Jr. to Theodore Petrochko, Greenfield Township, Sheila L. Petrochko, in Lenox Township for $49,000.
Louis Butts to Carol J. Potter, RR2, Susquehanna, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Susquehanna Precision Inc. to Terry J. Rockwell, RR3, Susquehanna, Wanda M. Rockwell, in Susquehanna for $32,500.
Martha Drost, Manfred P. Drost to Mandred P. Drost, RR1, New Milford, Martha Drost, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Sommerville Land Development Inc. to Sommerville Land Development, RR3, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Robert Jesse Hummer, Sr., (estate) aka Robert J. Hummer, Sr. (estate) to Robert Jesse Hummer, Jr., Bridgewater Township, William George Hummer, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Alison L. Radus aka Alison L. Barnes to Todd J. Radus, Nicholson, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Mark G. Tims to Lisa M. Tims, RR1, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Kenneth J. Folkvard to Kenneth J. Folkvard, RR1, Susquehanna, Theresa L. Folkvard, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Margaret Elizabeth Staskiel to Jerome G. Bogedin, Jr., Tunkhannock, Lori A. Bogedin, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Ruth McAndrew to Maple Highlands LLC, RR1, Union Dale, in Herrick Township for $150,000.
Gertrude E. Conigliaro to Gertrude E. Conigliaro, Hallstead, Carl A. Zukus, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Rose Conigliaro to Rose Conigliaro, New Milford, in New Milford Borough for one dollar.
Rose Conigliaro to Peter A. Conigliaro, New Milford, Carol A. Conigliaro, in New Milford Borough for one dollar.
Rose Conigliaro to Joseph G. Conigliaro, Diane Conigliaro, in New Milford Borough for one dollar.
Roy Yanvary (by tax claim), Barbara Yanvary (by tax claim), Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Taylor A. Hortman, Hop Bottom, Elizabeth A. Hartmann, Timothy J. Hartmann, in Hop Bottom Borough for $5,700.
Leo Schreiber (by tax claim), Jane F. Schreiber (by tax claim), Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to John Sholtiss, RR2, Susquehanna, in Great Bend Township.
Nancy Audrey Davitt (nbm) Nancy Davitt Bell, Dan J. Bell to Lindley L. Rood, Hop Bottom, Joy Lynn Rood, in Lenox Township for $28,001.
Terry Strohl, Christine M. Strohl, Christine M. Eskeitz (nbm) to William F. Steingraber, Montrose, in Montrose for one dollar.
Scott Kochmer, Lisa Kochmer, Lisa Sonnenberg to Scott Kochmer, Clifford, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Trails Conservation Corporation to Rails Trails Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Forest City, in Clifford Township for $100,000.
Jerry Kusznir, Jessica Kusznir, Nicholas Kusznir, Nicholas Kusznir, Michele Hall, to Jerry Kusznir, Nicholson, Jessica Kusznir, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Stuart Coon to Mike E. Molenko, Brooklyn, PA, Judith Molenko, in Brooklyn Township for $10,000.
Van Stephen Cady to Teddy Lee Cady, Jr., RR2, Kingsley, Audrey Cady, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Alan Strohl, Gladys Strohl to Daniel J. Poirier, Friendsville, Lori A. Poirier, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Roger A. Gagnon to Eugene Famolari, Nancy G. Famolari, RR5, Montrose, in Jessup Township for $315,000.
Robert Cobb, Dawnney Talbert, Dennis Talbert, Linda Talbert, Darlene Sheffler, Kevin Sheffler, Diane Truscott, Dorothy Jackson to Will G. Talbert, RR3, Meshoppen, Darcia C. Pachuta, in Auburn Township for $12,686.
Christopher A. Piercy and Michaela Stanilka.
James P. Miller IV and Lisa A. Summa.
Jeffrey Paul Baker, Hop Bottom vs. Linda L. Baker, Owego, NY. Wed in 1981.
Rebecca J. Jenson, RR2, Montrose vs. Brad M. Jenson, Lakewood. Wed in 1999.
Stephen Kaminsky, RR1. Susquehanna vs. Lynnette Ryman Kaminsky, RR3, Montrose. Wed in 2005.
Harry McFarland, Clarks Summit vs. Jeanmarie McFarland, RR2, Kingsley. Wed in 2005.
Anthony T. Cauiola vs. Mary J. Cauiola, both of RR1, Brackney, Wed in 1999.
On March 3, Deborah Smith of Factoryville was driving North along SR 29 in Dimock Twp. when she lost control of her vehicle. The vehicle crashed into a utility pole, before coming to rest across the road in a snow bank. Ms. Smith was not injured, and was arrested for D.U.I. Charges are pending.
On March 11, Donald Overfield allegedly damaged property belonging to a Silver Lake Twp. resident. Mr. Overfield reportedly harassed Mr. Resenkrans by beating on his residence in an attempt to get him to go outside. He was charged through the magistrate's office for related charges, and the investigation is continuing.
On March 13, a male beagle was found walking in traffic on the three lanes of SR11 south of Hallstead, PA. The animal had no collar, and attempts to locate the owner have been unsuccessful. The owner may claim the dog at the Susquehanna Co. Humane Society.
On March 11, Melissa Hitchcock of Montrose was driving east on SR 706 when she encountered a patch of black ice. Her vehicle slid off the roadway and rolled over. The Ford Ranger suffered heavy damage. Ms. Hitchcock was wearing her seat belt, and sustained only minor injuries.
A robbery was attempted at the Montrose Car Wash in Bridgewater Twp. on March 8, at approximately 6:10 p.m. The incident occurred as Joshua Ely of Montrose was collecting change from the machines. An unknown actor attempted the grab the change container from Ely, but fled when the latter responded by pushing him away. The perpetrator is described as a white male, approximately 30 years old and 6' tall. He is described as clean shaven with a solid build, and was wearing a dark colored stocking hat.
On March 7 an incident occurred on SR 267 in Choconut Twp. It happened as Krista Marrer of Brackney was traveling south on that road, and attempted to turn left into the parking lot of Smoking Joe's Convenience Store. In doing so she turned into the travel path of a Honda sedan driven by Alyssa Leonard of Vestal, NY. The two vehicles collided, resulting in approximately a one foot intrusion into the front engine area. Ms. Leonard experienced minor injuries and was transported to Lourdes Hospital. Ms. Marrer was not injured.
ACCESS DEVICE FRAUD
On March 6, Jessica Wiegand of Great Bend reported an unauthorized purchase on her debit card.
Silviya Ivanova of Binghamton, NY reported to Gibson police that on March 2 she stopped at the Flying J Truck Plaza, and received two twenty dollar bills from the ATM machine which are suspected to be counterfeit.
On March 3, a fight broke out at the Flying J Truck Stop. The incident occurred as Rolly Brink of New Milford and his wife were finishing dinner. Brink began to feel ill, and stood up in an attempt to go to the men's room. He covered his mouth, and vomited on the floor near a table occupied by Dominic Leblanc of Kahnawake, QC. Brink apologized to Leblanc for vomiting near his table. Leblanc responded that it was okay, but that he could have picked a better place to vomit. Brink then asked Leblanc if he thought that he planned vomiting near his table, and Leblanc responded in a joking manner that he thought he might have. At this point Brink picked up Leblanc's soda and threw it on him. Leblanc made an attempt to get up, but was struck several times by Brink's punches. Brink ended up on top of Leblanc on the table. The two men exchanged punches, then slid off of the table into the booth with brink still on top of Leblanc. The fight was broken up when Brink was pulled off of Leblanc, a feat which required three or four men to achieve.
On March 11, Jessie Mae Casella of New Milford was driving with Jennifer Undercoffer of Tampa, FL westbound on SR 106 in Lenox Twp. At this time the roadway was ice covered and the weather foggy. The truck lost traction on the roadway, exited the travel lanes, and hit a snow bank, coming to a final rest out of travel lanes on its passenger side. Both women were reported to emerge from the crash uninjured.
If you have information on any of the above incidents, please contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
High tech infrared scans and the nuclear survey method were used on the Mountain View High School recently, but this wasn't for a military operation or a James Bond-like clandestine incursion, simply the latest tools used by construction engineers to assess possible leaks in the school roof. Acting Superintendent Dr. Andrew Chichura informed the Mountain View School Board and the attending public of the results with a brief slide show highlighting the affected areas.
Dr. Chichura began by explaining how each method works. Nuclear surveying checks hydrogen concentration in a structure. Hydrogen is present in water, which has the chemical designation of H2O, meaning 2 atoms of hydrogen bonded with 1 atom of oxygen. High concentrations of hydrogen therefore indicate the presence of water. On the nuclear survey scale used, a concentration of hydrogen that registers 10 or above means there is water present, suggesting that the area surveyed has leaks. Using the same scale, a reading of 9 or below shows that there are no leaks and the roof in that area is dry.
Infrared analysis uses the detection of heat and its retention to find areas that are leaking or have standing water, which could mean leaks. As the roof heats up, any water in the roof will heat more slowly, and also lose that heat slower as the roof cools. By using the infrared method, where heat is retained indicates where water is present and thus where the roof is leaking.
The original portion of the high school and the library were done with the nuclear survey method, and the remaining roof area received the infrared scan. The areas found to be leaking are marked by white paint to assist workers in finding the portion of the roof to be repaired. All leaks that were leaking and detected in November, 2006 have been repaired, but major repair and replacement of the high school roof now needs to be undertaken.
The roof drains need to have major repairs and replacement. Constructed of four-inch galvanized pipe, these drains are rusting and allowing water to leak through. Other repair needs are over the boys' and girls' locker rooms, and the shop area. Both of these locations should be "stripped down to the insulation" according to the report Dr. Chichura was using to explain the problem. This means essentially a new roof for a large section of the high school, totaling approximately 32,748 square feet. The cost looms large as well, with the estimate at $524,000. To complete the job, the remaining portion of the roof in need of repair will come to $190,250.
The Building and Site Committee Chair, Nate Tompkins, asked for discussion of the auditorium stage curtains and lighting project, and of the consulting engineer/architect proposals for the track and field replacement. There was general agreement that the stage curtains and lights needed to be upgraded and replaced.
Board Member John Halupke expressed that he thought with all the other demands on the budget, such as the roof, the track and field issue was a "low priority project." He indicated that he "can't see any justification to pay for this project," and that the Board is "in a dream world" if they want to pay for such a purpose. He added that the new area "would be a maintenance headache forever." School Board President James Zick suggested a delay of the review of the Track and Field project proposals until the full Board was present, as three Board members were absent.
Ms. Margaret Foster, Elementary School Principal, reported that attendance at the recent parent/teacher conferences was encouraging, and overall it was a "good turnout." Ms. Foster also wanted to thank the Board for supporting her attendance at a recent Washington, DC meeting where Ms. Foster, selected to represent the Commonwealth, was one of fifty attendees from across the United States talking with congressional representatives about the No Child Left Behind Act that is up for renewal. She thanked the Board for the opportunity to participate.
A Career Fair for seventh, eighth and ninth graders, is scheduled on March 29, with thirty vendors, according to Ms. Eliza Vagni, High School Principal.
The newly created 688 road extension was one of several matters discussed at the March 14 New Milford Township Meeting. A few problems were raised regarding this road and natural elements. It was reported that there is a drainage issue occurring where it meets another road; the township will keep an eye on it. Concerns were also raised about plowing, more specifically a lack of plowing during and after the February 14 storm. A visitor to the meeting stated that it hadn't been plowed for three days following the storm, creating problems for at least one family trying to reach their destination. The township assured him that it had been plowed, though with the nature of the storm it was sometimes difficult to recognize that which had just been cleared. Throughout the meeting it was referred to as the “newly created 688.” Just before the meeting broke up a long-term resident clarified this point, stating that 688 has actually been there for years.
The township received paperwork in preparation for the next census. It was announced that this is slated to happen in 2010. The local address program needs to be updated before this time.
The supervisors passed a resolution allowing Sylvia Beamer to be the township representative with FEMA. She will also be the representative for buyouts, of which there is only one in the township. She is the representative for other area municipalities as well.
Two grants were put in to allow for development up at the Gibson Travel Plaza exit, which was discussed in relation to correspondence from an engineering firm. The plan is to improve the exit, and to blacktop the area past McDonald's and the fireworks store. The idea was for the businesses to come up with $50,000 in addition to the $200,000 and $90,000 grants.
The Central Bradford Progress Authority wants the township to pass a resolution regarding an Enterprise Zone, for the purpose of economic development in an area adjoining SR 81. Other area municipalities have said yes, but the supervisors want to know what it involves, and what they are offering, before agreeing to anything. It was stated that this authority is who the township contracts with now.
The matter of what does and does not require a building permit was revisited. At the previous meeting, a visitor had raised concerns about a real estate business and a mobile home trailer, asking if they had permits or were required to have one. Policy, the supervisors answered at this meeting, states that currently a mobile structure does not require a building permit unless it will be in a location for more than 90 days. Additionally, if a building does not have water, it does not have to have sewage. The buildings in question, however, came in before the rules were changed to read this way. Another building was questioned, a trailer up by 81. The supervisors have been told that this is just a job trailer, for use by worker(s) doing bridgework for 81.
Finally, it was announced that the first Bicentennial Committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 22 at 7:00. The actual celebration will probably occur in 2009, in conjunction with the Borough's 150th anniversary, but the committee wants to begin planning now. Anyone who wishes is encouraged to attend, and to bring anyone they know who might be interested in participating.
Correspondence reviewed at the March 12 meeting of the Great Bend Township supervisors included a letter from county District Attorney Jason Legg, requesting that the township reconsider participating in a feasibility study to determine the viability of regionalized police services. The study is being conducted under the auspices of COG, through the Governor’s Center For Local Government. There will be no cost or obligation on participating municipalities parts, and the “window” for participation had been extended to allow for any who had originally opted not to participate to join in, if they so wish.
Supervisor Sheila Guinan thought it was a good idea to participate, especially since the township would not be obligated in any way to act on the study’s findings.
Former supervisor George Haskins did not think it was a good idea for the township to participate. He said that if, as a result of the study, township residents hear that regionalized police services are feasible, they would demand that the township provide police services. “No study, no conclusion,” he said. He added that, when he was a supervisor, he had done research and had concluded that quality officers could not be hired at minimum wage. “Professionally trained officers cost a small fortune.” And, although grant funding is available to municipalities for starting up a police department, it is in decreasing increments over several years, and if the department should disband within a specified timeframe, the municipality would then have the obligation to repay the money to the state.
Supervisor Squier also thought it was not a good idea to participate. He feels that it would be a better idea for the county sheriff’s department to be utilized for patrols, much as they do for the DUI Task Force. He stressed that the revenue the township sees from taxes now could not support a police department.
Supervisor Sienko said that he would like to see what they (the study) come up with. “All it is is information.”
An audience member wondered, “What if the information isn’t accurate?”
A motion carried to participate in the study, with Mrs. Guinan and Mr. Sienko voting in favor; Mr. Squier wished to go on record that he is opposed.
Mrs. Guinan attended a FEMA meeting, where the primary focus was for municipalities to go over their flood plain maps to ensure that the maps are accurate, and to add any areas that qualify for flood plain designation. Areas that have seen multiple floods are eligible for designation; areas that have only flooded once are not. And, in the wake of the floods, creeks and streams that have moved from their original position must also be identified.
The new plow ordered for the Volvo truck did not fit and must be returned; a new one has been ordered. The F800 has been cleaned and has been running. A motion carried to advertise it for bid, “as is,” with bids to be opened at the May meeting.
To qualify for Dirt & Gravel Road grant funding, at least one township representative must attend Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance training. Supervisor Bob Squier is currently qualified, but his term is up at the end of the year. A motion carried to send Jerry Hallisey and Jason Auckland to the next scheduled class, April 3 and 4 in Wysox.
The Roadmaster’s report for February was summed up as, “plowing, cindering, maintenance, cleaning ditches” and an update on work recently completed on the creek that runs adjacent to the township building.
One UCC permit was issued to Hinkley Assoc. for an ice cream shop in the plaza. Mark and Ted Walworth are applying for mining permits, and requested that the township sign letters stating that the township has no ordinances regulating mining, and neither agrees nor disagrees with the project. Mrs. Guinan said that she periodically receives such requests; after discussion it was agreed that she could sign such requests as they are presented.
A motion carried to proceed with passing an updated ordinance, through COG, relating to the creation of maintenance agreements between the township and property owner for certain sewage treatment systems with estimated sewage flows of 800 gallons per day or less. In a related subject, Mrs. Guinan told of a situation in the township where a property had been sold, and the new owner had been left completely unaware that he needs to supply yearly samples, and proof that the system light has been changed every year. COG’s SEO is currently working on getting a policy in place that will require that alternate systems be put into property deeds when they are installed, rather than when they are sold to ensure that situations like this do not arise again.
Any contractors interested in bidding on the Emergency Watershed Protection projects through the Natural Resources Conservation Service must meet certain requirements to be qualified for award of federal contracts. Information is available at the township office.
The Joan Long case was taken to the magistrate’s office on February 23. She was given 30 days to comply, and there will be a follow-up hearing on March 23.
The next meeting will be on Monday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m. in the township building.
Following are the Lanesboro Borough Council meeting minutes from March 7, as submitted.
Roll Call - Dan Boughton, Regina Dilello, Myles Limbert, Bob Mireider, Bill Roberts, Stan Rockwell, Colleen Wilkes. Also Present – Mayor Chris Maby, Gail Hanrahan.
Action on minutes of previous meeting. Motion carried to pass as presented.
Correspondence and Resolutions:
Letter received from Philadelphia Parking Authority stating they had mistakenly identified garbage truck running red light as ours. No further action required.
Letter from District Attorney Jason Legg asking council consider regionalized police force, with COG arranging for a free study to determine the viability. Maby noted that Oakland is believed to be against regionalization at this time. After discussion, council authorized letter to be written stating they do no wish to evaluate a regionalized police force at this time.
Letter from Commonwealth of PA Department of General Services approving Lanesboro participation in the Federal Surplus Program. Mayor and Secretary/Treasurer need to be authorized to make purchases on behalf of Lanesboro. After discussion, motion carried authorizing Hanrahan and Maby to sign for purchases.
NRCS provided paperwork for any local contractors who may be interested in bidding on the stream work they will granting this spring. Maby asked if council knew of anyone specific the paperwork should be sent to. Maby to provide paperwork to Ozzie Miller and Colwell Brothers Construction.
FEMA building permits/elevation certification – information provided by FEMA for upcoming changes to building permits and elevation certificates. Maby suggested that they be adopted now while Shane is still on board to help make the change easier. After discussion, council tabled until April meeting.
Proposal from Hulbert Engineering & Land Surveying to provide property survey for the property needed for the new municipal building. Cost is $1,295.00 for survey, and an additional $370 if corner pins or monuments are wanted, with a 6-8 week completion. Quote from Butler for the same is $775, with a 6-8 week completion. Joe Kempa surveying called in a price of $500 to $700, and the work can be completed within a month or so. To be brought up under new business.
B-K Hospital Awards committee would like to use Luciana Park on April 7 at 2:00 for an Easter Egg hunt. Council recalled telling them last year that they could use it whenever they wanted without asking and nothing has changed in that regard. Gail to let them know.
Letter from Jerry Benson regarding the sewer connection at the storage trailer on his property. He asked if this connection could be removed from sewer billing if the line were capped and inspected. Council agreed, with removal from billing as soon as it is capped and inspected.
Attended second FEMA meeting in Montrose on Wednesday, February 28. Two engineering firms have been hired to update maps for six counties in Pennsylvania, including Susquehanna. Updated map as approved by council was presented to one their representatives, with electronic version of the same to be emailed next week. The map approved by council will be verified and then transferred onto the FEMA map. The entire map revision process is expected to take up to two years. When finished, the maps will be forwarded to the municipalities for review and concurrence, and then made official.
State Representative Sandy Major’s office is looking into the delay of the $30,000 police car grant. Lanesboro was initially notified of the grant in November, 2006.
The snowplow has a cracked frame. Temporary repairs have been made, with permanent measures to follow in the spring when the spreader can be removed from the box (the box needs to be raised to make permanent repairs). All of the repairs will be made by Cleveland’s Garage and paid for by Montrose Motors.
Patton Wiedow passed his police testing and is now working two six-hour day shifts per week in Lanesboro. Part of each shift is spent at the school working with the principals and other faculty. Oakland has also added Patton to their staff as well.
The snowplow is starting to pay dividends financially. For the month of February, approximately $1,500 was spent on manpower, gas, insurance, and the truck payment. This represents about a $2,200 savings if the 71.5 hours worked were paid to a contractor, based on last year’s fee.
The Lindows are considering building a new home on Side Ave. Currently, there is no public sewer along Side Ave. The Lindows asked if the council would consider putting in a sewer main – it would allow for two other houses currently using on-lot septics to also be hooked up. After discussion, council will investigate pricing of extending the line to the properties in question. The cost of extending the line will need to be paid for by those hooking up to it. Maby will coordinate cost effort and provide an update at the next meeting, along with a report on the interest by the property owners.
Ace Cuevas contacted Maby requesting the council consider entering into an agreement with Susquehanna and possibly Oakland and the Tri-Boro Sewer Authority to secure a chipper through a state grant. There is no cost, and it would be available for all to use. A home for it has not yet been identified. After discussion, council agreed that a chipper would be useful. Motion carried for Cuevas to develop written agreement and provide to Maby for council to review, Maby to assist Cuevas in writing grant application if needed.
Code Enforcement – 4 messages, 1 condemnation proceeding (former Post Office) started.
Community Center – $475 in rent this month.
Police ordinance regarding patrols in Thompson (Bill) – ready with minor tweaks for advertising, will be ready for approval at next meeting. Thompson is reviewing their ordinance as well.
New building inspection company – Roberts met with Shane Lewis and Oakland representatives and Code Inspection Inc. to discuss using them as residential code inspectors in Lanesboro. Shane noted that Susquehanna has already signed a contract with them, and that he had positive feedback from calls to municipalities currently using them. The company has 14 inspectors in this region, with their local office in Dushore. After discussion including permits and fees, costs, and re-inspections, motion carried to sign a contract with Code Inspections Inc. for residential inspections only. Shane will continue to do commercial inspections until 2009.
Community Outing to B-Mets – tabled until April.
Potential new insurance carrier – tabled until April.
Shifting of municipal building to Dean Potter property (everyone) – need to have solicitor do a title search, appoint someone as negotiator with Dean.
Rental property ordinance – Wilkes has a copy of a rental property ordinance she would like to have Lanesboro consider using. She will make copies for everyone and distribute. This will be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
Public information packet and date – tentatively set for Sunday, April 8 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Ozzie Miller asked the council to consider realigning the end of Mountain Road and the intersection with Depot St. Harmony Township has received a grant for repairs to the road in Harmony Township, and better access is needed for the delivery trucks. If Lanesboro can make the arrangements with the property owner, Harmony Township is willing to donate the time, equipment, and material to do the work. He asked that he be given an update at the next meeting. Note: After the meeting, Boughton asked Maby to contact the property owner. Maby called – the property is in the process of being sold, with the transaction expected to be completed in late May to early June. The prospective owner is willing to get together and discuss the potential change ahead of time – Maby is lining up a meeting with the owner/s and representatives from Lanesboro and Harmony.
They were clearly unhappy about it, but, strapped for cash since last summer's flood, and having just signed loan papers for half a million dollars to help pay for the damage, at their meeting on March 11 the Harford Township Supervisors voted to lay off one of their workers, for an indefinite period.
Supervisor and Roadmaster Terry VanGorden announced the decision, which he said had been discussed with the employee in question. Mr. VanGorden said that the crew was currently in a "slow time," with little to do on the roads until the weather improves. He initially recommended a "temporary" layoff, but Rick Pisasik suggested that the motion be amended to leave the word out, implying that the layoff could continue indefinitely.
The township typically hires temporary help for the annual "cleanup" program, in June, which the Supervisors tentatively scheduled this year for the week of June 11 through 15. A price was not decided. However, the list of things they won't accept seems to grow longer each year. They won't take lumber or any rotten wood products, unbundled shingles, or paint. The latter, with other hazardous materials, can be dropped off at the county recycling center at specific times announced by the center. Tires will also be limited to automobile sizes. The cleanup is intended to help residents be rid of accumulations of mostly metal objects, like appliances, lawn furniture, plumbing, and even old vehicles. There is usually a fixed charge for a large pickup load.
The Supervisors appointed Mr. VanGorden as the township's agent to deal with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). The township recently applied for additional funds to cover the replacement of a bypass constructed around the washed-out bridge on Pennay Hill Road after the flood last June. The original bypass was covered by FEMA/PEMA, but itself washed out last Fall. Engineers are currently surveying the area in anticipation of replacing the bridge itself.
With the money borrowed to help deal with all this, the amount of money under the supervision of the township treasurer (Sue Furney, who is also secretary, and a Supervisor) is higher. Ms. Furney was directed to have her bond increased with the township's insurers.
Otherwise, there was no further news from the engineers on either the Pennay Hill Road project, or the one on Stearns Road, where the sluice at the outlet of Tingley Lake will probably have to be replaced. With the latest winter weather, the sewer engineer has not been able to mark the position of the sewer line in the area.
The township also received a letter from the Central Bradford Progress Authority (CBPA) encouraging Harford to participate in an "enterprise zone" initiative to promote commercial development. The CBPA, in cooperation with the state Department of Economic Development is sponsoring a successor to the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program of several years ago. The Supervisors decided to take the idea under advisement.
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.
The Forest City Regional Board of Education passed two motions last week that will allow district voters to decide whether or not the district should add another one percent to its current one-half percent earned income tax.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for the board to endorse the referendum. It just will not happen.
Most of those who will benefit from such a move are senior citizens, and the first board member to criticize the proposal was Dr. Henry Nebzydoski, who is the oldest member of the board and also a senior citizen.
Board President Al Dyno referred to the proposal as a “shift” from one tax collecting source (real estate tax) to a second source (earned income tax). And Director Fred Garm pointed out that should the referendum be defeated, the state still intends to inaugurate a real estate tax cut by sending school districts some of the revenue from the state’s newest industry – gambling.
No one on the board expressed any concern for the senior citizens, most of whom are paying sizeable school taxes and no longer have children attending school. Seniors who qualify will receive a $268 reduction in their school taxes if the referendum passes.
The board did put out a “non-legal interpretive statement” that points out if the majority of voters vote yes, residents of the Forest City Regional School District will pay an additional one percent earned income taxes to the school district to compensate for the loss the district would have in property taxes.
“If the majority of voters vote no,” the board’s handout reads, “no changes would occur to the school district’s portion of the earned income tax rate. Therefore, no local revenues would be available for property tax relief.”
It does not mean that the revenue generated by the added earned income tax will be given to those who qualify for property tax relief. It means that the school district will get an additional one percent in earned income tax to compensate for the reduction in the revenue generated by the real estate tax. The tax rebates to those who qualify will be paid by the state.
In another financial matter, the district will change the current weight room to a fitness center. School Superintendent Robert Vadella said the cost of the project would be about $18,000-$20,000. The board passed a motion authorizing the district to advertise for bids on the project.
Other motions passed by the board:
-approved the purchase of janitorial supplies from 11 different vendors at a total cost of $21,482.
-approved William O’Dell as a volunteer assistant to the varsity baseball team.
-accepted Michael Dyno Sr. as a volunteer assistant in the junior varsity baseball program.
-added Marie Peck and Brian J. Saslo to the list of substitute teachers.
-approved the use of the school on April 17 when the district will host the Regional Reading Competition. Dr. Vadella said some 750 students are expected to compete in the competition.
-acknowledged Nicole Mead as high school student of the month for February.
Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors, to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, on the second day of April, 9:00 a.m.
Apolacon Twp.: Joseph P. Fizzano, Sharron McGuigan.
Ararat Twp.: Tina Louise Beach.
Auburn Twp.: Wilma M. Dailey, Dale C. VanVolkinburg.
Bridgewater Twp.: David S. Andre, Lorna Hall, Ronald K. Smith.
Brooklyn Twp.: Elaine M. Ehrenberg, Kenneth P. Ely.
Clifford Twp.: Thomas L. Howell, Lois F. Howell, Natalia Janey, Lori Maskovsky, Patricia M. Moro, Mark Polednak.
Dimock Twp.: Melinda Sue Delousia, Casey L. Hitchcock.
Forest Lake Twp.: Michael Flynn.
Franklin Twp.: Sandra K. White.
Friendsville Boro: Laury E. Yoder.
Gibson Twp.: Daniel W. Frederici, Charles P. Stankevich.
Great Bend Boro: Doreen P. Moat.
Great Bend Twp.: Anita M. Elbrecht, Joseph Kovitch.
Hallstead Boro: Robin Findley.
Harford Twp.: Charles Burns, Samantha Daniels, Steven M. Glover, Jason P. Goble, John Revie.
Harmony Twp.: Priscilla R. Greene, David Lyons, Diana M. Mitchell, James A. A. Wademan.
Herrick Twp: Ronald Jones.
Hop Bottom Twp.: Daniel R. Litoski.
Jackson Twp.: Stephen Chichester, Blaine Detwiler, Mark Laubach.
Jessup Twp.: Gary A. Culver.
Lathrop Twp.: Elmer Beebe Jr., Michael Richner, Benjamin Stine, Cheryl Williams.
Montrose Boro 1W: Louise H. Shepherd.
Montrose Boro 2W: Rachel L. Carter.
New Milford Boro: Debbie J. Decker, Vonecile Phelps, Pamela Watts.
New Milford Twp.: Phillip D. Allen, George J. Debella, Bonnie Forthman, Laura Novak.
Oakland Boro: Susan J. Arthur, Daren Bishop, Clifford Nilsson, Michael Payne, Gary A. Wolf.
Rush Twp.: Kerry L. Decker, Gordon Moore, Terry Wescott.
Silver Lake Twp.: John Jones, Fawn Rosevear, Douglas Wiser.
Springville Twp.: Rosemary F. Cosner, Kimberly Lane, Linda Naylor.
Susquehanna Boro 1W: John Schell.
Susquehanna Boro 2W: Jeanine Collins, Evelyn E. Smith, Mary Travis.
Thompson Boro: Steve W. Winner.
Union Dale Boro: Terry J. Zigon.
The Blue Ridge School Board at its meeting on March 12 approved spending an additional $41,764.70 for the renovations to the High School entrance. The extra cost stems from change orders negotiated with the project's architect and contractors.
According to School Board President Alan Hall, who handed out the additional agenda item personally, the change orders resulted from inaccurate drawings of the school's original construction. At the entrance, the drawings indicated that footers were already in place. However, during demolition of the existing walkway, no footers were found. Similar issues were discovered with some electrical conduits, and at the loading dock.
Mr. Hall said that the school has "been fighting with this" for some time (the project was completed late last summer). He said that it is now clear that the original drawings can no longer be considered reliable. Business Manager Loren Small told the Board that these are the major additional expenses, although there may be a few more small ones.
The Board also gave final approval to a ballot question that will appear at the May 15 election. Required by last summer's Act 1 of 2006, the measure, if accepted by the voters, would, in the final wording of the question, impose "a personal income tax at 1%. The revenue generated from the tax will be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential properties for an amount that could range from $251 to $453 based on the rate of collection. This 1% personal income tax will impose a tax on salaries, wages, interest, dividends, commissions, bonuses, incentive payments, fees, tips, distributions, rentals, and other incomes."
The School Board would clearly prefer that the measure be rejected, which would leave things as they are now. That's why they listed all the income sources that would be subject to the new tax. In fact, during discussion, Mr. Hall insisted on adding "distributions" to discourage those who have income from early retirement lump-sum distributions, 401-K distributions and other such sources. The Board also added "rentals" so that landlords would be clear about their obligations under the proposed tax as well.
The referendum question is limited to 75 words, so there was some squeezing in order to come in under the limit. However, Mr. Hall said that the County Election Board has the prerogative of changing the wording to fit the question on the ballot.
Superintendent Robert McNamara said that a large percentage of taxable properties in the district would not qualify for the farmstead/homestead rebates because they are either commercial properties (including rentals), or vacation properties owned by persons living out of the area. That would tend to diminish the potential size of the rebates to homeowners living in the district.
In other business, the Board accepted the request of Carissa Stonier for assistance attending a National Young Leaders Conference in Washington this month. Ms. Stonier's allocation will come out of a $500 fund created each year for such purposes.
Brian Lewis and Joe Conigliaro each requested $85 to cover the application fee for attendance at a camp called Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), at Lycoming College. Most of the cost of the camp is borne by Pennsylvania businesses. Transportation is provided by parents. The $170 approved at the request of High School Principal John Manchester is not in the budget, but Mr. McNamara said that it would come from the Activities account "in lieu of something else."
The Board approved next year's school calendar, but it did occasion some discussion, since it goes a week longer than this year. Mr. McNamara said that some additional "in- service" time scheduled at the beginning of the year, and conflicts with the Harford Fair, were the major reasons for the difference. He also noted the agitation in the state for regulations requiring the school year to begin after Labor Day.
Outgoing Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz said that kindergarten registrations for next year are pacing last year, although formal registration does not begin until April.
Mr. Dietz also remarked the increasing proliferation of public service groups attempting to solicit in the schools. "They are really coming after the schools," he said. He said he turns down most such requests, but wanted the Board to be aware of the issue.
Mr. Dietz also announced that the next movie night would be March 30, although the movie to be shown has not yet been selected.
Mr. Hall reported savings of some 43.5% by using wood chips to help heat the buildings on campus. He said that last year the district is estimated to have saved about $59,000 by burning wood chips over fuel oil.
The business meeting was followed by a brief workshop. Mr. Hall wanted to further examine the High School budget, in particular the "other objects" accounts that appeared to him to constitute a "slush fund" in each area.
Mr. Manchester said that his budget was prepared based on realistic projections from faculty and staff. Mr. Hall was concerned that actual expenditures in prior years in some areas aren't even close to budgeted figures. He said that he recognizes that "overall you guys [administrators] have done a great job" controlling the budget. But now he wants to get "inside" the budget, down to more detailed levels. He said that the coming year would allow the business office and the schools to coordinate expenditures better so that there would be a better match between the budget and what shows up in audit reports.
The next Blue Ridge School Board meeting will be a budget workshop, on March 26, at which the overall budget will be examined. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m., and are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Flooding, past and imminent, was on everyone’s minds on March 15 when the Hallstead Boro Council met for their regular meeting. Earlier that day, flood warnings had been issued due to ice caps breaking up in the Susquehanna River; reports were that there was already flooding in areas in Conklin, just to the north of the boro, and that some evacuations were already underway. On this evening, some eight months after the June flooding and four months after November’s, dealing with its aftermath took a front seat as council continued to deal with repairs to the Route 11 park, caused by flooding.
Specs for repairs to the park had been drawn up using FEMA guidelines and would be put out to bid, to be opened at the April 18 meeting, covering replacement of the pavilion, the restroom, the basketball court and asphalt as soon as weather conditions allow. Bids for topsoil will be put out once this work has been done, and replacement equipment (swings, picnic tables, etc.) will be ordered now so that they can be put in as soon as the work is complete.
What to do with the trees and brush that need to be disposed of, as well as some buildings at the ballpark across the road that need to come down, was the next question. Council will contact the local fire companies to see if they would be willing to burn it, if the debris can be put in a central location at both sites.
With the recent thaw, there had been a problem with runoff on Old Route 11, possibly caused by a crushed pipe and/or a blocked drain that council will look into.
With significant snowfall expected the following day, council made plans for the plowing that would follow.
Complaints discussed were a property with an accumulation of garbage; the resident had been sent a letter giving thirty days to clean it up. And, a continuing parking problem where vehicles have been parked on the sidewalk, impairing sight distance at the intersection of Pine and Church. A warning letter sent to the responsible parties was reportedly ignored. After discussion, it was agreed to contact PennDOT and the State Police, as the situation involves a state road.
Correspondence received included a letter from Resource Environmental Management, regarding the A & E Automotive property, stating that a final report has been submitted to the Dept. of Environmental Protection, indicating that the remediation performed has attained compliance with the Statewide Health cleanup standard.
Council also received a letter from county District Attorney Jason Legg, urging that council consider participating in a feasibility study COG has arranged, to determine the viability of regionalized police services. The study is being conducted by the Governor’s Center For Local Government Services, and will be at no cost to participating municipalities. Mr. Legg’s letter stated that he feels strongly about the need for additional police services in the county and would appreciate the boro’s participation. After discussion, council agreed that they would participate, and would forward information to the boro’s Emergency Management Coordinator, who would be the contact person for information.
Another letter was from the Central Bradford Progress Authority, requesting that council send them an Enterprise Zone authorizing resolution. As council had discussed previous requests and had decided not to get involved, no action was taken. Council’s feeling was that there were a limited number of properties that would apply.
And, an on-site monitoring visit was conducted by PennDOT regarding a Liquid Fuels Tax Fund audit performed by the Auditor General’s staff for the period covering January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2005. The audit found a discrepancy in the amount of one dollar and recommended that the fund balance be adjusted on the year 2006 MS-965 submission.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 19, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
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