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The Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners, in cooperation with the county fire chiefs and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, District 11, have issued a resolution for a temporary ban on open burning in Susquehanna County from 12:01 p.m. Saturday, April 21 to 11:59 a.m. Sunday, May 20.
Open burning is defined as the burning of any combustible material, such as garbage, leaves, grass, twigs, litter, paper, vegetative matter from clearing land or any sort of debris, either in a burn barrel or on the ground. Controlled burning by fire departments is allowed under this resolution. Fire department personnel and apparatus must be at the site of the burn. Propane grills, gas stoves, charcoal briquette grills and the use of tobacco in any form is not covered under this act.
The resolution makes a violation of the open burning ban a summary offense, punishable by fines of up to $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $300 for the third offense. The act is enforced by local and state police officers.
Mark Wood, Susquehanna County EMA Coordinator said that in order to have a burn ban, at least 50% of the county fire chiefs must make the request. Wood said that there are eighteen fire companies in Susquehanna County; ten of those fire chiefs made the request. Even with rain and some snow in the forecast, we have had an easy winter and the ground is dry. The fire companies are looking out for the safety of the residents in their communities.
If you should have any questions regarding the burn ban please contact the fire chief of your local fire company.
While not exactly "the shot heard 'round the world" of the earlier American Revolution, the Mountain View School Board did send a very similar message to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding the unfairness of the Act 1 tax reform measure, and the need to re-visit changing the property tax. At the April 9Mountain View School Board meeting the Board members present acted upon the resolution urging the repeal of Act 1. The vote was unanimous in favor.
The resolution, titled, "A Resolution Urging the Repeal of Act 1 & Enactment of True Property Tax Reform," came originally from the Tunkhannock School District, according to Board President James Zick. Severe language in the resolution states, "The Pennsylvania Legislature is unable to carry out its Constitutional responsibilities and is crippling school districts and property owners through its inaction on true property tax reform." The resolution further claims that Act 1 does not provide true tax reform and lists the faults of Act 1. These include "disproportionate rebates" which would be distributed in a "discriminatory manner" and are not "distributed equitably within or among school districts… favoring major cities over the balance of the state".
The "shift to a higher local earned income tax… does not solve inequitable funding across all school districts." Additionally, "Act 1 exacerbates funding inequities" which "result in the greatest reductions to school districts where the tax burden is the least and the smallest reductions… to districts where the tax burden is the greatest."
The Board ends the resolution by "strongly" urging the Pennsylvania Legislature to "immediately repeal Act 1" and "calls on the Pennsylvania Legislature … to begin work on true property tax reform."
Until – or if – repeal of Act 1 happens, the School Board is preparing for the implementation of Act 1 installment real estate payments. Ms. Jennifer Stone, Business Manager for the School District, attended informational sessions presented by the county. She gave a power point illustration of the different aspects of complying with Act 1, including showing the possible dates and procedures for the new tax system. Ms. Stone started with the "traditional" dates taxes are due. The three separate dates for the discount rate (for paying early), the face rate and penalty rate (for paying late) are currently 8/31, 10/31, and 12/31, respectively. For installment taxpayers only, Susquehanna County is suggesting 9/15, 10/15, and 11/15 dates by which the installments need to be paid. Individual school boards are allowed to set these dates as they see fit.
Dates are only some of the proposed changes. Currently only approved Homestead or Farmstead taxpayers can pay in installments. Missing a payment, late fees, notifying the county of taxpayers who became ineligible, are just some of the details to be worked out. Specifics regarding possible computer updates for tax collectors, and possible uniform format reporting by tax collectors still need to be answered. Ms. Stone provided numbers showing that approximately 2,000 Mountain View School District taxpayers may be eligible for the Homestead/Farmstead installment plan. There are approximately 5,950 real estate tax bills the school district processes. This shows that only a little over one-third of the taxpayers in the school district would benefit from the installment plan as now designed.
After Ms. Stone's presentation, Dr. Andrew Chichura, Acting Superintendent, stated that the transition to Act 1, if implemented would result in the school district not getting "its monies" on time and would disturb the budget process. This would be in part due to lateness of payment, installment scheduling and other imprecise factors that still need to be resolved.
In a related matter, Dr. Chichura said he had received a letter from most of the tax collectors requesting an increase in their reimbursement, due to the installment program. The tax collectors could not identify their exact needs at this time, and Dr. Chichura said he thought their letter was "premature" at this juncture, until the school board had voted on the installment plan, and until Act 1 itself was implemented.
Following a comment from a member of the public about the cost and quality of the yearbook, Board President James Zick stated, "There will be a lot of discussion" about the yearbook for this year and next.
Code of conduct, code of honor, law code, building code, code enforcement… all relate to acting by definite rules or following procedure and regulations. Building code enforcement is based on solid standards, set by the community and by government. Translating the law and the standards is the job of the code enforcement officer, and overseen by a municipality's governing body. Such is the case in New Milford, where code enforcement is an ongoing endeavor, a process that involves the Borough Council, the public and the code enforcement officer. Much discussion around this topic occurred at the New Milford Borough Council meeting on April 5.
Acting President Jim Carr dealt with a laundry list of code issues, from sidewalks being blocked by parked cars to junk cars to condemnation of a building. The information presented about the blockage of the sidewalks led to a question if the Borough could re-coup the costs, i.e. salary and expenses of the code enforcement officer, in citing the offending parties. Apparently there is no language in the borough ordinance to recover such costs and the only recourse is to ask the magistrate to render a decision to include such expenses. In the past such an action has been denied even if the offender has been found guilty. Councilman Rick Ainey suggested that the ordinance covering this issue be changed so that the Borough could charge violators and levy a monetary fine covering costs.
A question from the public asked why the Cosmello junkyard was granted a permit to continue to operate when the owners were still in non-compliance for code. The required fence has not been completed, and according to many residents present, the situation has been going on for years. Councilwoman Teri Gulick replied the owner is putting up fence, but it is going slowly. Another member of the audience wanted to know who granted the permit, and Councilman Rick Ainey responded that he thought the code enforcement officer, Mike Dopko, has the authority to issue such a permit. There was a general discussion between the Council and the public about the rightness of granting a permit to a business who is still in violation. It was pointed out to the Council that an extension was granted to Cosmello's in August, 2006 for meeting the requirements to come into code. According to Mayor Joe Taylor, the junkyard renews its permit yearly and has done so for many years, despite being cited for not having an adequate fence. Amy Hine, Council Secretary, looked up previous permit issuances and the ordinance does state the Council should vote on such permits. Council minutes showed that in the recent past, the permit has been granted without Council voting on it, leaving the decision to the code enforcement officer. Councilman Ainey called for a motion that the Council return the permit to Mike Dopko, the enforcement officer, for clarification regarding the fence, and if the Council is not in agreement with Mr. Dopko's decision, that they not ratify the permit. The motion was passed.
The Council did agree with Mr. Dopko's assessment of the building at 18 Montrose Street, and would follow his recommendation for condemnation of the property, with a notice of violation to the owner stating that the owner has thirty days to either fix the property to meet the code standards or tear down the structure.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, Tom Smith of the New Milford Fire Department requested that the new siren the Ladies Auxiliary gave to the borough be "put back in action," as the new pagers often don't go off or half the volunteers don't get the page. The siren could be wired to go over telephone wires to the Command Center, and different tones could be arranged for different emergencies. The Council approved, with the stipulation that the Fire Company notify the residents of the borough, either through a newsletter or an insert in the sewer bills.
Eleanor Lempke asked the Council about sidewalk improvement. She had researched funding for such a project, and had found there were grants. She supported better sidewalks as a businesswoman and president of the Endless Mountains Business Association. Acting President Jim Carr and Councilman Rick Ainey both said that the Council had already proceeded to apply for the grants Ms. Lempke had mentioned and were awaiting results. Council President Scott Smith, having arrived later in the evening, said the Borough Council had been "setting aside" monies each year to help with the cost. He asked Amy Hine, Council Secretary, the cost of the proposed sidewalk improvement, and she replied that it was estimated at just under one million dollars, including curbs.
Councilwoman Teri Gulick proposed the old school on Church Street that now houses businesses, be re-zoned commercial. At Councilman Rick Ainey's suggestion, she will get maps showing the area and current zoning to present to the Council at the next meeting.
Acting President Jim Carr wanted to discuss speed bumps for the Mid-Town Park, as well as possibly changing traffic flow patterns to ease or eliminate speeding in that area. The borough's insurance company will only allow temporary speed bumps to be placed. Discussion about a traffic study ensued, and PennDOT will be contacted about the proposed study.
Earl Carter (estate) to John C. Pickens, Philadelphia, in Auburn Township for $112,000.
Charles Lindner, Shirley Lindner to Charles Lindner, Moscow, PA, in Apolacon Township for one dollar.
Kirk C. Silvester, James Silvester (by trustee), Kelly Silvester (by trustee) to Joseph DiMartino, Kingsley, Valentina Yudicheva, in Brooklyn Township for $145,000.
Elk Lake School District to Benjamin L. Gregory, Montrose, in Dimock Township for $165,000.
Clark C. Bush, Barbara M. Bush to Valentine Likhov, Allentown, Tatyana Likhov, in Springville Township for $171,000.
Jean Kaufman (estate), Peter Handl, Nancy Handl to Peter Handl, Meshoppen, Nancy Handl, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
TNT Partnership, Timothy M. Smith (tdba) Thomas J. Bolles (tdba) to TNT 1 Limited Partnership, Montrose, TNT Partnership of PA (nbm), in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Janice M. Kienzler, Dennis Whitney, Donald S. Benedict, Marion Ellen Whitney, William A. Benedict, Catherine R. Benedict to Jesse R. Benedict, RR2, New Milford, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Marion Lindsey to Martin Lindsey, Susquehanna Depot, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.
Maurice Aubree, Anna T. Fisco Aubree to Anthony W. Castellano, Fresh Meadow, NY, in Forest Lake Township for $50,000.
Allen H. Kohler, Patricia E. Kohler to Allen H. Kohler, RR3, Susquehanna, Patricia E. Kohler, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Monica M. Degnan to Joseph L. Bodnar, Maplewood, NJ, Mary Bodnar, in New Milford Township for $90,000 (corrective deed).
Ante Vidaic, Mirjana Vidaic, Mark Vidaic, Peter Vidaic, Elvis Bulic, Vanessa Bulic, to Ante Vidaic, Fair Lawn, NJ, Mirjana Vidaic, Mark W. Vidaic, Peter Vidaic, Vanessa Bulic, in Rush Township for ten dollars.
Gerald B. Sullivan, Jeanne M. Sullivan to Anthony McGuire, East Hampton, NY, Renee McGuire, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Gerald B. Sullivan, Jeanne M. Sullivan to Gerald B. Sullivan, RR3, Montrose, Jeanne M. Sullivan, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Ken Bagwell, Jacqueline Bagwell to George Deckers, East Durham, NY, in Herrick Township for $100.
George E. Coleman III to George E. Coleman III (trust) Bordentown, NY, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Frederick J. Bentler (aka) Fred Bentler to Lisa Bentler, RR3, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Charles M. Pierson, Regina M. Pierson to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Harrisburg, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Joseph L. Honney to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Harrisburg, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Michael Darling, Tammy Darling to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Dunmore, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Virginia A. Naylor to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Dunmore, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Edward B. Lathrop, Mary E. Lathrop to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Dunmore, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Edwin Shinn, Jr., Denise Shinn to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Dunmore, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Charles B. Latwinski to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Dunmore, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (by attorney) to Charles W. Godshall, Quakertown, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Joseph M. Barry, Becky L. Wall-Barry to Joseph M. Barry, RR2, Montrose, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Ray M. Ellinger, Kathleen L. Ellinger to Michael T. Masters, RR4, Montrose, in Rush Township for $63,000.
William R. Roberts, Jeannine Keefer to Lanesboro Borough, Lanesboro, in Lanesboro Borough for one dollar.
Marie L. Shimer to Roger Shimer, RR5, Montrose, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Marie L. Shimer to Melvin W. Shimer, Bonner Shimer, RR5, Montrose, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Kenneth Wescott, Lena M. Wescott to Jason K. Wescott, RR1, Hallstead, Valerie S. Wescott, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Nancy Brozonis Johnson, Garry Johnson to Christopher M. Stephens, RR3, Laceyville, Angie J. Stephens, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Dorothy M. Graham (estate, aka) Dorothy Graham (estate) to John F. Urciuoli, RR1, Lawton, Connie J. Urciuoli, in Rush Township for $207,000.
Joseph E, DeGroff (estate) to Mary E. DeGroff, RR1, Nicholson, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Thomas B. Zuzik, Elaine H. Zuzik, to Pocono Ridge Realty LLC, Aiken, SC in Dimock Township for $565,000.
Edward Tunilo, Elizabeth B. Tunilo to Tunilo Family Trust, RD2, New Milford, in Bridgewater Township for ten dollars.
Stephen Allen Orzecheroski and Ame S. Jalil, both of Endicott, NY.
Hayden George Brunges and Miranda Leighaner Boner, both of Dimock.
Jack Arthur Welfel, Forest City, Sloane Anne Quinnan, RR, Forest City.
ONE CAR CRASH
On April 10, James Deuel of Montrose was traveling northbound on SR 0167 in Bridgewater Twp. He was negotiating a left curve in the road when a blue vehicle traveling Southbound crossed the double yellow lines, forcing him off the roadway where he struck a rock. Deuel was transported to Montrose Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Sometime between the 1st of January and the 11th of April items were stolen from a truck belonging to Brett McEwen of Susquehanna. A truck battery, military gas mask, and miscellaneous tools were taken during this incident.
On April 10, during the service of a warrant, police found Kimberly Rought-Forentino of Montrose area to be in possession of suspected narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Rought-Forentino was charged with violations of PA CSDDCA.
On April 9, Thomas Kordish of Factoryville was traveling west on SR 0374. Kordish failed to stop at a posted stop sign at the intersection with SR0092. His vehicle then traveled off of the roadway, striking an embankment and a stone wall.
On April 6, Pump and Pantry Security saw one or more persons in a Blue PT Cruiser removing “no parking” signs from the ground near the parking area of the Family Affair Consignment shop in New Milford, PA.
On April 7, at around 2:15 a.m., an unknown male smashed the glass doors at the main entrance to the Rushboro General Store Inc. in Auburn Twp. and removed money from within. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
A backhoe being stored on SR 3010 at Lathrop Rd in Dimock Twp was burned. The backhoe was being used for repairs to the bridge at that location. The incident occurred between 4:30 p.m. on March 30 and 1 a.m on. March 31.
On April 2, approximately 500 lbs. of scrap copper was removed from the property of David Biesecker in Gibson. The unknown perpetrator(s) then fled the scene.
On April 1, a 17 year-old male from Carbondale caused an accident in Clifford Township. After entering SR 0247 at the intersection of Crystal Park Blvd, he turned right and attempted to go South on that roadway. He was driving a 2007 Pontiac SUV. At that time Scott Dottle, also of Carbondale, was traveling North on the same road on a 1989 Harley Davidson motorcycle. The unknown male crossed over the center line and entered the Northbound lane, striking the motorcycle. Dottle sustained major injuries, though he was wearing a helmet. Both the driver of the SUV and his passenger, Jason Sheare of Carbondale, reported minor injuries. The unnamed juvenile driver is suspected of DUI. The investigation is continuing.
On March 31, Edward Hutchins of Tunkhannock and Kenny Gassaway of Meshoppen became disruptive and verbally violent at a charity basketball tournament held at Montrose High School in Bridgewater Twp. Charges are pending at this time for violations of PACC.
On April 2, Michael Pompey of Nicholson was driving a dump truck West on SR0374 when he lost a part of his load. Edward Kozlowski of Uniondale was driving behind him, and his vehicle was struck by some of this material. Neither man was injured, though Kozlowski's vehicle sustained minor damage.
It may seem strange coming on the heels of the weather Mother Nature sent our way these past few days, but a countywide burn ban will go into effect here at 12:01 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 and continue until 11:59 a.m. on May 20.
At last week’s meeting, the Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution calling for the burn ban and Mark Wood, county EMA Coordinator, thanked the board for it. He said in order to enact an open burning ban, at least 50 percent of the fire chiefs in the county must make the request.
“There are 18 fire companies in Susquehanna County,” Wood said, “and 10 of those fire chiefs made the request. Even with the rain and snow we recently received, we have had an easy winter and the ground is dry. The fire chiefs are looking out for the safety of the residents in their communities.”
Wood described open burning as the burning, either in a burn barrel or on the ground, of any combustible material, such as garbage, leaves, grass, twigs, litter, paper, vegetative matter from land clearing, or any sort of debris.
The resolution provides for a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third offense. Wood said the resolution will be enforced by state and local police officers. Items not covered by the burn ban include propane grills, gas stoves, charcoal briquette grills and the use of tobacco in any form.
In 2006, authorities issued summonses to seven violators, all of whom were fined.
Another resolution adopted by the commissioners requests Congress to amend federal regulations to allow federal financial participation for medical benefits to incarcerated individuals until they are convicted and sentenced.
The commissioners also adopted two resolutions. The first proclaims the week of April 22 as the Week of the Young Child in Susquehanna County, and the second proclaims May 9 as Early Learning Practitioner Appreciation Day in the county.
Five members of the county’s Tourism Committee were reappointed to one-year terms. They are Michele Suchnick of Hallstead, Eleanor Lempke of New Milford, Sandy Conklin of Susquehanna, Kim Ross of Union Dale, and, Al Aronowitz of New Milford. Deborah McNamee of Susquehanna is a new appointee to the committee.
The commissioners ratified the hiring of Michelle Hillard of Meshoppen to the open, part-time position of deputy sheriff. She will work 16 hours a week at $9.70 an hour with no benefits; and Danielle Dalton of Montrose to a fulltime position as intake officer in the Domestic Relations Department at a starting hourly rate of $8.20 and benefits if she successfully completes six months’ probation period.
Meeting as the Salary Board, the commissioners eliminated the fulltime maintenance supervisor position at the county jail, as recommended by the county Jail Board.
The Salary Board also increased the starting salary for a fulltime, non-union, deputy warden at the jail from $28,000 to $32,500. The move came after advertising the position failed to produce any applicants.
Commissioner Jeff Loomis, chair of the Jail Board, said the increase will enable a new deputy warden to earn more than the correction officers at the jail. He added that some corrections officers were interested in applying for the position but they would be losing money with a $28,000 annual starting salary.
The Salary Board also boosted the annual salary of Deputy Warden Nick Conigliaro from $31,154 to $34,500, on a recommendation from the Jail Board.
Clifford Township residents stand side-by-side and put their shoulders to the wheel when it comes to projects that will promote the township. Not so, however when the township supervisors have a proposal in front of them that could benefit a few residents while costing the entire township a lot of money.
Such is the case of a plan to provide sewage service in the Dundaff/Crystal Lake areas of the township. If everything doesn't fall in place, the plan could cost the township a bundle of greenbacks and might even threaten the township’s envious position of having one of the lowest municipal real estate tax rates in the Commonwealth.
This means that $1.9 million in grant money pledged to the sewer project by the federal government must be reserved for the township while the supervisors continue to debate over the value of the project when compared with the cost. It also means that Ed Rendell or someone in Harrisburg has got to make a sizeable financial commitment to the cause.
To date, state officials have promised nominal amounts of money and are showing no signs of increasing the pledge. Likewise, township residents are reluctant to pump a lot of money into the project that many of them believe can only benefit neighboring Greenfield Township. The township’s sewer project includes pumping the sewage from Dundaff and Clifford’s share of Crystal Lake to the Greenfield sewage treatment plant off Route 247 near Newton Lake.
The last meeting of the township supervisors continued to show spasms of dissention among the taxpayers in the audience, and even among the supervisors. And, while the meeting did not get rowdy, thanks to the refereeing of Chair John Regan, it did show why the project has been on the drawing board for almost five years with little or no progress being made.
At last week’s meeting, it was difficult to tell the pros from the cons, perhaps because residents who will be directly affected by the project were debating one another. And some speakers appeared to be totally ambiguous, as if they were lacking the nerve to announce what side of the fence they were on.
Supervisor Randy LaCroix kicked off the discussion when he told his fellow supervisors that township residents are anxious to find out what is going to become of the project. LaCroix also expressed concern that the federal government may withdraw the pledge of $1.9 million to the project. Later in the meeting, LaCroix said if the township does not go forward with the project, it will have a debt to pay.
Supervisor Dennis Knowlton said the township’s debt could exceed $2 million. He said the money the township will need to borrow could exceed a $2 million dollar bracket.
A woman in the audience said the idea of installing sewers in Clifford is not new. She said it actually began in 1990.
A gentleman in the audience said rumors that it would cost a homeowner more than $13,000 to tie into the sewer system are not true. His remark prompted another man to comment that it will cost a lost more than $15,000.
“This is like a divorce where there are three sides,” Regan said, “his side, her side and the untruths.”
Another woman suggested that anywhere you stand outside in Dundaff, the odor is terrible. Her comment prompted an add-on from a woman who said there are a large number people in the township that don’t even have septic tanks.
Almost overshadowed by the audience was a comment from Regan that the township’s engineer on the project, Dave Klepadlo, may resign. After the meeting, Klepadlo said he had threatened to quit but he has not submitted a letter of resignation.
Klepadlo appears to be frustrated with the lack of action by the township supervisors. He said the township has received a letter from the federal government advising it to reach a decision on the sewer project or rescind it.
During the meeting, Regan also made reference to the federal letter. He said the township has 30 days to make up its mind whether or not to proceed with the sewer project.
In other financial matters, the supervisors announced that the federal government has appropriated $12,500 for new doors on the new township building He said the bid came in at $15,700 but the township will not have any financial liability.
The local watershed committee requested a letter of support from the Great Bend Township Supervisors, to be included with an application for funding for a study of Dubois Creek, from its start to the Susquehanna River, to identify problem areas and estimate costs of addressing them. The supervisors readily carried a motion to furnish the letter at their April 9 meeting. The watershed committee is working with a New York State consultant, who is assessing the beginning of Trowbridge Creek, which has its start in New York. The committee is seeking the support of other groups for a study of Salt Lick Creek, a much bigger project.
George Haskins thanked the supervisors for the opportunity to serve the township, but, due to other commitments, he tendered his resignation as an on-call worker for the township. His resignation was accepted with regret, and he was thanked for his service to the township.
The township has received an additional 80¢ per acre for fixed charges in lieu of taxes for the 2006-07 fiscal year for the state game lands. It amounts to just over $5,800 more than had been anticipated.
Bids for the sale of the F800 truck will be opened at the May 7 meeting, as will (road) material bids.
During the previous month, an assessment permit was issued to C. Thomas and Janet Dayton for a pole barn, and a permit from DEP for small non-coal operations was issued to Herbert Kilmer.
A motion carried to enact ordinance No. 62, relating to the creation of maintenance agreements between the township and property owners for certain sewage treatment systems with estimated sewage flows of 800 gallons per day or less.
A minor subdivision plan for David and Carol Clemens was approved, as was a commercial land development plan for Frank and Christy Benacquisto.
DEP has approved the Exxon station’s site characterization and remedial action completion report, following a minor gas spill that had happened some time ago.
Correspondence included invitations from the Central Bradford Progress Authority to attend announcement of the newly designated “Enterprise Zone; the annual NTRPDC meeting; the annual Susquehanna/Wyoming County equipment show; municipal EMC quarterly training.
The county will be sponsoring its annual waste tire collection, pre-registration is required.
Motions carried to authorize supervisor(s) attendance of the Susquehanna County Township Officials spring meeting and to donate $200 to the Summer Adventures children’s program.
The Joan Long hearing had been scheduled for March 23, but was continued until April 3, and continued again to April 24.
And, there has been no apparent progress in cleanup of the Old Route 11 property owned by Summerville Land Development; two notices have been sent.
The next meeting will be on Monday, May 7, 7 p.m. in the township building.
The relatively short April 11 New Milford Township Supervisors’ meeting dealt largely with permits and subdivisions. There were a few other matters discussed, however, including talk of a campground and the benefits of a new mower.
Scott Young, owner of the East Lake camp, approached the Township with some requests. He respectfully requested that lots #1-45 be allowed to open for the start of the season in May, stating that these were in accordance with required standards. He also requested that lots #46-65 be allowed to open, non-sewered. To facilitate this he offered to let the SEO set up a schedule to come and check the flow meter, at the township's convenience. The supervisors said, when asked for clarification after the meeting, that this really is not within their jurisdiction anymore and will have to be handled by the courts.
B & S Quarries, located within the township, have received their large mining permit. This will enable them to crush stone after removing it so that there is no waste on the site and they can sell the crushed stone. They also sent the Township a proposed blasting schedule. Blasting would occur between 8 and 6, weather permitting.
Additionally, three subdivisions and one small non-coal mining permit were mentioned, some of which had been discussed at the last meeting as well. The Butternut subdivision was approved, so long as they comply with the Sewage Facility Act. The Scarlet Oak subdivision, which lies mostly in Great Bend, has also received approval, as has a Living Trust Subdivision along SR 11 for Chester Groover.
Finally, the supervisors discussed putting out to bid for a tractor with a boot mower. They are thinking to purchase one rather than leasing, which has been done in the past. Leasing is expensive, requires work to be concentrated around the machine during the time it is leased, and runs the risk of useless expense due to bad weather. The current township tractor is, it was said, getting old and “tired.”
A number of Forest City Regional School District students distinguished themselves recently in the regional competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. Seven of them walked away from the competition with first awards and four were honored with second awards.
The Board of Education paid tribute to the success of the 11 students and wished the seven first place award winners success when they journey to Penn State to participate in the state competition May 20, 21 and 22.
First Award Winners from Forest City Regional included: Chemistry, Kelsey Pazanski, grade 12; Danielle Nebzydoski, grade 11; and, Logan Fitzsimmons, grade 7; Biology, Amanda White, grade 12 and Katie Zefran, grade 7; Ecology, Jacklyn Smith, grade 10; and, Zoology, Anthony Vadala, grade 7.
Second Award Winners were: Biology, Cheryl Hunsberger, grade 10; Mitchel Goben, grade 8; and, Jenna Lucchesi, grade 7; Chemistry, Courtney Andrews, grade 7.
The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science is a statewide organization of junior and senior high school students designed to stimulate and promote interest in science among its members through the development of research projects and investigations.
Two other high school students were recognized for their sports talent. For their award-winning efforts, Justin Pisarcik and Jonathon Chesnick will participate in the UNICO National All-Star Soccer Cup Game to be held at Scranton Memorial Stadium on June 2.
Patricia Chesnick, transportation director, reported that bus evacuation drills were completed in March in compliance with a state directive that calls for such drills in September and March. Mrs. Chesnick further reported that the district has held six fire drills and needs three more this school year to comply with state requirements.
Ken Swartz, elementary school principal, said the school had three winners in the “Write and Illustrate Your Own Picture Book Contest” sponsored by the Susquehanna County Library.
The first place winner in the kindergarten division was Maggie Kowalewski with her book, Buddy and Maggie; second place honors went to Jordan Coles with her book, The Car; and third place in the kindergarten class was Katie Nebzydoski with her book, The Rose and The Daisy.
In the fourth grade division, Tyler Butler took third place with his book, The Brave Knight.
Motions passed by the board:
Approved the 2007/08 contract between the district and NEIU 19 at a cost of $144,468, for special education services.
Approved the appointment of Matthew Georgetti as a technology intern until May 8, 2007.
Added Melissa Schmitt and Kristin Mountauredes to the support staff substitute list for the balance of the school year, pending receipt of clearance on both of them.
Much of the April 12 meeting of the Oakland Boro Council was spent discussing specifics for the new boro garage. All agreed that two of the three bays should be heated, and one should be equipped with water for cleaning the equipment, especially during winter to prevent salt damage. Also agreed on were restroom facilities. Detailed specs will be prepared before it is put out to bid.
Some codes inspections will be resumed once the weather breaks, one violation has shown some improvement, and a contempt of court proceeding has begun against another.
During the month of February, two police patrols took place, during which traffic stops were conducted. An illegally parked vehicle has been moved. There was no news yet about a grant application for equipment.
Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Dudley had attended a hazard mitigation meeting held the previous evening and gave council an update. FEMA requires that all municipalities have a hazard mitigation plan in place; those that do not comply will not receive future emergency funding, whether it be for a municipality or an individual homeowner. Council agreed that having a plan in place is worthwhile, and approved a letter of intent for FEMA that must be submitted by April 23. Once the plan itself is in place, it would need to be updated every five years. As part of the process, the boro also needs to identify areas of concern that should be addressed to deter future flood damage. Items all agreed that should be included on this list are raising the well heads at the water pump station, raising the electrical box at the station, and the boro’s drainage system. Identifying these areas does not involve a commitment on the boro’s part to address them, merely acknowledges that the problems exist. A motion carried to proceed with filing the paperwork.
A rental agreement is being negotiated with the operator of the hydro electric plant, for the old boro garage at the site. Council will get an appraisal to determine what a fair market value of the lease is.
The county Housing Authority is in the process of preparing plans for building on the old school/boro building property. Nothing has been definitely decided yet; a finalized plan will be presented to council before work starts, which should begin some time this year.
The State St. sidewalk project will be going out to bid in May, with construction expected to be done this year. The State St. sewer project is not expected to begin until some time in 2008.
Discussion continued on enacting an ordinance to regulate outdoor furnaces. Given the close proximity of most homes, the reluctant consensus was that some regulation is needed. A sample ordinance was given to council members to review; any recommended changes will be discussed further.
Midnite Romance, an apparel company that operates in the former Matis factory, has been being charged for four water usage fees. Council agreed that this was not equitable, as there are only 13 employees, and their only water usage is for restrooms. As there are other businesses in the boro that conceivably use more water that are only being charged one fee, it was agreed to reduce their charges to one.
The new owner of a burned out property inquired if the boro would “settle” an old water lien on the property, nearly $1,500, for $600. After discussion, it was agreed that the lien should stand.
The owner of a State St. property approached a council member regarding plans to put in a “dumping station” for campers on a lot that measures 60 by 120 feet. Other plans mentioned were to put two mobile homes on the lot. This brought about a discussion about having a boro planning commission in place. As it stands, the county planning commission would inform the boro of any plans that are in progress, but it was felt that having a boro commission would give council more say on what development takes place within the boro. It was agreed to proceed with forming a commission.
The roller motor had been damaged by last spring’s flooding, and had to be replaced, cost $450.
In anticipation of the new sidewalks the boro will be getting, council is working on a sidewalk maintenance ordinance.
And, a letter has been sent to the owner of a property where a tree is leaning dangerously, and a letter will be sent to the owner of a burned out house, requesting that it be secured.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 10, 7 p.m. in the Lanesboro Community Center.
At their April 10 meeting, Susquehanna Boro Council took a few moments to congratulate fellow member Mike Matis on the recent birth of his son, Matthew.
Shane Lewis submitted his resignation from council, effective immediately, as he has sold his home and has moved out of the boro. A motion carried to accept with regret. Council will accept letters of interest until the next meeting.
Mr. Lewis said that he intends to stay involved with the Elm Street committee, and that he would be willing to stay on to work with the new CEO, Glenn Collier, through the end of the year as the budget permits. A motion carried to approve.
Mayor Reddon reported that the Vascar has been installed in the police car and was calibrated by YIS/Cowden Group. The mayor said that YIS would be willing to come to the boro every three months to do the calibration (required by law), and at a lower price than the concern the boro has been using, which required an officer to take the equipment to them. A motion carried to approve using YIS. The boro police will be hosting Vascar training in May.
Three bids for street paving were opened, for Center Lane and several other smaller sections. Low bid was received from Broome Bituminous, in the amount of $33,558. A motion carried to accept.
Plans for the annual spring cleanup are in progress. Tentative dates for scrap metal pickup are May 2, 3 and 4, and there will be a schedule of street cleaning. Flyers will be distributed so that residents can be aware of when vehicles need to be removed from the streets.
At the recommendation of the streets committee, a motion carried to advertise for part-time help for the streets department, which is in the budget, and to begin looking into replacement of the boro’s older truck.
The Susquehanna Community Development Association will be hosting the annual Hometown Days on July 13 and 14. A motion carried to contribute $500, a budgeted item.
The county Housing and Redevelopment Authority notified council that the bid opening for the West Main Street sidewalk replacement was held on January 29 and PennDOT approved awarding of the contract to Leeward Construction, Honesdale. Work is tentatively planned to begin in the middle of May. All affected property owners will be notified when the start date is definite.
The County Transcript was unable to provide coverage of the March 27 council meeting; according to the minutes, the following actions were taken.
A motion carried to adopt resolution 32707, entering into a contract with Codes Inspection, Inc. and to adopt their residential fee schedule.
A motion carried to advertise an amendment to the renter’s ordinance with addition of a parking stipulation for landlords to provide adequate parking for tenants.
Motions carried to hire Patton Weidow as part-time police officer, and to promote Lt. Dominick Andidora to Chief.
The boro received a $750 NTRPDC grant for office equipment, to be used for a copier.
The Liquid Fuels allocation for the year is $38,419.13.
A representative from Senator Lisa Baker’s office will be in the boro office on the first Tuesday of each month from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Mayor Reddon reported that there had been numerous complaints about ATV’s on the roads; only emergency personnel are allowed to operate them on the roads (during emergencies), and all others will be fined and cited.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 24, 6 p.m. in the boro building.
Last month's marathon Montrose School Board meeting could have been called noteworthy for its length, number of attendees, and amount of debate. This month's meeting, held on April 9, rivaled it in at least two of these categories. With an estimated visitor rank of at least 150 and issues including the budget, music, an alteration in the Board power structure, and the eighth grade health curriculum, it may not be surprising that the meeting ran once again until nearly 10 o’clock at night.
For the sake of accuracy, it perhaps should be clarified that many of those 150 visitors were there for only one purpose, and left, after the board finally closed comments on this particular topic, before the work session started. What issue could so swell the ranks of cafeteria bound protesters? The answer is simple, at least at first glance. It is something which the people of MASD are apparently very passionate about – their music program.
As a person walked into the meeting that night, he or she was met at the door by people handing out Xeroxed letters. The letter introduced the problem to those hitherto ignorant of why the normally sparsely attended meeting was once again packed. Mrs. Houck, who has been in charge of the elementary music pull-out lessons program at both Lathrop Street and Choconut Valley schools is one of 17 total staff members retiring this year. Members of the School Board and Administration recommended that this position be one not advertised and filled for next-year. The proposal instead was to switch to an extracurricular instrumental lesson system, whereby $22,500 would be allotted for 900 hours of lesson time (5 hrs. a night) at $25/hr. over 180 days of school. Interested students would stay after school on their scheduled lesson day, and could spend time in a supervised Homework Club or other activity before and after the lesson in order to ride the late bus home. It was felt that the current system was not functioning as best it could, with students being taken out of class for lessons. It is this which brought so many to the meeting, and which led a steady stream of passionate speakers to the visitors' microphone to explain why they felt the position should remain as is.
Mrs. Bennici, the High School band director, was the first to approach the microphone (as well as the author of the mass produced letter). She discussed the success of the current band program, expanding upon the earlier announcement that seven Montrose students made it to the All-State Band Festival, with two first alternates, out of 13 who made it as far as Regionals. This ranks Montrose as #2 in the state for All-States qualifiers. She stated, however, that a program is only as strong as the base it is built upon, and felt that the students’ musical needs could not be met without pull-out lessons.
Her husband, who also works for the school, sought to fortify the case for curricular lessons with statistics. No other district in our county, he reported, runs the elementary band program outside of school hours. Furthermore, only one of the forty schools in District 9 does so – Lakeland District. He then read a letter from the high school band director at Lakeland urging Montrose not to make this decision, citing how much doing so has hurt their program and decreased band involvement at the high school level. The largest reason why enrollment decreases in after-school programs, she states, is conflicts with other activities a child may be involved in. Finally, Mr. Bennici took it to the statewide level, having found three schools in all of Pennsylvania with extracurricular elementary music programs. He said he knew two of those programs personally, and both were disasters.
Other speakers included mothers citing the influence of band on the lives of their children and students discussing this influence for themselves. They mentioned the unlikelihood of students starting band in seventh grade if they were unable or unwilling to participate in the extracurricular elementary program, discussed how this might affect the district's image to people seeking to move, and referenced again the relationship of music to student success. One sixth grader got up and spoke, expressing her opinion that the district focuses on sports too much, feeling that the district should give some of the money usually given to sports to the band next year.
The district, for their part, attempted to explain some of the reasoning behind the recommendation (carefully noting that it is a preliminary budget, and may still be changed). Over the last 4-6 years they have begun to look at positions as people retire to decide if they should be filled or not. With 17 retirements this year, the thought was to not fill two of them – elementary band and one in fifth grade. This practice is prompted, at least in part, by financial concerns. One parent asked, if new staff were hired at the same wage as the retiree, shouldn't there be enough money? The answer was that it is not that simple. Firstly, the district seeks to hire the best, not necessarily first-year educators. Secondly, it provides retirement bonuses for each retiree. Over half of the high school staff have retired in the past six years. In addition to this, 67% of Choconut Valley staff has retired in the last two years or is expected to do so in the next two. Enrollment has also been declining for the past five years. They argued that taxpayer money can only be stretched so far, and it is their responsibility to be good stewards of it.
In the end, the board had to, for purposes of time, stop discussion of this topic. Before doing so, however, they assured the public that their arguments and passion were heard and would be taken into consideration. They also stated, upon being asked if there was an outlet for those wanting to further express their opinion to be heard, that letters do get shared with the board and that board members generally check their e-mail frequently.
This whole discussion was moderated under the eye of a new School Board President. Mr. Kevin Sives, the former president, needed to leave the post for personal reasons though he remains on the board. Celeste Ridler, the former vice-president, was elected in his stead, in turn leaving her position vacant. Chris Caterson will, in turn, fill that post. Mr. Caterson publicly expressed gratitude for Mr. Sives' work in the role, discussing how much extra work goes into the position. Mr. Tallarico later spoke of his appreciation for Mr. Sives' work as well.
Also publicly acknowledged were the aforementioned band accomplishments and the success of the school's Scholastic Team. The latter have so far won five matches and lost two, one loss being by only one question. They have two more competitions left – one for public television and one which will be aired on the radio. Each team member in attendance was called to the front and given a certificate and several hand-shakes.
In other news, the peanut-butter and jelly policy, discussed at length at March's meeting, appears to be working. The point at which a student encounters this policy is -$5. At the time of the meeting no one in the high school had this much deficit.
Within the realm of academics, Mr. Tallarico would like to make the PSSA course mandatory – eliminating the opt-out possibility. The course would also be reworked, and would have a writing and speaking component to it. A mother questioned this, citing her daughter's already full schedule and expressing her concern that mandatory status would cut down on a student's ability to take other electives. Mr. Tallarico said that some of the students who had opted out last time expressed regret to him about doing so.
The last speaker of the night had another academic concern, this time within the sphere of curriculum. Her daughter, in eighth grade, came home one day with a question about something she learned in health class which the mother did not know how to answer. She felt that parents should be allowed to have the curriculum in advance, and be made aware of what their children will be learning. After being told that the curriculum is available when requested, she asked how parents knew this, and if it might not be better for them to be notified of planned subject matter in advance. She also felt that abstinence should be presented first. While this mother only vaguely alluded to specific subject matter, another parent later explained outside of the meeting that concern stemmed, at least in part, from instruction that is given regarding three different forms of sexual intercourse. The second parent said the school board previously stated that this information was state mandated. The parent, however, had not found this mandate in the PA Code for Schools, but had found a reference to abstinence education which is not mentioned in the curriculum. In the end the board agreed that this should be addressed. A potential two-track approach was proposed, where parents would be warned of what was coming up and given the option to op-out. Students can be excused from HIV/AIDS instruction, and some parents might wish to do so when they know what will be studied. If they chose not to do so, resources could be provided which would help prepare them to deal with questions and statements their children bring home.
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