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Barnes-Kasson Hospital appears to have weathered the storm and is back on terra firma after suffering through some financial woes that really did very little damage, except to become political fodder for a period of time.
Asked for an update on the hospital at last week’s meeting of the county Board of Commissioners, Roberta Kelly, board chair, said the hospital is up to date with its bonded indebtedness
“They are current in their loan with the bank,” Kelly, who also sits on the hospital board, said. “As far as I know they are in compliance with everything they need to be and handed in financial reports that were due.”
Asked if the hospital made any major personnel changes in light of allegations that members of one family hold key employment positions in the hospital, Kelly said she did not know but she does not believe any changes were made.
“I have been told there may be changes, but I really don’t know,” Kelly said. “I am not responsible for hiring.”
Regarding her own role on the hospital board, Kelly said since she has been on the board she made it her mission to ask questions.
“I have had people turn on me because I asked the right questions,” she said.
Commissioner Jeff Loomis said he was under the impression that the hospital was supposed to be the object of an independent study that included a look at the hospital’s financial network. He said he is not sure whether that study was ever completed.
“I really do not know if they did it,” Kelly said.
On another controversial issue, Fred Baker asked the commissioners if any determination had been reached concerning the snafu during the recent primary election.
“All I can tell you,” said Kelly, “is the critical piece missing was the lack of continuity in the voter registrar’s office and the overall lack of knowledge by those involved.”
Kelly said the position of voter registrar was filled March 15, and there was a March 22 deadline to submit the initial data with over 200 local elected offices on the ballot, along with a referendum, for proofs of the sample ballots.
“There were no checks and balances,” she said, “because no one person was informed enough about the election process, including the director of elections. The key to running this office is adherence to procedures and this could not be achieved due to the change in personnel.”
Kelly said that contrary to what many said, the problem was not a political issue. She also said everyone involved did the very best job considering the circumstances. She said if Gary Wilder had been hired when she proposed his name in April, 2006, he would have been well versed on the process and would have learned by going through two elections in 2006 that were not as complex as the 2007 primaries.
Commissioner Mary Ann Warren also said she did not see anything that would indicate to her that the problem was political.
During the otherwise brief meeting, the commissioners-
-Awarded a bid for a new bridge over Snake Creek to Ken Rauch Excavating of Montrose in the amount of $484,184. The bid was higher than expected but Kelly said FEMA agreed to the additional cost.
-Hired Maureen Brown Jordan to the open part-time position of solicitor for Children and Youth Services at a salary of $24,000 plus benefits.
-Hired Cortney Allen to the open fulltime position of case aide in Children & Youth Services at an hourly rate of $9.16 an hour and benefits as per union contract.
-Hired Barry Abbott to the open, fulltime maintenance/electrician position at a starting rate of $10.25 an hour plus benefits.
-Terminated JoAnn Kent, 911 dispatcher trainee who declined the position after the commissioners hired her on May 23.
-Hired Douglas Ely of Montrose to the open, temporary fulltime position of processor in the Recycling Center effective June 11. He will be paid $7.33 an hour and will work a maximum of 1,000 hours. This is a non-union job with no benefits.
-Accepted the resignation of Tiffany Lord, a fulltime 911 dispatcher. She will continue to work on an emergency basis while staffing requirements are addressed.
Meeting as the Salary Board along with Treasurer Cathy Benedict, the commissioners eliminated one fulltime custodial maintenance position and created a fulltime maintenance/electrician job.
The Salary Board also created the position of fulltime operations/training officer for the Emergency Management Department at a starting salary of $25,000. EMA Coordinator Mark Wood said he has been assured of an annual grant that will cover one half the salary.
The New Milford Township meeting, began as it frequently does, with a declaration that there was not too much on the agenda. It turned out, however, to be one of the longer meetings in recent months, as well as one of the loudest. Tempers seemed to flare occasionally, though all present could be commended for keeping them in check overall. This was largely due to one visitor who brought a lot of old business before the supervisors.
The battle over the East Lake Campground has been raging for three years now. On June 13 it flared up again. Scott Young, owner of the campground, attended the meeting with several questions. He wished to know the status of his request, made at a prior meeting, that he be allowed to open particular sections of his facilities – those he claims to be in compliance with proper sewage requirements. The supervisors stated that he should have received a letter; and questioned how he was in compliance when, by his own admission, he had changed nothing. He argued that these areas had long been in compliance, and that the judges' ruling stipulated that the campground was closed until it was in compliance, not until changes were made. He asked for a potential time-line for his ability to open, as he had already missed the money from Memorial Day weekend, and the Fourth of July loomed close on the horizon. It was said that someone could look into it and get back to him, at least by phone, in the next week.
Mr. Young spoke of the economic hit which the campground being closed was to not only him, but the community. He spoke of the amount of money given to charity by the campground, the employment opportunities it provided, the boon which campers brought to the gas and food industries, etc. He also asked if the itemization of expenses paid by the township in legal action (which was provided him after the last meeting) was complete. He stated that he felt the taxpayers might wish to know how much tax money was spent in litigation. This was the cause of one of the more vehement debates, as someone answered that it wouldn't be very much without the campground matter.
Before the evening was over Mr. Young also accused the supervisors of discrimination. The judge, he argued, had ordered him to follow proper procedures. However, when he did so, his materials were sent to the attorney. Another person need not go through this step; his application could be processed without it. He asked for a written explanation of the procedures, that he might follow them. The supervisors responded that they were not being discriminatory. It was true, due to the three-year long court case, that all his materials were sent to the sewage enforcement officer and the attorney. While it was true that another person's application need not go through these steps, that person wasn't involved in a court case, either.
The situation ended with a somewhat uneasy state of progression. Mr. Young resubmitted, in writing, his requests. The supervisors acknowledged that time was important, and, as aforementioned, agreed to contact him.
Representatives from the Lake Outing Club were also present at the meeting, to discuss sewer matters. They wished to proceed with the 537 Act, to bring their sewer system up to speed. Having been told before that the township could not assist them financially, they stated that they were going to be discussing funding at their upcoming national meeting. While they did not come seeking financial help, they could not proceed with the process unless they went through the township. They came seeking permission, and this kind of help. The township gave them permission to move forward, and offered what help they could give. They discussed the possibility of independent modules, which had been introduced at a recent DEP meeting. This would theoretically be a significantly cheaper route to pursue than hooking into the town sewage. In related news, the township was also commended on their work on the roads by the lake.
This was not the only thing for which the township was commended. It has also managed to pay back the money which it had needed to borrow the year before, due to the flood. Most of the money was covered by grants. This is a significant achievement.
The burning issue discussed at the June 12 meeting of the Susquehanna Boro Council was... burning. Or more precisely, whether or not it is permissible for residents to dispose of brush and other organic debris by burning it.
Mayor Reddon had looked into the matter after she received a number of complaints about burning on Washington St. In this instance, the resident had checked with a boro official and with a fire department officer, and had been told that it was permissible to burn brush as long as it was done in a closed container. Mayor Reddon found that there had been an ordinance enacted in 1989 that did allow controlled burning of brush under very stringent circumstances, but it had been amended in 2002 so that allowable items were deleted. Essentially, there is no burning (by residents) allowed at all within the boro, with the exception of barbecues. Under some very specific circumstances exceptions could be made with the approval of someone with the authority to do so, such as for the prevention of a fire hazard when there is no other means available or for fire personnel training, but even then, it would be limited to between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The boro official and the fire department officer have been apprised of the ordinance’s contents.
In other business, three bids were received for repaving of Laurel St. Broome Bituminous was awarded the bid, as theirs was the lowest. Work is expected to be completed by July 31.
Council will be sponsoring the annual fishing derby during Hometown Days, for kids age 12 and under. Sign-up sheets will be posted at several locations in town.
The mayor’s report included an update on a meeting regarding the LERTA ordinance council is working on; its purpose is to enable local taxing authorities to exempt improvements to deteriorated property from property tax increases for a limited period of time, in this case, for five years. The Susquehanna Community School District will also adopt the ordinance once the boro does, but has requested that allowances for qualifying properties be at a minimum improvement of $10,000. The ordinance must also be approved by the county commissioners and the tax assessment board. Eligible property owners will be required to pay an application fee and submit an application (to the boro), which would then be approved (or rejected) by council.
Mayor Reddon gave a recap of the flood summit meeting she had attended at Keystone College; it was, she said, most informative and she and Roy Williams planned to attend another, scheduled for later this month in Montrose.
The mayor had information compiled regarding building a skateboard park, which will be presented to the Parks and Rec. committee, who, she said, would need to choose a site for it.
The mayor requested that council consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting riding ATVs on streets within the boro, or within 1500 feet of private residences or churches without permission, and mandating that they be equipped with mufflers to prevent excessive noise.
Council gave approval for Margaret Biegert to research information on ordinances that prohibit boarded up buildings in the downtown area (time would be allowed for owners to deal with insurance companies in the case of fire, etc., after which fines would be levied) and to prohibit using indoor furniture outdoors, for example, living room couches on porches (this encourages rodent infestations and is a fire hazard).
Mrs. Biegert requested council’s approval for the SCDA to use Main St. funds for an update of the boro website, at a cost of $900, which includes a one-year service contract and training for members to continue with updates and changes. A motion carried to approve.
There were several Erie Ave. residents present with some concerns they wished to discuss, especially in light of Erie’s prominence in the Elm Street project.
One asked about codes violations, and said that there are some ongoing issues that need to be addressed, or a plan to address them put in place. The CEO was scheduled to do an inspection of the area the following day, council said.
Another question was, who is responsible for cleaning flood debris out of Drinker Creek? (Drinker Creek runs alongside Erie Ave.) Council said that it is the property owners’ responsibility. Mr. Matis said that council has taken some measures and will have a contractor coming in later this summer to see to some problems, but essentially it is the property owner’s responsibility.
Another question was about debris removal from the residences on Erie Ave.; if a cleanup was organized, would council be willing to lend support, whether it be dumpsters or manpower to get the debris into the dumpsters? Mrs. Biegert said that there was a possibility that a business owner might be willing to donate a dumpster for the effort. Council said they would also lend support.
Another resident’s concern was about speeding motorists, particularly late in the afternoon. He asked if officers could patrol the area more often. Mayor Reddon said that three of the boro’s police officers have been Vascar trained, and extra patrol hours are planned. And, the boro has obtained the equipment necessary to line the streets, to clock speeders with the Vascar.
There was a question about an abandoned car that has been on the bank of Drinker Creek, reportedly for some years. Council was unaware of it, and promised to look into it, if it proved to be on a property within the boro limits.
A (second) price quote for Center Lane drainage work was received; no action was taken as there were a number of questions involved.
At the county’s request, a motion carried to exonerate a list of (per capita) tax delinquent individuals. After review of the list, it was determined that many of those on it were either deceased or no longer lived in the boro.
A motion carried to adopt a resolution authorizing the SCDA to file an application on behalf of the boro, seeking additional funding for the Main Street Façade Challenge Grant from DCED.
The phone service the boro receives was discussed, particularly whether a more economical plan could be found.
And, in response to a number of complaints about the noxious odor that permeates the downtown area, a representative of the Tri-Boro Municipal Authority will be asked to attend the next council meeting, which will be on Tuesday, June 26, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
Steven C. Smith to Steven C. Smith, Erdenheim, PA, Kathryn M. Smith, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Justin Sprout, Klazina Sprout to Hendrika Vandenhengal, RD1, Springville, in Bridgewater Township for $32,000.
Nancy Brozonis Johnson, Garry Johnson to Stephen M. Stephens, RR3, Laceyville, Angie J. Stephens, in Rush Township for one dollar.
James E. Marcy, Jr., Ann Marie Marcy, William W. Marcy, Vicki L. Marcy to James E. Marcy, Jr., RR2, New Milford, Ann Marie Marcy, William W. Marcy, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (by POA) to Marian Dasilva, East Orange, NJ, in Susquehanna for $8,750.
Helen Bradley Towner to H. L. Bradley Farm Inc., RR2, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Gregory H. Selke, Joyce D. Selke to Cresmont Farm LLC, Starrucca, in Lanesboro Borough for $454,624.
Hallstead Plaza Properties Inc. to Hallstead Plaza Properties Inc., Hallstead, in Great Bend Borough for one dollar.
Dolores Stone, Warren Stone, Paula Ralston, Cathy Megivern, James Megivern, Ann Kravestky, Kenneth Thorn, Laurie Thorn to Shawna Alleman, RR2, Thompson, in Thompson Borough for $50,000.
Carl James Lee, Susan A. Lee, William Robert Lee to Nancy L. Culnane, Susquehanna, Carl James Lee, William Robert Lee, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Alfred A. Picca, Ann M. Picca to Alfred A. Picca, Jr., Susquehanna, Carl James Lee, William Robert Lee, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Paul Churchill, Eileen Churchill to Linda Venturini, RR2, Susquehanna, in Great Bend Township for $350,000.
Lawrence Churm, Margaret E. Roach, Eleanor Roach (estate) to David M. Kucko, Endwell, NY, Margaret M. Kucko, in Bridgewater Township for $125,000.
David W. Tucker, Judith L. Tucker to Sean C. Dilmore, RR1, Friendsville, Stephanie E. Dilmore in Choconut Township for $250,000.
Eastern Overhawk LLC to Ocwen Mortgage Asset Trust I, New Milford, in Bridgewater Township for $3,086.
Ocwen Mortgage Asset Trust I to Robert McLain, Nicholson, Charlene Castorima, in New Milford Township for $28,500.
James C. O'Brien (aka) James C. O'Brien, Sr., Robyn K. Davis nbm Robyn K. O'Brien to James C. O'Brien, Sr., RR1, Nicholson, Robyn K. O'Brien, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Earl G. Gehman (estate), Grant Gehman, Ada Gehman, Henry Gehman, Ernest Gehman to William Henry Gehman, Salfordville, PA, Ernest Gehman, Kimberly Booz, Grant Gehman, Ada Gehman, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Theta Land Corporation to Group W. Furniture Co., Clifford, in Ararat Township and an out of county municipality, for $108,000.
Michael Tomaine, Kimberly Tomaine to Shane C. Toolan, Jr., RR1, Forest City, Abigail L. Toolan, in Clifford Township for $145,000.
Marian McAndrew to Russell P. Swetter, Clifford, Cheryl L. Swetter, in Clifford Township for $77,500.
Theresa Sunderlin (estate), Robert Sunderlin (estate) to Nicholas Farley, Towanda, Jennifer Farley, Valerie W. Kinney, in Forest Lake Township for $135,000.
Michael Burke, Patricia Burke to Leslie A. Gustafson, Collingswood, NJ, Roy A. Gustafson, Claire H. Gustafson, in Lenox Township for $200,000.
Oakland Borough to Susquehanna County Housing Development Corporation, Montrose, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.
Joyce Berish, Richard Berish, Mary Jacqueline Phillips, Ronald Phillips to Joyce Berish, Harford, PLA, Richard Berish, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Jed A. Woodruff to Mark Elliot Masker, RR2, Hallstead, Tracey Grunza, in Hallstead Borough for $80,000.
Linda Venturini to Thomas A. Szekely, Livingston, NJ, in Thompson Township for $375,000.
Glenda J. Cicon Lewis to David A. Cicon, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Nancy M. Crisman, Paul E. Crisman (by POA) to Dale J. Perry, South Gibson, Shawn A. Morrison, in Auburn Township for $100,000.
Richard S. Masters, Eloise W. Masters to Mary Jacqueline Phillips, Harford, Ronald Phillips in Harford Township for one dollar.
John Arthur Amrein III, Deatte Lee Carpenter, both of Susquehanna.
Jesse Naylor III and Tara Lee Taylor, both of Hallstead.
Nathan Paul Raub, RR1, Susquehanna and Julia Marice Vallone, RR1, Hop Bottom.
Michael E. McCartan, Rogers, AR and Elizabeth A. Black, Millersburg, IN.
George Ondrich and Ruth Eleanor Ward, both of Chinchilla.
Paul Melvin Stephens and Grace Bryden, both of RR1, Susquehanna.
Brian Thomas Demski and Jennifer Ellen Welch, both of Los Angeles, CA.
Angela Morley Kuhr vs. Jeffrey James Kuhr, both of Little Meadows. Married December 19, 1998.
Alayne Kipar, RR5, Montrose vs. Michael E. Kipar, RR3, Meshoppen. Married June 19, 1999.
W. Kevin Dougherty, RR2, Brackney, vs. Penelope C. Dougherty, New Rochelle, NY. Married October 31, 2000.
Oakland Boro, through the auspices of the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority, has been approved for $334,000 in home improvement funding. Eligible homeowners must meet income requirements; information on what those requirements are is available from the Authority, 278–4096. The authority maintains a waiting list of applicants. Should anyone who qualifies be left on the list after this round of funding is used, they will be kept on the list for the next round of available funding. Council president Ron Beavan said that the income limits are somewhat higher than most people think, and encouraged residents to find out more about it. It was noted that if a homeowner does receive approval, what improvements will be done will be decided by an inspector for the Authority, and the homeowner must sign a promissory note that the funds will be repaid if the home is sold within a specified period of time after the improvements are made.
The previous evening an observant citizen had noticed that the pressure in the boro’s water system was very low. Upon investigation, it turned out that the alarm that should have alerted the appropriate personnel to the problem was not functioning. Apparently a fuse in the breaker panel had blown during a storm that had passed through the area a day or two prior to the incident.
One codes violation case on Boyden St. was said to be gradually improving, another property owner on Spring Creek has been sent a letter about a trash pile, and legal proceedings will be begun against a third on River St.
Mayor Dudley gave a rundown of the month’s police activities. Residents have been directing non-emergency calls to the boro police number (853-2911) as requested, and it has been working out well. The police car had needed some minor repair work, and the police were scheduled to provide coverage at the Thompson Town Fair the following weekend.
The mayor was pleased to announce that a grant, in the amount of $8,000, has been approved for the police department. It will be used for equipment and to update the radio in the patrol car.
A motion carried to proceed with enacting a sidewalk maintenance ordinance.
After discussion, a motion carried to include a hand rail for a high section of State St. in the sidewalk replacement project plans.
Two State St. residents requested that something be done about vehicles being parked on their property, presumably belonging to the tenants from a nearby multi-family home. The vehicles were being parked partially on the road and causing an obstruction, where there was not enough room for approaching vehicles to pass each other. There had also been vehicles parked over the curb, onto the sidewalk. There were some questions on council’s part as to what could be done as it is a state road. Mayor Dudley and Mr. Beavan agreed to look into it.
Representatives from River Bounty and FERC were scheduled to meet at the hydro electric plant the following Thursday for a site inspection; FERC regulates, monitors and investigates, among other things, electricity, hydropower, and hydroelectric dams. Some of the generating equipment had been damaged in last spring’s floods; it was expected that plans for repairs be implemented by some time in August.
The boro’s planning commission is still in the formation stages. Any boro resident interested in serving should contact council. Meetings of the commission will be held on an as-needed basis.
After discussion, it was agreed that the rate of pay for day laborer(s) for the streets department should be $10/hour.
The police department will check into complaints about illegal (unregistered) vehicle traffic in the High St. area.
As of the date of the meeting, plans for the new building at the site of the old boro building had not been decided.
And, Joe Collura has completed the audit, and will attend the August meeting to give an overview and answer any questions council may have.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session. Council reconvened briefly and approved an advance of $425 to the Parks and Rec. committee for improvements to the ballfield at the boro park.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, July 12, 7 p.m. in the Lanesboro Community Center.
On June 8th, the grand, new bridge in Harford village was formally opened by a ribbon cutting, some five years after the plan was first announced by PennDOT. Township Supervisor and Secretary Sue Furney attended the ceremony and duly reported the opening at the Supervisors' meeting the following morning.
The next bridge to be replaced is the township's responsibility, a casualty of last year's flooding. Hawk Engineering has completed applications to the state Department of Environmental Protection for the project at Pennay Hill Road over Butler Creek, as well as for the sluice under Stearns Road at the outlet of Tingley Lake.
The township hopes to have both projects completed by the end of the year. The bridge over Butler Creek is subject to funding requirements by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; as soon as permits are in hand, the township will have to apply for an extension on that one.
The Stearns Road project so far is the responsibility of the township. The engineers are specifying a corrugated steel arch pipe, some 11 feet 7 inches by 7 feet 5 inches in size for that one, a large pipe to be sure, but still cheaper than a box culvert that had been worrying the supervisors, who had to borrow half a million dollars to tide them over until all of this is done.
That loan looks like it will finally go through, now that the ordinance to support it has been corrected. It has taken several months to get the wording correct, but now that the Supervisors have approved the final wording, Peoples National Bank should be able to make the financing available.
In the meantime, the township received about $6,300 from FEMA for damage to a temporary bypass around the Butler Creek bridge last November. All of the transactions related to flood damage are handled through special accounts in the township's books.
That's so that the $500 that the township annually contributes to the Harford-Lenox Baseball Association doesn't get mixed up with anything else. The Supervisors had been expecting someone to show up to request the contribution and they weren't disappointed. The Little Leaguers help out by keeping the ball field grass cut throughout the growing season.
By the time you read this, the township "cleanup" for 2007 will be over. The Supervisors authorized the temporary hiring of up to two individuals to help out at $8.50 per hour, as needed. The popular program usually runs for a week in early June to help residents rid their property of accumulated detritus by the truckload.
The township takes out junk, but it brings in clean stone. Due to an earlier mix-up, it will be accepting bids for an additional 2,000 tons of 2RC stone. Roadmaster Terry VanGorden has been using the stuff as fast as he can get it. Residents in the Bartholomew Road area are reminded that the beaver pond area will be closed for a while this month while the crew does battle with the furry little critters.
The Susquehanna County maintenance office of PennDOT District 4-0 is making dirt available to area residents as they perform shoulder-cutting operations over the next several weeks. This free dirt, cut from the berm of the road as a safety and maintenance measure, will be delivered to residents who request it.
PennDOT county maintenance crews will be working along Routes 29 North, 4002 and 4008 in the area of Montrose/Lawsville, Franklin Forks and Laurel Lake in Susquehanna County through June 28, Monday through Friday.
To place an order for dirt, contact the PennDOT Susquehanna County maintenance office at 278-1171.
The Forest City Regional School District has always been fortunate when it applied for competitive or formula grants from various sources. For one reason or another, it seems the district’s administrators and teachers are always rewarded for their efforts and it has to be more than just the luck of the draw. It’s a tribute to their individual abilities.
At last week’s meeting, Dr. Robert Vadella, school superintendent, spoke of the number of grants the district is seeking for the 2007-2008 school year. He said the district has applied for nine grants that total more than $1 million.
“That’s not saying we are going to get all that money,” Dr. Vadella told the audience, “but we are looking at ways to stretch your dollars.”
After the meeting and, as folks were leaving the school, they were greeted in the parking lot by a most beautiful rainbow. An omen for the district’s shot at the pot of gold? Could be! The timing would be perfect.
A highlight of the meeting was the school board’s decision to exonerate the per capita tax for senior citizens who are over 70 years of age or handicapped. Some extra funds from grants would certainly help the district and would more than compensate for the loss of revenue from older seniors and handicapped residents in the district.
Two of the grants applied for have already been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Written by Elementary Principal Ken Swartz, they include $149,657 in a category labeled Accountability and $48,762 for EAP which has something to do with tutoring.
Also in money matters, the board approved the 2007-2008 school year budget in the amount of $10.9 million and set the real estate millage as follows: Forest City, Union Dale and Herrick Township, 34.58; Clinton Township II and Pleasant Mount, 12.58; and, Vandling, 84.6. Additional local revenue to finance the budget will come from per capita taxes, wage taxes and real estate transfer taxes.
And, in another financial area – salaries – nine administrative employees were given pay raises ranging from 3.6 percent to 5 percent.
The list includes: Duane Benedict, technology coordinator, from $54,908 to $56,884; Patricia Chesnick, Transportation Director, Child Accounting, Secretary to Superintendent, from $25,010 to $26,010; David Daugherty, technology specialist, from $30,458 to $31,554; Donna Fortuner, administrative assistant, from $23,735 to $24,589; and, Darlene Hamlyn, administrative assistant, from $23,815 to $24,672.
Also, Kathleen Kaczka, business manager, from $55,500 to $58,275; Donna Potis, Special Education Coordinator, from $60,000 to $63,000; John Reeder, maintenance supervisor, from $36,416 to $38,236; and, Kenneth Swartz, elementary principal, from $77,260 to $80,195.
Other motions passed by the board completed the following actions:
-renewed the district’s contract with DeHey McAndrew, human resource consultant, from June 1, 2007 through May 30, 2008, at a cost of $2,875.
-appointed Brian Kelly as the school auditor for the 2007-2008 school year at a rate of $16,500.
-approved the use of GH Harris Collection Agency as the ongoing delinquent per capita tax collector as needed.
-approved a request from Keystone College that Kelly Nebzydoski and Sabrina Durst serve as student teachers for the 2007-2008 school year, pending required clearances and health information.
-accepted the resignation of Janet Adams, secondary math teacher, effective August 20 for personal reasons.
-approved the extracurricular appointments for the 2007-2008 school year.
There will be a third public meeting on Wednesday, June 20, 7:00 p.m. at the Harford Fire Hall to distribute the final, PEMA approved draft of the Susquehanna County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan and discuss the implementation and integration of the plan into ongoing planning and governance activities. Participation in the hazard mitigation planning process determines whether or not a municipality may be eligible for future state or federal hazard mitigation funds. All municipalities are encouraged to continue – or enhance – their participation in this crucial effort.
Any questions, contact Susquehanna County EMA Director Mark Wood at (570) 278-4600, ext. 257.
The Montrose school board and administration encouraged the public to support certain legislation at the June 11 meeting. At different points in the meeting, appeals were made for support of both House Bill 446 and the governor's education budget. It was argued that both these legislative pieces could directly affect the district, its inhabitants, and its children.
House Bill 446 seeks to transfer the cost of cyber charter schools, which currently rests with school districts, to the Commonwealth. It also seeks to hold these schools, of which there are 11, more accountable for their standards and performance. The bill was introduced by representative Karen Beyer, and the district passed a resolution publicly expressing its support of this legislation.
The annual cost of a cyber charter school is approximately $9,000 per year. Any student may opt for this educational route; it need not be a choice made of physical or behavioral necessity. The districts pay this cost, less than 30% of which is reimbursed by the Commonwealth. The Montrose school district, between the years 2001 and 2007, paid out around $680,000 of non-reimbursed money.
Only two of the 11 cyber charter schools licensed in the state of PA met their adequate yearly progress standards in 2006. The school district, in contrast, has met the thresholds created by the No Child Left Behind Act. It is felt by proponents of this act that children attending cyber schools should receive a comparative level of education to those attending public schools, which are regulated by the government, and that cyber schools should be held to the same standards.
Mr. Owens, the technology coordinator, also advocated support for the education aspects of the governor's proposed budget. He asked the board and the public to contact their local legislators in this cause. Dependant on the passing of this budget are various programs, including the Classrooms for the Future Program. The district is a part of this program, and Mr. Owens reported it to be a productive experience thus far. If it fails at this point, he felt, it would be a waste of the $20 million put into the program in Pennsylvania last year.
Moving from state policy to district policy, the coaching conundrum continued. The issue was first addressed near the commencement of the meeting, when the only effected coach at this juncture stood up to read a letter he wrote protesting the policy change. This alteration would restrict head coaches to leading only one major sport a year, and assistant coaches to being involved only in a maximum of two. The man currently works as both the head coach for the girls’ soccer and basketball teams. He has done this for the last six years, and talked of the accolades which the teams and the individual players have received under his tutelage.
When it came to the actual passing of the changes, there was some reluctance. It was requested that the matter be tabled for further discussion, as only four of the board members were able to be present at the curriculum meeting at which it was first proposed. It was agreed that it would be tabled until the work session meeting, at which no action would be taken, but a decision whether or not to put it on the agenda for the special meeting at the end of June would be made.
It was then duly revisited during the work session. At this time Mr. Tallarico and Mr. Ognosky sought to explain that the action was not directed at anyone specific, but was intended to make the athletic program at the school run more efficiently. Mr. Tallarico stated that it wasn't fair to either the coach or the students if the coach was not able to put sufficient time into the sport, including time during the off-season. It was stated that while there is no written mandate that a coach of a major sport put in off-season work, it has become expected, and is deemed necessary nowadays to be competitive. In order to be successful, coaching a major sport has become a 12-month ordeal, with summer camps, off-season training, etc. If the head coach cannot do it, community programs might, which sometimes leads to a different method of instruction, confusion and frustration when the coach takes over again in-season. Mr. Ognosky also related that parents do not like to see assistant coaches leading off-season activities – they want the head coach to be at least present and involved. Additionally, time spent coaching can mean less time in the classroom – an educator only coaching one major sport is likely to be in his room during instructional time more often than one coaching two.
Another cited reason is that the district staff has become younger. There are now more young, qualified people willing to take part in the athletics program, and this ruling would give them a greater opportunity to be involved. The policy will include a stipulation that it can be overruled, and made, if another qualified and quality person cannot be found for the position.
Miss Humphry spoke of her concern about the financial constraints this change might put on those currently coaching. She proposed an addendum – that these people be allowed to remain in their positions for one year as an exception, but be alerted that they will be forced to choose at the end of that year. This way they would have some warning, and time to prepare for the change. Ms. Ridler also supported this idea, agreeing that the policy alteration was the right move, but wanting to acknowledge the people who have helped the district out in the past when it was in need.
The matter went around the table, with each board member individually expressing his or her opinion. In the end it was evenly split; half wanting the policy change as was and half asking for the one year exception addendum. Mr. Ognosky decided that the matter would be settled by being placed on the June 25 meeting agenda first as was, and if this failed to pass it would be immediately thereafter voted upon with the addendum.
The district might need to look towards making changes so that it can accommodate more of its special needs students in the future. Recently, the number of students sent out to other institutions was questioned, when the special education plan was sent back to the district. This is apparently something which is being scrutinized in all districts. If 10-12 students or more from a particular district are educated outside of the district, they are being questioned as to why these students are not accommodated on-site. Currently a lack of space was cited as a cause of this in Montrose, but in time the district will likely be encouraged, and then mandated, to find a way around it.
Finally, the evening was one of accolades and thanks. Mr. Caterson and Mr. Tallarico spoke of how wonderful the final senior week and senior week festivities had turned out. The travel agency which the seniors used for the recent Florida trip wrote a letter, commending them for their behavior and cooperation. Mr. Ognosky referenced the recent Grading Our Schools Report. This is a yearly report which assesses 37 schools within the Times Tribune circulation area, based on 18 statistical categories, including PSSA performance and SAT scores. Montrose made the AYP on all 18 categories, and was only one of six districts to make the state average in 12 of the categories. It also ranked very highly in attendance.
Following is the Silver Lake Township Police Report for May, 2007 as submitted.
MVA (automobile vs. ATV)
On May 5, Nance Brown reported that an ATV had run into the back of her vehicle while she was traveling on McCormick Road in Silver Lake Township, causing bumper and rear panel damage requiring an insurance claim. Positive identification was not made on the individuals riding the ATVs involved.
On May 8, Robert Wilson of Brackney reported that someone had shot holes in his cottage on Laurel Lake with what appeared to be a small .22 cal. weapon. He was in the process of selling the property and when he recently entered the dwelling he found holes in windows, walls and throughout the interior. The scene was processed by Silver Lake Township Police and a local juvenile was charged in the incident.
THEFT (MOTOR VEHICLE)
On May 16, Stephen Peet of Montrose reported his personal vehicle, a white Chevy Cavalier, had been stolen by Heather Blaisure the evening before on May 15. Investigation reveled that Blaisure was seen several times in the county over the next couple of days. On Friday, May 18, Blaisure arrived back at Peet’s residence. Attempts to make contact with the victim over the next couple of days were unsuccessful and the incident was dropped.
On May 26, Carol Rosenkrans of Brackney reported a small rock was thrown through one of their front windows while they were out of the residence. No other similar incidents have been reported and the investigation continues.
PENNSYLVANIA’S ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE LAW
A summary of some of the laws: Liability insurance coverage is required, along with registration with the DCNR (Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources). It is illegal to operate an ATV without a helmet on the operator. ATVs may not be operated on any private property without the consent of the owner. It is unlawful to operate an ATV on any street or highway which is not designated as an ATV road. It is illegal to operate an ATV while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or drugs.
PENNSYLVANIA DOG LAWS
A summary of some of the laws: All dogs must be under control at all times by you or a handler. All dogs over three months of age must be licensed in Pennsylvania. You, as the owner, are responsible for any damage caused by your dog. It is unlawful to mistreat or abuse any animal, to place poison or harmful substance in any place, on your own property or elsewhere, to abandon or attempt to abandon any animal, to interfere with an Officer or Dog Warden in the enforcement of the Dog Law.
Any information or questions for the Silver Lake Township Police, please call 570-278-6818 or e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be held strictly confidential.
Retiring Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz made "one last" appearance before the Blue Ridge School Board at its meeting on June 11, thanking everyone "for allowing me to work with such high-quality people" for the last 17 years. “This has been a wonderful place to work," said the genial, bear of a man as he bowed out, turning over his place at the table to his successor, Matthew Button.
It was an evening of thanks and congratulations as the school year comes to a successful close. Among the list of routine business items on the agenda:
* Ashley Goff was appointed remedial summer school teacher.
* Sheila Hall's resignation was accepted, with regret.
* A long list of policy amendments was adopted.
* The Child Evangelism Fellowship was allowed to offer released-time classes for next year. In their request, they noted that 14 children participated in the school year just ended.
* Angel Sincavage was hired to fill the new position of "pre-K through 12th-grade guidance/crisis counselor.”
* Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams was retained as the district solicitors for another year.
* Margaret Ainey will continue as the district truancy officer at a salary of $1,200, plus mileage.
* Jessica Girts, the school Psychologist, was awarded a requested salary increase, to $47,818.
* A compensation plan was approved for Dean of Students, Lynn Parker, including a performance bonus of $2,500 for the 2006-2007 school year.
* Final, formal approval was given to the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, balanced out at a total of $15,997,853.
The meeting actually opened with a team presentation by Tom Chamberlain and Alan Wilmarth, officers of Creative Adventures For Education (C.A.F.E.), a non-profit organization created some years ago to manage the annual trip to Washington, DC.
Mr. Chamberlain presented a book for the library, a traditional purchase during the annual excursion, and then announced the dates proposed for next year's trip: April 16- 19, 2008. He mentioned many of the local businesses and organizations that contribute to the organization and the trip, including Peoples National Bank, McDonalds, Reddons Drug, the VFW and the American Legion, and said that the county United Way and Community Foundation have helped a lot to keep the program going. Some 120 students participated this year, three busloads in all, and no child is left behind because of inability to afford the expense.
Mr. Wilmarth described many of the highlights of the trip. Newly elected Representative Chris Carney's staff gave the students a guided tour of the Capitol building, the first time in several years. They were also able to get a "three-floor" tour of the White House, courtesy of Senator Arlen Spector; that one required detailed information on each of the students, and they had to remain lined up in strict alphabetical order.
Mr. Wilmarth lamented that his own might have been the "last generation to experience freedom." He said that the students couldn't even enter a food court at a museum at the Smithsonian without going through a metal detector, and in many places the students' backpacks were searched, or weren't permitted at all.
Nevertheless, they managed to cram a lot of sights into their brief visit to the Nation's Capitol, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and another special one for a local veteran at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. One student who won an essay contest even had the honor of laying a wreath at the sarcophagus of George Washington at Mount Vernon. It was clearly a trip most will always remember.
Following the C.A.F.E. presentation, Mr. Dietz accepted a check from a representative of Lewis Transportation to support the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program at Blue Ridge. Mr. Dietz said that the Lions Club had also contributed to the program. The Big Brothers/Big Sisters program pairs children in the Elementary School with volunteers from the High School as mentors and tutors, and it has become very popular on both sides.
Everyone was in a commendatory mood just days after the end of the school year. High School Principal John Manchester took special note of the declining discipline problems this year, giving much of the credit to Lynn Parker, Dean of Students. He said that Mr. Parker tries to make an effort to work with students before punishment becomes necessary. Mr. Manchester said, "The climate in school this year was just terrific."
Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski commended the office staff for getting class schedules out with report cards. He also made special note of the picnic put on by the kitchen staff at the request of Linda Cole-Koloski, Director of Food Services during the last week of classes. Apparently the food service staff was so appreciative of the way students have behaved, they wanted to give something back. So they opened the doors in the nice Spring weather, and put on a picnic.
And finally, Board President Alan Hall noted that, for the first time since he has been on the School Board, every student who started the year as a senior, finished and graduated.
The Blue Ridge School Board is scheduled to meet next for a workshop on Monday, June 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
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