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Originally scheduled as a workshop, the second meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board for October was turned into a business session, with a full agenda – including an addendum. A brief workshop was appended to the end, following a breather for pizza and Halloween cupcakes.
Among a few routine personnel actions, the Board made a couple of adjustments in kindergarten staff, extending the hours of Cara Goff and Lisa Welch to fill in some gaps.
The Board also approved a recommendation to define benefit "classes" for classified employees – those who are neither faculty nor administrators. According to Board President Alan Hall, the measure would add some consistency to hiring by allowing new employees a clear picture of the benefits they can expect. He emphasized that no current employees have yet been assigned to any of the classes. The administration is in the process of defining the classes from existing benefit patterns among the employees.
In addition, the Board gave itself 30 days to consider some changes to leave policies for classified employees. The slightly more liberal policies would give new employees access to a week's vacation time immediately after their initial six-month probationary period. The new policies also added three new holidays to the schedule. Employees are eligible for two weeks of vacation between their second and tenth years of employment. Very few, if any, employees remain much longer than ten years.
In other business:
* The Board awarded a contract for the supply of wood chips for heating to RGM Hardwoods, of Moscow, PA at a price of $32 per ton, delivered.
* The Board approved the purchase of a New Holland L190 skid steer from Pickering Equipment (through state contract purchasing) for $27,800. The new machine is expected to extend the life of the district's seven-year-old tractor, and provided additional lifting capacity. It will also be used for snow removal. Business Manager Loren Small said that, while the purchase was not specifically budgeted, "funds are available in the capital reserve."
* The Board okayed a ski program for Elementary School students; advisors will be volunteers. Mr. Hall estimated the cost of transportation for the program at about $1,000 per year. Board member Joel Whitehead, whose granddaughter was in the program last year, called it "a real good program," and "very worthwhile."
* The Board renewed the district's five-year management lease of the Hallstead ballfield at a price of $1 per year. According to Mr. Hall, the new lease is just like the old one. It is an agreement between Hallstead Borough, the Blue Ridge School District, and the Over Thirty-Five Men's League. The latter uses the field on Thursday and Friday evenings during the season.
* The Board approved the official designation of the district's colors to be red, white and black, "with red and white being the primary colors and black being an accent color." The Board will have the opportunity to approve all new district athletic uniforms.
In addition to the business agenda, the Board heard from Karen Allen, Executive Director of the Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority. The Housing Authority is planning to build a $3 million, 3-storey, 24-unit addition to the Emerson Apartments in Hallstead Borough to make more space available for low-income senior citizens. Ms. Allen said that the waiting list for the Emerson complex generally has as many as 60 names on it.
The Housing Authority is asking the Blue Ridge district to provide a "tax abatement" for the project for a period of ten years. Ms. Allen said the Emerson addition will be built by a partnership between the Authority and a bank. Since such an arrangement is not considered not-for-profit, the taxes on the new building would be in the neighborhood of $20,000 per year. Under the requested tax abatement schedule, the Authority's tax obligation for the new structure would rise by $2,000 per year over the ten-year period.
Ms. Allen said that, aside from relieving the initial financial burden on the Authority, if the district Board could approve the tax abatement before a December cut-off, the Authority's application for support from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) would get a boost. If approval from PHFA comes through in May, 2008 as expected, construction could get under way as soon as next summer.
The Housing Authority currently pays $6,471 annually to the county "in lieu of taxes" for the existing 40-unit Emerson building, of which 65% goes to the Blue Ridge School District. Since that operation continues in its non-profit status and will be financially separate from the new project, that payment will not be affected. As Board member Lon Fisher noted, the new building will be on "empty land" that is not now taxed.
Ms. Allen pointed out the additional revenue that the District can expect, and, since the housing will be for seniors only, there will be no additional children added to the district's enrollment.
Board President Allen promised to have the proposal on the agenda for the Board's next business meeting, on November 12.
During the workshop session following the business meeting, Mr. Hall pressed High School Principal John Manchester for details on the implementation of the Classroom for the Future program in the High School. Blue Ridge received a large grant from the state to purchase equipment and training to upgrade technology in the classrooms. Mr. Manchester said that most of the equipment has been received; they are waiting only on some custom fixtures for use with the electronic whiteboards. Representatives of the vendor will be at Blue Ridge soon to set it all up.
Mr. Allen was anxious that the investment and the equipment not sit around unused. Mr. Manchester tried to assure him that some teachers are expected to put the new facilities to use right away. But he said that training for most of the faculty will extend well into next year. He said that the Classroom for the Future is part of a five-year professional development program that will take awhile to fully implement.
Mr. Allen also pressed Mr. Small to try to have budget development put on-line as soon as possible. "We've gotta get away from all this paper," he said, pointing out that next year's budget will begin to come up for review before the end of this year.
As Board members were preparing for an executive session after the formal public meetings, Vicki Drake handed out a package of documents to each of them, summarizing her concerns about the assignment of a book as required summer reading for ninth-grade students.
The book, The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, has attracted some attention since its first publication in 1974. It is near the top of the list of books banned in schools around the country.
In her cover letter, Ms. Drake said, "We feel strongly that this book is not appropriate to be used as a required reading book." She suggested that it be offered as a possible alternative, or perhaps for older grades.
In the package she handed out was a copy of a letter she received from High School Principal John Manchester responding to her concerns. In that letter, Mr. Manchester said that he had polled several members of the High School faculty about the matter, and had come to the conclusion that, "I believe the educational value of the book provides teaching opportunities that overshadow those passages [detailed in Ms. Drake's complaint] that are not part of [the teacher's] presentation."
This is the first time in many years that such an issue has come before the Blue Ridge School Board so publicly. It is not unheard of, of course. A few years ago some parents of Mountain View students objected to the assignment of Catcher in the Rye, another frequently blacklisted book.
The next public meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board is scheduled for Monday, November 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The Great Bend Borough Council covered a broad agenda at its meeting on the first of November, and ended on a happy note, anticipating a holiday celebration in December. The borough will sponsor a bonfire, complete with hot chocolate and cookies, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on December 15, at Memorial Park. The family event will help the little town celebrate the season as a community.
And such parties are insured, it turns out. The meeting began with a discussion of the borough's insurance coverage with B. J. Giangiulio, representing the town's insurance broker, H. A. Thompson. Mr. Giangiulio told council that small events like the winter bonfire are covered under the borough's policy.
Great Bend Borough spends about $5,500 per year on insurance (not including workers' compensation), most of that liability coverage for its three parks. Mr. Giangiulio read off all of the borough's assets and their insured valuation, including the facilities at Recreation Park, a pavilion and shed at Greenwood Park, the town's garage and storage sheds, and the Borough Building.
According to Council members Ron Cranage and Joe Collins, the cleanup and repair of damage at "Rec. Park" caused by the flooding of the summer of 2006 is nearly complete. Mr. Collins passed around photographs of some of the fencing that still needs work; the photos also showed the new grass on the ballfield. Most of the post-flood restoration was paid for from funds provided by federal and state emergency management agencies.
The pavilion in Greenwood Park badly needs a new roof, but the Borough is having some trouble finding a contractor. No bids were received from the three who were invited. Depending on the cost, a contractor might be found by simply canvassing over the phone.
Last month a resident asked Council to look into creating a skateboard park for youngsters who now do most of their tricks in the parking lots in the flats between Great Bend and Hallstead. He suggested that the safety of the young athletes might be better assured in a town-sponsored setting.
Because Council pledged to look into the matter, members took advantage of Mr. Giangiulio's attendance to ask what kind of coverage he could offer for such a facility.
Mr. Giangiulio said that the better skateboard parks are "more elaborate" (and therefore perhaps safer) than what Great Bend Borough might be able to afford. He pointed out that a skateboard park will attract outsiders; "You're going to have [out of town] company," he said.
Such parks are "not inexpensive" to build. Mr. Giangiulio estimated the cost of design and construction between $20,000 and $25,000. Insurance coverage could cost between $1,000 and $2,000, which would be 20-25% of the borough's entire current premium.
He was also asked about coverage at Memorial Park if the borough were to flood the basketball court for ice skating in the winter. Mr. Giangiulio said that the current policy would cover such things, but he implied that it might not be a great idea. To be safe, such a rink should have a wall surrounding it, among other features.
He told Council that recreation facilities like skateboard parks and ice skating rinks need to be carefully monitored, and that small boroughs like Great Bend often cannot afford the expense of maintaining and overseeing them.
Speaking of expense, Council approved a preliminary budget for next year, to be advertised for a month. Under the new budget, the Borough expects to spend just under $120,000, an increase of about 8% over 2007. The biggest single increase in expenditure is expected to be for streets.
Council members expect some changes in the budget before final passage in December, perhaps in the salaries of the Borough's two employees.
The new budget will be supported by a one mill increase in the real estate tax levy.
One new item won't be very costly: Jim and Wanda Galloway donated a cell phone for the use of the borough's maintenance worker, Dick Button, apparently with some minutes already subscribed. Secretary Sheila Guinan said the phone will make contacting Mr. Button much more efficient.
The borough received drawings and plans for the reconstruction of some sidewalks and curbs at the south end of the town from the Bridging Communities program. This initiative was started several years ago, following the opening of the Welcome Center on the Interstate, to help spruce up the appearance of the neighboring boroughs of Great Bend and Hallstead, and the shopping plaza between them. Grant funding is available, and these plans will allow the project to solicit bidders. The work would cost the borough nothing.
Nevertheless, Council members have an interest in having the work done right. There is apparently some uncertainty about what type of curbing will be constructed; some found the drawings unclear. Members approved the plan with the understanding that the curbs were to be concrete. Asphalt curbing, they say, just won't last.
The borough will advertise some amendments to an old ordinance that Council hopes will help to keep out "adult-oriented" businesses. Solicitor Frank O'Connor has been working on this for some time, ever since a developer showed up last year hinting that he might start a new massage business, or something of the sort.
It seems the borough already has an ordinance on the books that restricts some types of such enterprises. Mr. O'Connor told Council that the law does not allow the borough to simply prohibit them. So the amended ordinance will not allow them nearer than 1000 feet from any residence in the borough. Since Great Bend has very little space for new construction of any kind, that would effectively restrict such businesses to a small area down by the river. The amendments further define affected businesses to include any selling "sexual toys" – what Mr. O'Connor called "gadgets" – or other items of "prurient interest." They also increase the fines to be levied for violations. The public has 30 days to comment on the ordinance.
Councilman Jerry MacConnell would like to see another ordinance controlling the installing of "mobile homes." That evoked a spirited debate between Mr. MacConnell and Rick Franks, who remarked, "We have some houses here that look worse than mobile homes." Mr. MacConnell said he was concerned only that the trailers be sited on "decent-sized lots."
And finally, Council will donate $100 to the Susquehanna County Library. They will not give $100 for the Susquehanna County Animal Response Team (CART). The latter is the county's response to a legal mandate that apparently arose out of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. The idea is that local government should plan for the rescue and maintenance of pets and other animals during an emergency, perhaps such as the flooding here in 2006. Council couldn't find any enthusiasm for the notion, noting that member Pat Thatcher would probably take care of it herself anyway.
Great Bend Borough Council's next public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 6, beginning at 7:00 p.m. If you can't make it for that, bring some pallets to Memorial Park on Saturday, December 15.
The New Milford Borough Council presented the 2008 budget for public inspection at the November 1 meeting.
According to Councilman Rick Ainey, “We tried to allot for what we know is coming up.”
The budget is slated to be approved at the December 6 meeting. It is available for residents to view at the New Milford Borough Office.
Sis Smith, borough resident, asked the Council to please revamp the way the snow is plowed and stacked during the upcoming winter months. “It was piled up right in front of my driveway, and I couldn’t get out,” Smith stated.
Discussion ensued with the final conclusion that the council would talk to the borough employee about plowing the snow using a turned blade rather than a straight on plowing view.
Information from Councilman Jim Carr provided council with information concerning fire hazards due to the blockades which are up on numerous streets to prevent bridge access. “This could cause big problems if there ever was a fire, as New Milford would almost be shut off,” Councilman Chris Allen reported.
Council President Scott Smith requested information on what it would take to make the bridges useable again. It was discovered that they had to be improved and inspected again. Tom Smith, resident, added that there is a certain type of size stone that should be utilized, as the former size used allowed water to go through, helping to cause the problems. It was motioned by Jim Carr and seconded by Terri Gulick, that the project of the bridges be put out to bid, “to start the ball rolling, moving forward on this” as Jim Carr emphasized.
Mayor Joe Taylor emphasized the importance of opening the bridges and added, “We have no choice” in the matter.
The park project was also put out to bid for specs on improvement there.
Sis Smith told council that the topsoil that had been replaced in her property was “not enough and there certainly was not enough grass seed placed there to replace what had been uprooted,” The concern was echoed by her son, Tom Smith who stated, “They only used one load of topsoil, there should have been three.” A letter will be sent to the contractor to repair this problem.
Councilwoman Terri Gulick commended the New Milford Fire Company with the job they did (last Monday) handling a fire and keeping it from spreading to other homes. She added that Mr. Tom Smith did an excellent job organizing and aiding with five fire companies fighting the fire. Attending were: New Milford Fire Company; United Fire Company, Montrose; Susquehanna Fire Company; and Great Bend/Hallstead Fire Companies. “It was a scary thing to see and they did an impressive job.” Gulick reported
The parade of lights was also deemed a large success – King of Prussia really helped and made an impression, council thought. The fire truck was in the area and joined in the festivities with their crew and ladder truck. “We were happy to have them.” Rick Ainey added.
“Santa in the Park” will again be held on November 24, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Children are welcome to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him of their Christmas wishes, plus have their picture taken with Santa at no charge.
Concern with a certain pedophile living in the area was discussed. “Pedophiles are required to be 1500 feet from the schools, playgrounds, etc., as per Meghan’s Law,” Chris Allen told neighbors raising the concern. Terri Gulick referred them to “call the probation office and let them know what is happening.”
No new information regarding COG moving their offices has been received, although their current contract is up in July, 2007.
Ken Bondeau was recognized as “The Good Neighbor” of the month. Bondeau is active in the Men’s Club as well as heading the Bicentennial Celebration for New Milford, which comes up in 2009.
The next New Milford Borough Council meeting will be on December 6, 7 p.m. at The New Milford Borough Building.
The Center for Anti-Slavery Studies (CASS), the organization that tells the story of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s remarkable role in the freedom movement of the Underground Railroad, has received national recognition by the National Park Service (NPS). A press conference, held at Steamtown National Historic Site in downtown Scranton, announced the honor of the CASS’ designation as a listing in the NPS sponsored National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.
According to CASS President Sherman Wooden, “Northeastern Pennsylvania was a hotbed of activity during the Underground Railroad era, and was also a stronghold of those involved in the abolition of slavery.” He added, “Inclusion in the National Park Service 'Network to Freedom Program’ recognizes the significant role that this area played early in its history as a safe haven for formerly enslaved people.” Families who fled to this region, on their way to freedom in the north after escaping slavery, actually settled in local communities and created homes for themselves and their families. Many of their descendents live here with us today.
Through their program, “The Place I Call Home: Explorations on the Underground Railroad of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” CASS developed a tour that takes travelers on a narrated bus trip in the steps of the freedom seekers. Participants can walk along the actual routes that individuals used to escape the tyranny of slavery. Exploring this pivotal movement in American history, visitors learn about radical abolitionists, both black and white, and the incredible risks they took in defiance of the law to oppose slavery. Travelers hear how grass-roots efforts took hold in local churches and communities, and about how representatives from this region worked in the national legislature to effect change.
It is this story and the tour that gives the public a chance to experience a vital piece of American history that has been recognized by the National Park Service as deserving to be included on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
The Network to Freedom Program is a significant but distinct part of the National Park Service. Its goals are to increase public knowledge and understanding of the Underground Railroad, and to tell a comprehensive story of the people and events associated with this important social movement. The Network to Freedom Program is a diverse collection of historic sites, facilities and programs across the United States that promote historical research, documentation, and interpretation of the Underground Railroad movement. CASS is also a part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s statewide initiative, “Quest for Freedom,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Office of Tourism and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The Center for Anti-Slavery Studies is a non-profit organization whose goal is to make the history of the Abolition and Underground Railroad activities in this area accessible to the general public through research and programs. Its project, “The Place I Call Home,” has received significant national support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority provided technical assistance and funding from the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. A number of state agencies have supported CASS’ efforts, including the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s First Industries Program, and the Endless Mountains Heritage Region. The Scranton Area Foundation and the Luzerne Foundation have provided local funding.
For more information about the tour and other programs, contact The Center for Anti-Slavery Studies at (877) 772-6084 or log onto www.antislaverystudies.org.
Linda Carpenter to Stephen Carpenter and Cheryl Mills (AKA) Cheryl Carpenter, in Clifford Township for $44,528.41.
Donald L Roettenbacher (By Sheriff AKA) Donald Lynn Roettenbacher to Wells Fargo Bank, in Great Bend Township for $2,028.17.
Daniel and Kann Strohl to Daniel and Kann Strohl, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Ronald G. Brown, Jr. to Ronald G. Brown, Jr. and Christine M. Casey, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
William J., III and Bernadette Klaus to William J., III and Bernadette Klaus, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Rachel Kochmer to Rachel Kochmer, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Joseph and Debra J. Davis to Kenneth F. Perry, Sr., in Gibson Township for $55,000.00.
Donald W. Ayres to Raymond L. and Virginia D. Ayres, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
EMC Mortgage Corporation to Kenneth H. and Lisa Schmidt, in New Milford Township for $22,000.00.
United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Donna C. Coleman, in Susquehanna for $26,000.00.
James and Margaret L. Rogers to Kenneth R. Schoonover, in Bridgewater Township for $90,000.00.
Eugene F. and Marjorie L. Hamilton to Woodland Management Partners LP, in Auburn Township for $95,000.00.
Earl L. Keenan (EST), David H. and Shirley M. Walsh, Lois, Robert, Doris and Roy Kennedy to Theresa F. Beck, in Uniondale Borough for $73,000.00.
John R. and E. Patricia Kammerer to Bruce R. and Susan V. McAulliffe, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Richard H. and Sandra Bennett to Gordon and Marsha Mosier, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Gordon and Marsha Mosier to Gordon and Marsha Mosier, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Jonathan K. and Terry A. Tyler to Clair David and Barbara J. Snyder, in Harford Township for $20,000.00.
James L. Spoor to James L. Spoor, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Gary J. and Pamela S. Wickkiser to Scott E. and Karen L. Chase, in Auburn Township for $97,000.00.
Clarice and Terry (By POA) Schweppenheiser to Gary and Patricia Schweppenheiser, in Lenox Township for $20,000.00.
Clarice and Terry (By POA) Schweppenheiser to Gary and Patricia Schweppenheiser, in Lenox Township for $60,000.00.
Ronald J. and Gail Cosklo to Paul J. and Jennifer Lynn Salvatore, in Clifford Township for $194,000.00.
Brian and Diana E. Dick (NBM) Diana E. Janes to Brian and Diana E. Dick, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Theresa A. Delucia to Arthur E. Stephens, in Apolacon Township for one dollar.
James G. and Theresa M. Lai to Timothy D. and Donna M. Witmer, in Choconut Township for $75,000.00.
Robert and Grace Wert to Robert T., Jr. and Rebecca L. Sullivan, in Montrose for $189,000.00.
Federal National Mortgage Association (AKA) Fanniemae to Hope Hodges, in Lanesboro Borough for $49,820.00.
Elwood and Kimberly Sickler to Russell E. Malina, Jr., in Lathrop Township for $62,000.00.
Robert A. (Trust By Trustee) and Beatrice N. (Trust By Trustee) Whitehead to Scott A. Cornell and Wanda Kulp-Cornell, in Thompson Borough for $260,000.00.
Gloria I. Farrell to Francis J. Scoblick, in Oakland Township for $29,500.00.
Howard David Swick (Estate AKA) H. David Swick (Estate AKA) David Swick (Estate), William Earl and Carla Marie Swick, Bernice L. Brooks (NBM) Bernice L. Queen and James A. Queen to Edward F., Leonard J. and Judith A. Hartman, in Liberty Township for $40,000.00.
Robert C. and Grace E. Wert to Gerald R. and Carol E. Brown, in Montrose for $30,000.00.
Gerald R. and Carol E. Brown to Gerald R. and Carol E. Brown, in Montrose for one dollar.
Jacqueline Scully-Clark and Edward A. Clark to Algerd Choplosky, Jr., in Choconut Township for $24,900.00.
Richard and Loretta Ormsby to Richard L. and Diana E. Ormsby, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Daniel and K’ann Strohl to Daniel M. and Lori J. Trivett, in Auburn Township for $75,000.00.
Helen and Vincent Kovell to Michael Glenn Halick, in Gibson Township for $98,000.00.
Bryan E. Austin to Marsha Yaroslawski (NBM) Marsha A. Austin, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
George and Barbara Badger to Deborah A. Cullen, in New Milford Township for $120,000.00.
Leonard G. and Elaine B. Allen to Leonard G. and Elaine B. Allen, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Kathryn R. Cantarella to Sebastian Sytnik, in Forest City for $74,200.00.
Donna M. Manzer (By Sheriff AKA) Donna M. Henry (By Sheriff) to Peoples National Bank, in Gibson Township for $5,576.42.
Setzer Living Trust (By Trustee) to Lois B. Setzer (Protector Trust), in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
David J. and Judith A. Fisher to John E., Jr. and Linda W. Spitko, in New Milford Township for $95,000.00.
Marshall L. and Diana L. Kasson to Bryant and Vanessa Kasson, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Marshall L. and Diana L. Kasson to Bryant and Vanessa Kasson, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Andrew Suponcic, Jr., Eileen Debevec and Linda Griguts to Andrew Suponcic, Jr., in Forest City for one dollar.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Brian F. and Betsy L. Speer, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.
Ann D. Grick (By POA) to BCT Federal Credit Union, in Bridgewater Township for $245,000.00.
Mary Ann Tranovich (NBM) Mary Ann Shipsky to Mary Ann Tranovich (NBM) Mary Ann Shipsky, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
John Sanyshyn (AKA By Sheriff) John W. Sanyshyn and Elena G. Sanyshyn to Citifinancial Services, Inc., in Thompson Borough for $4,817.35.
Diane J. Button to Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLC, in Harford Township for $32,835.00.
James L. and Evelyn C. Miller to Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLC, in Gibson Township for $30,000.00.
Brendon M. and Jennifer Teel to Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLC, in Springville Township for $92,877.00.
Raymond and Judy L. Vibbard to Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLP, in Springville Township for $18,753.00.
Marie Frisbie (AKA By Sheriff) Marie Freeman (AKA By Sheriff) Marie F. Frisbie to Wells Fargo Bank, in Liberty Township for $2,983.88.
David B. and Judy C. Mead to Marny K. and Robert L., Jr. Hyde, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Bonnie and William Smith to Donald J. and Shirley A. Lockhart, in Springville Township for $1,500.00.
Marie A. Gesford (Estate AKA) Marie Gesford to Carol Mahoncak, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Edward and Florence Volk to Edward, Florence, Ryan and Edward, Jr. Volk, in Uniondale Borough for one dollar.
Al Ghameshlouy to Joseph G. and Jennifer M. Wildenstein, in Clifford Township for $20,000.00.
Jarrod Alan Parsons and Holly Ann Backo, both of Susquehanna.
Rebecca A. Jacoby vs. Ronald J. Jacoby, Jr., both of Friendsville, married 1998.
David E. Seamans vs. Kathleen L. Seamans, both of Susquehanna, married 1982.
Aimee C. Mahon of Montrose vs. Brian E. Mahon of Meshoppen, married 2005.
We, the undersigned committee members appointed by borough council to investigate the activities of certain individuals, do hereby render the following report to borough council with regard to Pat Schneyer:
1. Pat Schneyer served as Secretary/Treasurer for Starrucca Borough from approximately December 15, 2004, to her resignation in November, 2005, effective December, 2005. The legal ad for the Shadigee Creek Wall Project, placed in the newspaper by Mrs. Schneyer, was for 220 feet of retaining wall, not the 212 feet listed in the “scope of work” from FEMA. Pat Schneyer was the signatory on Ken Rauch’s excavating contract for this project, despite no motion by council to authorize same, and without any other legal authority to do so. The duties of the secretary as defined in the Borough Code do not include signing legal contracts to bind the borough council. See 53 P.S. Section 46111. She also stated that Paul Everett filled out the GP 11 permit without any engineering design or seal as required, and admitted involvement in contacting government agencies in furtherance of the project using FEMA funds.
2. Mrs. Schneyer stated that transfers over the telephone with Penn Star Bank from one account to another were generally the same day. She further testified that she reviewed Starrucca’s cancelled checks, both front and back, at Paul Everett’s home, at a time when both she and Paul Everett were private citizens. She came at Paul Everett’s request. At that time (November, 2006), both she and Mr. Everett were not borough officials or employees in any capacity. She further testified that when she reviewed the borough records, including the cancelled checks, she found no missing monies. When she determined that the $5,054.15 had not been transferred from the General Funds to the State Liquid Fuel Fund, she personally contacted PennDOT. Her motive here was clearly to further the cause of undermining the sitting borough council and its then secretary, Laura Travis. She did not contact council or Secretary Travis to obtain these records. Mrs. Schneyer also testified that she attended a FEMA kick-off meeting, at which it was stated that private property was not eligible for FEMA funding. Mrs. Schneyer also aided and abetted in the public dissemination of private checks, including account information not contained in or comprising Starrucca Borough records, in an unauthorized manner. Her actions created the possibility of a lawsuit or action against herself and others, including borough council.
3. Further, Pat Schneyer received a salary increase in 2005, for which she testified there was no documentation in the borough minutes supporting same. She was responsible as secretary for this documentation. Any checks written to Pat Schneyer after the pay raise for her secretarial/treasurer services in 2005/2006 would have been done without a legal vote at a regular or special meeting of council. We find that then secretary/treasurer Pat Schneyer was aware that private property was not eligible for funding through FEMA at the time she was borough secretary and the FEMA process continued. At the April 4, 2005 council meeting (Gurske Exhibit 1), Paul Everett stated that DEP required engineering, that FEMA would pay only for the scope of work, and that a GP11 permit application reflecting a seal and a design by a professional engineer is required. Additionally, Renee Warden’s deed was introduced at the June, 2005 council meeting so that all persons in attendance at that meeting or reading the minutes thereof were aware that the Shadigee Creek Wall Project was to have been performed on private property. Pat Schneyer stated to council at a public meeting or otherwise that private property was not eligible for FEMA funding. Pat Schneyer willingly signed a contract with Ken Rauch Excavating on November 21, 2005, with no permits in place and no funding in place other than FEMA, which had agreed to pay for the “scope of work.”
We find that Pat Schneyer committed serious acts of misfeasance and breached her fiduciary and legal duties to borough council and the citizens of Starrucca Borough. We recommend that Pat Schneyer be sanctioned for her acts of commission and omission, that this report be forwarded to the District Attorney of Wayne County and all appropriate agencies for appropriate action, and that the costs of this investigation be assessed against her.
Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) said that residents struggling to pay home-heating costs this winter may apply for Pennsylvania's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning November 5.
LIHEAP, which is funded by the federal government and administered by the state Department of Public Welfare (DPW), helps low-income households pay their heating bills and provides assistance to individuals in danger of losing heat due to emergency situations.
Income eligibility for the 2007-08 LIHEAP season will remain at 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. These guidelines were updated and published on January 24, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This year, a family of four with an annual income of up to $30,975 can qualify for LIHEAP. The more generous income limits mean than an additional 67,000 Pennsylvania families will be eligible than at the 135 percent level.
People do not need to have unpaid bills in order to receive energy assistance, and they can receive this assistance without being on welfare.
If a person is eligible for LIHEAP, a payment will be sent directly to the utility or fuel dealer, and the payment credited to the person's bill. Additional money is available to individuals if they have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing their heat. Grants are based on family size, income, type of heating fuel and heating regions.
To apply for LIHEAP, call or visit the local county assistance office to set up an appointment. Residents should be sure to apply in their home counties, and are reminded they need the following to obtain assistance: names of people in the household; dates of birth for people in the household; Social Security numbers for all household members; proof of income for members of the household; a copy of a recent heating bill.
The telephone number for LIHEAP assistance in Susquehanna County is 1-888-753-6328.
Approximately 30 days following the date an application for energy assistance has been received, the applicant will receive a written notice explaining their eligibility and what level of assistance they should expect to receive.
For more information call the toll-free LIHEAP hotline at 866-857-7095 (individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 800-451-5886). Internet users can access additional information by visiting Major's Web site at RepMajor.com.