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Issue Home November 21, 2007 Site Home

The Democrats Have It!
Jennings Issues Complaint

Drug Arrest In Susky
Sentencing Report
Courthouse Report
Pension, Water Tower On Susky Agenda
Grants, Board Rotation At MASD
Hallstead Park Repair Nearing Completion
Blue Ridge Won't Raise Taxes More Than 6%
Harford Offers 2008 Budget
Elk Lake Commendations

The Democrats Have It!
By Carole M. Canfield

Commissioners for the 2008 – 2012 Term are Republican Mike Giangrieco, and Democrats Mary Ann Warren and Leon Allen. This is reportedly the second time in Susquehanna County that this has happened (Democrat majority instead of a Republican majority).

The Election Board ceremoniously signed and verified the tally totals in front of the audience attending the announcement of the final figures.

Vote numbers were Giangrieco 3,969; Warren 3,177 and Allen 3,169 in the final tallies.

In other County races: District Attorney – Jason Legg 9,162; County Treasurer – Cathy Benedict 8,497; Registrar & Recorder – Mary Evans 9,411 County Coroner – Anthony Conarton 8,258; Tax Auditors, George Starzec 6,201, Holly Bialy 5,025 and Susan Jennings 4,291.

The Southern Magisterial District Judge was won by Suzanne Brainard with 2,428 votes.

School Board Directors are: Blue Ridge School District – Joel Whitehead, Harold Empett, Cindy Gaughan and Lorraine Brown Bonner; Elk Lake School District – Chuck Place, Amy Teel, Alice Carr, Matt Curley; Forest City School District – William Kubus and Mary Emmett; Mountain View School District – Don Twining, Ellen Aherne, John Halupke, Ordie Price and Jay Wescott unofficially at press time;: Montrose Area High School District – Julie Humphrey, Pamela Staats, Doug Wilcox, Chris Caterson, Mary Homan and Kathryn Mordovancey; and Susquehanna Community School District – Holly Kubus, Jason T. Chamberlain, Martha Stanford, Clay Weaver, Evelyn A Cottrell and Steven M. Stanford.

Let us not say that this Election Board did not do their job, but allow me to say that it took a lot of time, patience, integrity and honesty to come to their final conclusions. There were 39 – 40 of 43 ballot boxes being opened to secure correct figures in the 2007 election. It was reported that 48% of the voting population actually showed at the voting precincts.

After a slow start on Friday, November 3, the Board consisting of Richard (Rick) Ainey, Carolyn Paccio, Dawn Wilson, Donna Gelatt and Barbara Squier, gathered Saturday, 9 – 2 and Monday, 9 – 4 as well as Tuesday, 9 – 4:30 and Wednesday, 9 – 4 to help acquire and prove actual counts in the 2007 Election.

Registrar Gary Wilder worked hard to have the Official Returns – Pre – Final Certification Results ready by 10:00 Thursday morning.

Discrepancies arose early on with the first four municipalities not matching the machine counts. “The machine was always right this year,” Rick Ainey told members of the audience. “Right on every time!”

“We tried to make sure each and every vote was accounted for, if it didn't match we kept at it until we found it.” Carolyn Paccio stated. “We were trying to do our best to find and account for each and every vote so there would be no need for a recount.”

It was noted that the “Official Books” were now open for the public for inspection and official results were ready as promised.

Carolyn Paccio stated that she would like to make it known that this board had to make decisions that affect so many, “Lots of responsibility with this position.”

Paccio added that due to the combined work and length of time and effort on such an election with so many write-ins, she felt that the Board should be compensated for the extra time and effort extended. “We searched until we proved every single vote, no matter what it took.” Rick Ainey heartily agreed.

She also added that without the help of Chief Clerk/Director of Elections Sylvia Beamer and the clerical staff, Dan Walter, Deputy Chief Clerk, Laura Watts, and several others, this election board would have had a more difficult time proving the precincts.

John Hoffman said, “All five days, I have been here and this board has exhibited integrity, honesty and are way above reproach, they have done an excellent job here and deserve compensation for their loyal efforts.”

Rick Ainey relayed that during this Election Board Process he would like to commend the staff, the excellent Director, Sylvia Beamer, Dan Walter, Laura Watts, his fellow Election Board members and the other clerks within the County Offices who aided the Election Board in their endeavors.

“We, as a board, will stand behind these numbers, all the way,” Ainey added. “The Susquehanna County Courthouse as a whole is all right!The staff here has proven itself and I am proud to have served with all of you.”

Ainey added that he did have a personnel issue in that Registrar Gary Wilder, was allegedly counting and keeping track of Roberta Kelly’s write-ins, which is not allowed, and that he also kept notes in a book. However, Ainey did say that when he asked Wilder what he was doing, Wilder said he was keeping information to pass on to the board and immediately turned over the book to the Election Board. Wilder said that with the entire write-in votes, it was just too much to keep without make a note.

Ann Whynman stated that she felt there was a certain innuendo as to the comment from Ainey and said that Wilder had done nothing wrong. Ainey stated that was his opinion and that he felt it should be noted, so he did.

There is still the question of compensation for the Election Board Members, who worked over 55 – 58 hours, each, on the election’s ballot boxes and proving votes, alone. They also had about 5 – 8 hours of training and classes, plus travel and five meetings, ranging from five minutes to over an hour and one half. They are compensated for mileage.

Commissioner Warren stated that she would look into the matter to see if she could help get additional compensation for the Election Board members.

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Jennings Issues Complaint
By Carole M. Canfield

Outgoing Commissioner Robert Kelly called the November 14 commissioners’ meeting to order in the Emergency Management Agency Conference Room with Commissioner Mary Ann Warren present. Commissioner Jeffrey Loomis was not in attendance.

Mrs. Kelly thanked and acknowledged all officials and voters throughout the County. “I am proud to have been a part and taken part in so many things to benefit the residents of Susquehanna County. I wish the new administration a smooth transition and will make every effort to be available and still remain active within Susquehanna County.

“Thanks, everyone, it’s been great,” she closed.

Commissioners and attendees were treated to a very apt presentation of a “go–bag” by Ann Whynman. The importance of this bag could not be stressed enough, as Ms. Whynman described the purpose and uses of the bag in great detail, complete with health, safety, warmth, first aid, food, beverage, water, directional, makeshift shelter and fire and cooking provisions. Mrs. Whynman stated that this bag should be packed, one for every member of the household and used as an emergency bag in case of flooding, winter weather, fire, no electricity, stuck in traffic or any possible emergency situation. “It may mean the importance of making yourself a little more comfortable with a sense of well-being throughout what could be a (problematic) situation,” Whynman related.

She explained that the main thing in any of these type emergency situations is not to panic, and suggested that packing a small basic survival book within the bag could be a big help. “A go–bag will give you a sense of some security and help keep you focused on what you need to do,” Whynman said.

An emphasis was placed on extra changes of clothing, black contractor garbage bags (used for shelter ponchos, etc.), fire starters, safety items such as a whistle, flashlight with extra batteries, illuministick, safety vest and water in addition to food items including but not limited to juice boxes, as they don’t freeze, tuna pouch, granola bars, raisins, nuts, chocolate, safety bandages, gauze, antibiotic cream, prescription medications, Tylenol/Advil, chapstick. Ms Whynman stressed not to forget your pets in times of emergencies.

Additional items that could/should be included are cell phone, water, sleeping bag, fire extinguisher, winter jacket, boots, cat litter or salt and a shovel, plus pet food if you have a pet. She added that if you are stuck somewhere on the road, it is a good idea to turn the car off for 50 minutes of every hour. “It will help your gas stretch six times as long,” she added.

“The rule of three is most important: three seconds panic, three minutes air, three hours shelter/heat, three days of water, and three weeks of food.”

Several people spoke with Ms. Whynman after the meeting stating “If I get lost or stranded I want to be with you,” referring to the precision she had used in acquiring almost everything you can think of to cover any situation that may happen. Commissioner Kelly added that she has watched several Survivor shows and she learned more in this 15-minute presentation than she had learned in any of those programs.

Several of the members of the audience expressed the importance and fine job the board of elections had done in this election, with so many write ins making it necessary for the board to work over 50+ hours, just on proving votes. It was stated and stressed that the commissioners should take this into consideration and make an adjustment in the salary already set at $200 for the entire election process. Commissioner Mary Ann Warren stated that she would be sure to bring it up, as she had done in the past, but she got squashed by the Salary Board, who voted the motion down previous years.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Jim Jennings stated that he was issuing a private criminal complaint which he had filed against Commissioners Loomis, with Commissioner Warren being a participant, in regards to the alleged violation of “The Sunshine Law” in conjunction with a meeting allegedly held on September 14, 2007 in which Loomis and Warren allegedly “met, along with Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer in executive session to discuss the terms of Voting Registrar, Gary Wilder. The decision was made and acted on to extend the probation period on Wilder for six months. Wilder was notified of the extension on September 14, 2007.”

The minutes of the 10/24/2007 meeting were corrected and approved. Motions were made to approve the various general expenses, payroll and other deductions, as well as various seminar requests.

Motion by Commissioner Warren to change the employment status of Aimee Lefever, Children & Youth case aide from temporary to permanent, range and rate unchanged – Range 9, at $9.16 per hour with benefits per the Residual Bargain Unit Contract, per the recommendation of Susan Adamec, Agency Director. The motion was passed and seconded.

A motion was made to exonerate a parcel of land, name of Donald Burns, New Milford Township, as it was deleted by Assessment October, 2006. 2006 school taxes were returned as unpaid by the Tax Collector. Kelly seconded the motion and it passed.

Motion by Commissioner Warren to hire Tiffany Lord to the open position of part time 911 dispatcher, with no change in range or rate, as Ms. Lord continued to work on an as-needed basis after her resignation from her full time dispatcher position, due to a shortage of trained dispatchers, Residual Bargaining Unit Contract, effective 11/25/2007, per the recommendation of Art Donato, 911 Coordinator.

The next commissioners’ meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 28, at the County Office Building, EMA Conference Room at 10 a.m.

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Drug Arrest In Susky
By Carole M. Canfield

The Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with The “Drug Task Force,” reported that several people were picked up on controlled substance violations, in Susquehanna Borough.

According to the release, Omaj Elie, Valerie Zeruth, Susquehanna; Anthony Roberts, Hallstead, (formerly of New York City), were charged with numerous counts, stemming from October, 2007, drug-related incidents in Susquehanna Borough, at 801 W. Main Street. William Roberts of Hallstead was also arrested.

The report stated that an ongoing investigation and undercover work by the Drug Task Force helped pull the arrest together.

Omaj Elie was charged with “possession of a controlled substance” in that he possessed 27 bags of crack cocaine and a bag of marijuana; “did possess with intent to deliver” 27 bags of crack cocaine; “possession of drug paraphernalia," in that he did possess plastic bags, large and small, for packaging crack and a soda bottle mounted with a straw for smoking crack.

William Roberts, Hallstead, was charged with “criminal conspiracy, i.e. delivery of a controlled substance in the presence of an undercover state trooper”; “criminal use of communications facility,” which is a felony, and delivery of crack cocaine, a second time in the presence of an undercover state trooper.

A search warrant was served in October to a residence in Susquehanna Borough, where Elie and Zeruth lived and Anthony Roberts “stayed with them for a while.”

While at that Susquehanna residence, the 27 packaged bags of cocaine that were seized, were already packaged for sale.

In addition, undercover buy monies were found on Anthony Roberts and in the bedroom of Zeruth and Elie. It was admitted that the monies belonged to her and Elie.

According to county detective William J. Strong, “Buy monies from the William Roberts Hallstead incident were actually found in the pocket of Anthony Williams,” at the Susquehanna Borough residence.

“Field tests were performed on both the cocaine and marijuana seized and both tested positive.” As a result of the findings, based on the previously mentioned facts, the charges of “possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance” and “possession of a controlled substance” were substantiated against all occupants of the residence as well as the charge of “possession of drug paraphernalia.”

The Drug Task Force is made of 10 local, part-time police officers who have been sworn in as County Detectives, which gives them the authority of working as County Detectives, anywhere in Susquehanna County.

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Sentencing Report

Following is the Susquehanna County sentencing report for November, 2007 as submitted by the county District Attorney’s office.

Krystal Anne Williams, 24, Montrose, to 23 months probation, pay restitution to the victim in this case, pay cost of prosecution, pay $500 fine, perform 25 hours community service, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample for Theft by Unlawful Taking in Bridgewater Township on January 1, 2003.

Ryan Frank Ross, 28, Uniondale, to 30 days to 6 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $1500 fine, subject to Pennsylvania Interlock Law, pay $100 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, pay $100 Act 198 fee, attend alcohol highway safe driving school program, pay cost of prosecution for Driving Under the Influence in Clifford Township on March 4, 2007.

Beth Ann Bruce, 48, of Dalton, PA to 10 days to 12 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time spent at a residential treatment facility, pay $500 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, pay $200 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, continue with outpatient counseling program, attend alcohol highway safe driving school program, subject to Pennsylvania ignition interlock law, supervision may be transferred to Lackawanna County for Driving Under the Influence in Clifford Township on May 11, 2007.

Michael J. Hallock, 43, of Tunkhannock, PA to 4 months to 23 1/2 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, receive drug and alcohol counseling while incarcerated, continue with drug and alcohol treatment once paroled, perform 25 hours community service, receive a mental health evaluation, not to have contact with the victim in this case, pay cost of prosecution, pay $750 fine for Simple Assault in Auburn Township on January 6, 2007.

Benjamin Franklin Reynolds, 48, of Thompson, to 1 year to 4 years in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $1,000 fine, pay cost of prosecution, not to have contact with the victim in this case, not to have contact with children under the age of 18, perform 25 hours community service, complete a sexual abusers counseling course for Corruption of Minors in Susquehanna Borough on April 20, 2004. The defendant also received 5 years probation served consecutive to the above sentence, pay $1,000 fine, pay cost of prosecution, not to have contact with minors under the age of 18, not to have contact with the victim in this case, complete sexual abusers counseling course, perform 25 hours community service for Unlawful Contact with a Minor in Susquehanna Borough on April 20, 2004.

Robin Charles Grow, 48, of Montrose, to 4 years to 10 years in a state correctional facility, credit for time served, pay restitution to the victim in this case, pay cost of prosecution, pay $1,000 fine, take all prescribed medications, receive a drug and alcohol assessment, not to have contact with personnel of the Pennstar Bank, not to possess any weapons, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample for Robbery in New Milford Borough on January 26, 2006.

Stephen Smith, 23, of Susquehanna, to 1 year probation to run consecutive to any sentence currently being served, pay $400 fine, pay cost of prosecution, not to have contact with the victim or her family, not to possess, transport or consume alcoholic beverages, continue maintaining full time employment for Simple Assault in Susquehanna Borough on July 1, 2007.

Mickey Perry, 33, of Little Meadows, to 18 months probation, pay $200 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim in this case, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Silver Lake on August 16, 2005. The defendant also received 18 months probation to run concurrent to the above sentence, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 fine, pay restitution to the victims in this case, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, not to use controlled substances, perform 25 hours community service for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Little Meadows on May 3, 2007.

James Raymond Kalka, 20 of Binghamton, NY to 1 year probation, to run concurrent with any current sentence, supervision may be transferred to Broome County, pay $300 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victims in this case, not to possess any weapons, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Theft by Unlawful Taking in Hallstead Borough on October 25, 2006.

William Henry Watkins, 37, of Montrose, to 5 months to 23 1/2 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, supervision may be transferred, pay $500 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, not to possess any firearms for Receiving Stolen Property in Lenox Township on June 22, 2007.

Rebecca A Palukonis, 25, of Hop Bottom, to pay $300 fine and pay cost of prosecution for Identity Theft in Clifford Township on June 23, 2006.

Warren Neil Petersen, 43, of Pleasant Mount, PA, 2 months to 12 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $500 fine, pay cost of prosecution, not to have contact with the victim in this case, not to have contact with minors under the age of 18, perform 25 hours community service, supervision may be transferred to Wayne County to for Disorderly Conduct in Uniondale Borough on April 6, 2006.

Michael S Stranburg, 21, of Montrose, to 48 hours to 6 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay cost of prosecution, pay $300 fine, pay $50 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, pay $100 Act 198 fee, receive drug and alcohol evaluation, complete alcohol highway safe driving school program for Driving Under the Influence in Montrose on April 15, 2007. The defendant also received a $25 fine, $10 EMA, $30 CAT surcharge and cost of prosecution for Careless Driving in Montrose on April 15, 2007. Finally, the defendant received a $25 fine, $10 EMS, $30 CAT surcharge and cost of prosecution for Obedience to Traffic Control Devices in Montrose on April 15, 2007.

Anthony J. Fino, 37, of South Montrose, to 90 days to 18 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $1,500 fine, pay $300 Act 198 fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay $200 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, complete alcohol highway safe driving school program, receive alcohol abuse counseling, perform 25 hours community service for Driving Under the Influence in Montrose on June 23, 2007.

Joseph Allan Machell, 44, of Uniondale, to 3 months to 36 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, subject to intensive supervision for first 3 months, pay cost of prosecution, pay $600 fine, drug and alcohol education, not to possess transport or consume alcoholic beverage, not to have contact with the victims in this case for Terroristic Threats in Clifford on June 12, 2007. The defendant also received a $200 fine and cost of prosecution for Public Drunkenness in Clifford on June 12, 2007.

Ryan James Cokely, 21, of Montrose, to 72 hours to 6 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $1,000 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, attend an alcohol highway safe driving school program, not to enter any establishment whose sole purpose is the sale of alcohol, not to transport, consume or possess alcoholic beverages for Driving Under the Influence in Montrose on August 5, 2007. The defendant also received 12 months probation, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, perform 25 hours community service for Harassment in Montrose on October 6, 2007.

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Courthouse Report
Compiled By Lauren P. Ficarro


John Winans (AKA) John F. Winans and Christine W. Jaffe to Pennsylvania Commonwealth – Dept. Of Transportation, in Franklin Township for one dollar.

Jennifer R. Ehrie (NKA) Jennifer R. Allen and Thomas R. Ehrie to Pennsylvania Commonwealth – Dept. Of Transportation, in Franklin Township for one dollar.

Ameriquest Mortgage Securities, Inc. (By Trustee) to Pennsylvania Commonwealth – Dept. Of Transportation, in Franklin Township for one dollar.

Tracy M. and Katrina D. Flynn to Edward C., Sr., Terry B. and Lisa A. House, in Lathrop Township for $56,000.00.

Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Joel B. Adler, in Herrick Township for one dollar.

Mary F. Stapleton to Michael and Jime A. Grabowski, in Lanesboro borough for $195,000.00.

James A. and Laurie A. Fuller to James A. and Laurie A. Fuller, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Joseph P. and Jennifer Lynn Natale to Brian J. Melody, in Great Bend Township for $145,000.00.

John W. and Erin Oakley to Susan Panza-O'Brien, in Great Bend Township for $168,000.00.

John and Betty Phillips to Lisa Wojtkowski, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Mary E. Snyder to Thomas and Lori J. Kapcsandi, in Thompson Township for $30,000.00.

SOLIDA, Inc. to Corporation Of The Residing Bishop Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, in Oakland Township for $114,000.00.

Dennis W. (By Sheriff) and Pamela J. (By Sheriff) Hayes to First Liberty Bank & Trust, in Choconut Township for $25,671.52.

Ronald G., Brenda J., Ward H. and Linda S. Decker and Decker Farms Realty Associates to Ronald G. and Brenda Decker, in Rush Township for one dollar.

Ronald G., Brenda J., Ward H. and Linda S. Decker and Decker Farms Realty Associates to Ronald G. and Brenda Decker, in Rush Township for one dollar.

Ronald G., Brenda J., Ward H. and Linda S. Decker and Decker Farms Realty Associates to Ward and Linda S. Decker, in Rush Township for one dollar.

Ronald G., Brenda J., Ward H. and Linda S. Decker and Decker Farms Realty Associates to Linda S. and Ward H. Decker, in Rush and Jessup Townships for one dollar.

Pennsylvania Coal Company to David Wells, in Forest City for $1,000.00.

James and Muriel Wells to Afionas Properties LLC, in Forest City for $215,000.00.

Dean A. and Valerie Johnson to John H. and Lang C. Walker, in Auburn Township for $75,000.00.

Richard Patrick and Mary L. Donnelly to Richard Patrick and Mary L. Donnelly, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.

Norman N. Norton to Norman N. and Tammy L. Norton, in New Milford and Jackson Townships for one dollar.

Laverne Tingley to Eleanor Degaeta, in Susquehanna for $69,500.00.

Lyle and Marjorie A. Cunningham to Timothy J. and Melanie R. Cunningham, in Harmony Township for one dollar.

David H. Strickland (Estate) to Loren P. Wright, in Hop Bottom Borough for $82,500.00.

John Bush to Gregory A. Cloutheir, in Choconut Township for $151,000.00.

Christina Yankauskas (AKA By Sheriff) Christina Thurston (By Sheriff) to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., in Forest City for $3,119.03.

Larry Lathrop (AKA) Lawrence E. Lathrop and Linda Lathrop to Peter D. and Alexandra J. Vanderlyke, in Forest Lake Township for $205,000.00.

Ruth Button to Lisa K. Phillips and Chad Drumm, in New Milford Borough for $93,000.00.

Edward F., Leonard J. and Judith A. Hartman to Leonard J. and Judith A. Hartman, in Liberty Township for one dollar.

Edward F., Leonard J. and Judith A. Hartman to Edward F. Hartman, in Liberty Township for one dollar.

Paul G. and Linda E. Montalbano to Richard and Loretta Ormsby, in Rush Township for $19,000.00.

Stephen F. and Judy A. Whitaker to Stephen F. and Judy A. Whitaker, in Lanesboro Borough for one dollar.

Fern Bean Kaminske to Fern Bean Kaminske and Marily J. Naumovitz, in Clifford Township for one dollar.

Olive E. and William W. Marion to Olive E., William W., Wendy H. and James A., Sr. Marion, in Thompson Borough for one dollar.

Joseph J. King, Jr. (Estate) to Marcia White, in Great Bend Township for $10,000.00.

Stephen M. and Catherine L. Grausbruber to Stephen, Jeanett, Kathy, Gerard and Carolyn Grausgruber, in Susquehanna for one dollar.

Donna Jacoby to Mary R. Gibson-Gesualdi, in Clifford Township for $140,000.00.

David and Myrna Seigfried to Randy A. and Colette J. Huffman, in Apolacon Township for $15,000.00.

Robert L. and Melissa J. Rogers to Daniel J. and Bridget M. Ferencik, in Apolacon Township for $161,000.00.

NRLL East LLC to Mehboob Ahmed, in Lenox Township for $8,660.00.

Stephen John and Linda Langton to Stephen John, Linda, William A. and Glenda T. Langton, in Dimock Township for one dollar.

Peter T. and Mary A. Butler to William Moriarty, in Lanesboro Borough for $70,000.00.


Jason Miller and Morgan Lee Abbott, both of Montrose.

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Pension, Water Tower On Susky Agenda
By Barbara Whitehead

Requesting time on the agenda of the November 13 Susquehanna Boro Council meeting was Bill Hildebrandt of Beyer-Barber, the actuarial firm that oversees the boro’s police pension fund. Mr. Hildebrandt was there at council’s request to answer some questions about the fund, in particular the boro’s yearly contribution. Mr. Hildebrandt gave a brief recap of the fund’s history. At this time there are no active (eligible) employees, and only two receiving benefits, one a retired officer on disability, and the spouse of a deceased officer. Mr. Hildebrandt said that Beyer-Barber’s records indicated that when the deceased officer became eligible to enter into the plan he was single, when in fact he was married. His widow had applied for benefits after his death, to which she was entitled, according to boro ordinance. Due to the clerical error, the boro’s contribution had a major shortfall of approximately $98,000. As there were no active employees, the state demanded that the boro pay the $98,000 all at once, which it was unable to do. Beyer-Barber was able to negotiate an amortized payment, which at the current time is abut $14,000/year. Mr. Hildebrandt said that the fund has been seeing a better return than had been anticipated. If it continues to do so, the boro’s contribution would decrease every two years,

The historic water tower was again brought up for discussion. The Matis family had offered to gift it to the boro, at no cost other that the cost of a survey and legal fees to transfer title. A motion had carried at the May 8 meeting to accept the offer. But, the matter was again on the agenda at this meeting, in response to a letter from Attorney Ray Davis asking if the boro was going to take ownership.

Since it had been agreed that refurbishing the tower would be of benefit to the boro, as it is noticeable from whichever route one takes into the boro and it would aid in drawing tourists to the area, Ron Whitehead made a motion to proceed with the acquisition. A member of the audience asked what the cost would be to renovate the tower. As has been discussed in depth at a number of previous meetings, the boro can pursue grant funding to refurbish the tower, but only if it is owned by the boro. Some of the grants available might require some sort of “in-kind” contribution by the boro, not necessarily a financial contribution.

Another audience member stated that lead paint had been used to paint the tower some time in the 1950’s, which would first require sand blasting to remove it. Mr. Whitehead responded that he had researched the matter, and there were other methods available that would seal the surface and would not require sand blasting.

A resident asked how long it would take to secure funding and refurbish it. Council’s prediction was that it could take years; the alternative, Mr. Kelly said, was “to leave it stand until it falls down.” It was asked if ownership would be a significant liability to the boro (insurance costs). Mr. Kelly said that it was a surprisingly small increase.

Dave Scales said that there is money in scrap, and suggested that council consider dismantling it and selling it for scrap; Mr. Kelly responded that it would most likely be unusable as scrap, because of the lead paint.

Mr. Whitehead said he would hate to see that happen, as there are only about 200 water towers left in the entire country. Because of that, grant funding could be pursued through “icon” grants, which have less stringent requirements than other types. He again made a motion to continue with acquisition of the tower. Mr. Kuiper and Mr. Perry voted “no.” Mr. Whitehead and Mr. Kelly voted “yes.” Mr. Matis abstained because he felt it would be a conflict of interest because his family owns the tower, even though they will not be receiving any financial compensation if the agreement goes through. With John Bronchella and Roy Williams absent, that left the deciding vote up to Mayor Reddon, who voted “yes.”

In other business, one of the LERTA ordinances the boro had adopted several months ago needed some adjustments. A clause in the one regarding commercial ordinances pertained to residential structures, and a problem had arisen with an application for a commercial tax abatement due to its inclusion. After a short discussion, a motion agreed to remove the clause and advertise the amendment.

A motion carried to accept a remediation of codes violations agreement with Doug Arthur, who had approached council last month on the matter, regarding a building he had purchased on Main St.

A motion carried to adopt Resolution 111307, amending the fee schedule to a flat rate for permits and assessments.

Through the Elm Street project, grant funding has been obtained for the Garden Club to purchase a small greenhouse, to be used to grow plants for beautification of the boro. Margaret Biegert, who manages the Elm St. project through TREHAB, requested council’s permission to put the greenhouse on a small plot behind the borough building. Council agreed, and also to allow hookup of electrical service to the boro building. A small amount would be needed in the early spring for a space heater. Mr. Perry suggested they look into a propane one, there are some available with temperature controls.

The garden club is looking into putting flower boxes along the road where the “Welcome to Susquehanna” signs are on Route 92. If the club secures permission from the property owners to put them in, would the boro be willing to allow the streets department to assist? Council agreed that would be possible.

The resident who asked about the cost of renovating the water tower asked whose responsibility the greenhouse would be if it were to be vandalized. Its placement near the police department should mean that that will not happen, but in the event it does it will be the responsibility of the garden club.

Continuing with discussion of the Elm Street project, Mrs. Biegert said that the blighted property at Broad and Main Streets had been acquired and demolished through the program. The property was then resold, and the proceeds put back into the acquisition/demolition fund. More funds were being applied for, and council was asked for their input on which properties were most in need of demolition in the Elm Street Project area. Council agreed to discuss the matter further in the executive session slated for the end of the meeting.

Several ordinances are on the table for consideration. One, in correlation with the renters ordinance, would provide for the eviction of disruptive tenants who have had the police summoned three or more times in a one-year span. A sample from another municipality was provided to council members to review and make any suggestions for tailoring it to Susquehanna’s needs. One suggestion was to include some provision for getting information from the State Police when they respond to disturbance calls within the boro.

Also under consideration is an ordinance dealing with vacant buildings, similar to one that had been passed in Binghamton, NY. The CEOs were asked to review it, and to adapt it to PA Code as well as to the boro’s needs.

Another ordinance deals with utilities that are located within the boro, or more specifically, regulating them. This is in preparation for the proposed New York Regional Interconnect high-voltage power line that may or may not be routed through Susquehanna County. A motion carried to proceed immediately with enacting this ordinance contingent on the solicitor’s review. It was agreed that the sooner it is in place, the better.

The Susquehanna Community Development Association will be hosting their annual tree lighting on Friday, November 30, 7 p.m. at the boro building. Following the ceremony, there will be refreshments and a sing-along at the fire station. SCDA will also be hosting a free breakfast with Santa, Saturday, December 1, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at St. John’s Parish Center. This, too is an annual event and is free to local children.

Dave Scales asked council to look into a retaining wall on East Main Street that appears to be moving, tipping over into the street. Some time ago, a section of it had collapsed, and at the time, PennDOT was asked to fix it as it is on a state road. However, PennDOT said that it was the property owner’s responsibility. Mr. Scales asked council to revisit the situation, as an official question from the fire department. It was noted that the wall has shifted noticeably since the flooding of 2006.

Mr. Scales also invited council to a ribbon cutting ceremony to be held some time in December. With the cooperation of the fire department, the Susquehanna Community School and a number of contractors/workers, a new helipad is being put in at the school campus. The new site is a more ideal location than the one currently being used, and is a permanent site with perimeter lighting and should be ready for use early in December.

A visitor launched into a lengthy complaint about drainage work done on Franklin Ave. Council suggested that his concerns be brought to the streets committee meeting.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 27, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.

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Grants, Board Rotation At MASD
By Melinda Darrow

The November 12 Montrose School Board meeting did not open per the usual procedure. Instead of the accustomed recitation of the Lord's prayer, a moment of silence for soldiers was observed. The meeting then proceeded with such topics as school board members, gifted testing (or lack thereof), bus safety, and grants being touched upon.

This meeting saw the addition of one school board member, and the loss of three. Gloria Smith, the only applicant for the region one vacancy created by the resignation of Mr. Sives, was interviewed by the board. She stated that she wanted to be a board member to investigate how the system works. When asked what she would like to see changed about the school, she stated that she would like kids to be recognized more for good behavior, as opposed to students with bad behavior getting the majority of the attention. After being appointed she was given a welcome packet and a seat to begin her term. Mr. Sives was not at the meeting to meet his replacement, but he and the other two outgoing board members, Ms. Gieski and Mrs. Ridler, were officially recognized for their work on the board. They were presented with certificates (Mr. Sives will get his at a later time presumably), and given handshakes, hugs, and the nameplates they have used.

Another group to receive public gratitude and a certificate was the grant writing team. This panel of administrators was formed to replace the now-retired staff member responsible for grants. The team has acquired more than $300,000 for the district in the 2006-2007 school year. Mr. Ognosky, in recognition of their efforts and prowess in this area, created certificates which were publicly distributed to those present. Mr. Owens was specifically singled out, and alluded to as the “king” of grant writing. Mrs. O'Malley, the director of food services, was also acknowledged. She was appointed to be on the team, and recognized for her work with the wellness grants, etc.

A testament to their success may be discerned through the announcement of a 21st Century Community Learners Grant, spearheaded by Mr. McComb and Mr. Adams. Montrose was awarded $50,000 a year for three years, in order to run a summer day camp for students from both elementary schools combined. The camp will occur at Choconut Valley, in order to make use of that facility's land. Lathrop street kids, however, will be provided with transportation to the site. The camp will focus mainly on Language Arts and Math, and will include art and physical education components.

The board agreed to discuss, in the near future, a request by transportation employees for compensation due to raised fuel prices. The request, which, it was noted, was not made in a pushy manner, was to be broached at a compensation committee meeting.

Dr. Golden brought for the board's approval a two-year School Improvement Plan. This plan was a requirement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, due to the district's IEP students not making annual yearly progress again. The school was already in warning. The document was to be a two-year plan allowing students to move from the basic to the proficient level. If the district makes AYP for the next two years, it will be able to be taken off of warning status. However, if it does not do so, it will enter the school improvement II phase. Dr. Golden expressed his opinion that sometimes the people making the laws don't take individual learning rates into account. The schools may be looking into instituting benchmark testing, study island, etc. in its attempt to meet its goals. If the plan is approved it should be available to the public via the district website.

If another policy change passes, which is likely as it is a PSBA inspired action, there will soon be no wellness committee. Districts have been recommended to disband their wellness committees, if this has not already been done. In conjunction with this, they have been encouraged to create Advisory Health Councils, which are essentially wellness committees under another name.

A visitor asked for an update on school bus behavior training. Mr. McComb reported that a video had been dropped off for the younger children and pamphlets and coloring materials given out. He was looking for a video suitable for older students as well. In the future, he said, he would like to have the bus contractors attend and participate in the training.

Why would the school not want a child who tested well on a John Hopkins talent test to be retested for higher honors? This was the query of one mother, who had received a letter describing the program to her daughter but had been discouraged from pursuing it when she called the school. Mr. McComb explained that the school had made the decision three or four years ago, in conjunction with guidance, to stop involvement with this program. This decision was prompted by the reality that for years forms had been sent home, and parents had paid to apply, but no one had qualified. The program's resurgence was attributed to the hiring of a new gifted educator, who had seen the information and sent it out without the district's knowledge.

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Hallstead Park Repair Nearing Completion
By Barbara Whitehead

Repair of the flood damage to the Route 11 park is just about complete. At their November 15 meeting, the Hallstead Boro Council went over a what had been done, and what is left to do.

A group of volunteers had met on a very rainy weekend to plant trees that had been purchased through a grant from the Pennsylvania American Water Co. New benches have been purchased and assembled, and are ready to be placed. New playground equipment is ready to be installed. The bathrooms have been built and are ready to be painted. There is still some grant money left, which will be used for topsoil around the trees. Stone will be put in, in the spring, in some areas where better drainage is needed. And, holes need to be dug at the basketball court; a neighboring municipality had been contacted to see about the loan of power equipment to dig them. A group of volunteers planned to meet on Sunday to continue work.

In other business, a letter will be sent to the owner of a trailer on Old Route 11 that needs to be removed. It had been replaced with a new one, and moved to the rear of the property. Neighbors raised concerns that it might be taken over by “critters” if it was left there too long. The owner had been contacted in July, and had said that it needed to be dismantled, as its condition was too poor to move it. But, as nothing has been done, council will send a letter asking that it be taken care of.

The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) was passed in 2006. It requires any county or state filing for aid through FEMA to provide information on how they will accommodate household pets and service animals during an emergency. As a result, all counties within Pennsylvania will activate their own County Animal Response Team (CART). The Susquehanna County CART has been established and is asking for the support of county municipalities. The membership is composed of an all-volunteer staff that is in the process of training to handle specific types and sizes of animals. The group’s main purpose is to provide shelter and care for pets and animals in the event of an emergency situation. As of October 24, CART has oral agreements with two school districts, the Harford Fairgrounds, the Humane Society and several kennels and stables for this function if needed. CART is requesting that each municipality within the county commit to a minimum $100 donation, to be used for purchase of supplies and equipment. A motion carried to approve a donation of $100.

The county Housing and Redevelopment Authority had approached council to ask for support of a tax abatement agreement for a new apartment building on the Emerson Apartments land. The funding being sought requires an agreement for a tax abatement program covering a ten-year span. The agreement would allow for ten percent of taxes due to be paid the first year, and increase by an additional ten percent over the ten years. As the property to be used for the new building does not currently provide any tax revenue to the boro, it was agreed that approval of the tax abatement would be a “win-win” situation. The Emerson Apartments consistently have a waiting list of about 60 applicants. The new building would have 24 units, and at the end of the ten-year period the boro would receive tax revenue. A motion carried to adopt a resolution approving the agreement, as the authority needs confirmation as soon as possible to proceed with the funding. And, because the agreement affects the boro’s tax base, an ordinance will also be enacted.

The county Emergency Management Agency inquired about the boro’s lack of an Emergency Management Coordinator. One has been hard to find, as the position requires considerable time for training and meetings. Council is pursuing some possible candidates.

Some drainage problems were discussed. It was agreed to hire the services of Roto-Rooter to have a camera put through the pipes on Wellington to see if problems there are from a blockage or a collapsed pipe. Once the problem has been identified, council will decide on a course of action to repair it.

The 2008 budget is ready for inspection, and will be voted on at the December meeting. Included is an allocation for paving; in the spring, after the winter takes its toll, a decision will be made as to which street(s) will be paved.

And, a Dayton Ave. resident asked that the berms be filled in where necessary. After paving, some had been left too low and needed to be raised. Council agreed that work on that would begin the day following the meeting.

The next meeting will be on Thursday, December 20, 7 p.m. in the boro building.

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Blue Ridge Won't Raise Taxes More Than 6%
By Ted Brewster

The Blue Ridge School Board has held the line on property taxes for several years now. Board President Alan Hall has even pledged that, once some of the district's bonds are paid off in seven years or so, taxes could be cut by up to seven mills. He probably won't have to honor that pledge himself, however.

Following a surprising upset in the election less than a week before, Mr. Hall looked relaxed, almost relieved, at the School Board meeting on November 12. Afterwards he said he was simply resigned, and disappointed that some 235 of his constituents in Hallstead didn't appreciate all he has done for the schools, and for the Little League before that.

He led the meeting, the next to last of his incumbency, as he always has, the leader with the information at his fingertips, and the latest scuttlebutt from Harrisburg. Laurie Bonner won his Hallstead seat on the Board, which will have to choose among its members for their next President at the reorganization meeting on December 3.

The meeting proceeded routinely, including two executive sessions. One of them led to an addendum to the agenda, left over from last month. The measure assigns classified employees (other than faculty and administrators) to benefit "classes;" the definition of benefit classes was approved last time. By more clearly defining benefits packages, employees should have a better handle on what they are due.

Another item of old business will provide a ten-year tax abatement for the Susquehanna County Redevelopment Authority to put up an addition to the Emerson apartments in Hallstead. The expansion is being financed through a bank partnership that is not tax exempt as is the original Emerson building. Under the tax abatement, the Redevelopment Authority will gradually increase tax payments over the ten-year period, allowing a better financial structure in the earlier years. The new structure will occupy land that is not now subject to taxation as part of the existing Emerson complex.

In other business, the School Board approved a plan offered by the principals of the Elementary and Middle Schools to create a "Homework Club," an after-school program to help students who have trouble finding a suitable homework environment.

The two principals are asking for two aides to supervise the program, which will offer two sessions per week of 2-3 hours each. Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski said they expect to keep enrollment "at a manageable number," according to Superintendent Robert McNamara, about 10-12 students. They are also hoping for a "nice partnership" with high school Honor Society students, but the younger students in the program will be expected to do their work themselves. The aides (and maybe the older students) will not be expected to tutor their charges.

Elementary School teacher Jessica Boyko was appointed advisor for the Big Brother/Big Sister program. The program pairs high school students with elementary school pupils in a mentoring arrangement that has been very popular at Blue Ridge.

The Board also approved the nomination of Doreen Smith as "instructor for Behavioral Observations." Behavioral observations are scheduled maybe 10 times a year when a teacher or the school psychologist need another opinion about a particular student. Ms. Smith will spend a day observing and noting a list of behavioral characteristics (a "functional behavioral assessment") that can then be used by staff to determine what to do next.

Certainly not least, the Board approved a resolution "that the Blue Ridge Board of School Directors will not increase any tax that exceeds the index as calculated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education." The index is developed from a complex computation defined in Act 1 of 2006 that involves statewide and local employment, income, and cost of living ratios and calculations. For the 2008-2009 fiscal year that will begin next July, the index for Blue Ridge will be 6.6%.

By declaring early that it intends to hold any tax increases below the index, the district has more time to develop a budget. Increases above the index under Act 1 would require a referendum at the Spring election and therefore compress the time available to create a budget, particularly in the absence of reliable figures for state subsidies.

Mr. McNamara told the meeting that the resolution "by no means indicates that we will have a tax increase next year." This board has not enacted a property tax rate increase in several years. In fact, facing declining enrollments, there doesn't seem to be any inclination to do so in the future either.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hall reported some hard questions fired at the state Secretary of Education at a recent conference, when the Secretary announced a number of new initiatives that threaten to cost schools and their taxpayers more money. The one that seems most likely is called a "graduation competency assessment," a test akin to the New York State regents exams that students will be required to pass in order to graduate high school. The testing is expected to begin with ninth graders in 2009. Failing the test will require the school to develop a remediation program for a student that would ensure eventual success on the test. The Secretary didn't offer any more money to support the initiative. Mr. Hall characterized much of the Secretary's remarks as "bad information to make more bad programs."

So far, however, Blue Ridge students are making "adequate yearly progress," to the extent that each of the district's schools for the fourth year in a row have earned recognition for two straight years of progress in the standardized testing program called PSSA.

In addition to presenting those awards to each of the principals, Mr. McNamara presented a certificate to Board member Maureen Howell with thanks for her service. And a plaque was presented to Mr. Hall with thanks for 12 years of service on the Blue Ridge School Board.

The next meeting of the Blue Ridge School board, the annual reorganization meeting, will be held on December 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.

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Harford Offers 2008 Budget
By Ted Brewster

Garry Foltz fears that there won't be enough money available in the treasury next year, especially if something unexpected comes up. Rick Pisasik thinks the township can get by just fine with what it has.

That was the substance of the debate at the Harford Supervisors' meeting on November 10. Sue Furney, Supervisor and Township Secretary drew up the budget proposal for 2008, and the sitting panel approved it for review by the public. Formal approval will come sometime next month.

The budget can be reopened in January, however, since the board will be reconstituted with a new member, Mr. Foltz, newly elected to replace Mr. Pisasik.

Nobody was directly suggesting a tax-rate increase. But the discussion was the first the Supervisors had on the new budget, and Mr. Foltz gave the proposal more scrutiny than it might have had otherwise.

Calling the proposed budget "extremely tight," Mr. Foltz repeatedly questioned whether the $25,000 "fund balance" projected by the budget to be left over by the end of next year would be enough to keep the township from going into the red. Only a few years ago the township had in the neighborhood of $150,000 available at the end of a year. He noted that there had been no property tax rate increase in Harford since 1998.

That's not strictly true, of course. At the request of the Fire Company, in 2001 the township increased the property levy specifically for the Fire Company from 0.38 mills to 0.75 mills. Moreover, as Mr. Pisasik pointed out, although the township has not increased property tax rates for the township account in nearly 10 years, the earned income tax first imposed in 1996 has long since outdistanced the property tax as a source of revenue for Harford Township. In 2008 it is expected to bring in about $104,000, versus about $91,000 from property taxes. According to Ms. Furney, in Harford Township the property tax yields about $28,000 per mill on a base of some $29 million in assessed valuation.

Saying, "We have to live within our means," Mr. Pisasik said that the township in recent years has spent much more on the roads, the primary function of the township government. In fact, other than the annual cleanup program in June which largely pays for itself in fees, roads are the only thing the township does, or can do. "The main service of the township is to maintain the roads," said Ms. Furney.

Mr. Foltz questioned whether $4,000 for heating the township building – the same as last year – would be enough, given rapidly rising fuel prices. Mr. Pisasik said that more efficient use of the heating plant (not long ago switched from propane to oil), and better insulation and doors and windows in the garage should help to keep energy costs down. Besides, he said there was no way to accurately predict how prices would go.

Fuel costs for the township's vehicles comes out of the "state budget," accounted for separately and financed largely through the "liquid fuel" subsidy from the state. Ms. Furney noted that the liquid fuel subsidy is supposed to come from a percentage of the state tax levied on fuel purchases. She said that it used to be 14% of the fuel tax, but had gone down to 11% over the past some years; township lobbyists are trying to get it boosted back up.

Another observer asked about the cost of health insurance for the township's six employees. According to Ms. Furney, the township now pays a little over $4,000 per month for the benefit. Mr. Pisasik said that the township offers the benefit as an incentive for good employees to stay. Yet, "They're contributing in what I feel is a significant way," he said. The township now pays 90% of the lowest-cost individual plan premium for each employee. For additional coverage (family plans, etc.) the township bears only 75% of the added cost. Ms. Furney reported that she pays about $100 per month herself.

At $271,125, the 2008 budget is barely 1% higher than this year, even though projected expenses through the end of 2007 could be as high as $315,000. There is also nothing in the budget for debt service on the $500,000 line of credit the township is carrying (but has not yet borrowed on) for the two major projects on Stearns Road and Pennay Hill Road still in the design stages. The township is also seeking lower-cost funding through the state.

The township budget is actually prepared in three parts. The third part of the budget covers the sewer system, technically a separate entity. So far the sewer system has been paying its own way from the fees charged to 179 subscribers. According to Ms. Furney, the township still owes some $719,000 at 4.5% on a 40-year loan (beginning in 1995) now held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Administration. To Mr. Foltz's questions, she said that each new pump costs about $1,200, including control panel. Mr. Pisasik said that the sewer authority has eight pumps currently in stock, of better quality than the original pumps, which are beginning to fail now, some 12 years after the system began operating. She remarked that Rural Development has suggested raising monthly rates by at least one dollar to avoid having to raise them more later. Subscribers currently pay $32 per month per EDU (Equivalent Dwelling Unit, roughly one residence; businesses generally are charged for multiple EDU's).

In the end, the sitting Supervisors voted to advertise the budget as presented, representing no increase in property taxes, which remain at 3.13 mills, plus 0.75 mills for the fire company.

The township budget for 2008 shows a significant decrease in wages. Some of that is due to an increase in wage expense in the state part of the budget. In addition, the township is expected to lose one employee with the retirement of Bob Simon. Mr. Simon has been on "layoff status" for several months, dealing with health issues; the township has been continuing his health benefits for the time being. The "retirement-type package" that will be offered to Mr. Simon is "pretty small," said Mr. Pisasik, yet "somebody who gave [his] entire life [to the township] should have something." Mr. Foltz wondered about the precedent, given that another employee may be in a similar situation soon. Mr. Pisasik announced an executive session following the public meeting to discuss the issue further as a personnel matter.

On another matter, Ms. Furney reported the receipt of a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection regarding possible violations of effluent quality standards at the sewage plant. The township has 15 days to respond, and Mr. Pisasik assured the meeting that the township will do whatever is necessary to bring the plant into compliance. On a further budget note, the contract operator of the sewage plant will receive a 2% increase in the coming year.

The public have 20 days to review the proposed budget once it is advertised. It wasn't immediately clear when the meeting might take place that would formally adopt the budget before the December 31 deadline, since the Supervisors have scheduled only one meeting for December so far.

The next public meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors will be held on Tuesday, November 27, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

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Elk Lake Commendations
By Melinda Darrow.

The November 14 meeting of the Elk Lake School and Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center school board was sad in one notable respect. It marked the last meeting for two of the members. Ms. Swire and Mrs. Copeland have both voluntarily vacated their positions. (This, as Mr. Place pointed out, is comparatively a good way to leave.) Both women were presented with plaques by Dr. Bush. Various board members expressed their gratitude for the women's contributions and camaraderie, as well as sadness over their departure. There will be two new members at the next meeting, and a different board dynamic in the future.

Board members weren't the only district members to receive commendation at the meeting, however. In a night full of recognition, various staff and student groups were also brought into the spotlight.

The recent musical, The Floating Princess, met with much acclaim. Though the graduation of several actors last year led to a young crew, several board members spoke highly of the production these students put on under the direction of Mrs. Bradish. The proposal for the spring play is already in the works.

The student council, under the tutelage of advisor Mrs. Smith, received canned goods, publicity, and public appreciation for their efforts in the recent Food Drive competition. The district was highlighted on multiple Newswatch 16 broadcasts and featured as a key story on that station's website.

The SCCTC food preparation program catered for participants of a recent health fair hosted by the center. Public input is very positive regarding the restaurant and recent solarium addition. The new house project was visited by a COG representative, who was reported to have been very, very pleased with their progress. A concession stand was also built for the Elk Lake soccer team by the vo-tech.

The automotive technology program wrote the board with a specific request regarding something decided at a prior meeting. After acquiring a new driver's education car, the district had decided to sell the old one. The automotive department requested that this vehicle be donated to them instead, as some of their cars dated from 1985. There have been various advents in the automotive industry since that time, and some of them are worn out from use. The board approved the action, and the SCCTC gained a vehicle.

Elementary students were not exempt from applause. Elementary principal, Mr. Pirone, reported positive experiences with red ribbon week and the Veteran's Day assembly. The former culminated in a “Just Say No” activity, and the latter featured three essay contest winners (and one poem writer) who read their work before the school.

Commendation, though an important aspect of the evening, was not the only one. The superintendent's contract was approved. The board debated how to run the district's gas policy – how best to assist its drivers amidst rising prices efficiently, economically, and fairly.

There will be two meetings in December. On December 4, the regular public meeting, an organizational meeting, will be held. On the 10th a special meeting will occur, to which representatives of companies seeking to lease the district properties for the purposes of acquiring gas will be invited. A reporter present suggested that the district might want to contact a woman who has experience organizing landowners to band together, and thereby garner better deals, for her advice. One of these companies already approached the school requesting knowledge of its boundaries, and professed a desire to be as far away from buildings and athletic fields as possible.

The district was also contacted by the Susquehanna County Animal Response Team, which is in the organization phase. The group was formed with the desire to provide a place where animals might be taken in case of emergency or natural disaster. This would, it is hoped, alleviate the phenomenon of people refusing to evacuate for fear of pet safety. The district was contacted to see if it had any space which could be utilized in such an eventuality. Board members generally expressed a willingness to support the project, though Mr. Place asked about the ability to veto exotic or unusual and potential dangerous pets (such as lions or boa constrictors). A reporter who had attended a meeting of the Susquehanna CART explained that the group is still in the planning stages, but the idea is to have organized locations, facilities, volunteer staff, and trailers for transportation and care of the animals, and, presumably, established regulations for owner care responsibilities.

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