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Before proceeding with the usual business, the Susquehanna Community School District Board reorganized on December 7, as they must do every year. Members reelected were Evelyn Cottrell, Steven Stanford and Martha Stanford. New members are Jason Chamberlain, Holly Kubus and Clay Weaver. All were duly sworn in, and elections were held for the offices of president and vice president, with the winners being Steven Stanford and Mary Wescott, respectively.
The big news of the evening was a just-published report compiled by US News and World Report. This year, for the first time, US News analyzed data from our nation’s high schools and rated those schools according to how students performed on state tests, how well disadvantaged students did, and whether the school was successful in providing college-level coursework. The 100 schools that did the best in the analysis earned gold medals, the next 405 were awarded silver medals, and 1,086 earned bronze. Of all the schools analyzed, only two in Susquehanna County earned a place among the award winners, Blue Ridge School District and Susquehanna Community School District. Both of those earned bronze medals, the only two districts in all of NE PA to be named to the winners’ list. A complete list of winners and profiles are available at www.usnews.com/highschools.
In other business, the state House Education Committee has approved HB446, which is intended to provide a revision in funding for cyber schools. As it is now, school districts pay about 70% of the costs of those schools, and the legislation is intended to bring about a more equitable funding formula.
A recent study of costs of resources needed to comply with No Child Left Behind indicates that the district is being under-funded by about $1,000 per student. So far, the state has not recommended and plans for making up that shortfall.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for the following day, for the new helipad that has been constructed on the campus, a cooperative effort between the school, the Susquehanna Fire Dept., and local contractors, with much of the time and financial resources donated.
The board’s meeting schedule for the coming year was approved; see the legal notices in this issue for a complete listing.
The board approved a resolution, which guarantees that the district will not raise taxes by more than 6.7%, the state index for the 2008-09 fiscal year. This is in accordance with Act 1, the Taxpayer Relief Act. By adopting this resolution, the board certifies that increasing taxes at a rate less than or equal to that index will be sufficient to balance its final budget.
The board also approved a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which has entered into an agreement with Oakland Boro for development of the former Oakland School site. That development will be for affordable housing units for the elderly.
An unreserved fund balance of $639,792 has been designated for early retirement incentives; the district is expecting a retirement “boom” in the near future.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, January 16, 7 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
It was almost an afterthought. At the tail end of their meeting on December 6, Great Bend Borough Council members formally adopted the town's budget for 2008. Under the new budget, Council will have nearly $120,000 to spend. The plan is supported by a one-mill increase in the property tax rate. There were no changes from the budget proposed last month.
Great Bend Borough went many years without any increase in property taxes. With only two part-time employees, the borough is hard pressed to keep its three parks in shape, not to mention its many streets. So, the last two years Council decided that, in order to provide the services the town's residents need and want, more money was required.
Those two employees accounted for two – count `em – executive sessions at the meeting, both announced as pertaining to personnel issues.
And one of those employees, the borough's maintenance man, Dick Button, was congratulated on his first outing on the snow plow. Councilman Mike Wasko pronounced his work "excellent," and a "bang-up job."
In the warmer months Mr. Button's major responsibility is in the parks. The ball field in Recreation Park was heavily damaged in the flooding in late June, 2006. Funds from the federal and state emergency management agencies are helping to restore the field and its appurtenances. The last phase should be completed by the end of the year with the installation of new fencing around the ball field itself, according to Councilman Joe Collins.
Councilman Jerry MacConnell produced a bid from Kevin Shibley Construction for refurbishing some of the structures in "Rec Park" and Greenwood Park. Two pavilions and a storage building will get new roofs for a maximum expense of $6,650. At least the two pavilions will get red steel roofs. If the difference in cost is low enough, the storage building roof will also be clad in steel. The work had earlier been advertised, but no bidders came forth. Mr. MacConnell contacted Shibley directly.
Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan received a quote from First Option (formerly Creative Windows) of $195 to replace a frame around the kitchen door in the borough building (aka the Blue Ridge Senior Center). The damage seems to have built up simply through hard use.
Council formally adopted amendments to an ordinance that hopes to control the establishment of "adult-oriented" businesses in the town. About a year ago, a developer appeared in town who seemed on the verge of opening an adult bookstore of some sort. Council asked its attorney, Frank O'Connor to come up with something to block it. An existing ordinance provided the basis for some enhancements that prohibit certain types of businesses from operating within about 1,000 feet of a residence, church, school, or just about any other property in town, effectively banishing such a business to the river bank.
Mr. MacConnell has also requested attorney O'Connor to come up with an ordinance to control the installation of trailers (aka mobile homes) in the borough. Mr. O'Connor noted that it would be almost impossible to discriminate between types of residential structures. However, it might be possible to draw up something that would require any residence to be on a lot of a minimum size. Councilman Rick Franks noted that there is a county code, but it would always be possible to get a variance from the neighbors.
He said that a more practical approach, on the other hand, might be to introduce zoning. Mr. Franks said that while he is a "firm believer in zoning," when you "say zoning in this county, everybody runs."
Mr. O'Connor, by the way, announced that he has been elected treasurer of the state bar association. He said that the bar association represents some 29,000 of the state's 65,000 lawyers.
And finally, Council eagerly discussed plans for the "Holiday Celebration" at Memorial Park at 7:00 p.m. on December 15. The event will feature a bonfire, with hot chocolate and cookies. They are hoping for a large turnout.
If you can't make it to the bonfire, you can still catch Council in session at its next meeting on Thursday, January 3, beginning at 7:00 p.m. At that time they will also reorganize themselves.
The meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board on December 3 was a two-fer: the small attendance was treated to the annual reorganization meeting, followed immediately by a business meeting, the last of 2007.
The reorganization was outgoing President Alan Hall's swan song, and he took the opportunity to outline his accomplishments over the past 12 years, including saving the "school district over $12 million in [his] first year as President," by negotiating the district's way out of a construction-project fiasco that could have been enormously costly. He thanked "the Board and the staff and the administration and the students" for their support. He said that the financial health and the excellent condition of the schools can be maintained by careful management that should allow property tax rollbacks of up to 20% by 2012. Saying that he (and his Board) had "turned this place around in the last eight years," he reminded listeners that "it's always been about the kids."
Mr. Hall's Hallstead seat on the Board was taken by Laurie Brown-Bonner, who upset him in last month's election. As the newest member, Ms. Brown-Bonner had little to say during her first outing.
The others, incumbents all, chose Priscinda Gaughan as their new President. For the first time, however, members nominated two for Vice President. There was a ballot tie between Lon Fisher and Harold Empett for Ms. Gaughan's occasional stand-in. She told her colleagues that the V.P. could expect a larger role since she might miss more meetings than did Mr. Hall because of her work. At that, Mr. Fisher declined his own nomination and Mr. Empett became Vice President. Joel Whitehead was chosen Treasurer unanimously.
But that wasn't all. The meeting actually opened with a brief presentation by Michael Dougherty of Murphy, Dougherty & Co., the district's auditors. Mr. Dougherty gave Blue Ridge a clean bill of fiscal health, with an "unqualified" opinion, meaning that the auditors found nothing to criticize in the district's operations.
Characterizing the district's position as "financially sound," Mr. Dougherty said that the year-end fund balance (surplus) on July 1, 2007 was just under $2.3 million. The unexpected increase over the prior year was due in part to higher revenues from state subsidies. Because the district budget is developed so early, revenue estimates were properly conservative. Spending was lower than budgeted by over half a million dollars, which he described as a "good job on controlling expenditures."
On the other hand, capital reserves were drawn down by over half a million, primarily due to work on the parking lots and the walks around the entrances.
One highlight was that the food service for the first time paid for itself. Usually the district must transfer funds from its general account to, in effect, subsidize the cafeteria operation. Mr. Dougherty said that the self- sustaining performance of the food service at Blue Ridge was a major achievement, considering the conflicting demands for good service at low prices.
Since the surplus fund balance was a bit higher than the recommended 8-10% of the total budget, Mr. Dougherty recommended that the Board consider transferring some of the extra to replenish the capital reserve, which is maintained to help out when major work needs to be done on the physical plant. It was noted that state support for large projects has been steadily declining.
In summary, Mr. Dougherty said that, financially, Blue Ridge "year after year continues to make strides."
And that still wasn't all.
Superintendent Robert McNamara announced that Blue Ridge has been recognized with a "Bronze Medal" in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the country's best high schools. Blue Ridge and the Susquehanna Community Junior/Senior High School are the only districts in Susquehanna County recognized in the rankings, which are heavily weighted toward preparation for college-level work. In Pennsylvania generally, only two schools were awarded the gold medal rank.
Alan Hall said that probably the only reason Blue Ridge couldn't qualify for a gold or silver rank was that the small, rural high school doesn't have as many students in advanced placement programs. He said it was a great achievement to be "nationally recognized for the service we provide to all our students." He also distributed a binder to everyone representing a "District Report Card" for 2006-2007, a statistical summary from the state Department of Education that is supposed to be "an important source of information about school performance and accountability." It is a compendium of figures comparing district student performance in the state standardized testing program known as the PSSA. The report card is also available on-line through the Department's web site (http://www.pde.state.pa.us/).
And finally, the reorganization recognized a vacancy at the table. Maureen Howell declined to run for her New Milford Township seat. A write-in winner also declined to serve. So the Board is faced with the challenge of appointing someone.
Business Manager Loren Small said that the Board has 30 days to come to some decision. If no one applies from the New Milford Township (Blue Ridge region 1b), or if the Board does not choose from among those who do, then the court can be petitioned to allow the board to choose someone "at-large," from anywhere in the district, at the discretion of the School Board.
The business meeting was somewhat anti-climactic after all that. Routine personnel matters included accepting with regret Mr. Jack Rood's intention to retire at the end of the current school year after 34 years of service. And John Ketchur's generally-recognized excellent work in technology services will be rewarded with pay for at least some of the overtime he would probably put in anyway.
New Board President Cindy Gaughan asked that a measure to "adjust" the Business Manager's "compensation plan" be tabled. She said some Board members had seen the recommendation only that day, and that the Board should have time to consider it properly.
The Board also formally accepted the auditor's report (as described at the start of the reorganization meeting), and approved renewal of the auditing firm's three-year contract, at a "slight increase" of $400 per year.
The Board also accepted a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the Susquehanna County Animal Response Team (CART) for five years. These agreements with schools and municipalities are part of a response by county emergency management officials to disasters in recent years which have left animal care out. Under this memorandum, the school district will do its best to make space available – outside the school buildings themselves – for care of lost or endangered animals during situations such as last year's major floods. Mr. McNamara told the Board that, since Blue Ridge is also designated as a Red Cross facility in such emergencies, animals will not be allowed inside the school buildings. CART will be welcome to use the garages and storage buildings as available under the agreement, with the understanding that they will be returned to the district in their original condition when no longer needed.
Administrators reported strong support in all the schools, from clubs and organizations, for the Feed a Friend and Toys for Tots campaigns this year. Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski said that his students had collected over $1,000 so far, and this among students whose families don't always have a lot to give.
High School Principal John Manchester reported that all but two of the new Promethean boards are installed and in use. These high-tech substitutes for the old blackboards are part of a project to introduce more technology in the schools under a state-sponsored program known as Classrooms for the Future. He said that the technical staff have done a great job preparing some 150 laptop computers for students to use, but that remaining problems so far have limited their use to one classroom. The laptops were purchased from a major state grant using state specifications; variations from those specifications would be at the district's expense. At about $50 apiece, for example, higher-capacity batteries for the district's 150 computers could be costly.
Mr. McNamara also reported progress, and not a little enthusiasm, for a project to develop an "outdoor education center" (a nature trail) on the campus fringes and neighboring game lands. He said the program could bring the outdoors to biology programs as well as technology through training in the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a satellite-based world-wide location service of the federal government.
Residents of New Milford Township who may be interested in serving on the Blue Ridge Board of Education are invited to contact the Blue Ridge district office.
The next public meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board is scheduled for Monday, January 14, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The deadlines for our issues of December 26 and January 2 will be the previous Friday, noon, as usual. No submissions will be accepted past deadline, as we will be going to press a day early.
James C. Wilson to Daren and Adrienne L. Lucas, in Great Bend Township for $78,000.00.
Stephen and Carolyn Yakubik to Mark and Dawn Kozik, in Clifford Township for $35,000.00.
Carolyn and Andrew (Est) Yakubik to Mark and Dawn Kozik, in Clifford Township for $429,135.00.
Steven and Jennifer Yankowski to Charles E. and Tonya L. Johnson, in Forest City for $30,000.00.
David H. and Carol J. Clemens to Paula R. Clemens and Karen C. Dennis, in New Milford and Great Bend Townships for one dollar.
Jeffrey R. Strohl to Keith J. and Brenda Petersen, in Dimock Township for $67,000.00.
Marie Y. and Joseph G. Andre to Craig T. Roe, in Bridgewater Township for $120,000.00.
Andy E. and Kimberly S. Meagley to Christopher D. Rockwell, in Harmony Township for $2,000.00.
Susquehanna County Sheriff to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., in Forest City for one dollar.
Michael R. and Lisa G. Tyler to Michael R. and Lisa G. Tyler, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Thomas and Kathryn Connor to Robert Jalbert, in Herrick Township for $22,000.00.
David Swingle (By Sheriff) to Act Properties LLC, in Forest City for $2,837.99.
Walter D. Sullivan, Jr. (Estate) and Constance C. Collins to Ronald R. Aton, Jr., in Forest Lake Township for $58,000.00.
Aleita Gavitt (Estate) and Jujuan Gavitt-Bufford to Carl L. Bufford and Jujuan Gavitt-Bufford, in Montrose for one dollar.
Matthew Gregory to Justin M. Mroz and Kelly Gregory, in Great Bend Township for $97,500.00.
Smith Living Trust (By Trustee) to Ryan Kalinowski, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
John F. Ryan to Lawrence T., Christine M. and Thomas J. O'Reilly, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Household Finance Consumer Discount Co. to William O. Fuchs, in Susquehanna for $56,500.00.
Alan J. and Linda Fried to Linda Fried, in Herrick Township.
Mary E. and Charles H. Snyder and Michelle L. Fox-Snyder to Catherine M. Brundage, in Ararat Township for $7,500.00.
Rhonda J. Vangorden to Scott T. Vangorder, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Michael D. and Joan O'Reilly to Tammy O'Reilly, in Union Dale Borough for $26,000.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Donna Comiskey, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.
Paige M. and Paul J. Sedlacek to David and Gale M. Witkin, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Dianne J. White and Kevin C. Paige to John F., Sr. and Jeffrey G. Young, in Choconut Township for $182,500.00.
Sopramco III LLC to Robert J., Sr., Christopher G., Ivonne, Patrick, Sr. and Jennifer E. Morkis, in Jessup Township for $79,000.00.
Melvin G. and Anacleta McKinney and Amanda Ann and Todd N. Cundey to Melvin G. McKinney, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Walsh Family Trust (By Trustee), John E. Walsh, Jr., Bonita D. Bay, Patricia Eileen Boesche, Timothy B. Walsh and Tracy Carabello to Bonita Diane Bay, Patricia Eileen Boesche and Tracy Lee Carabello, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Walsh Family Trust (By Trustee) to Bonita D. Bay, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Esther Salvatore and John A. Zalinski (Est AKA) John A. Zalinsky (Est AKA) John Zelinski to L & F Realty, Inc., in Forest City for $50,000.00.
Donald G. (Estate) and Dorothy E. McBride to Devon E., David P. and Daniel G. McBride and Deanna L. Walsh, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
James J. and Mary Joan Cleary to James J. and Mary Joan Cleary, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
James J. and Mary Joan Cleary to Moosehead Partners LP, in Ararat Township for $820,000.00.
Steve (Estate) and Walter Babich to Walter Babich, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Mark R. and Sandra Wilmot to Donna Ludwig, in Forest City for $59,900.00.
Andrew, Jr. and Carol A. Suponcic to Kyle Matthew and Ashley M. Cannon, in Forest City for $110,000.00.
James S. Alamo to Jane Alamo (Trust), in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Richard H. and Sandra Bennett to John L., III and Melody S. Pauly, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Ronald C. and Marion R. Polley to Christopher Scott and Ronda Lynn Palmer, in Forest Lake Township for $220,000.00.
Ann Morrison to Amy L. Rutherford, in Silver Lake Township for $64,000.00.
Nicholas Omar Degraw and Ashley M. Federico, both of Susquehanna.
Eric A. Pike, of Little Meadows vs. Laura Marie Pike of Brackney, married 1994.
Carol P. Smith vs. Robert D. Smith, both of Montrose, married 1986.
Jared Squier vs. Nicole Squier, both of Montrose, married 1995.
Robert Howard of Kingsley vs. Cathy E. Howard of Springville, married 1995.
Heather DeBoer vs. Douglas DeBoer of New Milford, married 1999.
Frederick T. Pittack of Susquehanna vs. Veva Shannon Latrese of Clarksville, IN, married 2007.
Melissa J. Rogers of Friendsville vs. Robert L. Rogers of Springville, married 2000.
The Susquehanna Fire Department conducts between 40 to 50 medical helicopter landing zones a year. Most of these are done at the Susquehanna Community High School campus. They include numerous transfers from Barnes-Kasson Hospital to other facilities for advanced care. Some are a result of trauma injuries suffered from car crashes, falls or workplace injuries. The advantages of using the school campus are, when possible, we transport patients from the accident site to the campus to complete the air transport. This has been the procedure since we began using helicopters to transport patients. The school board has been a good neighbor by allowing us to use the campus.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on December 6 at the new helicopter landing zone site on the Susquehanna Community School District campus
Late this summer, Superintendent Bronson Stone contacted Chief Steve Glover and Fire Captain Todd Glover about a change that had to take place when landing the helicopter at the campus. Due to the damage to the school buildings and playgrounds caused by the high-pressure vortex of air generated by the helicopter when landing and taking off (which is called "prop wash'), as well as the damage that has been caused to the football field by the weight of the helicopter and the installation of a new fence around the perimeter of the field making access difficult, we needed to find a different location to land the helicopter. Continuing their commitment to be a good neighbor, the school board had Superintendent Stone and Captain Glover look over the campus. They identified a section of it that was not in use and did not have any sports activities planned for it.
The area found was in a very good location to land a helicopter, but its topography was such that it needed to be graded to a level surface. Captain Todd Glover contacted EMS Captain Dave Scales with the idea of building a permanent helicopter landing pad. They began to make plans to build a concrete pad, with permanent illumination and a paved road to the pad. They discussed their idea with Superintendent Stone and he agreed it would be a great idea to provide a safe area that would not cause any damage to the campus.
A presentation was made to the Susquehanna Community School Board, proposing the building of a permanent landing pad. The board reviewed the plan and gave their permission.
At this point, Fire Captain Todd Glover and EMS Captain David Scales set out on a mission that turned into an oddity. Todd said if Dave could get it funded, he could get it built.
Todd began looking into the cost and came up with a minimal amount. Dave began making contacts with state and federal elected officials as well as Director Chuck Bement of the Bradford-Susquehanna Regional EMS Council. It was found that there wasn't any money available from the state or federal governments. All the grants for fire and EMS were closed for the year. Director Bement contacted Marty Delaney, Program Director for Air Methods/Guthrie Air, asking for funding assistance. Air Methods/Guthrie, based at Guthrie Medical in Sayre, PA provides helicopter evacuation for this area. Because of the urgency of the situation, Mr. Delaney was able to secure the funding necessary to build the helicopter landing pad. At that point, Todd Glover took over. He called in every favor he could and secured labor, equipment and materials from all over the area to complete the project. He worked endlessly himself with every contractor who worked on the site. After several weeks of work, you now see the results. We have a permanent landing pad in service.
Non-profit organizations in Susquehanna County can now apply for grant monies available through the county’s room tax fund to help finance their tourism-related projects.
Applications will be accepted for cultural, historical, and recreational projects, such as special events, exhibits, or publicity initiatives as well as for marketing and promoting projects, way-finding aids, and historical preservation projects that will increase tourism to an area and/or attraction.
The deadline to submit applications is Friday, January 25. Grant applications and program requirements are available through the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau and may be obtained by calling the bureau, (570) 836–5431, or stopping by the office (4 Werks Plaza, Tunkhannock).
Room Tax money is collected by lodging establishments from their overnight guests and is used to promote tourism in the Endless Mountains Region.
RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
On November 23 a stolen vehicle was recovered on SR 4013 (Cork Hill Rd.) in Apolacon Twp. The recovered transportation, which belonged to Terry Zink of Philadelphia, was a 2006 Jeep Liberty Sport Utility Vehicle.
On November 22 one or more unknown offender(s) entered a barn belonging to Richard Greenway of Sweet Water, NJ, located on Way Lake Rd off SR 171 in Ararat Twp. The offender(s) entered his barn and stole a green Kawasaki ATV and a 5' wide yellow brush hog before fleeing in an unknown direction.
On November 24 PSP Trooper McArthur received a call for assistance from the mother of Eric Collins of Hallstead. The request was due to a medical emergency involving this man. Trooper McArthur entered the residence, assessed the situation, and summoned an ambulance and additional units to the scene. Collins then attacked the policeman as he was trying to render aid to him. He was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Resisting Arrest, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person, before being remanded to the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Sometime between the 21st and 25th of November one or more unknown perpetrator(s) stole disassembled aluminum store front frames from the property of the Precision Glass Company in New Milford Twp. The frames are valued at approximately $500.
Mark Waddington of Montrose recently reported that his 2007 Suzuki LTR450 ATV was taken from the premises of the Hayloft on SR 267 in Rush Twp. The theft apparently occurred sometime during the night of November 24.
Sometime between the 28th and 29th of November, 15 wrapped, round bales were slashed open with an unknown sharp object on the property of Donald Potter in Jackson Twp.
On November 28 someone placed nails in the tires of a 2005 GMC truck owned by Robert Oakley of Harford.
On November 28 at around 11:45 a.m. a gas drive-off occurred at the Pump and Pantry on Grow Ave. in Bridgewater Twp. The vehicle is described as a black Dodge truck with an extended cab, and its driver as a white male with a dark hooded sweatshirt. This gentleman stole $20.10 worth of gas before fleeing east on State Route 706.
PSP Gibson is investigating a fire that occurred in Kingsley, on the property of Lloyd and Patricia Anderson, on November 25 at approximately 11:19 a.m. The fire appeared to have started in the kitchen area before traveling through the entire residence, resulting in major fire damage. No injuries were reported. The cause of this fire is still under investigation.
A string of burglaries involving jewelry and cash occurred on November 26. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Elsie Groiss reported a theft at her residence in Dimock Twp. Robert Gregory reported that his residence in South Montrose, Bridgewater Twp. was burglarized that same day. Jewelry and cash were removed from both homes, as well as a digital camera at the latter. The second incident reportedly occurred between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., a similar crime was reported by Robert Roe of Forest Lake Twp. There was no link between the incidents made in the public police report.
Anthony Cafaro, Jr. of Thompson Borough is accused of punching a woman in the face several times on the evening of November 30. The victim reportedly sustained severe swelling to the left eye area of her face and a busted lip. Cafaro, Jr. was arrested and charged with simple assault, recklessly endangering, and harassment. He was arraigned before District Judge Janicelli and bail was set at $10,000. Being unable to post this bail, he was sent to Susquehanna County prison.
On November 30 a 13-year old female was reported as being a runaway from Elk Lake Road in Bridgewater Twp.
THEFT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE
On December 12 at around 10:05 p.m., an incident occurred at the Great Bend Sunoco station which resulted in a motor vehicle theft. At this time Jeremy Lord of Hallstead became involved in an altercation with an unknown white male. The unknown male stole Lord's 1998 Chevrolet Malibu, striking a legally parked vehicle owned by William Hendrickson of Great Bend before fleeing south on SR 0011.
On November 26 at 4:20 a.m., Brian Bognatz of Carbondale was traveling around a curve of SR0171 near Forest City when he hit a patch of ice. Bognatz lost control of his vehicle, struck a guardrail, traveled across the roadway, and struck a utility pole. He was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured.
On November 25 a chain reaction crash occurred on SR 81 Northbound at MM 230, at 5:00 p.m. The incident began as Scott Auchenbach of Collegeville, PA was driving northbound in the left lane of this road. Behind him were Wei Tang of Brooklyn, NY, Matthew Ramsey of Whitehall, PA, and Erick Trexler of Bethlehem, PA. Auchenbach and Tang stopped upon encountering stopped traffic in front of them. Ramsey then struck the back of Tang's vehicle, forcing it into Auchenbach's car. Ramsey was also struck from behind by Trexler. Ramsey and Trexler were cited for traffic violations, which resulted in this crash. All operators were belted and there were no injuries.
1 CAR ROLLOVER
On December 2 at around 7:30 a.m. Kimberly Bolding of New Milford was traveling North on SR 11 near Hop Bottom when she lost control of her vehicle, exited the roadway, and rolled over into a ditch and culvert along the road. She was wearing her seatbelt and sustained no injury.
On December 2 at around 7:55 a.m. Beshari Israel was traveling South on I-81 in the left-hand lane, which was snow covered. Israel lost control of his vehicle, and struck the guide rail located on the east berm. The vehicle sustained disabling damage, and was towed from the scene. Israel was wearing his seatbelt and sustained no injuries.
On November 27 at around 11:30 a.m. police stopped Anthony Sellitto of South Montrose for not having a valid PA inspection. A consent search was then conducted. A small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were seized. Charges were filed at District Court 34-3-01.
Jason Liepinis of Kingsley reports that sometime between November 30 and December 4, his 1999 Ski Doo snowmobile was stolen from property on Diamant Board, Creek Road, Lenox Twp.
On November 19 at around 7:50 a.m. an accident occurred on SR 492 near Lakeside in New Milford Twp. The incident began as Samuel Longacre of Susquehanna was traveling west on this road and failed to safely negotiate a curve. He slid off the road to the right and struck a utility pole. The pole was severed by the impact and fell towards the road, striking a Jeep Cherokee driven by Daniel Ebhardt, who was traveling east. Both men were wearing seatbelts and were not injured.
If you have information on any of these incidents please contact Gibson State Police at (570) 465-3154.
Following are the approved minutes of the Starrucca Borough Council meeting of November 7, as submitted.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for their regular, monthly meeting on November 7 at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President Rhone, Mr. Lou Gurske, Mr. Donald Haynes, Mr. Robert Buck, Mr. Fred Rhone, Mr. Anthony Palonis and Mayor Downton were present. Mrs. Helen Haynes was absent.
President Rhone called the meeting to order, and the minutes from the previous meeting (Oct. 3) were read. Motion to approve the minutes as read, carried. Mr. Gurske was opposed.
The minutes from a special meeting (Oct. 9) were read, motion carried to approve as read. Mr. Gurske was opposed and wanted the minutes to reflect that he did not “explosively” object, he “raised his voice.”
The minutes from another special meeting (Oct. 12) were read, motion to approve as read, carried. Mr. Gurske was opposed.
The Treasurer’s report was given, motion carried to approve. Mr. Gurske was opposed.
The bills were presented for payment. Motion to approve payment carried. Mr. Gurske was opposed, and stated he was “opposed to the bills numbered 838 & 839 which represented Attorney Bugaj and Butler Surveying.
The following Correspondence was received:
A notice of the 2008 Liquid Fuels Allocation from PennDOT.
Pole light regulations from Penelec. Mayor Downton pointed out a pole light in town was “blinking” and “somebody ought to call it in.”
A notice of the 2008 CDBG grants available from the Wayne County Redevelopment Authority.
Two Borough Bridge Reports (Cemetery and Buck’s) from engineer Steven Knash.
In Borough Reports: On behalf of the Depositions Committee, a copy of a letter setting the date for the Mayor’s deposition for December 13 was read.
In Unfinished Business:
The Thompson Hose Company’s 2008 contract was presented. President Rhone suggested a decrease in the Real Estate Tax to establish a special “fire” tax to support the fire and ambulance protection. Motion carried to approve the contract and support a separate tax resolution to be adopted with the budget. Mr. Gurske was opposed.
The completed surveys for the Penn Hill and the Kellogg roads were presented, motion carried to approve and forward the same to the solicitor for his review and recording in Wayne County. Mr. Gurske was opposed.
The Board considered a motion to advertise an ordinance to accept the cemetery road entrance from the Cemetery Association. This led to a heated discussion, led by Mr. Gurske who proclaimed it a “right of way” which, he stated, “cannot be bought or sold.” Plus, he added, the Cemetery Association has “no authority to give it away.” Motion was rescinded. The board agreed to check with the attorney.
Motion carried to draw up an ordinance to accept the entrance from the Cemetery Association. Mr. Gurske was opposed and added, “It” (the roadway) “has not been surveyed and does not meet PA Dirt Specs.”
In Other Business:
Motion carried to purchase needed materials for the Buck’ road bridge project, starting with the gabion baskets (quotes attached) from John Bonham Road Supplies. Mr. Gurske opposed, stating the state no longer approves the use of gabions for creek stabilization.
Motion carried to purchase the gabion stone needed from Lanesboro Materials. Mr. Gurske was opposed and stated, “you” (meaning the council) “accepted a bid for $72,000.00 and now with the extra material you’ll be back up there.”
Mayor Downton reminded Mr. Rhone (Road Committee) of the pipes he spoke of last meeting. Mr. Rhone stated the committee was planning the work for the Spring. Mr. Downton stated, “It is a major safety issue and should be taken care of before winter.” He further gave his permission for the borough to commence the work beyond the “right of way,” as it is his property.
The 2008 proposed budget copies were passed to all members. Motion carried to advertise the same for public inspection and adoption next meeting. Mr. Gurske opposed.
Motion carried to “winterize” the hall, leaving the kitchen open. Mr. Gurske was opposed.
Motion carried to hire Harmony Township to perform the work on the gabion baskets and the approach work and the remainder of the work for the Buck’s road bridge project. Mr. Gurske was opposed and stated, “ You’re giving carte blanche to escalate the price.” Mr. Rhone reminded, Harmony Township has an Intergovernmental agreement with the borough. President Rhone added, “They have a good reputation.”
Mr. Buck made a motion carried to hire Blue Ridge Better Builders at the cost of $3,000.00 to monitor the construction and oversee the Buck’s Road Bridge Project. Mr. Rhone seconded the motion, motion. Mr. Gurske was opposed, and questioned his qualifications. It was reported this is his first Bridge project. Mayor Downton demanded that “Council is aware that this is the first bridge project he is overseeing be placed in the minutes”.
In Public Participation:
Mrs. Barbara Glover requested a key to the building, concerning a “Thanksgiving raffle. She was unsure of the exact dates, so Mr. Rhone suggested she be given a key and keep it until after the event.
Mr. Robert Martin asked if Council has had any input from the contractor about a start date for the Buck’s Road Bridge Project.
Mr. Paul D’Agati spoke of a meeting the auditors had with the borough solicitor and a letter George DeBalko sent to the borough requesting minutes copies be sent to him. Mr. Rhone responded he had received the letter and brought the same to the secretary’s attention. Minutes copies cannot be provided until after they are approved (tonight’s meeting). Mr. DeBalko’s request will be honored.
Mr. Downton pointed out the Kellogg map is “different now.” Mr. Rhone explained the first set of maps were preliminary and the maps are a reflection of the tax maps.
Mr. Charles Levchak, representing the Cemetery Association, spoke of the opposition and criticism to the new cemetery entrance. He asked everyone to take a good hard look at how much it would cost the borough if that bridge (cemetery) were to go out. Mr. Gurske responded, “We weren’t against it. It was to be used occasionally for a coffin. Now it’s a thoroughfare.” Mr. Rhone clarified, “Every dollar that was used was donated, not a single tax dollar was used, as had been previously stated.”
No further business to come before the board, meeting adjourned.
Per state law, Elk Lake held its reorganization meeting in the first week of December. Originally scheduled for December 4, due to weather conditions it was moved to the next day. One new member, Mrs. Teel, was absent but the other, Mr. Curley, was officially sworn in to his position. Others, Mr. Place, Mr. Bender, and Mrs. Carr, were sworn in for another term. Mr. Place was elected as president for the year, with Mr. Tewksbury giving this position up in favor of that of Vice President. The meetings will remain on Tuesday nights, the schedule can be acquired by the public.
Mrs. Hollister, the board secretary, began the meeting by reading several letters of gratitude. One was a letter from the Harvest of the Arts committee showing its appreciation for art work and display racks. Another referred to the event organized by Celia Tyler as her senior project. Ms. Tyler was at the meeting, and was formally acknowledged by the board. Her project involved recognizing the ten, 1,000 point-scorers in the history of the Elk Lake boys’ basketball team, of which her dad was one. A basketball game and dinner were organized, and the gym was dedicated to mike “Red” Wallace, the first boys’ basketball coach at the school. It was an event which filled the gym, and which received glowing reports from those in attendance.
Mt. View, Dr. Bush reported, has begun sending increasing numbers of students to vo-tech again. The day after the this meeting, 60 were scheduled to come and look at the program, not all of which would likely attend. A motion was therefore made, and approved, to open it up so that this school could become part of the Perkins Consortium grant.
A piece of board protocol was broached and debated. Mr. Place asked about a PSBA ruling that when a board member abstains from a vote they have to fill out a form and state why they did so. Mr. Emmerich asked if maybe the regulations regarding when abstaining was a required course of action could be outlined. He, and various others, sometimes abstained from a vote involving a non-directly related relative, though it was not known if this was actually required. Dr. Bush agreed to look into the official regulations.
The second board meeting of the month, to which the gas companies will be invited, was rescheduled. Its established date, December 10, conflicted with a boys’ basketball game in Nanticoke, so it was moved to the next evening. Some representatives from the Montrose school board may be in attendance, as well as others from the community. It is a public meeting.
In athletic news, Matt Barrett will be the new Assistant Jr. High Basketball coach. Robert Heft will fill the Seventh Grade Jr. High Basketball Coach position. Also, Mr. Tewksbury formally commended the person responsible for the fine basketball cheerleaders’ performances this year.
In what district superintendent Michael Ognosky called the most unusual reorganization meeting in seven years, the Montrose School Board prepared itself for another year of business. The beginning of the meeting was fraught with confusion and uncertainty, for the same reason it earned the designation “unusual.” Despite this, and the inclement weather which led to several brief power outages, the district begins 2008 with a full complement of representative officials.
The reason for the confusion lay in the presence of only two seated members prior to the official swearing-in process. This meant that although eight board members sat around the table, officially only two were board members, able to perform actions such as making motions which would allow the others to be sworn into office. The difficulties were quickly surmounted, however, and Mr. Caterson, Mrs. Homan, Mrs. Mordovancey, and Ms. Humphrey took the oath of office, administered by temporary president Mr. Gow, for another term. They were joined by newly elected members Mr. Doug Wilcox, and Mrs. Pamela Staats.
The start of the new year also saw several offices unoccupied. Mr. Caterson was elected board president, and Mr. Gow rescinded this temporary office only to accept that of vice president on a more lasting basis. As for committees, Mr. Ognosky explained that the board runs this process in a different manner than some other schools. Only committee chairpersons are officially named; the rest of the board remain members at-large of all the committees. He asked board members to look at the committees (a list of which he would send to the new members) and contact him with any areas of particular interest. All of the committee meetings are open to the public, however the policy committee has been meeting in the early morning which might preclude some community attendance. The list of chairpersons should be formalized next month, and a new PSBA liaison nominated.
There were several non-reorganization items covered at the meeting as well, such as the issue of energy. Mr. Caterson expressed his opinion that the district needs to become serious about finding and implementing some sort of energy conservation program. He proposed that a committee be formed for the purposes of fact finding, relating that the board used to giggle at the suggestions of Mr. Blacheck (a former member) when he proposed erecting a windmill. That suggestion, he said, does not look so silly anymore.
Mr. Ognosky presented the results of a costing out study to the board. The study was commissioned as a part of ACT 1, establishing a team to assess, through various means, what additional cost per student would be required to have all students in PA meet the 12 standards of education and become proficient in math and reading by 2014. The findings, which were put out in an 80-page report, were very thorough, and stated that an additional $4.618 billion would be necessary for this task. It also encouraged districts to write letters to legislators, asking that since they commissioned the study they now follow its recommendations. Interestingly, ACT 1 also commissioned the creation of a task force to look at how to reduce school costs. The board was given this report as well, which highlighted eight key areas.
A tentative agreement regarding contracts has been reached. In the past the goal has been to establish salaries and pay increases in such a way as to attract the best candidates to the district. This has been successful. Now, however, the stated goal is not to deprive staff of a pay increase, but to slow its rate of growth. The health care policy for educators was also changed, with staff paying more. Still, it was stated that both sides felt it to be a reasonable contract. The agreement is a public document for district residents.
Mr. Caterson reported that some legislation which could affect schools has been progressing. The first involves statewide health-care for school employees. The legislation set up a 23-member panel to study the possibility. The cyber-school legislation is also moving ahead, he reported. A tentative compromise has been reached. The goal is of this legislation is for a statewide tuition to be set, so that all schools pay the same amount for their cyber-schooling students. Also, the cyber-schools would be expected to meet the same fund balance regulations as public schools, and that any excess would have to either go back to the public districts or be used for staff development, etc.
Ms. Humphrey brought up the transportation compensation matter, wanting to introduce the issue for the new board members. She felt that this was something which really needed to be considered. It was decided that it could be discussed more thoroughly in the upcoming budget meetings.
The school sign is almost completed. In the end, the decision was made to simply refurbish the old sign. Now all that remains is to put something nice on the back panel, which may be left to a school group.
The New Milford Borough Council met on Thursday, December 6, with the intention of clearing up any problems that had not yet been addressed.
One of the main topics of discussion included two properties, which may be liable for condemning.
The properties are owned, one by Shirley Sheridan and another by Don Robinson, 47 Montrose Street and 121 Church Street, within the Borough.
Although numerous letters have been sent to the Robinson property, no action has been taken by that landowner. No action but for a letter advising Council that he now has a few more months to comply with the recommendations from Council and bring the property up to the aspects of the borough inspection standards.
Much discussion was also directed to the Borough’s Code Enforcement Officer, Chris Allen. Advice was given to the secretary to request a complete evaluation of the property, what is up to code and what is not, and present that inspection to Council to determine if any citations could be imposed. This property has been on the main discussion table for quite some time and Council and audience members would like it taken care of.
The Sheridan property is also being considered a hazard due to non-conformance with the required Borough codes. A motion was made to have the Codes Enforcement Officer check into the properties and present a written, full evaluation to the Council.
Sis Smith was again on hand, to discuss the plowing issue yet another time. When the road is plowed the snow gets piled up in front of her driveway and nothing has yet been done to fix this matter.
Mayor Joe Taylor told Sis and her son, Tom, that the matter would be taken care of this month.
The amount of snow and what to do with it also raised concerns for blocking people in and flooding. Mayor Taylor, Rick Ainey and Jim Carr all voiced opinions and concerns regarding the matter.
Taylor reported that the barricades by the bridges can be moved all the way to one side and the snow piled on the bridges.
Carr questioned the safety of having the barricades on the bridge due to the bridge being in poor repair, “We don’t let vehicles on it, and those barricades weigh almost as the vehicles.”
Ainey stated that the barricades were being moved over to one side, not actually on the bridge. Ainey also suggested that signs be put up for No Trespassing and Danger regarding children or people walking on the bridge.
Also, Taylor brought up the fact that Page Lake is overrunning into the creeks, which could cause some flooding for some residents of the Borough. It was decided that a letter will be sent to the Lake Association requesting them to advise Council when they take boards out, so Council will be aware of the upcoming possibility of water.
Jane Zick reported that Mayor Taylor gave a wonderful speech to the 109th Infantry before they deplored to Fort Bragg, to learn more about rifles, etc. After the training at Fort Bragg, the troops will then go to Afghanistan.
Taylor read his speech to the audience and council and it was indeed a very good, meaningful speech. The morale of the speech’s story is “God will never turn up missing!”
Zick also reported that COG (Council of Governments) has been researching the possibility of Regional Police for the Eastern and Western Region of Susquehanna County. They are looking for information on who really wants to have police, the costs, and many other items.
Also it was decided that a letter or call should go to Rep. Sandra Major regarding the status of the grant for the Borough’s parking lot. A letter will also go to Cathy Bennett, Conservation, regarding this grant.
Congressman Chris Carney will also be receiving a letter regarding the Homeland Security Grant.
The New Milford 2008 budget was passed unanimously.
A bid from Ken Rauch for $137,036 for the park project was accepted. There were no other bids.
PEMA and FEMA monies were discussed regarding the cleanup and putting New Milford Borough back the way it was before the flood of 2006.
Issues regarding outdoor furnaces were discussed, with many ideas and items which will need to be researched and addressed. One problem with the furnaces is the smoke coming from them, which can (and does) bother some neighbors (according to Mrs. Eleanor Lempke).
Tom Smith added, “Are people going to be able to afford oil in the upcoming years, which has to be taken into consideration, as well.”
The outgoing members of the council are Rick Ainey and Chris Phillips.
Incoming members are Barb James and Sue Abbott.
There will be a work session held on December 20 at the New Milford Borough Building at 7 p.m.
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