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On December 12, DEP visited New Milford Township. Or, to be more precise, one representative of this organization did – Mr. Thomas Callaghan. The air of civility and mutual assistance recently developed at township meetings was carried over into this special meeting as well. Many points were made, many emotions expressed, many questions asked, and many answers given. The meeting lasted more than two hours, and even this conclusion was only brought about through the intervention of the supervisors and their attorney, who eventually established a curfew.
Mr. Callaghan himself was received very positively by those in attendance at the meeting, and was regarded very highly. He received applause at least twice during the course of the meeting, and was referred to as “a breath of fresh air.” The department in general however, did not receive such commendation, and B&S at times was vilified.
Mr. Callaghan was able to more fully describe the situation at both the Lanesboro and New Milford mines. He also explained the process usually taken in punishing and rectifying regulation violations. Throughout the evening he admitted to and acknowledged several areas in which DEP policy and/or practice was deficient, and expressed sadness over the current situation. He stated, however, that though much change may still be necessary, positive movement is being made.
The inability for a limited number (four currently) of area inspectors to properly cover the number of mines in their area was faulted for the situation of the New Milford mine, at least in part. There is a chance that not enough inspections were conducted to ensure compliance. However it happened the mine was found in 2006 to be operating on 18 acres beyond its permits. The New Milford mine had been granted three, five-acre small non-coal mining permits. Usually, on such permits, standard practice is to mine one acre, then reclaim that acre and mine another. This did not happen at the New Milford mine, however, and Mr. Callaghan reported this to be a problem across the area. DEP, he admitted, needs better policing of small contiguous mines, so that their owners don't succumb to the temptation to expand. DEP halted operations at the mine at one point, and gave it the opportunity to develop a large non-coal mining permit proposal. B&S never corrected the deficiencies found within the proposal, and withdrew it before DEP had to make a decision.
DEP is now actively working, Mr. Callaghan assured those present, to rectify the situation at both mines. An administrative order is being worked on in regards to the New Milford mine, which will set a reclamation plan and a time frame by which it must be accomplished. It will require the demolition of the current crusher, and will halt all operations except for reclamation work.
The mine will be given the opportunity to resubmit for a large mining permit, a point which was subject to much debate at the meeting. It is standard procedure, apparently, for mines to be given the opportunity to rectify their situation by acquiring a large mining permit, such that they do not have to revert back to the original area permitted. (DEP has begun meeting with the Pennsylvania Bluestone Association, and is discussing with this organization the possibility of developing a medium scale mining permit. These meetings have discovered that the small permit scheme is not really practical for a bluestone quarry.) Mr. Callaghan proposed that this way, mines are not reclaiming land simply to disturb it again. Many at the meeting protested the potential for a mine which has proven itself out of compliance being awarded a permit which would allow it to expand exponentially. One visitor pointed out that B&S did not petition for just enough acres to cover their current excess, but was asking for more than two hundred acres at each site. Regardless of the acreage requested, the public was assured that a petition would be turned down if the organization was currently in non-compliance.
The definition of compliance, however, was somewhat nebulous. Compliance, by the DEP definition, does not necessarily mean that the mine be reclaimed to the area allowed by its original permit, but only that an organization demonstrate satisfactory progress and the intent to comply. This is another point of policy which the visitors present did not like, with at least one person expressing the opinion that an organization should have to prove compliance for a period of at least a few years before being allowed to expand.
In general, those present appreciated Mr. Callaghan and his willingness to assist them, but felt that more stern penalties should be applied to the people responsible for New Milford and Lanesboro. The desire for the inspectors of these sites to be fired or removed from the cases was repeatedly expressed, as was the belief that the owners of B&S should have their license revoked. Mr. Callaghan, when asked what would be an action severe enough to justify the revocation of a license (and the subsequent loss of all permits), answered that in order to earn this penalty a person would have to demonstrate neither ability nor intent to comply, and to have a string of violations in his history.
The matter of a new quarry on 848, which B&S bought and has allegedly been operating under the previous owner's permit, was another common topic of discussion. Referred to as the Baldwin mine, complaints were made about discharge onto the road from this site. It was questioned as to whether B&S was allowed to be operating the mine on a previous permit, while awaiting a transfer. Mr. Callaghan answered that there is no such thing as a transfer anymore, and a new permit would need to be applied for. He knew nothing of this mine, but encouraged visitors to contact DEP with such concerns, and not to be shy about moving up the chain of command. He recommended that people contact Mike Menghini of Pottsville with compliance concerns. B&S, so long as they are in non-compliance, will not be given a permit for this mine. He was not certain as to the state of their compliance on that date, however.
The December 12 meeting of The Susquehanna County Commissioners was held at the County Office Building, in the EMA Conference Room, at 10:00 a.m.
Commissioners Roberta Kelly, Mary Ann Warren, and Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer were present.
Commissioner Kelly presented a motion to ratify expenses and fund contributions as usual. Commissioner Mary Ann Warren seconded them, and all were approved.
Commissioner Kelly made a motion, again this week, to appoint Jim Jennings to The Rail Authority, in place of P. Jay Amadio who resigned last meeting. As per last week, no second was made to that motion.
Other motions included: Seminar requests were made for Raebelle Taylor of Domestic Relations to a workshop, Joseph Parise, Isaac Hobbs, Jerry Daly and Michelle Graziano, all of Children and Youth to attend Childhood Mental Health Issues, Drug and Alcohol Issues and Sexual Abuse Issues – An Introduction for Child Welfare Professionals; Joseph Parise, Children and Youth will also be attending a Vicarious Traumatization of Child Welfare Professionals in Case Management and Supervision in June, 2008. Also scheduled for June, Charmarie Bisel and Diana Roszel, Children & Youth will be attending a four-day seminar for Introduction to Family Group Decision Making, Parts 1 and 2.
These seminar and issues classes are scheduled from December through February of 2008, as well as two in June, 2008. The combined costs for the training of these eight county employees was under $175 ( approximately $165.00 total) for Susquehanna County.
A motion was made by Commissioner Kelly and seconded by Commissioner Warren to open and review the sealed bids for HVAC services for January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009.
The bid for gasoline for county vehicles was received and accepted, and awarded to Pump and Pantry for the period of January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009. It was the only bid received.
Commissioner Kelly made a motion to accept, with regret, the resignation of Janet Haulton from the Susquehanna County Rail Authority, effective December 1, 2007. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Warren.
Several people were re-appointed to the Susquehanna County Planning Commission for a four-year term (January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2011). Re-appointed were: Nancy Harvatine, Thompson, Ted Place, Meshoppen and Larry Wilson, Uniondale.
Timothy Cramer, Gibson, was hired to the open, part-time dispatcher trainee position, for $8.50 per hour, varied hours, benefits per the Residual Bargaining Unit Contract, per the recommendation of Art Donato, 911 Coordinator, effective date to be determined by Art Donato.
Resolution 2007-30, a memorandum of understanding between the Susquehanna County Conservation District and the Susquehanna Country Commissioners addressing District operations, functions and responsibilities as they relate to both state law and the county government in order to provide the highest degree of mutual understanding and cooperation was accepted.
Ann Whynman asked about an item in Jeff Loomis' letter regarding 911 cuts and asked if Loomis was working (with the county) any longer.
*Reporter Interjection, I received a phone call from Commissioner Loomis on December 13, in response to last week’s article about him not attending meetings. Commissioner Loomis told me that he is actually taking vacation time, which he had not taken in the last four years. He felt he was entitled to the time and decided to use it now. He added that he is in contact with the Courthouse and issues passing through . He said that Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer has his phone number and has called him on numerous occasions when she need something answered or help on county issues. "I have always returned Sylvia's calls and if she needed me, I also went in to assist with what she needed. I feel that my taking the vacation due me is within my rights."
Chief Clerk Beamer agreed with Commissioners Loomis' statements and added that he always calls her back, and not only has he helped her via the telephone, he has come in several times to assist her.
Al Aronowitz questioned, again, the funds and financial status of SOLIDA. It seems that no financial statement or status report will be released by SOLIDA Solicitor Myron Dewitt. Chief Clerk Beamer stated that the Commissioners have nothing to do with SOLIDA, it is a separate entity.
The budget has been received on time, with no tax increase within three years.
A question was raised by John Franks, Great Bend, concerning the snow plowing duties on Route 171, Great Bend and Susquehanna.
Questions were raised concerning the re-addressing system throughout the county, in an effort to locate homes more easily for emergency purposes.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners will meet for the last time, as a board, before the new commissioners take office, on December 26 at 10 a.m. in the County Office Building, EMA Conference Room.
Susquehanna Boro Council’s final meeting of 2007 took care of the usual business, and also took time to recognize the years of service of its longest-seated member, John Bronchella.
Mr. Bronchella has devoted many years of service to the boro, both as council member and as mayor. Typical of his modesty, when asked just how many years he has given, his response was, “I don’t know.” By most accounts, it has been at least twenty-five.
2 1/2" pic.
John Bronchella officially closed the last meeting of 2007, which was also his last as council member. Pictured (l-r) are: council members Mike Matis, Tom Kelly, Ron Whitehead, John Bronchella, Mayor Denise Reddon, council members Bill Perry, Jr., Bill Kuiper.
At the end of the meeting, which Mr. Bronchella officially called to a close, a reception was held, complete with a lovely cake and reminiscences of events from those years.
Business covered at the meeting included adoption of the 2008 budget and the accompanying ordinance setting tax rates for 2008, which are unchanged from 2007.
With weather reports predicting substantial snow over the next week, Mayor Reddon wished to remind residents that vehicles must be removed from the streets to allow for plowing, and sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours of snowfall. And, four-wheelers are not allowed on boro streets, especially when it snows.
Council approved setting up a bank account for the Growing Greener II funds, and an application for CDBG grant funding in the amount of $59,975 for paving and drainage on Prospect Street.
Council also approved of adding two names to the on-call list for plow operators, Bill Perry (Sr.) and Gene Stewart, pending receipt of driver’s license/Social Security information.
And, Doug Arthur spoke to council regarding an agreement entered into for a building he owns on Main St.; preliminary information indicates that the cost for paperwork (plans, etc.) required is prohibitive, and it cannot be completed in the timeframe given. After a short discussion, Mr. Arthur agreed to attend the first Codes Committee meeting of the year to discuss the matter further.
At the close of the meeting, Mr. Bronchella said that it had been a great privilege to serve on a great council. On behalf of the community, he was given a plaque commemorating his many years of service.
The next meeting will be on Monday, January 7, at which time council will reorganize and will set the meeting schedule for the coming year.
Rick Pisasik has served Harford Township as a Supervisor for 12 years, much of that time as chairman of the Board of Supervisors. He will officially yield his seat to Garry Foltz on January 7, 2008, when the board will also choose a new chair. He closed his final meeting on December 8 thanking everyone for their support, and saying that the current Supervisors have "really tried to be respectful of one another."
He couldn't bow out, however, without a strenuous debate with his replacement over the budget for the coming year. Mr. Foltz thinks that there is not enough money in the budget to cover contingencies. Noting that the new budget is some $44,000 short of what the township expects to spend by the end of 2007, he fears that, without a tax increase now, he may be end up the "bad guy" when an increase becomes necessary once he has taken his place at the table.
Mr. Pisasik responded that he thinks the budget is "workable."
"I don't think there's any reason we can't stick to [the new budget]," he said. He said that he didn't favor increasing taxes to cover expenses that can't be anticipated. The dispute focused on the cost of replacing the sluice at the outlet of Tingley Lake, and the service on the debt that may be required to pay for it. An engineering study (the cost of which was part of the overrun in the 2007 budget) estimated the construction cost at about $200,000. The township has a line of credit for half a million dollars to cover this as well as to bridge expenses associated with replacing a bridge that are reimbursable by federal and state emergency management agencies. Both projects stem from the flooding of June, 2006.
Mr. Pisasik said that the cost of the sluice replacement on Stearns Road could not be reliably estimated yet, and the township has applied for a no-interest loan from PennDOT to help out. He said he thought there was as much as $100,000 in "discretionary spending" in the budget to cover any reasonable contingencies. He said that he's not "for increasing taxes just so we can spend more money," remarking further, "Whatever we raise taxes to, we're going to spend that money."
Mr. Foltz said that he couldn't see any "slush" in the budget, but in the end the budget was passed as advertised. Property tax rates remain at 3.13 mills for the township, 0.75 mills for the fire company. The $5 per-capita tax also remains.
The Harford budget, however, comes in three parts. Another of those parts covers the sewer system that serves Harford village, Tingley Lake, Tyler Lake and the businesses at the Harford exit on the Interstate.
It seems that the 12-year-old system needs some major repairs and upgrades. A representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Administration that holds the note that underwrote the original construction of the system has recommended increasing the user fee to ensure enough funds to operate and maintain it. And the firm that helped develop the system and still operates it, David Klepadlo and Associates, is asking for $3,000 for a study to determine what work the system needs now.
The Supervisors think that the $1,800 per month the township has been paying Klepadlo to manage and operate the system should cover the kind of information such a study might produce. Mr. Foltz thinks the company should have been providing reports right along. Mr. Pisasik said that he would to meet with Mr. Klepadlo to try to work this out.
In the meantime, however, it has become clear that, after 12 years, it's time to ask the system's subscribers for more money. In most years the sewer system budget has shown a modest surplus. Supervisor and township Secretary/Treasurer Sue Furney said that the sewer account should show a cash balance of about $76,000 at the end of this year. The new budget assumes no change in income, which could end up eventually eating into the system's reserves – for major maintenance and upgrades, for example.
So the Supervisors and Mr. Foltz, all agreeing on the need for a fee increase, debated only the size. At the current number of subscribers of about 250, a one-dollar increase would bring in about $3,000 of additional revenue.
Supervisor Terry VanGorden said he favored a $3 per month increase, which would bring the fee per EDU (Equivalent Domestic Unit, some businesses account for multiple EDUs) to $35. Mr. Foltz agreed. Mr. Pisasik said he thought $2 would be enough. Again, Mr. Foltz said he feared being tagged the "bad guy" when and if a larger increase would be necessary. Since no one knows what work is needed at the sewer plant, there is no way to budget for that specifically, but he fears coming up short.
In the end, the Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a three-dollar-per-month increase in the sewer fee. Mr. Pisasik said that he went along in the interest of amity on the board.
Ms. Furney said that she usually sends out the sewer bills 45 days before the due date. She has held up the current billing, anticipating this discussion. The new fee will be effective with the second quarter of 2008. Since bills are issued quarterly, the quarterly payment per EDU will go up from $96 to $105. A letter will accompany the first quarter bills explaining the increase. The Supervisors will also investigate the legal requirements for such a measure, including any advertising that may be mandated.
In other business, the Supervisors announced that long-time employee Bob Simons will retire effective December 3. Mr. Simons asked that details not be revealed in public session. Mr. Pisasik said that he respects Mr. Simons's wishes, reporting only that Mr. Simons will receive one week's pay for every two years of his service to the township, payable bi-weekly, with no continuing benefits.
Mr. Foltz will join the Harford Township Board of Supervisors at its reorganization meeting on Monday, January 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. At that time the new board will decide on its meeting schedule for the coming year.
Marie Doty and Robert Berube to John H. and Jeannette M. Brainard, in Gibson Township for $55,000.00.
John J. and Daphne J. Lipko to Johnathan D. and Lisa A. Wisekal Lighthizer, in Forest City for $56,500.00.
Frances L. Kelley (Estate) to Charles Brian Kelley (By Guardian), in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Sharon Gray Richardson (NKA) Sharon Gray to Arthur C. and Joan B. Gray, in Lenox Township for $50,000.00.
Shawn P. Hollister (By Sheriff) to United States Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, in Montrose for $1,699.61.
Matthew and Mark Hannigan to Josephine Moeser, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Edward Cerar to Edward W. and Joyce Cerar, in Uniondale Borough for $19,000.00.
Donald and Vera Eddy to James M. and Rita G. Eddy, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Paul T. Gnall (EST) to Linda Reilly and Valerie White, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Samuel Smolley (Estate) to Paul V. Smolley, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Federal National Mortgage Association (AKA) Fannie Mae to James and Vesta Adriance, in Forest Lake Township for $43,000.00.
Walter J. and Jean E. Winters to Harry J. and Wanda B. Pierce, in Liberty Township for $75,000.00.
James and Vesta Adriance to Robert Collumb, in Forest Lake Township for $55,000.00.
Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Jr. and Donna Fekette to Robert E. Otto and Lynnette A. Waldman, in Brooklyn Township for $45,000.00.
Edwin L., Joan M., Donald K., Kathleen J., Robert L., Jean C. and Joseph R. MacConnell and Roberta J. Houlihan to Corey J. Shaw, in New Milford Borough for $84,000.00.
Frances Ulco (EST AKA) Frances E. Ulco to Robert J. and Bonnie E. Fleming, in Great Bend Borough and Great Bend Township for $229,000.00.
Viola Warren (By Atty) to Bonnie L. and Percy G., Jr. Warren, in Liberty Township for $37,000.00.
Joseph Bonavita (Estate) to Gary W. and Geralyn M. Bonavita, in Auburn Township for $56,000.00.
Donald H. (Trust By Trustee) and Ruth E. (Trust By Trustee) Clapper to Ruth E. Clapper, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Richard Vlasak to Richard and Ellen Vlasak, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Shirley Silipo (By Atty) to Jason Eromenok and Kristin Briggs, in Susquehanna for $74,000.00.
Debra A. Miller to Kenneth H. and Nancy Martin, in Oakland Borough for $67,000.00.
Kevin A. (By Sheriff) and Cindy L. (By Sheriff) Holgate to Fannie Mae, in Hop Bottom Borough for $1,309.99.
Jeffery D. and Heather B. Harris to John M. Inglin, in Oakland Borough and Oakland Township for $67,500.00.
Stuart I. and Marcy T. Price to Lenox Investments LLC, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Willing U. and Norma J. Weidner to Jerry and Dale Weidner, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Rhoda King to Kevin and Karen King, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Heather J. and Matthew Chidester to Corey J. Sinnett, in Great Bend Township for $135,000.00.
Glyn Martin and Nancy J. Keene, both of Hop Bottom.
Scott Michael Beadle of Chenango Forks, NY and Nicole Christine Brand of Montrose.
Governor Rendell announced on November 13 that Donald Dean and Sons Inc., located in Montrose, has been awarded a $451,621.00 grant to replace their boiler system. The grant was part of the Energy Harvest Grants given to profit and nonprofit industries throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The Energy Harvest Grant was developed to promote awareness and build markets for cleaner or renewable energy technologies. Innovative projects that are eligible through the program include renewable energy deployment, including biomass systems which Donald Dean and Sons Inc. at present utilizes.
There were 28 grants awarded throughout Pennsylvania totaling $5.4 million, but only one in Susquehanna County.
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has awarded grants totaling nearly $410,000 to restore and protect numerous historical sites and natural resources, Rep. Tina Picket (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) said.
"Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of impressive heirlooms from our past," said Pickett. "Grant programs like this ensure that these pieces of living history are around for years to come, helping remind us of our heritage."
Grant money will be awarded to the following projects of the Endless Mountains Heritage Area: $100,000 to support the costs of operating and managing the Endless Mountain Heritage Region; $10,000 to preserve the one-room Hoover School building in Clifford Township; $40,000 to continue the restoration of the exterior of the Silver Lake Bank building in Montrose; $15,000 for the restoration of two Palladian windows in a 1907 building owned by the Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association.
The grants were awarded through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program (CCPP), which is administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The CCPP is designed to provide financial and technical assistance to local governments, river and trail organizations, land trusts and other nonprofit organizations for the planning, acquisition and development of park, recreation, conservation and greenways projects.
A Clifford Township Supervisors meeting was held on Tuesday, December 11, 2007. The board announced that it is applying for grant money to add sidewalks to the Clifford Township Municipal Building, thereby making the building more handicapped-accessible.
The board resolved to double the fee for individuals caught building without a permit, and to award the Clifford Township Fire Company $6,000 for its work in 2007.
Police Chief Munley expressed concern about his insurance policy, which the board plans to reduce for the coming year in order to help stem township expenses. John Regan, township supervisor, stated that Chief Munley’s insurance cost Clifford Township about $32,000 in 2007. Munley was advised to discuss his insurance further with the lawyer that represents the township.
Reports were received from the township departments, and a budget meeting was scheduled for Thursday, December 20 at 7 p.m. A Clifford Township reorganizational meeting and monthly business meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 7 at 7 p.m.
Rep. Sandra Major announced that $65,000 in funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Community Conservation Partnerships Program (CCPP) has been approved for three projects in the Endless Mountains Heritage Area, which is part of her legislative district. “These grants will help maintain many of the historic and recreational properties in the area,” Major said.
The grants include:
$10,000 to preserve the historic one-room Hoover school building in Clifford Township.
$40,000 to complete Phase 2 and 3 of the restoration of the exterior of the historic Silver Lake Bank Building in Montrose.
$15,000 for the restoration of two Palladian windows in a building dating to 1907 owned by Susquehanna Historical Society and Free Library Association.
Major added that Franklin Township will receive a $20,000 grant for further development of Brookside Memorial Park to include the installation of a well, restroom facility, ADA access ramps, a sign and other related site improvements.
The CCPP grant program is administered by the DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation to provide financial and technical assistance to local governments, river and trail organizations, land trusts and other nonprofits for the planning, acquisition and development of park, recreation, conservation and greenways projects.
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