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The Susquehanna County Commissioners met on Wednesday, February 27 in the EMA Conference Room in the county office building with all three commissioners and Deputy Chief Clerk, Kathy Aldrich present.
Jim Jennings asked the commissioners whose idea it was not to include Public Comment in the minutes of the commissioners’ meetings anymore. He was told by Commissioner Warren, " It was a consensus of the commissioners." Jennings asked if all three commissioners brought it up, or one of them. Commissioner Warren said she had agreed with it. Commissioner Giangrieco stated that it didn’t matter to him, and Jennings replied, "It matters to me." Jerry Bevan asked Commissioner Allen to respond to the question; Allen replied, "I had no problem with it."
After passing the expansion of The Susquehanna County Economic Board of Directors from five to seven members, Commissioners then appointed Adam Diaz, of Kingsley, PA and William E. Owens, Clifford to the board, each for a three-year term. It was explained that the new members help the board by representing more areas of the county, with Diaz representing bluestone; Owens brings in experience, as he was on the board previously.
David Darrow, Montrose and Donald Button, New Milford, were also appointed as members to the Rail Authority board. Commissioners said that Darrow "would bring local government to the group, and Button lives in New Milford, which puts someone on located near the proposed site of the loading facility.
Saturday, March 8, 2008 was officially proclaimed "Chris Snee Day in Susquehanna County." Snee is a 2000 graduate of Montrose Area School District, a member of the NY Giants NFL football team since 2004, and has several other football accomplishments, including being on the starting team for the 2008 NFL Championship Team. Snee also devotes time to the local United Way, working with the children and supporting the countywide program. There will be a parade and dinner in Montrose on March 8. The dinner will give local fans a chance to ask questions and speak with Snee. Contact The United Way for more information.
A contract with Snyder & Clemente was authorized to act as consultants to prepare the county financial records for the independent auditor.
Jones Kohanski, Certified Public Accountants of Moosic, PA, was authorized as the independent auditors to audit the county’s books for year end 2007, Public Safety Emergency Telephone Act special purpose statements of the county for January 1, 2007-December 31, 2009, and The Susquehanna County Conservation District for year ended December 31, 2007.
Bids were opened (only one bid was received) for the Waste Tire Program and John Witiak, Kingsley was awarded the bid. Witiak or "Yogi's" charge is $247.50 per ton and a $1600 set up fee, according to Recycling Coordinator, Eric Hamby.
In other matters: NECO Systems, Inc, Souderton, PA were authorized for a $3,733 contract to fix the pump in Well #1 at the Susquehanna County Prison. Commissioner Giangrieco informed that it was an immediate fix to a small leak; a motion from February 13, 2008 meeting was rescinded awarding the demolition bid to Wince Construction due to issues regarding removal of items and deadlines not met; the bid for demolition of 11 properties included in the June, 2006 buyout program was awarded to Shea Industries, Clarks Summit, PA, as the lowest qualified bidder at $73,500 per the recommendation of Donna Erat, Disaster Recovery Specialist; and Rhonda Smith, Auburn Township, was hired to Sheriff's Deputy position, effective March 3, 2008.
Ann Whynman questioned if the commissioners had considered meetings on the first, third and fifth Wednesdays of the month, due to at least four instances where there would be a span of three weeks before having a commissioners’ meeting. Commissioner Warren said she would have to check her schedule, which was already set up; Commissioner Giangrieco agreed, saying "It is fair enough.” Commissioner Allen did not reply. They may also consider just having a fifth Wednesday meeting, instead of changing all schedules.
Another question, brought up by Jim Jennings was the meeting schedule being moved back to 9 a.m. from 10 a.m.; Josh Mrozinski informed commissioners that it was "rare to have a county meeting before 10 a.m." Matters of safety and bad roads were also brought up. Commissioner Warren said that she "hoped no one would risk their lives in getting to a county commissioners’ meeting." She added later that she hoped that someone "would not consider the county commissioners responsible if they were hurt in such an accident."
The repair of the upstairs door (of county office building) was again brought up. Commissioner Warren said, "We are working on it."
The commissioners’ meeting was closed, and the Salary Board meting opened.
The salary of Maureen Jordan, Solicitor for Children and Youth Services was increased from $24,720 to $26,500, due to an increase in the amount of time required for her to adequately represent Susquehanna County Services for Children and Youth's 11 caseworkers, supervisors and director.
The 2008 Miscellaneous Compensation Schedule was amended, changing the Court Appointed Counsel from $50 per hour to $60 per hour, effective February 27, 2008. Commissioner Giangrieco explained that the $50 fee has been in effect for 15 years. (Note: the public defender's salary has nothing to do with the court appointed counsel, they are two separate issues).
The next Susquehanna County Commissioners’ meeting will be held March 12, at the Susquehanna County Office Building, in The EMA Conference Room at 9 a.m.
Clarification:In the February 13 commissioners’ meeting report, it was stated that the financial consultant and the fiscal administrator positions were inter-mixed. Actually, the financial consultant position "does" have a job description. The financial consultant is from an outside source, Snyder & Clemente. A fiscal administrator, had one been appointed, would have been an employee from within Susquehanna County, working in the courthouse (versus hired from out of the area).
Commissioner Warren reported that she had gone through the procedures, as advised by then-solicitor Raymond Davis.
In the position of fiscal administrator, a job description "was" generated, but because the motion to appoint a fiscal administrator died, it was not needed.
Also, Warren informed that because the personnel director position had been eliminated, duties of that office have been combined in the chief clerk and deputy chief clerk's job description. "The reality now," Commissioner Warren stated, "is that we are down one person in the commissioners’ office; because of this fact, our entire office staff, including the chief and deputy chief clerk are and have been working above and beyond."
The February 25 Mountain View School Board meeting wasn't just hot air, but much time was spent discussing how district air could best be used. The meeting essentially opened with a presentation by Milwaukee based Johnson Controls, a company offering its performance contracting services to the district for the purposes of energy efficiency. The representatives present claimed that through PA legislation Act 77, the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, the district is enabled to find a way to save energy with greater financial freedom, with the assistance of Johnson. Essentially, the district would accrue money from sources with the understanding that these sources would be paid back from the money saved in electricity costs over the next 15 years. Johnson Controls would serve as the contractor, and would guarantee this process, such that if it failed the company would be responsible for the cost. It would first assess the district's current energy situation and propose improvements. Mountain View has specifically expressed potential interest in being assessed regarding the feasibility of wind power. Having already saved in excess of $100,000 through use of its wood chip heating system, wind power would be another feather in the district's renewable resource cap. The representatives from Johnson explained, however, that while they would be very excited to have their first wind project in this state, wind power comes with a very particular set of considerations: wind density, land resources, access to a main grid, site selection, environmental issues, potential grants, etc. Currently, to move forward with the project, it is up to the board to sign a memorandum of understanding, which would allow Johnson Controls to perform an assessment at no cost and no obligation to the district. Were the district to meet the specific requirements for wind power, there is the potential of an income source as power might be sold during off-peak times in the school year.
The district recently hosted the PMEA Region 4 band festival, which, by all accounts, was a success. Many different parties were recognized and thanked for their contributions to this event, including the cafeteria staff, the custodians, the administration, and community members (who housed more than 160 out of district students). The board and Dr. Chichura were thanked for going ahead with the auditorium improvements. Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Fargnoli were recognized, as the heads of the Mountain View music department, as was Mr. Barbolish, who provided a new banner to hang in place of the usual, 75-year-old, banner. All in all it was called a beautiful event, one for which around 1,000 people were estimated to be in the building.
Mrs. Stone, whose impending retirement was also announced at the meeting, reported on the matter of tainted beef. While the district did have beef from that provider, she assured those present, notification had been received that none of this was from the offending source. Even had it been, the recall covers beef over a two-year time period, and no illness has been directly linked to the beef. Still, the meat in question, of which the district did not have large quantities, had been isolated and would continue to be so until it was determined that there was no known danger in using it.
Mrs. Pipitone has a dream, and is offering to do a lot of work herself to try and bring it to fruition. At the meeting, she informed the board that currently there are many grants for pre-kindergarten programs. She felt there was a great need for this in the district. She asked for a letter of intention, stating that Mountain View was looking into installing such a program in the next year, perhaps half-day. The letter, she said, comes with no obligation to start a program, but without the letter no grants can be received were one to be attempted. Children come into kindergarten, she reasoned, unable to read or identify many letters. Additionally, she argued, the government historically offers grants for a program, then takes the money away and requires you to implement that program anyway. The board approved the letter, and gave Mrs. Pipitone permission to investigate the matter and survey parents for interest and support.
Dr. Chichura read a letter from the secretary of education, which was sent to the district with the request that it be read at the next meeting. The letter spoke about the new graduation requirements for Pennsylvania, which have been given preliminary approval but not yet been passed. It argued that diplomas ought to have meaningful substantive value, and asked the district not to adopt the resolution against it which the PSBA has been supporting. Unfortunately for the secretary, the district already passed that resolution at the last meeting. The proposed legislation would require students to score proficient on the PSSA in eleventh grade, and then pass the graduation certification examination in twelfth. Dr. Chichura stated that he felt the government was moving too rapidly in this matter, and that it was not yet ready. This resolution was forwarded to Representatives and the Department of Education.
A wrestling matter had various parents incensed at the meeting. The wrestling team had been searched, the day of the band concert, in regards to stolen property. The parents felt it was unfair to single out their children, and feared the team had been labeled by the action. Ms. Vagni told the parents that the matter could not be discussed publicly due to the continuing investigation, but she would talk with them privately. She assured them that due process had been followed, however, and that the administration acted correctly.
Another visitor inquired whether or not staff certifications could be checked on a website. It was replied that yes, on the PDE website certification could be investigated, but not without the person's social security number. Thus the administration can, and does, check on its staff, but the public cannot. Dr. Chichura stated, however, that all instructors are currently certified in the subject area in which they are working.
Finally, the district has received more accolades in response to its Classrooms for the Future grant implementation. Because this is going so well for Mountain View, the school has been invited to present at two conferences. A March 5 educational technology showcase opening event has been planned, with tours through the building. Mountain View has also been asked to host the April 25 Collaboration Day.
The February 26 Susquehanna Boro Council meeting was rescheduled to February 27, due to weather conditions. Present were council members Bill Iveson, Bill Kuiper, Mike Matis, Bill Perry and Dave Scales, Mayor Denise Reddon and several guests.
One of those guests, Dennis Martel addressed council about the effects of quarry operations on homeowners.
Mayor Reddon reported that a member of New Milford Rescue was to have attended the meeting, but was unable to, once it had been rescheduled. The purpose, the mayor said, was that “We may be joining Rescue” and there was a question of whether membership would be possible under New Milford Rescue’s “umbrella.”
The mayor said that she did obtain contact information for DEP, to report incidents, such as areas where water runoff has become a problem (as a result of quarrying).
The mayor turned the floor over to Mr. Martel, who spoke about a number of issues of concern caused by mining. Water volume increases, because the ground is not able to absorb as much once it has been mined, causing erosion. This, he said, causes problems for those living below the mining, including landslides, property loss and other damage. He, himself had lost his home of 15 years from flooding; the big flood of June, 2006 was the sixth he had experienced. Mold, resulting from the flooding, is also something that homeowners have to deal with, often causing sickness and sometimes death, long after the flooding has occurred. Contamination of wells and cave-ins often occur from the runoff.
Mr. Martel said that operations with large mining permits are allowed unlimited extraction. Many of them put smaller, “mom and pop” operations out of business. Some of them have been known to hire illegal immigrants, who are willing to work at lower wages, preventing locals from obtaining jobs. And, especially with the larger operations, there is unlimited truck traffic and there are often frequent complaints about drivers who travel at unsafe speeds.
It is not just a residential problem, he said, it also effects the environment and wildlife, all of which must be protected. Miners are required to “reclaim” the land, but stone, once removed, is not a renewable resource. “People need to be aware,” he said. Miners are not required to make waterways to direct the runoff into creeks or rivers. Things they could be doing to prevent flooding (of other properties) are not required.
Mr. Martel read a passage from a book about the borough of Lanesboro’s centennial; it said that there were para-amphibious footprints found in stone in the Lanesboro area, possibly the only place in the world they had been found, and they were gone now that the area has been mined. “We are losing our history,” he said.
Mr. Martel said that his house often shook from blasting from the mining, and in spite of many requests for help, none was forthcoming. His opinion was that the quarry owners wanted to obtain his property for their operation, and that government officials on several levels chose to support them rather than the property owner. He closed by urging, “Contact whoever you can for help, it’s important.”
Mayor Reddon thanked Mr. Martel and proceeded with other items in her report. Police officers’ updates have been scheduled for April.
Mr. Perry asked if the police department could follow up on removal of a dumpster on Main St. The person responsible for it had met with the boro’s CEO and had promised (after two extensions were given) to have it removed the previous Friday; it was not. The mayor said they would follow up.
Mr. Kuiper said that there was a problem with cars parked at the intersection of Main St. and Second Ave., blocking sight distance. He asked if that could be looked into. The mayor said that it would, and that lines would be painted this summer. Mr. Scales noted that the same problem exists on Washington St.; fire/emergency vehicles sometimes have difficulty making turns when the corners are blocked. Mr. Matis suggested that updating the signage on the boro’s streets might be one way to deal with it; where the signs are now, some people might just not be aware of where they can park and where they can’t.
In other business, motions carried to adopt an amendment to ordinance 428, which deals with rental properties, and to adopt ordinance 451, which deals with vacant buildings.
After review, the boro’s solicitor had some comments about a proposed noise ordinance. A letter said that the ordinance would require that two or more complaints be made about a specific instance or be witnessed by a police officer. Complainants must be willing to testify in court. He had been unable to find any instances where the ordinance had been challenged in court, but with those provisions, it is likely that it would hold up. Mr. Perry said that he would rather see an ordinance enacted that has been challenged in court and would hold up. Mr. Scales said that if people were willing to testify, as well as a police officer, it should work; he would rather see one enacted now than wait until another one could be found. A motion carried to begin the process to adopt the ordinance.
One item on the agenda, a request from the Parks and Rec. Committee to reallocate $900 from one line item of their budget to another, resulted in a lengthy discussion. The request was made so that the funds could be used to hire a maintenance person for the Prospect St. park; $1,500 had been budgeted, but after interviewing applicants, the committee would like to hire someone for a 24-week period, at $100 per week. Although a motion carried to approve, Mr. Perry felt that council was “jumping into” approving the request. He wondered if someone has already been hired, and if council’s approval also meant approval of hiring a specific individual. Mr. Scales responded that council entrusts maintenance of the park to the committee, which establishes job criteria. The committee members, he said, are pretty astute (financially), and have done an excellent job taking care of the park. Mr. Perry answered, “It’s only February, and already we’re amending the budget.” He also questioned the need to maintain the park for 24 weeks, and asked how many weeks a year it is actually used. “I would have liked an explanation (before action was taken),” he said. Mr. Matis suggested that a council member should serve on the Parks and Rec. Committee; none volunteered to do so.
A motion carried to approve a list of tax exonerations, and to approve the annual contribution for fire protection. This presented a small dilemma, as the requested amount was some $478 more than had been budgeted. Secretary Ann Stewart said that the amount is based on assessed valuations, which she had been unaware of when the budget was prepared and had used figures from 2007. The fire company provided her with the information about how the amount was arrived at, so that this will not be a problem when future budgets are prepared. And, she said, the difference should be covered by revenues from delinquent taxes.
A motion carried to approve installation of a security system at the boro garage, the cost of which will be split with the Tri Boro Municipal Authority.
And, according to the minutes of a special meeting held on February 13, motions carried to accept an agreement between TREHAB and the boro to purchase property at 519 Erie Ave. for $1, to accept an agreement to accept property from John Fish on Pine St., and to proceed with purchase of a pressure washer, cost $2,399 plus shipping.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday March 25, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
Donald E. and Claire M. Best to Leonard Wasmanski, in Herrick Township for $100,000.00.
Isa and Drew Nativity and Shawn Torelli to Paul S. and Amarilyn Agli, in Ararat Township for $150,000.00.
Richard M. Cordes (By Sheriff) to Robert and Rebecca Cooley, in Bridgewater Township for $60,001.00.
Charles W. and Sarah A. Wormuth to Bruce, Sr., Nancy P., Bruce, Jr. and Kathleen Derosier, in Harmony Township for $17,500.00.
David J. Pitti and Joseph Alongis to Morgan B. Gingerella, in Lanesboro Borough for $3,900.00.
Janet D. and John L. Carey, Diane Adams and Frances E. and Rodney L. Davis (Trust By Trustees) to Darlene L. Bayuk, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Barbara Rydzewski to Barbara Rydzewski, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Valerie White and Linda Reilly to Dustin Rudolfi, in Lenox Township for $90,000.00.
Nick L and Paula J. Holofchak to Nick L. and Paula J. Holofchak, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Harry C., III and Wanda Stuart Davis to Harry C., III (Trust) and Wanda Stuart Davis (Trust), in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Thomas E. Clark to Thomas E. and Dawn M. Clark, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Angelo and Maria Dibiase to Angelo, Paul and Joseph Dibiase, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Dominick A., Jr. and Janice S. Zurlo to D. A. Zurlo (Living Trust By Trustees), in Thompson Township for one dollar.
David W. and Rebecca S. Reed to David W., Jr. (Living Trust) and Rebecca S. (Living Trust) Reed, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
William T. and Jennifer L. Bennett to William T. and Jennifer L. Bennett, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Thomas C. (By Sheriff) and Joanne R. Harvey (By Sheriff) to US Bank, in Susquehanna for $1,197.52.
James J. and Carol Ann Pettinato to James J. and Carol Ann Pettinato, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
James J. and Carol Ann Pettinato to Thomas J. and Meghann C. Boylan, in Clifford Township for $125,000.00.
James J. and Carol Ann Pettinato to Thomas J. and Meghann C. Boylan, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Donald George, Jr. and Debra M. Carroll to Donald George Carroll, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Angelo and Jacqueline Scarfalloto to Miles E. Krause, Jr. and Koni Worth, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Laura Lou Wescott and Brian Fitzsimons to Brian Lee Fitzsimons, in Lenox Township for $9,900.00.
William H. Guild, Sr. (Estate) to Ruth Rought, William H., Jr. and Diane Guild, in Harford Township for one dollar.
William H. Guild, Sr. (Estate) to Ruth Rought, in Harford Township for one dollar.
William H. Guild, Sr. (Estate) to Diane Guild, in Harford Township for one dollar.
William H. Guild, Sr. to William H. Guild, Jr., in Harford Township for one dollar.
Donna L. Seamans (NBM) Donna L. Carpenetti and Richard E. Carpenetti to Richard E. and Donna L. Carpenetti, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Richard E. and Donna L. Carpenetti to Richard E. and Donna L. Carpenetti, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Jeffery L. Hansberger vs. Patricia E. Gavin, both of Forest City, married 2001.
Robert Potter, Jr. of Mercer, PA vs. Debra Potter of Susquehanna, married 1999.
Jamie Herbert of Susquehanna vs. Jacob Herbert of Marienville, PA, married 2005.
Martin R. Foran of Great Bend vs. Rita A. Foran of Endicott, NY, married 1983.
Since the district has already pledged not to increase tax rates beyond a mandated limit, the Blue Ridge School Board doesn't have to publish a formal budget much before the end of the fiscal year at the end of June. With only one business meeting each month, however, the district must begin preparations well enough in advance that a proposal can be issued by the second week in May.
So the Board's Committee on Budget, Finance and Transportation met a half hour prior to the Board workshop on February 25 to begin quizzing Business Manager Loren Small and other administrators about their plans. Activities Director Jim Corse had already submitted a preliminary plan, and Mr. Small said he will be looking for budget requests from teachers and principals by the middle of March.
Board President and Committee chair Priscinda Gaughan has scheduled another committee meeting for Monday, March 17 to go over some of these plans in more detail. The Board as a whole will not have a workshop in March because at least Ms. Gaughan will be away, attending the national conference of school directors in Orlando.
Her predecessor as Board President, Alan Hall, added his assertive awareness of school financial issues to the committee's discussions. He continues to press for tax reductions that he believes should be possible as the district begins to come out from under its burden of long-term debt. At the meeting he quizzed Mr. Small for some revenue details, under the assumption that the state legislature will improve on the governor's proposed increase of only about 1.8% in school funding for next year.
Mr. Small said that at Blue Ridge, 1 mill of property tax yields just under $129,000, of which about $119,000 is considered collectible. The Blue Ridge district assesses 43 mills against its property owners. That means the district can expect just over $5 million in local revenue. The rest of the budget, which recently has been nearing $16 million, has to come primarily from state and federal sources. Mr. Small said that he doesn't anticipate any increase at all in federal support.
Blue Ridge expects modest savings from the retirement of some eight long-time faculty. However, Mr. Small expects an increase in health insurance costs above 12%.
Since Mr. Corse's budget was the only detail available, it came in for some early scrutiny. He seems to be asking for about $40,000 more next year, in large part for new athletic uniforms. Committee members also asked that budget sheets be submitted showing not only proposals for next year, but comparisons with the current year.
When the full board gathered for its workshop after the committee meetings broke up, they were expecting a presentation on school board "governance" from a representative of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. The presenter canceled, so the board had more time to discuss athletic uniforms.
According to Mr. Corse, uniforms are generally replaced every five years. The High School girls' softball team's boosters, however, want to put up half the cost of new uniforms a year early, if the district will pony up the other half. He also said that basketball uniforms have already reached the end of their five-year life. Mr. Corse said that his softball budget had saved some money already, thanks to the boosters who bought bats that he expected to have to purchase out of his budget.
Some board members noted that the girls' softball team perhaps deserved new uniforms, since they were the only recent Blue Ridge team to win a state championship. Others said that all the teams should have acceptable uniforms. Uniforms were also a topic at a meeting of the Activities Committee reported on by chair Dawn Franks.
One of the Board's newest members, Laurie Brown-Bonner, heads the equally new "Educational Programs" Committee, covering curriculum, among other issues. At her meeting before the workshop, the committee discussed the PSSA tests, particularly with regard to "what we teach and how we teach it," she said.
During the workshop the looming possibility of additional "graduation and competency examinations" similar to the New York State Regency exams came up, and Ms. Brown- Bonner suggested that Board members write their legislators to express their opinions on the idea. Harold Empett said the "New York Regencies are coming;" and, while he said he had nothing against the exams as such, District Superintendent Robert McNamara said that too often such mandates arrive without sufficient funding and other support. Such a test would require the district to find time in the school schedule for test preparation and other support for seniors who hope to graduate. He said that there was the distinct possibility that such a test would mean that some students "just won't graduate."
Mr. Small reported on negotiations with two contractors on work that seems to have been unsatisfactory. The new roofing over the gym that was laid on last summer is already leaking and he is expecting a "letter of assurance" from the contractor that the entire roof area in question will be replaced. It also seems that the new track surface is growing some of Northeastern Pennsylvania's notoriously vigorous grass. The contractor has said that they will "do whatever it takes" to make sure Blue Ridge is satisfied. When originally installed, the track cost about a quarter of a million dollars.
The PSBA representative who didn't show up was also supposed to recognize the service of several board members. In his absence, Mr. McNamara singled out Joel Whitehead for extraordinary service to the schools. Mr. Whitehead has served 26 years on the Blue Ridge Board.
Except for the two newest members, no one on the board has less than six years service, so all were invited to partake of a beautiful cake prepared by the schools' food service staff for the occasion when the workshop broke up.
There may not be cake, but the next meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board is scheduled for Monday, March 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
The county commissioners announced that Susquehanna County will participate in a statewide weather emergency exercise that will include officials from Pennsylvania’s 67 county emergency management agencies, as well as many area schools, hospitals, nursing homes and day care centers. The exercise is designed to test severe weather emergency response plans that have been developed by municipalities and public or private facilities.
“Statewide weather exercises such as the one scheduled for March 13, give county and municipal governments, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, and other special care facilities across the state an opportunity to test their disaster preparedness and response plans,” said Robert P. French, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). “After the exercise, those plans can be reviewed to see where changes are needed so that in the event of an actual emergency, proper safety and response procedures are carried out in the most effective and efficient manner.”
On Friday, March 14 at 10:10 a.m., a statewide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will be conducted, originating in the state's emergency operations center in Harrisburg. EAS is a voluntary network of local radio and television stations and is the primary public alert and notification system for emergency information.
The exercise includes exercise-based severe weather reports to be issued by the National Weather Service over normal reporting channels, such as the NWS Weather Radio stations.
French said the state has reached out to all schools, day care centers, hospitals and nursing homes in Pennsylvania to encourage them to participate in the exercise. The state provides planning guides to assist these facilities in developing their emergency preparedness plans, and has supplied schools with teaching materials about floods and other weather emergencies.
“Those responsible for the safety of our state’s most vulnerable citizens need to be cognizant of the threat of severe weather here in Pennsylvania, and that includes looking back at what has happened here in the past in order to prepare for future events,” French said. “Pennsylvania is the most flood-prone state in the country, so heavy rain from violent storms or a tropical weather system that leads to flooding is always a concern.”
According to French, 1996 exemplifies just how dangerous and unpredictable severe weather conditions can be. Pennsylvania experienced a record six presidentially-declared major disasters in 1996. Five major floods and record-breaking snow storms impacted every county in the state.
TRAFFIC STOP/DRUG POSSESSION
On February 24 at around 3:54 p.m., Tikki Boyd of Newark, NJ was traveling Northbound on I81 in Lenox Twp. when he was stopped by police for speeding, going 88 mph in a 65 mph speed zone. Mr. Boyd was given a citation for the violation and then asked if he had any illegal drugs or weapons inside the vehicle. He responded to the negative, and stated voluntarily that the trooper could search the automobile if he so desired. When a search of the entire vehicle was performed, a small amount of marijuana was located inside the glove compartment. The accused denied knowing that the marijuana was inside the vehicle. All necessary information was obtained on the scene to file charges. The accused was released as per rule 519 from the scene. Charges were filed at District Court 34-3-03.
On February 6, a drive-off occurred at the Lenox Pump N' Pantry, at around 9:30 p.m. The perpetrator is described as being a white female driving a gray ford Taurus.
On February 22, at 5:30 a.m., Suzanne Sunderlin of Montrose was traveling northbound on SR 4007 when she lost control of her vehicle on the snow covered road while negotiating a left hand curve. She consequently crossed into the southbound lane, into the path of an approaching PennDOT plow truck driven by Tobey Smith of Brackney. Sunderlin's vehicle struck Smith's plow. Neither operator was injured.
On February 22, at around 11:05 p.m., Greg Hostetler of Newark, Delaware was driving his motorcycle northbound on TR 460, Mud Road, in Susquehanna County. At this location TR 460 is a dirt roadway with no lined markings, and at the time it was snow covered. Hostetler became distracted as he looked over his shoulder and drove the bike off of the roadway to the left of the travel lanes, traveling down a 15-foot bank. The bike rolled to the left, causing Hostetler to become separated from the vehicle. Both the bike and the operator came to a final rest approximately 12 feet off the roadway in a field. Hostetler suffered minor injuries in the form of back pain, and was transported to CMC Scranton for medical treatment.
On February 12, at around 2:30 p.m., Karen Erickson of Ivyland, PA was traveling north along SR 81 when she lost control of her vehicle and traveled across the northbound lanes. Erickson continued across the median and collided with a southbound tractor trailer, driven by David York of New Berlin, NY. Erickson was treated at CMC for injuries; York was not injured. Both occupants were utilizing seatbelts at the time.
On February 18, at 12:45 p.m., it was reported that someone had cut and removed timber from the property of James Cleary, on Mud Pond Rd. in Uniondale, PA.
HIT AND RUN
On February 11, at around 4:30 p.m., David Bentler of Susquehanna, PA was traveling West along SR 1022 when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the fence of box # 1926/1927 Liberty Park Rd. Bentler then fled the scene without leaving the required information with the property owner. Witnesses at the scene obtained the registration number of the fleeing unit and reported this to the police. The operator was later identified and charges are pending.
On February 21, Shawn Blaisure of Montrose, PA contacted the Gibson Station to report that he and a man named Harold Oliver had gone to remove a vehicle from Brozonis Road in Rush Twp. Blaisure stated that he works for Force's Garage, and had been called earlier in the evening to remove a Lincoln Town Car that was parked in the middle of the road. He had been told that a Rush Twp. Supervisor had contacted the State Police at Gibson to have the vehicle removed, so that the plow truck could plow the road. When he arrived, Blaisure reported, he activated the yellow lights in his rollback tow truck, exited his vehicle, began to pull the cable from his tow truck, and hook it up the town car. As soon as he attempted to hook the cable up to the car he hard a popping sound. He wasn't sure what it was at first, until he heard a few more and then heard bullets going through the trees near where he was standing, along the road. When he realized that it was gunfire, he got into his rollback and fled the scene. The investigation revealed that Duane Benscoter had fired four rounds from his SKS rife in the general direction of Blaisure and Oliver. Benscoter was arrested at his residence and charged with Aggravated Assault, Terroristic Threats, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. He was arraigned before District Justice Suzanne Brainard and was remanded to the Susquehanna jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for February 25 at 1:30 p.m. at District Court 34-3-01.
On February 3, at 11:00 p.m., John Wood of Hallstead was assaulted at the Summit Tea Room. The Tea Room serves food and alcoholic beverages, and the alleged assault occurred on the night of the Super Bowl. After attacking Wood, the unknown perpetrators fled the scene by unknown means. Wood was treated at Endless Mountain Health Systems in Montrose.
On February 18, one or more person(s) removed a parked, gray 1989 Ford E350 from the house of Robert Murray of Auburn Center.
On February 19 at 9:30 p.m., someone threw a canister at the residence of Thomas Lewis in Hallstead, breaking a front storm window valued at approximately $100.
On February 25, at around 7:45 a.m., Kenneth Gumaer was traveling south on SR 92 in Oakland Twp. when he encountered a patch of ice located at the bottom of an uphill driveway and lost control of his vehicle. The ice was caused by runoff from melting snow in the driveway. Gumaer slid sideways on the ice and hit a roadside ditch with the left front tire, causing the vehicle to overturn and come to a final rest on its roof along the west side of the road.
On February 13 at 1:17 p.m., Robin Dekay-Findley was traveling south on SR 1033 when she lost control of her vehicle on the slush covered roadway and flipped down an embankment. The vehicle she was driving landed on its roof, upside down in a stream. Both Dekay-Findley and a passenger were transported to Endless Mountains Health were they were treated and released.
On February 16 at 12:25 a.m., a burglary occurred at Schwalm's Deli N More in Gibson. In the course of this theft, a cash register with cash inside was taken. The approximate value of the loss is $500.
PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania fire departments were awarded $779,992 through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program. This grant program continues to serve as a major effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure the nation’s firefighters continue to have the basic capability they require to do their jobs, improve community safety and prevent the loss of lives.
Round 27 of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program includes awards to the United Fire Company, Montrose, in the amount of $94,715 for Operations and Safety.
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