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The March 19 New Milford Township meeting returned, to a degree, to its contentious past. Raised voices and impassioned speeches were squelched repeatedly during the meeting, and a verbal argument erupted after it. The township secretary asked those fighting to please exit the building, stating that she would call the police if necessary. Those involved politely acquiesced in a timely fashion, and the scene was moved past. Despite the disputes work was done, and certain issues were clarified.
The bids for road material were opened, and the bid awarded in a somewhat unconventional manner. Supervisors Jack Conroy and Jim Hunter had discussed the matter, and the difficulty they had getting material recently as this winter's ice took a toll on supplies. For this reason the two voted (Don Shibley recused himself from the decision) to accept the lowest bid as the primary supplier (as required by law). However, they did not reject the other bids, but accepted the second and third companies as second and third suppliers, should they ever need more material than is readily available through the primary and these companies be satisfied to fill this role. Thus H&K (aka. Montrose Materials) will be the township's primary source of material, Eastern Industries the secondary, and Lopke the third.
Various matters of permits and violations were discussed. The township received notification of a blasting plan being added to a permit for a small non-coal mining operation on the Tingle y farm, and preliminary approval for a Verizon Wireless Cell Site to secure necessary permits. Someone had brought in a letter, signed by local residents, complaining of a sewage pipe leaking fluids on Cosmello Road. This was given to Mike Fortner, the SEO, to investigate.
Someone asked if the supervisors would be similarly notified of gas drilling operations. It was responded that they would not necessarily be informed. Mr. Conroy knew of one such operation on township land so far.
There was some debate over the matter of outhouses, in regard to a specific complaint, the discussion of which has run throughout several meetings now. Mr. Fortner checked out the site and found no violation, thus no legal action will be taken, it was announced. Someone asked if outhouses for year-round use were allowed by the state of PA. Solicitor Briechle would not answer the question, and stated that he would not recommend Mr. Fortner to answer it either, as it was a legal issue. Earlier in the meeting the solicitor had read a segment of the Sunshine Law to prove that it was legal for an executive session to be held on another non-personnel legal matter, though one visitor questioned how inquiring about a state code violated privacy. One of the supervisors asked if anyone had actually seen the outhouse in question in use. The door was open when it was visited, and upon entering it nothing was found inside. It is unknown if it was actually used as an outhouse, or is merely as decoration.
Another topic revisited from meetings past regarded enforcement. The supervisors had received a letter regarding setbacks from the Susquehanna County Planning Commission. It was asked if they would enforce these regulations if someone violated them. Gerry Bevan stated that he had spoken to someone who indicated that the township would not be covered by county land use ordinances, as the supervisors had previously indicated. Solicitor Briechle responded that this had just been discussed. The township would fall under a default provision in the law stating that if the municipality does not enact such ordinances they fall under the regulations of the county. It was stated that the township does not currently have the authority to enforce such issues; the county does.
Jaelynn Goff revisited the matter of Sutton Road. When she had complained before that conditions were bad the road was fixed, in fact it was investigated the day of the complaint. She wondered, however, if the road was bonded. Mr. Conroy apologized, stating that he was mistaken in having said before that it was bonded, when in fact it is not. She wanted to know if the quarry would monitor the road, or if she was to call the supervisors every time it was in disrepair. She feared that their trucks would handle poor conditions better than her vehicle, and that emergency vehicles might have difficulty getting up the road should they be needed. She stated that she was a taxpayer, as they said they were, but questioned if their taxes could take the rights her taxes gave her. She asked who fixed the road. It was responded that the township actually did the repairs, but that the quarry contributed the materials when asked for them. Cynthia Allen responded in an irritated manner to Ms. Goff's questions, asking at what point “they” would realize that they were being unreasonable. This led to a verbal flare-up. Someone asked what gave Ms. Goff the right to say that the quarry could not use the road; she stated that this was not what she was saying. The supervisors responded that other dirt roads also had quarries on them, and that other dirt roads were also rutted. It was proposed that the road needed to be bonded, but the supervisors responded that they probably currently donate more to that road than bonding would require. It was asked if movement could be restricted on the road, then. The company, apparently had said that they would restrict movement on the road and work with the township if it got too bad. Mr. Conroy stated that he would monitor the road, and would not let it get to the point that emergency vehicles could not pass on it. It would be up to him to tell them to quit. Finally it was stated that the supervisors did not plan on bonding the road so long as they were willing to continue to provide materials when it needed to be fixed. It was reiterated that if residents experienced road problems, they could call the supervisors.
The forensics team received much acclaim at the March 18 Elk Lake School District and Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center school board meeting. This is the 14th season, out of the last 15, that Elk Lake has had at least one qualifier to the National Catholic Forensics League's Grand National Tournament. This year the district had two, one senior and one freshman winning their events at the recent qualifying tournament. Senior Max McKeon qualified by winning the Student Congress event, and will compete against 200 other competitors. Making him only the second freshman in the club's sixteen-year history to do so, freshman Shea Skinner's recent victory in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate also earned him the trip to nationals to face 200 opponents. The event will occur in Appleton, WI over Memorial Day weekend.
Forensics team members were not the only students recognized. Ariel Shiffer qualified for state choir, and Nathan Palmer was the first alternate for state orchestra. The district had a good talent show, and winners were announced in the various categories. The list of recent National Honor Society inductees was also read. The boys' basketball and wrestling teams both finished very successful seasons, and Derek Noldy made it to the state tournament in wrestling. The robotics team will be sending 16 students to compete at Drexel University against 44 other teams. The FBLA has six students slated to compete in Hershey; students from SCCTC will also be competing in a VICA competition.
Mr. Sible received commendations of his own at the meeting. It was stated that it was an honor to have one of the district’s own members serve as the president of the NEIU.
The drivers transporting Elk Lake students to and from their various activities will soon be receiving a little help from the district fuel-wise. Some contractors attended the meeting to request assistance, speaking of an approximate $200 per week increase in costs from last year to this year. They estimated an increased cost per year from $4,500 to $9,000. The superintendent and board members responded that they had looked for a fair way to help them out, and believed they had found it. In a one-time adjustment, for this year only, a total of $20,000 will be earmarked for this purpose. The amount of assistance a driver receives in dollars will correlate to the number of miles they drive, what percentage of the total miles driven their run or runs account for. Thus everyone will get the same amount of money per mile, but those driving more miles will receive more money overall. Mr. Place suggested that this money be gotten to drivers as quickly as possible, and Mr. Sible publicly stated that he did not believe it to be enough. The contractors present thanked the board for the decision.
The proposed calendar for the 2008/2009 school year was presented by Dr. Bush for the board's consideration. He spoke of how the district wanted and needed time to meet with staff professionally. However, when the current calendar was presented last year, the plan of some early dismissals and some school delays scheduled for this purpose met with controversy and disapproval. It is proposed, then, that for next year the school will dismiss at 2 instead of 3 every Wednesday, giving the district an hour and a half each week to get together. Dr. Bush spoke with Blue Ridge regarding this idea, which school has utilized a Friday early dismissal in this manner for years. A noon dismissal wasn't chosen because were school to release that early, lunch would not be served, and if lunch were not served breakfast would not be either. Some students heavily rely on these meals. It should also be easier for parents to get a babysitter this way, it was suggested, as dismissal will only be an hour earlier and will be on a regular schedule. It was questioned as to whether this would mean that high school students regularly missed a class. Dr. Bush responded that this had already been factored in, and that class would not be missed. The Career and Technology kids from other schools would still be dismissed at their regular time of 2:15. After-school activities would still be held at normal times, and staff would be provided to supervise students in the school until they began. Some regular early dismissals will still be scheduled as well, such as on the first Friday of school, for dairy day, and for graduation projects.
The graduation date has been moved to June 14, with the last day of school being the 11th. This allows for two more days free, should there be further weather problems, before graduation would be interfered with again.
Jim Sutton resigned from his work with the baseball team, and Jim Phillips was appointed to a coaching position with it. One visitor questioned the school, wondering if more scrupulous hiring practices could alleviate coach turnaround. It was pointed out to her that the district has a wide variety of sporting activities, and a great number of positions to fill. Another asked if it was really necessary to have four baseball coaches. It was responded that four were in the contract.
An update was given on the house project, and the Construction Site Coordinator Position filled. Mr. Groover had recently resigned from this position. Mr. Gary Fenton, who has been filling in for Mr. Groover already, will continue in the role.
Out-of-district employees were given another benefit at the meeting. Hitherto, a reduced tuition rate of 50% was given to the children of staff living out-of-district. It was decided that in the future, full student tuition would be part of employee benefits.
Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag) of Meshoppen, PA, in cooperation with National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) of Washington, D.C., has sent individual letters to each of the presidential candidates, urging them to meet with dairy farmers (and other farmers) and agribusiness people to witness firsthand the turmoil being experienced by our farmers. Letters have been sent to Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
According to Dennis Boyanowski, President of Pro Ag, “All three candidates must realize the important role that rural Pennsylvania voters will play in the Pennsylvania primary election on April 22.”
Arden Tewksbury, Manager of Pro Ag, said, “We want the three candidates to see and hear firsthand from farmers, agribusiness people, and consumers the stress that exists in rural America.”
The Pro Ag officials have offered to have rallies or sit-down sessions with the candidates to inform them of the farmers’ problems.
Tewksbury said, “I’m in contact with nearly two thousand consumers every month, and they want something done to preserve our local farms. Without any reservations, these consumers want their food produced locally as much as possible, and they want to know what is in their food and where their food comes from!”
According to the Pro Ag officials, dairy farmers’ prices have been on a roller coaster ride since 1981.
On January 27, 2007, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) introduced S-1722, “The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2007,” a diary bill that is geared to correct the inequities that are facing dairy farmers across the United States. So far, the bill has not been voted out of the Senate Ag Committee.
A new farm bill is being considered by Congress, but, so far, there is no new language in the proposed farm bill to correct the milk pricing mess farmers are facing.
Input costs on the average dairy farm are escalating at a rapid rate, and the dairy farmers have no way to recoup their costs.
Pro Ag officials are hoping some of the presidential candidates can be convinced to support S-1722.
Pro Ag can be reached at (570) 833–5776 or at email@example.com.
Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and Fairbanks Capital Corporation to 5GK LLC, in Harford Township for $52,000.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Karen C. Richards and Coburn F. Christensen, in Herrick Township for $3,550.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to John, Norma, Angie and Norman Kanavy, in Herrick Township for $1,000.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Beulah Wong and David Tai, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Seybold Family (Living Trust), in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Anthony T. Cauiola (By Tax Claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Evelyn Wood, in Silver Lake Township for $4,931.83.
Larry Max and Jeremy Larry Whitney (By Tax Claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Kenneth Shaffer, in Rush Township for $27,500.00.
Cheryl Barnes Loddo (By Tax Claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Kenneth Shaffer, in Liberty Township for $11,000.00.
Robert K. Gerrity (By Tax Claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to George J. Zielinski, in Clifford Township for $111,000.00.
Joan W. Peterson (By Tax Claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Janum Management LLC, in Choconut Township for $379.81.
Paul Dickson (By Tax Claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Donna M. Fekette and Thomas J. Lopatofsky, in Ararat Township for $41,000.00.
Ramon A. and Marion T. Serra (By Sheriff) to Fannie Mae, in Oakland Borough for $2,047.51.
JPMorgan Chase Bank to Thomas M. Maloney, in Gibson Township for $39,750.00.
Olin I. Canfield, Jr. (Est) to Canfield Developers LLC, in Auburn Township for $68,750.00.
Susan Mary Bores to Wallace A., Jr. and Judy L. Stewart, in Forest Lake Township for $110,000.00.
Gary Alan and Susan Golis Campbell to Evangelical Free Church of Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Edward (AKA) Edward, Jr., Priscilla and Edward, III Greene to Edward (AKA) Edward, Jr. and Edward B., III Greene, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Edward (AKA) Edward, Jr., Priscilla and Edward, III Greene to Edward B. Green, III, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Edward (AKA) Edward, Jr., Priscilla and Edward, III Greene to Edward (AKA) Edward, Jr. and Edward B., III Greene, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
David (AKA) David A. and Sharon P. Shadduck to David A. and Sharon P. Shadduck, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Richard C., Jr. and Robert W. Higgins to Richard C., Jr. and Robert W. Higgins, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Mary Frances Caples and Mary Ploettner to Mary Frances Caples, Mary Ploettner and Seth A. Silow, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Mary Frances Caples and Mary Ploettner to Eugene A. and Christine Hermanski, in Forest Lake Township for $15,000.00.
Alan L. Ross (Estate) to Dissinger & Wolfe LLC, in Great Bend Township for $40,000.00.
Virginia A. (AKA) Virginia M. Mackenzie (By Sheriff) to Fannie Mae, in New Milford Township for $1,312.71.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Robert W. and Mary Ann Piroha, in Herrick Township for $2,995.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Cassandra S. Sparks and Ian F. Mackay, in Herrick Township for $1,995.00.
Robert W. Conrad to Lloyd, Barbara, Richard W. and Beverly Conrad, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Robert W. Conrad to Lloyn, Barbara, Richard W. and Beverly Conrad, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Justine and Sara Zigon to Thomas C. Zigon, in Forest City for one dollar.
Rail Trail Council Of Northeastern Pennsylvania to Susan Ensley, in Thompson Township for $1,000.00.
Susan Ensley to Susan Ensley, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
JT Spano LLC to David Robbins, in Forest City for $94,760.00.
Donald W. and Heather M. Diehl to Donald W. Diehl, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Richard P. (AKA) Richard Paul Bennett to Richard P. Bennett, in Forest City for one dollar.
David S. and Toni L. Khoury to Toni L. Khoury, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Norman E. and Dorothy Turner to Gene A. and Barbara Aulisio Camoni, in Liberty Township for $135,000.00.
Gary D. and Hildegarde S. (AKA) Hildegarde Stevens Morgan to Gary D. and Hildegarde S. Morgan, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
James W. Jones to Gail M. Mroz Adams, in New Milford Borough for $120,000.00.
Louis J. Refior to Bremer Hof Owners, Inc., in Herrick Township for one dollar.
E. Dawn Cross (Trust By Trustees) to Robert F., Wendy A., Kristine R., Mark D. and Scott C. Cross, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Nancy Anne Reddon to McCarthy Family Trust, in Dimock Township for $82,000.00.
Daniel J. and Cheryl L. Purtell to Michael Purtell, in Apolacon Township for $145,000.00.
Mellissa Sue Crowley vs. Jamie I. Crowley, both of Susquehanna, married 2000.
Hallstead Boro will be receiving a reimbursement from FEMA for work repairing flood damage at the Route 11 park. A letter shared at the March 20 council meeting said that a (final) payment of $5,006.39 would be received in three to four weeks. The boro spent $71,569 in repairs, with FEMA’s total reimbursement being $57,482. FEMA deducted $9,000 from the total amount claimed, as the restroom building would have been covered by flood insurance.
Other business discussed included applying for grant funding for the ballfield. Council members had met with a representative from DCNR to discuss their options. Council is looking to put in dugouts, and replace the pavilion roof and concession stand. If an application is approved, for example, for $40,000, the grant funding would be $30,000 with the boro responsible for the additional $10,000. This wouldn’t necessarily have to be all cash, some of the amount could be in man-hours supplied by the boro’s maintenance supervisor, but there are limitations on how much labor could be applied. Some of the boro’s share could be through funding solicited from boro businesses, groups and individuals, which would mean sending out letters asking for pledges, which does not leave much time, as there is a deadline of April 25 for this year’s round of funding. If the application is submitted and is not approved, the boro does have the option of re-applying next year. The boro would also have to submit plans with the application, and if it is approved, additional engineer’s drawings will have to be submitted. Council will spend the time until their next meeting seeing if the application can be submitted before the deadline, and looking into other avenues to refurbish the park.
There was some concern about the amount of fuel used to heat the boro building so far this year, with the heating season not yet over. Some cost-cutting measures will be looked into, such as asking if the building’s tenants could lower their thermostats somewhat until the weather turns warmer.
The boro building parking lot needs to be paved; a letter will be sent to the fire company, as they own the property it is on.
And, it was noted that the foundry property has changed hands. Council will find out who the new owner is, and contact him to see what the plans are for the property.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 17, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
The first order of business at COG’s March 18 was to agree to send a sympathy card to Don Stone, whose son had recently passed away. Don Stone had been instrumental in forming COG, and it was felt that it would be appropriate for the group to express their condolences to the family.
The Northern Tier Coalition had reviewed the proposed agreement to enter into a partnership with COG for administration of zoning. Northern Tier had requested one change to the wording of the agreement, that the day-to-day management of the zoning committee employee(s) be the responsibility of the COG office manager and the zoning committee. The original agreement had read the office manager and the executive board of COG. The zoning committee will be comprised of two members of Northern Tier and two COG members. A motion to approve the change carried.
The DCED grant funding, with which the zoning committee is getting its start, did not allow a budget line item for education and training. After a short discussion, it was agreed to move some of the amount designated for travel to education and training (leaving the budget total the same). A motion carried to approve.
A representative from Certified Laboratories was present to invite members to a seminar on April 2 at the Holiday Inn Arena Conference Center (in Binghamton). Information will be available on new EGR systems and DEP regulations.
Several representatives of a candidate running for Congress were present to tout their candidate and what he hopes to accomplish; they agreed to stay until the end of the meeting to answer any questions.
COG’s yearly line of credit with Peoples National Bank needed to be renewed; it is utilized to cover expenses during the slow period, before the annual reimbursement from the state is received. A motion carried to approve.
Permit work is slow, usual for this time of year. Requests for approval of subdivisions is also slow, possibly because landowners are not seeking them as often, as many are entering into gas leasing contracts. (Reporter’s note: many leasing companies require that a landowner have a minimum of ten acres of land.)
The Codes committee reported that all is going well. And, members were cautioned that only those who had activity during the previous month would receive a permit report in an effort to reduce the amount of paperwork generated; previously, all members received copies of all reports.
The meeting adjoined to an executive session to discuss a legal issue.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 15, 7 p.m. in the COG offices in the New Milford Boro building.
The Susquehanna Community School District is gearing up for PSAA testing in April. Math and reading testing will be conducted April 1- 3 for grades 3, 8 and 11, with a proficiency of 54% in math and 63% in reading being the goal. With continually shortened schedules due to holidays and weather, the faculty is working very hard to get students back into the rhythm of things in preparation for the testing.
The Special Ed. department is starting up a Life Skills program, with about nine students expected at its start. Academics will be attended to in the morning, and afternoon sessions will be comprised of pre-vocational classes and functional living skills training, which will support independent living. Once the program is up and running, it will eliminate the need to send (some) students out of the district for this training and will not require additional staff, which will result in a savings to the district.
WVIA will be airing a program on the Classrooms for the Future on April 10, which is also when the district’s parent-teacher conferences will be held. TV sets in the buildings’ halls will be tuned to the program, which will include a panel discussion as well as a showcase presentation of the local districts.
A dinner honoring the district’s retirees has been set for May 17.
Other items approved by the board included the following.
- A renewal agreement with DeHey McAndrew (pension plan) LLC for the 2008-2009 school year at a cost of $2,625.
- Exoneration of the District Tax Collectors from the collection of unpaid school taxes for the year 2007.
- The 2008/2009 proposed NEIU #19 budget of $3,270,224 with a District Contribution of $9,240.76, a projected increase of $435.84.
- The school calendar for the 2008/2009 school year (subject to change if the state passes the Labor Day Bill; graduation date will remain unchanged, regardless).
- Joining the NEIU #19 VLINC (Virtual Linking Instruction and Curriculum) consortium for the 2008-2009 school year at a cost of $4,500.
- The following changes to the meal prices for the 2008-2009 school year: breakfast - $.10 increase; lunch - $.15 increase; extra main dish - $.10 increase.
- Two employees’ intent to retire at the end of the 2007/2008 school year, Kay Davis, elementary, and Mike Catalano, high school.
- A sabbatical for David Williams, for educational purposes.
- Additions to the substitute list.
- Two (track) volunteers.
- Hiring the following: Junior High Track Co-Coach; Junior High Baseball Co-Coach; Assistant Varsity Softball Coach; Junior High Softball Co-Coach.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, April 16, 7 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
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