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Issue Home April 9, 2008 Site Home

B/R Begins Budget Review
New Milford Wants Cleanup

Great Bend Boro To Get Police Coverage
Courthouse Report
Vandalism Spree In Susky Boro
Gibson Barracks Report
Sentencing Report
Planning Commission Hosts E.M.T.C. Group
Kid Safe Night At Blue Ridge
Vet Center Office Opening In Lenox

B/R Begins Budget Review
By Ted Brewster

The Budget and Finance Committee of the Blue Ridge School Board met on March 31 to begin reviewing the administration's budget plan for the fiscal year that will start on July 1. Since Board committees are encouraged to recruit members from the community, the Budget and Finance Committee has at least two members who are not also Board members or administrators. And one of those is Alan Hall, past president of the School Board, who chaired the meeting and to whom the current board president Priscinda Gaughan deferred.

The committee first heard a summary of the budget proposal by Business Manager Loren Small, who presented figures showing the sources of revenue to the district, and then two versions of a summary expense budget. Except for Activities Director James Corse, who attended to answer questions about his budget request, the rest of the details will await the budget preparations of the school principals.

Local sources make up about 39% of the nearly $16 million in the budget. About 81% of that is real-estate taxes. Assessments in the six municipalities served by Blue Ridge rise less than 3% per year; this year the district for the first time will impose none of the "personal" or "nuisance" taxes, like the occupational tax, or the per- capita levy. And the board is determined not to raise the rate of property taxes above the 43 mills already in effect; Mr. Hall, in fact, believes taxes can actually be cut, once some of the district's debt has been paid off.

The state subsidizes public education in a variety of ways. The "basic subsidy" next year is expected to be just over $6 million, or about 39% of the total, which is barely 1.78% higher than last year. Special education – excluding transportation – accounts for about 12% of the total budget, a figure that seems to rise every year, this time by as much as $300,000, according to Superintendent Robert McNamara, due to mandates from the state. Yet the state subsidy for special education at Blue Ridge has been declining for the past five years, down to about 35% next year. Moreover, children with special needs are transported to many places outside the district, a cost which is substantial every year.

Transportation is subsidized separately at a higher level. Direct federal subsidy to Blue Ridge is almost negligible at about 2%.

On the expense side where figures are not yet complete, the board may choose to beef up the balance sheet by transferring some of the extra funds left over from last year back into the general fund from what had been laid aside for debt service. Mr. Small said that projections show that the current fiscal year may end almost exactly on budget (which would also leave an additional surplus). He said that by burning wood chips to heat the buildings, the district may have saved more than $100,000 over what it might have cost to heat entirely with oil.

In the new budget, Mr. Small is estimating between 10 and 15 percent increases in liability and health insurance premiums, possibly the single largest jump in the budget. Scheduled replacements will put new computers in many areas, and the Elementary School will get some more Promethean boards, the high-tech replacement for the old chalk boards. Technology in the High School is supported by the state Classrooms for the Future program, but not entirely, since the grant provided for equipment that still needed upgrades for use in the classrooms.

Mr. Corse told the committee that the largest part of the increases in his Activities budget was for new athletic uniforms. He also included about $5,000 for repairs and replacements in the fitness center. The fitness center contains a lot of fancy exercise equipment that originally was to be paid for by a non-profit organization that went out of business less than a year after Blue Ridge signed on. Now the equipment is showing its age and some of the machines need to be repaired or replaced.

Curiously, the fitness center was installed in a space that used to be the wrestling room. At the time, the district had a trailer outside that was made into a facility for the wrestling teams. All that is gone now, and the wrestlers have to share space in the gyms. The one lone citizen attending the meeting outside the members (and the press) made a plea for a proper facility for the wrestlers. They "need a wrestling room," he said.

The Blue Ridge School Board will continue to work on its budget through its April workshop. The next business meeting will be on April 14, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.

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New Milford Wants Cleanup
By Carole Canfield

New Milford Borough Council decided to send “Clean up your property” letters out to borough residents as a way to re-establish the clean, lovely, borough it used to be.

After hearing four complainants from audience members and several that Councilwoman, Barb James had received calls about, council agreed that a letter asking residents to “Clean up your property” would also be a good start to beautifying the borough, in order to get ready for the upcoming New Milford Bi-Centennial in 2009.

In other matters, Rick Ainey reported to council that something permanent needs to be done to Johnson Street, before another storm hits. “I appreciate that you have done a good job in the temporary phase, but we could not get out to work and especially an emergency vehicle could not have gotten in to us on that street, should there have been a fire, or medical emergency.”

Ainey did tell council’s Teri Gulick that he would help with applying for a grant to receive funds for a permanent fix.

After much discussion on the issue, it was decided that council had work to do in several places, including Ainey's area, but it would require the support of everyone on that road. Ainey agreed to head the issue of notifying neighbors to “educate them” about the problem and let them know about the particulars of acquiring the grant. Council will then get together with Ainey and others and get the grant application out to PEMA.

Council was notified that the water and sewer to the home at 47 Montrose Street has been disconnected. Mayor Taylor said, “That makes it uninhabitable.” Council decided to send Codes Enforcement Officer, Mike Dopko to the site to physically see what is going on (if people are still living there).

Paving bids were opened, and council decided to make the motion to award the contract to the lowest bidder: $24,300 D& H, side driveway also D&H for $2,400, and the curb and sidewalk to Harry Aldrich for $9,880, after a closer review of the bids.

Mayor Joe Taylor reported he had “looked at the creek, cleaned it out, and extended the sidewalk about six feet.” Taylor also reported that the creek needed to be cleaned out, “There are six or seven trees in there now that are too big to move, we need to get in there soon because they are acting like a dam.”

Discussion was the issue for the night as grant applications for various types of funding were visited and plans made to continue the process and report back in May.

Taylor suggested putting the 10-acre property up for gas leasing, which would allow the property to be “self sufficient,” plus give council some monies to work with on projects. It was agreed that the deed and agreement would allow such a deal.

Secretary Amy Hine agreed to investigate if the garage property needed to be surveyed; Mayor Taylor said it should be, and councilwoman Teri Gulick disagreed.

Codes Officer Mike Dopko will be asked to “visit” several sites and re-inspect the problems which originally occurred to see if they are in better condition.

There was report of a place where seven vehicles were in the yard and filled up the property. The initial investigation by Dopko resulted in the owner telling Dopko, “Those are for parts, and they are customers’ cars.”

Several other areas were reported and the borough, again, would like to clean up New Milford before the Bi-Centennial in 2009. The Bi-Centennial will be held on August 7-9, 2009. Council was in complete agreement with the resolution.

Melissa Palmatier was appointed to fill the vacancy of Auditor, formerly held by Amy Conrad, who has resigned. Carol Patrick was named Tax Assessor.

A “National Day of Prayer Service” was accepted by the council. It will take place at Midtown Park on May 1, at 7 pm. There will be songs as well as prayers.

The Good Neighbor Award was presented to Donna Erat, who helped New Milford collect itself and assess damage, among numerous things, that the borough needed assistance with. Erat was not available to receive the award, but council will send it too her.

The Storm Water Management issue needs to be addressed, and a grant that can be applied for needs the expertise of those working close to it. Amy Hine, Teri Gulick and Chris Allen agreed to meet and take care of the issues at hand, including the application for a grant.

Floodwalls will be investigated to help the issues of the creek overflowing.

A flat fee of $1,584 for sewer/water usage is proposed to be the new charge for New Milford. The figure includes calls and usage. The old plan was around $1500, plus call charges. “This is a much better plan than previously,” Mayor Taylor interjected. A final decision with reports will be held at the next meeting.

New Milford Borough meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Borough Building on Main Street in New Milford.

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Great Bend Boro To Get Police Coverage
By Ted Brewster

Lanesboro police were out in force for the Great Bend Borough Council meeting on April 3. Half of its officers, its newest car, and the Lanesboro Mayor, Chris Maby, attended at the request of Council to offer its services on a contract basis.

Mr. Maby, Chief Jon Record and officer Tom Golka gave Council a comprehensive briefing on the services they could offer, and fielded all questions to the obvious satisfaction of Council members, who decided to get the legal procedures under way as quickly as possible with the intention of starting coverage in early May, at about three hours a week, or 12 hours a month.

Great Bend Borough will pay a flat rate $22 per hour for the service. All liability is assumed by Lanesboro, and travel time to and from Great Bend will not be charged. Scheduling will be at the discretion of Great Bend, and can be as little as one hour at a time, probably at random intervals. They will not respond to "call-outs" from Great Bend outside the schedule; such calls will be referred to the State Police, or followed up at the next scheduled visit. They will, however, respond to emergency calls (911) unless called off by the State Police.

The borough will receive half of fines collected for traffic stops (the state gets the other half), but all other fines – including DUI – will go to the borough (although it can often take a long time to show up).

The borough would be charged at the same rate for court time, but Chief Record said they had charged for only two hours in court in the past two years. Time will also be charged for DUI transport to Barnes-Kasson for testing, as well as transporting for fingerprinting to the State Police barracks in Gibson.

The Lanesboro police currently have contracts with Thompson and Oakland boroughs (although Oakland doesn't use it much). Thompson contracts for only eight hours a month. Mr. Maby said that he understands the budget constraints, and that the police make every effort to keep to the contracted number of hours per month. The Chief said that his officers often travel to Thompson for an hour at a time. They said that just the presence of a police car in town can have a positive effect, whether or not the officers make stops or arrests.

Lanesboro employs four officers on a part-time basis. One of the officers does policing full-time and would cover most of the daytime schedules. The others take the nighttime slots. Mr. Maby would handle any complaints from citizens about the operations of his officers in Great Bend. The Great Bend Mayor, Jim Riecke, would be their primary contact with the borough.

Great Bend Council members said the first priority for the police would be enforcement of speed limits along Main Street, U.S. Route 11. After that, they would like to have the parks controlled, particularly Memorial Park, as well as trying to enforce the observance of stop signs and one-way streets. Chief Record said that municipal police in Pennsylvania aren't allowed to use radar, but he said that his methods (a chronometer and a stop watch) have been very effective at controlling speed.

The Lanesboro contract will be vetted by Great Bend's solicitor. An ordinance defining the police coverage must be advertised, and then the contract must be approved by both borough councils. In the meantime, Mr. Golka, as a former Great Bend resident, said he would bring the officers to the borough for training, to scope out streets and signage, and the layout of the town's parks so they would be ready to begin for real in May.

In other business, Council learned of potential additional costs for maintenance in Greenwood and Recreation parks. The roofer contracted to replace the pavilion roof in Greenwood had to replace rotten underlying sheathing. He also recommended shoring up the center posts at Recreation Park. Council approved additional expenditure of up to $150 for the extra work and materials.

Most major expenses are on hold awaiting design and estimates for overhauling drainage on Washington Street, which could involve digging, laying pipe, and installing drain boxes. Plans for filling cracks in borough streets may have to wait.

On the other hand, Council members would really like to get the detritus of winter cleaned off the streets before parade season begins on Memorial Day. The borough will first contact the county Sheriff to see if some free labor might be available. Barring that, they may have to contract at $125 an hour get the job done.

A house near the river that recently burned had been the target of the borough's Codes Enforcement Officer. Residents notified the borough that the owner may be attempting to dispose of the residue in the river.

Unfortunately, the borough doesn't have a Codes Enforcement Officer any more. Ron Cranage had to give up that job a month or so ago. And now members were reluctantly forced to accept his resignation from Council as well, with regret. They will be looking to appoint a replacement. Volunteers?

Council agreed to buy the paint at the request of the Blue Ridge Senior Center, which will supply the labor to freshen up the inside of the Borough Building. There seems to be a problem with the soda machine in the building as well: nobody is claiming ownership. Neither the borough nor the Senior Center receives any money from it. Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan was directed to ask the person who fills it to remove it, then see what happens.

The borough will have its solicitor draw up an ordinance that will restrict parking on John Street to one side only, this at the request of the Fire Company which has asked for some change to help their large vehicles better negotiate the narrow street.

Great Bend for several years has adorned its Main Street with flags put up at intervals with the help of the firemen. The flags and poles take a beating during the summer season and Council annually makes a plea to help out. This year the local Veterans of Foreign Wars has agreed to purchase 20 flag "kits" for the borough.

And one special flag will find a place, too. Councilman Mike Wasko's father-in-law recently passed away and asked that a flag he had been keeping be donated to the borough. The full-size flag had draped the casket of a son who had served in Korea. Council accepted the flag and may fly it at the borough building.

The Great Bend Borough Council meets on the first Thursday of each month, beginning at 7:00 p.m., in the Borough Building at Elizabeth and Franklin Streets.

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Courthouse Report
Compiled By Lauren P. Ficarro


Jeffrey S. and Joan M. Lemon to Lorna and Friedrich J. Wenz, in Harmony Township for $55,000.00.

Gary P. and Diane Czekalski, Catherine and Leonard Daniele and Robert W. and Nancy A. McGurine to Gary and Diane Czekalski, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.

Gary and Diane Czekalski to Nathan Place, in Lathrop Township for $27,000.00.

Dale Rodney and Shirley M. Smith to Dale Rodney and Randall Curtis Smith, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

Matthew and Heather J. Chidester to Ronald and June Burton, in Great Bend Township for $25,000.00.

Ivan and Mary Ann Guzman to 454 Auto Repair & Towing Corp., in Oakland Borough for $4,500.00.

Donald Rakus, Sr. and Donald Rakus, Jr. to Susquehanna Sportsmen Club LLC, in Middletown Township for $13,200.00.

William R., Jr. and Suzanne J. Schwalm to William R., Jr. and Suzanne J. Schwalm, in Gibson Township for one dollar.

Paul F. and Eileen L. Churchill to Tracy Haley, in Great Bend Borough for $30,000.00.

Phillip C. Hodges to Michelle Heller, in Forest City for $125,000.00.

Gary P. and Nadine Durst to Nadine Durst, in Forest City for one dollar.

Nadine Durst (AKA) Nadine Lucas to Nadine and Theresa A. Lucas, in Forest City for one dollar.

Christena L Payne (NBM) Christena L. Dilello to Janette M. Weister, Keith L. and Matthew D. Payne and Katherine Seaman, in Uniondale Borough for one dollar.

Harold E. Tuttle to Rosemary T. Hazen and Richard E. Tuttle, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.

Brenda A. Reichart (By US Marshall) to Kenneth H. Schmidt, in Montrose for $27,250.00.

Novastar Mortgage, Inc. (By Atty) to Steven J. and Linda S. Molcon, in Springville Township for $56,900.00.

Richard K. and Michelle C. Ubel to Brock D. Small, in Middletown Township for $60,000.00.

Mary B. and Paul W. Gere to Michael and Cathy McCain, in Bridgewater Township for $35,000.00.

Joan A. Stalter (Estate) to David G., Michael D., Richard M., and Stephen T. Stalter and Julie M. Harvatine, in Lenox Township for one dollar.

Joan A. Stalter (Estate) to David G., Michael D., Richard M., and Stephen T. Stalter and Julie M. Harvatine, in Lenox Township for one dollar.

Joan A. Stalter (Estate) to David G., Michael D., Richard M., and Stephen T. Stalter and Julie M. Harvatine, in Lenox Township for one dollar.

Wayne K. and Deborah R. O’Neill Gittoes to William S. and Susan Laufs Carmalt, in Choconut Township for one dollar.

Dale J. and Tammy Perry and Shawn A. and Wenday Morrison to Brian D. Fourney, in Auburn Township for $164,300.00.

David C. and Kitty L. Hallisey to David C. Hallisey, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.

Andrew J. and Alice Ewonishon to Andrew J. and Alice Ewonishon, in Herrick Township for one dollar.

Joseph M. and Kaleena R. Dughi to Sean P. Kelly, in Middletown Township for $16,491.75.

Douglas J. and Rhonda L. Campbell to Rhonda L. Campbell, in Jessup Township for one dollar.

Jean Cavanaugh to David and Sandra R. Cavanaugh and Martha and Loren S., Jr. Winn, in Montrose for one dollar.

Delores (AKA) Dolores Obert and Ann Marie Baldwin to Ann Marie Baldwin, in Dimock Township for one dollar.

Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Vivian L. M., Tia L. and Annya M. Walker, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.

Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Vivian L. M., Tia L. and Annya M. Walker, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.

George Rudy Cressman (Est) to Edward H. and John G. Cressman, in Rush Township for one dollar.

Waltraut Smith to Gustavo A. and Gladys A. Rodriguez, in Thompson Township for $155,000.00.

Kathleen L. Seamans to David E. Seamans, in Jackson Township for one dollar.

Mike (AKA) Michael Flor to Mike (AKA) Michael and Kathryn Flor, in Thompson Township for one dollar.

Robert Earl and Deborah Knight Gray to Roger R. and Patricia Welling, in New Milford Township for $45,450.00.

Laura E. Showalter to Joshua R. and Jason G. Lodge, in Forest Lake Township for $275,000.00.

Charles (AKA) Charles R. and Shirley (AKA) Shirley D. Tator to Allen C. and Nancy Tator, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.

Gerald David and Mary Margaret Costello to Alford Properties Limited Partnership, in Jessup Township for $95,000.00.

Geraldine Lindow to Geraldine Lindow, in Jackson Township for one dollar.

Ruth E. Clapper to David B. and Lillian Clapper, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Eleanor Pannepacker to Steven S. and Sheila A. Pannepacker, in Harmony Township for one dollar.

Marie Graziano to Francis Crane, in Lathrop Township for $85,000.00.

Marie Graziano to Anthony Graziano, in Lathrop Township for $85,000.00.

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