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The Susquehanna County Commissioners met on April 9 for one of their briefest meetings ever since taking office. Present were Commissioner Mary Ann Warren, Commissioner Mike Giangrieco, Commissioner Leon Allen, Treasurer Cathy Benedict, Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer and approximately thirty-five taxpayers.
First, the commissioners presented Denise Sellers, of Domestic Relations with five-year recognition of her service in the Domestic Relations Office and to Susquehanna County.
Commissioners then authorized the Title IV-E Independent Living Program Certification of County Executive Officers. Sue Adamec told those present that the program is 100% federal monies and is issued to help provide foster teens, 16 and up, with preparation for living independently and basic skills they may have missed. Susquehanna County Children and Youth are partnered with Wyoming County and Wayne County, and through this program are able to share the monies three ways. If one county does not spend all of its allotted funding, they may help another county who needs more than their allowance and it works threefold, so that all participating counties’ foster teens get the preparation and skills they need.
This program connects campus, schools, and communications. Susan Adamec of Children and Youth explained that the program works in conjunction with Montrose Area School District and not only helps strengthen family bonds, but helps children ages 10 through 14 and their families learn better parenting and coping skills, so they do not end up in the Children and Youth system.
Commissioner Mike Giangrieco motioned that the Resolution 2008-6 authorize Grace Magill of Susquehanna County Transportation be the authorized official and directed to submit grant applications and assign roles within dot grants on its behalf. All commissioners were in favor.
Commissioner Leon Allen motioned to adopt Proclamation 2008-06, which proclaims April 6-12, 2008 as National County Government Week in Susquehanna County. The motion passed.
Jennifer Morelli was hired to the open, non-union, fulltime position of Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator effective April 21, 2008, and includes a six-month probationary period and benefits as per the County Personnel Manual. Morelli formerly worked for Soil Conservation.
Xaysongkham (aka Si) Phonechanh was hired to the open, full-time Deputy Sheriff position effective March 31, 2008, at 37.5 hours per week, Range 10; rate $9.70 per hour, with a six-month probationary period and benefits per the Court-Related Bargaining Unit.
Irma Bender, New Milford was appointed to the Area Agency Advisory Council for a term beginning immediately and ending June 30, 2008.
Joseph Franks, Hallstead, was appointed to the Susquehanna County Rail Authority, effective immediately, with a term ending December 31, 2012.
Commissioners accepted, with regret, the resignation of Shirley Smith, Children & Youth, effective April 19, 2008.
Christine Jones, Second Deputy Prothonotary, resigned from that position to accept the open, full-time, non union position of First Deputy Prothonotary, effective April 4, 2008, Range 13, rate $11.59 per hour, with benefits per the County Policy Manual.
At 9:14 a.m., the commissioners’ meeting was closed and the Salary Board meeting was opened.
A second, part-time, temporary (seasonal) non-union No Till Specialist position in the Susquehanna County Soil Conservation District Office was created, with varied hours, Range 9, rate of $9.25 an hour, no benefits, effective immediately. This position is paid for 100% by the Conservation District.
Robert Collins’ Domestic Relations hours were continued from 6.5 hours per day to 7.5 hours per day, 37.5 hours a week, per the recommendation of President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans. This is the third time this has been done, but, as pointed out by Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer, “It is in six-month increments, which makes it seem like it is a longer extension” of hours.
Jennifer Morelli’s salary as Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator was set at $28,000 per year, minimum 40 hours per week, with a six-month probationary period and benefits per the County Personnel Manual.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays at 9 a.m. at the County Office Building in the EMA Conference Room.
At its April 8 meeting, Clifford Township Supervisors announced that the $10,863.44 received through a Winter Municipal Agreement with PennDOT has been placed in a capital account for future roadwork.
Also an “old business” matter, the supervisors announced that due to the EMS county-wide address change, all residents of Clifford Township will be assigned a house number and a Clifford Township address. Present zip-codes will remain the same, and all township residents will receive a letter from the Postal Service explaining address changes.
Clifford Township received a FEMA grant to replace the bridge on Mud Road that was damaged in last year’s flood, and construction will commence when engineering details have been resolved.
One resident stated that the Planning Commission needs to take serious action to prevent excessive residential development within the township. The supervisors acknowledged that certain members of the Planning Commission were not performing job duties. Later in the meeting, the supervisors appointed a new Commission consisting of Ralph Grecco, John Knighton, Dennis Knowlton, Pam Shiffler and Trent Turner. Richard Bidwell resigned from the Planning Commission in good standing.
John Maloney expressed a desire to open a transport service for driving sick children and the elderly to and from doctor appointments and other errands. The transport service would be run by certain medical companies as a service to patients. The supervisors referred Maloney to Solicitor Peterson for assistance.
After a review of bids, the supervisors selected Barhite Excavating to perform spring roadwork within Clifford Township. Barhite Excavating submitted a bid of $29,325. The completion deadline for the roadwork is set for July 4, 2008.
Several residents of Elk View Drive expressed frustration with the condition of the roads in their development, stating that the pavement is disintegrating. One resident stated that the school bus drives through his garden in order to avoid potholes in the road. The supervisors argued that all roads within the township are in poor condition and that the township does not have the funds to repave the development. However, the supervisors suggested that residents of Elk View Drive meet with Secretary René Reynolds to discuss grant applications for a paving project. Additionally, the supervisors promised to send a PennDOT representative within a week to assess the problem.
As a final matter of business, the supervisors and the fire department wish to remind residents to avoid burning brush in dry weather.
Oakland Borough Council was approached by a gas company interested in exploration on a 26-acre parcel of property the boro owns. Secretary Flo Brush did extensive research on the subject and reported at the April 10 meeting that, since it is municipal property, it is required that leasing it be put out to bid; council could not accept the offer without first going through proper procedures. After discussion, it was agreed to proceed with putting the matter out to bid. The bid will be drawn up by the boro’s solicitor.
Codes violations are progressing; DEP is involved in one, progress has been seen in another, one is still tied up in legal (ownership) proceedings, and the CEO was given the go-ahead to proceed with action on two others. Council will check into two complaints about residents dumping trash over the banks near their homes, and another where trash is piling up. Another complaint was brought up, about two boro youths who have been harassing residents and committing acts of vandalism. This is not something that council can address, the victims need to file complaints with the police department.
Work on the new boro garage is progressing. Electric service has been hooked up and two quotes were received for alarm systems. After discussion, a motion carried to proceed with the one who offered the better long-term deal.
Tom Kubus had attended the county’s Act 167 storm water management plan meeting and reported that the boro needs to fill out a questionnaire by April 30, which asks to identify the areas where the most water issues exist. The county is in the process of drafting an ordinance that will regulate erosion; for example, quarries will be required to address situations where their work affects changes in water flow. The next meeting will be at the end of July or beginning of August.
Oakland Heights, the senior housing complex where the old boro building used to be, now has one couple in residence, with more seeking applications.
A fire hydrant on State Street had blown out, and caused damage to a nearby retaining wall. Council was asked by the property owner if they would be willing to lend use of the boro’s road crew and backhoe to dig out for a replacement wall. Council agreed that this would be an equitable arrangement, but were unsure of how to proceed, as there are insurance issues involved. It was agreed to contact the boro solicitor for more information before any action is taken.
The boro’s auditor had recommended that the liquid fuels account be changed to one that bears more interest. Two quotes were received, from Peoples National Bank and from PLIGT, which is a pool of municipal funds. Some questions were raised, and it was agreed to table the matter until next month until those questions could be answered.
A Brush Street property owner was present, to discuss a water runoff problem. Council said that some work in the area was on the work list, to be completed in the next few days. The streets committee would visit the site to see what else could be done.
Dave Trevarthan will be the boro’s new assistant emergency management coordinator. A motion carried to approve his appointment. Mr. Trevarthan will commence with the required training.
Pothole patching will begin shortly. Hot patch, which is less expensive than cold patch, will be available after April 15 and it was agreed that it would be a better fix to wait for the hot patch, especially since patching could not start until the plow and spreader could be removed from the boro’s truck.
The monthly meeting minutes are usually mailed out to council members before the following month’s meeting. It was agreed that it would be more efficient to e-mail them, which would also save on copying and mailing costs.
And, the Parks and Rec. committee will be holding their annual fund-raiser, selling candles and baked goods on election day. The committee was commended for the work they have done on the boro’s park.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 8, 7:00 p.m. in the Lanesboro Community Center.
Guido Richard, Kurt, Jonathan and Jennifer Kumetz to Kurt Kumetz, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Frederick A., Rebecca, Alan Edward and Susan Jones and Kelly Ann and Nathan Guyton Holden to Susan Mae Quatrini, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Roger Steen to Natale and Gladys Bello, in Little Meadows Borough for $75,000.00.
Ellen M. Grant to Leon and Lee Burts, in Forest Lake Township for $115,000.00.
Chester F. Grover (Trust By Trustees) to Minnie L. Graves, in Susquehanna for $2,500.00.
Carlton Sterling to Louis E., Karen M., Vincent J. and Kristin Despirito, in Brooklyn Township for $140,000.00.
Scott E. and Karen L. Chase to Shane A. Conrad and Tammy S. Townsend, in Auburn Township for $170,000.00.
William B. and Amy L. Bush to Jeffrey A. and Jennifer L. Greenwood, in Dimock Township for $235,000.00.
Gary E. Lewis to Melissa M. Long, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Ann Marie Medeiros, Dennis Jacob and Damien Zebulon Knowlton (By Trustee) and Meghann Courtney Boylan (By Trustee) to Dennis Jacob and Damien Zebulon Knowlton and Meghann Courtney Boylan, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Katherine R. and Thomas G. Giordana to Montrose Hillbillies LP, in Apolacon and Middletown Townships for $795,000.00.
Manzek Land Co., Inc. to Kenneth R. Ralston, in Forest Lake Township for $112,000.00.
Stacey L. Parker to Stacy L. and Marcia J. Parker, in Montrose for one dollar.
Robert Coe to Michael P. and Kathryn A. Ksenich, in New Milford Township for $35,000.00.
Hugh F. Bunnell to Hugh F. Bunnell (Trust), in Rush Township for $10.00.
Helena Emanuele and Richard M. Franczak to Richard M. Franczak, in Great Bend Township for $11,000.00.
Josephine J. Dillon to Alan L., Joann D. and Matthew P. Reimel, in Montrose for one dollar.
Josephine J. Dillon, Alan L., Joann D., Matthew P and Wendy M. Reimel to Alan L., Joann D., Matthew P., Wendy M., Paul C. and Jeffrey M. Reimel, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Alan, Elizabeth, Brian, Carolette J., Duane and Sherri Naylor to Duane P. Naylor, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Alan, Elizabeth, Brian, Carolette J., Duane and Sherri Naylor to Brian D. and Carolette J. Naylor, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Alan, Elizabeth, Brian, Carolette J., Duane and Sherri Naylor to Alan Donald Naylor, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Joseph D. and Deborah Ritter to Nathan Ritter, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Frank Cyzeski, Jr. to Frank, Jr. and Margaret A. Cyzeski, in Forest City for one dollar.
Frank R. and Carole M. Currier to James T. and Elizabeth Currier Sweeny, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
George H. Stanley to G. Kevin and Jill E. Stanley, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Betty L. Russick to Max H. Russick, Jr. and Penny Stockholm, in Rush Township for one dollar.
William J. and Karen D. Ivens to William J. Ivens, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Maryloe McCall to Patricia McCall Coffey, Robert E., Edwin W. and Maryloe McCall, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Beverly J. Tingley (Est) to William C. and Margo J. Burchell, in New Milford Borough for one dollar.
Steven M. and Julie E. Casey to Anthony M. and Sheila Durso, in Gibson Township for $125,000.00.
Robert C. and Robin M. Walker to Neil M. Derstine, in Ararat Township for $38,000.00.
Gregory R. (AKA) Gregory Schramm (By Sheriff) and Calixta Hernandez (By Sheriff) to Bank of New York, in Rush Township for $3,834.22.
John P. Corridoni, Jr. to John P., Jr. and John P, III Corridoni and Timothy E. Clark, in Middletown Township for $16,477.33.
David A. Rose, Jr. to David A., Jr. and Michael A. Rose, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Equity One, Inc. to Thomas J. Nitterour, in Lanesboro Borough and Harmony Township for $31,000.00.
The Great Bend Township supervisors’ first order of business at their April 7 meeting was to appoint someone to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Dave Sienko. The only applicant was Walt Galloway, who had previously served on the board. With very little discussion, a motion carried to appoint him to the position; the term runs until the end of 2009.
On the agenda was an Emerson Road resident, who stated that a good section of the road is in very rough shape. At one time, it had been blacktopped but dirt had been applied over that. He said that when he had brought up the problem some time back, the supervisors had said that money would be allocated to repave it, but the supervisors disagreed with that statement. They said that no specific projects had been decided. The road had recently been scraped to remove most of the dirt and potholes were to be filled the following day. The supervisors also had a meeting scheduled for the following Wednesday, with a road expert from LTAP, a division of PennDOT. They said that, following information from that meeting, they would be setting priorities and work out a plan for the year.
In other business, bids for road materials would be prepared and put out to bids, to be opened at the next meeting.
Another concern discussed was Downs Road; several residents contacted the supervisors about the fact that it is now used as a school bus route. Part of it is very narrow; oncoming cars cannot pass when the bus is on the road. It was agreed to send a letter to the school district, asking that they come and take a look at the problem and perhaps plan a different route for the next school year.
Permits approved the previous month included UCC permits for Blue Ridge Motors, Tom Chamberlain and American Legion Post 357. A subdivision and land development plan and two driveway permits were approved by the county Planning Commission for three lots on Old Route 11. A driveway permit was also approved for a Church Road property. A GP-3 permit was issued by DEP for a property on Trowbridge Creek. The Planning Commission gave final approval for an extra bay at the Endless Mountain Carwash. A non-coal exploration waiver was issued for the property located at Locust Hill and Downs Road. And, the owner of a commercial property was sent a violation letter for changing the property use without a permit; changing the use requires a permit, which must meet state requirements.
The 2007 audit report has been properly advertised and filed.
The first draft of the county flood mitigation plan was received, as was information from the watershed plan advisory committee.
Under unfinished business, a tire issue is now being handled by DEP. The owner of a Towner Road property has cut ditches and water is draining back into the creek. And, no progress has been made cleaning junk from an Old Route 11 property; the owner will be sent a letter.
The township has had a dumpster available for residents to dispose of scrap metal. The current hauler does not make any remuneration to the township for metal removed. A local concern has offered the use of a dumpster, and is willing to pay the township $25 per load removed. It was agreed to contact the current hauler to terminate use of the dumpster and to use the local one.
During public comment, a resident brought up a situation on Nova Road. He said that a (stone) saw shop has been accessing his property from the rear, off Nova Road and using the cul de sac to park vehicles. The supervisors did speak to the property owner about unloading stone there, and he did move it. They will follow up on the parking complaints.
The Emerson Road resident commented, where are the township roads heading in the future if the township does not have the money to maintain them? Would they all revert to dirt roads? The supervisors responded that they will be looking at all of the roads and setting priorities. “We’re not going to make everyone happy, but we’ll do the best we can.”
The next meeting will be on Monday, May 5, 7 p.m. at the township building.
The Montrose Borough Council finally voted to advertise the renter's ordinance, which has undergone various permutations and has been tabled more than once. Alice Walsh presented the newest version of the ordinance, stating that she tried to put herself in both the place of the landlords and the renters while going over it. The ordinance, she said, has teeth which need to be used. A caveat was included in the approval, however. The ordinance was to only be advertised pending borough solicitor Marion O'Malley's approval.
The wood burning stove ordinance was also cleared for advertisement. Visitors attended the meeting to discuss this, not having had a chance to read it and owning a wood stove themselves. The couple was offered a copy of the ordinance, and a council member pointed out that it was not being passed at the meeting, and would be opened for public discussion in May.
Another discussed action which found new life at this meeting was that of the walking track at Memorial Park. A resolution was passed to get this project underway by applying for a grant. The proposed track would circle most, if not all, of the park's perimeter.
Within the street department's report arose an interesting discussion on responsibility for a reportedly large problem. There is apparently failure in a pipe which crosses Prospect St., runs through a resident's yard, and outlets into an open ditch. This issue has contributed to a hole which was described as being large enough to swallow a small child. The matter of debate lies with who would be responsible to rectify the situation – the borough, the state, or the landowner? The borough secretary suggested that it might fall under the auspices of “water of the commonwealth,” by which the state owns the water and is thus responsible for it. In the end it was decided that more research needed to be done, regarding who put the pipe in, potential soil conservation implications, etc. A decision could then be better made.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for their regular monthly meeting on March 5 at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes, Mr. Robert Buck, Mr. Anthony Palonis, Mr. Fred Rhone, Mrs. Barbara Glover, and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were present.
President Rhone opened the meeting and announced the need for an executive session to discuss legal matters with Borough Solicitor Ronald Bugaj.
The meeting was reopened and the minutes from the previous meeting were read. Motion to approve carried.
The treasurer’s report was given, motion to approve carried.
The bills were presented for payment. Motion carried to approve payment.
Motion carried to “forego” for this year, two bills presented for membership benefits in The PA State Boroughs Association in order to save money.
Attorney Bugaj explained that a motion to quash the subpoenas has been presented to the borough, and a hearing has been set for April 10. Motion carried to authorize Solicitor Bugaj to answer this motion. Mrs. Glover was opposed.
The following correspondence was received:
A letter from the borough auditors, requesting from the council, a letter concerning the financial records of the borough. Solicitor Bugaj stated he also received such a letter. Motion carried to authorize the secretary to answer the letter (with President Rhone’s help, as suggested by the Solicitor).
A deposition notice for Jack Downton scheduled for March 11 was read.
The DCED grant contract in the amount of $20,000 for replacing the Stephano Bridge was presented. Motion carried to accept the grant on the borough’s behalf and to further authorize both President Rhone and Vice President Haynes to sign the agreement.
A request from the Wayne County Election Bureau to use the building for the upcoming election was received, motion carried to grant the permission.
A copy of a letter sent to the Wayne County Commissioners from PennDOT concerning an engineer for bridge inspections was read.
The 2007 annual report from the Wayne County Department of Planning was received.
In borough reports:
Paul D’Agati, borough auditor secretary stated, “We have nothing to report.”
Mr. Darl Haynes and Mr. Fred Rhone, on behalf of the depositions committee read four documents concerning the “Shadigee Creek wall” and provided copies of the same.
The first, a letter from PennDOT (labeled Gurske Exhibit 3) dated October 12, 2004, addressed to MaryAnn DeBalko Council President reads, “To follow up on our phone conversation, the retaining wall is not within the fifty foot right-of-way and is not a structure of the PA Department of Transportation. The concrete retaining wall is located on private property; as such maintenance is not the responsibility of PennDOT.”
The second, a letter from the Wayne Conservation District (labeled Gurske Exhibit 2) dated November 10, 2004, addressed to the borough, reads, “This letter is in reference to stream damage calls received in our office. Our office has assessed numerous sites; some sites are a threat to residences and businesses. We have recently received information that the USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has received funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. This program provides funding for stream repair where the stream is an eminent threat to either a primary residence or business. A further assessment is planned for November 16, 17, and 18. The borough’s responsibility in this program is to act as the project sponsor. You will be contacted in the next couple of days for the date and time we will be visiting your area.”
The third document (labeled Everett Exhibit 6) is taken from the FEMA guidebook and reads in part, “Funds for repair of flood control works are available through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE’s) PL 84-99 program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection program. Because the repair of flood control works falls under the authority of other federal agencies, FEMA cannot provide public assistance funds for the permanent repair of flood control works. This restriction applies even if funding is not available from the other agencies.”
The fourth, a letter from Borough Solicitor Ronald Bugaj (labeled Everett Exhibit 7) addressed to Paul Everett, dated August 7, 2006. Beginning with, “I’m sorry you could not attend the regularly scheduled meeting. There are still many issues regarding the Shadigee wall project that need to be addressed, and your input would be very helpful. I’m requesting that you contact me as soon as possible to determine your availability to meet with the council regarding questions and your actions regarding this project last year. The borough feels it is very important to move this matter along, but wishes to do so in a lawful and proper manner. We feel that meeting with you is of such importance that we would consider scheduling a special borough council meeting for this purpose.”
Mr. (Darl) Haynes stated, to his knowledge Renee Warden was a full time resident at the time and her home would have qualified for the NRCS funding. He asked the attorney if Paul Everett ever responded to the August 7, 2006 letter and Solicitor Bugaj responded, “No, he did not.” Mr. Haynes stated that council did make an attempt to resolve the matter, but Paul Everett has not cooperated with council and/or the borough’s attorney to resolve the matters associated with the Shadigee Creek wall project.
Solicitor Bugaj stated there is a hearing scheduled for April 10, where the parties, through their attorneys are attempting to negate their responsibility to the borough in this matter and he feels the borough will eventually recover the costs associated with what he referred to as “shenanigans.” He stated that in his opinion, there were certain individuals of the 2005 council that, by their actions of not following proper procedure leading up to and voting for and accepting Ken Rauch’s contract, will be determined as the responsible parties. Lawsuits will bring these individuals out and they will have to get separate counsel at that time. He further felt that the borough’s errors and omissions insurance would not apply, and if that is the case, the individuals will be responsible in the settlement with Ken Rauch, he said.
In New Business:
Mr. Rhone reported he was contacted by one Rex Colwell concerning the Little League using the ball field. Motion carried to grant permission for the organization to use the ball field. Mr. Rhone abstained from the vote (relative).
President Rhone reported the Penn Hill road was severely washed due to recent rainfall. He stated Harmony Township has already been hired through an intergovernmental agreement. The council appointed a road committee and therefore authorizes them to use their best judgment concerning road repairs.
President Rhone asked for public comment, and there was none.
No further business to come before the board, motion carried to adjourn.
Committee Findings Re: Robert Weldy
We, the undersigned committee members appointed by borough council to investigate the activities of certain individuals, do hereby render the following report to borough council with regard to Robert Weldy.
1. Robert Weldy served on Starrucca Borough Council from September, 2004 through December, 2005. During this time, Mr. Weldy's primary objective was to enforce accurate accounting of Starrucca Borough funds to minimize waste and poor management of public money. Mr. Weldy made two separate motions to temporarily close two borough roads due to existing and serious public safety issues with each road.
His alleged purpose in making these motions was to bring attention to unsafe conditions and to emphasize the need for corrective action. Mr. Weldy testified that the two borough roads presented the public with unsafe conditions that one would not expect to find on properly maintained public roads. The borough government bears the responsibility of serving the community by insuring that unsafe road conditions, including unsafe bridge structures, are addressed. Mr. Weldy testified that as a member of the governing body it was his responsibility to make sure that the borough was utilizing federal funds according to established laws and regulations. Mr. Weldy voted to approve Ken Rauch's bid for the Shadigee Creek Wall Project in November of 2005. Although Mr. Weldy was asked if the design and seal of an engineer was required as stated in the GP 1.1 permit application, he provided no proof that Starrucca Borough was exempt for the Shadigee Creek Wall project. Mr. Weldy stated that the failed wall (Shadigee Creek Wall) was built with public money (which the committee notes was from NRCS and the Army Corps of Engineers in 1996). Mr. Weldy testified that the government is responsible for the repairs of the wall. Mr. Weldy did not establish that the FEMA funding to accept Mr. Rauch's proposal was eligible funding.
2. Although Mr. Weldy testified that as a council member it was his duty to make sure that council was utilizing federal funds according to appropriate laws and regulations, Mr. Weldy testified that he did not establish eligibility for funding from FEMA before voting for Mr. Rauch’s proposal (November 18, 2005 minutes). Mr. Weldy testified that there was no need to contact NRCS after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (the borough council minutes from December, 2004 reflect that NRCS personnel and a Wayne Conversation District agent would inspect the stream damage near the bridge and that several council members in fact discussed this damage with the inspectors when they came).
3. Although Mr. Weldy slated that there was no need to contact NRCS after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Gurske Exhibit No. 2 (of April 26, 2007) shows a letter from Wayne Conservation District stating that eligible funding was available. Mr. Weldy testified that NRCS had no role in funding the Shadigee Creek wall. Mr. Weldy attached no copies of any documents to demonstrate that Starrucca Borough owned the Shadigee Creek wall. Mr. Weldy provided no documentation that FEMA/PEMA would 100% pay for the Shadigee Creek wall project. Mr., Weldy does not feel that Starrucca Borough has enough revenue in its general account to afford legal fees to settle the Shadigee Creek wall project. Mr. Weldy further does not feel that the people who voted to accept Mr. Rauch's proposal for the Shadigee Creek wall project should be responsible. Mr. Weldy opines that Mr. Rauch still has a valid contract with Starrucca Borough. Mr. Weldy would like to proceed to court and to let a judge decide the course of action. Mr. Weldy is not in favor of NRCS completing the Shadigee Creek wall. Although the T-wall that obstructed the flow of water constituted a DEP violation in 2004 or 2005, Starrucca Borough Council did not have it removed. The T-wall was in the creek for approximately one year before Mr. Rauch's proposal was accepted, which would have been in violation of DEP regulations. Mr. Weldy testified that after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and 2005, borough council did not demonstrate protection of safety and welfare of property owner Renee Warden or other borough residents. Mr. Weldy testified that he has contacted government agencies or offices pertaining to Starrucca Borough Council's handling of borough affairs during the 2006 year. Mr. Weldy asked if Starrucca Borough can demonstrate that the Shadigee Creek wall project is not eligible for FEMA funding. Everett Exhibit 6 (of July 23, 2007) states that FEMA funding is not eligible. Mr. Weldy provided no documentation that DEP did not require engineering for the Shadigee Creek wall project, although Paul Everett testified that DEP requires engineering (Gurske Exhibit 1 of April 2005). Mr. Weldy was not convinced that any discrepancies existed between the scope of work that called for two hundred twelve (212) feet of wall, although the ad stated two hundred twenty (220) feet of wall and Mr. Weldy is further not convinced that Laura Travis has presented a true accounting of borough finances at public meetings.
4. Mr. Weldy testified that since he left council he has contacted government agencies, although he declined to provide the names of these agencies. Mr. Weldy testified that Paul Everett stated that both bids (of Ken Rauch and Schaefer Enterprises) met the scope of work. Mr. Weldy did not answer yes or no as to whether Starrucca Borough Council can award (was avoid) the wall project without eligible funding in place. Mr. Weldy testified that NRCS had no role in funding the Shadigee Creek wall project. Mr. Weldy testified that Starrucca Borough Council did not hire anyone to oversee that Mr. Rauch followed the specifications or scope of work for the Shadigee Creek wall project. Mr. Weldy testified that an overseer of the Shadigee Creek wall project was not necessary. Mr. Weldy testified that he has not seen any evidence that the 2006 Starrucca Borough Council made any attempt to clear up issues related to the Shadigee Creek wall project. Mr. Weldy testified that a majority of current council members and one auditor lacked the capacity to understand complex issues. Mr. Weldy testified that he docs not believe that FEMA, DEP or other agencies have been presented a true and accurate account of the Shadigee Creek wall project.
5. It is the committee's conclusion that although Robert Weldy testified that it was Starrucca Borough's responsibility to address unsafe borough roads and bridges, Mr. Weldy actually hindered the progress in correcting such issues that existed during his membership on the borough council. Although Mr. Weldy testified that a council member's responsibility was to make sure that borough monies were spent according to established laws and regulations, Mr. Weldy unfortunately did not heed his own advice. Everett Exhibit No. 6 (of July 23, 2007) states that FEMA funding is not eligible for stream bank restoration. Eligible funding is available through the NRCS Watershed Protection Program.
It is further our conclusion that Mr. Weldy did indeed attempt to spend ineligible FEMA monies when he made a motion to accept Mr. Rauch's proposal to repair the Shadigee Creek Wall and voted yes to accept Mr. Rauch's proposal at the special meeting held on November 21, 2005 (Schneyer Exhibit 2 of April 27, 2007). It is also our conclusion that Mr. Weldy believes that FEMA/PEMA was not given a true and accurate accounting of information pertaining to the Shadigee Creek wall project. It is our conclusion that Mr. Weldy is referring to Paul Everett's securing funding from FEMA/PEMA that was not eligible according to Everett Exhibit 6 (of July 23, 2007). Although Mr. Weldy did not feel the need to contact NRCS after Hurricane Ivan, Gurske Exhibit No. 2 (of April 27, 2007) and the December 6, 2004 borough council minutes demonstrate that both NRCS and a Wayne Conservation District agent did inspect the stream damage with several council members present. Also, Mr. Everett mentions in the December 6, 2004 council meeting minutes about correspondence received by the borough from the Wayne Conservation District regarding stream damage. Mr. Weldy attended the December 6, 2004 borough meeting. It is our conclusion that although Mr. Weldy, Mr. Everett and Bridgette D'Agati voted to accept Ken Rauch's proposal at a special meeting held on November 21, 2005 using monies from FEMA that according to FEMA guidelines are not eligible, Mr. Weldy feels that they should not be held responsible. It is the committee's conclusion that Mr. Weldy has not cooperated to resolve the Shadigee Creek wall issues and has attempted to in fact hinder the procedure to resolve these issues. It is the committee's conclusion that council, including Robert Weldy, Paul Everett, Louis Gurske, and Bridgette D'Agati, were overwhelmed and complicated the simple process of sponsoring NRCS funding for the Shadigee Creek wall project. It is the committee's conclusion that Mr. Weldy was more interested in going to government agencies pertaining to Starrucca Borough than in comprehending that eligible funding was through NRCS for the Shadigee Creek wall project and not through FEMA/PEMA.
It is the committee's conclusion that Mr. Weldy failed his fiduciary responsibilities as a council member during his 2004 and 2005 time on council. It is the committee's conclusion that Mr. Weldy should be held responsible for any monies that Starrucca Borough should be required to pay as a result of the failed Shadigee Creek wall project. It is the committee's recommendation that any monetary losses suffered by Starrucca Borough should be assessed to Mr. Weldy. Although Mr. Weldy did not feel that there was any difference between Ken Rauch's bid for the Shadigee Creek wall project (Everett Exhibit 3 of July 23, 2007), describing a 220-foot wall, 14 inches thick, by 8 feet high with a 1-foot by 4-foot footer for approximately 109 cubic yards of concrete, the FEMA scope of work (Everett Exhibit 1 of July 23, 2007) requires approximately 69 cubic yards of concrete for about 76% overrun of concrete. It is the committee's conclusion that although Mr. Weldy did not feel that secretary/treasurer Laura Travis presented a true accounting of borough finances at public meetings, neither government agencies nor Mr. Weldy have presented any evidence to the contrary. Although Mr. Weldy made two motions to temporarily close Buck Road and Leech Creek until they could be repaired for public safety, it is the committee's conclusion that Mr. Weldy actually hindered the process when, at the February 7, 2005 meeting, Mr. Weldy offered a motion to withdraw the borough's request for a grant for the Buck Road Bridge. In the year 2006, grant money was transferred from Buck Bridge to Stephano Bridge.
The committee finds that Mr. Weldy committed serious acts of misfeasance, malfeasance and breached his fiduciary and legal duties to borough council and to the citizens of Starrucca Borough. The committee recommends that Mr. Weldy be sanctioned for his acts of commission and omission, and that this report be forwarded to the District Attorney of Wayne County and to all appropriate agencies for appropriate action, and that the cost of this investigation be assessed against Mr. Weldy.
Respectfully submitted: Fred Rhone, Art Kopp, Darl Haynes.
HIT AND RUN
On April 5, at around 11:30 p.m., a hit and run occurred on State highway 267 in Choconut Twp. At this time, Daniel Brasche of Montrose was traveling north when he lost control of his vehicle and struck the guide rail on the right side of the roadway. The vehicle then veered to the left, crossing over both lanes of travel, and struck the side of a concrete bridge. Brasche then fled the scene, continuing to travel north.
On March 24,, at around 1:29 p.m., William Oney of Hallstead was traveling south on State Route 171 in Great Bend Twp. when, for unknown reasons, his vehicle left the roadway. The Dodge Caravan traveled through a driveway, up an embankment (where it struck shrubbery), and continued straight across a culvert on a Susquehanna resident's property before coming to a final rest. Upon police arrival the vehicle was in its final resting position. Oney appeared to be suffering from some type of illness, and was flown by Geisinger to St. Luke's for further evaluation.
On April 4, at around 11:05 p.m., Melissa Nixon of Rome was traveling westbound on SR 4018 in Little Meadows borough in the rain. Nixon exited the roadway to the north of the travel lanes and impacted a ditch, before traveling across both the east and west travel lanes and continuing down an embankment where her vehicle struck a series of trees. The vehicle came to a final rest, upright, with its rear end suspended. Nixon was transported to Wilson Memorial Hospital in NY via Little Meadows Ambulance squad prior to police response to the scene.
A Little Meadows resident came to PSP Gibson to report that she believes she might be a victim of fraud or identity theft. She stated that she and her husband had applied for a mortgage at Coldwell Bank, and during the credit check a loan in the amount of $32,786 appeared which they did not recognize. The investigation is continuing.
On April 4, at around 7:20 a.m. Pamela Weiss and passenger Charlene Breiden were traveling northbound on SR 171 in Ararat Twp. when Weiss lost control of the vehicle. This spun 180 degrees, exited the roadway off of the west berm, and struck an embankment and a tree. Weiss was not injured. Breiden had to be extricated form the vehicle by Thompson EMS/Fire and was transported to Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale for treatment.
THEFT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE
On March 19, it is reported, one or more unknown person(s) stole a Honda EX400 four-wheeler from the Montrose Terrace Trailer Park on SR 29. The vehicle was owned by Sean Maginley, of that town. The perpetrator(s) departed from the scene in a blue and silver Ford pickup truck, traveling south on SR 29.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF/THEFT FROM A MOTOR VEHICLE
Between 8:30 p.m. and 12:15 a.m. on April 3, one or more unknown person(s) smashed the window out of a Chevrolet Blazer parked outside of the Parkview Inn in New Milford. A wallet belonging to Denise Vega of Kirkwood, NY was then stolen. The vehicle itself belonged to Shawn Evans of the same town.
On April 2 between 7:30 and 11:00 p.m., one or more unknown burglar(s) struck the home of Glenn James in Jackson Twp. Entry to, and exit from, the residence were gained via the rear door, and a Sabre TV and DVD player removed.
On April 2 Kathy Whitmore of Brackney was driving with a friend on SR 81 Southbound in the area of Lennox Township. The two were towing a horse trailer, with horses in it. The trailer became detached from the truck and struck a guide rail. Both horses were severely injured and euthanized at the scene by the responding veterinarian. The horses were owned by Milfer Farms of Unadilla, NY.
An investigation is being conducted regarding derogatory comments made referencing two persons on the internet.
PSP Gibson is investigating the theft of a metal gas pump handle from the Montrose Country Club in Bridgewater Twp. sometime between the 2nd and 3rd of April.
Sometime between the 25th and 31st of March, four white-faced Hereford bulls, each weighing approximately 1400 lbs., were taken from a farm located on Fitch road. The bulls belonged to David Hart of Montrose.
On March 31, at around 4:15 p.m., William Ballard lost control of his vehicle while traveling on State Highway 1021 in Oakland Twp. Ballard's vehicle began to “fishtail” into the oncoming lane of travel, striking a vehicle driven by Robert Dorunda coming in the opposite direction. The force of the impact caused Dorunda's vehicle to spin sideways, overturn, and flip, which caused the driver to be ejected through the driver's side window. He was wearing his seat belt. His vehicle came to rest on its passenger side in the north bound lane facing south. Ballard's vehicle continued to spin southbound before coming to rest approximately 95 feet from the point of impact on the southbound side of the road facing north. Ballard was traveling at a high rate of speed and attempting to negotiate a right curve in the roadway at the time of the accident. Ballard was transported to Barnes-Kasson Hospital in Susquehanna and was treated and released. Dorunda was transported to Wilson Hospital in Vestal, NY and was admitted to the ICU.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE CRASH
On April 10, at around 3 p.m., Thomas Fox of Conklin, NY was towing an elevator for a stone quarry south on SR 171. The hitch on the trailing unit broke, and it traveled to the right, impacting a guide rail. Great Bend Twp Fire Police assisted with traffic control. Citations will be filed at District Court 34-3-02.
On March 15, Adam Wojarowski of Thompson, PA was stopped for an equipment violation on SR 374 in Herrick Twp. Wojarowski was taken into custody for suspected DUI at the time, pending the results of blood tests. Charges were filed on April 1 at District Court 34-3-03.
RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE
An unnamed 16-year old juvenile male reportedly stole a vehicle from Oneonta, NY and drove it to Susquehanna County to visit friends from schools that he attended while living in the area. The vehicle was discovered at the Bethesda School's Parking Lot in Bridgewater Twp. The accused was transported back to New York State, where charges were filed against him.
The Susquehanna County Rail Authority met on Friday, April 11. Present for the meeting were Vice Chairman-Ken Bondurant; Secretary/Treasurer; Thomas Wooden; Robert McNamara, member; Dave Darrow, member; Robert Templeton, Planning Commission; Commissioner Leon Allen; Rowland Sharp and media.
The Authority recognized the appointment of Joseph Franks as a new member, although Franks was not in attendance. This appointment filled all the seats of the Rail Authority.
However, a resignation was laid on the table at the beginning of the meeting, bringing the number back to six.
After over seven years with the Susquehanna County Rail Authority, Secretary/Treasurer Thomas Wooden resigned, stating he was finished with the two steps forward and twenty-three steps back, the path the Rail Authority has been taking.
Wooden’s resignation was not accepted until the end of the meeting (with regret and thanks for all the work he did for the Authority throughout his term).
Wooden added, “After seven years, I am finished with that.” Wooden spoke about the trans-loading facility and its positive effect on all of Susquehanna County. “We won’t be here in 40 years; there is a positive impact we can have on our children and grandchildren, let alone the economy of the future.” Wooden explained that if only everyone (involved in acquiring a trans-loading facility in Susquehanna County) would come together in a positive manner for the good of Susquehanna County, it would be a big forward step. He added that issues of the past need to be buried and other issues which prohibit a forward movement in acquiring the land as a first step need to be forgotten or forgiven. “We need to take a forward step in continuing down the path and meet the requirements necessary to secure the land. Then they would be able to begin the work needed for the facility.” The proposed location for the facility is in Summersville (between New Milford and Hallstead).
“We were there before, had a grant and then the money was lost without support of previous commissioners and meeting required footholds needed at the time.” (The past commissioners would not, at that time, guarantee their signatures for a loan and the "grant-acquired monies" had to be returned.)
Vice Chairman Ken Bondurant stated that, hopefully, the current commissioners, the authority and Senator Madigan’s office would be able to lay all the cards on the table to acquire the proposed land, and continue forward on the positive path to having the facility. He also stated that a passenger transportation stop may also be available at the proposed site in the future. “We need all the players, and we all need to be on the same page!” Bondurant added.
Commissioner Leon Allen said that he did not know why the previous commissioners were against it. Allen also said, “That is why I am here!” ( to help The Rail Authority).
Wooden also stated, “If Susquehanna County does not acquire the facility, the opportunity for economic growth and future economic gain will go on to another county.”
Bondurant and new member, Don Button had gone to tour the property and were told that the property slated for the facility is still available, although some other land has been sold.
New member, Dave Darrow echoed that statement, saying he was also told the land was available and added that the owner would like a commitment by June 1, 2008.
Darrow also emphasized the importance of the current commissioners agreeing to co-sign the loan required to purchase the land.
After the meeting, "Conceptual Plans for the Development Scheme of The New Milford Transloading Facility” were examined and explained, with the use of maps that were previously made for the facility. Properties were identified and landmarks were shown, bringing those in attendance up to date and giving them an actual, physical picture of the future site.
The Susquehanna County Rail Authority meets on the second Friday of every month at 10 a.m. in the Emergency Management Conference Room in the County Office Building.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, address changes and new subscriptions must be received by Thursday, noon to take effect for the following week’s issue.
We appreciate your understanding and thank you for your patience and support.
Forest City Borough Council opened its April 7 meeting with an announcement that the application submitted for financial assistance to complete the sewer project did not score enough points to secure a grant. However, the US Department of Agriculture offered the borough a loan package to complete the project, and Council will consider that and other loan packages.
John Maloney proposed starting a livery transport service within Forest City. Run by certain medical companies, this cab service would transport sick children and the elderly to and from medical appointments and errands. Council stated that the business would need to operate out of a commercial zoning area. Council will consider the business proposal and will research formalities associated with opening such a business.
Due to a request by an unnamed citizen, council will also look into the number of rental units complying with building codes, as well as the overall number of rental units within the borough.
Mayor Cost asked Council to make a donation toward installing a nine-hole, disc-golf course at Kennedy Park. Several local businesses have already made donations, and Council agreed to give $500.
Also in Kennedy Park, problems persist with wild geese. Mr. Trusky stated that the Pennsylvania Game Commission is responsible for the removal of the geese, but several Council members argued that the Game Commission hasn’t taken care of the problem yet and is not going to. Council agreed to send letters of complaint to Senator Baker and Representative Wansacz. In the meantime, decoys are to be considered. Council also voted to advertise an ordinance outlawing the feeding of wildlife within the borough. Fines may reach $300.
Council voted to adopt Commerce Boulevard as a Forest City roadway and will submit a map of the road, some minor paperwork and a maintenance bond for the roadway to KBA Engineering.
Council also voted to advertise a recycling ordinance, stating what may and may not be recycled.
Also concerning recycling, Council will submit a joint grant application with Vandling Borough. Should they secure a grant, the boroughs plan to spend the money on a recycling truck, and Vandling, which is just beginning a recycling program, needs recycling bins. Council added that Forest City could use additional recycling bins.
Effective Friday, June 14, Forest City will host a recycling bulk pick-up day. Those interested in participating must purchase a $25 household sticker from Council.
At the request of Secretary Susan Coleman and Robert Tedesco, Head of Public Works, Solicitor Smith will draw up a service contract for individuals interested in renting the third floor of the borough building.
A tentative public hearing concerning MS-4 permits is scheduled for May 13 at 7 p.m. at the Forest City school.
In addition, an open house showcasing the new ambulance is scheduled for May 4 from 1-4 p.m. at the Delaware Street ambulance station.
An uncharacteristically long agenda occupied the Harford Township Supervisors for two hours on April 8. Chairman Terry VanGorden made an effort to contain the marathon by declaring that questions and comments from visitors would be entertained only at two points during the session. That resolution broke down after about a half hour, but the Supervisors soldiered on, expressing relief when the final motion to adjourn was passed shortly after 9:00 p.m.
At the opening of the meeting, immediately following the call to order and an announcement of an executive session earlier in the day on a personnel matter, the floor was given to Supervisor Garry Foltz to express himself on the "News Media." Mr. Foltz castigated the Susquehanna County Transcript for its report on the last Harford meeting, which he claimed unfairly portrayed the township's attitude toward loggers and quarrymen. Praising the efforts of logging and quarry operations to help maintain the township's roads, Mr. Foltz said, "They've done nothing but good for us."
When the Supervisors examined the treasurer's report for the month, Secretary/Treasurer and Supervisor Sue Furney requested that at least one other supervisor be tasked to reconcile the township's checkbooks each month now that the township no longer employs an external auditor. Mr. VanGorden said the job would be rotated between himself and Mr. Foltz.
When the floor was opened for questions, there were a few on the otherwise routine bill list. One concerned an expenditure of $6,000 for a block for a new engine for the township's loader. The township mechanic chose the lowest offer from several phone quotes.
Turning to old business, Ms. Furney reported that she had contacted State Senator Lisa Baker's office for assistance with an application to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a permit that is required before the township can proceed with the replacement of the bridge over Butler Creek on Pennay Hill Road. In the meantime, the township spent another $1,000 for a contractor to once again repair the bypass at that crossing.
The supervisors passed a formal resolution that should finally allow them to sign for an interest-free loan of $500,000 from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank to help with that project as well as the one to replace a sluice under Stearns Road at the outlet of Tingley Lake.
Mr. VanGorden described quotes he had received for pipe, and for a new snow plow. Motions were adopted to purchase two sizes of sluice pipe from low bidder Chemung Supply for a total cost of $3,475.36; and an 11-foot Tennco snowplow for a "delivered" price of $5,100 from Powell's of Clarks Summit. Mr. VanGorden was also given the go-ahead to purchase new tires for the grader at a cost not to exceed about $1,500.
The township will be soliciting bids for up to 35,000 gallons of calcium chloride "and/or EDP oil" for dust control. EDP (Emulsified Dust Palliative) oil is said to be an environmentally benign bituminous product certified by the state for use in dust-control applications. Bids will also be requested for diesel fuel. In recent years, only one supplier has offered a bid, and bids these days are almost always for "flexible" pricing. Ms. Furney said the most recent delivery cost $3.71 per gallon; the township, as a municipal authority, is not charged taxes on fuel purchases.
Mr. VanGorden took the initiative at the request of the local Little League association to supply a truckload of stone for an infield drainage project at the diamond on the hill behind the Village Apartments. The other supervisors endorsed the action as an improvement of township property. The Little Leaguers will supply all other materials, as well as labor, for the project.
In the campaign to find new sources of revenue, Ms. Furney reported that her research on transfer taxes resulted in an opinion of the township's solicitor that "we are at our limit." She said that, of the 2% charged to buyers and sellers in a real-estate transaction, 1% goes to the state, and the rest is split between the township and the school district. Mr. Foltz said that he would contact the instructor at the conference he attended to get more information.
Ms. Furney also researched cable TV "franchising." Mr. Foltz has said that the workshop he attended was told that municipalities could reap up to 5% of cable fees by imposing an ordinance. He said he would contact Adams Cable about the franchising idea. The other cable TV provider in the area, NEP Datavision, offers DSL Internet service and telephone over the same lines. How would that work? In October of 2000 the township passed a resolution allowing NEP to provide the service in Harford. The Adams Cable installation goes back to the 1960's.
The township has made four unsuccessful attempts to deliver a letter to the owner of a property on Grinnell Road where a barn threatens to collapse and is obstructing a roadway. The township will next try to have a county Constable deliver the letter.
Mr. Foltz described his continuing review of driveway permit application procedures in the township. He seems to have broadened it a bit so that his "rough draft" attempts to describe the entire permitting process, including sewage, driveways, and building and occupancy permits. The supervisors expect to further discuss the issue in detail among themselves. Mr. Foltz said that he would also like to run it by local contractors and the public before formalizing a new ordinance. He is considering separate driveway permits for residential and commercial properties, as well as temporary permits. A permit would be good for one year only, and would require 120 feet of visibility. The detailed measure can be expected to take another few months to complete.
The Supervisors announced that as of the afternoon of April 5, Lester Thomas is no longer employed by Harford Township. No details were provided.
They also decided that the annual "Cleanup" this year would take place during the first week of June, from the 2nd through the 6th. They upped the cost a bit, to $45 for a pickup load. There will be an extra charge for tires, and the crews will not accept any lumber, nor any paint cans. Aluminum boats will be crushed and taken away along with any other castoff materials, particularly metals. Household trash will not be collected.
The next meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors is scheduled for Tuesday evening, April 22, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the township building.
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