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Parents and students packed into the FCR high school library during the June 9 school board meeting, there to denounce the new dress code policy.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Vadella began by explaining how a new policy comes into effect: when the school board proposes a new policy, it opens the policy for a 30-day comment period. Based on public feedback, any necessary revisions are then made to the policy, and the public has an additional 30 days to comment.
Vadella explained that due to much negative feedback received from some parents and students, the new dress code policy has been revised to allow for more color options and more freedom to select a vendor or store to buy from.
Vadella thanked the students and parents for their input, saying, “We’re glad for the participation.”
The new dress code will require polo shirts in any solid color, as well as pants, skirts, shorts or skorts in solid khaki, black or navy blue.
The school board feels that a new dress code is necessary because it will be easier to enforce and because it makes family income less apparent. Even Dr. Henry Nebzydoski, the only board member who opposes the new dress code, acknowledged that it could “even the playing field a little bit.”
Opponents of the dress code argue that the clothing will be expensive and wonder what will happen to people who can’t afford it.
Robert Townsend, a parent of a high schooler, stated that the new dress code amounts to “punishing creativity,” adding that parents who strive to teach their children “to expand their options, ideas, tastes,” do not want their children forced to dress alike. Another parent agreed, “Let them express themselves.”
Another parent said that she is “disheartened,” stating that the school has “bigger issues to worry about than clothing.”
Several people in attendance pointed out that the present dress code has not been enforced successfully and doubted that a new one would, either. “Enforce what you have,” was a common message to the school board.
Townsend said, “I don’t want the school standing in the way of [my daughter’s] choices.”
While one student requested an occasional “dress-down day,” another student stated, “I will not attend this school if I have to wear a uniform.”
On another matter, a group of students who graduated from FCR on June 6 asked the school board why high school principal Anthony F. Rusnak was barred from attending their graduation. Vadella would not elaborate, stating, “The law prohibits comment on any personnel issue.”
One student questioned the quality of the girl’s athletic program, stating that “experienced coaches are essential” to the success of the team. The student added that some of the coaches demonstrated a lack of effort and lacked the skills to teach the sport. Vadella assured the student that the hiring policy for athletics has recently been revised.
Elementary principal Kenneth Swartz announced that sixth grade teacher Bobbi Jo Goben has been chosen as a WBRE TV teacher of the month. Photo journalist Joe Butash interviewed Goben, and the segment will air on Wednesday evening, July 2.
An elementary school summer reading tutorial program will run from July 21 to August 1, followed by a math tutorial program running from August 4 to August 15. Hours for both sessions will be from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Parents are responsible for transportation.
Forest City Regional elementary school is one of twenty-five Pennsylvania schools receiving a “fresh fruits and vegetables grant,” enabling the school to serve healthy food to students at snack time.
Seventh grade orientation will be held on Thursday, August 21, with registration beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Parents of high school seniors should note that an information session concerning dual enrollment is scheduled for Tuesday, June 17 at 7 p.m. in the high school library. The dual enrollment program will allow seniors to earn college credit in anatomy and physiology and in advanced speech II, while still enrolled in high school.
The Montrose school board meeting of June 9 opened with a moment of silence in place of the usual prayer. The silence was to remember three students who recently lost their lives, and one who was recovering.
The district is continuing its foray into energy conservation. A representative from Energy Education, Inc. attended the meeting to try once again to bring the district on board with this company (the company had approached the board some years ago as well). This company, the representative stated, specializes in energy management and has the only program in the country which does so exclusively. It does not try to sell equipment, focusing instead on behavior changes, and requires no capitol investment. It guarantees that if the district does not at least save what it invests, the company will write a check for the difference. He said that the program is not about sacrificing comfort, for example by making the building cold in the winter, or about putting more responsibility on the principal, etc. It also would not excessively interrupt class time, he claimed, with 85-90% of savings occurring when classrooms are not in use. The program involves appointing an individual as an energy educator, essentially filling the role of a point person. The district would have active company involvement for the first 48 months, after which the company would only come when called to the site. Mr. Caterson stated that he was ashamed that the district had not pursued this option before, and spoke out as a proponent of doing so this time. The matter was to be dealt with on the 23rd of June, at a special meeting of the board. Montrose's involvement may rest, however, at least partially on whether or not Elk Lake and Troy participate, as more districts can split the cost of the software and the representative spoke of a small district being involved alone in a particular area being prohibitive.
Mr. Owens followed up this presentation with a report on the process of the districts' own energy committee, which group's progress he spoke of positively. The committee's charter was clarified, and simple behavioral matters to reduce energy use discussed. The problem with these, he stated, is enforcement. Grant opportunities have also been discussed.
Two elementary students were specially honored that evening, recipients of the Principal's Awards at Lathrop Street and Choconut Valley schools. Each elementary principal in Susquehanna County chooses one student with outstanding qualities at his or her school, and then the winners are invited to a luncheon at Green Gables in New Milford. For Lathrop Street, Anna Ruseski was chosen, and Mr. Adams spoke enthusiastically about her qualifications, calling her polite, respectful, unassuming, genuine, kind (whether or not she is being watched), and a role model for other students. Mr. McComb also spoke highly of his choice, Patrick Conboy, stating that he had many of the same qualities as Anna. He also described him as hardworking, a friend to everyone, a talented violinist, and a great kid all-around. Both students received a certificate, and took the traditional walk around the board table shaking the hands of members and administrators.
The high school did not go without being honored as well. Mrs. Smith, classrooms for the future coach, attended the meeting with several students to discuss their recent trip to Capitol Days. This event, held in Harrisburg, was described as showcasing the best of the best. Montrose proposed a chemistry project, and had it accepted for inclusion into the showcase. The students researched chemistry reactions, conducted experiments to demonstrate the reactions, and then used technology to put together a presentation on the reactions and their study of them. They used PowerPoint as well as video and audio software. They were allotted a table set up in the capitol, and legislators came to see it. The students, Katherine English, Madison Legg, Gena Rapisardi, Nathan Hollister, and Mike Rihl (one of whom was not at the meeting) also received certificates and made the round of hand shakes.
Mr. Owens and Mrs. Smith were similarly acknowledged for their work.
The district did not increase taxes for the coming year. Installment payments were voted in for another year, which was mentioned as a useful option.
Five professional staff members were approved for the 2008/2009 school year. One present described them as an all-star cast of characters. The cast includes: MacKenzie Cameron (general music at Choconut Valley), Nicole LaBarre (first grade at Choconut Valley), Courtney Lienert (first grade at Lathrop Street), Theresa Kaub (secondary crisis counselor), and Julie Fraser (secondary emotional support).
Some changes to the athletic manual, discussed at previous meetings, were approved at this one. Beginning at the conclusion of the fall '09 season all varsity coaching positions will be re-listed on a two-year cycle, though coaches are able to reapply to the same position. Guidelines for appropriate behavior for coaches and students will be accompanied now by a signature page, and a parent code of contract was added.
The administrators' reports covered various topics. The end of the year was reported to be busy for the elementary schools, with field trips to Knoebels and Ross Park, dinner dances, and award assemblies being mentioned. The planned summer camp, it was reported, is at capacity enrollment. Baccalaureate and the awards night went very well at the high school. The district received a “clean bill of health” from PDE. A new filtration/conditioning system, it is hoped, will fix the well problem at Choconut Valley. If this fails the school won't be able to use its water. Doctor Golden, it was reported, is looking for placement for elementary life skills students; if he fails to find a suitable venue the district may look into starting one.
The need for new placement for certain children is brought about by a new BOCES policy. This change, whereby BOCES will no longer be accepting out of state students into its programs, was the source of some discussion at the meeting. Two mothers spoke up during the visitor comments portion of the board meeting, both of whom have school-aged autistic children residing within the district's boundaries. Both are now concerned about where their children will attend. The one mother acknowledged that Dr. Golden and the district had always treated her and her child well in the past, but she just wanted to make sure that something was being done. Mr. Ognoski assured the women that Dr. Golden was looking into it, and that he wanted to get it resolved as soon as possible. Currently the district is looking into possibly sending its elementary autistic children to programs at Mountain View, Susquehanna, or SUNY. It is hoped that they can be placed in an already established program. The problem arose not from the exclusion of NY children, but from the fact that BOCES was violating the charter by which it was established which forbade it acting as an independent contractor.
The June 11 meeting of the Susquehanna County Commissioners was held in a record nine minutes, with a four-minute Salary Board Meeting. Both concluded at 9:13 a.m.
Richard Kamansky, Assessment, was recognized for his 50 years of “faithful dedication and service to the county and taxpayers.” Kamansky said, “It was a great pleasure. I have enjoyed the position and hope to continue.” Kamansky also reported that when he was first hired he was making around one dollar an hour.
Also honored for service to the County in Children & Youth for 10 years was Kenneth Zahora. Zahora was praised for his work with families, children and children and youth in general.
Reappointed to the Area on Agency Advisory Council from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 were: Irma Bender, Clara May Benning, Josephine O’Peka, Donald Rittner, Rita Tiffany, William Wagner, and Harold Wegman.
Ms. Beverly Griffiths, Mrs. Carolyn Warner, Ms. Barbara McNamara, Mr. William Iveson, District Attorney Jason Legg, Dr. Kenneth Lattimore, Mr. John Lester and Mrs. Beverly Bennett were appointed/reappointed to the Susquehanna County Drug and Alcohol Commission Advisory Board for terms ending April 2009 through April 2011.
Commissioner Michael Giangrieco made the motion to appoint Michele Suchnick and Bob DeLuca to the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Leon Allen.
Giangrieco also made a motion to terminate the employment of Laura Biesecker, Case Aide, effective June 11, as per Susan Adamec, Agency Director.
The resignation of Mark Darmofal, part-time Assistant Public Defender, effective June 4, was accepted with regret.
Commissioner Leon Allen made a motion to authorize Jennifer Morelli, Recycling Coordinator to apply for a 902 grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waste Management, Division of Waste Minimization and Planning for collection equipment for the drop-off area and materials handling equipment for the facility. The anticipated grant award date is the fall-winter of 2009. Commissioner Mary Ann Warren seconded the motion and it passed.
The Commissioners were authorized to sign the Drug and Alcohol Specific Services Agreements between the Susquehanna County Drug and Alcohol Commission and the following for the term July 1, 2008 through July 1, 2009; Conewago Place, Gatehouse For Women, Keenan House, Clearbrook Manor, White Deer Run, Inc., Gatehouse For Men, Gaudenzia, Inc., Clem-Mar House, Libertae, and Clearbrook Lodge (all rehab locations).
The Salary Board created two Children & Youth Caseworker positions, 37.5 hours per week, six month probationary period, and benefits per the contract for Professional Employees – Office of Children & Youth Services, Caseworker I rate to be $14.23 per hour and Caseworker II rate to be $15.23 per hour, effective June 11.
Another motion created a third supervisor position in Children & Youth, minimum 40 hours per week, $33,966.40 per year with a six-month probation period and benefits per the County Policy Manual, effective June 11.
Commissioner Giangrieco said that the state mandates the number of caseworkers and one time per year they are “brought up to par.”
Jim Jennings asked the commissioners if people who are and have been removed from Clean and Green are notified of the specific section under which they are being removed.
Commissioner Giangrieco stated that he was not going to provide legal expertise for Jennings (or anyone) and suggested he get his own lawyer and figure it out or look it up for himself. Jennings said he was just asking a question and Giangrieco abruptly told Jennings, “I am not going to debate this with you.”
A media representative stated that Jennings was just asking a legitimate question and not looking for “debate.”
The representative noted, “New York State is becoming more open to the taxpayers (with their government meetings and actions), versus Susquehanna County, which seems to be headed in the other direction.”
Giangrieco reported that he was not accountable to provide free legal information. Some words and statements were exchanged, with Giangrieco adamantly refusing to answer any questions.
Susquehanna County Commissioners’ meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, 9 a.m. in the County Office Building, in the EMA Conference Room.
David A. and June Sienko to Rebecca and William Thomas, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Luella T. James to Kathleen A. Tanton, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Selina M. Swedrek to William A. and Clara B. Burke, in Auburn Township for $35,000.00.
Francis (AKA) Francis Frank J. Tomolonis (Estate) to Leo J. and Paula M. Dwen, in Springville Township for $149,900.00.
Jozsef and Patricia Arpasi to Donald J. and Pearl Mary Potts, in Forest Lake Township for $120,000.00.
Robert W. Broad to Robert W. and Karen L. Broad, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Duane R. and Jeanne B. (By POA) Powers to Duane R. Powers, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Jeffrey and Kristina E. Fahy to Eddie J. Gorel, in Forest City for $109,000.00.
Russell F. and Janis I. Carman to Russel F. and Janis I. Carman, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Eleanor R. Jagger to Richard M. and Cheryl Jagger Williams, in Lathrop Township for $32,000.00.
Leonard Przybszewski to Mountain Minerals LLC, in Auburn Township for $52,867.50.
Wilmer H. Solt to Wilmer H. and Beverly A. Solt, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
Andrew B. and Jean A. Smith to Barbara A. Simon, in Little Meadows Borough for $250,000.00.
Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. (FKA) Bankers Trust Co. to Kevin and Sandra Millard, in Bridgewater Township for $35,199.00.
Harry S. and Barbara E. Wheeler to Kyle D. Wheeler, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Mary Mason, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Alice M. Evans to Ann Marie Rasmus, in Bridgewater Township for $147,000.00.
Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. to Mark R. and Stacy N. Wolfe, in Great Bend Township for $132,000.00.
Heidi G. Gathany to Michael J. Gathany, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Sharon and Richard Barondeau to Michael H., Thomas C. and Michael T. Orzechowski, in Forest Lake Township for $64,900.00.
Jan B. and Virginia B. Quackenbush to Mark Antinnes, in Dimock Township for $450,000.00.
James W. and Alice S. Hagendorf and Martin L. and Lois A. Weisgold to Martin L. and Lois A. Weisgold, in Auburn Township for $1,500.00.
Jeffrey L. and Barbara J. Hollister to Ryan A. Soden, in Montrose for $117,500.00.
Jean Kiskaddon to Harry Graham and Gulay Kiskaddon, in Herrick Township for $191,000.00.
Vincent J. and Ileana D. Immitt to Lisa A. Immitt, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Joseph M. and Kathy Blaisure to Edwin D. Walters, in Springville Township for $30,000.00.
Ethelyn B. Koeb to Richard S. and Janice L. Spering, in Dimock Township for $500.00.
Richard S. and Janice L. Spering to Richard S. and Janice L. Spering, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Paul Bock to Matthew J. Saam, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Laura M. Pike and Eleanor M. and Michael Ferguson to Laura M. Pike, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Mitchell A. Conklin of New Milford vs. Rachel L. Conklin of Montrose, married 2004.
Ursula Dabulewicz vs. Jeremy Dabulewicz, both of Montrose, married 1995.
Peter S. Watrous vs. Pamale J. Watrous, both of Hallstead, married 1985.
On June 12, Clifford Township supervisors passed Resolution 1-2008, Flood and Hazard Mitigation, concerning FEMA issues.
Fred Lyon of Lyon Street asked why Clifford Township is “dismissive” to long-range planning. In response, supervisor Randolph LaCroix stated that he is against zoning. Another resident of Lyon Street inquired about where she could go for ordinance information. Chairman John Regan stated that she should contact township secretary, René Reynolds.
At the July township meeting, PennDOT officials will discuss the bridge on Route 106. At 6 p.m., the PennDOT officials will meet with the Clifford supervisors, followed by a public discussion at 7 p.m.
After several complaints of possible illegal activity at Extremities Massage and Spa in Royal, the Reverends Bissol, Price and Snedeker sent a letter to the Clifford supervisors. The supervisors decided that the landlord should be approached concerning the business. Proof of illegal activities would require turning the matter over to the district attorney.
The police department’s tazer gun, which was being sent away for repairs, was lost by the Post Office during shipment and is still missing. In order to protect the township from liability, Regan requested that the department contact the State Police and report the gun missing.
Regan announced that oiling has been completed on Schoolhouse Road and Tennessee Gas Road. PennDOT will tar and chip the roads.
Regan suggested that the township purchase a non-CDL, 5-ton 1998 Ford truck using money from the Winter Maintenance Agreement. The cost of the truck is approximately $11,500.
Supervisor Dennis Knowlton would like to thank the volunteers who installed swing sets on the municipal grounds.
Following a complaint by John Kurilla, officials investigated a matter concerning possible sewage in a well within the township. Water samples have been sent away for testing. Dye testing will commence in a ditch that is possibly contaminated by sewage.
In a similar matter, the township is required to test Lake Idlewild and Cottrell Pond for possible sewage contamination. Melissa Dupay, who is completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, will participate in the project as part of her graduation requirements.
On a warm night at the tail end of another school year, the Blue Ridge School Board and its administrators congratulated one another on what all agreed was a successful year, and began preparations for the next one. With the impending retirement of Superintendent Robert McNamara and High School Principal John Manchester, the summer will seem brief enough as the Board scrambles to fill staff vacancies.
They made a good start at the June business meeting on the 9th, welcoming eight new teachers, all but one of whom was present to accept a round of applause. Mr. McNamara said they were a "very good group of young people," who include Elena Cavarocchi who will teach fifth grade; Sarah Dibble, who will teach art in the Elementary School; Rachel Hobbs, teaching Pre-K; Danelle O'Neil, teaching fourth grade; Jonothan Sayre, to teach sixth grade mathematics; Brian Woodruff, kindergarten; Alyssa Keelen will become a Middle School learning support teacher; and Michelle Allen will become the emotional support teacher.
Most of the new teachers will serve awhile to earn the tenure received by eight of their new colleagues, including Jennifer Castrogiovanni, Joseph Conigliaro, Meredith Davis, Cheryl Farrell, Laurie Klenchik, Brandy Pitcher, Sarah Templeton, and Sharon Watkins. Tenure protects professional employees from arbitrary dismissal, and is awarded to a teacher after three years of satisfactory service. The Blue Ridge Board merely acknowledges the tenure decisions, over which it has no control.
A number of the district's staff will be paid the substitute rate of $80 per day for accumulated "comp time," for a total of $5,160. Some teachers are awarded extra time off in compensation for additional time spent with students, particularly tutoring after hours. According to High School Principal John Manchester, the use of comp time is regulated, but by the end of the school year there is usually some time that remains on the books. Mr. McNamara said that the payments are intended to "clean up" these arrears.
Other expenses begin to show up at this time of year as the district awards contracts for a variety of supplies. The Board has discussed new uniforms for the basketball teams for several months. At the meeting they accepted a bid of $20,280 from Freddy Battaglia's Sporting Goods for girls' and boys' JV and varsity basketball uniforms, including warm-ups.
The Board approved low bids from Kurtz Brothers, Academic Supplier, Quill and Pyramid School Products for general academic supplies for next year. One bid, for $18.76 from Academic Supplier of Nevada, seemed curious. No one could say offhand what the bid was for, but Mr. McNamara remarked, "You know how those art teachers are," which got a laugh from the newest art teacher, just hired.
The sole bid was accepted from RGM Hardwoods, of $36 per ton, for wood chips used in the heating plant. According to Business Manager Loren Small, the campus uses between 300 and 1,000 tons of the stuff per year. He said that 800 tons of wood chips produces the heat equivalent of about 48,000 gallons of fuel oil, which, at current fuel prices, should result in a considerable savings to the district.
Four firms were awarded contracts for custodial supplies: Sanico, PA Paper & Supply, Master Chemical, and LJC Distributors, for a total value of $12,204.
The Board also approved spending $2,500 to help pay the bill for the High School yearbook. Mr. McNamara said that only rarely has the sale of yearbooks actually paid for the cost. Last year, according to Mr. Manchester, 180 books were sold, yielding a slight surplus. This year, however, only 123 of the books were bought at the student price of $55, although they cost about $96 each to produce, leaving a shortfall of some $5,600. Mr. Manchester noted that the current supplier's contract is up for renewal this year, but that the district subsidy was budgeted in any case. Yet, with class sizes going down, and threatening to "stay down," the publication, cost and pricing of the yearbook should probably undergo some scrutiny.
The Board also approved the expenditure of $48,340 for a replacement for the schools' aging intercom and bell system. Mr. Small said that the current system is no longer being manufactured and parts are increasingly difficult to find. Besides replacing the existing system, the new one, which will make use of the schools' networking infrastructure, will be much more flexible, and remove some nagging problems in the old system. He said the new system should be operational within a week, since the system installed by Teradon Industries and Guyette Communications for a demonstration is still in place. Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski asked the Board to recognize the contribution of Mr. Price to the selection of the system from among a number of alternatives.
The Board also approved the "preliminary transportation contracts." These bus contracts are a standard form based on state requirements, because the state reimburses the district for virtually all of its transportation expenses. The preliminary contract approval gives bus operators lead time to get their equipment in order and properly inspected in preparation for the next school year.
The Board approved a request from sophomore Vikki Hartt for a donation to help her pay the nearly $2,300 cost of participation in the National Young Leaders Conference to be held in Washington, DC later this month. Ms. Hartt will share a pool of $500 with some five students who have submitted such requests.
The Board initiated a 30-day review of a long list of policy changes in two categories. Most such changes in the district's policy manual arise out of new legislation, or court rulings that affect school administration. Some of these changes are in response to a new open records law that will become effective next January. Others affect provisions related to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
To pay for everything, the district must have a budget, so the Board gave formal approval to the budget that will go into effect in July. Expenses are expected to total just under $16.8 million, down slightly from the preliminary budget approved a month ago. There will be no changes in tax rates, yet there remain some uncertainties with regard to how much state funding can be expected, as well as the rising cost of energy. Mr. Small told the Board that a future meeting will be asked to discuss "self-funding" the district's health insurance.
Immediately after approving the budget, Board members authorized homestead/farmstead exclusions under Act 1 of 2006. Homeowners and farm owners who have been declared eligible can expect to receive somewhere around $400 in property tax relief. According to Mr. Small, the state will offset the loss of local revenue to Blue Ridge up to about $737,000 from gambling income. Precise figures are not yet available, since, according to Mr. Small, the county tax assessor's office has yet to make available a complete and accurate list of eligible properties in the Blue Ridge District area.
As the summer begins, youngsters participating in programs at the Blue Ridge campus can expect free breakfasts and lunches. Food Service Manager Linda Cole-Koloski announced that the program, now in its third year, has been extended for another five years. The program is financed through the state Department of Education by the federal Department Agriculture and has been a tremendous success. Ms. Cole-Koloski also reported that the district provided over 40,000 free breakfasts in the Elementary School this year.
Those who attend Blue Ridge School Board meetings can often get a pint of water or chocolate milk, cookies, and maybe even fresh strawberries in season. Try your luck at a combined workshop and business meeting on June 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Following is the Silver Lake Township Police Report for the month of May, as submitted.
On May 1, Mike Shuta reported that a stone quarry work truck had been vandalized at a quarry on his property in Silver Lake Township. Water was put into the gas tank and nails into the tires.
On May 3, John Robert Hafenbrack, Jr. from New Jersey was the victim of a fatal crash while riding his ATV on a wooded trail near Snow Hollow Road in Silver Lake Township.
On May 7, Robert Rood, who owns property in the township, reported that someone had removed parts of his stone wall that runs along his property line. This incident is still under investigation.
On May 26, Kevin Little of Brackney reported that Eric Pike from Little Meadows had assaulted him in the Brackney Inn parking lot.
On May 31, Georgia Burbridge reported that she and her husband had been notified by their credit union that they were victims of credit card fraud.
On May 3131, it was reported in the township that mailboxes had been deliberately smashed or struck by vehicles.
TRESPASSING & ATV VIOLATIONS
Numerous reports have been filed the entire month of May with ATV’s trespassing onto private property and causing damage, as well as many incidents of ATV’s running the main roadways.
Any information or questions for the Silver Lake Township Police, call 278-6818 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be held strictly confidential.
Step by step, newest Harford Supervisor Garry Foltz has been shepherding a new driveway ordinance through the many steps that should result in final adoption sometime this summer. At the Supervisors' meeting on June 10, he reported that the township's attorney had reviewed the material and approved procedural parts, but suggested some additions to help make the measure more specific.
Mr. Foltz said that he would add details about driveway types, sight distances, grades, and rights of way before submitting the package for advertising. He said a public hearing would then be scheduled before the ordinance is formally adopted.
One item the solicitor suggested should be added is something about traffic control (stop signs), particularly if a driveway serves more than one property. An observer asked if there was thus no longer a distinction between a driveway and a "private road" in the township. Mr. Foltz suggested that such a driveway might be deemed "commercial" in some sense, but then said that a final determination would be "up to the decision of the Supervisors or the Roadmaster."
In other business, the Harford Supervisors decided to solicit new bids for anti-skid material used for traction in winter weather. Roadmaster and Supervisor Terry VanGorden said that the #1 anti-skid used for most of the last winter was too small to be effective. He asked that the Supervisors request bids for 1,050 tons of anti-skid #7.
A pre-bid conference for the bridge project at Butler Creek on Pennay Hill Road held on June 8, attracted three contractors out of some seven who have showed some interest in the work. The bridge, which was practically destroyed during summer flooding two years ago, must be replaced by the end of 2008 in order to qualify for full reimbursement by federal and state emergency management agencies. Bids must be received by Wednesday, June 18, when a special meeting will be held to open them at 7:00 p.m. at the township building.
With the addition of Hollis Adams, the road crew will begin to make more progress around the township. They will start earlier to do it. During the summer months, Mr. VanGorden's workers will start at 6:00 a.m., to finish at about 2:30 p.m. The schedule shift will allow more work during the cooler morning hours, and give employees the afternoons for their families.
The summer months also seem to bring on a rash of thefts of road signs: stop signs, work-area signs, weight- limit signs, and flags are all disappearing at an alarming rate. Mr. VanGorden said that he was told by State Police that if one culprit could be caught, he could be charged with all of the thefts. Mr. Foltz remarked that (assuming the thieves are youngsters) the parents should be made 100% responsible.
Mr. VanGorden also reported that the previous week's "cleanup" load was down this year. He said there were 74 signups and a total of 77 loads picked up by the crews. Supervisor and Secretary/Treasurer Sue Furney said that the township was sure to at least break even on the project, even with the lower participation rate.
TRIANGLE UPDATE: The hearing scheduled for June 20 that might have determined the fate of the triangle park in the center of Harford village has been "continued," lawyer talk for postponed. It seems that one of the lawyers had long since scheduled a trip to Alaska during that time. The hearing has been put off a few times already, once to find a new judge when Montrose Judge Seamans recused himself for a potential conflict of interest. The ownership and control of the 6,300 square foot triangle is disputed between Bronson Pinchot, who owns the property where the old store used to stand, and the Harford Historical Society, which was given the use of the triangle as a memorial park in 1941. Mr. Pinchot has alleged that the gazebo that has been on the triangle since 1994 violates the terms of the indenture that created the park from private property. No new date for the hearing has been set.
Oakland Boro Council reviewed a list of current codes violations at their June 12 meeting; some have been addressed, some are showing slow progress, some are inactive and still others are ongoing. This led to a discussion about just what steps council can take to deal with those that have been ongoing over a period of years. The question was, could some action be taken, somewhere between issuing warnings and taking the violators to court, to show that the boro is serious about these issues. The costs of taking an issue to court can be prohibitive; that avenue is only taken as a last resort. And, if a case does go to court, the boro has the responsibility to prove that a property owner has been given a proper chance to address the violation. Fines could be issued, but they, too involve some processing costs. It was agreed that the boro’s Codes Enforcement Officer would have valuable input in this discussion, and would be asked to attend the next meeting.
Complaints discussed at last month’s meeting were discussed again. Some had proved to be groundless, and some thought that at least some of them were the product of “sour grapes” between neighbors. The boro does have an official complaint form, which must be signed and does include a statement that the complaint is not false; any resident who has an issue of concern must fill one out.
Police coverage was another topic discussed in depth. There have been a number of complaints about four-wheelers speeding on the boro’s roads late at night, as well as unruly kids on the streets well after they should be. With a limited budget and patrol schedule, a solution will be difficult, but it was agreed that something should be done. Mayor Dudley will look into some of the options available, and report back to council at their next meeting.
As of this date, there was no news on the DCNR grant the boro had been awarded for park improvements. The grant stipulates that the work must be completed by December 31, 2009, but so far the funds have not been received. In the meantime, there are other grants that can be applied for, to offset additional expenses (escalating costs of materials, etc.).
The apartments constructed at the site of the old boro building have been completed, with only paving to be finished. Two of the apartments have been rented, and applications being reviewed for the remaining ones. The Housing Authority is planning a grand opening once the paving is finished.
There was no news to report from River Bounty, although one council member asked, tongue-in-cheek, who was going to cut the grass on the islands in the Susquehanna River (visible only since the breach in the dam, which has significantly lowered the water level). River Bounty will be sending letters to Oakland and Susquehanna Boros to request frequent patrols of the dam area, as there have been a number of trespassers taking advantage of the low water level to use the dam for fishing.
A motion carried to accept the county’s flood hazard mitigation plan; municipalities who do not adopt it will not be eligible for FEMA project funds. It was noted that most of Oakland’s water problems in flood conditions are from run-off. And, for the time being at least, flooding seems unlikely with the river as low as it is.
A gas drilling company has made an inquiry; would the boro be willing to sell them water needed for their operations? The system has been tightened up, and current usage levels are lower than usual. The system could probably handle a significant amount if the boro does decide to sell some, and the revenues could be used for equipment for the system. Council agreed to look further into the matter.
Some time ago, the Housing Authority had expressed interest in purchasing the lower lot next to the apartment site, which the boro still owns. The land in question is very narrow, which makes it unsuitable to locate a new boro building. Whether or not to sell it was discussed, as well as whether to sell it to the authority (the process would be somewhat less restrictive if the boro sells to another government agency) or to put it up for bid. It was agreed that the Authority should be contacted to see if they are still interested in the lot, and what their intended usage would be before making a decision.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the July meeting will be held on the 24th, most likely at the new boro garage. Some details relating to the new building are still in the process of being taken care of.
And, boro secretary Flo Brush did extensive research on employee medical insurance, and found that Geisinger offers the best coverage, with lower monthly premiums and a lower deductible than the policy the boro now has.
Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) said that the deadline to file for the state's Property/Tax Rent Rebate program has been extended to December 31, 2008.
Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2007. So far, more than 515,000 claims have been filed for this year's rebates.
The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities.
Eligibility income limits for homeowners were expanded last year to the following levels, excluding 50 percent of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits: $0 and $8,000, $650 rebate (homeowners and renters); $8,001 to $15,000, $500 rebate (homeowners and renters); $15,001 to $18,000, $300 rebate (homeowners only); $18,001 to $35,000, $250 rebate (homeowners only).
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of four programs supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which dedicates its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians. Since the program began in 1971, more than $4 billion has been paid to qualified applicants.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms are available by contacting Major's offices at Route 706 Lake Montrose, RR 7 Box 7186, Montrose, PA 18801 (278-3374) and 130 N. Bridge Street, Tunkhannock, PA 18657 (836-5888).
Information on the programs may also be downloaded at RepMajor.com.
The Susquehanna County Rail Authority is in a bind, with little money in their treasury and no state loans at present. “It looks a little bleak,” said the Authority’s Acting President Ken Bondurant. “But we don’t have to ‘give up the ship’ just yet.”
“We really need financial backing before we go looking (at land for the trans-loading facility at New Milford),” stated new member Joe Franks. “We also need the commissioners behind us, and some commitment from future shippers.”
Cynthia Allen, owner of the proposed site, told the Authority that she would like to be able to hold the property for them, but, “There are a lot of possibilities for that land,” if the Authority can not give her a guarantee. “I would like to help you, and will as much as I can, but it’s a business situation, I need to look out for the land, and myself.”
Don Button explained that the meeting on May 29 with prospective shippers and business owners “wasn’t that good of a turnout.
“We got some positive feedback and some good suggestions, but no commitments.”
Discussion was held about the various railroads and the type of shipping, passenger, freight, etc., in this area and ways to approach the problems, but with less than $50 in their account, there is not a lot they can do at present.
One good suggestion that the Authority is taking, is to attend the Economic Development Board meeting and speak to them about any possibilities.
That meeting is held on the last Thursday of the month in the EMA Conference Room at the County Office Building at 10 a.m.
Several members of the Rail Authority will be attending this meeting, to help to bring about a new avenue of life for the Authority and the proposed trans-loading facility.
Discussion will be held at July’s meeting to decide if they want to take a few months off from their meetings for the summer.
Attending this June meeting were members Ken Bondurant, Don Button, Joe Franks, Joe White; Jim Jennings, Bob Templeton, Rowland Sharp, Cynthia Allen and Carole Canfield.
The Rail Authority meetings are held on the second Friday of the month at 10 a.m. in the EMA Conference Room, in the basement of the County Office Building.
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