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The B&S (quarry) controversy, so prevalent a topic in New Milford Township meetings in the last year, reared its head again on June 18. The supervisors announced that they had received notification that this company had applied for another large, non-coal mining permit. The township, at the time of the meetings, was in the 30-day period in which they could send back their concerns about this application to DEP, and offered to include visitor and resident concerns in a formulated letter. This led to a discussion which, while it paled in comparison to the passionate debates of months before, resurrected some of the familiar conversations. Township solicitor Mike Briechle pointed out that what was desired at this point was concerns about land use practices, etc., and that residents could also send in their own objections to DEP directly. Such letters must be received by the organization within 30 days from the newspaper announcement. Also, in response to a comment made about another public meeting with DEP, solicitor Briechle explained that a request for a public meeting would also have to be submitted in writing.
Early worries voiced included how large the mine was to be (191 total disturbed acreage), and the fact that no one had yet seen the application (the supervisors did not have the application, stating that this was only notification that an application had been filed).
Whether or not the area bridges and roadways could handle the weight of such commercial travel was also broached. The supervisors stated that they did not know if the bridges could handle the weight, but they would incorporate this query in the letter. The roads were a more complex matter. The function of the business requires trucks which exceed Route 848’s size limit to run on the road. Mr. Drann said this was a public health/safety issue, and a visitor expressed their concerns that B&S does not follow the law, knowing that such trucks are restricted and using them anyway. Mr. Hunter said that that the state allows oversized vehicles to travel so far off the interstate (usually 2 miles), but someone responded that they had spoken with a secretary from Harrisburg (the Department of Transportation) and this woman had stated that absolutely no such trucks should be on a restricted road. It was also argued that if a person lives on a restricted road, but drives a big truck, they still go in and out on that road, and that trucks which miss the turn at the Flying J would then be under the same restriction. The supervisors ended by pointing out that they could include this matter in the letter, but could not enforce it. Solicitor Briechle again put the matter in the hands of the community, suggesting that the best results might be brought about through enough local residents writing letters to the state police or the commissioners.
Discussions of roads continued, moving on to the matter of tar and chipping Sutton Road where it meets 848. It was asked if this, proposed at a prior meeting, would really make a difference. The supervisors answered that it would alleviate the problem, but not eliminate it. Dump trucks will track mud, it was stated, and even blacktop, which some present were pushing for, would not be a complete answer. Mrs. Goff requested that, if nothing else were done, the rut at the beginning of the road which makes merging onto 848 dangerous, be dealt with. The supervisors stated that this would be done.
It was asked yet again whether a bond would be put on Sutton Road. Mr. Hunter responded that, as he had said before, no bond would be placed, as B&S donates more in materials than the bond would be worth. The supervisors have it in writing that B&S will haul and provide the materials, but the township will continue to maintain the road.
The ownership of Carey Road was also revisited. It was queried whether the township had ever contracted a survey on that road, to discover whether or not the sawshop was located on township land. A visitor asked what progress had been made in this respect. There was some debate as to whether or not the supervisors had even agreed to do so, or merely said they would look into it. Mr. Hunter had no plans to hire a surveyor now, stating that the township did not want the road and offering to put a vote on the table right there to vacate it from the pump on. This suggestion was not popular with all of those present. He said that the supervisors did not consider it to be the township's road above the hedgerow. Mrs. Goff reported that she had spoken to Sal Danato in Dunmore, who said that the township had been receiving fuel taxes on it for many years, and that maps indicate the road is owned by the township. She said that B&S has ignored this, however, and appropriated the road. She asked why the township did not sell it if they did not want it. Mr. Hunter responded that it was appropriated because no one wanted it, and that they were not able to sell it. He asked if it was desired that the supervisors spend taxpayer money to survey the road. Several affirmative responses were heard. Solicitor Briechle suggested that concern over B&S possibly impinging on a township road be included in the letter, and then B&S could do the work.
Another major point of debate was whether or not the supervisors cared that the sawshop was erected without a site plan having been drawn up and submitted to the planning commission or the supervisors. The supervisors responded that they did have blueprints, but it was argued that further building had been done on the site since those prints. The supervisors were asked if this was a concern to them, that a building be erected without a submitted site plan. It was answered that it would be now, but that it was less of a concern back then, and that this may have occurred before the building codes were in effect. Eventually the supervisors stated that building without a site plan was a concern, but even if they were concerned there was nothing they could do legally about it. They did agree to put this in the letter.
A woman at the meeting reported some news which might make most of this discussion irrelevant. Having reportedly spoken to Mr. Callahan at DEP, she reported that B&S's new application had been sent back to them as incomplete. Now, if the administrative order is followed as understood, the organization may be required to begin reclamation and be forbidden to submit another application for large non-coal mining at that site. A letter of ceasement is reportedly being sent.
Aside from quarry news, a small contingency was present to ask about sewage enforcement officers, asking if two candidates could be presented and township residents allowed choose which SEO they use. One of those present stated that the current SEO will not be allowed on her property, regardless. The supervisors agreed to take that under consideration.
Bradco Supply Co. won the bid for the street signs necessary for the 911 project. The order has not been placed yet, and so residents could still come forth and get the price quoted in the bid.
The Jeremiah Wolfe property has nothing going on with it, and the equipment there has been pulled out of the site. There are still a few violations reported with the erosion and sediment plan.
At 8:35 on Tuesday June 17, the Elk Lake and SCCTC school board had not yet moved past the second item on the first meeting's agenda. This uncommon occurrence was due to two executive sessions within that first hour and a half, and a somewhat lengthy discussion over the hot topic of the night – transportation costs. Several of the district's contractors attended the meeting to ask the board what could be done to compensate for the increasing costs of fuel, and to express their concerns over soon being unable to continue to operate.
At a previous meeting, the district had divided $20,000 amongst the contractors, as a fuel allotment. This worked out to roughly 5 cents a mile, per contractor. Those present, while seemingly appreciative of this assistance, did not feel it to be enough as costs continue to rise. One woman quoted her operation cost of a few years ago as $24,000, by the past year it had jumped to $52,000, and she was projecting with the current gas prices a total of over $70,000 in the year to come. This is without late runs. A man present said that for him, personally, it would not be worth continuing to be a contractor if relief was not forthcoming.
The board and administration responded to concerns with sympathy and a desire to assist drivers. Some present had recently attended a legislative meeting at Blue Ridge, at which transportation costs were a principal topic. One stated that he had gotten the idea at the meeting that legislators had not, before the meeting, realized the impact on districts, and suggested that a letter be sent to them to take to their transportation committee. It is hoped that they might be able to reimburse the school more. Dr. Bush had crafted such a letter and asked for the board members and all of the school's contractors to sign it. He pointed out that a school which could not attract contractors would have difficulty getting students to school. Mr. Emmerich pointed out that if relief could not be received from the state, it would have to come from taxpayers. It was suggested that if more contractors could get set numbers to include with the letter, this might be effective.
After this discussion, Mr. Sible made a motion to provide an additional 6 cents a mile to the district's contractors, stating that this would bring Elk Lake about on a par with the relief offered by other districts. He commented on how safe the drivers for Elk Lake were. The motion was seconded. At this time, however, the second executive session was called, and when the public meeting reconvened, the motion was withdrawn. The matter was tabled until the July meeting, with the board asking for as many figures on costs and changes in costs as possible from contractors before July 8. The request was for fuel cost, not the price of buses, etc., which it was discussed, is also on the rise due to emissions regulations. The board stated that it desired to come up with a feasible solution and not just a band-aid, which it was implied the original motion would have been.
When the transportation matter was finally concluded for the time being, other business proceeded. The board approved a concurrent agreement to expand the district's dual enrollment program. The dual enrollment program began in the area of French, and was expanded to include physics, principals of technology, and trigonometry. It was hoped that the program could be expanded further with the inclusion of Lackawanna College into the system (the district currently has an agreement with LCCC, and may also work with Keystone College). Ryan Stalker, a representative of Lackawanna, attended the meeting and spoke of his institution's desire to inspire students in Susquehanna County to continue on to college. The program functions by having students in high school classrooms, using that school's educators and materials, learning at the college level and receiving college credit for perhaps as low as $100/credit. A grant has been applied for in an attempt to offset even this cost. These credits can then be transferred to other institutions, with the potential of maybe accounting for up to a year of college study. A letter was planned to go home explaining the program, and Lackawanna College spoke of conducting its own information night apart from the district.
The district also approved another agreement, this one with Energy Education, Inc. The program, which was described positively, and about which Mr. Place stated he was quite excited, estimates that the district could save more than a million dollars over the next 10 years at no cost to the district. The company guarantees that a district will realize savings equal to or greater than its expenses, or they will reimburse the difference. In order for the program to succeed, the staff would have to learn about energy conservation, and an energy educator would be appointed.
Mrs. Anderson, physical education instructor at the secondary school, made a presentation to the board about the past and future of Elk Lake gym class. Between 1982 and 1985 the district had incorporated CPR training into its curriculum, but this practice was ceased when the spread of HIV made the use of mannequins more complicated. A few years ago the program was reinstated, and this past spring the number of certified students in adult CPR neared roughly 300. The district is looking to continue to add lifetime activities into the program in order to foster general student wellness even after they leave the district. Towards this end, programs have been incorporated such as Jr. Kayak day and a trip for senior girls to the Shadowbrook facility. Next year the district hopes to continue this movement, through allowing boys to join the Shadowbrook trip, attempts at coordinating a snowshoe day, the use of computer labs for fitness related activities, the addition of a textbook, and a potential geocache activity. For this last event students would use handheld GPS units to find an object. This year sledding was piloted, with reported success. Mrs. Anderson spoke of these activities as ways in which students could forget the hard work of exercise. She also proposed having more days of physical education, giving her opinion that a fit society needs to start in the schools.
The school administrators outlined various recent positive accomplishments. A student at Elk Lake recently received a write-up in the Community Foundation Magazine when her graduation project found continuation through the philanthropy of an anonymous donor. The project involved an autism support group, and Dr. Cuomo spoke very highly of both Holly and her work. The recent graduations, which were described as having gone well, saw 97 graduates from Elk Lake, and 97 from the SCCTC. The elementary school helped to bring over three thousand dollars in as donations to Jump Rope for Heart. Fourth and fifth grade students with perfect attendance were able to attend a Yankees baseball game with the principal.
Dr. Cuomo received an e-mail with another accolade for the secondary school in particular. Elk Lake is part of the High Schools That Work network, which includes over 1100 high schools total. As part of membership, the senior class of the schools must take part in an exam, etc. every two years. This year Elk Lake was chosen for a Golden Achievement Award, one of only 16 such award recipients in the country. To receive this designation, the district must meet readiness goals in English, math, and science, show measurable improvement from the last assessment, meet AYP, and satisfy other requirements.
Graduation project changes were proposed at the meeting. If passed, these alterations would involve three main areas: 1.) deadlines, which would be accelerated for juniors (who apparently complain that they have too much time), 2.) outside work hours, the seniors would need to do 20 hours of work outside of school rather than fifteen, and 3.) the assessment rubric, which would be renovated. No action was taken at the meeting.
HARRISBURG – Reps. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) and Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) announced that the Susquehanna County COG Sewage Committee is slated to receive a grant totaling $161,100 under the Department of Environmental Protection’s Sewage Facilities Enforcement Grant program.
“Grants like these ensure that our residents have sewage facilities and septic systems that have been properly permitted and installed,” Pickett said. “The need for better environmental management has made the state’s commitment to help municipalities maintain and expand their sewage disposal systems that much more important.”
“Maintaining sewage facilities is often a very costly affair, and this grant will help facilitate the needed upgrades,” added Major. “Pennsylvania’s natural beauty is one of its most important natural resources. Helping cash-strapped local governments to protect our environment is a great use of state resources.”
The grant money will be used to reimburse 50 percent of the sewage committee’s eligible expenses for performing the sewage enforcement provisions of Act 537 of 1966, the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act.
The Sewage Facilities Act requires local agencies to administer a permitting program for the installation of septic systems. The purpose of the program is to establish uniform standards to prevent outbreaks of public health and environmental problems from substandard or malfunctioning septic systems. Properly functioning septic systems treat, distribute and dispose of sewage through a clean, economic and efficient process.
Eric J. and Heidi Clark (AKA) Heidi M. Parmelee to Heidi M. Parmelee, in Montrose for one dollar.
Carol A. Hathaway (NKA) Carol Hathaway Ludington to Carol Hathaway Ludington, in Little Meadows Borough for one dollar.
Ronna, Mark and Donald Salansky and Kimberly Salansky Kerr to Donald and Deborah Salansky, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Kevin C., Craig J. and Kellie Ann McGinnis (NBM) Kellie Ann Jakaitis and Robert J. Grimes (Estate) to Candis McGinnis Finan, in Herrick Township for $47,500.00.
Robert and Dorothy Gaydosh Tedesco to Nancy Underwood, in Uniondale Borough for one dollar.
Ronna Salansky to Donald and Deborah Salansky, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Ronna Salansky to Mark and Theresa Salansky, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Thomas and Ann Marie Janezic to Thomas P. Janezic, in Forest City for one dollar.
Anthony and Maureen Maloney to Anthony and Maureen Maloney, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Julie Hanyon to Frank Kochmer and Gay Rose Benio, in Lenox Township for $53,405.81.
Kevin B. and Florence Gail Harvey (AKA) Florence Gail Conklin to Kevin B. Harvey, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Elsie J. Jones to Ronald A. and Diane Jones and Elaine M. and Robert E. Nealy, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Edward B. Mudrak to Anthony C. and Olivia Stellitano, in Gibson Township for $270,000.00.
Elizabeth Ryan to Stanley T. and Barbara J. Meleski, in Friendsville Borough for $500.00.
Margaret C. (By Sheriff) and Patrick Foster (By Sheriff AKA) Pat Foster to Forest City Nursing & Rehab Center, in Uniondale Borough for $1,628.12.
Barbara Brown (NBM) Barbara Bedford and James Bedford to Bradley J. Mead, in Lanesboro Borough for one dollar.
Thomas P. and Lauren J. English to Thomas P. English, in Silver Lake Township for $10.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Clarence and Mildred Sayles, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.
William Tennat to Joseph W. Tripp, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Wayne E. Bradley to HL Bradley Farm, Inc., in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Angelo Ventresca, Jr. (Estate) to Kenneth Diphillips, Donna Fassler, Diane Koloski and Angelo Ventresca, II, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Angelo Ventresca, Jr. (Estate) to Kenneth Diphillips, Donna Fassler, Diane Koloski, Angelo, II and Judith Ventresca, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Cathleen C. Case (By Sheriff) to Dissinger & Wolfe LLC, in Hallstead Borough for $50,000.00.
Robert C. and Dorothy A. Canfield to Scott R. Grill, in New Milford Borough for $130,000.00.
William J. and Alberta Norton (Est AKA) Alberta H. Norton to Wayde Williams, in Lenox Township for $49,184.00.
Emmett A. and Clara A. Caterina to Joseph R., Frances H. and John E. Caterina, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Julie A. and John Lepre to Julie A. Lepre and Nelson N. Rhodes, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Northeast Land Trust to Julie A. Lepre, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Paiman Karim and Elena Amelina, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Lawrence M., Candice D., Sean, Anthony and Crystal Vaglica, in Herrick Township for $2,995.00.
Dennis S. and Marie A. Foltz to James F. Kaeser and Leo M. Ryan, in Forest Lake Township for $29,131.33.
Richard and Jill Weida to Scott A. and Mandy L. Weida, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Lauretta A. Button (NKA) Lauretta A. Ralston to Lauretta A. Button, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
James Leon Webster to Dale G. Webster, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Janice A. Webster to Dale G. Webster, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Dale G. and Lori J. Webster to Dale G. Webster, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Robert L. and Janet S. D. Andersen to Robert L. Andersen (Estate), in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Lake Forest Developers LP to T. Jerome Madison, in Lathrop Township for $439,455.00.
Lake Forest Developers LP to T. Jerome Madison, in Lathrop Township for $97,867.00.
Raymond A. and Rebecca A. Znidarsich to Christopher G. and Tara J. Rodriguez, in Silver Lake Township for $95,400.00.
Richard F. and Corina S. Hadlick (AKA By Tr) Corina S. Nier to Travis L. and Paula J. Sweeney, in New Milford Township for $170,000.00.
Anne M. Heitsman to Anne M., Douglas R. and Joann Heitsman, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Nicholas and Jennifer J. Farley and Valerie W. Kinney to Darren Small, in Forest Lake Township for $75,903.00.
Robert and Lila M. Wallace to Robert, Sr. and Lila M. Wallace, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Robert, Sr. and Lila M. Wallace to Robert, Sr. and Lila M. Wallace, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Robert, II and Michelle Wallace to Robert, II and Michelle Wallace, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Robert and Lila M. Wallace to Robert J., II and Michelle Wallace, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Robert (AKA) Robert, Sr. and Lila M. Wallace to Robert (AKA) Robert, Sr. and Lila M. Wallace, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Swantje B. Edwards to Christine E. Benjamin and Kishan J. Zuber, in Liberty Township for $160,000.00.
Furia A. (AKA) Furia (Estate), Joseph (Estate), Merri J. and Nicholas Markovitch to Nicholas and Merri J. Markovitch, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Furia A. (AKA) Furia (Estate), Joseph (Estate), Merri J. and Nicholas Markovitch to Nicholas and Merri J. Markovitch, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Furia A. (AKA) Furia (AKA) Furia E. (Estate) and Merri J. Markovitch to Merri J. Markovitch, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Douglas Buckman and Laurie Sue Ross, both of Hallstead.
Barry M. Wallace, Jr. and Heather N. Carpenter, both of Great Bend.
Albert C. Shaulis, Jr. and Rachelle McGowan, both of Montrose.
Justin Douglas Radicci and Lindsay Allison Lavigne, both of Great Bend.
Tony Raymond Clark and Jennifer L. Harrington, both of Springville.
Joseph Patrick Natale of Hallstead vs. Jennifer Lynn Natale of Bangor, PA, married 2002.
Sheri L. Miles of Montrose vs. Timothy Miles of Falls, PA.
Due to the Fourth of July holiday, deadline for the issue of July 9 will be Thursday, July 3, at noon. The Transcript offices will be closed on Friday, July 4.
Hallstead Boro Council discussed several property problems at their June 19 meeting. The first was the old school building, where the grass is so overgrown it was said to be ready for “haying.” There is some question of who the current owner is; once that is determined, he/she will be sent a letter asking that the grass and broken windows be taken care of, and what they intend to do with the property. A copy of the boro’s nuisance ordinance will be enclosed. If it is not taken care of, the boro does have the option of having it mowed and billing the owner for the cost.
Another property discussed was the former Wilbur property, which the boro now owns through the flood buyout program. It, too, needs to be mowed but a walk-through will be done first, to see if there are areas where care should be taken when it is mowed (fallen logs, etc.). And, there is a tree that has overgrown the power lines; Penelec will be contacted about that.
And, Mayor Canfield reported receiving several complaints about drivers using what is boro property adjacent to one of the boro’s parks. If it is being used as a driveway, grass will not grow, and there have been reports of people using the “driveway” to park their cars in the park at night to party. No action will be taken for the time being, other than to speak to the owner of a business adjacent to the park, to see if he can deter customers from using the “driveway.”
Stones will be placed near the pavilion at the small Route 11 park, to keep vehicles from driving past the parking area onto the grass.
Several areas where creative graffiti has been put on boro property will be painted over.
Martin Brown was to bring a sewer camera in the following day, so that some storm pipes where there have been problems can be checked.
Picnic tables have been placed at both pavilions at the Route 11 parks.
A motion carried to accept the county’s hazard mitigation plan.
Secretary Cindy Gillespie will attend a county EMA meeting on public (disaster) assistance on July 30 in Montrose.
A subdivision plan for the Davis property was approved; a small strip of land is being sold to the adjacent neighbor.
Good news was reported; the boro’s workmen’s compensation insurance premium has been reduced by $5,000; it was noted that it had increased last year by that amount.
And, the Pennsylvania American Water Co. has notified council that a backflow prevention device needs to be installed at the boro building.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, July 17, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
An unknown person stole the starter and batteries from a Caterpillar 973 bulldozer belonging to Keith Meagley of Susquehanna. The bulldozer was located in a field off SR1009 in Harmony Twp. at the time.
Sometime between the 15th and 16th of June, one or more unknown perpetrator(s) entered the Elk Lake Fire Hall in Dimock Twp. and removed a green colored combination safe containing money. The investigation is continuing.
On June 14 at around 11 p.m., Tyler Kernan was traveling southbound on SR 0167 when he failed to negotiate a right-hand curve, exited the roadway off the east berm, and struck several rocks before coming to a rest. The incident occurred on State Hwy. 167 at Chenango St. in Bridgewater, Twp. Kernan was wearing his seatbelt, and was not injured.
A tool box and tools was removed from the unoccupied residence of Paul Gorden of Lawton, OK. The residence is located on Riverside Drive, off Damascus Street in Oakland Twp.
On June 17, two 10' wide green cattle gates that were on posts were removed from the property of Debra Marvin on Park Place Rd. in Jackson Twp.
On June 14, one or more unknown persons slashed the tire of a white 2000 Pontiac Sunfire belonging to Bryan Burnett of Great Bend. The locking mechanism on the driver side door was also damaged. The incident occurred while the vehicle was parked in the parking lot of the Blue Ridge High School, while the victim was attending his high school graduation.
PSP is looking for information on a reported theft of gas from the Ho Mart located on SR 492, off the 81 exit for New Milford. Reportedly, a woman operating a purple Honda Coupe made a small purchase in the store and requested that the rest of her money go towards fuel. The woman then went outside and pulled up to another pump and dispensed 10 extra gallons into her tank before fleeing southbound on SR 81. The incident reportedly occurred on June 14 at 8:55 p.m.
On April 10 State Police were dispatched to the Capwell residence in Brackney for a medical emergency. While there, drug paraphernalia was discovered within the residence and the owner, Joshua Capwell, was arrested.
On May 30, State Police responded to the Whritenour residence in Oakland Township for a reported incident. While conducting the investigation, it was discovered that Kimberly Elliot of Lanesboro was in possession of drug paraphernalia; she was arrested.
At 1 p.m. on June 11, Mabel New of New Milford was involved in a verbal argument with an unnamed 13-year old female, which escalated into a physical confrontation. Each subjected the other to physical contact, neither required treatment. Both were charged with harassment at Magisterial District Court in New Milford.
On June 15, at around 10:30 p.m., an unnamed perpetrator (name withheld due to investigation) followed an unnamed 16-year old male (unnamed due to age) northbound on SR 11 in his vehicle. The accused proceeded to throw items at the victim's vehicle. The victim stopped his vehicle in front of a house, whereat the accused exited his own vehicle, approached the victim, and struck him about the left eye. The accused then fled the scene when a third party witness intervened. Charges are pending for violations of PACC.
ASSAULT, RECKLESS ENDANGERING
On June 15 at around 2:35 a.m., Scott Wheeler of Susquehanna reports that he was followed from P.J. O’hare's Bar in Oakland Twp., through Susquehanna on SR 171, and into Harmony Twp. Several times throughout the trip his vehicle was run off the roadway. Four white males followed Wheeler to his residence, where three of them proceeded to engage him in a physical altercation.
Sometime during the night of June 13, a silver metal mailbox belonging to Helena Arbosheski of Montrose was stolen from her home in Forest Lake Twp.
On June 13, Jamie Heaman of Great Bend had in her possession a blue camcorder prior to PSP responding. Heaman stated that the camcorder would be gone when the police arrived. Heaman will be charged with theft at district court 34-3-02.
On June 13, a vehicle driven by John Puza of Nicholson was eastbound on SR 2021. Puza failed to negotiate a right-hand curve, exited the road off the north berm, and struck some trees and rocks. Puzo's vehicle then reentered the roadway and rolled onto its roof. Puzo was transported via ambulance to CMC in Scranton, PA for treatment. The investigation is continuing.
On May 3, police arrived at a residence on SR 92 in Oakland Township, and detected the odor of marijuana. Kimberly Elliot admitted to smoking marijuana and provided the item to the state trooper.
On June 5 at 12:52 a.m., Lee Bonner was stopped for a traffic violation at Pine Street and New York Ave. in Hallstead Borough. As a result of the stop the accused was arrested for D.U.I. Charges were filed at District Court 34-3-02.
Between the 2nd and 3rd of June, Suburban Septic of Kirkwood reports, someone stole two green port-a-johns from a field off SR 171 in Oakland Twp. during the night.
On June 10, Fred Visser of Great Bend reported discovering a Sirius brand radio and computer supply cord stolen from within his vehicle parked on Church Street. On the same day, same street, Ralph Pomeroy reported discovering that a black iPod model #147LL-A, a 60 gigabit electronic device, and five dollars in change were stolen from his vehicle. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
Between the 7th and 8th of June, one or more unknown person(s) reportedly popped the lock on a trailer owned by John Mitchell of Shavertown and stole multiple hand tools used for construction. The vehicle was located at the time on SR 3009 at the Susquehanna/Wyoming County Line in Auburn Twp.
Between the 6th and 7th of June, the debit card number belonging to Allen Davis of Susquehanna was used in Bangkok, Thailand.
Many summer improvements are in the works for the Susquehanna Community School District campus; the board approve a list of projects at their June 18 meeting. A new sidewalk for the elementary building, work on the parking area near the tennis courts, a phone system upgrade, improvements to the electrical system, and retiling of the high school kitchen will all be completed during the summer break. And, the new Internet 2 antenna is 27’ too short, its signal is not full strength. It will be extended to a height of 130’.
The Trip Boro Municipal Authority has donated a specialized camera to the science lab, in memory of employee Larry Travis.
Preliminary AYP data has been released, with final data to be released July 1. Superintendent Stone said that he is pleased with the growth shown in the information received.
The summer school program is set to begin shortly, and the faculty is already making preparations for the next school year. In-service days are scheduled for the faculties of both buildings. A Primary Emotional Support program will allow students who had been sent to other districts to return to this one, and will result in a savings of about $60,000 for the district. Both buildings will be getting a top-to-bottom cleaning during the summer.
The final budget was approved, in the amount of $13,573,264, an increase of 2.27 percent over last year’s. The two main factors attributing to the increase are the increase in fuel costs, and retirement incentives (ten employees are retiring this year). The state has begun releasing gambling revenue, which will be passed on to qualifying taxpayers as tax reductions of about $319 for each homestead/farmstead exemption (it will be seen as a tax credit, and not a cash “rebate” as some district residents seem to think). Also approved was a tax anticipation loan in the amount of one million dollars at 2.82%, and investment of the proceeds of the loan at a rate of 3.5%. With the state budget not yet approved, basic education subsidies have not been released; 70% of the district’s funding for basic education comes from those subsidies. Many districts routinely obtain tax anticipation loans to tide them over until those funds are released.
A gas lease was approved with Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC for the school’s 79.8 acres, at $2,550 per acres for a fixed, eight-year term and possible royalties of 16%. There were a number of addendums to the agreement to protect the integrity of the campus, with minimum drilling distances from the buildings, drilling to be done primarily during the summer months, and no crew access to the inside of the district’s buildings.
Other items approved were contracts with Tri-County Human Services and Lackawanna Human Development Agency for the 2008-09 school year, and transportation contracts for the summer school.
Resignations were accepted for Ben Hibbard, Student Council Advisor; William Moser, Assistant Drama Director; John Ord, Newspaper Advisor, and board member Mary Wescott (effective July 31). The board meeting scheduled for August 6 has been rescheduled for July 23; the board vacancy will be advertised immediately, with an appointment to be made at the September meeting. The vacancy is for Region I, which covers Oakland Boro, Oakland Township, and Lanesboro Boro.
Three staff transfers were approved, Mary Fancher from K-5 to fifth grade; Leeann Rhone from fifth grade to K-5; and Dori Chervanka from sixth grade to elementary technology teacher (one year only).
Hiring of summer school staff was approved, as well as the following: Kathleen Maier, high school science; Michael Matis, high school technology (one year only); Brent Soden, high school social studies; Mary Ann Glover, elementary teacher; Jill Holleran, elementary teacher; Raymond Testa, Jr., elementary teacher; and Karen Armitage, elementary teacher (one year only).
Susquehanna Depot Borough Council was granted permission to hold their October meetings in the high school cafeteria, as they were last year. The annual Harvest of the Arts is given use of the boro building for exhibits at that time.
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 Jack Downton.
1. Mr. Downton served as Mayor from November 2006 to present (January 3, 2008). Mr. Downton also served on the Deposition Committee during his time as Mayor in 2007. Mr. Downton stated that the depositions were supposedly for the mishandling of the $5,054.00. Mr. Downton testified that once Mr. Gurske received the information regarding the $5,054.00 there was no need to spend the taxpayers’ money. Mr. Downton further testified that Mr. Gurske received the information pertaining to the $5,054.00 prior to April, 2007. Mr. Downton also testified that he himself sat in on the Borough Secretary, Laura Travis' deposition. Mr. Downton testified that he was not satisfied with Laura Travis' explanation of the $5,000.00. Mr. Downton further testified that he was not sure that the borough did not have a financial loss due to the fact that the $5,000.00 was not transferred for eight months.
2. Mr. Downton testified that he was not sure whether or not Mr. Gurske was within his rights pertaining to disseminating the copies of borough checks (both front and back) of third parties. Mr. Downton testified that while he was on the Deposition Committee, he visited Mr. Gurske but did not meet with other Deposition Committee members. Furthermore, Mr. Downton testified that he went to visit Mr. Gurske two or three times while serving on the Deposition Committee.
3. Mr. Downton testified that he visited Mr. Everett's house at least twelve times from the beginning of 2006 through the beginning of 2008. Mr. Downton testified to the fact that Mr. Everett had contacted him in December, 2006 concerning what Mr. Everett felt was a discrepancy in the $5,054.00, and Mr. Everett asked Mr. Downton to stop by his residence to take a look at it. Mr. Downton further testified that Mr. Everett informed Mr. Downton that he (Mr. Everett) was in possession of borough bank records.
4. Mr. Downton testified to the fact that he was adversarial with borough council in returning the money to PEMA/FEMA for the Shadigee Creek wall project, even though a letter (Travis - exhibit 2) from PEMA dated September 6, 2006 de-obligated the funding. Mr. Downton testified that Starrucca Borough is presently the property owner of the Shadigee Creek wall and, furthermore, that it is documented on a DEP report. Mr. Downton further testified that he received a copy of the D.E.P. report from Bill Manner and currently has same in his possession. However, Mr. Downton never provided any documentation stating that Starrucca Borough owns the Shadigee Creek wall. This D.E.P. report is a violation letter against Starrucca Borough. Mr. Downton also testified that Mr. Manner informed him that if Starrucca Borough did not remove the T-Wall, then Starrucca Borough would not receive the GP11 for the Buck Road Bridge.
5. Mr. Downton testified that he disagreed with borough council about sending the money back to PEMA/FEMA for the Shadigee Creek wall project after it was de-obligated. Mr. Downton testified that he saw the de-obligation letter for lack of ownership (Travis - exhibit 2). Mr. Downton testified that a different agency did the Shadigee Creek wall project in 1996 (NRCS). Mr. Downton testified that he accused certain members of borough council of improprieties (Laura Travis, Darl Haynes, Kirk Rhone and Tony Palonis).
6. Mr. Downton testified that he was hired by Starrucca Borough in 2005 to perform PEMA/FEMA work on borough roads. Mr. Downton testified that he complained to different agencies about Darl Haynes concerning wrongdoing on Darl Haynes' part. However, when questioned by the borough solicitor, Ronald Bugaj, what agencies, Mr. Downton just stated that with the investigations going on, let's leave the matter alone. When the borough solicitor continued to question Mr. Downton about which particular agencies he complained to about Darl Haynes's wrongdoing, Mr. Downton never provided the borough solicitor with any agencies. The borough solicitor further asked Mr. Downton why he would complain about Darl Haynes to these agencies, and all Mr. Downton would state is that it was for the best interest of Starrucca Borough. Mr. Downton further testified that no agencies informed him to keep all information given to him confidential. Mr. Downton testified that he never brought anything to the attention of Starrucca Borough Council regarding himself contacting agencies with regards to the wrongdoing of Darl Haynes. Mr. Downton further testified that he supplied agencies with information concerning Darl Haynes in 2006 and 2007.
7. Mr. Downton testified that he attended a deposition after his resignation from the Deposition Committee. Mr. Downton testified that other than the attorney's fees for Starrucca Borough, he knows of no other financial loss to Starrucca Borough as of January 3, 2008. Mr. Downton testified that as mayor of Starrucca Borough, the borough finances were one of his duties. Mr. Downton testified that the borrowing of $70,000.00 was performed improperly. Mr. Downton testified that Mr. Rhone withheld information from him. Mr. Downton testified (January, 2007) that the only incident of any wrongdoing to be investigated was the $5,054.00. Mr. Downton further testified that everything is tied into the $5,054.00. Mr. Downton testified that one of the duties of mayor is to report wrongdoing to council and any agencies that are involved and would be of assistance. Mr. Downton testified that he objected to Buck Road Bridge after Starrucca Borough Council approved the project.
8. Mr. Downton testified that he was not surprised that Mr. Gurske and Mr. Everett voted for Miller Brothers Excavating for PEMA/FEMA roadwork in 2005, since it was the only bid. However, Mr. Downton testified that he never brought this issue to the attention of borough solicitor at the time, Michael Lehutsky, or borough auditors in 2005. Mr. Downton testified that he was aware of DEEC (DClD) approving the $70,000.00 loan. Mr. Downton further testified that he questioned the borough secretary-treasurer, Laura Travis, about using the FEMA monies for the Shadigee Creek Wall project as the asset for a loan base. Mr. Downton also testified that although the state informed him that the $70,000,00 loan was approved, he informed the state that certain council members of Starrucca Borough acted improperly in borrowing the $70,000.00. Mr. Downton testified that he requested the attorney's bills because he felt the depositions were turning into a witch hunt, and he sent a letter to Starrucca Borough to find out the reasoning for the manipulation of the $5,054,00. Mr. Downton also testified that he did not believe Mr. Gurske would benefit from the Shadigee Creek wall project as a direct private landowner. Mr. Downton testified that he showed Mr. Robert Muller a letter from PEMA/FEMA de-obligating the money for the Shadigee Creek wall (Travis - exhibit 2R February 22, 2007). Mr. Downton testified that he asked Mr. Christopher Kulich of the DEP to send the DEP correspondence to him and provided him with the 6 Downton Drive mailing address even though it was a correspondence concerning Starrucca Borough business. Mr. Downton testified that he asked the Starrucca Borough solicitor, Ronald Bugaj, to obtain an injunction against Starrucca Borough Council, (the same people who hired Attorney Bugaj. Mr. Downton testified that he made an inquiry of Starrucca Borough's Secretary-Treasurer, Laura Travis to the postal system and received a complaint form, Mr. Downton testified that after he received the complaint form he filed a complaint with the postal system against Ms. Travis. Later on, Mr. Downton would turn this complaint in as part of his deposition. Mr. Downton further testified that what he felt to be improper opening of mail of borough secretary-treasurer, Laura Travis was a borough issue. Mr. Downton testified that he never sent a check for copies to the borough secretary-treasurer, Laura Travis. Mr. Downton further testified that he was asking for copies of materials pertaining to the Buck Road bridge, solicitor bills and the Shadigee Creek wall project.
Mr. Downton testified that "Mr. Kulich wants to work with me" and further stating "I have bought the borough a couple of months due to weather conditions" (Downton exhibit 1, January 3, 2008). Downton exhibit 1 also states that Mayor Downton was the responsible person with regard to the T-Wall in Shadigee Creek wall with notice to the DEP.
9. It is the Committee's conclusion that Mr. Downton made accusations of wrongdoing against Secretary-Treasurer Laura Travis pertaining to the $5,054.00 without providing any documentation to validate any wrongdoing.
It is further our conclusion that although Mr. Downton testified that once Mr. Gurske received the information on the $5,054,00, there was no need to continue the depositions; furthermore, Mr. Downton did proceed to go to government agencies with borough issues.
It is the committee's conclusion that although Mr. Downton stated that he was not aware of the fact that Mr. Gurske was within his rights pertaining to disseminating copies of borough checks (both front and back), Mr. Downton never brought this issue to the council's attention, the borough solicitor or government agencies.
It is our conclusion that Mr. Downton did not establish that the borough had a financial loss since the $5,054.00 was not transferred for eight months. It is further our conclusion that although (Travis exhibit 2, February 22, 2007) de-obligates the money due to it being private property, Mr. Downton was against reluming the money.
It is the committee's conclusion according to (Downton exhibit 1, January 3, 2008), Mr. Downton attempted to work with the DEP directly regarding the T-Wall violation and withheld information from borough council regarding same. It is further noted that Jack Downtown was aware that in order to obtain the GP 11 Permit from the DEP on the Buck Road bridge, the T-Wall violation needed to be satisfied.
It is our conclusion that Mr. Downton provided no documentation to support his accusations against Laura Travis, Tony Palonis, Kirk Rhone and Darl Haynes. Furthermore, Mr. Downton provided no documentation to borough council or the borough solicitor pertaining to information shared with agencies concerning certain borough members and their improper conduct.
It is the committee's conclusion that Mr. Downton went way beyond the duties of mayor and interfered with borough council and borough business. Furthermore, the committee feels that Mr. Downtown overstepped his boundaries and authority when he asked Starrucca Borough Solicitor Ronald Bugaj, to get an injunction against the loan for Buck Road bridge.
The committee finds that Mr. Downton 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. Downton 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 further recommends that the costs of said investigation be borne by Mr. Downton.
With the proliferation of gas drilling going on in and around Susquehanna County and more sure to come, its effect on roads was discussed again at the June 17 COG meeting. At their April meeting, that had been discussed, particularly how to deal with any damage that might be caused by truck traffic over and above normal. The consensus at that time had been that the best way to approach the problem was to negotiate directly with the drilling companies, as most were more than willing to compensate in one way or another for any damage that might be incurred.
On this evening, Mark Keklak, the Municipal Services Supervisor for PennDOT, said that not all reports about such compensation were good. One township in nearby Bradford County saw approximately $600,000 in damage from the drilling operation; its roads were all but destroyed. At one Susquehanna County site, the equipment being used includes a rig that weighs over 100,000 pounds. His feeling was that posting and bonding is a municipality’s only protection against any damage that might occur. However, posting and bonding requires that an engineering study be completed first, which could be costly; there were various reports about what fees engineering firms were charging for this service and some were said to be exorbitant. Since the “study” consists largely of a checklist that asks for soil samples and statistical data (length, width, depth, bridges, etc.), his feeling was that his department would be qualified to provide the information. This is one topic that he will be bringing up for discussion at a posting and bonding seminar slated to be held in Lycoming County at the end of July. It will be attended by members of PSATS, LTAP, Penn State, DEP, and the Conservation District. He promised to bring information back to COG after the seminar. He wants to be able to do the engineering studies, he said, to keep the cost affordable.
One of the group’s members asked if COG should consider requiring some sort of permit, so that municipalities would know when the drilling operations are coming in, and where; it would at least provide some sort of notification. Another suggestion was to require some sort of driveway permit when land usage is changed, for example, from farmland to a quarry.
It was agreed that suggestions should be brought to the next meeting for further discussion.
Another of the group’s members asked if oversized trucks are required to have permits. There had been instances where doublewide homes were being trucked through New Milford Boro at speeds well above the limit. The vehicles were so wide, other cars had to pull off the road or onto lawns to let it get by. Mr. Keklak said that they do need a permit from PennDOT; most likely they were traveling through the boro because of construction on I-81.
In other business, correspondence included an invitation to attend the annual PACOG conference in Pittsburgh, August 1-3; the theme topic will be gambling in Pennsylvania.
The building committee reported that the lot purchased for COG’s new home has been mowed to prepare for putting in a driveway. The utility lines that cross the driveway are somewhat low and would be quite expensive to move. A meeting has been held with an architect to discuss a proposal for the new building design.
Municipal members of COG Sewage have been sent a letter requesting that any planning modules for subdivision they may receive be marked, “sewage planning must be addressed prior to approval” so that COG is aware when subdivisions have been approved.
The Codes committee reported that COG has received a request from Building Inspection Underwriters for an increase in permit fees for residential homes, additions, and commercial projects. Smaller projects that only require one or two inspection visits will not be affected. The increase, if approved would result in a $50 increase or so for an average building. BIU cited increases in the costs of gasoline and health insurance as the reason for their request. BIU has been working with COG since 2004, and this is the first increase they have requested. It was agreed that the request should be discussed with COG’s municipal members before it is voted on; it will be brought up for discussion at next month’s meeting.
And, members received the first permit reports issued in the new database COG is now using. All permits, sewage and building, issued since the first of the year are included in the reports. Members were encouraged to call the office with any questions they might have, or with suggestions of items to include in future reports that are not already included.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 15, 7:00 p.m. at the COG offices in the New Milford Boro building.
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