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A number of important topics were discussed at length at the June 24 Susquehanna Boro Council meeting, but the one that is sure to get the most attention from residents is their decision to enact an ordinance revision that will ban street parking throughout the boro, all year-round. Exceptions will be made for customers patronizing boro businesses during normal business hours, and for special needs, such as funerals, etc., but for the most part vehicles will not be allowed to be parked on any boro streets at any time.
Council member Bill Kuiper was credited with the idea. “He brought forth an intelligent question, and came up with an intelligent solution,” fellow councilman Dave Scales said. Mr. Scales said that the main reason for the ordinance was the difficulty emergency responders have getting trucks through the boro’s narrow streets when they respond to an emergency. Also cited were the difficulties faced by plow trucks getting through during snow conditions. Mr. Kuiper said, “These streets were designed for horse-and-buggy, not big fire trucks. We’ve (all) just got to ‘bite the bullet’... no more parking.” The increasing number of vehicles owned by residents, and, Mayor Reddon said, some of those owners’ unwillingness to park in their driveways or garages add to the problem. All were aware that this ordinance would not be popular with boro residents. Council President Mike Matis asked, “Is it going to be enforced?” Mr. Kuiper responded, “It better be... once it gets passed, it will be enforced.” A motion carried to proceed with the steps needed to enact the ordinance, as quickly as possible. The motion was unanimous (council members Bill Iveson and Allen Wolf were not present at the meeting). It will be sent to the solicitor for review and advertised, and, Mr. Kuiper hoped, brought up for a vote to enact it at next month’s meeting.
Another important topic was gas leasing; specifically, leasing the boro’s riverfront and Prospect Street park properties. John Cucci, an Independent Landman representing Chesapeake Energy, was present at the invitation of Mr. Matis to answer questions. He explained that leased properties were placed in a “pool,” and royalties distributed accordingly to property owners. The percentages of those royalties were determined by geologists, according to where the gas is. As the boro’s properties are parks, those would be handled differently to ensure the safety of those using them. One well can pull gas from as many as 640 acres, so there is a possibility that drilling may not be necessary on the property itself, but the boro would receive royalties from the gas extracted. And the boro would receive the sign-on bonus, regardless of whether or not the drilling was actually done on the boro’s property.
Boro Solicitor Myron DeWitt said that he had looked over a copy of the lease, and had some minor suggestions. Because this does involve municipal property, leasing it will need to be put out to bid. Once the bid is accepted, the boro does have the option to negotiate addendums.
Council had some questions, such as where complaints should be directed once the operations begin; they felt that questions and concerns should be referred to Chesapeake, rather than to council. And, Mr. Perry asked about those property owners within the boro who were not eligible for leases; wouldn’t they, effectively, be having gas removed from beneath their properties without receiving royalties? Mr. Cucci said that according to state law, if there was no lease, they would not be entitled to royalties. Some smaller parcels may qualify if their location warrants it, for example, if they are located in the middle of contiguous, larger properties that do qualify for lease; they would then be added to the “pool” of properties. (Reporter’s note: Mr. Cucci will be at the boro building on July 10 at 7:30 p.m. to answer questions about leasing, particularly those from owners of small properties who may be interested in leasing as part of a “block” of land.)
A motion carried to advertise for bids for leasing; it carried unanimously.
The new police car needed some work and was sent to the Simmons-Rockwell dealership in Hallstead to have it done. After the work was done, the mayor was told by the dealership that they would not honor the warranty the car was under; the bill was in the neighborhood of $1,000. There was some discussion as to whether or not the boro should continue to use the dealership for work on the car, especially since there is more work that needs to be done. It was noted that on a prior occasion, the dealership had completed work on one of the boro’s police car without first receiving approval from the boro. Mr. Scales asked for a copy of the warranty, and said that he would speak with someone at the dealership to see if something could be worked out.
Mayor Reddon reported that a resident has asked permission to hold a tent revival in the area under the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, off Erie Blvd. As this is private property, the owner would need to be contacted for permission. Council does have some reservations about parking and traffic, and the mayor will convey those concerns.
The mayor said that several willing volunteers had asked about the possibility of setting up some type of recycling center in the boro; they would be willing to man it, perhaps one Saturday a month. Council seemed to be amenable to the idea, and suggested that the county recycling center be contacted for information.
Joel and Pam Hubal sent a letter of thanks to council, in response to drainage work done on Franklin Ave.
The owner of a business on Main St. will be contacted about a vehicle that was parked alongside his building, blocking the sidewalk, and requested that, in future, its owner refrain from doing that.
Mr. Scales wished to stress the importance of residents posting house numbers that are clearly visible from the opposite side of the street, so that they are easily seen by emergency responders. Many have no numbers posted, and it is necessary for them to do so, especially now with the readdressing program being implemented and new numbers for many homes.
During public comment, council was asked if something could be done about the property near the intersection of Main St. and Franklin Ave. It is consistently neglected, and with Hometown Days and other events coming up in the boro, it sets a very poor “welcome” to the boro. Mr. Perry said that the boro just can’t take care of it, the owner is responsible. There was some discussion as to whether the boro could have it mowed and bill the owner for the cost. Another suggestion was to send a citation to the owner. This would be discussed further at the next codes committee meeting, as would several other properties that were brought up.
Council also discussed getting a brush hog to maintain the riverfront park property; it was agreed that this, too should be discussed at the next streets committee meeting, and that the Parks and Rec. committee be represented so that the park could be discussed in depth. The fire department will also be asked to send a representative, as the department’s property adjoining the boro’s also needs some attention.
Some years ago, the police department received some grant funding to purchase a patrol bike; local businesses also made contributions towards its cost. For the last few years, it has been sitting in the police garage, unused. The idea of selling it was brought up, with the proceeds applied towards the new police car. Mr. Matis was opposed, he felt that it should be used; if none of the boro’s current officers have the training required, they should get it. The other council members disagreed, and a motion carried to put it up for sale through a municipal bid program with a minimum price of $300.
A motion carried to adopt resolution 62408, indebtedness for the 2008 F550 truck.
A motion carried to advertise bids for heating oil for the coming year.
And, a motion carried to accept a quote from Kevin Tross to seal the riverfront park road at a cost of $2,900. $1,000 of that will come from remaining grant funds; the boro will pay the rest out of the streets improvement fund.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
The next regular meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22 in the boro building.
The meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board on June 23 was originally supposed to be a workshop, but it turned into a rather busy and lengthy business session chock full of routine personnel actions, including long lists of substitutes, aides, coaches and activities appointments, among other things.
The most significant personnel matter came at the very end, following an executive session, when the original agenda suddenly acquired an addendum consisting of one item: the appointment of R. Scott Jeffrey of Scranton as the new High School Principal. Mr. Jeffrey is currently Assistant Principal at Western Wayne High School in Lake Ariel. He will start at Blue Ridge with a two-year contract at a salary of $78,000 per year.
Mr. Jeffrey succeeds John Manchester, who accepted a warm round of applause for his last Board meeting as a Blue Ridge employee. Mr. Manchester retires this month after more than 30 years of service, first in the Music Department, and later as an administrator. Finishing his last report, he thanked current and past school boards for their support. In return, Board President Priscinda Gaughan thanked him "for many, many years" and for the "many hats" he wore, making a difference in the lives of many Blue Ridge students.
The meeting actually opened with a presentation by Food Service Director Linda Cole-Koloski summarizing her department's work over the past year, and her plans for the future. Ms. Cole-Koloski announced that, already into the second year of a three-year grant funding the summer food program at the school, her renewal application was accepted for another five years.
She reported that the kitchen served 40,000 free breakfasts in the Elementary School this year, and that teachers have reported improvements in the children's behavior as a result. She said that she had expected to show a deficit by the end of the year due to rising food costs, but was happy to report that the program actually broke even. She commended her assistant and staff for the program's successful operation.
Overall, Ms. Cole-Koloski said that, while food costs are up nearly 20%, the Blue Ridge food service was financially in the same condition it was a year ago. She said that would mean that she would not have to request a price increase this year. At Blue Ridge, lunches will remain at $1.35 for the Elementary School, and $1.60 for the Middle and High Schools. She said that, while some schools report substantial year-end indebtedness by students and their families, through constant vigilance she could report a total debt at year-end of exactly $36.15.
Ms. Cole-Koloski also said that during the last two months of the school year just ended, the Middle School and High School saw breakfast participation above 20% for the first time. She said the figures should result in higher subsidies for the lunch program.
The Board is considering changing the way health insurance is funded for its staff. Currently, Blue Ridge belongs to a consortium of schools organized by the North- Eastern Intermediate Unit #19 (NEIU19) through which it purchases health insurance from Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The administration has recommended "self- funding" the program; that is, withdrawing from the consortium. A consultant was hired to assess the situation.
The second briefing was presented by Robert Kole, founder and President of Benefit Connections of Carlisle. Mr. Kole analyzed figures for the current arrangement and compared them to what might be expected under a self-funded program with the same carrier. He reported that the district could expect to save up to $1 million over four years by going it alone.
According to Mr. Kole, the health benefits now enjoyed by Blue Ridge employees would not change at all; the only change would be in the group number on the new ID cards that would be issued to the staff.
The district, however, would gain some responsibilities in exchange for the savings. Blue Ridge would have to manage its own reserve fund for the program, and would have to negotiate a "stop-loss" policy with Blue Cross. The reserve fund would be used to level out premium payments between years with higher or lower rate increases. The various provisions of the stop-loss policy would cover "catastrophic" losses, and even accumulations of smaller claims.
According to Mr. Kole, under the self-funded arrangement, the district could expect up to 85% of premiums to be available for claims payments, compared to about 72% under the present system. The difference would be accounted for by lower overhead costs on the part of the carrier.
Mr. Kole recommended shifting to the new benefit funding structure by August 1, so the Board will have to make a decision soon.
In other business, the Blue Ridge Board approved a renewal of the contract with the Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development Agency to operate the Head Start program for the district's youngest. The Agency would be largely funded by federal Head Start money. The Board also renewed the district's association with solicitors Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams. The law firm is not paid a retainer fee; the district is charged by the hour for legal services, at costs ranging from $120 to $150 per hour.
The Board renewed its agreement with the Susquehanna County Probation/Parole Department to provide a "school-based" Juvenile Probation Officer. They also renewed Margaret Ainey's appointment as truancy officer for next year. These items provoked some discussion of the need for both of these positions, along with that of the Dean of Students. All of these positions deal with discipline issues of one kind or another.
Administrators told Board members that the three individuals work well together, not only dealing with current problems, but in prevention programs as well. "We like to think of it as preventive," said Superintendent Robert McNamara of the in-school probation officer program. For $11,000 per year, a county probation officer spends as much as three days a week in the school. Mr. McNamara said that this year the probation officer organized the pre-prom crash simulation; he works with county Services for Children and Youth; and he has enforcement powers that the Dean and the truancy officer do not when dealing with attendance issues.
For $1,200 per year and mileage, the truancy officer is primarily an investigative function. Ms. Ainey deals primarily with Dean Parker, who says "he uses her quite a bit," according to Mr. McNamara. She also looks into the occasional complaint that a student at Blue Ridge does not actually live in the district.
The Board also approved a new "Geocaching Club" for students in grades 7 through 12. The Middle School recently acquired six Global Positioning System (GPS) units through a grant and would like to use them in these high-tech treasure hunts that would teach students geography and other outdoor skills. Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski said he would like to cooperate with Montrose, which already has such a club, to participate in some nearby off-campus activities. He said the only cost to the district would be some minimal transportation; staff have already volunteered to supervise the club. Ms. Gaughan remarked, "I want to be in this class. It sounds so cool."
Board member Dawn Franks, however, expressed some concern at the proliferation of clubs and other activities for which the district pays staff under Schedule B of the teacher contract. Does anyone keep track of the participation in these various clubs and organizations? she asked. Mr. McNamara said that they had tried to have several coaching positions removed from Schedule B for lack of interest, but that there were some regulatory impediments. Nevertheless, administrators reported adequate participation in all of the available clubs, sports and other activities. Mr. Nebzydoski hopes to use the GPS units – and the geocaching idea – on a new nature trail to be carved out of the wilderness at the edge of the Blue Ridge campus. A nature trail has been on the table for some time, and now the Sienko family, long in the local logging industry, has donated $1,600 toward the establishment and maintenance of the nature trail, to be named the "Andrew F. Sienko, Sr. Memorial Nature Trail." It is expected that money will be available for the annual upkeep of the trail, and the "outdoor classroom" facilities to be incorporated in the plan.
Except perhaps representation on the School Board itself. The Board has always provided a (non-voting) seat at the table for a student-body representative, but they are rarely seen. Ms. Gaughan said that one of her objectives was to get "consistent" representation on the Board by the students.
Maybe Joshua Rumage would like to serve. The Board added his name to the list of claimants on a $500 pool allocated for students requesting assistance attending events outside the area. Mr. Rumage will attend a course called Leadership, Citizenship and Community Service at the "Keystone Boys State" program to be held this year on the campus of Shippensburg University. The program is sponsored by the American Legion, Department of Pennsylvania.
Having received "final" data from the county Assessment office, Business Manager Loren Small recommended amending the 2008 Homestead/Farmstead exclusion authorization, increasing the exclusion amount to $9,654.42. According to Mr. Small, with the exclusion, some 141 eligible properties will end up paying no property tax at all, because the assessed valuation is less than that amount. Some 1,700 other properties in the district will be able to exclude the same amount from their assessments, and their tax bills will be lower by about $415 ($9,654.42 times the district's tax rate of 43 mills). The exclusions are the result of Act 1 of 2006, giving some property tax relief to eligible properties, the lost school income to be offset by payments from state gambling revenues.
A request from school psychologist Sherry Tanguay for a salary increase was tabled, awaiting further information from the administration.
The Board approved up to 10 hours of training for a group of teachers in the use of the high-tech Promethean boards, among other technology topics. The instructor will be the coach in the Classrooms For the Future program, Rick Mackrell. The electronic whiteboards have multi-media capabilities, and the staff will be encouraged to make the most of them in their instruction plans.
All of the administrators reported improvement in PSSA rankings. Not all of the figures are in yet, but it appears that each of the schools went up a notch in the percentage of students scoring "proficient" or above in the standardized tests, in reading, math and writing. The Elementary School recorded the most significant gains, particularly in writing, for grades 3 through 5.
The next meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board is scheduled for July 14, Bastille Day, at 7:30 p.m. Maybe you'll have a chance to meet the new High School Principal. Committee meetings are also scheduled for that evening, at 7:00 p.m., before the business meeting. All of these meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Following is the Susquehanna County sentencing report for June, 2008 as submitted by the county District Attorney’s office.
Kyle Michael Mullen, 22, of Ithaca, NY to 15 days to 1 year in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, continue with drug and alcohol program for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Gibson Township on March 1, 2008. The defendant also received 1 year probation, to run concurrent to the above sentence, pay $100 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, continue with drug and alcohol counseling for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Gibson Township on March 1, 2008. Finally, the defendant received a $200 fine, cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee for Possession of a Small Amount of a Controlled Substance in Gibson Township on March 1, 2008.
John Charles Clapper, 40, of South Montrose, to 3 ½ months to 2 years in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $350 fine, pay cost of prosecution, not to possess any weapons while on supervision, not to have contact with the victim in this case, perform 50 hours community service, receive a physiological evaluation, not to transport, consume, or possess any alcoholic beverages, not to enter any establishment whose sole purpose is the sale of alcohol, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Simple Assault in Forest Lake Township on February 9, 2008.
Leroy C Mulhollen, 44, of Montrose, to 40 months to 10 years in a state correctional facility, credit for time served, psychological evaluation, pay restitution, pay cost of prosecution, pay $750 fine, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, not to possess, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages, not to enter any establishment whose sole purpose is the sale of alcohol, not to possess weapons while on supervision, not to have contact with the victim in this case, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample for Aggravated Assault in Franklin Township on February 24, 2008. The defendant also received 72 hours to 6 months, pay cost of prosecution, credit for time served, pay $100 Act 198 fee, pay $1000 fine, pay $100 CAT, pay $10 EMS, attend an alcohol safe driving school program for DUI in Montrose Borough on February 15, 2008.
Duane A Benscoter, 53, of Montrose, to 3 ½ months to 18 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, supervision may be transferred, pay cost of prosecution, pay $500 fine, not to have contact with the victim in this case, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Simple Assault in Rush Township on February 20, 2008.
Michael John Murphy, 41, of Uniondale, to 6 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $1500 fine, pay $300 Act 198 fee, pay cost of prosecution, attend alcohol highway safe driving school program, abide by PA ignition interlock law, pay $100 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, receive a Drug and alcohol evaluation, not to possess, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages for DUI in Herrick Township on December 28, 2007.
David Biesecker, 33, of Susquehanna, to 15 months probation, pay restitution to Susquehanna County Task Force in the amount of $60, pay cost of prosecution, receive drug and alcohol evaluation, receive random drug and alcohol screenings, 10 p.m. curfew, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, not to possess any weapons while on supervision, pay $350 fine for Criminal Conspiracy/Delivery of a Controlled Substance in Susquehanna Borough on April 24, 2007.
William Robert Snedaker, 27, of Montrose, to 30 days to 6 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, credit for time served, pay $750 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, pay $100 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, abide by PA ignition interlock law, receive drug and alcohol evaluation, attend alcohol highway safe driving school program, not to possess, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages, not to enter any establishment whose sole purpose is the sale of alcohol, no contact with victim in this case, perform 25 hours community service, not to possess weapons while on supervision for DUI in Great Bend Borough on January 7, 2008.
Jeffrey Francis Kurosky, 32, of Great Bend, to 90 days to 18 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, served 45 in correctional facility 45 days home confinement, credit for time served, abide by PA ignition interlock law, pay $100 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, pay $300 Act 198 fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay $1500 fine, not to possess, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages, attend alcohol highway safe driving school program, perform 50 hours community service, receive a drug and alcohol assessment, not to enter any establishment whose sole purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages, maintain employment, for DUI in Hallstead Borough on January 11, 2008.
Sean Christopher Halesky, 39, of Susquehanna, to pay a $300 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim in this case, pay $30 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS for Accident Involving Damage to Unattended Vehicle or Property in Great Bend Township on November 13, 2007. The defendant also received 1 year probation, pay cost of prosecution, pay $300 fine, not to have contact with victim in this case, not to possess, transport, or consume alcoholic beverages, perform 25 hours community service for Criminal Conspiracy/Theft by Unlawful Taking in Great Bend Township on November 13, 2007.
Ricardo Mark Garriques, 21, of Baltimore, MD to 15 months to 7 years in a state correctional facility, credit for time served, recommend boot camp program, pay cost of prosecution, pay $750 fine, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, not to possess any firearms while on supervision, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample for Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver in Gibson Township on April 13, 2008. The defendant also received 6 months to 5 years in a state correctional facility, to run concurrent to the above sentence, credit for time served, recommend boot camp program, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 fine, not to possess any firearms while on supervision, perform 25 hours community service for Firearms not to be Carried without a License in Gibson Township on April 13, 2008.
Linda Sue Clinton, 26, of Factoryville, 4 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, pay $200 fine, continue with drug and alcohol counseling, supervision may be transferred to Wyoming County, pay $100 Act 198 fee for Criminal Conspiracy/Forgery in Bridgewater Township on July 1, 2007. The defendant also received 4 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, to run concurrent, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, pay $200 fine, continue with drug and alcohol counseling, supervision may be transferred to Wyoming County, pay $100 Act 198 fee for Criminal Conspiracy/Forgery in Bridgewater Township on July 1, 2007. Finally, the defendant received 4 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, to run concurrent, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, pay $200 fine, continue with drug and alcohol counseling, supervision may be transferred to Wyoming County, pay $100 Act 198 fee for Criminal Conspiracy/Forgery in Bridgewater Township on July 1, 2007.
Rusty Harold McConnell, 47, of Montrose, to 1 year to 3 ½ years in a state correctional facility, credit for time served, pay restitution to Susquehanna County, pay $300 fine, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, receive drug and alcohol counseling, perform 50 hours community service for Escape in Bridgewater Township on February 29, 2008.
Mindy Lynn Butler, 31, of Queens, NY to 3 ½ years probation, pay restitution to the victim in this case, perform 100 hours community service, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, pay cost of prosecution, not to have contact with co-defendants, pay $500 fine for Theft by Unlawful Taking in Bridgewater on March 13, 2008.
Valerie Zeruth, 21, of Montrose, to 3 years probation, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, pay cost of prosecution, pay $300 fine, pay $100 Act 198, not to have contact with co-defendant, perform 50 hours community service, obtain GED, not to possess any weapons while on supervision for Criminal Conspiracy/Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver in Susquehanna Borough on October 26, 2007.
Anthony Cafaro, 35, of Susquehanna, to 3 months to 15 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, with credit for time served, not to have contact with victim in this case, not to reside with victim in this case, pay cost of prosecution, pay $300 fine for Simple Assault in Thompson Borough on November 30, 2007. The defendant also received 3 months to 15 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, with credit for time served, to run concurrent with the above sentence, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to victim in this case, pay $250 fine for Receiving Stolen Property in Susquehanna on November 28, 2007.
Adam J. Esposito, 18, of Susquehanna, to 15 months probation, perform 50 hours community service, pay $450 fine, 12 a.m. curfew, not to consume alcoholic beverages, provide victim’s family with a written letter of apology, pay cost of prosecution for Recklessly Endangering Another Person in Jackson Township on August 17, 2007.
Frederick Kenneth Steffens, 24, of Hallstead, to 3 years probation, pay cost of prosecution, not to possess any weapons while on supervision, not to have contact with the victim in this case, pay $500 fine, not to have contact with children under the age 12 without appropriate adult supervision for Simple Assault in Lanesboro on December 20, 2007.
David B. Johnson to James R. and Melanie A. Hanjaras, in Choconut Township and Friendsville Borough for $48,000.00.
Statewide 985 LLC to William J. and Michelle R. Graziano, in Harford Township for $98,250.00.
Carl R. and Joanne Sherman and Algird Aukscunas to Michael A. Yourkawitch, in Harmony Township for $65,000.00.
Joseph S., Jr., Eric S. and Scott F. Aylesworth to Joseph S., Jr. and Anne Marie Aylesworth, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Marjorie L. Hill and James M. Zona to Marjorie L. Hill, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Stephen S. Filchak, III (By Sheriff) to Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, in Liberty Township for $4,909.11.
Karen A. Wray to David A. Wray, in Gibson and Ararat Townships for one dollar.
Jerome and Michelle Calafut to Jerome and Michelle Calafut, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Carlton D. and Enid C. Ball to Matthew R. and Joann L. Voda, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Sharon and Richard Barondeau to Fred J. and Karen E. Carden, in Forest Lake Township for $64,900.00.
Gerald E. and Gail M. Burke to Edith P. Bishop (Estate), in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Thomas and Gina Galiardo to Thomas Galiardo, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Michael J. and Diane Hudock to Michael J. and Diane Hudock, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Lisa M. Bennett (NBM) Lisa M. and Frank B, III Barhight to Lisa M. and Frank B., III Barhight, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Albert and Kim Delisa to Donna Yarrison, in New Milford Township for $159,000.00.
Karen (AKA) Karin E. and David Dorman to Karen (AKA) Karin E. Dorman, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Randy L. Crandall (By Sheriff) and Ronda Botts (By Sheriff) to Washington Mutual Bank, in Great Bend Township for $1,578.56.
Robert and Nancy H. Jalbert to Robert and Nancy H. Jalbert, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Robert and Nancy H. Jalbert to Robert and Nancy J. Jalbert, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Robert and Nancy H. Jalbert to David C. and Laurie Ann Roczkowski, in Herrick Township for $1,000.00.
David C. and Laurie Ann Roczkowski to David C. and Laurie Ann Roczkowski, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Eric and Susan Wilson (By Sheriff) to Novastar Mortgage, Inc., in Montrose for $2,649.00.
Sylvia J. Kline (Estate) to Robert F. (Estate AKA) Robert F. Edwards, Sr. and Robert Edwards, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Robert F. (AKA) Robert F., Sr. (AKA) Robert Edwards (Estate) and Gloria Edwards to Charles E. and Elizabeth G. Mills, in Dimock Township for $2,000.00.
John G., Wallace G., Nancy L., Nelson K. and Lucrecia Jesse to Lois Burke, in Harford Township for $120,500.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Richard B. and Elizabeth L. Casper, in Herrick Township for $2,745.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Cassandra S. Sparks and Ian F. Mackay, in Herrick Township for $1,995.00.
William R., Jr. and Patricia T. Summerhill to Mathew A. and Rachel R. Swierzewski, in Ararat Township for $160,000.00.
Michael Bakaysa, III to Mark Springville Associates LP, in Springville Township for $200,000.00.
Charles M. and Jean H. Walton to David W. and Stephanie E. Lindquist, in Jackson and Gibson Townships for $250,000.00.
Richard Murray (Estate) and R. Christopher and Kristen Reilly to Ronald (AKA) R. Christopher and Kristen Reilly, in Middletown Township for $27,433.00.
Dorothy J. and Stephen J. Toth (By POA) to Gary J. Toth, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Dorothy J. and Stephen J. Toth (By POA) to Gary J. Toth, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Eric A. Griffin to Eric A. and Allison L. Griffin, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Ferrell Investments, Inc. to Lenox Investments LLC, in Lenox Township for $500,000.00.
Edith P. (Estate), Duane P., George R., Gail M., David C. and William E. Bishop to Gerald E. and Gail M. Burke, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Seth W. Watrous (Trust No. 2 By Tr) to Peter S. Watrous (Trust No. 1), in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Dawn N. Carpenter vs. Lawrence J. Carpenter, both of Susquehanna, married 1987.
Jeffrey H. Herbert vs. Stacy A. Herbert, both of New Milford, married 2001.
Robert S. Hansen vs. Pamela Hansen, both of New Milford, married 1995.
Heidi G. Gathany of New Milford vs. Michael J. Gathany of Hallstead, married 1994.
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.
Harford Township Supervisors accepted a bid of $393,000 from ProCon Contracting of Vestal, NY to replace the bridge over Butler Creek on Pennay Hill Road at their scheduled meeting on June 24. The contract award was based on a recommendation by Hawk Engineering, designers of the structure which will replace one that was severely damaged during flooding two years ago. This bridge is designated number 4, of the 5 for which the township claims responsibility. At a special meeting on June 18, the Supervisors opened packages from the only two bidders in the running. The other bid, for $480,000, was from Vacri Construction of Binghamton, NY. A representative of Hawk Engineering was present when the bids were opened and was given a week to examine the details before making a recommendation. The Hawk engineer said he had worked with both companies before and commented that both "do good, quality work."
The cost of the project is expected to be fully reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) as long as the work is completed by the end of this year. FEMA originally estimated the replacement cost at $331,000. Hawk Engineering had estimated the cost at about $422,000. The contract price lies midway between those figures, and it remains to be seen if FEMA will make up the difference.
The FEMA estimate was based on replacing the bridge "as is." The engineers, however, said that a new bridge at that location would have to be built to newer standards, and would be about a foot and a half higher than the old one, necessitating longer approaches on Pennay Hill Road; thus the higher cost. They said the new design would be the "same style of bridge that was there," but an "updated version."
A representative of ProCon who attended the session on June 18 said that there would be no problem meeting the December 31 deadline.
In other business, the Supervisors voted to advertise the new driveway ordinance that Supervisor Garry Foltz has been working on for several months. The next scheduled Supervisors meeting, on July 8, would double as a hearing on the ordinance. Assuming all is well, the Supervisors expect to adopt the measure formally at the meeting on July 22.
The Supervisors have been considering the purchase of a new computer for the office for several months. They received a proposal from a local company, JMF Computer Services, for a computer, setup services and training that totaled about $2,600. The proposal will be examined and discussed further before a decision is made. The Supervisors want to take advantage of lower-cost telephone services by installing a DSL computer network line in the office, which will require a more up-to-date computer than the one they are currently using.
The township's auditors have recommended that the Supervisors solicit competing bids for workers compensation insurance coverage, so they shopped around and accepted what appears to be the lowest rate, offered through DGK Insurance and Financial Services of Factoryville and placed with Champion Property and Casualty Company.
The Supervisors also signed on to the county flood hazard mitigation plan by resolution. One of the outcomes of the 2006 flood, the plan describes and defines the elements of infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) that might be subject to flood damage, and provides a mechanism for dealing with such hazards over time.
The county Council of Governments (COG) is notifying member municipalities that it will be increasing rates for some of its services due to the rising cost of fuel. COG is also requesting input on sewage planning requirements, if any, for "subdivisions" that may arise with the increased activity around gas leasing and drilling. Like cell phone towers, gas companies may be wanting to erect metering facilities in areas where they operate wells.
One gas company that has been actively seeking leases in the area, Chesapeake Energy, has approached the Susquehanna River Basin Commission about possibly using river water in its operations.
A group of residents of the North Harmony Road area attended the meeting to ask when the township's road crews would be working on the quarter-mile-long road that serves their properties. The residents described their road as "deeply rutted," and expect more construction vehicles that could further damage the road. According to Roadmaster and Supervisor Terry VanGorden, the crew is just now finishing up section 3 (the north Harford area) and would probably get to North Harmony in section 2 in two weeks or so. One resident thanked township employees for excellent plow service. He said he "didn't miss a day of work last winter."
The Supervisors said that their attention is focused now on getting the Pennay Hill Road project underway and completed by year's end, so they did not have anything to report on the proposed replacement of a sluice under Stearns Road at the outlet of Tingley Lake.
Supervisor and township Secretary Sue Furney said that properties are already beginning to get new street addresses in some areas. She said she expects more activity in two weeks or so.
Ending around 11:35 p.m., the June 23 meeting of the Mt. View School board was full of debates and debatable items. Many matters were presented at the lengthy meeting, which one visitor jokingly referred to as slumber party. Several of them, however, were tabled.
The meeting began, after the standard opening business, with a review of the preliminary study done by Johnson Controls, Inc. This is a performance contracting company which wants to work with the district on energy conservation. Representatives were at the February meeting, and received permission to do the study, which uncovered five areas in which they felt energy expenses might be cut. Within these areas, proposed changes included: occupancy sensors, building envelope improvement, a better management system, a fluorescent light upgrade, and vending machine timers. They also felt that the district was a feasible candidate for the installation and use of a 50-meter tall wind turbine, though only marginally. In a wind rating system from 1 to 7, the area Mountain View is in rated between a 2-3. The size of the windmill is based off of the district's electrical consumption, and it may be able to offset about 80% of the electric bill. If the district goes with Johnson, the company guarantees savings, and the performance of the installation. In theory, what the district saves in energy would pay for the cost. With performance contracting, it was said, little or no up front money would be required from the district. Johnson Controls does not finance the project, but assists the district in procuring financing. All the work so far has been at the company's expense. The representatives were asked about the district being able to sell excess energy, but replied that currently this is not possible in PA. What occurs next is the board's decision. If they decide to pursue this avenue, they must open the matter for bid and then select a company. At that point a more in-depth audit could be invested in, and brought before the board for a final decision. Only at this point, would they officially be in business.
After this presentation came another, one not looking to the future so much as commenting on the past. As part of the Classrooms for the Future grant, it was agreed that a presentation on the progress of the grant would be presented before the board. The program's technology coach, Mr. Yost, and participating educators Mrs. Martens, Mrs. Ihlefeldt, and Mrs. Kelsey, attended the meeting to make good on this agreement with a multimedia presentation. They discussed their experiences, as well as incorporating feedback from others. Principal Eliza Vagni introduced the talk, stating that never in her career had she seen such enthusiasm about a federal program from students and staff. The grant was designed to introduce 21st century technology into the core subject areas (math, language arts, social studies, and science) in Pennsylvania high schools. It was used to fully outfit six classes with laptops and smartboards, and to partially outfit two additional rooms. The district has received praise from PDE for its implementation of the grant, hosted a collaboration day, and was featured on WVIA's State of Pennsylvania TV show. Mr. Yost began, describing how students in Mr. Bain's social studies and psychology classes incorporated the laptops into their learning. A video created by one student, Sarah Bradley, played the song “We Didn't Start the Fire” while flashing images of the events mentioned in the song. Mrs. Ihlefeldt outlined some of the benefits of the promethean boards, describing the creation of a matching game, the ability to share lesson materials with educators from around the world, the ability to save and print material for absentees, and the ability to sync the calculators and boards. Mrs. Kelsey spoke more about the use of the laptops in her room, stating that students learn differently than they used to. She reported better student behavior and motivation with the use of the technology, and stated that her failure rate is 50% lower than in previous years. It is expected that money will be received again in the coming year, and the presenters appeared excited about its continuing and expanding their technological integration.
With these presentations, it was after 10 by the time the regular, somewhat strife filled, meeting commenced. The board failed to pass the proposed general fund budget for the coming year, with a vote against the resolution of 8 to 1. Mr. Griffiths said that he did not know how the budget could be passed when certain matters remained unknown. It was mentioned that transportation fell into this category, not being covered in the proposed plan. Dr. Chichura urged the board to adopt it that night, saying that the budgetary reserves had been increased to cover items. He maintained that he had asked the board what needed to be done to get the budget passed and hadn't received feedback. Those present refused to act on the matter, however, and after some rather cordial fighting it was decided to schedule a special budget meeting for June 30 instead.
One visitor spoke up several times regarding the budget, and issues involved therewith, including transportation and gas leases. She brought up the latter issue, giving her opinion that gas revenue would impact the budget. It was responded that the gas lease matter (the district has 92 acres that could be involved) was still under investigation. She was also involved in a debate which raged around whether or not the school should assist contractors with offsetting increased fuel costs. Mr. Donald Twining spoke up in favor of supplementing transportation salaries. He debated the woman, who argued that everyone was hit by increases in fuel, that contractors worked four hours a day and could get a part-time job between driving shifts, and that if they felt they were not making enough the school could look elsewhere. She stated that they made lots of money and that their gross income needed to be looked at prior to making a decision. Mrs. Stine said that many people have to eat fuel increases themselves, and that the district could not give contractors all they wanted. Mr. Griffiths pointed out that buses would also be a burden in the future, however, with the state raising seat back heights. Car and van contracts were also discussed, with a contractor asking what the car and van rate would be based on, stating that the previous year they had been based on nothing. It was decided that these matters would also be discussed at the Monday meeting; the idea of transportation compensation had already been the subject of discussion at the board's first June meeting, apparently.
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