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At their July 9 meeting, the Susquehanna County Commissioners accepted the bid from Endless Mountains Water Company, Tunkhannock for supply of bottled water and rental of coolers for the Courthouse complex. The period of the acceptance is July 1, 2008, through June 20, 2010.
According to Sylvia Beamer, Chief Clerk, Endless Mountains Water Company was the lowest bidder. The other bid received was from J&J Springs, New Milford for $3.85 per bottle, with no rental fees.
The approved bid is $2.95 per five gallon bottle, plus rental for coolers; cold water only $5.00 per month, hot/cold $6.00 per month.
Mrs. Beamer was asked if the difference between the two companies was a comparable difference. She replied, “We would have to use two times the amount of water to get the same price, which would be a waste.”
Beamer also stated that the cost of water for the Courthouse and offices ranges on average at about two to three thousand dollars per year. She said, “At one point in time, it was up to four thousand dollars, but that was a number of years ago, it has been between two and three thousand dollars since that time.”
The bid from Mirabito from July 1, 2008 - June 31, 2009, was accepted with the fixed price method used from October 1, 2008 through April 30, 2009 for # 2 fuel oil at $4.63 per gallon and the fixed price method for dyed 500ppm kerosene for the same period at $4.99 per gallon. The changing price per gallon will be used for the balance of the bid year and will be billed at Vestal, NY - Valero Terminal, per gallon price, plus a fixed differential per gallon of .23 cents for #2 fuel oil and the Vestal Conaco Terminal per gallon plus a fixed differential per gallon of .28 cents per gallon.
The use of the dyed kerosene is, in effect, so it won’t be able to be used in diesel trucks.
Children and Youth will soon be receiving new carpeting at the cost of $7,805 from Mainline Supply in Binghamton, NY.
Another bid from Rug Fair Commercial and Industrial Inc. was $7, 590, plus floor patches up to $1700.
Mainline Supply included the floor patching in their price.
Agreements were signed between the Susquehanna County Drug and Alcohol Commission and six entities located from Altoona to Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre to Kingston and Eagleville. The agreement is in effect from July 1, 2008 through July 1, 2009. The facilities are used for rehabilitation as needed, per the Drug and Alcohol Commission.
Four delinquent tax parcels were exonerated from the Tax Claim Bureau due to the fact that trailers located at the four properties are now gone.
The agenda included Employee Years of Service Recognition Anniversaries; fifteen years of service by Joan Roberts, who is employed at the prison, and 20 years of service by Walter Welch. Unfortunately, they were not able to attend the meeting.
Seven seminar requests and payment from a number of departments were approved, as well as the ratification of seven pre-check registers and EFTPS from a number of county agencies.
The New Milford Borough Council held its July meeting on the 10th instead of 3rd, due to the holiday.
Jim Pickering of New Milford Borough was presented with the Citizen of the Month acknowledgement by Councilperson Jane Zick. Zick told audience and council that Pickering was very active with the fire company as well as the community and his neighbors. “Jim always helps everyone, in any way he can throughout the borough, and we have always been able to count on Jim to do anything asked of him.”
Montrose Borough Police Chief Dale Smith and Montrose Mayor John Wilson were on hand to provide some information to New Milford about offering police coverage services to the borough, which is currently without police protection.
Chief Smith first asked the council if they had any idea of the number of hours they would like to utilize the Montrose Borough police.
The council was unsure, and asked Chief Smith how many they could offer per week, and how much the service would cost per hour. Chief Smith told them that with an eight-man police force they could easily offer 32 or more hours of service. “It isn’t, however, limited to a minimum of the 32 hours. We would like to be available as much as we are needed,” Smith informed the borough. Smith also reported that Montrose Borough Police Department was currently the largest police department in Susquehanna County. The $26 hourly amount includes not only services, but equipment, paperwork, gas, vehicles, patrols, among numerous other benefits.
Smith emphasized to council that they have the say in the number of hours and could schedule policemen for any special events they may have coming up, or just schedule what they would like covered. He added that it would be a good idea to have a person or committee to be on board to help handle issues and be in charge of communications or liaison for the New Milford schedules or other police matters.
“The schedules would be set up on a month-to-month basis and could be set up as soon as possible after New Milford Borough decides what they would like to do, within a week or two,” Chief Smith relayed to the council.
Smith also informed council that currently there are two police vehicles, and that one could be positioned in New Milford Borough and the other in Montrose. He added that a new, third vehicle has been purchased and as soon as that is on board, there will be more help available via vehicles.
Jane Zick asked if the schedule could be set up to primarily cover weekends, holidays and special events. Smith assured Mrs. Zick that that would not be a problem, “You make up when you want to have a policeman available.”
Chief Smith also related that two, eight-hour shifts would be perfect, or even several four-hour shifts, depending on the coverage needed or wanted. “We could also incorporate that into the plans and if you want to add or subtract, that would be workable.”
Council President Jim Carr asked about how the fines in New Milford would be handled, and Smith said that those would be kept in the New Milford Borough.
“All Pennsylvania laws and local ordinances would be handled, and we can visit an on-call availability. Your calls when an officer is not on duty can go straight to 911,” Smith added.
“Most of the paperwork could be done out of the car, until the police officer gets back to home station at Montrose,” Smith answered when asked if an office would be necessary.
Smith also gave council a copy of the monthly reports that all the officers currently do for Montrose.
Jane Zick asked Smith if the officers could do a walking or foot patrol, to which Smith said, “What you want them to do would be up to the council here.”
Council said they would work on it at their next work session and get information back to Smith and Wilson as soon as possible.
New Milford Council has also sought information on police coverage from another police department as well, and are looking at every option.
Rick Ainey asked how much money is in the budget for police coverage. Council President Carr answered, “It always comes down to the money.”
Ainey advised that the borough get on board with Montrose’s insurance, if it can be done, in regards to the issue of being sued.
It was decided that council would look into the matter, and have their solicitor, Atty. Jodi Cordner look into it with Montrose’s solicitor, Marion O’Malley and work out the bugs and what amount they can spend on police coverage.
In addition to the police information, council discussed the idea of beginning a Crime Watch again, in the hopes some of the vandalism going on could be curtailed, and kids stealing things as well. Many of the council were interested and will set up a meeting with Dunmore’s Trooper Salaksy, who handles the Crime Watch groups.
Council also reported that three youths, teenagers to age 20, had been apprehended on Sunday, July 6, and their parents were informed; the youths were ordered to do community service of 20 hours each. Councilman Chris Allen suggested that, although these three had been ordered to do community service, other violators should be turned over to the police to let them be sent before the court system so they would realize that there are actual legal ramifications for the vandalism a youngster commits. Unfortunately, several known youths have been entering an elderly lady’s home, tormenting and scaring her, using her bathroom, getting drinks from her refrigerator and not leaving when told to leave. This matter will be turned immediately over to the State Police should another occurrence happen. A reminder was made that children under the age of 18 are still their parents’ responsibility, and that the parents could/will be held responsible for the actions of their youth. It was recommend that Social Services be informed of these occurrences, and also Agency on Aging be notified.
The curfew of New Milford Borough is 9 p.m. for youths, no matter the age. There is soon to be a monetary fine of $50 to $250 invoked for missing the curfew in the park. Again, parents will be held responsible for their youths’ actions.
Emergency plans also need to be revisited by council, bringing them up to par to PEMA’S regulations as a first step in continuing with the bridge work needed to be handled.
Larry Cobb was on hand to express his concerns for the re-doing of Montrose Street. Cobb informed council that he had spoken to a hydrologist who was doing some of the surveying. The representative suggested that the binding on Montrose Street was going to be raised. Cobb’s reaction to that is that it is well known that when there is flooding, Montrose Street can cause big problems for families and businesses alike, down on and across the road.
“I am just here asking you to get some input and advice to this project before everyone has tremendous flooding problems. It can’t be raised even an inch – it actually should be lowered,” Cobb related.
Secretary Amy Hine will forward this information to the representative in question and let her in on the importance of keeping that binding lower than they have planned. Amy will let them know the damage that could be done if they continue along that pathway, as well as the damage effects, when even a little rain storm goes through.
The Sesquicentennial Celebration has been slated for August 9, 2009 and the park has been reserved for the occasion.
Councilwoman Zick stressed, “Anyone who would like to help with this very important and historical occasion would be welcomed with open arms. We really, really need volunteers to help with all the items which need to be done, and would appreciate any work residents of the borough or of New Milford Township would be able to give.”
Along that idea, Rick Ainey said that it would be New Milford Borough’s first 100 years and New Milford Township’s 150th year.
Residents are asked to write their own family history or any information they have to be included in a Next Hundred Years Blue Book, for the future residents to keep up with any family ties or historical significance. There is currently a Blue Book available to look at, but it can not be removed. Also, the past Blue Book has been put on a CD and is available for purchase during the celebration. If anyone would like a copy, contact New Milford Borough for further information.
Councilwoman Sue Abbot introduced a plan to begin a New Milford’s farmers’ market, set up in the park. It would be along the lines of the farmers’ market which Montrose has set up on the Green. But it would also have open discussions and liability issues that the borough or the farmer’s markets themselves could decide on.
In other business, COG inspections have increased the price of building new homes by two cents per square foot, due to the gas price increases.
“The Tree Grant Program is very much alive and still moving forward,” Council woman Teri Gulick reported. “The first part of the grant was to take down the dead and diseased trees and order replacement or new trees. There has been a delay in the planting, however and we are asking that people who have their stakes please hold on to them and not place them in the ground just yet.
“I will call you, when it is time to place the stakes in their proper places,” Teri said.
Teri also informed the room that the trees have increased ten dollars per tree, due to growing costs, and have been set at $35.00 per tree.
“We had ordered 82 trees and County Forester Jim Kessler had to come out and inspect each site, whether it was an original order or a change from the original order. There were only three trees that would not work in their proposed sites, however people kept approaching for more orders or changes. We just couldn’t handle many changes, so as of now there are no longer any changes. Jim spent a lot of his time to come over here, over five times to do a different inspection of the same sites and that is a lot to ask, plus the paperwork had to be 100% correct.
“There are no more changes allowed at all, now; please remember that I will call each of the stake holders to let you know when to bring out the stakes,” Teri concluded.
PennDOT officials discussed a proposed bridge project during the July 8 Clifford Township meeting. The bridge, which will be located on Route 106, spanning the Dundaff Creek, will replace a bridge that was destroyed due to flooding. The new bridge will be built on piles to prevent collapse and will be supported 90 feet down to rock. Additionally, the new bridge will be wider than the former bridge and will measure 32 feet from curb to curb, with a sidewalk. In March, 2009, PennDOT will bid the project out, and construction will begin in April. The project will be completed in phases, with one lane always open and a pedestrian walkway always in place. Thanksgiving, 2009 has been set as the completion date for the project.
Five property owners along Route 106 will be directly impacted by the bridge project. Concerns among these individuals include liability issues and well-water quality protection. PennDOT officials met with the property owners following the information session.
Following was a regular business meeting. The board passed Resolution 4-2008, adopting light and sidewalk maintenance for the new bridge.
Fred Lyon made a request for tighter zoning within Clifford Township. He stressed the importance of protecting property value and quality of life, as well as protecting family farms. In response, Randolph LaCroix stated, “It’s not our job to protect property value,” but added, “It is our job to protect quality of life.” Dennis Knowlton stated, “Zoning is not that easy to sort out,” and chairman John Regan stated, “You have to look at everybody’s interests.” Larry Wilson pointed out that the board can adopt whatever level of restrictions the general community wants as safeguards. “I’m urging you guys to let your planning commission get going,” Lyon said to the board.
Next, the board discussed energy costs. Regan suggested the possibility of harnessing wind energy, explaining that the township has sufficient public land for a windmill and that grant money for such a project is presently available.
The board agreed to upgrade its cinder truck by purchasing a 1998 Ford from Pine Line Auto, at a cost of $400 to taxpayers.
One Dundaff resident stated that an unoccupied property in that town is posing a health hazard. He stated that the yard is littered with gas cans and furniture, and that garbage has been piling up for months. The board agreed to resolve the matter.
A suggestion was made that the township put up a permanent traffic light at the bridge intersection on Route 106 in Clifford. The board responded that a feasibility study alone would cost $50,000 – money that the township does not have. However, Regan said, “Maybe we can get something done,” and mentioned contacting Sandra Major.
Individuals who wish to volunteer at the Clifford Carnival on July 24, 25 and 26 should contact the Clifford Volunteer Fire Company.
In policing matters, several burglaries have occurred in the Dundaff area, and residents are encouraged to lock their doors.
The night’s final matter of business involved replacing the police department’s tazer gun. The board agreed to purchase a gun, provided that Chief Carroll completes a training course.
Blanche E. Kauffman to Lake Idlewild Lake Association, in Clifford Township for $10,000.00.
Sigrid J. Perry (NBM) Sigrid J. and Ernest E. Gustinucci to Michael J. and Amy J. Lyden, in Montrose for $132,000.00.
Audrey R. (Estate) and J. Melvin Kelly (Estate) to John M., Laurence M., Judith Ely, Paul A. and Pamale E. Kelly and James and Kathleen Kelly Curtin, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Patrice M. Davis to Rodney T. Ellinger, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Shawn P. Fiorentino and Jessyma Watlington to Michael E. and Alayne D. Kipar, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Richard L. and Audrey L. Cook to Amy Elizabeth Cook, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Manzek Land Company, Inc. to James W. Bennett, in Rush Township for $125,000.00.
Anne L. Coar (NBM) Anne Coar and Andrew P. Crowley, to Anne Coar and Andrew P. Crowley, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
US Bank (By POA) to Masters RMC, Inc., in Oakland Borough for $21,000.00.
Richard W. and Margaret Mathes to Suzann L. Haney, in Herrick Township for $114,000.00.
Daniel J. and Sharon L. Bagnell to Francis Joseph Ryan, in Friendsville Borough for $105,000.00.
Elmer A. and Harriette G. Taylor to Elmer A. (By Trust) and Harriette G. Taylor (By Trust), in Montrose for one dollar.
Elmer A. and Harriette G. Taylor to Elmer A. (By Trust) and Harriette G. Taylor (By Trust), in Montrose for one dollar.
David J. and Luann Palmer to Sandra D. Capron, in Lathrop Township for $112,000.00.
Patrick J. and Marjorie L. Ryan to Shawn R. and Julie D. Burns, in Susquehanna for $10,500.00.
Joseph J. (AKA) Joseph Yannone to Joseph Yannone, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Walter P. Epps to Walter P. Epps (Trust), in Ararat Township.
JPF Enterprises, Joseph P., Jr. and Michael Franceski to Palmina Enterprises LLC, in Herrick Township for $172,500.00.
Howard L. and Audrey J. Updyke to Howard L. and Audrey J. Updyke, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Anthony B. and Katrina L. Dissinger to Anthony B., Katrina, Donald M. and Debra E. Dissinger, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
William J. and Eva Verge and Albert and Geraldine Diane Hornberger to Albert and Geraldine Diane Hornberger, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Rolland J. and Janice M. Hawk to Montrose Hillbillies LP, in Franklin Township for $427,500.00.
John B. and Regine Rowland to Andrew and Susan Dellasala, in Auburn Township for $400,000.00.
Dorothy T. Repoley to Gregory C., Sr. and Linda Repoley, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Rhonda M. Monks of Hallstead vs. Craig Monks, of Thompson, married 1995.
Christopher R. Dedonis of Springville vs. Amana Dedonis of Warrior Run, PA, married 2005.
Sarah Considine vs. Michael J. Considine, both of Montrose, married 2000.
Michael V. Kubak of Cranbury NJ and Kathleen M. Seese of Mt. Laurel, NJ.
The future of a railroad traveling through and possibly stopping in Susquehanna County is not a dead issue yet.
According to the Rail Authority’s Acting President, Ken Bondurant, “There are still a number of avenues yet to be pursued.”
This is the first time that six senators, two from Pennsylvania, two from New York and two from New Jersey, have all been on board. The senators are New York’s Clinton and Schumer; Pennsylvania’s Casey and Specter; as well as Maundy and Leoveteen from New Jersey.
These three states are working together to request that Amtrak do a feasibility study on service from Binghamton through Scranton, and on down to Hoboken. They are looking for a possibility of traveling through Susquehanna County (via Summersville in New Milford Township), traveling onward to Binghamton, NY. Susquehanna County is in the middle of Scranton and Binghamton, and would bring some economic development along with the rail route.
The Rail Authority believes that this corridor (Summersville) is the place where something is going to happen, and they would like to be in on it.
Bondurant is referring to the actual future of railroad stops and “the imminent future of the ‘already rising’ passenger service train, which is already developing and succeeding all around us.
“There is a good possibility of us being on board there, as there is only one other way,” Bondurant stated, “Susquehanna County is the best route.
“Right at this point in time, we do not need to be the quarterback, but any help we can offer is surely for the good of Susquehanna County,” Bondurant added.
A meeting with Central Bradford‘s Tony Ventello is on the slate before the next Rail Authority meeting, which is the second Friday of the month.
Ventello and the Rail Authority are hopefully going to branch out to ascertain all avenues open for approach, including downsizing the project, reapplying for any and all open roads regarding grants, applications, loans and the idea includes searching for these funds anywhere.
At this point the landowners of the Summersville property are going to do whatever it is they will do (i.e. sell) with the property, and The Rail Authority has no money at this point in time, with which to purchase even a part of it. However, The Rail Authority is far from giving up. Passenger service is on the rise, it is proposed to come through in the future, and they just aren’t giving up.
The Railroad Authority says that they are currently working with Binghamton as much as possible, and Binghamton is trying to get in positive communication with Am Track.
The good news is that the trans-loading facility or stop in Summersville is not a thing of the past yet.
Bondurant was happy that all but one of the Rail Authority members and two of the three Susquehanna County commissioners had come and discussed the situation at hand and “it was very positive.” Commissioners Giangrieco and Warren were in attendance.
The Rail Authority will continue to meet on the second Friday of the month at 10 a.m. in the EMA Conference Room in the County Office Building.
Following is the June, 2008 Silver Lake Township Police report, as submitted.
On June 2, the Birchard residence on McCormick Road reported that their mailbox and pole had been taken from the property.
On June 6, Michael Ticonchuk reported that his mailbox had been smashed and vandalized again on Crowley Road in Silver Lake Township.
On June 19, Patricia Darrah reported receiving anonymous and harassing phone calls, while working in her residence. The calls described her activity in the residence. Also, a suspicious vehicle lingered outside the residence as she received these calls. This activity is still under investigation.
HARASSMENT BY COMMUNICATION
On June 24, Robert Wayne Simpson, residing at a Friendsville address in Silver Lake Township, reported he had received numerous threatening phone calls from an individual in Montrose.
On June 24, Silver Lake Township Police assisted the Broome County Sheriff’s department with an incident involving the transport of material and garbage to N.Y. State and dumping on private property.
On June 28, Trish and Keith Armstrong reported that an elderly man was harassing young children as they rode bicycles in the Laurel Lake area. The man was described as possibly intoxicated and driving a dark pickup in the area of avenue C.
TRESPASSING & ATV VIOLATIONS
Numerous reports have been filed the entire month of June with ATV’s trespassing onto private property and causing damage, as well as many incidents of ATV’s running the main roadways.
Any information or questions for the Silver Lake Township Police, please call 570-278-6818 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be held strictly confidential.
It's been several months in the making. In another two weeks Harford's new driveway ordinance is expected to be formally adopted. Harford Township's newest Supervisor, Garry Foltz, who generated the measure, read the entire text of the proposed ordinance at the meeting of the Harford Board of Supervisors on July 8.
The ordinance implements a set of "private driveway access permit requirements and installation guidelines" that the Supervisors hope will help alleviate problems on the roads where driveways join them, particularly problems with water and ice. Although the new regulations are fairly detailed, the ordinance gives the Supervisors plenty of room to waive or modify some of the requirements in individual cases.
Under the new ordinance, a permit to build a new driveway will cost $50, will require property owners to submit plans with the application, and will require an inspection of the completed project by a Supervisor or the township Roadmaster before the township will issue a "driveway occupancy permit." The "requirements" and "guidelines" are not a part of the ordinance itself, but carry most of the detail, including an attached drawing labeled "Driveway Construction Standards," adapted from PennDOT regulations and showing a recommended approach to installing a new driveway.
The new ordinance updates one that has been in force since 1986 and gives the township Supervisors more control over junctures with its roads and the handling of water. Most of the concern is with the installation and maintenance of sluices, but the ordinance and accompanying regulations also require a minimum sight distance at the road of 120 feet, no closer than 60 feet from a road intersection nor less than three feet from a property line. Construction standards include requirements for ditching, stone fill at the juncture with the right of way, and proper crowning, all to manage water run-off. In addition, a driveway that services more than one residence or business will have to have a stop sign installed where the driveway meets the township road.
According to Mr. Foltz, except in cases where major alterations are made to an existing driveway, the provisions in the new ordinance apply only to new construction. He said that the $50 fee applies to both residential and commercial applications, and, while the ordinance does allow for the imposition of additional fees for inspections and the like, he said that the fifty dollars should cover "every bit of [the permitting process]." "We're not in this to make money," he said.
In other business, Supervisor and Township Secretary Sue Furney reported "nothing new" on the project to replace the bridge over Butler Creek on Pennay Hill Road. She said that the preliminary work on the stream must be completed by the end of September. The entire project must be completed before the end of the year in order to qualify for reimbursement by FEMA and PEMA as a result of the flooding two years ago.
The Supervisors decided to accept a proposal from JMF Computer Services to install a new computer in the township office, upgrade the computer in the shop, and to provide training, all for a cost "not to exceed $3,100." A lower-cost alternative was offered, but the Supervisors decided that they would be more comfortable with the services of Jeffrey Flynn of JMF. The old office computer could not be effectively connected to the Internet with the new DSL service that the Supervisors want to install, expecting to reduce communications costs. They also hope that a new accounting system will allow the township to manage payroll on the new computer, as requested by the township's auditors.
The Supervisors opened two bids to supply anti-skid material for traction control in winter weather. Roadmaster and Supervisor Terry VanGorden said the smaller anti-skid used last winter was generally ineffective. The bids were for #67 anti-skid, a larger stone product. The winning bidder was Eastern Industries (formerly State Aggregates) at $11.25 per ton for 1,050 tons, a third less than the competing bid.
Supervisors adopted the latest recommended mileage reimbursement announced by the Federal Internal Revenue Service. Most municipalities base mileage payments for employees using their private vehicles on the IRS standard, which went up from 50.5 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile on July 1.
Roadmaster VanGorden reported that the lowest accepted bidder for AEP oil for dust control, Vestal Asphalt, has not been very responsive, sometimes delaying deliveries up to two weeks. The last three loads of 4,200 gallons of the sticky material that controls dust on dirt roads more effectively than the old calcium chloride treatments, were purchased from the next highest bidder, Suit-Kote. Mr. VanGorden said he would give Vestal one last chance before switching to Suit-Kote completely.
PennDOT has announced the replacement of a pipe under U.S. Route 11 in the Kingsley area. The township was given 30 days to comment on the notice, but no other date for the work was given. The Supervisors determined that Harford Township has no direct interest in the project.
The Supervisor have also received an offer to lease township land for gas leasing at a price of $2,550 per acre for five years, and a royalty of 15% on production. No one was sure just how many acres the township owns, but there was comment that much higher offers were available.
The next meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors is scheduled for July 22, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the township building on Route 547.
TRIANGLE UPDATE – Hearing Date Again Postponed
A court hearing on the dispute between Bronson Pinchot and the Harford Historical Society over the triangle/park in the middle of Harford village that had been scheduled for June 20, was "continued" (lawyer-talk for postponed) to accommodate a vacation by Mr. Pinchot's attorney. It was eventually rescheduled for September 22, but it now appears that one of the Historical Society's counselors will be unavailable for that date as well. Mr. Pinchot is seeking to regain control of the triangle, whose management as a memorial park was given to the Historical Society in 1941. Mr. Pinchot seems to object to the gazebo that was placed on the site in 1994. As current owner of the old store property to which the triangle property belonged, Mr. Pinchot is suing to recover control of the triangle for breach of terms in the indenture under which the 6,300- square-foot plot was made over to the Historical Society.
The Great Bend Township supervisors were pleased to report the progress of road work at their July 7 meeting. Except for some minor touchup work, projects on Airport Road, McHugh Hill, Emerson, VanVleck, Baptist Hill, and Highland Roads have been completed.
Prior to the June 2 meeting interviews had been held for the open road crew position; a motion carried this evening to hire Curt Blewett, effective June 3 at a rate of $12 an hour.
Phase III of the Bridging Communities project is in progress; the committee is working with the architect and PennDOT.
BIU, the third-party building inspection firm that contracts with COG has requested a two-cent per square foot increase in permit fees due to the high cost of gasoline and medical insurance; this will be discussed at the July 15 COG meeting.
Assessment permits were issued to Joe and JoAnne Kenny and Mark and Donna Tewes. Testing or permitting has been done for Morgan Reinbold, David and June Sienko, Donald Kowalewski, Robert Haley, Donald and Debra Dissinger and for the township (FEMA properties). Subdivisions were approved for William Gilbo (Blue Ridge Motors) and Mr. and Mrs. Howard Colwell. Edward Greene III has applied for a bluestone small non-coal mine permit, and Mike Emmert received a GP-3 permit for DuBois Creek.
Correspondence received included notice that Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC has filed an application for approval with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission; this item led to some discussion, as it pertains to gas drilling. It was noted that the drilling operations have need of 2.075 million gallons of water per day of operation.
Other correspondence included the Susquehanna County Conservation District’s 2007 annual report and a copy of the Hallstead Fire & Engine Hose Co. 2007 expenses; the fire company would like the township to consider increasing the fire tax in the 2009 budget. The Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau requested their annual donation of 10¢ per resident, $189; a motion carried to approve. There will be a public (disaster) assistance seminar for township officials on July 30; at least two of the supervisors planned to attend.
The supervisors also received a letter from the Endless Mountains Technology Center, a newly formed non-profit endeavor. Resident Ralph Reynolds, who is on the board of the EMTC, explained that it is a partnership between the county school districts and local businesses to provide training, in whatever technical areas needed, to county residents, whether they be recent graduates or adults. The EMTC could, for example, provide training for computer-driven bluestone cutting. It is a pretty comprehensive program, he said, and expressed a willingness to give the supervisors a more detailed presentation on what it is all about. The supervisors said that they would be interested in a presentation.
The IRS has recently approved an increase in the allowable mileage compensation; after a brief discussion, it was agreed to leave the township’s rate as is for the time being.
A resident asked about track loaders that were recently seen on township roads; he asked what could be done about them tearing up the road surface and removing the calcium that had been applied. The supervisors said that the owner of the quarry at the top of the road had requested permission to use the road for the loaders, and as it had been just prior to work scheduled for the road, they had agreed. The quarry has since ceased operations and is in the process of reclamation. They added that this particular quarry operator had always been willing to take care of any damage caused by heavy equipment.
During public comment, a resident asked if potholes on upper Bogart Street could be taken care of, and another had some questions about whether or not gas drilling operations were required to obtain permits from the township; they are not, permitting in this case is handled through DEP.
The next meeting will be on Monday, August 4, 7 p.m. in the township building.
Several letters of correspondence figured into Forest City Borough’s July 7 meeting. Seth Wasnock, Old Home Week Coordinator, requested that Main Street be closed for this year’s festivities during the evenings of July 31 and August 1. On August 2, Main Street will be closed beginning at 1 p.m. Alternate routes will be similar to last year’s.
Lynn M. Conrad of the Rail-Trail Council requested emergency services coverage and parking privileges for the D&H Distance Run to be held on September 7. The Forest City Council would like a detailed parking agreement, in order to prevent congestion on Commerce Boulevard. A meeting to coordinate services will be held on Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. at the Forest City American Legion Building.
Following a June 16 meeting between John Mazur, financial consultant, and Susan Coleman, Forest City Borough secretary, Council received notice that the borough’s Liquid Fuels Fund is in compliance.
One Forest City resident questioned the need for the borough’s sewer project, but was assured by solicitor Paul Smith that the project is essential. The project is expected to cost between $8M and $10M and to be in operation within four years, with design of the lines to be completed by Fall, 2008. KBA Engineering is presently surveying each existing pipeline.
Mayor Cost announced that there have been problems with individuals speeding down Main Street and not stopping at crosswalks.
The Organization of Fallen Officers donated four police vests to the borough. Council decided to table a donation until more information can be gathered on the organization.
Michael Souryavong was hired for the Forest City Police Force.
On July 17, at 9 a.m., a hearing will be held at the Borough Building concerning a condemned property at 1009 N. Main Street, Forest City.
Robert Tedesco of the Department of Public Works announced that several residents mentioned the possibility of running gas lines to their houses. Council responded that with some roads presently ripped up, the gas company might be willing to install the lines.
One resident claimed that some people are burning trash in their yard. Another resident stated that people should not have burning barrels in their yard, since burning trash in town is illegal.
In August or September, the Department of Public Works will re-landscape the gazebo area.
Mrs. Mihelc announced that there have been problems with “acts of mischief” in Kennedy Park. Following Mihelc’s suggestion, Council agreed that the police must resume locking the doors at the Recreation Building in Kennedy Park every evening.
As a final matter of business, Council passed a motion to adopt the Susquehanna County Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan. Drafted by Susquehanna County’s Emergency Management Agency and The Department of Planning and Economic Development, the plan is expected to protect the welfare of the borough and the safety of the residents.
Susquehanna Boro Mayor Denise Reddon hosted an informational session on July 10 for property owners within the boro interested in information on gas leasing. An independent landman who is familiar with the operations of companies buying leases in the area was on hand to answer general questions.
Since many of the boro’s properties are less than the ten acres required for leasing, the question was, what could smaller landowners do to get in on the leases? While there is a ten-acre minimum, it is possible for landowners to join together in a “block” and lease their land. The catch is, that land would have to add up to ten or more contiguous acres. It wouldn’t necessarily all have to be in a neat square, but the properties would need to be contiguous (adjacent or touching at some point).
If, for example, the owner of a quarter-acre on Washington Street was interested in getting into leasing, he/she could contact neighbors to see if they’d be wiling to sign up. It wouldn’t have to involve only other properties on Washington Street, it could also include those on Prospect Street or Main Street. As long as the properties are contiguous, they would be eligible.
Each of the property owners would qualify for a sign-on bonus according to the size of their properties. Leases are currently going for $2,550 to $2,750 per acre; the owner of a quarter of an acre would get $637.50 - $687.50, according to the going rate at the time of signing. Royalties would be determined by a complex formula, using information from geological studies that would determine how much gas is drawn from a particular area. The formula would also take the property’s size into consideration, and would be about 15 or 16%, depending on the lease signed, which could be for 5, 7 or 8 years (some are renewable, at which time an additional sign-on bonus would be paid). And, each individual property owner would be paid the sign-on bonus and royalties; the payments would not be “pooled” to be divided by the lease holders themselves.
At this point, it does appear that the current sign-on bonuses being offered might remain at the same level for the immediate future as they have for the past two months or so, but as it is a competition-driven business, they could just as easily go down as up.
Wells are drilled in such a way that the gas can be extracted horizontally. In other words, there may not be a well near a particular property, but the gas under it could still be taken out. As it stands now, in New York state a property owner would be entitled to royalties for the extracted gas after a certain point, whether or not they had a lease. But, in PA the gas can be removed and royalties do not have to be paid unless the property owner has a lease agreement.
There were some questions about “addendums” many had heard about. Standard property leases would apply in this situation; addendums are only used for properties with special uses, such as the school grounds or the boro’s park properties. Addendums are only used to stipulate such things as the distance from the school building/playground to the wells, and other considerations for special use properties.
There were some questions about the extraction process itself; would that cause the surface to cave in? When the well is drilled, the cavity is encased in concrete and filled with water and sand as the gas is extracted.
Another question was about the possibility of hitting oil when the wells are drilled. Although this is very unlikely in this area, if that were to happen the lease would allow for the oil to be extracted and the lease holder would receive royalties for its sale.
The Montrose borough council received a new member at the July 7 meeting. There had been only two responses to the advertisement for anyone interested in taking this position, one of which came in after the deadline. The decision was easy then, and Mary Anne Waddington was unanimously chosen to take Alice Walsh's seat on the council. The mayor swore her in, and she began her duties the same evening.
This was not the only staff alteration made that evening. Ms. Walsh had been the vice president; Todd Chamberlain was appointed in her stead. Advertisement for a part-time, 16 hr./wk. police secretary position was also approved, after an executive session for police personnel.
“Go Joe” will once again be visiting Montrose, though this time he will not be stopping to stay. Borough secretary Annette Rogers was contacted by Channel 16 and told that the infamous bicyclist plans on traveling through Montrose on July 24, between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. While the station would have liked him to stop in Montrose again, due to the warm reception he received last time, it was felt that they needed to visit other towns. Still, he will pass through, and they would like dummy heads and maybe people to line the street to greet him.
Ilona Scroggins attended the meeting to discuss her proposal for a summer park program. There used to be such a program, but according to those present, it was abandoned when it did not meet the supervision guidelines required by the insurance company. There had also been problems with parents using it as a babysitting service, and not returning from work until after it ended. Everyone present, however, spoke of it as a program fondly remembered by those participating. Ms. Scroggins stated that many places across the country currently have a parks program, and felt that this could be resurrected with some alterations. She proposed a drop-in program, where children would not have to sign in or out and would not be required to be present at set times. This might, it was thought, remove the responsibility from the borough. The program, as outlined by Ms. Scroggins, might bring about such benefits as reducing anti-social behavior at the park, bringing the community together, and giving the teens and children of the borough another constructive summer activity.
Ms. Scroggins said that she spends a lot of time at Memorial Park with her children. She brings art supplies there every Tuesday and Thursday from 1-4, and makes them available for other children to use. She was concerned, however, about various problems at the park, including the behavior of some of the youth. She reported youth spitting, using inappropriate talk around younger children, intimidating parents, etc. The council stated that they have had multiple complaints about this behavior, and at a previous meeting did act to increase police presence there. Council president Joel Maxey expressed his opinion, though he said he could be wrong, that in his 14.5 years on council the police have never spent enough time in the park. He said he did not want them there to scare the children, but to be a supportive presence. The police chief stated that they do patrol the park daily, and that they maintain a list of youth who have been warned for violating the rules. This led to talk of the security cameras which the council had also approved at a prior meeting. Mr. Craig Reimel explained that there were unforeseen technological difficulties with this plan. The utilization of fiber optic cables in lieu of wireless cameras was suggested for further investigation.
Another concern of Ms. Scroggins was the bathrooms being locked at the park, which the council explained occurred due to vandalism. Concerned parents are able, Ms. Rogers suggested, to come up to the borough office and get the key from her, so long as it is returned after use.
In the end Mr. Maxey stated that if the proposed park program would be feasible and doable, he would be “thrilled” to see it come to fruition. This sentiment appeared to be shared by other council members. Ms. Rogers agreed to contact the insurance company and investigate the matter, and Ms. Scroggins volunteered to get the ball rolling if it could be done. In the meantime, other park development activities are already being investigated. At the June meeting there was apparently discussion about changing the old baseball field to a soccer field and the tennis courts to volleyball courts. In addition to this, Mr. Reimel has been working for some months on a walking trail.
The saga of the renters’ ordinance continued at this meeting, with an additional twist. A public hearing was held on an update of the International Property Maintenance Code. The code currently on the borough's books is from 1970; the hearing was to adopt the 2006 version. It was suggested that a lot of the concerns spurring the proposed renters’ ordinance would be covered in this code anyway, and would cover both home owners and renters. However, the code goes far beyond the mentioned concerns. One council member stated that someone could go broke trying to keep up with it. The code, for example, forbids flaking paint on a house. Mr. Reimel suggested a policy of selective enactment rather than selective enforcement. This would mean that the council only enacted parts of the code, rather than accepting the whole code and only enforcing parts of it. It was decided that the council would review the code prior to enacting the renters ordinance, and would reconvene on July 22 to further discuss the matter. The code would not take care of rental registration, which some still desire a renters’ ordinance for. Ms. Rogers emphasized that the renters’ ordinance has not yet been enacted; apparently she had to write a letter for some tenants whose landlords claimed that it had.
Gas companies, it was related, have been contacting various municipalities, requesting to purchase water from sewage plants after treatment. These companies also need a place to treat the water. Mr. Maxey proposed that Montrose utilize this as an opportunity for development. He proposed contacting the company and stating that Montrose is very interested in both selling and treating water for it, but requires an upgrade to its facility. The company, he suggested, might be willing to help fund the upgrade. Nothing can happen until DEP gives its consent to the process, but the drafting of a letter was approved.
The council, however, decided to write a letter against the acquisition of 2.075 million gallons a day of material from the Susquehanna River Basin by Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC. The decision was not unanimous, with a three-to-three council tie vote being broken by the mayor, perhaps for the first time in recent years.
On July 1, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., met with several dairy farmers from across the United States concerning grave issues facing all dairy farmers, regardless of their location.
The meeting, which was held in Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania, was arranged jointly through the efforts of Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag), Meshoppen, PA, and National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), Washington, DC.
Brenda Cochran, dairy farmer from Westfield, PA, thanked Senator Casey for his tireless efforts to obtain a new pricing formula for dairy farmers. However, Cochran informed the senator that farmers from all regions of the country still need accelerated efforts to continue to secure a new way to price raw milk.
Cochran facilitated the meeting in the absence of Pro Ag manager Arden Tewksbury (who had been hospitalized).
A special conference line was in place that allowed NFFC members Loren Lopes and Joaquin Contente from California to address the senator about the plight of many dairy farmers in their state. Contente said he felt corruption and collusion in the dairy industry were placing hardships on many dairy farmers and that these two issues had to be addressed.
LoriJayne Grahn, a Pro Ag member from Minnesota, related to Senator Casey all the challenges she was experiencing in Minnesota concerning her efforts to get the message out about the difficulties being experienced by the dairy farmers. She told the senator how grateful she was for all of his efforts.
Bryan Wolfe, a Pro Ag member from Rome, OH, and Vice-President of Ohio Farmers Union, and NFFC Executive Committee member, explained to Senator Casey the need for current federal investigations into dairy industry corruption to move forward and for new ones to be initiated.
Senator Casey informed the group that regardless of any difficulties in Washington, he would continue pressing forward in an attempt to develop a fair, raw milk pricing formula that would enable farmers to cover their cost of production.
Paul Rozwadowski from Wisconsin, who serves as chairman of the NFFC Dairy Sub-committee, thanked Senator Casey for his efforts to obtain the “feed adjustor” in the “Milk Income Loss Contract” (MILC) program. However, the chairman reminded the senator that the “MILC” program falls way short of correcting the pricing inequities facing dairy farmers.
Gerald Carlin, dairy farmer from South Auburn, PA, thanked Senator Casey for co-sponsoring S-1722 (“The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2007”), along with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). Carlin further stated, “The only way we can correct the pricing mess is by legislation similar to S-1722.”
Sherre Boyanowski from Laceyville, PA, Donna Hall from Muncy, PA, and Hal Drick from Allenwood, PA – all dairy farmers – explained to the senator how difficult it is to maintain their families’ dairy farms under the current economic conditions, when farm milk prices are reducing drastically while the input costs are out of control. All expressed concern regarding the viability of many of their communities’ local dairy farmers under present conditions.
Floyd Hall and Fred Matthews from upstate New York, near the Canadian border, expressed their concerns regarding the dilemma facing dairy farmers. They told Senator Casey that dairy farmers in New York State are experiencing the same critical problems as are dairy farmers in all other states. Mr. Hall asked Senator Casey, “What don’t the people in Washington understand? Don’t they realize what is happening on our farms?”
Representatives from NFFC, Irene Lin and Rebecca Kanter, emphasized to the senator the national scope of the ongoing dairy crisis.
Senator Casey again reiterated the difficulties surrounding efforts to obtain needed legislation. However, he was very appreciative for the dairy farmers’ bringing all their concerns to him. He stated that he depends very much on organizations like Pro Ag and NFFC to work with him to solve the problems that are destroying our dairy farmers.
Arden Tewksbury, manager of Pro Ag, speaking from his home in Meshoppen, PA, wants everyone to understand that current milk prices paid to dairy farmers are running over $5.00 per cwt below prices received in August, 2007.
ProAg can be reached at (570) 833-5776 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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