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The Blue Ridge School Board held a very short, surprise special meeting on July 31 with the sole purpose of appointing a new superintendent. Joseph Chris Dyer is coming home.
Chris Dyer, the new Superintendent of the Blue Ridge School District.
Chris Dyer grew up in Thompson. He served as an officer with the 101st Airborne Division from 1985 to 1991, and then spent three years commanding a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) brigade covering nearly 100 secondary schools and colleges in Virginia.
In 1995 Mr. Dyer took on a second career as first a teacher, and then an administrator in public schools from Hancock, NY to Virginia. He will be leaving a post as Principal of Western Albemarle High School in Crozet, VA to come to Blue Ridge. His stated intention is to retire in Susquehanna County after serving at Blue Ridge for five years. His initial appointment is for three years, at a salary of $98,000 per year.
Mr. Dyer will remain in Virginia at least until the next Blue Ridge Board meeting on August 11. He traveled to Susquehanna County for interviews, but participated briefly with the Board during the special session via conference telephone call.
Come meet Superintendent Dyer at the Board's next public session on August 11, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School. Committees will meet prior to the business session, starting at about 6:45 p.m.
The July 28 Mountain View School Board meeting was full of program, policy, and grant discussion. Topics discussed included a new N.E.I.U. cyber school, a pre-k program, Reading Recovery, and food service policy.
After the normal meeting formalities, the first person to speak was Dr. Reese from the Intermediate Unit. He came to give a presentation on the V-link program, a cyber services program (not a cyber charter school). The program comes from a desire to get cyber students more fully engaged in public schools. Students participating in it would go through the superintendent's office for enrollment, could still be involved in district clubs, etc., and would receive a diploma from the school district at the end. Parents would work through a school designate. Highly qualified educators lead the classes, which take place in an on-line forum. Dr. Reese spoke of the on-line environment providing lots of benefits, as well as encompassing summer school, a gifted program, professional learning opportunities for staff, etc. Also, with cyber students choosing this option, money would not be redirected from the schools. It is hoped that the program will develop into both a full-time and part-time program, where students could choose to take some classes on-line and others in a traditional classroom.
Someone queried as to whether or not it was true that the state was developing a state cyber school. Dr. Reese answered that the state is looking into developing an on-line 7-12 state run high school, but that the I.U. is aligning their program with the state’s so that if this happens they should blend easily. Regardless, implementation of the state's program is still far out.
Karen Voigt, the director of curriculum and instruction, federal programs, spoke up regarding a letter she received. For 11 years the district has been sending staff to become trained in the Reading Recovery program, which identifies children having problems reading in kindergarten and gives them half-hour, one-on-one lessons to try and bring them up to the average reading level. The program integrates writing, phonics, and parental involvement, and helps identify students who may have learning disabilities. An educator present said that the first grade instructional staff feel it to be vital, and Mountain View is the only district in the area that runs the program. The ongoing training, however, has been expensive and educators have had to travel to attend. Under a new state initiative, funding has become available to train a current school educator as a leader of the training, so that training could be conducted in-house. The grant would pay for the leader's training, as well as for the creation of a room with one-way glass, a necessity for a reading recovery training site. Mountain View could then host other districts, and the trainer could also work with regular classroom instructors. Ms. Voigt was seeking permission at the meeting only to apply for the grant, as the deadline loomed close. She received this, and the matter may be discussed further in the future.
The first reading of the new Food Service policy caused some debate. The main change regards the amount that students would be allowed to charge. If the alterations become official, the policy will state that when a student’s account reaches a $5 negative balance, the students will be apprised of the situation. At -$10, a letter will be send to parents from the cafeteria manager. At -$25, a letter will be sent home by the district business manager. This is the maximum that a student will be allowed to charge; after this point students will have to either pay cash or bring their lunch in order to eat. This move was at least partially prompted by the $11,000 in negative cafeteria charge debt accrued last year.
The stark cut-off is what caused concern amongst some present, who asked about the impact this policy might have if applied universally K-12 (as is planned). Visitors felt that the policy might be fine for high school students, but wondered about the impact on lower elementary children who could be refused lunch. One board member responded that it was the parent's responsibility. An opponent of the policy pointed out, however, that a young child could not make their parent pay, and asked if the children could just be given peanut butter and jelly.
Elementary principal Susan Pipitone assured those present that she was very concerned about elementary children not getting lunch. She agreed, however, with the board that the lunch debt couldn't continue to run that negative. She stated that she would stay after school if necessary and call parents personally to prompt them to send in money, and if necessary would involve Children and Youth.
It was also stated that action would be taken to alert parents to the existence of the free and reduced lunch program, and of the ability to apply for it throughout the year. In addition to this, another step might be worked into the policy where the parents receive a phone call from the cafeteria manager in addition to the written notices.
Another hotly debated topic was the proposed Pre-K program. The school was awarded a Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts grant in the amount of $157,000 for the coming year, one of only 15 new grants under this program in the state. The money could allow for a pilot pre-K program to begin, one classroom with slots for 20 students. The children will have to meet certain guidelines, and not be financially eligible for Head-Start. The children are not allowed to ride the bus to school, but money was set aside in the grant proposal for transportation by car contract or a van with seat-belts. They would arrive fifteen minutes later than the other students, and leave fifteen minutes earlier. The pre-K year would begin after the regular school year. The program as written is fully funded by the grant, including instructional materials and other supplies. Mrs. Pipitone spoke of it as a wonderful opportunity and hopefully a start to a larger program, citing a statistic that almost 50% of children currently do not meet benchmarks coming into kindergarten.
Before it was approved however, several people present spoke against the initiative. Mr. Griffiths was disappointed that he didn't get more information on exactly how the money was being spent. Mrs. Pipitone cited the short time she had to write the grant, and her belief that Mountain View was not going to be awarded the money as reasoning behind this, but offered to give him the information he wanted within a few days or to attend a special meeting on the subject if he so desired. Another board member was concerned that the grant would not be renewed, forcing the district to pay for it in coming years, and sought assurance that it would be picked up again in the future. Such a guarantee could not be given, it was responded, as the grant depends upon the state budget, but schools with existing programs do receive first priority in the future.
Some visitors vehemently opposed the program, feeling it was too long a day for 4-year olds, that schools expect too much from children too soon, that it would be used as a babysitting service, and that it might hurt communication between children and their parents. Mrs. Mack stated that she did not have kids to send them away earlier and earlier, with another woman using kindergarten as an example, stating that it used to be optional. Several there pointed out that kindergarten is still optional, though Mrs. Pipitone said that she could not see a child being ready for first grade without it. Mrs. Jesse pointed out that this also is not a mandatory program. Parents have a choice whether or not to involve their child. As for it being a long day, Mrs. Pipitone said that she originally had wanted to run it as two half-day programs, but could not afford to do so with transportation and have it still be fully funded by the grant. As regards babysitting, Mrs. Pipitone stated that if it was used as a babysitting service, and kids happened to learn and become better prepared for kindergarten, she was okay with that.
Transportation policies were also debated, perhaps the most vicious debate of the evening, prompting one board member to profanity. The discussion began around two parents who had requested a student walking study to try and get the bus to pick up their daughter. They did not feel the place where she met the bus to be safe, and said that a bus had picked up their neighbor's child until he graduated, and that adding their road to the bus route could actually shave two miles off the route. The debate which emanated from this request seemed to touch on existing tension and old wounds, however. Mr. R. Twining accused the administration of dragging their feet so that they wouldn't have to do it, and swore, stating that the board had to micromanage when the superintendent didn't do his job. Dr. Chichura pointed out that it had been a board direction to cut down on bus routes and to establish ruling that a child could be asked to walk or find other transportation if they lived 1.5 miles or less from a safe bus stop. The board had wanted to reduce the length of time children stayed on busses.
Following is the Susquehanna County sentencing report for July, 2008 as submitted by the county District Attorney’s office.
Mark Finner Carpenter, 49, of Clifford to 11 months to 2 years minus 1 day served 6 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, followed by 5 months home confinement, pay costs of prosecution, pay $300 Act 198 fee, pay $2,500 fine, pay $200 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, attend Alcohol highway safe driving school program, abide by Pennsylvania interlock law, perform 50 hours community service, continue with drug and alcohol education, obtain GED for Driving Under the Influence in Clifford on November 24, 2007.
Edward Gerald Wright, 40, of New Milford to 3 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay cost of prosecution, pay $150 fine, not to have contact with the victim in this case, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, not to have contact with minors without appropriate adult supervision, receive a sexual offenders treatment evaluation for Indecent Assault in New Milford Township on January 1, 2008. The defendant also received 7 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, to run concurrent to the above sentence, pay $300 fine, pay costs of prosecution, not to have contact with the victim in this case, not to have contact with minors without appropriate adult supervision, receive a sexual offenders treatment evaluation for Corruption of Minors in New Milford Township on January 1, 2008.
Amber Yesuvida, 24, of Mehoopany to 3 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, attend outpatient counseling, supervision may be transferred to Wyoming County for Criminal Conspiracy/Forgery in Bridgewater Township on July 1, 2007. The defendant also received 3 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, to run concurrent to the above sentence, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, attend outpatient counseling, supervision may be transferred to Wyoming County for Criminal Conspiracy/Forgery in Bridgewater Township on July 1, 2007. Finally, the defendant received 3 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, to run concurrent to the above sentences, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, attend outpatient counseling, supervision may be transferred to Wyoming County for Criminal Conspiracy/Forgery in Bridgewater Township on July 1, 2007.
Ryan Engstrom, 29, of Keansburg, NJ to 6 months to 2 years minus 1 day in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, followed by 2 years consecutive probation, credit for time served, pay $100 Act 198 fee, pay $450 fine, pay $150 restitution to the Susquehanna County Task Force, not to have contact with anyone on supervision, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, supervision may be transferred for Delivery of a Controlled Substance in Montrose Borough on December 20, 2008.
David Michael Brant, 28, of Kirkwood, NY to pay $100 fine, and pay cost of prosecution. The defendant also received a $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution for Criminal Mischief in New Milford Township on October 3, 2007. Finally, the defendant received 1 year probation, pay cost of prosecution, supervision may be transferred to Broome County, not to have contact with the victim in this case, perform 50 hours of community service, take an anger management course, pay $300 fine for Defiant Trespass on October 3, 2007 in New Milford Township.
Marion A. Jacques (Estate) to Donald D. and Debra L. Norris, in Susquehanna for one dollar.
Ivan and Mary Ann Guzman to Gregard LLC, in Susquehanna for $14,000.00.
Gary S. and Patricia L. Bloom to Raymond E. and Linda A. Cebular, in Springville Township for $276,000.00.
Wells Fargo Bank and Option One Mortgage Corporation to Kenneth Small and Mark Lloyd, in Liberty Township for $50,500.00.
Walter E. Buechel to Nancy J. Shelp, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Robert M. Waller and Anne M. Brennan to Robert M. Waller and Anne M. Brennan, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Richard T. Craig (DBA) Craiges and Elverta Craig to Richard M. and Eileen T. Craig, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Jewett F., Jr. and Jean Neiley, Hartwell P. and Nancy G. Morse and Kenneth S. Leasure (Estate) to James E. McNerney, Jr., in Silver Lake Township for $19,000.00.
Edwin and Lorie Rhoads to George H. Ritter, in New Milford Township for $167,500.00.
Donald Noldy to Charles Francis Noldy (Estate), in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Raymond H. and Doris M. Jensen to Roy A. and Rebecca E. Jensen, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
James S. Clark and Charles C. Haley to Over the Hill Sportsman Club, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Norman E. and Dorothy Turner to Darrin Derose, in Liberty Township for $35,000.00.
Christina Sezer to Joseph G., Jr. and Lori A. Wrobleski, in Gibson Township for $125,000.00.
Bradley J. Mead to Bradley J. Mead, in Lanesboro Borough for $22,400.00.
Frederick A. Gimino and Amy Matuza, both of Binghamton, NY.
Shawn S. Brown and Mary Antoinette Barney, both of Uniondale.
Kevin Ray Blaney and Jessie Joanne Puzo, both of Montrose.
Marc J. Leach and Jamie B. Aldrich, both of Conklin, NY.
Richard C. Whitney, Jr. and Karyn Mary Westmoreland, both of Nicholson.
Kenneth R. Ely and Emmagene Elioda Samoy, both of Dimock.
DUI CRASH WITH INJURIES
On July 30 at around 7:45 p.m., there was an accident on SR 367, at Brozonis Rd. in Rush Township. The incident occurred as Michael Tyler of Meshoppen was traveling southbound on SR 367 at a high rate of speed along a downhill section of the road. Tyler lost control of the vehicle, crossed the centerline, and crashed head-on into a northbound vehicle driven by Gina Olshan of Laceyville. In Olshan's vehicle were one adult passenger, Bridgette Perfetti of Laceyville, and six unnamed children. Injuries were sustained by all involved; no one was wearing a seatbelt. Alcohol is a suspected factor; this is under investigation.
On July 29 at around 11:35 p.m., Bobby Perry of the Scranton area was traveling southbound on I81 in Lenox Twp when he lost control of his 2005 Freightliner truck. The vehicle traveled across a grass median divider in the highway and across both northbound lanes. It then exited the travel lanes, passed through a series of guard rails, and continued approximately 75 feet down a bank before coming to a final rest. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
A S&W 9mm pistol and a .22 9 revolver were stolen from the residence of Christopher Norris in Oakland Twp, sometime between the 3rd and 9th of July. Anyone with information is asked to contact PSP Gibson.
On July 21, an incident occurred at 3 p.m. on Rte. 171 in Thompson Boro. The crash began as Megan MacDonald was traveling SR 171 northbound at the same time that Katherine Keating was traveling south. MacDonald crossed the double yellow line and collided with Keating's Toyota Sienna, striking the corner of the front driver's side. The impact occurred in the Southbound lane. PSP was assisted on the scene by the Thompson fire department and French's towing in Susquehanna Borough. Injuries were sustained, and McDonald was charged with Careless Driving.
Between July 22 and 23, one or more unknown person(s) forcibly entered the residence of Andrew and Christine Agler of Kingsley. Money and a music CD were removed, with a total value of approximately $500.
THEFT FROM A MOTOR VEHICLE
Sometime overnight on July 22, one or more unknown perpetrator(s) removed 10 gallons of gas from a vehicle parked at the Liberty Trailer Park in Liberty Twp. The vehicle belonged to Halsted Communications of Ballston, NY.
On July 17 at around 2:30 p.m., Dennis Daugostine was traveling southbound in the left lane of interstate 81. He was riding a 2006 Kawasaki ZZR. At this time Daugostine struck a loading ramp, which fell off a truck and was lying in the left lane. He lost control and was ejected from the bike, coming to rest in the median with the vehicle on the berm. Daugostine was wearing a helmet and was transported to CMC Scranton for treatment.
On July 15, at around 11:20 p.m., several windows were smashed on a trailer belonging to Theresa Shamis of Clifton Heights, PA. The trailer was unoccupied at the time.
On July 23, at around 3:11 a.m., an unknown person took four $20 lottery tickets from the Sunoco in Hallstead, while a clerk was present. The unknown perpetrator then fled the scene in an unknown direction.
On July 22, a vehicle belonging to Margo Benjamin of Hallstead was broken into while parked on Dubois Street. Benjamin's Sirius radio was removed. That same day, an iPod and cell phone were removed from a vehicle belonging to Bryan Glasgow of Hallstead while parked on Forth Street of that town.
On July 21 at 4:30 p.m., Kerri Mills of Montgomery Village, MD was traveling northbound on I81 in New Milford Twp. when she lost control of her vehicle . The Honda began a clockwise rotation, traveled across the median and began a rollover maneuver toward the driver's side. After rolling over one time, the vehicle came to a final rest upon its roof in the median.
Sometime between the 22nd and 26th of July, a 25 HP Mercury Outboat motor belonging to James Castaldi of Scranton was stolen from Lake View Dr. at Acre Lake in Lenox Twp. The motor is valued at $1,700.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On July 21, an accident occurred at 7:13 p.m. on Interstate 81 in Lenox Twp. The collision occurred in an area of the highway which is under construction, with the left traffic lane closed and traffic control barrels in place. At this time Varucan Kaldirim of Endwell, NY lost control of his 2001 Columbia Freightliner and exited the travel lanes to the east of the roadway while negotiating a curve. The truck traveled upon the concrete bridge barrier on the right side of the road, before overturning partly in the right most northbound lane upon its passenger's side. Kaldirim was wearing his seatbelt, suffered no injuries, and was released by on-scene medical personnel.
On July 25, a non-traffic citation was issued upon the Great Bend Exxon Gas station for false alarms received at 1:49 a.m.
On July 26 at around 10:20 p.m., Arthur Barnes of the Thompson area lost control of his truck while traveling westbound on SR 1005, and made impact with a series of trees. Barnes exhibited signs of intoxication and was transported to Barnes Kasson Hospital for BAC testing. Charges were pending these findings.
Between the 20th and 21st of July, one or more unknown person(s) burglarized Snake Creek Marina in Franklin Twp. and stole a laptop computer valued at $1,100 from Allen Coy of Montrose.
A suspect known to owner Barbara Santos, but unnamed in the public report, is accused of stealing approximately $900 from the Rushboro General Store in Auburn Twp. between April 11 and July 19.
DEATH INVESTIGATION (ACCIDENTAL DROWNING)
On July 18, personnel from PSP Gibson arrived at Wyalusing Creek, located at the intersection of SR 706 and SR 858 in Rush Twp, upon report of a drowning victim. Prior to police arrival, the victim had been transported via ambulance to Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock, PA. The investigation revealed that the victim, Christopher Capitano of Pittston, and his friend had stopped at the local swimming hole in Wyalusing Creek. Capitano then disappeared from sight of his friend. He was found submerged in the water and was dragged to shore by several people who were swimming nearby. CPR was performed. Capitano was taken to Tyler Memorial and later life-flighted to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA where he died. Alcohol was involved.
An unknown perpetrator stole approximately ½ cord of firewood from a field belonging to Melissa Muth of Philadelphia. The wood was taken from a field in Lenox Twp. sometime between the 13th and 19th of July.
An unknown perpetrator stole a 96 Dodge Stratus belonging to David George of Moscow, PA while parked in a private driveway on Prospect St. in Susquehanna Boro. The vehicle was later abandoned.
THEFT FROM A MOTOR VEHICLE
Sometime overnight on July 13, one or more person(s) entered the unlocked vehicle belonging to John Bernard of Susquehanna, and stole it from his driveway. The keys to the vehicle were left inside it. The vehicle is described as a 1998 GMC Safari van, maroon in color, with PA Registration number FGL9123.
On July 19 between 5 a.m. and 10:10 a.m., tires were slashed on a vehicle belonging to Jacob Lee and Kylie Slocum, in Susquehanna Boro. The report indicates that a suspect is known by the victims, but this suspect was not named in the report.
The home of Daniel James and Allyssa Lawrence in Montrose was burglarized sometime overnight on July 7. A safe containing cash and other items, with an approximate total value of $2,200, was taken. A door and doorframe were also damaged in the course of the burglary, with approximate damage value of $200. The property is owned by Frank Spickerman, Jr.
HARRISBURG - Applications for financial assistance through the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) 2008 Small Business Advantage Grant Program are now being accepted, Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) announced.
The program provides a 50 percent matching grant to small businesses to help defray the costs of purchasing new equipment or implementing new processes that reduce energy consumption and prevent pollution. The grants can be worth up to $7,500.
Since the program's creation in 2004, Small Business Advantage Grants have been awarded to 670 businesses across the state, totaling more than $3.67 million.
To be eligible, an applicant must be a for-profit corporation, limited liability corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity with no more than 100 full-time employees. The entity must also be a separate legal business at the time the application is submitted and located within the Commonwealth.
Eligibility is open to manufacturers, retailers, service providers, mining operators or agriculture businesses. Additionally, the grant-supported project must be located within a Pennsylvania facility belonging to the applicant and must reduce the business's annual energy or pollution-related expenses by at least 15 percent.
For more information on the Small Business Advantage Grant Program, visit Major's Web site RepMajor.com and click on "Small Business Grants," or call the DEP at (717) 772-5160.
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