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The PSPCA of Philadelphia replied to some concerns and questions raised about its Susquehanna County branch office. The following questions and answers were selected to provide information so that all involved, including Susquehanna County residents, those concerned about animals for adoption and employees, volunteers, management and the main office were on the same page – that being the welfare of the pets at the humane society.
1. Would you please tell about the mission statement of the PSPCA?
The Pennsylvania SPCA is dedicated to rescuing animals from abuse and neglect, providing lifesaving care and treatment, guaranteeing a home for every adoptable animal, and reducing pet-overpopulation through low-cost spay-and-neuter clinics and public awareness initiatives. Through these efforts, we prevent cruelty towards animals and promote respect for their welfare, thus enhancing the lives of people and their companion animals throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
2. What actually is the position of Susquehanna County’s “No-kill policy”? How does this policy affect and benefit the public?
The PSPCA supports No Kill Solutions’ Companion Animal Protection Act. We are working toward being no-kill in all of our branches; however, the Montrose Adoption Center in Susquehanna County is an open-access facility.
There aren’t enough families to adopt animals in need of new homes, and there isn’t enough funding from local municipalities or donors to help the PSPCA Montrose Center care for the number of homeless animals received on a daily basis.
We do the best we can to find homes for as many of the animals that come into the shelter as possible. This includes transferring animals from Susquehanna to our Philadelphia Adoption Center for medical treatment and adoption, as well as having all of our branches, including Susquehanna, open for adoptions seven days a week to allow more potential adopters to come into the shelter.
The PSPCA has invested in the Susquehanna branch, building a state-of-the-art shelter and supplying funding to keep the branch operating.
3. What are the duties of a shelter employee regarding assistance for customers?
PSPCA employees have a responsibility to ensure that an adopter is suitable for the animal he or she wants to adopt – our ultimate responsibility is to make sure an animal is placed in the best possible home.
This means that the adopter has no history of animal abuse, other animals are up to date on vaccinations, and are spayed or neutered and that the pet will not live outside.
All potential pet owners also need to be educated about the animal’s needs – special care, possible medical issues, exercise requirements – so that the adopter will be able to provide the proper care. We cannot allow the public to adopt animals they will not be able to give the love, attention and care – including medical – that the animal requires.
Given our volume and limited resources, we have received only three complaints.
We are dedicated to public and customer service and encourage all residents that have an issue with the PSPCA Susquehanna branch to contact Chad Weaver, PSPCA Director of Branch Adoptions, at (570) 278-1228, or Lisa Rodgers, PSPCA COO, at (215) 426-6304, ext. 230.
4. The workers and the volunteers were told not to give any information on the euthanasia program nor the no kill policy, thus misrepresenting important information to the people by omission.
PSPCA staff should tell the public about the shelter’s adoption and euthanasia policies. We do our best to find the animals homes – placing ads in local papers, using Petfinder, transferring animals to our Philadelphia Adoption Center for medical treatment, adoption and further behavioral evaluation and training. Despite our best efforts, there are times when animals are euthanized because they are too sick, or are a behavior threat to the public. We cannot allow those animals to be adopted.
As an open access shelter, the unfortunate truth is that some animals are euthanized because the shelter does not have enough space.
The PSPCA Montrose Adoption Center has a nursery, quarantine room and overflow kennels in the back of the shelter. It is quite possible that animals being taken to this area of the shelter were taken there because they were not yet ready for the adoption area – they were either sick, or there wasn’t an open kennel. Taking an animal to the back of the shelter does not mean it was euthanized.
5. Just to mention the information regarding Brian Murphy, the Susquehanna County Manager, is to become a cruelty officer. What is the time frame of that appointment?
Brian and other PSPCA branch managers attended Pennsylvania State Humane Officer training so that they will be familiar with the state’s cruelty and abuse laws. The PSPCA already has sworn officers for the Susquehanna County area and will not be using Brian in that capacity there.
6. Would you please explain the proper handling of stray pets brought in?
By law, a stray dog has to be held for 48 hours, allowing the owner to file a lost report or come to the shelter to look for the dog. There is no time limit for cats. If no lost report has been filed in that time, or an owner has not contacted the shelter regarding the lost pet, the shelter must make a decision as to what to do with the animal.
We encourage people who have lost pets to visit the shelter frequently, as sometimes the descriptions of animals on lost reports do not match the animals brought into the shelter as strays.
7. On the same lines, there were some accusations that some strays are brought in without workers either checking for a license number nor checking for a micro-chip. Aren’t there rules which must be followed by the shelter for strays?
Our policy is to check all animals when they enter the shelter. This is done once an animal has been placed in a kennel and has calmed down.
The dog warden also checks strays he brings to the shelter for licenses, and will let the staff know whether or not the animal is registered.
8. Are there guidelines regarding cruelty cases? (i.e., a Newfoundland from a cruelty case was having a bad problem with his eye and we wondered how these animals were actually protected and cared for.)
Animals involved in cruelty cases that are open, or animals that have not been surrendered by their owners are kept in the PSPCA’s protective custody. These animals can receive some medical treatment while in our care.
The Newfoundland had medicine prescribed for his medical condition by the PSPCA’s Dr. Ravi Murarka.
Dr. Sullivan also examined the dog and prescribed the same medication. This dog has a medical issue that requires continual treatment.
Animals that are a part of cruelty cases cannot be adopted until a judicial decision has been made regarding the case..
These animals can, however, be placed with foster volunteers.
The PSPCA Montrose Branch works with the PSPCA medical staff in Philadelphia and with Dr. Sullivan regarding the veterinary needs of our animals.
9. Is there a way PSCPA can help ensure that these concerns and questions are handled in the best possible way?
The Pennsylvania SPCA takes very seriously any complaints regarding our employees and our adoption centers. When notified of complaints, we address the situation with the correct employees to ensure that the situation in question is resolved.
To date, we have received just three complaints about the Susquehanna branch.
We ask those with any concerns about the Susquehanna branch to contact Chad Weaver, PSPCA Director of Branch Adoptions, at (570) 278-1228, or Lisa Rodgers, PSPCA COO, at (215) 426-6304, ext. 230.
The PSPCA is working hard in Susquehanna County to decrease our euthanasia rate.
At the Montrose Adoption Center, we have succeeded in reducing this number, through adoption and by transferring animals to our Philadelphia Adoption Center for medical care and behavior assessments and training before being placed in new homes.
Hopefully, the information and answers to the concerns will inform people of the actual "rules and regulations" that the shelter workers follow and abide by.
It is the hope of PSPCA Director Howard Nelson and Heather Redfern, Director of Outreach Services that Susquehanna Shelter and visitors can work together to provide a better place for animals. They also welcome concerns or questions to be directed to them or Shelter Agent Chad Weaver. The appropriate phone numbers are provided at number nine of this report.
NOTE: See also exclusive announcement from Philadelphia in this week’s edition.
School boards across Pennsylvania reorganize themselves during the first week of December each year. This year, the first week of December began with the opening of deer season, and rural districts like Blue Ridge often shift schedules to accommodate hunters who wouldn't show up for meetings anyway. So, where the Blue Ridge School Board usually meets on Mondays, members gathered this time on Tuesday, December 2, for a meeting of many parts. Clearly this was out of the ordinary and discombobulated the clerical staff: the heading on the meeting agenda said December 2, 2008 was a Monday; and the reorganization agenda re-used a list of board members left over from last year.
But, no matter, the meeting was in three main parts. Committees started early, at 6:45. The Finance and Budget Committee, led by Alan Hall, worked over some detailed figures provided and explained by Penny Green that would make some changes in the way the district provides health coverage for retirees, in anticipation of a retirement incentive program that the board may offer early next year.
A typical Blue Ridge retirement incentive would provide 40% of a teacher's last-year salary paid out over five years, as well as full health coverage until age 65. (The buyout was as high as 90% years ago.) Mr. Hall estimates that in recent years the district has saved as much as half a million dollars a year by encouraging older professional staff at the upper end of the pay scale (as much as $68,000 or more) to retire, replacing them with younger individuals, often beginners who might start at only $32,000 per year.
A move is now afoot to ask retirees to contribute to their health coverage, and to stiffen the way health benefits are awarded to couples when a spouse begins receiving Medicare coverage at age 65. Ms. Green said that she will need some decisions from the full board by early 2009 so that the incentive program can be published in time to be effective. The business office will make some specific recommendations for the board to consider in January.
The district is not obligated to provide any benefits to retirees, either by state law or local union contract. Annual incentives are offered to try to save money by replacing high earners with younger talent. Mr. Hall said that the district may also extend changes in health coverage to active staff, asking everyone to begin paying some small share of the increasing premium burden. The district currently pays 100% of health insurance premiums for all of its full-time staff, and retirees up to age 65.
Another item in the full board's business agenda (an addendum, actually) would offer a $2,500 buyout to retirees wishing to leave the district's health coverage program. The administration conceded that this would only be attractive to pensioners whose spouses have coverage from another source.
When the full board assembled at 7:30, they launched into the annual reorganization session, electing Joel Whitehead to act as temporary board president. During his tenure (of about 15 minutes), the board elected Harold Empett to be its new president for next year, replacing Priscinda Gaughan. Ms. Gaughan was also nominated, and the vote was taken by roll call. Business manager Loren Small said that a secret paper ballot (as was done last year) is not permitted. One of the newest members, Christina Cosmello, was elected vice president.
Mr. Empett assumed his new role and opened the December business meeting without a pause. There were three brief presentations at the head of the agenda.
Superintendent Chris Deyer reported that the Elementary School and the High School had been recognized for "Adequate Yearly Progress" since at least 2006 under the state's standardized testing program in conformance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. He said he would make a more formal presentation when Elementary School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski could be present.
High School Principal Scott Jeffery introduced two seniors for special recognition. Allison Hawk recited a long list of her accomplishments at Blue Ridge, including treasurer of the National Honor Society chapter, and of the senior class. She plans to attend King's College next year to study to become a physician's assistant. James Treibel, also a member of the National Honor Society, and treasurer of the local SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) chapter, is active in school and community theater, and plans to attend Arcadia University to study psychology.
The new Director of Special Education, Mark Fallon, gave the board a summary of his activities and objectives. He has been directing special education at Blue Ridge three days a week for the past seven years, and is now tackling the job full time. He is hoping to consolidate his resources – including a secretary and the school psychologist – that are now spread over the three schools. He also hopes to standardize special education procedures to bring more consistency across the district.
Mr. Fallon said that Blue Ridge now has almost 200 students with IEPs (Individual Education Plans, drawn up for each student with special needs), of which about 30 attend sessions away from the Blue Ridge campus. Blue Ridge has 12 teachers for the 170 or so who study at Blue Ridge. He plans to introduce a new program based on a federal and state initiative, called RTI (Response to Intervention), which he hopes will help to catch students very early, to help prevent unnecessary identification for "special education."
Mr. Fallon's office helps to ensure that teachers are kept up to date on state and federal law concerned with special education. He is currently preparing for a state special education audit next March, and is developing adjustments to the Blue Ridge special education plan.
Given all that, the rest of the agenda was relatively routine, with the exception of the resignation of the Elementary School librarian.
In response to parent concerns about some of the literature students in the High School are required to read, Principal Jeffery reported that all of that sort of material is now described on the High School's curriculum pages on the Blue Ridge web site. The entire High School curriculum is also being prepared for viewing on the web.
Mr. Jeffery also reported that a couple of students who were considering transferring to an outside "cyber charter" school were enticed to sign up for the new VLINC program at Blue Ridge instead. VLINC (Virtually Linking INstruction and Curriculum) is a computer-based instructional system offered through the Intermediate Unit. The school closely monitors the progress of students enrolled in VLINC, and requires that parents and students agree to a "contract" that describes the student's responsibilities, and allows the school to monitor activities in the program.
Superintendent Dyer reported that a grant had been received that should help to improve the level of professional development among the staff.
When board member Lon Fisher inquired about the status of budget development, he reminded his colleagues that new rules require that a budget be published earlier than in years past. Business Manager Loren Small noted, however, that, as long as the board declares its intention to keep any tax increase within specified limits, early budget publication is not necessary. And, he said, the district currently has no intention of increasing tax rates for the coming budget year.
Blue Ridge School Board meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 12, 2009. All meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Compiled By Lauren P. Ficarro
Matis Manufacturing Company, Inc. to Vincent R., Jr. and Cynthia Branning, in Oakland Borough for $12,000.00.
Federal National Mortgage Association (AKA) Fanniemae to Fox Enterprises, Inc., in Ararat Township for $59,000.00.
Wells Fargo Bank (By POA) to Thomas C. Zigon, in Clifford Township for $74,000.00.
Robert S. and Katherine E. Warriner to Robert S. Warriner, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
EMC Mortgage Corporation to John and Sarah Ashcraft, in Little Meadows Borough for one dollar.
Pike Sportsmen Club, Inc. to Pike Sportsmen LLC, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Jeffrey J. Kilhullen to Ambrose Leonard and Virginia Kilhullen, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (By POA) to Peter J. McBride and Monica M. Gwiazda, in Middletown Township for $79,900.00.
James P. Arnold to Rodney and Sarah Birchard, in Bridgewater Township for $425,000.00.
Sheryl H. Deboff to Sheryl H. Deboff (Living Trust), in Springville Township for one dollar.
Frank Franolich (By POA) to Cheryl Joyce and Edmund Kraft and Robert Franolich, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Valerie J. Tilton to Casey A. McKenzie and Alfonso L. Russo, in Oakland Township for $75,000.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Norma A. and Anita V. Beckles, in Herrick Township for $2,495.00.
Steve (AKA) Steve J. Sicovitch to Steve J. Sicovitch and Joseph S. Siggins, in Thompson Township for one dollar.
Crows Nest 2 LLC to Joseph M. Burke, Jr., in Susquehanna for $20,000.00.
Veronica Ann (AKA) Veronica Allen to Patricia M. Allen, in Great Bend Township for $75,000.00.
Eric Lockwood to Allen Price, in Brooklyn Township for $24,000.00.
John J. and Sharon R. Marrer to Michael J. and Krista E. Marrer, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Mario and Tonia Lisi to Brandon L. Gendron, in New Milford Township for $129,900.00.
Norman W. and Lucinda E. Kahle to Norman W. and Lucinda E. Kahle, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Anthony Marano to Charles H., III and Mary E. Snyder, in Ararat Township for $39,000.00.
Todd M. and Amy B. Legg to Todd M. Legg, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Cory M. Sprout and Jamie L. Kohler, both of Montrose.
Michael James Koscelnak and Jessica Ann Dibble, both of Montrose.
Kevin R. Brearley of Endicott, NY and Betty M. Bickel of Port Crane, NY.
Eric Christopher Fish and Rosemary Costigan, both of Hop Bottom.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has Bench Warrants for the following individuals as of 10:34 a.m. on December 5, 2008.
David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, Keith Beach, Michael J. Beach, Neeko Beahan, David S. Blaisure, Jennifer N. Bonavita, Joseph Bonavita, Michael P. Bradley, Jr., Ryan T. Brooks, Kenneth G. Burgess, Joshua D. Calby, Lynn M. Cokely, Mark T. Conklin, Jeffrey A. Craig, Jeremiah M. Craven, Mary Dallasta, John J. Deakin, Jeffrey L. Decker, Amanda Dedonis, Paul H. Donovan, Deborah L. Drish, Thomas D. Earley, Jonathan Fathi, Kristoffer B. Fazzi, David J. Fischer, Thomas Fisher, Nesbitt W. Fitch, Jr., Ryan M. Forder, Kelly Fox, Jason T. Gardner, Yvette Glover, David Haines, Jr., Suzanne R. Hansen, Keith G. Harms, Jamie E. Heaman, Gregory R. Henry, Ann Hightower, Holly N. Holbrook, Timothy M. Holmes, Lyle J. Hugaboom, Roy M. Huntley, April Kravchenko, Erik E. Krisovitch, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Howard J. Linder, George D. Lowery, John A. Manning, Tanika Marazzani, Patricia J. Marrero, Fred C. Materese, Erica Y. Mead, James R. Moran, Todd M. O'Hara, Ivy U. Oropallo, Amberly D. Payne, Gary Perico, Warren N. Peterson, Tina M. Pooler, Jonathan R. Powers, Jeffrey A. Ransom, Kim Read, Jesse R. Rhinebeck, Jr., Nathan Rosene, Brandon Scott, Neil D. Shaffer, David J. Shiner, Rory Sicovitch, Duane Spencer, Amy M. Squier, Correna A. Stormes, Andrew J. Survilla, Earl H. Thompson, Jr., Shannon L. VanVleck, Anthony M. Vaow, Keith W. Vroman, Robert C. Walter, II, Glynn Wildoner, III, Patrick L. Yachymiak, Edward K. Zajaczkowski, Karl D. Zantowsky.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at (570) 278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
Four students from Montrose Area were recognized at the December 1 school board meeting for their success in one sport that is somewhat outside of the mainstream. The young men have received state recognition in weightlifting competitions, though weightlifting is not a PIAA recognized sport. Their journey began, it was told, when they approached Mr. Eric Stallings, who supervises the school's weight room as part of his job. They asked for a lifting program, and continued their work throughout the summer, working out four days a week. Mr. Stallings thought that they could do well in competition, and, with the support of Mr. Tallarico, the boys' first meet in Philadelphia was funded. At the event, held in October, the students brought back five state records amongst them. A second meet in November saw two more records broken. One of the boys, Tyler Whipple, went up a weight class at the second meet, and broke a record in each class. He and the other boys, Cory Snow, Jordan Blanton, and Dave Macey, as well as Mr. Stallings, were publicly acknowledged for their accomplishments. The boys received the standard certificate and handshake treatment, and their picture will be displayed in an awards case. The program appears to be expanding, perhaps due to the boys' success, with a reported eight or nine boys and two girls expressing interest.
The meeting was held a week earlier than normal, as required by law for the purposes of reorganization. It was decided that Chris Caterson would retain the president's position, though he expressed his belief that no one person should be dominant and, while honored at the nomination, he requested that someone else consider holding it in the future. Mr. Gow was elected as vice president.
Parents of those participating in the collaborative agreement with the Elk Lake swimming program have recently made transportation requests. This was the topic of some discussion during the work session. The parents have asked that the district provide transportation to and from practices, and to Elk Lake for meets. Various proposals were made for how this might be achieved with relatively little expense. The late bus, for instance, might have 20 miles or so added to its route, to pick the students up and transfer them to Montrose where they could board other buses. Alternately, students could ride the vo-tech bus, which brings Montrose students back to the school in the afternoon. There was some concern expressed regarding whether or not this would open the door for other sports to request similar favors. The only other sport, it was stated, in the surrounding area for which this might be likely would be boys' volleyball.
A presentation was made, to those sitting within its comfort, regarding the new Community Learning Center. Several years ago, it was related, the Community Foundation had approached the district with an opportunity to tap into funding made possible by a state project. At the time the distance learning room was decaying, and a proposal for its renovation was taken to the Community Foundation, which in turn began to seek local financial backers. The aforementioned state project allowed for the donated money of organizations to become tax credit. The Community Foundation acted as a liaison and, after Harrisburg approved the project, served as the organization through which the money, most of which came from People's National Bank, was funneled. The room now sports a DVD player, an interactive white board, new highspeed videoconferencing equipment, and a new sound system. The facility was planned not only as a more state of the art earning facility for students and staff, but also as a site for the use of local agencies. Those interested in reserving the space may contact the Community Foundation. The bank and the Community Foundation were thanked for their assistance, and representatives were presented with certificates and handshakes. State Representative Sandra Major was also recognized for her support, in abstentia, as were members of the tech crew.
The district received a positive report on the 2007-2008 local audit. The report came back clear of any findings, and recognized the district for its history of fiscal excellence. In the year examined, expenses were controlled and more revenue received than expected, such that a budget surplus existed. Information will be posted on the website.
Patty Smith, the district's tech coach, was commended for her work on the science collaboration day, which the school recently hosted. Montrose also unexpectedly hosted the math collaboration day.
For quite a long time Jerry MacConnell has been trying to clean up the sidewalks along Main Street in Great Bend Borough. The concrete walkways were installed in about 1986, at the time the sewer and water mains were reconstructed, and he doesn't want to see them ruined by encroaching vegetation. Last summer he got his colleagues on the Borough Council to agree to hire a temporary worker, at least in part to "edge" the walks. So far, nothing has been done about it, and Mr. MacConnell is angry about it.
The matter took up fully a half hour at the Borough Council meeting on December 4, with Mr. MacConnell declaring that he "expects it to be done." The only question is, how? Councilman Joe Collins supervises borough workers, and he explained that it would be nearly impossible for one man to edge a quarter mile of sidewalks on both sides of Main Street with nothing but a shovel. Mr. MacConnell seemed to interpret that to mean that the borough workers didn't want to do it. Council member Mike Wasko said that, when the borough decides to do something, it is the employees' task to carry it out.
Mr. Collins suggested that the borough ask residents along Main Street to do the work on their own properties, as they did last Spring, when the borough asked residents to turn out to help clean the streets of winter's debris in front of their residences and businesses. Borough solicitor Frank O'Connor said that, even though the sidewalks were installed nominally by the borough, they are in fact "owned" by the owners of the property through which they pass, and therefore the responsibility of the property owners. Just as property owners are expected to clear their sidewalks of snow in the winter, they should be expected to keep them trimmed up. He expressed some concern that, if the borough undertook to do work like this on Main Street, it might be expected by residents to keep doing it, there and elsewhere in town.
The discussion got a little touchy at times, but in the end Council president Rick Franks recommended that sometime in March of next year the Boy Scouts distribute a flyer asking residents to edge the sidewalks in front of their homes, naming a day to clean up the town's main thoroughfare. Council would evaluate the results and determine if anything more needs to be done, and how to do it.
There was other business on Council's agenda at the meeting. There was some fitful discussion of some items in the budget that was proposed last month, but members quickly voted to give formal approval to the spending plan that will increase real estate tax rates by one-half mill, to 9.38 mills. The fire company gets another three quarters of a mill, unchanged from last year. The increase will provide an additional $3,700 to the town's coffers. The budget anticipates total spending of about $120,500 next year.
The line item in the budget for parks maintenance is enhanced by the local VFW's annual contribution of $1,000 for the upkeep of what used to be known as Recreation Park. That park got a new name at a dedication on Veterans Day this year when the VFW held a ceremony at the park remembering the town's fallen heroes, and naming the park in their honor as Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Park. Mayor Jim Riecke reported that the event was well attended and very moving.
Codes enforcement officer Bret Jennings reported some progress getting some derelict properties cleaned up, while others are added to the list. One property owner paid a fine of $1,000 after a long struggle through the office of the District Justice. There has so far been no response to a letter sent to the auto parts store about parking.
The borough's new representative on the board of the Hallstead-Great Bend Sewer Authority, Shane Rumage, reported that a recent meeting of the sewer board was brief, owing in part to some turnover on the board itself. He said that grease in the system is still a big issue.
Mr. Rumage also thanked Council for working to improve conditions on Church Street, by having an abandoned building in that neighborhood signed and locked up.
Mr. MacConnell has also been pressing attorney O'Connor to come up with an ordinance of some sort to control the installation of mobile homes in the borough. Mr. MacConnell will meet separately with Mr. O'Connor to try to clarify his intentions. Mr. O'Connor said that he so far has not been able to locate any such ordinance in his office records, which cover about 30 years of borough business.
Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan reported that she had finally spoken with the Montrose police chief about possibly providing police coverage in Great Bend, as they are doing in New Milford. She said that Chief Smith will take it up with the Montrose Borough Council soon. However, some are now expressing concern about the way the police are operating in New Milford. Specifically, Mr. MacConnell said that he didn't want the police sitting outside local taverns waiting for patrons to make a misstep. Others suggested that contacts with Lanesboro be reestablished, to determine if that borough's council has had a change of heart and might be willing to share their police force with Great Bend.
Nobody is sure how an edict to property owners to edge their sidewalks might be enforced, but no one is suggesting that the police do it. After all, many residents don't shovel the snow off their walks either.
Enforcement is always difficult in these little towns. But you can watch them try, at the next meeting of the Great Bend Borough Council on January 8, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
On Monday, December 1 at approximately 1:48 p.m., the Susquehanna County Animal Response Team (CART) was notified of a horse stuck in the mud in Liberty Township. Upon the arrival of CART members, the horse was observed lying on its side, with the horse’s front and back legs imbedded in the mud.
Don Hines and Catherine Bente-Hines were able to extract the horse from the mud with the aid of the resident’s friends and pulled it to a shelter area with additional family members. At the completion of the rescue, the horse was unable to stand on its own accord. It was learned the next day that the horse was up and around and in good condition.
Susquehanna County launched a discount card program to help the uninsured cope with the rising price of prescription drugs. The county is making this free prescription drug discount card available under a program sponsored by Coast2Coast Rx that provides average annual savings of 38% off the retail price of more than 58,000 available drugs.
The cards may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage and is accepted at Susquehanna County pharmacies including Rite Aid, Red Cross Pharmacy, Medical Arts Pharmacy and Reddon’s Pharmacies. Nearby chain stores include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club Pharmacy, CVS, Walgreen’s, Target, Kmart and Wegman’s.
“Susquehanna County is proud to provide its residents with additional relief in terms of the rising cost of prescription drugs,” said Commissioner MaryAnn Warren. “The Susquehanna County prescription discount card offers significant savings for the uninsured and underinsured residents of our county, and even residents with prescription coverage can use the card to save money on drugs that are not covered by their health plan.” Most importantly, there is no cost to county taxpayers for the Susquehanna County prescription discount card or to Susquehanna County. Cards are available at the pharmacies listed above and county department locations across the county. County residents can visit www.coast2coast.com/susquehannapa to locate participating pharmacies and other pickup locations, and can print a card from that website.
There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. Cardholders and their family members may use the card at any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance or other means.
On December 1, at around 10:50 p.m., Yolanda Joyner of Montrose was traveling on state HWY 2024 in Dimock when she lost control of her vehicle on the ice covered roadway. The vehicle exited the roadway from the south berm and struck an embankment, causing it to begin a clockwise spin traveling in an easterly direction. It then struck a tree, continuing to spin until it came to a rest partly in the eastbound lane facing northeast.
CRASH (HIT AND RUN)
On November 30, at around 5 p.m., an unknown driver was traveling south on Station Road in Brooklyn Twp. when, while negotiating a right hand curve, she/he lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle slid on the ice and struck a building. After impact, the operator fled the scene without giving notification of the crash. The vehicle appears to have sustained heavy front bumper area damage and a smashed window.
FALSE ALARMS TO AGENCIES OF PUBLIC SAFETY
On November 30, at around 10:49 p.m., Thomas Rindock of Uniondale reported that he was struck by a motor vehicle on Sartell Road in Ararat Twp. Rindock, 22, was transported to CMC for medical treatment. It was later determined at the hospital that the defendant had fallen on the ice and was not struck by a motor vehicle as claimed. Charges were filed at District Court 34-3-02 for False Reports to Law Enforcement and False Alarms to Agencies of Public Safety.
On December 1, sometime between 5:35 and 5:50 a.m., an unknown perpetrator broke into Reddon's Drug Store in Great Bend Twp. The thief broke the front window of the store and entered by this means, stealing drugs (pills) once inside. The burglar caused approximately $1,400 worth of damage and stole $447 worth of drugs/pills. Anyone who may have been in this area at this time is asked to please call PS Gibson, Tpr. Jones, at (570) 465-3154.
On November 30, at 9:00 a.m., Christopher Lewis of Great Bend was traveling southbound on Interstate 81 in New Milford Twp. when, while attempting a lane change, he lost control of his vehicle and exited the southbound lanes into the median. The vehicle continued across the median and began a roll-over maneuver before coming to a final rest facing south in the leftmost northbound travel lane of I81. Lewis was wearing his seatbelt; no injuries occurred during the collision.
Sometime in the early morning hours of November 29, one or more unknown person(s) made forcible entry into the Lift Inn in Lenox Twp., by prying open a rear door. Alcohol items were removed from within without authorization or consent.
UNSWORN FALSIFICATION TO AUTHORITIES
On November 19, at around 12:34 p.m., Audelino Melendez of Buffalo, NY was stopped for speeding on Interstate 81 in New Milford Twp. The accused provided the trooper who made the stop with a New York driver's license and a social security number. The trooper ran the information through NCIC and the information came back as a valid NY State license. The trooper then ran the accused's name provided on the license for a records check. Information which came back testified that the accused provided a false identification as to his true identity. The trooper approached the accused a second time and again asked his name, at which time Melendez related that his name was different than on the license. Melendez was subsequently arrested and taken back to PSP/Gibson for processing, before being released as per rule 519. Charges were filed at District Court 34-3-02.
Between the 7th and 13th of November, several items in storage were removed from a garage belonging to Brad Cox of Pittston, located on SR 4007 in this county.
On November 24, trash was disposed of on the property of Bob Finagan in Lenox Twp.
COMMONWEALTH VEHICLE CRASH
On November 25, at around 10:15 a.m., a Mack Dump Truck was stopped in the eastbound travel lane of SR 706 in Bridgewater Twp. The driver, Roy Cole, raised the box of the vehicle, which caught a telephone pole guide wire. This wire subsequently snapped, falling onto the windshield of a Ford F250 driven by Richard Johnson of Montrose. Johnson attempted to swerve and miss the cable, and impacted a guide rail off the north berm.
Between the 24th and 25th of November, a gray 1988 Ford F-150 Pick Up truck was stolen from the property of Barbara and Louis Santamour of Nicholson. The vehicle was described as being in “rough” shape, thus did not run and had to be towed from the property.
On November 17, at around 11:48 p.m., Thomas Taramelli, Jr. of Mayfield was traveling north along SR 81 in Lenox Twp. At a point just prior to the bridge, Taramelli related that he observed another vehicle to be alongside the road. He moved to the left lane and reportedly lost control in the slippery road conditions, striking the left guardrail before traveling back across the two lanes and coming to a rest alongside the concrete barrier on the East side of the highway. Taramelli was wearing his seatbelt and sustained minor injuries, being transported to Mercy hospital for treatment by Clifford Twp. ambulance.
On November 25, at around 8:15 a.m., Larissa Pettinato of Forest City was traveling on snow covered roads in Clifford Twp. when she lost control of her vehicle and struck a utility pole. Pettinato sustained minor injuries and was wearing a seatbelt. She was cited for causing the crash.
On November 7, at around 7:20 a.m., Donna Castelo of Scranton was traveling northbound on SR 0011 in New Milford Twp. when she lost control of her vehicle and exited the roadway off the west berm. The vehicle struck a traffic sign and a ditch prior to coming to a rest alongside the railroad tracks.
On November 22, at around 12:20 a.m., Johnrobert Wood of Hallstead was traveling west on SR 1018 in New Milford Twp. when he lost control of his vehicle while attempting to negotiate a left curve. The right side of the vehicle left the roadway from the north berm and traveled approximately 15' before returning to the roadway. The vehicle then crossed both the west and eastbound lanes and continued off the south berm, before striking a rock embankment with the driver side of the vehicle. As a result of the impact, the left rear and right front rims broke away from the vehicle, which then re-entered the roadway beginning a counter clockwise spin. It traveled approximately 90' before coming to a rest in the middle of the roadway, facing in a southeasterly direction. Members of the New Milford Fire & Ambulance Departments assisted at the scene.
On November 21, at 5 p.m., Roger Ferrin of Clifton Springs, NY was northbound on SR 81 in the right hand lane, in Lenox Twp. Ferrin became sick and lost control of his Kenworth truck and Manac trailer. The unit traveled into the center median, then onto the southbound lanes of SR 81. The tractor struck the guide rail with its left front side, going through the guide rail and into nearby trees. The vehicle came to a rest with the tractor against the trees and the rear of the trailer on the berm. The operator had to be extricated from the unit as his leg was trapped under the dash. He was life flighted to CMC in Scranton, suffering moderate injury.
Between the 16th and 21st of November, the American Legion Post in Dimock reports, 30-40 garbage bags of aluminum cans were stolen from the post in that location.
Sometime between the 14th and 21st of November, one or more unknown person(s) went to the property of Joseph Skahan in New Milford Twp. and obtained entry into a structure thereon. Several firearms and other valuables were removed.
On November 10, at 7 p.m., a juvenile female was reported as a runaway by her mother. The juvenile was located the following evening in Meshoppen Borough, Wyoming County, and returned home.
If you have information regarding any of these incidents, please contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
The Elk Lake School District and SCCTC board meetings were held decidedly earlier in the month than normal, on December 2. The reason for the advanced time-line was a state mandate requiring all districts to hold reorganization meetings within the first week of the month. In both meetings the board decided to keep the administrative structure the same, with Mr. Place serving as board president and Mr. Tewkesbury as vice president.
Various district accomplishments were recognized at the meeting. Dr. Davis, director of the SCCTC, was congratulated on the receipt of her doctorate. The Building Trades I class, it was reported, is working with Keystone Community Resources to build special toys for special needs students. Work on the second house project continues; currently stone is being placed on the outside. The SCCTC was also to host the Skills USA competition, the day after the meeting. Student Anthony Juser was given a student profile piece in the Scranton newspaper. In regards to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the district was recognized for meeting the requirements of the act. The business office and special education staff were commended for their work toward this accomplishment.
A large portion of the discussion at the relatively short meeting was devoted to the concept of money for basketball. The newly formed boys' basketball booster club, which seeks to support the sport for boys grades five and up, attended the meeting to ask the board to consider charging an admission fee for varsity basketball games. The varsity coach, the representatives argued, expressed the importance of the team being able to continue to attend the DeSales camp and to play in the Wyoming Valley League. The year prior, however, the concession stand funds had not been sufficient to allow students to attend without cost. The idea, it was proposed, would be for students to pay $1, and adults $2. To make things more affordable for district residents, families could buy season passes for $10, which would allow them access to all levels of play. This funding would allow the concession stand money to be diverted elsewhere; if enough were raised the junior high and fifth grade teams could benefit as well. The district is one of the only schools in the area not to already charge admission fees for sports.
Dr. Bush pointed out potential problems with the plan. There could be legal ramifications from the decision were admission not charged for girls’ games as well, as Title Nine dictates that boys and girls be treated the same. Also, if a fee were charged, someone might have to be paid to take tickets. Under the current contract, it is possible that the district could spend more paying this person than it took in. Other concerns were raised as well, such as what other sports might want to charge admission once basketball did. Some present expressed appreciation for the district's no charge policy, and wished to keep it that way. There was also uncertainty as to whether or not money collected would be able to be earmarked for the sport, or would have to go into the general fund, as play proceeds do. Alternate proposals included the organization of tournaments (which might run into problems with the maximum number of allowable games in a season), the diversion of funds from exhibitions already held, and fund-raisers. No decision was made at the meeting, as some on the board wanted alternate options to be pursued first, and for Dr. Bush and his staff to investigate what avenues could be pursued and what the implications of these might be.
At a December 1 Forest City Borough meeting, Mayor Nick Cost announced that residents will have temporary relief from parking meter costs. In an effort to promote holiday shopping at local businesses, parking fees will not be collected between December 15 and January 5. A tree lighting ceremony and a visit from Santa will occur on December 12 at 5 p.m.
Cost also requested that patrons of Sacred Heart use the parking lot behind the church, particularly when dropping children off for Sunday morning catechism class. Cost stated that he has received complaints that Hudson Street is blocked by parked cars on Sunday morning and that children crossing the road creates a potential hazard.
A letter has been sent to Senator Baker concerning Forest City’s current sewer problems and lawsuit, requesting additional grant money for the sewer project.
On that note, the KBA Engineering bill for the sewer project has reached $104,000 thus far. On the advice of borough solicitor Paul E. Smith, Council voted to make a partial payment of $12,500.
Additionally, Council accepted the 2009 budget. It also passed the Open Records Ordinance, which was established to comply with Pennsylvania’s “Right to Know” law. Council will advertise a revised parking meter fine ordinance, which, if passed, will go into effect May 1, 2009, raising the fine for meter violations to $5.00 per offense.
Provided that the total estimated cost does not exceed $3,000, two windows on the borough building will be replaced.
Stephanie Reisch, spokesperson for Forest City’s new neighborhood watch program, displayed street signs she ordered. A neighborhood watch meeting is scheduled for January 14 at 7 p.m. on the third floor of the borough building. Some members of the Carbondale crime watch will be in attendance.
Finally, the Humane Society of Lackawanna County is collecting pet food and cleaning items for animal shelters. Megan Moro, a Forest City High School student, received permission to place donation bins around town. A wish list will be posted at each bin location.
The New Milford Borough Council meeting, usually held on the first Thursday of the month, was postponed and moved to the council’s work session day.
December 18, the meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the New Milford Borough building.
Lack of a quorum prohibited the council from holding the meeting. Council members Jane Zick, Teri Gulick, and Sue Abbott were in attendance, along with Borough Secretary Amy Hine.
Much of the business discussed at the December 3 Susquehanna Community School Board meeting had to do with taxes, all of it good news for district’s taxpayers.
In keeping with Act 1, the Taxpayer Relief Act, a resolution was approved guaranteeing that the district shall not raise the 2009 tax rate by more than the index of 6.2%. The board also approved repealing the per capita tax for the 2009-10 tax year; all current and delinquent per capita taxes still owed to the district will remain in effect for payment and collection. And, after the election in November, the district’s tax collectors will receive a flat rate of $7.00 per tax bill collected, rather than the 3% of collected taxes currently being paid, which means that more of those tax dollars will be going to the district.
In other business, during the annual reorganization portion of the meeting nominations were accepted for the positions of president and vice president; and elected were Steven Stanford and Clay Weaver, respectively.
The district’s Strategic Plan, in its third year, will begin updating in January as required by law. The plan’s purpose is to analyze how the district has met its goals, and present objectives for new goals. A new Act 48 plan will also be drafted, which deals with technology, special education and student services.
The district is actively investigating Project Lead the Way, which will replace the traditional Industrial Arts program and provides more extensive coverage in the areas of modeling and design.
In October, the PA State Police conducted a risk analysis of the campus and made some suggestions as to areas where some improvement could be made. The safety committee, which meets monthly, has been working on implementing those recommendations.
The district is actively pursuing performance contracting, to help the district go “greener” and save energy and related energy costs. Some areas being looked at are the boilers, heating controls and lighting.
The high school faculty is actively promoting academics and held an awards assembly in November, where Honor Roll, Perfect Attendance and Achievement awards were given. Assemblies will be held each quarter of the school year. The high school is also implementing a Student of the Month award, which will not necessarily focus on academics, but will be based on such considerations as enthusiasm, team work, dedication and leadership.
Students in both buildings are actively involved in helping worthy causes. The varsity boys and girls will be taking part in Coaches vs. Cancer, with the proceeds going to cancer research. A Feed-A-Friend fund drive was very successful, collecting 1,500 cans of food and raising $350. And, Penny Wars raised $172 for the Dessin Animal Shelter.
The elementary Christmas concert will be held on December 11.
The district’s audit should be wrapping up this week, and shows a healthy fund balance for the third year. The board approved designating $2,000,000 of the fund balance for early retirement incentives, and $787,059 for capital improvement. The unreserved, undesignated fund balance is $689,408 which represents 5.07% of the total budgeted appropriations for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
The Auditor General’s bi-annual audit of the district has been completed, with no findings.
Many of the district’s children qualify for free or reduced lunches, but applications have not been submitted (by their parents).
The board approved the meeting schedule for 2009, and donations of $150 each to the Montrose Main Library and the Susquehanna Fire Dept.’s fund drives.
Larry Todd of Lakewood Garage was approved for snow removal at the rate of $24 per occurrence.
One student’s homebound (medical) request was approved.
The resignations of Phil Baldwin, varsity girls’ volleyball coach and Lori Sampson, elementary aide, were accepted.
Additions to the substitute list, volunteers, and hiring of a girls JV basketball coach was approved, as were transportation contracts for the 2008-09 school year.
The board will meet next on January 21, 7:00 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
The Pennsylvania PSPCA, which is based in Philadelphia, announced Tuesday that the Susquehanna County branch will soon be seeking a local, nonprofit committee, which will oversee the County Humane Society.
“We are not dropping the Montrose shelter, but we feel that a more local board would be better equipped to handle the operations and concerns that come with a rural shelter,” stated PSPCA Chief Executive Director Howard Nelson.
“Of course we (PSPCA in Philadelphia) will be available for this shelter with behavior modification, feral cat programs, an animal hospital for cruelty cases, forensic science, critical care, wellness programs, as well as an ICU unit, cruelty surgical unit, help with some adoptions, and rotating of adoptable pets.”
Nelson continued, “Space has always been a challenge, especially with the economy. All PSPA shelters are challenged trying to save and adopt out as many animals as they can.
“This is not only a community wide problem it is a national problem. We seek the new local board, so things may be handled according to a local standpoint.
“We care looking for a partnership, communitywide with the Susquehanna County shelter being there with employees, offering local input with their local PSPCA. Local people are a necessity in running a successful program.
“I want to emphasize that PSPCA is not deserting, nor ending its partnership with the Susquehanna shelter, as I said, we will be available with whatever means we have to share.
“I personally feel that this change will have a very successful effect. This fostering of the Montrose shelter, with programs, services and more, will be the best possible with local input.
“A local, nonprofit board will be able to work well. There may be some start-up costs, with various grants available for the local board to seek if needed.”
Nelson continued, stating that the local aspect is a perfect opportunity to take matters in hand when they arise.
“I cannot stress enough that the need is there, for the community working along with Susquehanna County SPCA and PSPCA.
“A community wide program would also include better information.
“We are trying to save and adopt out animals as best we can, but people need to be educated about their part in taking care of their pets. For example, spaying/neutering their pets before they can produce more unwanted kittens or puppies, would be a good way to help reduce the pet population,” Nelson told The Transcript. “This is one of our first duties; we will keep as many adoptable animals as possible.”
He reiterated that one of the keys is local input and volunteers, a local base.
He said, “If help is needed, the Philadelphia PSPCA will be on hand to discuss the concern and handling of the situation.
“We have a wide array of experience with many incidents/occurrences here, and can share advice on handling/correcting them, if Montrose has a specific concern.”
Nelson stated, “In general, I am happy with The Susquehanna County Humane Society and look forward to this change.”
Director Nelson also visited the shelter last week and spoke with volunteers and employees regarding the change, as well as making sure that all are on the same page with regard to the shelter’s operation.
He offers that any concerns or questions be directed to PSPCA in Philadelphia, or local agent, Chad Weaver. The phone numbers can be found in an additional story on the front page of this week’s County Transcript.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for their regular monthly meeting on November 5 at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes, Mr. Fred Rhone, Mr. Anthony Palonis, Mr. Robert Buck and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were present. (Seventh seat vacant.)
President Rhone opened the meeting and the minutes from the previous meeting were read. Motion carried to approve the minutes as read.
Motion carried to appoint Mr. Peter Frank to fill the vacant council seat. Mayor DeBalko swore him in.
The treasurer’s report was given, motion to approve carried.
The bills were presented and motion carried to approve payment.
The following correspondence was received:
Motion carried to grant the use of the Hall to the Girl Scouts during the week of February 23.
A notice of available applications for the DCED Local Government Day was read.
Blooming Grove Sand and Gravel has state approved anti-skid available.
A SRBC (Susquehanna River Basin Commission) application for approval has been submitted on behalf of Chesapeake Appalachia.
A contract from Freddy’s Refuse Removal was presented and motion carried to approve.
The 2009 Thompson Fire Company Contract was presented and motion carried to approve. President Rhone explained how the fire tax works.
A resolution to allow Thompson Fire Company to bill the insurance carriers of the persons they respond to was presented. Motion carried to table the issue until more research can be done on the subject.
In Borough Reports:
Mr. Rhone wanted to extend thanks to the civic committee for purchasing the flooring. He further mentioned that Dean Rhone wishes to rent the hall November 15. Motion carried to grant permission. (Mr. Rhone abstained from the vote – relation).
Mr. Palonis pointed out, the permission does not require a motion of council; the Hall Committee handles the rental of the hall. It was further agreed the hall would be winterized after the rental.
Mayor DeBalko reported on behalf of the “Windmill Committee,” stating the work is ongoing and they may have a finished product to present in December.
Building permits issued last month: 0.
In Unfinished Business:
A proposal from a C.P.A (certified public accountant) was presented. President Rhone suggested waiting for more proposals to be submitted.
Mayor DeBalko reported on the storm water management meeting. She told that a group of engineers have been hired to evaluate the water problems. She added that this actual evaluation would not take place until the spring of 2009. She showed a draft of the storm water packet as prepared by Wayne County and asked for everyone’s help in reviewing the same, as comments must be submitted by Thanksgiving, she said. Mr. Rhone suggested a “work session” to aid the mayor and it was agreed to hold the work session on November 13.
In New Business:
The 2009 proposed budget was reviewed and motion carried to advertise it for public inspection.
In Public Participation:
Mr. Palonis made a brief statement. He referred to an Auditor General’s report as a “love note” that he had just finished reading. He commended Paul Everett’s efforts concerning the same and added if Paul (Everett) had spent this much time and determination on the wall project, the wall project would be done.
Former Mayor Jack Downton asked about the fire tax and the workmen’s compensation. He said he thought the workmen’s compensation ($1,000.00) was subtracted from the fire tax ($2,200.00). Mr. Rhone explained to him (as he did last year) that, “No,” the compensation for the firefighters is paid to Thompson Borough and separate from the fire tax revenue that’s paid directly to the Thompson Fire Company for fire coverage.
Then Mr. Downton asked about a $20,000.00 deposit that was made to the borough’s general account, “sometime in the summer.” The treasurer asked him to be more specific; without the records, it could not be determined what he was referring to. He stated he wants a full report and explanation next month.
No further business to come before the board, motion carried to adjourn.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for a special meeting on November 24 at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Fred. Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Peter Frank, and Mr. Robert Buck, were present. (Mr. Donald Haynes, Jr., Mr. Anthony Palonis and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were absent.)
The purpose of the meeting was to review and consider proposals for the hire of a Certified Public Accountant.
Two proposals were received as follows:
1. Beck, Gogolski & Co. Inc. - $100.00 @ hour – estimated hours 6 to 8.
2. William, Owens & Co. - $3,500.00
After review, motion carried to hire Beck, Gogolski & Co. Inc. at the price quoted. (Mr. Kirk Rhone abstained – acting mayor.)
Mr. Paul D’Agati (borough auditor) asked, “What was the reason for this? I can’t find anything about accountants in the code book.” Mr. Rhone answered, “The borough needs a fresh start.” Mr. Darl Haynes (borough auditor) told Mr. D’Agati that he should be happy, in light of the lawsuits facing the borough, not to have to put his name on any borough documents.
No further business to come before the board, motion carried to adjourn.
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