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The Susquehanna County Commissioners held their final meeting of 2008 on December 24.
A motion was made to correct, then approve minutes of December 10, with corrections reflecting a change of date of the first meeting of Inspectors of the Jail from February 5, 2009 to January 6, 2009 at 11:30 a.m., and also to change the Assessment Board’s first meeting from February 3, to January 8.
Commissioner Leon Allen motioned to approve the minutes of December 15 special meeting.
The commissioners adopted the proposed Susquehanna County Budget for 2009 and set the millage for the county as follows: 11.5 mills for General Real Estate for the General Fund, 1.01 mills for Debt Service, and .33 mills for the Library Fund. The total millage for real estate is 12.84 and reflects no increase in taxes for 2009.
Dennis LaRue was appointed to the Agricultural Land Preservation Board for the term January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011.
A service purchase contract was accepted between Susquehanna County, Wayne County and Northeastern Child Care Services, Scranton, to implement the terms, conditions and services specified in the Fiscal Year 2008/2009 contract between the PA Department of Public Welfare and the Board of Commissioners of Susquehanna and Wayne Counties. The total price is $2,131,279.
The commissioners signed the addendum/contract to the 2007-2008 purchase of service agreement between Susquehanna County and Concern, extending the termination date of that contract until such time the rate for the Fiscal Year 2008-2009 is settled. The county will continue to reimburse the service provider, Concern, at the existing rate in the 2007-2008 contracts until the new rate is finalized.
The service agreement with Time Warner Cable requesting an internet connection to the site of the new Drug and Alcohol offices, for a one time set-up fee of $60.00 and a monthly charge of $69.95 was approved. This is a three-year contract and fees are reimbursed to the county.
Commissioners also signed Amendment Number (3) Three to Contribution Agreement #68-2D37-05-118, between NCRS, the Susquehanna County Commissioners and The County Conservation District. The purpose of this amendment is to insert required language that was omitted from the original agreement as an administrative oversight, and to extend the agreement and performance period to February 1, 2009.
An agreement to provide professional consulting services between Susquehanna County and MAXIMUS Consulting Services, Inc., Harrisburg, PA was signed. This is a two-year agreement for preparation of the 2008 and 2009 calendar year plans at $4,600 per year, for a total cost $9,200.00.
Ruth Smith, Susquehanna was hired to the open, full-time position of Real Estate Clerk, Range 8, rate $8.67 per hour, with a six-month probationary period and benefits per the residual Bargaining Unit Contract, effective January 5, 2009.
Paul Lukas was reappointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority for a five-year term, effective January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2013.
Catherine Chiarella, Hallstead was hired to the open, part-time, Veterans Affairs Office, Range 6, Rate $7.75 per hour, 6.5 hours per day, 3 days per week, with a six-month probationary period and benefits per the Residual Bargaining Unit Contract, effective, January 5, 2000.
Al Aronowitz asked the commissioners if there had been any changes regarding the Susquehanna County Tourism Committee and Endless Mountains Visitors’ Bureau. Commissioner Mary Ann Warren stated, “Everything is going smoothly, and has been sent to Jean Gasper for further examination.”
The meeting was recessed to open the Susquehanna County Salary Board meeting.
A motion from Susquehanna County’s Presiding Honorable Judge Kenneth Seamans was approved to continue the present 7.5 hour week day (37.5 hours per week) for Domestic Relations Intake Officers Linda Daly and Christine Lee and Enforcement Officer Roberts Collins, for a one-year period.
A new bridge arrived to span Butler Creek on Pennay Hill Road in Harford just in time for Christmas. According to Roadmaster and Supervisor Terry VanGorden at the Supervisors' meeting on December 23, the bridge was shipped from the fabricator in Alabama on December 15 and arrived two days later, right on time – at least according to the latest schedule.
The old bridge washed out in the flood of June, 2006. A bypass has been serving local residents ever since, while the township, an engineering company, the federal and state emergency management agencies, and the ultimate contractor put everything together to replace the bridge. The township is expecting full reimbursement from the emergency management agencies, and got a one-year extension that ends this month. However, due to further delays, the contractor reported that the project could not be completed by then. So the township got another six-month extension. According to Mr. VanGorden, the contractor assured him that "it isn't going to take until June to get the bridge in."
The Supervisors formally adopted a budget for 2009, and a resolution setting the property tax rate. The township expects to spend almost $322,000 next year, borrowing some $50,000 from accumulated surpluses rather than increasing tax rates. There will, however, be a one-quarter-of-one- percent mill increase in the rate for the fire company. The township rate remains at 3.13 mills; the fire company tax increases from 0.75 to 1 mill. The Supervisors also signed a new agreement with the fire company exchanging those taxes for fire protection.
Mr. VanGorden reported that his crews have been dealing with "nuisance" snows, "A little snow here, a little snow there." He said that dirt roads get the larger anti-skid stone that tends to provide better traction. But paved township streets in the villages of Harford and Kingsley are treated with a mixture of washed cinders and smaller anti- skid.
Mr. VanGorden also reported that the fire company has number kits available for residents to purchase to post on their properties with the coming of the new standardized addressing system. He was not able to say just when fire company members might be available to sell them, but Secretary and Supervisor Sue Furney suggested the fire company breakfast on the first Sunday of the month.
One village resident asked what happened to Main Street in Harford? He said that when he got the notice of his new address, he found that he no longer lived on Main Street, but on State Route 547 instead. Ms. Furney said that Route 547 in Harford village is the same as Main Street, and that, as a state road, the township was told they had nothing to say about the naming of the street. On the other hand, the Main Street resident said he was told by the people at the 800 number that the township could have the name changed back. He said he thought it was a shame that the town should lose the historical significance of Main Street.
Supervisor Garry Foltz reported that the Rural Development outfit that holds the 40-year note on the sewer system would not refinance the loan to lower the rate from its current 4.5%. According to Ms. Furney, there is some $703,000 in principal remaining on the loan, with 26 years to go. Mr. Foltz said that he would pursue other financing options that might lower the interest that the township is paying.
The Supervisors adjourned the public meeting, announcing that they would be holding an executive session on a personnel matter.
The Supervisors will gather to reorganize themselves on the first Monday in January, the 5th, as required by law. Since there wouldn't be enough business to conduct by then, they will resume their normal meeting schedule on the second Tuesday, the 13th. All meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. at the township building on State Route 547 – out by the Interstate, where it never was Main Street.
Philip M. and Christine Witkin to David and Gale M. Witkin and Paige M. Sedlacek, in New Milford Township for $88,750.00.
Patricia A. Button to Thomas D. Button, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Thomas D. Button to Patricia A. Button, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Jeffery A. Gunn to Peter S. Watrous (Lifetime Trust No. One), in Franklin Township for $25,600.00.
Shirley M. and Daniel Podwika, Thomas and Mary Yale and Deborah (AKA) Deborah and Joseph Mesiti to Edward and Wanda Juersivich, in Uniondale Borough for $118,000.00.
Agchoice Farm Credit to Andrew and Julia Sudylo, in Jackson Township for $185,000.00.
Paul E. Meglathery to Susan Raye Cudo, in New Milford Township for $83,000.00.
Jon H. Deakin to Maryanne Deakin, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Richard Butmankiewicz (Rev. Living Trust By Trustee) to Fiondi Incorporated, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
Brain Chamberlain to Thomas J. Chamberlain, in Susquehanna for $12,000.00.
Roselyn M. Peplinski to John Perkins, in Lathrop Township for $20,000.00.
John Perkins to William, Sr. and Charlotte J. Yevich, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Michael D. and Lorrie A. Detwiler to Frederick Lewis, Sr., in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Thomas, Evelyn, Stephen and Robyn Pennay and Robert and Barbara Powers to Dale and Kim Payne, in Harford Township for $95,000.00.
Shelly White and Nicholas Demaree to Shelly Marie Trust, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Bernard (AKA) Bernard R. Unterkoefler to Karen Weinberger, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Ordie E. and Aline J. Price to Ordie E. and Aline J. Price, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Ordie E. and Aline J. Price to Ordie E. Price, III, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Joseph A. Remenar to Thomas J. Lopatofsky and Donna M. Fekette, in Franklin Township for $15,000.00.
Randall J. and Vicki L. Dotterer to Daniel J. McCormick, in Rush Township for $18,000.00.
Phoebe J. (Estate AKA) Phoebe Pickering (Estate) to Evelyn M. Tripp, in Harford Township for one dollar.
IB Property Holdings LLC to Christopher Bronson, in New Milford Borough for $50,000.00.
Mary Lou Weaver to Cindy L. MacDonald, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Dorothy C. (Estate) and Thomas J. Tallardy to Henry John Tallardy, in Clifford Township for $10,656.00.
Gerald E. and Beverly Mess to Jerry S. Mess, in Great Bend Borough for one dollar.
Mary J. Stout (Estate) to Thomas J. Stout and Elaine J. Powers, in Susquehanna for $36,000.00.
David M. and Calley R. Rebello to David M. and Calley R. Rebello, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Leon E. Brown (Estate) to Daniel E. Brown, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Wasyel M. Danysh, Jr. (Estate) to Erik Danysh, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Robert E., Jr. and Beverly B. (By POA) Lee to Dawn and Robert, III Mervine, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Washington – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a revised National Incident Management System (NIMS) – the national standard for incident management. NIMS establishes standardized incident management processes, protocols, and procedures that all federal, state, tribal and local responders will use to coordinate and conduct response actions.
NIMS expands on the original version released in March, 2004 by clarifying existing NIMS concepts, better incorporating preparedness and planning, and improving the overall readability of the document. The revised document also differentiates between the purposes of NIMS and the National Response Framework (NRF) by identifying how NIMS provides the action template for the management of incidents, while the NRF provides the policy structure and mechanisms for national-level policy for incident management.
"The National Incident Management System has been the single most significant improvement in incident management since the Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2003,” FEMA Administrator David Paulison said. “It has enhanced interoperability among emergency responders at all levels of government, and is the product of a collaborative effort involving hundreds of emergency personnel from across the nation. We incorporated lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, clarified incident command system concepts, increased emphasis on planning and mutual aid, expanded the intelligence/investigation function, and better aligned the NIMS document with the National Response Framework," said Paulison.
With the oversight of FEMA, the newly released NIMS followed an extensive revision involving over 100 partners from all levels of government, private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and subject matter experts representing a broad spectrum of emergency management and incident response disciplines. Throughout three official nationwide comment periods, FEMA reviewed nearly 6,000 comments from more than 280 individuals and organizations, including extensive review and recommendations made by the National Advisory Council (NAC).
The basic tenets of NIMS remain the same. There have been several improvements to the revised NIMS document which will aid in readability and usefulness of preparing, preventing, and responding to incidents. For example, the revised document places greater emphasis on the role of preparedness and has reorganized its components to mirror the progression of an incident. Recognizing the importance of private sector partners and NGOs in incident response, FEMA has ensured that those entities have been more fully integrated throughout NIMS. The new document is consistent with the NRF, and together they provide a single, comprehensive approach to incident management.
Further information on preparedness programs is available at www.dhs.gov and www.fema.gov.
FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
The leadership of the Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro Ag), based in Meshoppen, PA, is urging the United States Congress to pass an emergency pricing system to prevent the further demise of our family dairy farms. According to Arden Tewksbury, manager, the recent revelation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has been fined for attempting to manipulate the Class III futures contract and the Class III price, or the cheese price, on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) highlights what Pro Ag and other organizations have strongly urged, to no avail, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cease using the speculative CME as the factor to price dairy farmers’ milk.
Dennis Boyanowski, Pro Ag President, said, “It is urgent that the dairy farmers’ prices be decoupled from the CME, and, in its place, the dairy farmers’ cost of production must be the main factor in determining dairy farmers’ prices.”
According to Tewksbury, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has completed its investigation of the corruption and collusion within the dairy industry. However, as of this printing, the DOJ’s findings have not been released. Tewksbury said, “In 1980, dairy farmers were receiving a pay price that amounted to 80-85% of parity. This means dairy farmers’ purchasing power was keeping up with the rest of the economy. Still, with speculators seemingly controlling the dairy industry, the dairy farmers’ share of parity is 40%. This is the main reason thousands of dairy farmers have been forced out of business and many parts of rural America have decayed. The speculators and the lack of proper oversight of Wall Street are the main reason for the US economy’s slipping so bad. This same lack of proper oversight has helped put our dairy farmers in their present financial dilemma.”
Last year, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) introduced a dairy bill, “The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2007” (S-1722). Pro Ag officials feel that S1722 could have corrected many of the inequities facing dairy farmers. According to Tewksbury, “We are recommending to Congress that the pricing mechanism and the supply management provisions in S1722 be used as a pricing mechanism for dairy farmers for an indefinite amount of time.” During August of 2007, dairy farmers shipping milk in Federal Order #1 received $23.14 per cwt, $2.00 per gallon. Prices paid to dairy farmers for January, 2009 milk could dip under $16.00 per cwt or $1.40 per gallon.” John Tewksbury, Vice President of Pro Ag, stated, “This severe decline in our pay prices is totally unacceptable, and it is definitely time to decouple dairy farmers’ prices from the CME. It is also time to go to a realistic pricing system. I think what Pro Ag is proposing is realistic and certainly needed.”
Pro Ag’s proposal would use the national average cost of production to determine the value of manufacturing milk. Milk used for fluid purposes, bottled milk, would be determined by the present system. This system calls for existing Class I differentials to be applied to the value of manufactured milk, which then would become the Class I price.
The supply management provisions of S1722 allow the Secretary of Agriculture to reduce the value of milk on overproduction. This reduction in price would only apply to the so-called overproduction and would not apply to a major amount of milk.
Pro Ag officials estimate the prices paid to dairy farmers would be approximately $22.25 per cwt. The same percentage of increase would affect all federal orders.
Gerald Carlin, dairy farmer from Auburn Township, Susquehanna County, said, “It’s time that dairy farmers receive a fair share of the price that consumers are paying for dairy products. We have found that in some, but not all stores, dairy farmers are receiving about 45% of the price that consumers are paying for fluid milk, but when it comes to the manufactured dairy products, mainly cheese, dairy farmers are in some cases receiving as low as 25% of the retail price.”
Pro Ag officials argue that if consumers want to continue to have available fresh, locally produced milk, then the pricing formula must be changed.
Pro Ag can be reached at (570) 833-5776 or email@example.com.
The first item of discussion by the Susquehanna Boro Council at their December 23 meeting was the bill list. Several bills for work done quite some time ago had just come in. After discussion, it was agreed that a purchase order system should be put in place, with any purchase request over a specific amount requiring a PO, which will be coded to show what department the purchase is for. It was also agreed that the vendors the boro regularly uses should be notified that bills are requested within thirty days of the work being performed. The new PO forms will also list this information, so that vendors that the boro doesn’t regularly use will also be aware.
One item on the bill list, an invoice for legal services, led to a short discussion after which it was agreed to continue the discussion further in an executive session at the end of the meeting.
During Public Comment, one resident asked if any date had been set for public discussion of the proposed West Main St. parking ban. Council set the date for January 12, which is also their committee meeting. The boro’s solicitor has reviewed the proposed ordinance and said that a traffic study is needed before the ban can be enacted. A study had been done in 2003, but needs to be updated. A PennDOT engineer had inspected the area some time ago and said that the street is not wide enough for parking. PennDOT also concurred that a traffic study is needed. The police department will be asked to conduct the study as soon as possible, before the January 12 meeting.
Ordinance No. 457, which replaces #421 was approved. It pertains to a snow parking ban, specifically how residents should know when to remove their vehicles from the streets.
Ordinance No. 458 was approved to be advertised. It creates the new position of Parking Enforcement Officer.
The 2009 budget was approved, with no change to the current tax rate.
The 2009 meeting schedule was approved. The regular meetings will be held on the fourth Tuesday of the month, with all committees to meet on the second Monday of each month, all at 7:00 p.m.
A CDBG grant application has been submitted, requesting $60,000 for paving and drainage work on Erie Ave.
The meeting adjourned to an executive session, after which council reconvened and carried motions to approve the bill list, and to add three “on call” people to the snow plowing list in the event that additional help is needed.
The next regular meeting will be on Tuesday, January 27, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
Hallstead Borough Council met on December 22 to wrap up their yearend business. The meeting date had been changed from the 18th in order to allow the prescribed inspection time for passage of next year’s budget.
The budget for 2009 was approved; tax rates remain the same as 2008’s.
A resolution was adopted allowing for on-line filing of reports for PennDOT.
It was noted that some snow parking regulation signs appear to be missing from a section of Main St.
A motion carried to approve Mayor Canfield’s replacement of Michele Giangrieco as the boro’s representative on the board of the Hallstead-Great Bend Sewer Authority.
DCNR has notified the boro that a grant application for $33,200 has been approved; the funds will be used for improvements to the ballfield. It was agreed to set up a project committee after the first of the year.
The foundry property had apparently changed hands some time ago, but it was not clear who the current owner is. The question had arisen because a hole excavated to remove a fuel storage tank still has not been filled in. It was council’s understanding that DEP had been aware of the tank’s removal, but no further information was forthcoming from either source. It was also noted that a rather large excavating machine was still at the site, some months after the tank had been removed.
And, Great Bend Township will be contacted to discuss plowing of a portion of Old Route 11 along the border between the two municipalities.
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