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Susquehanna County residents may be surprised on April 1, 2009, when the Pennsylvania PSPCA, based in Philadelphia, will be turning over the approximately 89-year old Susquehanna County Humane Society facility to a new, local board. The Pennsylvania PSPCA took the reins in 1999 and built a new home/shelter and house for a new shelter manager, hoping to make a difference in this area.
The Susquehanna County shelter, formerly known as the “pound” or the "humane society," will need a new name and is to be operated by a yet non-existent community board of directors. This new board must begin to raise funds and search for volunteers, in order for the doors to be kept open.
According to information from the Philadelphia-based PSPCA’s CEO, Howard Nelson and Chief Operations Officer Lisa Rodgers, “The Pennsylvania SPCA will operate a grant making program across Pennsylvania, making local grants to support humane organizations. To continue in our mission to regionalize services and keep donor supporting local communities, we will offer grants to humane organizations within the regions of bases of PSPCA support. The PSPCA will fund organizations that adhere to our mission of humane and ethical treatment to companion animals through shelter operations, cruelty and neglect investigations, outreach and public education, and low cost medical and spay-and-neuter programs. All grantees must pledge to maintain a standard of humane treatment that includes the following: no breed bans; the spay-neutering of all adopted animals; the management of feral cat programs via TNR (turn and release) vs. euthanasia.”
A $25,000.00 start-up grant may be available to the Montrose branch to help with necessary re-organization expenses.
Problems in achieving a committed board membership and possible financial difficulty may, in fact, lead to the unfortunate closure.
“This is where local involvement ‘rides in to save the day,’” one future committee member stated.
“We have begun the process of revamping ideas, services and other positive utilization to keep the facility up and running,” the future board member said.
Visions for the new shelter not only offer possible positive ways of covering the shelter’s estimated cost of operations, but include future services, such as: animal rescue; adoptions; behavior services; obedience training; grooming services; humane education, veterinary services, (i.e.) low cost spay/neuter, and a doggy day care. The idea herein is to offer the services at a nominal cost, thus helping both pet owners and the Society in one shot.
Animal Behavior Consultant, Corey Cohen has volunteered some professional low-cost services to the pets and owners. Ideas envisioned by Cohen could lead to partial support of the facility’s operating costs.
In addition, the shelter would like to bring in more community outreach services, including therapy dog visits for community senior centers; the “Reading with Rover” program to help school children improve their reading skills; a work release program for non-violent offenders; and feed a pet/feed a friend food drives.
Susquehanna County has always been proud of their animal welfare compassion. It has been a valued part of this county community for 89 years and is still needed to help pets and owners, with the increasing need of animal welfare and adoption within the county and nationwide.
Volunteers and interested persons will soon be needed; information will be forthcoming as to what will be needed. The original Susquehanna County Humane Society was organized in 1920, with a large following of support.
Reporter's Note: PSPCA's Chief Executive Officer, Howard Nelson resigned from the organization last week. It is not known what effect this resignation will have on the proposed April 1 plans to turn the shelter over to a local board or to have it closed.
Numerous calls to Philadelphia's Chief Operations Officer, Lisa Rodgers, have remained unanswered, as well as calls to the organization itself. The Transcript is staying abreast of this issue.
Recent speculation that camp-related strife at the New Milford Township meetings might cease, after the announcement of the camp's closing a few months ago, was proven to be overly optimistic at the February 18 meeting. Visitors approached the supervisors yet again to inquire about the situation, the discussion beginning with a question regarding a previous Transcript article. The article related that the engineer inspecting the site declared the sewage system sufficient to handle the use of 47 sites. This was confirmed, though it was pointed out that it was DEP which said that the camp could open those sites; the engineer only stated that the system could handle it.
The visitors had several other questions as well. It was asked if the engineer was aware of the history of the situation, and what would become of the 7,000-gallon tank in the ground. It was asked how the camp could run when the tanks had been put in illegally, regardless of whether or not they could function sufficiently. It was asked how it was not a problem that the camp had been open the previous year, despite being ordered closed. It was asked who was responsible for enforcing such violations. Many of the questions were familiar, having been asked at public meetings before.
Although the supervisors did not have answers to all of the questions (such as who was responsible for enforcement), and answered other questions with the standard “It's in litigation” phrase, some facts could be established. The camp was decreed able to open due to Mr. Young's having appealed to the court in Harrisburg. His lawyers stated that they understood, when the camp opened last year, that the judge in Harrisburg had said they could do so. The supervisors were not responsible for saying that the camp could open – that was a decision made by DEP. They are also not responsible for making him take the large tank out. It was stated that the matter is not over, despite the visitors’ obvious frustration with hearing that about continuing litigation.
In regards to holding tanks in general, it was stated that attorney Briechle is working on an ordinance for them. This will allow the township to have better control.
In other news, PennDOT announced a bridge repair project on Rte. 1012, East Lake road. They wished to allow the public to express their concern. Subject to funds, the earliest the construction could begin would be 2011.
Bridge work will also be done on the entrance to Bailey Road. The bridge, which washed out in 2006, had been replaced with a big pipe. There are only four houses on the other side. DEP said this arrangement was insufficient, however, leading to the plan to insert a three-walled concrete culvert instead. An engineer, FEMA, and PEMA were also involved in the project.
Ms. Tompkins attended the meeting, after having written a letter to the supervisors, to make her case for calling the road she lived on Plank Road. At a previous meeting the issue had been opened up to public discussion, and it had been decided the road ought to be named Cole Road. The reasoning behind this decision, at least in part, involved the existence of another Plank Road across the street. There was concern that this might be confusing for emergency service workers. Ms. Tompkins argued that keeping the name would serve to preserve a piece of railroad history, and that if a direction was given to the road (North Plank or Northeast Plank), in addition to house numbers, it would be differentiation enough for emergency workers. Mr. Hunter offered to compromise, by placing a sign below the one in existence, which read, “Formerly Plank Road”, but Ms. Tompkins seemed uninterested in this proposal. She asked when the ordinance had been written to change the name; it was stated that it had always been known by the current name, even on maps, for at least as long as Mr. Hunter had been a supervisor (7 years).
Ken Bondurant gave an update on Bicentennial preparations. Things are moving ahead with preparation for the festival, approximately six months away, and at least one band has been booked.
Following is the Susquehanna County sentencing report for February, 2009 as submitted by the county District Attorney’s office.
Brian Michael Schmitt, 34, of Windsor, NY, 3 months to 12 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, perform 50 hours of community service, no contact with anyone on supervision, pay restitution to the victim in this case for Theft by Unlawful Taking in Great Bend Township on August 30, 2008.
Christopher Lee Magalong, 18, of Dallas, PA, 11 1/2 months to 23 1/2 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, followed by 3 years probation, pay cost of prosecution, perform 200 hours community service, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, receive a mental health evaluation, not to possess firearms, pay $500 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution for Involuntary Manslaughter in Dimock on August 22, 2008.
Stephani C. Campbell, 24, of South Montrose, to pay a $200 fine and costs of prosecution for Criminal Mischief in Susquehanna on March 8, 2008. The defendant also received a $100 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to victim in this case for Criminal Mischief in Bridgewater Township on October 25, 2004.
Brien Michael Phillips, 26, of South Montrose, 16 months to 4 years in a state correctional facility, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution to the victim in this case for Involuntary Manslaughter in Great Bend Township on September 26, 2008. The defendant also received 16 months to 5 years in a state correctional facility to run consecutive to the above sentence, pay $2,500 fine, pay cost of prosecution for Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injury in Great Bend Township on September 26, 2008.
Anthony John Brown, Jr., 21, of Susquehanna, 5 years probation, pay $200 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution to the victim in this case for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Ararat on March 24, 2007. The defendant also received 5 years probation, pay $250 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim in this case for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Ararat on April 4, 2007. The defendant received 7 years probation, to run concurrent, pay $500 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Thompson on August 6, 2006. The defendant received 5 years probation to run concurrent, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution to victim for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Ararat on February 1, 2007. The defendant received 7 years probation to run concurrent, pay $500 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Ararat on March 1, 2007. The defendant received 5 years probation, pay $250 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution to the victim, pay cost of prosecution for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Thompson on September 27, 2007. The defendant received 5 years probation to run concurrent, pay $250 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Thompson on August 10, 2006. Finally, the defendant received 7 years probation to run concurrent, pay $500 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim for Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds in Ararat on April 29, 2007.
Mario and Carolyn Gonzalez to Eleanor A. Tesoriero, in Thompson Borough for $168,000.00.
Dennis E. and Ronald Whitney to Charles Wiseman, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Michael and Linda Lavalle to John Michael and Kelsey Lavalle, in Herrick Township for $400.00.
William M. and Alice C. Beavers to Bremer Hof Owners, Inc., in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Edward B., III and Penelope K. Greene (NBM) Penelope K. Sherman to Penelope K. and Edward B., III Greene, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLC to Black Stone Natural Resources III LP and Black Stone Natural Resources III-B LP, in Gibson, Harford, Lathrop and Springville Townships for $10.00.
Karen O. and Donald J. Kintzer to Kintzer Family Trust, in Herrick Township for one dollar.
Gary R. and Carolyn B. Johnson to Johnson Trust, in Clifford Township.
Louis J. Mercadante and Betty Jane Meyers to Louis J. Mercadante, in Forest City for $10.00.
Doris Moore to Doris Moore, Bernard A. Jewson and Holly I. Kumpf, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Joseph A. and Annette E. Applegate to Docs Home Services, Inc., in Susquehanna for $8,000.00.
Phillip C., Karen L. and Barry J. Wheaton to Eric Wheaton, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
James R. Canfield to Boyd C. and Jayne S. Manzer, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Paul A. Kelly to Bessie Hart (Est), in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Georgiann Fredericks to Georgiann Fredericks (Trust), in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Christian and Florentina Vasui and Aleksandr to Christian and Florentina Vasui and Elena Crac, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Keith D. Price, Jr. and Sara M. Kelly, both of Apalachin, NY.
Kevin R. Sheffler and Irini Harms, both of Montrose.
Keith A. Gregory and Carol Marie Delousia, both of Montrose.
Paul Joseph Barnes and Lori Sue Eck, both of Susquehanna.
Vincent J. Petriello and Kitty Lee Williams, both of Hallstead.
Michael G. Krall of Dickson City vs. Susan M. Krall of Susquehanna, married 1983.
Michael P. Hurlburt of Susquehanna vs. Bernadette Hurlburt of Nicholson, married 1998.
Connie Anne White vs. Kevin Charles White, both of Susquehanna, married 1998.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has Bench Warrants for the following individuals as of 11:31 a.m. on February 20, 2009.
David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, David S. Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Michael P. Bradley, Jr., David M. Brant, Ryan T. Brooks, Kenneth G. Burgess, Joshua D. Calby, Mark T. Conklin, Jeffrey A. Craig, Mary Dallasta, John J. Deakin, Paul H. Donovan, Deborah L. Drish, Jonathan Fathi, Kristoffer B. Fazzi, David J. Fischer, Thomas Fisher, Nesbitt W. Fitch, Jr., Ryan M. Forder, Kelly Fox, Yvette Glover, Deborah E. Gould, David Haines, Jr., Suzanne R. Hansen, Keith G. Harms, Ann Hightower, Holly N. Holbrook, Timothy M. Holmes, Jeffrey J. Horrocks, Sr., Lyle J. Hugaboom, Roy M. Huntley, Mark T. Jarocha, Carl M. Kelder, Kevin D. Klein, Erik E. Krisovitch, James R. Lee, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Howard J. Linder, Debra J. London, George D. Lowery, Joseph Malloy, Jr., Tanika Marazzani, Patricia J. Marrero, Jason Marshall, Fred C. Materese, Zada A. McDonald, Matthew S. Miller, Joseph C. Moore, Anthony Neri, Todd M. O'Hara, Ivy U. Oropallo, Donald Palmer, Gary Perico, Jonathan R. Powers, Jeffrey A. Ransom, Kim Read, Nathan Rosene, Neil D. Shaffer, Duane Spencer, Amy M. Squier, Earl H. Thompson, Jr., Christopher Trayes, Anthony M. Vaow, Keith W. Vroman, Robert C. Walter, II, Glynn Wildoner, III, Jamie L. Williams, Patrick L. Yachymiak, Louis Yachymiak, Karl D. Zantowsky.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
The subject of the federal stimulus bill came up in several of the discussions that took place at the February 17 Council of Governments meeting.
The DCED police study is once again underway. As with any undertaking of this magnitude, there have been some snags. Paperwork for two of the municipalities that were to have participated have been lost in transit. They have been contacted to resubmit the information, or not as the case may be. Part of the study has been completed and should be presented to members at the March meeting.
One item in the federal stimulus plan relates to local police services, specifically $1 billion in funding for local police. If the funding becomes a reality, this will certainly impact the outcome of the study.
Two PennDOT representatives new to the area were on hand to introduce themselves, Chris Goetz, Municipal Services Supervisor and Ed Sumski, Municipal Services Specialist. Both were welcomed and extended an open invitation to attend future meetings.
Mr. Goetz touched on several topics, one of which was the state’s CoStars program; he strongly urged municipalities to sign up before March 15 in the event that there is a problem with the availability of salt next year. Suppliers are contracted with PennDOT, and there is a strong possibility that those who are not in the program will be unable to get salt. Mr. Goetz also noted that municipalities need to have their actual use reports filed with PennDOT by January 31, in order to receive their liquid fuels funding in April. He noted that this year’s payments had been reduced by 2 1/4% over last year’s, due to the decrease in fuel consumption in response to the record-high gas prices we’d seen over the summer. The funds are based on the number of gallons sold, and with many conserving their usage, the monies paid to municipalities were subsequently reduced.
The stimulus package was mentioned again, in that it contains provisions for transportation improvements. Mr. Goetz thought that the money for local municipalities would most likely be distributed through the Rural Planning Organization.
A member of the group from New Milford Boro asked about two bridges in the boro that are closed and need to be replaced. With them out of commission, there is a serious concern that emergency responders would not be able to reach some of the residents. Mr. Sumski said that he would check with PennDOT’s bridge unit for information.
A price schedule has been drawn up for the new, more highly reflective road signs. Information is available through LTAP for a sign grant program to help reduce the replacement costs to municipalities.
COG is still working on hosting a local open records training program; it was noted that the training will be available at the upcoming PSAT convention. Office manager Karen Trynoski was duly nominated and elected to be COG’s information officer. The COG staff has put together materials relating to the law, including a form that can be used for certified copies, a document that can be attached to true and correct copies, and also one to use in the event that a copy has been edited.
In keeping with COG’s bylaws, elections for vice chair of the three committees were held. Even though he was not present, incumbent Charlie Fahringer was quickly nominated and unanimously elected to the position for COG. Incumbents for the Codes and Sewage committees were also nominated and unanimously elected, Chuck Mead and Rudy Mattes, respectively.
The sewage committee reported that their line of credit with Peoples National Bank was due for renewal; a motion carried to approve its renewal.
Both SEO’s, Duane Wood and John Watson have been working with the solicitor on several old violation cases to get them resolved.
A motion carried to approve sending the SEOs to the state SEO Conference in Grantville March 8-10.
Mr. Watson has put together a policy, based on the Sewage Facilities Act, which contains provisions for enforcement of violations. He said that in the rare instance where a violation was not resolved, the policy would provide protection for municipalities and the SEOs. Copies were given to members for review, and comments are welcome. The solicitor has also received a copy for review.
Correspondence included an invitation to the Endless Mountains Builders Association show the following day in New Milford. The flyer noted that as of July, all contractors who do more than $5,000 per year in home improvements must be registered with the state.
The codes committee reported that since the UCC regulations went into effect, they had two appeal hearings, the most recent in January. Loft Industries (Great Bend Twp.) had requested a variance for a sprinkler system. The appeal board’s decision was that the evidence brought forward was not compelling enough to override the UCC building codes, and the appeal was denied.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 17, 7 p.m. in the COG offices in New Milford Boro.
Will firefighters inhabit the vo-tech? That was one of the matters under discussion at the February 17 SCCTC board meeting. Two representatives of the Susquehanna County fire chiefs association attended the meeting, after having been in correspondence with Mrs. Davis previously, regarding the integration of a protective services program into the vocational school's retinue. In recent past, the men explained, the number of people volunteering in local fire and emergency services personnel has been waning. Their proposal was to offer students in grades 10-12 sufficient training to allow them to obtain the rank of fireman 1 upon graduation. The students would be considered junior firemen, due to their age, and thus operate under restrictions. The benefits, the men suggested, to such action could be numerous. Not only would the community benefit by receiving additional volunteers, but a more solid core of training in the area would be established. Firefighting is a dangerous career, with a high accident and death ratio. Proper training might allay this reality. It was also hoped that the program could not only motivate the students to get involved now, when their youth and energy lends itself to handling the ever increasing training requirements, but also to pursue a higher education in emergency services. Students would be trained in more than just fire science, and the presenters described various careers in emergency services that could be pursued as a career – fire services, police science, etc. They stated that the chiefs in the association were willing to help in the endeavor, and could assist in acquiring equipment, etc.
Dr. Davis reported various other SCCTC news after the men finished their presentation. The program is looking into underground welding, and adding a pharmacy technician certification course next year. Five doghouses were donated, for the eighth year in a row, to the Humane Society. The food services class was attending a culinary conference in Hershey, and the house project was progressing. The work skills program was mentioned, in which the students receive training in a format meant to simulate the work world, getting paid to doing so. Also, the school received a state equipment grant, with which money in the past it has purchased items like a safety stop saw.
Perhaps the lion's share of the two meetings was taken up by the visitor section of the Elk Lake meeting. One mother requested that the school look into establishing a school zone, or erecting crosswalk signs where students cross the road to access the tennis courts. It was responded that Dr. Bush had already submitted the paperwork for this, but that the school might not qualify for school zone signs as not enough students walk to school.
The mother's second request was that the school consider establishing a football team. The board explained that this had been examined before, and there had proven to be a lack of interest. Other obstacles mentioned included the cost of the program, the difficulty in finding coaches, and the fear that such a program would take kids away from the many sports already in place. Combining with Montrose's team would bump them into another division level, and is thus not an option. She inquired as to peewee programs, but it was explained to her that peewee programs are not generally run through the school. The mother was provided information on various community programs in already existence, and the matter was dropped for the time being.
A second mother spoke up with concerns regarding AP courses and the grading policy. She felt that the policy had been violated, that when not enough grades are given students do not have sufficient opportunities to bring their grades back up. This, she said, was a problem for students who then lose athletic eligibility. Dr. Cuomo responded that AP courses were different, with college level standards and syllabi having to undergo an AP audit. Also, it was suggested, students shouldn't be in the position of failing in the first place.
Mrs. Staats reported on the first annual open house, held to supply parents with information for transitioning students. She explained that while special needs students are in school, they are entitled to certain services, however once they have graduated they need to apply for them. Agencies and parents were invited to the event, which was said to be a success.
One seventh grade class is utilizing Skype to take group work to new levels. The English class is communicating back and forth with a school in Canada. Students from the two schools will, in time, collaborate on group projects about the Iditarod.
Four records had been set in swimming since the last meeting, with Abby Zansavage setting two and the boys’ relay team setting two. In other sports news, Mr. Mallery commended both the Elk Lake students and the Montrose students for their behavior, support, and sportsmanship at recent games. The varsity wrestling team attended states in Hershey.
Over a hundred and fifty students had perfect attendance, it was announced. Mrs. Heed, who handles attendance for the secondary school, was acknowledged publicly for her work in regards to this.
Hallstead Council had several guests at their February 19 meeting, two of which addressed council on behalf of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region. Phil Swank, Executive Director, explained that there are grant programs funded by DCNR for such projects as walking trails that will promote the area’s natural and cultural assets. The Heritage Region has been active in assisting with park and recreation projects.
The DCNR grant funding would most likely be a matching grant, where the community would have to fund half of the project. The first step would be to have a brainstorming session, and then apply for a planning grant, which would cover cost estimates, etc.
Hallstead itself does not have property suitable for such a project, but Great Bend Township does. Council asked if it would be feasible for Hallstead, Great Bend Boro and Great Bend Township to work together on a grant application, as developing a trail would be an asset to all three communities. One of the township’s supervisors was present, and indicated that the township would be interested in pursuing the idea.
Mr. Swank said that DCNR would most likely prefer that an authority, a commission or a non-profit group be put into place to oversee the management and maintenance of the park, but the three communities working together would be a plus when the application is considered.
It was agreed to set up a further meeting with the Heritage Region and the three communities involved, to discuss possible projects.
David Buck, Greenway Coordinator for the Heritage Region, spoke about the Susquehanna greenway, particularly about the number of visitors to the area who are interested in the river, whether for boating or camping. He himself has been involved in the annual river sojourn, which involves both. He also said that a four-county greenway plan is in progress, involving Susquehanna, Wyoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties. The commissioners of each county would appoint representatives to an advisory committee.
In other business, a motion carried to appoint Codes Inspections, Inc. as the boro’s building inspectors. COG will be notified of their decision, and council will advertise details so that residents are aware of the change.
Council received two letters of interest for the open tax collector position. After discussion, a motion carried to appoint Peggy Woosman to complete the balance of the term, which runs until the end of the year.
In response to a possible “situation,” council has been researching the boro’s ordinances relating to trailers, specifically how many may be placed on a single lot.
There was discussion of the streets most in need of paving; council will compile a list and prioritize them. Council will also be coordinating a list of drainage work, to be done in conjunction with the paving. Areas where drainage work is needed but that are not on the priority list for paving will be done as time allows.
PennDOT will be contacted to help draw up specs for the new truck council has been planning to purchase.
And, it was reported that the sidewalk replacement project should be underway some time in the spring.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 19, 7 p.m. in the boro building.
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