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Great Bend Gearing Up For Summer
The Great Bend Borough Council covered a wide variety of topics at their meeting on May 7. If there was a theme, it was the coming Summer season, to get maintenance under way and spiff up the town for warmer days ahead.
The borough paid $1,292 for a pair of large signs, to be placed at either end of town on Main Street, U.S. Route 11, welcoming visitors. The one at the north end is easy to place, but there was some discussion about the best place to site the one at the south. Look for it soon: deep blue with bright white lettering.
Maintenance supervisor, Councilman Joe Collins, reported that, while the fence around the Little League field is a bit rusty, the fences in Greenwood and VFW Memorial (“Recreation”) parks are in satisfactory condition. The “Benedict” property on the south of VFW park that was acquired from an emergency management buyout following the flooding of June 2006 will be cleaned up a bit, but resources are slim to fence it, at least until Council decides what is to become of it.
Council voted to spend up to $3,200 to repave an area at the junction of Mountain Vista Lane and Main Street where water and ice have damaged the pavement. There doesn’t seem to be a good solution to the water problem at that location, particularly since the sewer line that goes through there makes digging impractical. A possible solution suggested by PennDOT to build a catch basin and pipe the water away would probably be too expensive.
Mr. Collins also reported that the contractor engaged to use a street sweeper to clean up the winter’s accumulation of gravel and dirt will be available within the next two weeks. Council would like that done before the official start of Summer on Memorial Day weekend. Council member Jerry MacConnell also asked that the fire company be requested to help put the flags back up along Main Street.
Bridge Street in the borough is really nothing more than a bridge over the CP Rail tracks. There are some gaping holes in the bridge surface, exposing what appears to be some deterioration in the structure underneath. Council claims ownership of the surface and the sidewalk on the bridge, but, as Mr. MacConnell declared, “We do not own the bridge…. We do not want to own the bridge.” The borough will try to send a letter to the railroad company requesting an “informal” meeting at the bridge to inspect it and discuss possible options.
The Summer Adventure recreation program held at the Blue Ridge school campus each summer will get the annual $100 contribution from the borough.
Trehab, which has an office in the borough, can make a youth available to help with maintenance during the summer, but Council isn’t sure how that would work out. Wages are paid by Trehab, but the municipality must provide supervision and “mentoring” for between 20 and 35 hours a week through the summer.
Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan reported that money from the federal “stimulus” package “is being handled by the State and for very specific projects.” The largest available grants would be for housing, but applications can’t be simply requests for money. An application is a difficult paper-intensive process, and none of the listed project types would be likely to work in Great Bend Borough. Said one Council member, they make it “very hard for small communities” to qualify for stimulus money.
Council decided to provide Moms and kids with a “Port-a-Potty” at Memorial Park for 3 summer months, at about $75 per month. The units would be cleaned weekly. The only question was where the thing would be placed. There was agreement that it would have to be chained in place or it would be likely to be damaged or disappear. Visit the park to see where it ends up.
Tax collectors in Pennsylvania now have to complete a course and a test to maintain qualifications. Course materials are available on compact disk (CD) as a study guide, and Council decided to purchase one, for $95. It will belong to the borough, but may be borrowed by the town’s new tax collector, who won’t be elected until November.
Ms. Guinan also read a letter from the county commissioners describing the formation of a new “Tax Collection Committee.” They demanded one or more delegates from each municipality. The new committee is to be formed in response to a state initiative to try to consolidate collection of taxes at the county level; in this case, the committee is to focus on the collection of the earned income tax (EIT).
Great Bend Borough does not impose an earned income tax, and council members were exasperated at a demand from the county for delegation to a committee in which they have no interest. Some asked what the penalty might be if the borough didn’t send a delegate. After all, the county has demanded that the borough have a tax assessor, too, and there hasn’t been one for years.
It’s hard in a small town like Great Bend to find people willing to serve. Bret Jennings, the newest Council member, stepped forward and tentatively accepted designation as the borough’s representative to the Hallstead-Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority. He may have a small battle ahead.
The sewer authority has asked Hallstead, Great Bend Borough and Great Bend Township to provide “guarantees” for a loan to continue sewer projects. Council is concerned that such a guarantee to backstop the sewer authority’s borrowing could put the borough in jeopardy in the event of a default. A meeting was suggested for the week of May 18, but Council decided to ask for a meeting on Thursday, May 14, if possible. The sewer authority’s request would require the borough to provide 3 years of audit reports and other documentation. Council is reluctant to go along because they have no authority over the authority, yet the sewage plant is located in the borough and its occasional stink is offensive as it is.
Still in a feisty mood, Council will respond to a letter from the Pennsylvania-American Water Company (PAWC) with a letter of its own. PAWC has requested a rate increase from the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission (PUC). Council thinks that a rate increase is “not the right thing to do at this time.” And the water doesn’t taste very good either.
Still searching for some sort of police coverage, Council will approach Lanesboro again. Last summer an agreement was all but concluded between the boroughs to have Lanesboro police patrol Great Bend for some hours each month at minimal cost. Then fuel prices skyrocketed and Lanesboro backed out at the last minute. Now that gas prices have moderated, can this package be put back together?
The Borough’s glory is its three parks. Visit them, and enjoy summer in Great Bend.
Can Montrose Go Modular?
It's not our responsibility. That was the answer which the Montrose borough council members, when the matter came up on May 4, seemed overall relieved to be able to give Penndot regarding a proposed traffic system. The proposed system would be erected near the golf course, where the roads intersect. The area is actually in Bridgewater Township, so the borough is exempt from any decisions or maintenance regarding the system, it was said. One borough member did suggest, however, that if it goes through this action outside of the borough it might warrant the erection of new stop signs within it, as people would likely drive more on back streets to evade the lights.
A question was raised regarding deck repairs, and whether or not borough residents should still have to pay the standard thirty dollar fee for the zoning officers involvement in situations where, according to Mr. Darrow, he doesn't do much. Where a structural change is involved, the resident needs to have their paperwork signed by COG, reducing the amount of work the CEO actually does. Mr. Yeager felt the fee should be waived in these situations, but at least one other person present felt that Mr. Darrow was still performing work and spending time, so thus the charges should stand. No set decision was made, the matter was pushed off for further discussion at the recessed meeting.
Nicholas Hawley, construction manager for Kintner modular homes, attended the meeting to vehemently express his opinion of the borough's preliminary design plans for the new municipal building. Mr. Yeager and the borough secretary had brought his company the plans prior to the meeting, inquiring as to the plans' modular feasibility and that company's interest. Mr. Hawley reiterated, several times and utilizing an impressive variety of phraseology, that in his opinion it could not be completed in a modular format, and that Kintner modular homes would most emphatically not be interested in bidding. He called the plans a pipe dream, liberal left ended toward green, and a colossal waste of tax money. He explained that modular plans should be amicable to box shapes, and expressed his opinion that the plans went too far with the green building. He quoted 2 to 3 million dollars as a quick estimate of the cost of the project, and said that his company, which he termed conservative in all aspects, would be the ideal builders to help the borough on a revised project. It might not, however, its name attached to an attempt at the plans as they stood.
Ms. Waddington suggested that the borough shop around and see what other builders thought. Mr. Reimel stated that he had shown conceptual drawings to another respected builder who felt that the proposal was not only doable in a modular format, but could be done much less expensively than Mr. Hawley was proposing. After being recessed to the meeting's end, the discussion resumed and the conclusion was reached that other contractors would be shown the plans, and other input sought, before the idea would be abandoned.
Issues Highlight New Milford
The New Milford Borough Council meeting on May 7 was filled with a numbers of issues from elderly housing resolutions, to burning ordinances and angry bar maids.
Susquehanna County Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s Bobbie Jo Turner was on hand for a public hearing prior to the actual meeting, as a courtesy call to the Council, regarding the possible purchase of the old Southern Tier Plastics property. The Authority is considering demolishing the building and locating an elderly housing project on the site, if grant monies are available.
The current, broken down building is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and poses a safety hazard as well as being an eyesore.
Council passed a resolution enabling SCHRA to apply for the grant monies, but put aside a few other resolutions which will pass, contingent on approval from the Borough’s Solicitor, Atty. Jodi Cordner.
Complaints regarding noise from chain saws cutting wood soon turned into burning issues within the borough limits.
One resident complained that several times chain saws have disrupted his peace and quiet throughout the week and the weekend and wanted Council to be informed of this . He added that although he doesn’t mind someone cutting the wood, he needed his sleep and did they have to do it as much. Council reported that as long as the wood cutters were on their own property, there was nothing Council could do. Residents responsible for cutting wood said they would be willing to work with him, but weekends were the only times they could work on the wood. Council President Jim Carr left the issue for neighbors to work out together.
Another person said that she was fine with all the restrictions for the “outdoor furnace regulations” except the 200 feet responsibility. She added that she shouldn’t be penalized for burning wood if that was the only regulation she couldn’t meet.
One resident expressed the issue of a neighbor burning garbage, trash grass and cardboard, making it impossible for them to enjoy sitting outdoors on their new porch due to the smoke and smell.
He was informed that the fire company, in conjunction with the county has a burn ban in effect during the spring and sometimes summer hours. He was also advised to call DEP regarding burning of noxious materials.
After much discussion regarding the regulations and other burning issues, Council told those in attendance that while they had not tried to cut out all burnings, the outdoor furnace ordinance was in place in order to “try to keep everyone happy” even though, as Councilwoman Teri Gulick stated, “we try to do the best we can for all the residents” and “to keep everyone happy, but sometimes that is not possible so we do what we vote is correct for the majority, keeping in mind each issue’s best for everyone.”
There was a large crowd at this meeting, including some angry female bartenders, who insisted that “Montrose Borough is targeting our establishments” and “sitting in the parking lot writing down both patron and tenders license numbers” and then “following us home after a shift.”
The angry group tried to explain what was happening, but kept stepping on each others’ toes and interrupting each other with the allegations so Council President Carr touched his gavel and asked them to proceed “one at a time.”
Police Committee Head, Teri Gulick told the group she was sorry about their allegations but she also reiterated a story being told around town about the police stopping and frisking an elderly couple. The purpose of the story was to show the group that false stories are being reported and when the facts are on the table, there have been only two New Milford residents, who actually were arrested and charged with DUI’s. In reality those two stops were not targeted, however each of those two people were stopped because one was swaying down the road and the other didn’t have headlights on.
Gulick and Carr told the women that they really doubted any establishment in New Milford or there would have been many more arrests. It was also brought up that the State Police and County Drug Task Force were out as well. The bartenders insisted that it was Montrose cops and that they “were” targeting the bars.
Councilwoman Barb James confronted the group with, “how would you feel if someone left the bar intoxicated and ended up injuring or killing anyone because they had had too much to drink… would you take on that responsibility?” “Yes we would“, one feisty individual answered.
Green Gables owner Carol Conigliaro added that the presence of the police sitting across the street from the restaurant “cost us our winter business,” as people wouldn’t order an alcoholic beverage for fear of getting stopped. She added that she was in agreement with the other establishments, Queen of Hearts and The Parkview.
During the accusations one resident informed the bartenders and council that he was proud of the job the police are doing and he is also very thankful they are here and he loves them. He added that if the patrons or the bartenders are innocent from doing any wrong, why would they even care where and what the police are doing? “We are lucky to have them here watching the parks, the village, the bars and the kids.”
Gulick said she would check into the problem with the police and that if the girls had any reports to call her at home, but “the police are just doing their jobs in order to keep New Milford safe.”
The Bicentennial Celebration is well on its way. For more information visit the website at http://www.newmilford.org>www.newmilford.org.
Carr shared plans of volunteers planning to paint the pool and the gazebo at the park in preparation for the Bicentennial as well as Memorial Day. Anyone interested in helping contact the Borough Office.
Susquehanna County Commissioners requested delegating representatives for a Tax Collection Committee. The delegates are: primary Sue Abbot, first delegate Barb James and second delegate Jane Zick. The Council is going to check with the Commissioners to see if New Milford Borough requires such a committee if they do not impose an Earned Income Tax.
Carol Conigliaro was on hand to ask Council’s help in designating parking places at the old elementary school for those people who are actually paying for services offered at the old site. The problem here is that ball players and enthusiasts of all sports seem to feel that the parking at the school grounds is still the Borough property. It is not and is owned by a team of five who have put up fences, signs and more to keep the parking lot safe and available for those taking children to dance lessons or picking kids up from the early education child care, and members of the gym.
Council agreed to work on this with the owners, as the last thing anyone wants is for a child or someone to get hurt trying to pick up a child from the location.
Starrucca Borough Council Minutes.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for their regular monthly meeting on April 1, at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes, Mr. Peter Frank, Mr. Robert Buck and Mr. Anthony Palonis were present. Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko and Mr. Fred Rhone were absent.
President Rhone called the meeting to order, and the pledge was given.
The minutes from the previous meeting were read and the motion carried to approve.
The Treasurer’s report was given and the motion to approve carried.
The bills were presented and the bill list was corrected to reflect check #968 in the amount of $256.52. The motion to approve payment carried.
The following Correspondence was received:
A notice of the 2009 Liquid Fuels Payment ($19,526.85) was received from Penn dot.
A letter from Building Inspection Underwriters explaining John Hudak assuming the duties of President of the Company.
A notice of a video teleconference to be held in Scranton concerning Natural Gas drilling and municipal regulation. Mr. Palonis asked that Mayor DeBalko be contacted to attend and further made the motion that the Borough would pay the $35.00 registration fee. He added that he would like her to question the regulation of “pump stations.” The motion to pay the registration fee carried. The secretary will provide copies of the written explanation she received from PSATS for her Townships to all the officials.
In Borough Reports:
The proposed Wind Mill Ordinance was discussed and it was agreed the Attorney should review the proposal before the Council should proceed. The motion that the proposed Ordinance with the changes made so far, be forwarded to the Solicitor for his review and opinion, carried.
In Unfinished Business:
The subject of Lawn Care was discussed and President Rhone suggested a “job description” be established and sent to interested parties for action at next meeting.
In New Business:
The three (delivered per ton) stone quotes received were read as follows: Montrose Materials: 2A & 2RC - $14.34, #1 & #3 - $15.84, and 2B - $16.39. State Aggregates: 2RC- $9.95, 2A- $10.35, 2B- $13.10, 3A- $12.95, and #4- $12.75. B&S (Lanesboro) Quarries: 2A & 2RC- $9.95, 2B - $11.45, and #3 - $10.85. After review, the motion to award the stone materials to B&S (Lanesboro) Quarries carried.
Under Capital Improvements: It was agreed to table the issue and contact others for quotes and to check with Harmony Township to offer to continue the Intergovernmental agreement that has been used in previous years.
It was agreed the water will be turned on in the Community Hall and Mr. Kopp will contact a representative of Chesapeake to have the water tested, as they are currently testing in the area and wished to test the Hall.
The motion to authorize the use of the Hall to play Basketball etc., as long as adult supervision is supplied, carried.
The issue of the Borough’s Audit was discussed and President Rhone explained that an Ordinance had been previously adopted to provide a State “accredited” audit. The previous company (Cunningham and Saunders) states they are not “accredited.” He further asked the Elected Auditors for input and Mr.DeBalko Chairman said they agreed. A lengthy proposal from Williams, Owens and Company was read (including an estimated price of $3,000.00). It was questioned if the DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development) would accept the report as prepared by the company. The motion to obtain a supplemental letter from Williams Owens and company, verifying that the report will be accepted by the DCED, and if accomplished to further hire the company to complete the Borough’s 2008 audit, carried.
In Public Participation:
Mr. Downton asked, “What does the Council have to hide by using a C.P.A. versus the Elected Auditors?” Mr. Kopp responded, “To clean things up” and Mr. Buck stated that if the Council “had something to hide, why would they take the audit to a professional?” Mr. Darl Haynes (Elected Auditor) asked the President if he could address the question. Permission was given, and Mr. Haynes stated that “due to the current status of the Borough and due to an investigation by the Auditor General’s office, as well as the numerous law suits and legal actions that the Borough has been faced with, a professional audit will “cut the nonsense” and provide an outside opinion of Borough’s finances.”
Mr. Haynes then questioned Mr. Downton about his meeting with Auditor General’s office while he was Mayor and never informed Council that he met or what was discussed.
Mr. Downton then asked “How can the Borough enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Harmony Township, if Harmony Township is currently advertising for summer help?” President Rhone answered, “We (the Borough) will be contacting them, as stated earlier.”
No further business to come before the Board, the motion to adjourn carried.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for a special meeting on April 14 at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone (acting Mayor), Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes Jr. Mr. Peter Frank, and Mr. Robert Buck, were present. Mr. Anthony Palonis, Mr. Fred. Rhone and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were absent.
The purpose of the meeting was to review and consider proposals for Insurance coverage.
Mr. James B. Davis from DGK Insurance was present to explain, due to the recent law suits filed against the Borough, it’s current carrier Selective was canceling our coverage, although they (Selective) will continue the current Federal suit now before it.
He also explained the difference between “occurrence” and “claims made” issues under the policy. The Public Officials coverage is a “claims made” policy and has no statue of limitations, that he’s aware of.
Mr. Davis on the Borough’s behalf submitted applications to several companies and presented the following options:
H.A. Thomson will provide the Insurance with the Public Officials policy starting with the policies “start date”(April 15) and will not provide retroactive or prior acts coverage. The price of the policy will be $2,655.00 per year, without the Public Officials policy the cost would be $1,713.00 per year. He cautioned the officials about not having this retroactive coverage, as one suit, no matter how frivolous, could “wipe out” the Borough, therefore he presented a proposal from Darwin National Assurance Company for the Public Officials Policy with full prior acts coverage for the price of $2,200.00 per year, which he added was comparable with “tail” policies costing $2,000.00 and only extending coverage for usually two years.
He recommended the purchase of the H.A.Thomson companies second option without the Public Officials coverage, and obtaining that coverage through the Darwin National. The Total cost would be $3,913.00 per year, which is $1,258.00 more, but because of the lawsuits already filed against the Borough, Council determined this was the best option to protect the taxpayers of Starrucca Borough against future lawsuits.
The motion to approve the combination of H.A.Thomson (without P.O.) for $1713.00 and Darwin National $2200.00 for a total of $3913.00 annually, carried.
No further business to come before the Board, the motion to adjourn carried.
Beverly Stanton to Frederick R. Stanton, Jr., in Harmony Township for one dollar.
Yanina M. Catanzaro to Anthony Domenico Catanzaro, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Lyle L. Lasko and Katherine E. Ackley (NKA) Katherine E. Lasko to Lester Lye and Lyle L. Lasko, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Robert E. and Beverly B. Lee to Donald K. and Janice E. Herr, in Herrick Township for $140,000.00.
Donlin Living Trust (By Trustee) to Mary Lee McQuade and Thomas L. Donlin, in Montrose for one dollar.
Amy Newak to Michael and Patricia Newak, in Forest City for one dollar.
Thomas A. and Carolyn Rivenburgh to Thomas Asa Rivenburgh, Jr. and Linda S. Wickert, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Robert W. Bowen, Jr., Edward Rojek, Jr., Thomas Zator, Richard Kurilla, Gary Popson and Ronald Gillar to Tiger Valley Sportsmen Club, in Harmony Township for one dollar.
James L. and Laura Cimino to Edward Richard and Heather A. Shingler, in Auburn Township for $240,000.00.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to Joseph F. Mikrut, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to William Volk, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to Mark and Patti Jeanne Tanzos, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to Henry J. Cittone and Laura L. Payne, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to Kelly Grimes, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to James S., Jr. and Diane Canty, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to Rodger G. and Jill R. Foreman, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Getaway Land Co. LLC to Deborah Traver and Steven J. Mokris, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
William J. and Evelyn C. Goff to William J. and Evelyn C. Goff and Daniel Anathony Puzo, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Scott L. Neal (Estate) to Paula R. Neal, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Montrose Area Industrial Development Agency, Inc. to Montrose Machine Works, Inc., in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Donald E. (AKA) Donald Edward Hanson (Estate) to Paul W. Bean, in New Milford Borough for $91,000.00.
Helen Soper to Helen and John W. Soper, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Andrew A. Kannenberg (Estate) to Andrew A. Kannenberg (Estate), in Choconut Township.
Magdalen Braden and Ross (AKA) JR Beresford to Magdalen Braden and Ross Beresford, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Edward (AKA) Edward G. Dechman to Edward G. Dechman (Rev Trust), in Harford Township for one dollar.
Anna Yakoski (Estate) to Thomas R. Law, in Springville Township for $169,900.00.
Robert A. Scotti to Brian C. Kerr, in Montrose for $126,500.00.
Diana Carolyn Swackhamer to Diana Carolyn and Leon J., III Swackhamer, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Robert E. and Alice H. Gilleran to Little Ireland Properties LLC, in Thompson Township for $236,897.10.
Hilda (By Guardian) and Gerald Raymond, Sr. (By Guardian) Hunt to Richard and Ann C. Brunori, in Herrick Township for $168,000.00.
Keith and Theresa M. Kovalefsky to Leslie D. Turner, in New Milford Township for $56,000.00.
Donalee T. Posey (FKA) Donalee T. Benscoter to Darrell E. and Donalee T. Posey, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Cindy L. and Eric D. Hyde to Eric D. Hyde, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
David and Karen Grizzanti to Janelle Brant, in New Milford Township for $156,400.00.
Janum Management LLC to Barton-Myer LLC, in Choconut Township for $750.00.
Matthew (AKA) Matthew W. Sweder to Matthew W. and Wendy Sweder, in Forest City for one dollar.
David J. and Regina Onufry Evans to Timber Lane Stone, Inc., in Lathrop Township for $120,000.00.
Vincent and Julie L. Rubino to Linda S. Andrews and Nicholas Brandon, in Choconut Township for $188,000.00.
Harry W. (AKA) Harry Warner (AKA) Harry (By Sheriff) and Wendy L. (AKA) Wendy Lee (AKA) Wendy (By Sheriff) Vaow to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in Dimock Township for $1,861.42.
Gerald T. and Phyllis A. Caffrey (NBM) Phyllis Brown to Phyllis A. and Gerald T. Caffrey, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Rory A. Maginley of Hallstead vs. Ann Marie T. Maginley of Binghamton, married 2006.
Beverly Welch vs. George Welch, both of Montrose, married 1993.
Carol Ellis of Meshoppen vs. Donald Ellis of Montrose, married 2007.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 10:39 a.m. on May 8, 2009.
David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, David S. Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Michael P. Bradley, Jr., David M. Brant, Kenneth G. Burgess, Jason J. Carroll, Tony R. Clark, Mark T. Conklin, James J. Corridoni, Jeffrey A. Craig, Mary Dallasta, Neil J. Darrow, Edward J. Dickson, Jr., 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, Dominick M. Franklin, Yvette Glover, Tiffany M. Groover, David Haines, Jr., Suzanne R. Hansen, Daniel L. Heinz, William N. Hendrickson, Ann Hightower, Timothy M. Holmes, Kevin D. Klein, Erik E. Krisovitch, James R. Lee, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Christopher Locke, Joseph Malloy, Jr., Tanika Marazzani, Patricia J. Marrero, Jason Marshall, Zada A. McDonald, Joseph C. Moore, Anthony Neri, Benjamin Newell, Tanya M. Novak, Todd M. O'Hara, Harriet Pabst, Donald Palmer, Gary Perico, Amy S. Pompey, James E. Purse, Jeffrey A. Ransom, Troy Rohmann, Duane Spencer, Earl H. Thompson, Jr., Christopher Trayes, Anthony M. Vaow, Keith W. Vroman, Steven G. Warner, Joseph Watkins, Glynn Wildoner, III, Jamie L. Williams, Roderic R. Williams, 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.
Blue Ridge Budget On The Grill
It was billed as a Finance Committee meeting on the budget, but it looked a lot like a Board meeting, as most of the Blue Ridge School Board, all of the district administrators, and a few observers gathered on May 5 to figure out how to squeeze a 16.6 million dollar square peg into a 16.3 million dollar round hole. It wasn’t a 5-hour marathon like last time, and, as a committee meeting, they didn’t make any final decisions. That will come on May 11 when the next formal Board meeting must adopt a budget proposal for final passage before the start of the new fiscal year in July.
Yet the deliberations did seem to reach some tentative conclusions, which include a real-estate tax rate increase.
The 300-thousand-dollar gap seems to have opened when it became clear that the number of students participating in “cyber-charter” instruction ballooned from about 8 last year to nearly 60 this year. The district is billed about $10,000 for each of them, and the state picks up only about 30% of it. The rest is charged to the Blue Ridge general fund, which is largely on the backs of taxpayers.
Committee members grilled each of the school principals, the activities and transportation director, and the district business manager for nearly 3 hours on line after line of their budget requests.
High School Principal Scott Jeffery offered a budget that would actually spend about $760 less next year. To get there, he cut money for field trips, for a major software upgrade, for art supplies, leaving room for major purchases of text books. The High School will also pay fees for students taking the PSAT test (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test), hoping to encourage more students to consider college. Mr. Jeffery, like all of his colleagues, also added money for staff development, a major focus of Superintendent Chris Dyer.
Each of the principals also added funds for licensing and maintenance of the new Destiny library system.
Technology expenses evoked serious concern in the committee when Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski asked for about $16,000 for 6 sets of a new “interactive student response” package, and “ELMO” cameras to go with them. The “responders” would give teachers timely feedback on how students are absorbing instruction. Mr. Nebzydoski’s overall budget request is only about $2,100 higher than for the current year, and most of that covers a new geography text and the start of the ESL (English as a Second Language) program mandated by the state. He said that the first Blue Ridge ESL student will enter the Middle School from the Elementary School next fall.
Elementary School Principal Matthew Button’s new budget adds funds for ESL, too, with a third student expected in the fall, and perhaps a 4th. His budget could rise as much as $12,000, due in large part to a new RTI (Response To Intervention) program that hopes to catch learning problems earlier. He also wants to add the “Study Island” on-line program to help prepare students for standardized testing.
Activities and Transportation Director Jim Corse came in for another tough session defending his budget requests. Overall his proposal was more than $5,000 higher than current, but he won’t get everything he asked for. He originally requested about $12,000 for a new electronic scoreboard for the soccer field. He cut that this time to about $6,000, but the committee consensus was that a new scoreboard probably isn’t needed at all at this time. He will, however, probably get an expensive new soundboard for the gym to replace the one that is no longer functioning. Transportation is expected to increase by about $5,000 under the last year of the current contract.
There was some debate about what contribution the booster clubs might make to help, for example, with new soccer uniforms. Mr. Corse described the many activities supported already by the booster clubs already, but noted that not all of the sports offered at Blue Ridge are equally supported by booster clubs. The golf program, for example, costs the district about $5,500 for about 4 participating students. He did add a small amount for an advisor for a proposed “Diversity Club,” that the Board has yet to decide on.
The really big money, however, is the responsibility of the Business Manager. Mr. Small said that the technology budget is “flat,” even considering some major expenditures. Of course the largest component of the budget is salaries and wages, most of which is set under the teachers’ contract to rise about 3% next year.
Mr. Small expects to end the current fiscal year with about $1.2 million in a fund balance (effectively a surplus). The state recommends a minimum fund balance level that, for Blue Ridge, should be at least $1 million. To fund the new budget without increasing tax rates would require drawing the fund balance down below that level, which makes him uncomfortable. He has suggested some creative accounting to shift funds among the general fund, the debt-service fund, and the now self-funded health plan, to allow for a marginal cushion. However, he said that, while in the past he has been able to find money in various “pockets” when needed, the new budget allows no such latitude. There will be no new staff positions, which presumably disappointed the schools’ nurses, who attended the meeting and are promoting the hiring of an additional certified nurse.
Board President Harold Empett warned the committee that every new system and program carries with it maintenance and upgrade costs “down the road.” For example, the fitness center, created some years back in a boondoggle that was supposed to come free to the district, actually ended up costing about $220,000; and now Mr. Corse needs about $5,000 to fund repairs and replacement equipment. (The fitness center displaced the wrestling team, which still doesn’t have a place of its own.) And the Classrooms For the Future (CFF) program begun largely with state funds for the past 3 years has seen fancy “smart boards” installed in most classrooms, which will have to be upgraded and replaced in future years.
All of these issues must be considered in the light of declining enrollment. Mr. Empett noted that the current school year started with about 1,198 students; the district now educates only about 1,163. Mr. Empett projected a decline of as much as 150 over the next 3 years. Mr. Small also reported that the number of homestead/farmstead exemptions in the district are going up by about 150. And, while that lost revenue is supposed to be replaced by funds from gambling, it is symptomatic of the stagnant revenue picture in the district, and state-wide as well. All of this puts pressure on local property taxpayers.
Under a resolution passed in January, the Board cannot increase property tax rates more than 6.1%, or about 2.6 mills. Each mill represents about $120,000 in revenue. Mr. Empett reminded his colleagues that the consensus some years back was to increase rates slightly each year in order to avoid big one-year jumps. School boards have been very reluctant to increase taxes, and indeed, the Blue Ridge district property tax rate has stood at 43 mills for the past 7 years. Former Board President Alan Hall even pledged last year to begin cutting rates once the bond expense had been trimmed in a few years. Yet now the committee is considering recommending adding another mill or two to tax bills for next year.
The Board will probably make its final difficult decisions at the next business meeting on May 11, before this story is published. Most meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School, and usually begin at 7:30 p.m.
Drilling In Great Bend Township
Great Bend Township is proceeding with posting and bonding their roads, in response to increased gas drilling activity in the area. Visitors at the supervisors’ May 4 meeting heard that the township has been put on Municipal Solution’s work list; Municipal Solutions will be studying the roads and guiding the township through the posting and bonding process. Also heard was that Alta Operating Co. has filed notice of intents for consumptive water withdrawal from three sites in the township and has filed an application for surface water withdrawal from Dubois Creek.
The roadmaster’s report included a rundown of recent activities, cleaning ditches and potholes, and continuing summer road maintenance.
Permits issued during the past month were assessment and UCC permits to Jason Auckland, Jessica Wiegand, Simmons Rockwell, Darlene Dawson and Bryan and Jennifer Witbeck, and a peddler’s permit to Break Time Foods.
Correspondence included a request for a donation to the Blue Ridge Summer Adventures program, which the supervisors approved as they do every year; notice that two residents participated in the Great American Cleanup and cleaned Locust Hill Rd. and Highlands Rd.; the Susquehanna County Conservation District’s 2008 annual report; notice of the municipal EMC quarterly meeting on Monday, May 18; and notice that the Pennsylvania American Water Co. has filed a request with the PUC to increase water rates as of June 23.
Under unfinished business, a list of codes violations was reviewed; all were said to be in progress.
The supervisors reluctantly accepted the resignation of Hans Moelder as the township’s representative on the sewer authority board; Mr. Moelder’s work schedule has changed and he is no longer able to attend the authority meetings. Anyone interested in representing the township is welcome to contact the supervisors.
The supervisors discussed a notice from the county commissioners that all municipalities would be required to appoint a delegate to the county’s new tax collection committee. The committee will deal with new state regulations to consolidate collection of earned income tax. There was some discussion as to whether or not the township would be required to appoint a delegate, as the township does not have an earned income tax, but the end result was a motion to appoint Joe Gaughan as the township’s representative to the committee.
During public comment, an Airport Road resident asked if work would be done there as it is “a mess.” The road was scheduled for work later that week. The resident also asked if the speed limit could be lowered to 15 mph, as there has been a lot of traffic, with most motorists ignoring the posted 35 mph speed limit, and some going as fast as 60. The supervisors said that they had looked into the matter some time ago and had determined that the present 35 mph is the lowest the limit could go, and that signs have been posted. The resident responded that the State Police would be willing to conduct a traffic survey, which would be needed to lower the limit, which he said could be done, and that the State Police would also be willing to monitor the road on a daily basis if the limit was lowered. One supervisor asked why they would be willing to do that, rather than monitor and enforce the present speed limits? Another supervisor was of the opinion that the State Police are already too busy to monitor the roads on a regular basis, how would lowering the limit change that?
The meeting adjourned to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.
The next meeting will be on Monday, June 1, 7 p.m. in the township building.
Horror In Forest City
At the May 4 Forest City Borough meeting, Mayor Nick Cost thanked the Lions Club, the Forest City Commercial Association and the Forest City Rotary Club for purchasing welcome signs for the borough. Each organization donated $1,430 to the cause. A sign will be placed at each of the four town entry points.
Cost also stated that on May 16, May 23, May 30 and June 6, residents may deposit metal at the Forest City recycling center on Route 247. Drop-off times are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Cost announced that he will be supervising the collections and requested that individuals place a sticker or a signed letter on items to be donated, such as refrigerators, proving that any freon was removed from the item.
Borough secretary Susan Coleman read from a letter stating that the Pennsylvania American Water Company has filed a request to increase rates as of June 23, 2009. Barbara Mihelc stated, “I think we should at least send a letter saying that we’re against [the rate hike].” Council passed a motion to do so.
Following a summary by Ernest Closser and Dermot Kennedy of the Bond Council, Borough Council enacted Ordinance 479, which declares the replacement of the sewer system a project for which the borough will incur a maximum debt of approximately $9,665,000 for project costs.
Council agreed that unoccupied buildings are a nuisance and a potential hazard in Forest City, due to trespassers, vermin and the accumulation of trash. Building owners who receive a letter from the borough are given twenty days to respond. Council passed a motion stating that should Code Enforcement and the Department of Public Works have to secure a building, the building owner will be charged for time and supplies.
After opening bids for repair work on two Borough Building windows, Council decided to seek a quote from Grimm Construction for replacing the curved windows with panels of flat glass.
Following complaints, the Police Department will investigate parking violations near the senior citizen center.
Due to Memorial Day, garbage pick-up will be on Saturday, May 30.
The public is invited to attend a tree planting hosted by Step-By-Step. A Japanese flowering crab apple will be planted near the gazebo in Kennedy Park on Wednesday, May 20 at noon.
An individual requested permission for her son to shoot a scene for a horror movie in front of a grocery store on Main Street in Forest City. Although several members of Council were amused by the request, they pointed out that the decision belongs to Penn-DOT, since filming would require closing a portion of a state route. Some Council members suggested filming on a side street, due to the complexity of closing a major road.
Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, on the first day of June at 9:00 a.m.
Ararat Twp.: Tammy Stone.
Auburn Twp.: Robert Clark, Nancy Finlon, Robert McConnell, Dawn Posten.
Bridgewater Twp.: Jennifer Mooney, Douglas Overfield, Barbara Rauch, Phyllis Rought, Caroline Zentar.
Brooklyn Twp.: Penny Alden, Jesus Gonzalaz.
Choconut Twp.: Sue Knowles, Elizabeth Stanford, Eileen Way.
Clifford Twp.: Natalia Janey, Martha Peterka, Nancy Pevec.
Dimock Twp.: Adelia Swackhamer.
Forest City 2W: Eunice Lozinak, James Rowlands.
Forest Lake Twp.: David Henry.
Franklin Twp.: Timothy Perkins.
Gibson Twp.: Francis Supancik
Great Bend Borough: Alfred Anderson, Gregory Isley, Joy Shurtleff.
Great Bend Twp.: Jon McHugh, Haydn Thomas.
Harford Twp.: Kevin Reuss, Joann Titus.
Harmony Twp.: Susan Gallagher, Tracie Szili.
Herrick Twp.: Joseph Dorohovech, Angel Louise Marx, Thomas Rivenburgh.
Hop Bottom Borough: Shawna Hill.
Jessup Twp.: Cynthia Mancini.
Lathrop Twp.: Brenda Evans, Brenda Jennings.
Lenox Twp.: James Costigan, Gilbert Depew, Wayne Young.
Liberty Twp.: James Decker, Vicky Larue.
Middletown Twp.: Michael Sharon.
Montrose Borough 2W: Barry Wheaton.
New Milford Borough: Sandra Smith.
New Milford Twp.: Barbara Cudo, Shirley Hepler, Sanford Kleiner, Harold Newberry, William W. Stepniak, III.
Oakland Borough: Ryan Stalker.
Oakland Twp.: Robert Broad, Charles Cuevas, Jon Deakin, Frances Gelineau.
Rush Twp.: Graciela Bandala, Paul J. Brojack, Alan Gary, Ginger Shadduck, Wayne E. Smith.
Silver Lake Twp.: Thomas Dublin, Freida Hall, Dawn Haskins, Andrea Nelson, John Yeszkonis.
Springville Twp.: Richard Breese, Donald Lee, Nevin Norton, David Snyder.
Susquehanna Borough 1W: Julianne Collins, Mary Klock, Cecelia Vaccaro.
Susquehanna Borough 2W: William McKinney.
Thompson Borough: Karen Swiers.
Thompson Twp.: Raymond Cordner.
Gibson Barracks Report
Between the 5th and 6th of May, one or more unknown perpetrator(s) forced a trailer open on the property of the Jeffers Logging Site in Harford Twp. and removed from within it a generator, a chainsaw, and an impact gun. The items were valued at approximately $700.
COLLISION-TRAFFIC-HIT AND RUN
On May 5, sometime during the early morning hours, a white 2007 International Truck was damaged while legally parked at the Flying J truck stop parking area. The person who struck the vehicle fled the scene without giving required notice.
On May 4 the tailgate of an unattended pickup truck parked at the Elk Lake Church in Dimock Twp. was stolen. The truck belonged to Richard Burgess of Meshoppen. The tailgate was teal in color.
Between the 1st and 4th of May, one or more unknown offender(s) entered the ECO \Internationals building in Great Bend through a busted garage door panel, spray painted the walls, and damaged a safe before fleeing the scene.
HIT AND RUN
On May 3 Devin O'Toole of Haddon Heights, NJ was traveling north on I 81 in Lenox Twp. when an unknown person decided to pass him and, for an unknown reason, crossed the center line, striking O'Toole's right front fender. The unknown driver proceeded to continue traveling north, never stopping to exchange information. O'Toole stopped at approximately mile marker 207.8 and reported the incident; damage to his vehicle was minor in nature.
On May 3 at around 4:05 p.m., a drive off of $23.55 occurred at the Great Bend Exxon in Great Bend Twp.
On May 2, at 2:40 p.m., Joanne Cosner was traveling south on SR 29 when, for unknown reasons, she struck the guide rail and flattened two tires.
On May 2, at approximately 5:13 p.m., Robert Loveless of Newark Valley, NY was traveling on State Highway 4014 in Apolacon Twp. when he lost control of his Harley-Davidson while negotiating a curve and exited the roadway. Loveless was wearing a motorcycle helmet and sustained moderate injury.
On May 1, at approximately 4:00 a.m., Jacob Keidel of Colwyn, PA, was traveling north on SR 4007 in Choconut Twp. at a high rate of speed along with three passengers (one of which was juvenile). Keidel failed to negotiate a right curve resulting in the vehicle exiting the roadway from the west berm. It struck an embankment and became airborne, traveling approximately 75' in the air before striking a tree and coming to rest in a creek. Members of Silver Lake Fire Department, Montrose Minute Men Ambulance, and other nearby Ambulance companies assisted at the scene. The operator and passengers were transported to Wilson Hospital in New York for treatment of their injuries. Unit #1 was removed from the scene by Kozlowski's Towing.
On March 1, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Thomas Johnson of Carbondale was traveling northbound with a passenger on Main Street in Uniondale. Johnson's vehicle traveled off of the right side of the roadway and struck a utility pole, severing it.
On April 29, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Kyle King of Norwich, NY and Joseph Jenkins of Johnson City, NY were traveling on Interstate 81 southbound in New Milford Twp. A trooper stopped the 1999 Toyota for lawful reasons; numerous indicators of criminal activity were present. Consent to search was denied, and k-9 summoned. The k-9 positively hit on the vehicle, and the trooper applied for and was subsequently granted a search warrant for the vehicle. The search yielded 4 bundles containing $13,900 in US currency. The money was seized pending forfeiture and the suspects were released.
On April 25, two juvenile (and thus unnamed) perpetrators went to a campsite off Buck Rd. in Thompson Twp. where a boy scout troop from Susquehanna was camping overnight. The boys shot a Red Ryder BB Gun into the camp, striking several people. They were charged in juvenile court.
On April 29, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Brian Peterka and a passenger, both of Uniondale, were traveling south on SR 0171 in that borough when the vehicle traveled off of the roadway and struck several trees before rolling onto its driver's side. Neither was wearing seatbelts; both were flown to Community Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained in the collision.
On April 27 the front window of a residence was smashed with an unknown object in Clifford Twp.
On April 11, at approximately 6:15 p.m., Michael Rowly of Waldor Ch, MD was traveling south on I81 in New Milford when he fell asleep at the wheel, losing control of his vehicle and coming to an uncontrolled rest off the west hedge of the southbound lane. No fire or EMS responded. Vogels towed the vehicle from the scene.
If anyone has information regarding any of these incidents, please contact the Gibson State Police at (570) 465-3154.
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