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Project Approved Despite Cost To Taxpayers And Other Borough Needs
Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint, with permission, from the PA Attorney General’s Office.
HARRISBURG (August 4) - Auditor General Jack Wagner said a special investigation found that two council members in the Borough of Starrucca, Wayne County, were the primary beneficiaries of a council decision to secure a $70,000 loan to renovate a seldom used bridge, without regard to other borough needs or the cost to borough taxpayers.
Wagner’s investigators found that Council President Kirk Rhone and Councilman Robert Buck voted to replace the Buck Road Bridge, a dilapidated three-ton capacity bridge across the Starrucca Creek on farmland owned by the two councilmen, with a modern 21-ton capacity bridge. They also voted to use up most of the borough’s limited borrowing power to finance the project. The bridge renovation project was completed in July 2008.
The report recommends that borough council seek reimbursement from both councilmen for the costs of the project. Copies of the report were sent to various state and federal government agencies for review and possible further action, including to the State Ethics Commission for a determination of whether the councilmen’s actions constituted a conflict of interest under state law.
“Elective office must not be used for one’s own personal benefit,” Wagner said. “The actions of these two councilmen severely strained the borough’s financial resources and may result in an increased tax burden on all borough residents. All public officials in the borough must act solely in the best interest of the taxpayers.”
The Buck Bridge is located near the beginning of an unpaved lane known as Buck Road that originates and runs through a tract of land owned by the two councilmen known as the Buck Farm. Only the first 500 yards of Buck Road is located in Starrucca Borough; the road extends another 1.3 miles through the part of the Buck Farm located in Thompson Township, Susquehanna County, where it abruptly ends. At one time, the lane extended an additional 1.4 miles to connect with Pa. Route 171, but this section was long ago declared by Thompson Township to be “useless, burdensome, and unnecessary” and was officially vacated. The vacated section is routed through the Dr. Shelley Nature Preserve, making the connection of Buck Road to any other public highway impossible.
Investigators found that Starrucca borough council action to borrow $70,000 for the project used up over 70 percent of the borough’s limited borrowing power when a more urgent project, the repair of the Shadigee Creek flood wall to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the entire community, was deferred indefinitely after federal funding fell through. The repair of the flood wall will cost $124,600, according to a contractor’s proposal submitted in 2005.
Moreover, the investigation found that the borough council completed the bridge project even though the borough was in such a precarious financial condition that it was unable to pay a $600 debt for fire protection services to neighboring Thompson Township in 2006; had expenditures exceeding revenues by more than $11,000 in 2006; and despite significant public opposition to funding the project with taxpayer money. The fact that the two councilmen contributed $8,000 in personal funds to the project, and that the borough’s federal emergency management agent solicited at least one additional donation, demonstrated that those officials realized that the borough could not afford the project.
Wagner’s Office of Special Investigations initiated the investigation after receiving a referral from Wayne County District Attorney Michael Lehutsky of citizen complaints regarding the controversial bridge replacement project.
In addition to urging the borough to seek reimbursement from those who benefited from the bridge project, Wagner recommended that the borough refrain from any future projects that do not benefit the entire community or that are beyond the financial capability of the borough. He also recommended that the borough comply with the requirements of state and local ethics rules regarding conflicts of interest.
Wagner said he will follow up at the appropriate time to determine whether all of his department’s recommendations have been implemented.
A complete copy of the investigation report can be obtained at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the Commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s Web site at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
Road-related matters, both positive and negative, were the focus of Clifford Township’s September 8 meeting.
Through the Dirt and Gravel Road Program, the township will receive $9,277 to repair Osweld-Johnson Road, provided that some conditions are met. First, the township must provide $2,800 for the project, which may be met through in-kind services. Secondly, the road must be topped with state-ag certified driving surface aggregate, which is designed to adhere better than traditional aggregate.
A township resident criticized Chairman and Road Master John Regan’s lack of a driver’s license. Regan responded that he has not drawn a check from the township since January and that all work he has done has been without pay.
The resident continued, “Osweld-Johnson is not the only road that’s washed out [in Clifford Township]. …I think you need to do better.” She stated that there are steep gulleys in her road and that ditches and farm fields are full of road gravel. “I’m eating dust,” she added, and concluded, “I haven’t seen anybody working on the roads.” Regan responded, “We’re going to [the roads] as we see fit. …We’re doing the best we can.”
Another individual in attendance complained that his neighbor is still parking vehicles on the township right-of-way, creating a safety hazard. Police Chief Paul Nardozzi promised to discuss the matter following the meeting.
The township supervisors passed a motion to enter into a Winter Municipal Agreement with Penn DOT for 2009-2010. The township will receive approximately $11,500 to maintain portions of Church Street, Wright’s Road and Cemetery Road.
Regan announced that the major washout on Willenberger Road has been repaired, calling the job a “good band-aid.” He thanked Seaman’s Quarry and McAndrew’s Excavating for providing materials and services at a steep discount, keeping total repair costs at around $5,000.
Tarring and chipping has been completed on Elkview Drive, helping to control the disintegrating road surface. Regan explained that the project will “buy us some time to get paving money,” and requested that grants be researched for the next township meeting.
Township Secretary René Reynolds announced that EMA is slated to issue new addresses for Clifford Township residents beginning in January 2010.
The supervisors passed a motion to retain the Clifford Township web page at a cost of $120 per year; the address will be cliffordtownship.com.
The Clifford Girl Scout troop will join the Boy Scouts in using the township building for the 2009-2010 year. “[The building] is for everybody,” Regan stated. Following an announcement that the Girl Scouts volunteered to supervise the October recycling day, Dennis Knowlton suggested that the Boy Scouts also choose a month.
From October through March, the Clifford Planning Commission will hold meetings at 6:30 p.m., prior to township meetings.
The gun raffle to support the Clifford Volunteer Fire Department goes off in October; tickets are still available.
Nardozzi suggested that the township begin using the Nixel System, a free email and text system that will provide local traffic advisories, weather reports and will list emergencies such as Amber Alerts. Although individuals are not required to sign up, Nardozzi stated, “I feel it’s a great tool for everyone in the township.”
Township officials discussed the mandatory sewage pumping at Lake Idlewild and Cotrel Pond; at present, there is a 30% noncompliance rate. The deadline for pumping was July 20. “We have to follow up on this,” stated Regan. “Most of [the noncompliant ones] are from out of town,” commented LaCroix. The supervisors agreed to discuss the matter with the project engineers and to send certified letters to property owners as needed.
As of September 8, the date of the Great Bend Township Supervisors' meeting, the state had still not adopted a budget. While so much attention has been focused on the budget issue, there is another issue currently in the legislative process that may have far reaching effects on many municipalities throughout the state. HB1500 proposes that any municipality, more than 1,200 throughout the state, that relies on the State Police for protection would be subject to an annual per capita service fee. This fee would not apply to those who have their own full-time departments or contract with a neighboring department or regional police force. The fee would not increase State Police coverage, would become effective as of February 2, and would increase over a three-year period. In Great Bend Township, for instance, the first year's fee would be $52 per resident, or $98,000. The second year's fee would be $104 per person, and the third year's fee would be $156 per person, amounting to $297,000, which, coincidentally, is just short of the amount of the township's entire yearly budget. While the legislation would have a definite impact, not just on Great Bend Township, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be enacted.
Susquehanna Boro has its own police department, and two of its officers, Assistant Chief Lance Penzone and Officer Bob Sweet were present to discuss a proposal with the supervisors: to enter into a one-year contract to form a regional department with the neighboring municipalities of Great Bend Boro and Hallstead. The township's share of the costs would be $4,095 per month ($49,140 per year), considerably less than the state fee would be. The proposal includes two full-time officers, one at night and one during the day, as well as additional officers on weekends. A regional office would be set up, and a car (or even two) would be leased. All fine revenues would be returned to the municipality in which the incident occurred. Mr. Penzone said that setting up an advisory committee would also be part of the proposal; the committee would meet regularly to review the department's activities and the financial aspects. He also said that there are grant opportunities available for regional police, and that he will be contacting other regional police departments for information that could be useful in setting up a regional force.
The supervisors agreed to consider the proposal, as well as review the results of the regional police study that COG has been working on through DCED, which is expected to be presented shortly. In the meantime, a motion carried to contact state legislators to voice their opinion on HB1500, that it not be passed.
In other business, roadmaster Walt Galloway reported that work has been completed on five of the township's roads (Emerson, Tarzen, Baptist Hill, Graham, Sienko), mowing was underway, a washout on Colwell Road had been taken care of, and speed limit signs had been put up. Work was set to begin on Parks Road, followed by Towner Road. The county will be hosting a winter maintenance class in Montrose on October 16; it was agreed that Curt Blewett should attend. The equipment trailer the township had purchased was set to be delivered shortly. Mr. Galloway had met with the engineer who is compiling the report required to bond the township's roads, and was pleased to report that the engineer had commended the township on the good condition of its roads.
An assessment permit had been issued to Albert and Jacqueline Chilson, and a driveway permit was issued to Chesapeake Appalachian, LLC for a site on River Lane. The township's MS4 permit was due to expire, but a one-hear extension has been granted as the county is in the process of drafting a storm water runoff plan.
Correspondence included notice that the county tax sale will be held on Monday, September 21; the completed liquid fuels audit for the year ending December 31, 2007; a request from FEMA to update flood maps for the area; notice that the county EMA quarterly meeting will be held on October 7; notice that the initial meeting of the county tax collection committee will be held on October 5; and an invitation to a webinar on “Retaining Control and Adequately Funding Your Township Pension Plan” on October 5, which supervisor/secretary Sheila Guinan plans to participate in.
Under unfinished business, the township is still in need of a representative for the sewer authority. And, in response to a boundary dispute discussed at last month's meeting, a survey of the township property in question on Route 11 has been requested, but had not yet taken place.
Under new business, the township is in need of an emergency management coordinator, and Laser Midstream LLC requested to do a line-of-sight survey on township property for the construction of a natural gas pipeline. The properties are two that the township acquired through the flood buyout program, one on Route 11, the other on Randolph Road. The supervisors approved the request.
The next meeting will be on Monday, October 5, 7 p.m. in the township building.
Leland and Mildred Pease to Hermann and Roswitha Wieser, in Jackson Township for $153,000.00.
Robert Non to Robert Non and Susan Rondomanski, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Gary M. Hitchcock to Skip Michael Tracy, in Forest Lake Township for one dollar.
Joseph Q. and Malonie A. McDonald to Joseph W., Malonie A. and Jeffrey M. McDonald, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
US Bank (By POA) to Kyle L. Herbert, in Montrose for $45,500.00.
Mary L. Westcott to Michael R. Westcott, in Oakland Township for one dollar.
Lew Rubin to Brad W. Cox and Jennifer Cadora-Cox, in Bridgewater Township for $259,000.00.
Brian White to Lionel E., III and Catherine V. Meredith, in Herrick Township for $105,330.00.
Frank G. (Estate) and Doris Robinson to Doris F. Robinson, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Myles C. (By Sheriff) and Alissa (By Sheriff) Kilmer to Pennstar Realty Trust, in Lathrop Township for $2,469.39.
Kathleen E. Flynn (AKA) Kathleen E. Ferrell to Thomas B. and Kathleen E. Ferrel, in Bridgewater and Jessup Townships for one dollar.
Sharon and Michael R. Panasevich to Christie L. and Ryan J. Krupovich, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Harold L. Cronk (Estate) to Ulysses S. and Beverly M. Arnold, in Montrose for one dollar.
Benjamin (Estate) and Bernard (Estate) Toloczko to Loretta Suchoski, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Loretta Suchoski to Loretta and Bernard Suchoski, in Rush Township for one dollar.
Benjamin (Estate) and Bernard (Estate) Toloczko to Loretta Suchoski, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Loretta Suchoski to Loretta and Bernard Suchoski, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
John J. and Sharon R. Marrer to Michael J. and Krista E. Marrer, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Ralph W. Sharer (Estate) to Ronald W., Howard A. and Kenneth R. Sharer, in Rush Township for one dollar.
David P. Jones to David P. and Deborah L. Jones, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Lucikay Johnson (By Sheriff) to Deutsche Bank (Trustee), in Liberty Township for $1,956.28.
Sally M. and Paul Stone and Kendall L. and Lorraine Mitchell to Keevin K. and Cheyanne L. Kenyon, in Bridgewater Township for $75,000.00.
Jason M. Bedford of Susquehanna and Samantha Ann Shay of Thompson.
Todd A. Messer of Dryden, NY and Courtney A. Winther of Lincoln Park, NJ.
Paul J. Bucksbee and Teresa Lynn Albert, both of Montrose.
Jason R. Clark and Cassandra E. Himko, both of Forest City.
Albert P. Ludwig, Jr. and Lise G. Berger, both of Meshoppen.
Mark Todd Polednak and Ann-Marie Juris, both of Forest City.
Jacqueline L. Golka vs. Thomas Robert Golka, both of Susquehanna, married 1991.
Renee Lyn Colwell of Montrose vs. Richard Arnold Colwell of Moscow, married 1985.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 10:21 a.m. on September 11, 2009.
Duane Aldrich, Michael A. Argust, David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, John W. Barber, Sr., Keith B. Beach, David Shawn Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Michael P. Bradley, Jr., Devin S. Brewer, Howard A. Burns, III, Robert B. Carrier, Jason James Carroll, Beverly A. Carvin, Christopher J. Clark, Tony R. Clark, Mark T. Conklin, Edward J. Dickson, Jr., James W. Donahue, III, Deborah L. Drish, David J. Fischer, Ryan M. Forder, Kelly Fox, Dominick M. Franklin, Jonathan S. Guzy, David Haines, Jr., Suzanne R. Hansen, Ann Hightower, Steven L. Jones, Kenneth M. Kintner, Kevin D. Klein, Eric C. Kohlhepp, Erik E. Krisovitch, Amber Kuns, Charlie J. Legere, Harold K. Leiger, II, Carlos L. Leiser, Christopher Locke, Patricia J. Marrero, Jason Marshall, Nancy McGillis, Rollin E. Miller, Jr., Joseph C. Moore, Anthony Neri, Benjamin Newell, Tanya M. Novak, Rodney Alan Oakley, Todd M. O'Hara, Donald Palmer, Gary Perico, Jesse R. Rhinebeck, Jr., Timothy W. Rogers, Troy Rohmann, David J. Shiner, Darin Sink, Duane Spencer, Garrett M. Thomas, Jozsef M. Varga, Keith W. Vroman, Steven G. Warner, Jamie L. Williams, Kenneth L. Wilmot, Jr.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
The bill list presented for the Supervisors’ approval at their meeting on September 8 was split into two sections. For the first time, the sewer bill list was separated out so that the Supervisors could vote on it separately. This, in response to Garry Foltz’s exasperation over the sewer system’s engineers and operators to meet their obligations.
The township bill list was approved without demur. During discussion of the sewer list, Mr. Foltz asked if the engineers and operator had “fulfilled their obligations” for a list of minor upgrades at the plant agreed to by the engineer, David Klepadlo, in June. Supervisor and Township Secretary Sue Furney said that the new blower had been installed, but the requested water line had not. The plant operator had agreed to supply his logs for the months of July and August, but had not yet done so. It’s “time the guy gets things together; [it’s] been long enough,” said Mr. Foltz.
Nevertheless, Supervisors Furney and Terry VanGorden approved the sewer bill list over Mr. Foltz’s objection. Said Mr. VanGorden, “the service is there…. [I] don’t think there’s any way we can not pay them.” The Supervisors did agree to withhold the $1,800 monthly payment for Klepadlo, pending receipt of the operator’s logs. It wasn’t clear whether or not Mr. Foltz would sign the check along with his colleagues.
In other business, Mr. Foltz announced that the barn on Grinnell Road that threatened to collapse into the roadway, “is down,” and has been safely dismantled. He wasn’t sure who was doing the work.
The Supervisors discussed who would be hired to perform the annual fire extinguisher inspection and certification. According to Mr. VanGorden, the township has 13 fire extinguishers that need service every year. The township will prepare a detailed list of the equipment and submit it to two local companies for bids, Action Fire of Kirkwood, NY, and G.C. Fire Protection Systems of Factoryville.
Mr. Foltz recommended that, now that the backhoe is out of warranty, the township either do normal maintenance with its own employees, or hire someone more local. Mr. VanGorden agreed that the cost of service by the original vendor, Cleveland Brothers, was higher than necessary.
Asked about the status of the project to replace a sluice under Stearns Road at the outlet of Tingley Lake, the Supervisors seemed to agree that the work was too costly for the taxpayers to bear alone. Mr. Foltz has applied for a state grant to help, but with the budget impasse in Harrisburg, no response has been forthcoming. The township received an interest-free “infrastructure” $500,000 loan from the state to help with cash flow while the bridge on Pennay Hill Road was being rebuilt; the cost of the bridge over Butler Creek was to be fully reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), but the budget problems in Harrisburg have delayed payment so far. Originally, the loan was also, in part, to pay for the replacement of the Stearns Road sluice. The Supervisors now seem to have decided to wait until their grant application is processed before proceeding on Stearns Road, arguing that it would require, as Mr. Foltz put it, a “major tax increase.” He said that he would not support burdening local taxpayers with the estimated cost of $200,000. Both projects resulted from the flooding of the summer of 2006.
(Disclosure: The writer owns property on Tingley Lake, as does Supervisor Terry VanGorden.)
Mr. Foltz did report that a grant from the Susquehanna County Conservation District has been increased to help pay for an “under drain” at the site on Richardson Road that is the object of the grant. He said that the township will provide about $2,000 in equipment and labor costs; the county grant will about to over $9,300 to replace a sluice under the road connecting two parts of a wetland area (aka a swamp).
Mr. Foltz called for an executive session following the public meeting to discuss a personnel matter. He declined to be more specific.
The Harford Township Supervisors meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at the township building on Route 547.
Many municipalities have been following the progress of HB1500, which proposes to impose a per capita State Police service fee on those who do not have their own full-time police departments, or do not contract with neighboring or regional departments, and Oakland Boro Council was no different at their September 10 meeting.
Mayor Wendy Dudley has read the bill, and had copies for council members to read. She noted that it is not definite that the legislation will go through, and if it does, there are many options in the bill that may exempt Oakland from the fee. Oakland does have its own department, although not full-time, and does have an agreement with Lanesboro's department to fill in when needed. Mayor Dudley also wished to address rumors that had been circulating, that she was “on board” with a proposal to join in starting a local, regional police force. No one on council had heard the details of the proposal, she said, and no one had agreed to go along with it. When and if HB1500 is enacted, council would carefully weigh the boro's options, which could include that proposal, but would proceed with whatever is in the boro's best interests.
The mayor gave a rundown of the previous month's police activities, which included warnings and citations issued. A complaint about dogs on Prospect St. was referred to the county dog warden, who has dealt with the situation. The drivers of two four-wheelers were caught riding on boro streets, and citations were issued. Several individuals were found to be in violation of the boro's new curfew ordinance; citations were issued and the parents of the individuals were contacted.
After a recent motor vehicle accident, which involved a fire hydrant and a street sign being knocked down, the hydrant was apparently removed from the scene by person(s) unknown. Several scrap yards in the area were contacted to see if the hydrant was sold, but none of the yards contacted would accept items such as fire hydrants without documentation from the boro that they were legitimately being sold.
The police car has been serviced for a recall from the manufacturer, and Officer Eric Brush is back on the department's roster.
And, the mayor said that she would like to see if the budget for next year could allow for having both officers work some shifts together when necessary.
The county Housing and Redevelopment Authority is still looking into obtaining additional grant funding for curbing on State St. When the original grant was obtained for sidewalks, curbing was not included because the original walks were considerably higher than the street, but when the work was done the new walks are somewhat lower than they used to be, and state regulations require that curbing be installed. The additional cost of the curbing had initially been estimated to be about $100,000, but the latest estimate is closer to $82,000, including drainage. Council expected to hear within a few days whether or not the additional funding can be obtained.
Some time ago, some individuals had expressed interest in restoring the Oakland dam on the Susquehanna River as well as the hydro electric plant. Council has learned that the parties are no longer interested in the project, as the return on the investment involved would not be at a suitable rate of return, most likely due to current economic conditions. But, River Bounty hasn't given up on getting the dam repaired and the plant running again, and is still working on finding someone to do it.
The DCNR grant funding for the park improvement project will be coming in increments as the work is completed and paperwork is submitted to DCNR. Council discussed covering some of the project expenditures until the funding is received if necessary; there is money in the park budget that can be used. And, probably due to the recent state budget impasse, DCNR will grant a one-year extension for the work to be done. Although there is every likelihood that the work will be done by the December deadline, it was agreed that the extension request should be sent in, in the event that there are unforeseeable delays in getting the project completed.
During public comment, an audience member asked whether a codes complaint had been addressed; council said that it hadn't, as a written complaint had not been submitted. President Ron Beavan explained that it was council's policy not to act on complaints unless they were received in writing; forms are available upon request.
Council will contact the bank that owns a property on High Street that had been the subject of a recent foreclosure, as it is a health hazard. The house was said to be filled waist-high with garbage, and the yard is equally garbage-filled and overgrown.
Secretary Flo Brush reported that the 2008 audit has been completed for both the boro and the water company; a motion carried to pay the auditor's bill.
H.A. Thompson Co., the boro's insurance carrier, conducts yearly inspections of the boro's equipment and buildings. A recent inspection found all to be in good order, with no recommendations to be addressed.
A claim had been put in to cover the cost of the missing fire hydrant, but unfortunately, it is not covered by the boro's policy. The theft, however, is still an open police case.
And, the PA State Association of Boroughs is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and has requested that members submit photos to be included on a mural celebrating the event at the PSAB offices. It was agreed that it would be fitting to submit photos from Oakland's recent 125th anniversary celebration.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, October 8, 7:00 p.m. in the Lanesboro Community Center.
Montrose borough received one bid for the construction of its new borough building, and approved it with qualifications at the September 8 council meeting. The bid, for $522,250, came from Smith Caterson Custom Modular, and would be comprehensive - electricity, plumbing, etc. The representatives of that company present at the meeting spoke of it being ready to move into (at least one level) perhaps by Christmas. Mr. Reimel wanted to accept the bid, but to do so with wiggle room. Someone had presented to him the possibility of using geothermal heat, and the council wanted the freedom to investigate this option. The bid was also accepted only under the condition of the borough's ability to find an organization to finance the project, though it was thought this would not be a problem.
A committee was to be formed to put together a skateboard ordinance. At least one council member stated that he was not as concerned about the back roads, but wished to pursue the ordinance in order to care for the business district and main thoroughfares. This comment may have been, at least in part, in response to public outcry regarding this issue at a prior meeting.
The council had no objection to a Women's Resource Center Domestic Violence Awareness Event, to include a two mile walk through the borough. It was agreed that the police would look out for the walkers to try and keep them safe from traffic.
The selling of pulled pork at St. Paul's church during the KLR 4th of July event appears to have been a matter of miscommunication, it was reported. There had been some controversy over this, as Pecos Bill's had sold pulled roast pork from the church parking lot during the fund raiser, in competition to the three organizations. The owner of Pecos Bill's reported that he had been contacted by a representative of the church to sell the food, and all proceeds went to that organization. He had not meant to interfere with the KLR event. The general perception at the meeting seemed to be that whoever contacted the food company likely had simply not understood the situation, and had not asked around before making arrangements.
Various town problems and projects were discussed. Someone had contacted the borough to ask what was being done about the drainage situation behind Mr. Fish's house. Mr. DiPhillips stated that they were waiting on grant money, which was more uncertain with the current budget problems. The walking track project has been set in motion. Andre's and Dan Stankiewicz were thanked for their work on the ball field, and it was decided to do something about the rotting benches at that site. Mr. Darrow, who works in park maintenance, requested that the council not forget about putting cameras in the park, and a brief conversation about continued park vandalism and its repercussions was held. There was also continued talk regarding the proposed Cabot filling station, who should be responsible for installing it, and whether the pipe should run over or under the creek.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners honored Teri Gulick, Assessment Office Employee, and Erica Johnson, from the District Attorney’s Office, each for 10 years of service with Susquehanna County. The ladies were congratulated, given a certificate of appreciation and thanked for their service at the September 9 meeting of the Susquehanna County Commissioners.
Bids were opened for review regarding painting specific door areas of the Courthouse. The sealed bids had been due in the Chief Clerk’s office by September 4. The bids will be reviewed and awarded at the next meeting.
Commissioners authorized a lease for Tower Agreement between NEP Cellcorp, Inc., Forest City, and Susquehanna County 911, allowing the county to install, maintain and operate up to three antennas, radio communications equipment and appurtenances in the Tower #15 on Rose Road, New Milford Township, in Susquehanna County, for an initial term of five (5) years with an additional five year term extension available, $100 per month, per antenna. Beginning the first day of the month following the date of this contract, Susquehanna County will be allowed under this contract to remove all antennas, at the county’s cost, prior to the end of any five year term with a 60 day notice per removal.
A service purchase contract was authorized with Loftus-Vergari, Wilkes Barre, whereby Loftus-Vergari will provide Family Group Decision Making for families referred by Susquehanna County Services for Children & Youth and deemed appropriate by the agency. This program will service approximately 24-48 families from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. This contract will not exceed $114,000. The County match will not exceed $5,700. Loftus will provide a full-time coordinator. This contract is subject to the availability of county funds and either party may cancel this agreement with a written 30 day notice.
Commissioners authorized a Service Purchase Contract with Preventative Aftercare Inc., Grove City, PA, whereby Preventative Aftercare, Inc. will provide through Children and Youth assistance for children transitioning from placement to the community and reunification with the family through individual counseling, family counseling and clinical summaries and give treatment plans. The term of this contract is July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010 and the dollar amount is not to exceed $113,014. The county match will not exceed $5752. This contract is subject to the availability of county funds and either party may cancel this agreement with a written 30 day notice.
Commissioners accepted, with regret, Cathy Chiraella’s resignation from her part time secretary position at Veterans’ Affairs, effective September 26.
During the Salary Board meeting the 2010 holiday schedule was passed. No changes have been made to the schedule, from last year.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. sharp in the County Office Building in the EMA Conference Room on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.
On September 7 at 3:50 p.m., an unnamed driver was stopped in traffic within a construction zone on I81 in Harford Twp. when a second driver struck him or her from the rear. Neither driver is named in the report. Both vehicles drove from the scene. No fire or ems responded.
THEFT - DRIVE-OFF
On August 21 at 12:20 p.m., a counter worker/cashier at the Great Bend Exxon Station in Great Bend Twp. reported a gasoline drive-off.
Between the 8th and 9th of September two windows were smashed out of a 2001 Bobcat skid steer belonging to Donald Rood of Nicholson. The vehicle was apparently located within the Smith Quarry in Springville Twp. at the time.
Between the 4th and 9th of September damage was done to the exterior mail box belonging to Temple Therapies on Main Street in Great Bend Borough.
HIT AND RUN
On September 9 at 1:00 p.m., an unknown driver struck a legally parked, unoccupied, towed vehicle while leaving a parked position at the Flying J Plaza in New Milford Twp. The unknown operator then fled the scene.
On August 21 at approximately 9:25 a.m. Haines Kibblehouse out of Skippack, PA reported a theft at a location on SR 1018 in New Milford Twp. The report was made after workers arrived at the quarry trailer to discover that someone had entered the trailer overnight and stole the circuit breaker box from the wall.
Between August 21 and September 4, CB Auto Salvage of Lathrop Twp. reported approximately 40 catalytic converters were removed from a scrap pile at the location of the business on Creek Road.
Edward Turner and Brian Thomas, both of New Milford, were charged with burglary related charges after an incident at the Parkview Cafe in New Milford. Further details are pending following future proceedings.
On August 21, at 1:12 p.m., an unknown person fueled his vehicle at the Great bend Exxon in that Township and fled without paying for the fuel.
On September 4, at approximately 9:19 p.m., Donald Dockett of Avoca, PA was stopped for a traffic violation on Bronson Hill Rd. in Bridgewater Twp. and subsequently arrested for D.U.I. Charges were to be filed at District Court 34-3-01 at time of report.
On September 1, at approximately 9:04 p.m., Lisa Jacobus of Phoenixville, PA was allegedly operating a 1995 Honda TRX300 east on Pratville Road in Middletown Twp. Mark Pepe of Philadelphia, PA was a passenger at the time. Impact occurred as Jacobus, for unknown reasons, was allegedly thrown from the vehicle as it was traveling downhill. Pepe was then allegedly also thrown as the vehicle exited the roadway. Pepe was flown to Robert Packard Hospital in Sayre, PA for further evaluation. Jacobus was not injured. Neither was apparently utilizing safety equipment at the time of the crash.
On September 5 at 11:29 a.m., Harold Perry of Montrose was driving south on SR 0029, a two-lane highway. Perry's vehicle struck a deer that was in the roadway, traveled approximately 150 feet south, and came to a controlled stop at the intersection of Howard Hill Road. Both Perry and a passenger were utilizing safety equipment; neither sustained injury.
On September 4, at approximately 1 p.m., one or more unknown persons entered the residence of Jackie Fehnel in Brooklyn by pushing in an air conditioning unit, proceeding to steal several electronic devices and jewelry from the premises before fleeing in an unknown direction.
On September 5, at approximately 4 a.m., Jake Thriemer of Windsor, NY is accused of breaking into Kost Tire and Rosa's Country Store in Great Bend Borough, and damaging multiple vehicles that were parked in front of the former. He also attempted to break into Attorney Francis X. O'Connor's office and Parts Plus Auto Parts Store. When he was apprehended, he had marijuana in his possession and was charged for that. Thriemer was charged with burglary, attempted burglary, theft, drug possession, and various other similar charges.
On August 26 at 1:20 p.m., a brown, leather type purse was found behind Liberty Carpet on SR 11 in Hallstead.
On September 1, at 4:50 p.m., Charles Arthur, Jr. of James Creek, PA lost control of a 3 wheeled motorcycle while negotiating a left curve in Bridgewater Twp., due to high speed. The bike struck a large tree on the berm of the roadway, and Arthur died at the scene due to injuries received in the crash. He was not wearing a helmet.
Sometime during the night of August 31 several holes were shot in four windows of Antol's Dairy Bar with a BB gun.
On August 29 at 1:03 p.m., Michael Jayne of Meshoppen was traveling south on SR 171 in Auburn Twp. At that time Chad Timerman, also of Meshoppen, pulled out of his driveway and was in the northbound lane when Jayne's vehicle struck him with its front end, pushing him of the east edge of the lane, then traveling off the east edge of the southbound lane. The drivers were taken to Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock. All drivers and passengers were utilizing safety equipment at the time.
On August 24 Dede Whitaker of Hallstead allegedly got into a fight with an unnamed juvenile male. Whitaker struck the juvenile with a closed fist to the nose and eye, causing the juvenile to get a bloody nose and obtain other minor injuries. She was transported to Lourde's hospital in Binghamton, NY for her injuries, which included a bump on her head and pain in her ribs. Charges were to be filed at the District Court 34-3-02 as of the time of report.
On August 23, at 2:48 a.m., a Freightliner Columbia driven by William Arnold, Jr. of Deposit, NY was stopped in traffic on I 81 in Harford Twp. in the left travel lane. At this time John Congdon of Hop Bottom was traveling southbound in the right lane. Congdon locked up his brakes and slid approximately 11' across the center line into the left lane and the rear of Arnold's truck. Both vehicles came to a rest at the point of impact, facing in a southerly direction. Congdon was arrested at the scene for DUI and charges were filed at district court 34-3-03, according to the report.
On August 30, at approximately 10 p.m., Nathan Ross of Mehoopany, PA was traveling northbound on SR 2041 in Lenox Twp. when, while attempting to negotiate a left curve in the roadway, he lost control of his Mercedes Benz. The vehicle exited the roadway east of the travel lanes, impacted a series of trees, and came to a final rest off the roadway. Ross left the scene prior to police response. He manifested himself at Endless Mountains Health Systems for injuries obtained during the collision. Violations of PAVC were pending at the time of report.
RETAIL THEFT- GAS DRIVE-OFF
On August 28 Lorie Manning of Susquehanna had pumped $36.71 worth of gasoline into her vehicle from the Great Bend Pump and Pantry and left without paying. Manning was later located and admitted to having done this numerous times since April 2009.
A one vehicle crash occurred on August 29 when Jeremy Presson was traveling north on SR 3023 in Lathrop Twp. The incident occurred at 4:30 a.m. Presson failed to negotiate a right curve in the roadway and hit an embankment with the front end of his Grand Am. The vehicle continued to travel off the road and struck a utility pole, causing it to flip onto its roof. Presson was wearing a seatbelt; he was not injured.
On August 23 unknown burglars arrived at the scene of the ECO International building in Great Bend. They attempted to enter the building but failed to do so, damaging the door. The perpetrators then stole a white Ryder rental truck from the scene, that was later found in New York State.
HIT AND RUN
On August 28, at 2:00 a.m., an unknown driver was traveling southbound on High St. in Montrose Borough when he failed to negotiate a sharp right hand turn in the roadway. The vehicle exited the road and traveled into a wooden fence. The driver fled the scene with his vehicle prior to police response.
If you have additional information regarding any of these incidents please contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
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