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Some spoke out at the November 17 Elk Lake and SCCTC school board meetings in favor of the proposed vo-tech expansion. These, however, were not the voices which caused the meeting to drag out until nearly eleven at night, for the second month in a row. Those were the voices of dissension, from the irate townspeople who tend to appear at otherwise scarcely populated meetings in times of dispute.
Mrs. Hollister, board secretary, first broached the matter during the correspondence section of the meeting, reading aloud three letters of support from community organizations. The president of the community foundation, which has contributed a significant amount of tuition money to the vo-tech through the years, commended the board for its foresight. Luzerne County Community College also wrote in support of the endeavor, offering support if needed. Mark Wood, a member of a county fire chiefs' association, wrote encouraging the board members to vote yes on the expansion, mentioning the positive impact the protective services curriculum specifically could have on the community.
Kathleen Kurosky, a guidance counselor at nearby Mountain View district, provided her support in person. She spoke of her sincere conviction that technical education could make all of the difference in the world to those students who have an interest and ability in these fields. She had seen, she continued, it keep students in school time and again. She also felt that, with the changing economic conditions, the program could provide better jobs opportunities for students.
Some opponents at the meeting seemed to agree with Mrs. Kurosky, arguing that they were not against the educational aspect of the project but were leery of the financial responsibility it entailed. Some were concerned about the potential for the district not to receive the number of students it has estimated form other districts. This would still leave Elk Lake, as the borrowing agent, responsible for the loan payments. The board assured those present, however, that they did not foresee this becoming an issue, that extensive research had gone into the project, and that attendance estimates had been set conservatively.
Dr. Bush clarified, again, how the proposed tax would work. The 1.1 mill increase would be for capital expenditure and operating. After the building is completed, the capital portion of this fee would no longer be necessary. Elk Lake would hold the loan of necessity, as the SCCTC is not a taxing body.
After all of this trouble, the board was not to make any irreversible votes on the matter anyway. The only votes made that evening regarding the expansion were approval of plan con submission, which was described as red tape. Nothing will be official until plan con f or g; the district only approved submission of plan con d to pde that evening. Mr. Pierson was the sole negative vote in the two parts of plan con protocol which were voted on that evening.
Jeremiah Johnson asked about the cost of the project, having been involved in part for the armory building for the national guard in New Milford. That facility, he stated, cost 4.5 million dollars. He then didn't see where 8 million dollars worth of project was being produced, and asked if there was a bidding process for the engineer that drew up the expansion plans. It was answered that no, the position has not been put out to bid. For professional services, it was explained, a bidding process is not required, the school can put out request for proposals and then choose. The district went with John Kropcho, who has been the district's architect for years. Mr. Johnson and others protested this move, feeling that a bidding process ought to have been enacted. The choice of a bank was also brought into question, and, though it was stated that propriety was not being suggested, a relationship between board members and bankers intimated.
Mr. Place stated that he assumed that Mr. Johnson was not at the board meeting where the bank loan was approved. The board discussed, he explained, the situation, choosing the bank with the lowest interest rate, etc. It was answered that no, he had not received a letter regarding the meeting being held. Mr. Emmerich stated that it was the public's obligation to come to meetings, that this matter has been under discussion for a long time, and the board has considered the situation thoroughly. Someone answered that the board has discussed it, but had not told the public it was doing so, had not advertised it in the papers etc. Two reporters spoke up at this juncture, pointing out that they had been writing about it for a long time.
This conflict resurfaced later in the meeting, as a women opined that a lot of people do not object to the expansion, but to how the information regarding it was or was not disseminated. She learned of the open hearing by means of a slip of paper. She and others felt that the public was not made adequately aware of the dates of board meetings and special meetings. Mr. Emmerich pointed out that the schedule for the entire year is set early on, and placed on the website. It was argued, however, that not everyone has the internet. One woman suggested that notices be sent home with children, but it was noted that not everyone in the district has children in the schools. In the end Mr. Place stated that the regularly scheduled meetings should be pretty easy to keep track of (they are generally the third Tuesday of every month, except for in December when, by state regulations, a reorganization meeting must be held in the first week), but that the district could make a better effort to advertise for special meetings.
Mr. Place also explained why the district could not pay for the project a little bit at a time. There is a 20 year building rule, which means that a school can only receive the sort of state reimbursement it is hoping to receive every twenty years Elk Lake and the SCCTC are on different 20 year schedules.
It was again reiterated that the increase in district taxes will only pay Elk Lake's share of the project, in the form of a tuition increase. Elk Lake's obligations will be the same as Montrose's or Mountain View's, based on a per student enrollment. The only difference is that Elk Lake is the borrowing agent. This made some at the meeting anxious, for fear that, with the pending pension crisis and the uncertainly of vo-tech attendance from other schools, the district might be faced footing the bill since it holds the loan. Dr. Bush briefly discussed the pension crisis, and the fact that legislators were discussing ways to address it. The district is also setting money aside into an account to try and alleviate the problem. Mr. Tewksbury said that, historically, the vo-tech project has weathered the storm, and felt that it would continue to do so. Mr. Curley admitted that there were no guarantees, but emphasized the fact that this was not a random decision, that the board had put research into it along the way. The estimated enrollment rates are based on surveys of sending schools and analysis of the job market. Even then, it was said, they were set conservatively. Dr. Davis mentioned that, in addition to this, the school is accredited so that adult students can attend with the same financial aid as they would apply for to attend college.
Public input was not all negative. A mother spoke up in appreciation to the board, reminiscing about the debate which was in existence over the pool, etc. in the past as well. She was very proud of the education her children had received, she continued, and she thanked the board for its forward thinking. The education provided at Elk Lake, she said, assisted with college, which was becoming increasingly competitive.
Bill Kelly of Taylor Rental also thanked the board for what it had done. He confirmed that, of the total project, 43-47% would be reimbursed by the state, feeling this was important to note. He also pointed out what was happening in the county right now, that it was beginning to see the cutting edge of trade work.
Two long term board members will not be continuing their terms at the December reorganization meeting. The board publicly thanked Mr. Pierson for his time and effort on the board; he said that it had been an interesting 12 years. He stated that serving on a school board is not an easy thing to do, and expressed his hope that the school would keep doing what it has been doing. He felt that elk lake was one of the better places in the area to get education. Although he was not in attendance, the board also acknowledged Mr. Sible for his 16 years of service. Mr. Place thanked him in abstentia, and described him as someone who had always had the kids in mind.
The board itself was not the only organization recognizing its members that evening. Karen Kyle, region 7 director of PSBA, was in attendance to present service awards to the board members who had served on the board for a certain number of years. This is something which the PSBA does on a somewhat regular basis. She referred to it as the honor roll of school board service, given to those who exemplified leadership and statesmanship. Those recognized at the meeting included Mr. Pierson for his 12 years of service, Mr. Emmerich for 16 years, and Mr. Sible, who also had 16 years on. The largest recognition went to Mr. Tewksbury, who has served on the board for 48 years.
Dr. Cumo announced success at cross country states, where the boys placed third and the girls placed eleventh. Included in their ranks were 2 medalists, Maria Trowbridge and Mike Bedell.
Someone asked about a message which had gone out earlier that day, regarding the flue shot not being available the next day as originally scheduled. Dr. Bush explained the reasoning behind this. The district was supposed to receive notice when the vaccine was shipped, and simply hadn't heard anything yet. It was therefore at the mercy of that delivery, vaccines which have not yet arrived cannot be given.
This led to a general discussion of H1N1. Various questions were asked on the subject, and answered. Policy states that parent consent is required for children to receive the shots, which would be administered by the school nurses, substitute nurses, and volunteer minute men. The district planned at that time on receiving mixed versions of the vaccine, with parents being able to choose the nasal or injection form. Attendance has been back on the rise, after rising steadily, peaking with over 100 students absent, and then beginning to regulate. Issues of perfect attendance, etc. are being considered.
The second great matter of debate at the meeting, where the board felt the disapproval of one particularly vociferous woman. Linda Klim brought up a letter to the editor printed in a local paper, which spurred her to question the board and administration as to whether or not the district had students from outside the district who did not pay tuition. Mr. Place explained that, a year or so ago, the board approved a motion that would allow children of staff to attend the district tuition free, as opposed to the 1/2 tuition rate which had been in place. The district does not transport the children in these situations. Ms. Klim then asked Dr. Bush when he moved outside of the district. Mr. Place took this opportunity to address a few rumors that have apparently been circulating. At the time Dr. Bush moved, he stated, they were already talking about zero tuition. The move was not made on Dr. Bush's behalf; it just so happened that he moved around the time the policy was enacted. Mr. Curely explained that the change provided just one more incentive to allow the district to keep good staff. It was asked, then, as to whether lots of people had been leaving for this reason prior to the action. Mr. Cuomo responded that the number one reason staff have chosen to leave in the recent past was attributed to their children being young and them wanting to work closer to home. At least Mrs. Klim seemed unhappy with this policy, Mrs. Klim proposing that, based on information she had received regarding cost per student figures, if the 4 to 6 students taking advantage of this policy were sent back to their home schools the district could gain around 32,000 dollars. Mr. Place disagreed with this conclusion, not really feeling that doing so would change the budget.
The board also addressed another rumor, that had been circulating about Dr. Bush. He did not, and in fact could not, it was emphasized, give himself a $50,000 raise. Dr. Bush does not set salaries; he would not have had the power to grant such a raise.
The fall musical, it was reported, was a great success. Dr. Cuomo stated that he didn't believe he had seen the auditorium so packed for two nights in a row in a long time. Mr. Place agreed, calling it a “very well done play.” The efficacy of the new sound system was also discussed, and Mr. Stang thanked for his efforts toward this.
Dr. Cuomo announced a positive aberration in the school's attendance. In grades 7-12, despite the flu, 154 students had perfect attendance the first marking period. This is not necessarily unusual, the aberration lay in the grade with the highest attendance rate. The seniors hold this title currently, with 94.67 percent. Dr. Bush attributed this at least partially to Dr. Cuomo himself, who took the initiative to offer incentives to seniors finishing the year with over 95% and 97% attendance rates.
The SCCTC house project number two was sold, it was announced. The house sold for $201,000, the vo-tech netted maybe $185,000 from the sale.
Following is the Susquehanna County sentencing report for November, 2009 as submitted by the county District Attorney’s office.
Kathleen Anne Studer, 38, of Binghamton, NY to 5 days to 6 months home confinement, supervision may be transferred to Broome County, NY, pay $300 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, pay $100 CAT surcharge, pay $10 EMS, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, attend and complete alcohol safe driving school program for Driving Under the Influence in Hallstead on April 12, 2009.
Annie Chaffee, 31, of New Milford, PA to 12 months probation, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Accomplice Liability/Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Milford on March 12, 2009. She also received 12 months consecutive probation, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, not to have contact with anyone on supervision for Accomplice Liability/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in New Milford on March 12, 2009.
Dustin Cook, 21, of Montrose, PA to 45 days to 15 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $100 Act 198 fee, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, perform 25 hours of community service for Delivery of a Controlled Substance in Bridgewater Township on January 6, 2009.
Gregory Matthew Isby, 37, of Kirkwood, NY to 8 days to 12 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $150 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee and a additional $500 fee for Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Police Officer in Great Bend on August 23, 2009.
Michael Justin Whalley, 27, of Shickshinny, PA to 15 months probation, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution to the victims in this case for Identity Theft in New Milford on February 15, 2008.
Brandon George Gumaer, 21, of Conklin, NY to 7 months to 23 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $800 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, receive a drug and alcohol evaluation, not to have contact with the victim in this case for Corruption of Minors in Bridgewater Township on May 16, 2009. Mr. Gumaer also received 12 months consecutive probation, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee for Indecent Assault in Bridgewater Township on May 16, 2009.
Edward J. Turner, 43, of New Milford, PA to 15 months probation, pay $250 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, not to have contact with the codefendant in this case for Criminal Trespass in New Milford on August 18, 2009.
Cody M. Delbrocco, 21, of Endicott, NY to 12 months probation, pay $150 fine, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay cost of prosecution, pay restitution to the victim in this case for Retail Theft in Bridgewater Township on February 21, 2009.
Anthony William Tracy, 24, of Clarks Summit, PA to 3 months to 15 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $300 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay $100 Act 198 fee, receive drug and alcohol counseling while incarcerated for Delivery of a Controlled Substance in Bridgewater Township on February 24, 2009.
Kyle P. Smith, 26, of Montrose, PA to 2 months to 12 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $350 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, pay restitution to the victim in this case for Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle in Hallstead on September 18, 2009.
Brian Alan Thomas, 40, of Scranton, PA to 3 days to 6 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility, pay $1,000 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $300 Act 198 fee, pay $100 CAT surcharge, pay $50 EMS fee, pay restitution to the victim in this case, attend and complete alcohol highway safe driving school program for Driving Under the Influence in Montrose on May 31, 2009. Mr. Thomas also received 3 months to 18 months in Susquehanna County Correctional Facility followed by 2 years probation, pay $400 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $250 DNA testing fee and submit sample, not to possess weapons while on supervision for Criminal Attempt/Criminal Trespass in New Milford on August 18, 2009.
Jacob James Keidel, 19, of Susquehanna, PA to 18 months probation, pay $350 fine, pay cost of prosecution, pay $50 Criminal Justice Enhancement Act fee, perform 25 hours community service for Recklessly Endangering Another Person in Choconut on May 1, 2009.
Three members of the Blue Ridge School Board attended their last meeting on November 16. Dawn Franks, Lon Fisher and Cindy Gillespie received certificates thanking them for their service, in Ms. Gillespie’s case, for 12 years. A cake was served in their honor following the meeting. Alan Hall, John Ketchur and Shane Rumage, recently elected to take their places, will assume their seats at the table at the Board’s next meeting on December 7, when it reorganizes itself.
Mr. Fisher was honored with a plaque presented by Board President Harold Empett for his years of service. Ms. Gillespie received another, as well as Cindy Gaughan, recognized for 16 years with the district.
Ms. Gaughan actually opened the meeting with a presentation showing off the web site of her Wellness Committee. She was assisted by Elena Jones, whom she described as the website’s “goddess” for the work she has been doing to build the site, which is accessible from a link on the district’s main site at http://www.brsd.org. Ms. Gaughan said that, with as many as 20% of 4-year-olds described as “obese” in our nation today, they may be the first American generation not expected to outlive their parents. The Wellness Committee’s website features tips on healthy eating, exercise, as well as other information about how students, staff and parents can lead a healthy life.
Just before the Board went off to a lengthy executive session to discuss personnel and compensation issues, Kate Drake stood before the board to thank them for their support last year when she spent 3 weeks in Trinidad & Tobago on a mission trip, working with disadvantaged people. She presented the board with a neatly bound book of photographs she had taken on the trip as a token of her appreciation.
The actual board session was preceded by committee meetings, beginning at 6:30 p.m., a new custom at Blue Ridge. Mr. Empett and Business Manager Loren Small updated the Finance and Facilities Committee with information on gas leasing (not much new there), and the 2010 study of projected assessments in the Blue Ridge area that the district will be depending on for revenue as they develop next year’s budget. Mr. Small estimates an increase in revenue from local property taxes of only about $25,000 due to increased assessment values alone. At a 93% collection rate, 1 mill of assessed valuation in the Blue Ridge district will bring in about $121,000. The current real estate tax rate for Blue Ridge residents is 44 mills.
The Committee also reviewed the latest retirement incentive proposal from the business office, which is expected to come before the full board in December. The plan offers 40% of the final year salary for 5 years, plus 100% health premium coverage for the retiree for a maximum of 10 years, or until s/he becomes eligible for another plan, such as Medicare; the retiree may also choose to cover a spouse at 50%. One new criterion is that the incentive will apply only to teachers who are eligible under state programs, and have served at least 15 years at Blue Ridge.
The district is required by law to offer COBRA (the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986) coverage under its own plan to retirees, so the proposal includes that as a second option, but with no other benefit, and the retiree would have to pay the full cost of coverage.
The Board still has to formally adopt the plan, but Margaret Glezen, president of the teachers’ union, will present the proposal to her members so that they have time to consider it before the application deadline of January 4, 2010, assuming it is approved by the board in December.
Among other routine personnel actions taken during the business meeting, the board recognized four new staff who appeared at the meeting to accept the board’s welcome. They included Matt Stevens, who will be an available day-to-day substitute; Matthew Treible, who will serve as librarian for the Elementary School during Mrs. Tench’s leave of absence; Tonya Haley, hired as a personal care assistant for students in the Elementary and Middle Schools; and Katie Brown, the new High School English teacher.
When Krista Bowman was nominated as advisor for the Big Brother/Big Sister program, Ms. Franks wondered why the position had never been added to Schedule B, the part of the teachers’ contract that provides for such auxiliary positions. Superintendent Chris Dyer essentially said that this is the way it has been done in the past. Jessica Boyko was also approved as a substitute for Ms. Bowman.
A list of coaching and activity positions to be filled prompted a discussion about coaches’ training in CPR and first aid. Activities Director Jim Corse said that starting with this year’s winter sports programs, all coaches will be required to be certified in CPR and first aid, and that training is beginning already. But what would happen if a certified coach wasn’t available, say, in case of illness? A consensus seemed to be that the Board would have to define a policy covering such contingencies.
The board approved new policies on the possession and use of personal electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers, and requirements for physical examinations for all personnel. They will also consider for 30 days updated policies on graduation requirements and visitors. Lon Fisher, chair of the board’s policy committee, said that the visitor policy now requires the presentation of positive identification for visitors to the schools. It also recommends - but does not require - a maximum of 1 classroom visit per month. The graduation policy is changed to mention Vietnam War veterans in the section that permits the board to award diplomas to veterans who missed out due to national service.
The recent Veterans Day commemoration had some extra features this year at Blue Ridge. At the suggestion of some students, the Middle School sponsored a breakfast for local military veterans. The day’s events attracted some 45 vets representing the VFW, the American Legion, and other area veterans’ organizations. All of the administrators commented on what Elementary School Principal Matthew Button called a “great day, great program.”
Each of the principals outlined for the board their preliminary budget requests for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. All will certainly be asking for more, and the principals tried to describe their requests as conservative. Mr. Button said that the $70,000 cost for the RTI (Response To Intervention) reading program would be covered mostly by federal stimulus funds for this year, but warned of the cost to local resources in the future. He also wants to continue the FOSS (Full Option Science System) science program at a cost of about $65,000, again paid in part for the first year from stimulus funds. He would also add two positions to Schedule B, including a pre-K PAC rep and a website coordinator.
Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski will also be continuing the FOSS program that is now in pilot status, and would ask for support (advisors) for 3 “student enrichment clubs” and some additions and updates to classroom technology. He is also requesting support for an “after-school supervision and tutoring” program that would target students involved in after-school activities for whom it would be impractical to go home and come back again to participate. He said that, since the campus isn’t in a town, there is little for students from more distant locations - say, from the Jackson area - to do while waiting for their activities to begin following the end of classes.
Mr. Nebzydoski and High School Principal Scott Jeffery both noted the coat drive in their schools that will culminate later this month when students - and the public - are invited to come select a coat from those collected by students and teachers to help keep warm over the winter.
Mr. Jeffery also reported that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has awarded Blue Ridge more than $35,000 to support its dual-enrollment program with Lackawanna College. It means that students who qualify and attend these college-level classes may earn significant credit toward college requirements at no cost.
Mr. Jeffery also announced that the school has copies of Blue Ridge yearbooks for sale, covering the years 1985-2009, for $10 a piece.
Mr. Jeffery’s budget requests include expanding the Middle School reading program into the 10th grade; office renovations; and major changes to the layout of the chemistry lab.
Blue Ridge is hustling to develop its budget as early as possible this year, trying to hew to a tight schedule demanded by various external requirements, not to mention the district’s own attempt to keep within state indexing guidelines that might restrict the ability to increase taxes. With 2 new members coming aboard in December, along with Mr. Hall, returning after a year’s absence, the budget process could get interesting.
Despite other notices to the contrary, the next public meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will be held on Monday, December 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Finance and Facilities Committee will meet the same evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Nancy L. Schaffer and Carl Stahl to Adam and Kendal Henning, in Herrick Township for $65,000.00.
Paul F. and Jocelyn G. Molter to Paul F. Molter, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Raymond J., Jennifer A. and Anne Marie Forster to Louis Joseph Mastronardi, in Bridgewater Township for $150,000.00.
Roger and Pamela J. Land (NBM) Pamela J. Hayes and Dennis W. Hayes to Dennis W. Hayes, in Choconut Township for one dollar.
Michael C. and Kelly Iveson to Robert C. Iveson, in Susquehanna.
George Gordon Coughlin, II to Crosby Coughlin, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Robert L. and Brenda J. Nichols to Terry A. Nichols, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Dennis M. Stone to Gary D. and Jane Wilmet, in Springville Township for $28,000.00.
Christopher T. Tracy to Christopher T. and Cathleen A. Tracy, in Springville Township for one dollar.
The Bank of New York JPMorgan Chase Bank (FKA) Bank of New York to Mario Button, in Oakland Borough for $28,200.00.
Steven Matthew and Wendy Sheehan Deriancho to Jonathan Patrick Eddy, in Forest Lake Township for $112,500.00.
Angela M. Trapani to Denise M. Battaglia, in Silver Lake Township for $28,000.00.
Gary L. and Jodi Lynn Cordner to Travis J. Cordner, in Harmony Township for $58,140.00.
Wachovia Bank of Delaware to Docs Home Services, Inc., in Oakland Borough for $20,000.00.
Joseph G. and Therese A. Gerchman to Lawrence L. and Christopher L. Corwin, in Silver Lake Township for $16,500.00.
Joseph R., Mary E., Gary W., Nancy and Mary K. Sienko and Patricia L. and Tracy Blazicek to Mary K. and Andrew Sienko, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Joseph R., Mary E., Gary W., Nancy and Mary K. Sienko and Patricia L. and Tracy Blazicek to Gary W. and Nancy Sienko, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Joseph R., Mary E., Gary W., Nancy and Mary K. Sienko and Patricia L. and Tracy Blazicek to Joseph R. and Mary E. Sienko, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
John P. and Carole H. Kameen to Kameen Family Trust, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Anthony Graziano to Marie Graziano, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Anthony Graziano to Marie Graziano, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Darleen Sanders (NBM) Darleen Stewart to Dennis Troup, In Susquehanna for one dollar.
Dennis Troup to Precision Power Solution, Inc., in Susquehanna for $99,000.00.
Joseph Lettieri (Estate) to Michael R. and Theresa Lettieri, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Joseph Lettieri (Estate) to Michael R. and Theresa Lettieri, in Springville Township for one dollar.
William Dixon, Joe Hritzak, Alexander Trosko and J. Bryan Maseychik to William and William, Jr. Dixon, Joe Hritzak, Alexander Trosko, J. Bryan Maseychik and John Cyprich, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Timothy M. and Kristy Towers to Timothy M. and Kristy Towers, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.
Charles and Priscilla F. Restaino to Robert L. Bushnell and Mary Lynn Vanbrunt-Bushnell, in Springville Township for $75,000.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Scott N. and Patricia A. Northmore, in Herrick Township for $1,995.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to George and Caroline Goodman, in Herrick Township for $3,295.00.
Edna V. Noble (Estate) to Randy V. Noble, in Lathrop and Springville Townships for one dollar.
Amelia R. Casanova to Rose Marie Casanova and Sherry Christina Storrs-Casanova, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Midfirst Bank to Matthew Sweder, in Forest City for $15,000.00.
Edna H. Federer to Sandra L. Harle, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Laura Blackman to Laura Blackman, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Herbert Kilmer to Elsie Kilmer, in Apolacon, Auburn, Franklin, Harford, Harmony, Liberty and Middletown Townships and Lanesboro Borough for one dollar.
Lori A. Nagy to Paul A. and Pamela E. Kelly, in Rush Township for one dollar.
John V. and Gloria A. Osolnick to John V. and Gloria A. Osolnick, in Middletown Township for one dollar.
John V. and Gloria A. Osolnick to Michael T. and Carol L. Bobrek, in Middletown Township for $229,000.00.
Kristine Sheptock of Susquehanna vs. Emmett C. Sheptock of Harpursville, NY, married 1999.
Roxanne Marie Hickey vs. Joseph L. Hickey, Jr., both of Union Dale, married 1993.
Corey Shaw vs. Jamie Canfield, both of New Milford, married 2007.
Shannon L. Gorton of New Milford vs. Charles D. Gorton of Equinunk, PA, married 2000.
Dana Woods of Montrose vs. Wendy Lee Woods of Bath, NY, married 1990.
Meredith L. Davis of Hallstead vs. Wesley P. Davis of Carrollton, TX, married 2004.
Dolores D. Wilson of Nicholson vs. Dennis G. Wilson of Montrose, married 1990.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 10:00 a.m. on November 20, 2009.
Antonio L. Alcantara, Duane Aldrich, David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, John W. Barber, Sr., Neeko A. Beahan, David Shawn Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Allen S. Bowman, Howard A. Burns, III, Robert B. Carrier, Beverly A. Carvin, Darryl M. Chaffee, Christopher J. Clark, Tony R. Clark, Benedict Diaz, Edward J. Dickson, Jr., Deborah L. Drish, David J. Fischer, Ryan M. Forder, Kelly Fox, Racheal L. Frisbie, Deborah E. Gould, David Haines, Jr., Suzanne R. Hansen, Amanda L. Henderickson, William N. Hendrickson, Kenneth M. Kintner, Erik E. Krisovitch, Lee Labor, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Patricia J. Marrero, Nancy McGillis, Bradley W. Megivern, Joseph Mershon, Kimberly L. Mershon, David N. Miller, Joseph C. Moore, Shane Nelson, Anthony Neri, Benjamin Newell, Gary Perico, Ryan A. Rhoads, Timothy W. Rogers, Robert A. Ryman, Michelle L. Shepard, David J. Shiner, Richard D. Shoemaker, Darin Sink, Duane Spencer, Robert J. Sterling, Donald Louis Stocks, Garrett M. Thomas, Keith W. Vroman, Steve A. Welch, Jamie L. Williams, Roderic R. Williams, Kenneth L. Wilmot, Jr., Patrick L. Yachymiak.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
For the first time in twenty years, Hallstead Boro residents will see a raise in (boro) real estate taxes. At their November 19 meeting, the council approved a raise of one mil, which should translate to about a $30 increase for the average assessment. A motion carried to advertise the budget, and it will be passed at their December meeting, which will be held on Monday, the 21st, rather than the third Thursday, to allow the required thirty days for public review before it is passed.
Council has been working for quite some time on getting a new truck, and received quotes for two, through the state CoStars program, a 350 and a 550. There was some discussion about which would be the better choice. The truck the boro presently has, a 350, is twelve years old and has served the boro well. But, newer trucks were said to be too light for the boro's needs and some said that others they had spoken with related that there were continuing problems with them because they are not heavy enough. After discussion, it was agreed that the 550 would be the better choice. A motion carried to purchase it.
Council received a notice of remediation from Pennsylvania Tectonics, environmental consultants, regarding the old foundry property. The notice will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and in the Scranton Times; its publication will initiate a 30-day comment period, during which comments may be sent to Pennsylvania Tectronics. The remediation itself is expected to take anywhere from six months to a year.
Council has long been trying to get the site cleaned up; earlier in the meeting they had again discussed an open pit at the site. It, and the excavator that had been used to dig it, have been there over two years. The owners of the property have been sent numerous letters, but nothing has been done. As DEP will be overseeing the remediation, and hopefully removal of the excavator and filling in the pit, no further action will be taken by council for the time being.
Boro residents are requested not to rake leaves into the road. Aside from being a safety issue when they get wet, when it rains hard enough they are being washed into the drainage ditches and clogging them.
More bad news resulting from the state budget; council received notice that the Hallstead Branch Library is cutting back their hours and will no longer be open on weekends.
A motion carried to donate $100 to the annual (free) Thanksgiving dinner held in Great Bend.
Is the East Lake Campground situation really resolved at long last? Township Solicitor Michael Briechle attended the meeting to recommend to the supervisors that they enter into a memorandum of understanding in the township’s case against the campground’s owner Mr. Young. For a few years, he stated, meetings had been held with DEP regarding how the campground could be brought into compliance with the sewage act. On the Monday prior, another meeting had been held where the details were ironed out. This would negate the need to pursue ongoing litigation. There are, he reported, 13 septic/sewer systems on the property which were in existence prior to 1974, when permits were not yet required. Measurements have been taken to determine appropriate flow levels for these systems. If, the agreement basically runs, Mr. Young scales back operations to comply with these flows levels and the sewage act, there is no need to further pursue an injunction, the purpose of which is to halt something until it enters into compliance. Any expansion beyond what is in compliance would then require additional steps. Still, the matter is not entirely finished, Mr. Briechle said. Mr. Bevans spoke up while this was being discussed, expressing his displeasure over the proposal, and arguing that other east lake residents were not treated the same way. Still, the supervisors approved the agreement.
Taxes are going up after all in the township. At the October meeting, the supervisors had decided to raise taxes for the Fire Company, up .61 to bring in an even mill. Since that time a letter had been received from the state, indicating that the township might receive approximately $10,000 less in fuel money in the coming year. Thus it was proposed that taxes be increased even more, to total 1.12 mills. This would still provide the fire company the extra money given them at the last meeting, but would help out the actual township as well. This was put to a vote, and passed 2-1 with Mr. Hunter voting nay. The 2010 budget, it was announced, can be reviewed at the township building during regular hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 9-2.
Mr. Bevans had asked about Chief Oil & Gas LLC requesting a withdrawal of 360,000 gallons of water per day, which had been written about in the paper. The township has spoken with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission concerning this, and confirmed that the proposed location involves Martins Creek in Hop Bottom Borough.
Mr. Bondurant gave a report on the bicentennial committee, which is still in action. Currently work is being done toward the creation of a business directory, and preparations are being made for the transfer of the website to the borough and township. He also announced that the mural, which was begun during the bicentennial as a community art project, had been finished by the school’s art department. It was to be framed and hung by the New Milford Market on Main Street the following Friday at 2 p.m. He called it a nice community service project, and the hope was voiced that it would not be vandalized in the same manner as the borough gazebo.
It has been more than a month since Harford Township Supervisor met in public session. The second scheduled meeting in October was cancelled, and the first in November was postponed for a week. Yet when they did finally get together on November 17, the agenda was light, the meeting lasting barely a half hour.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has begun requiring municipalities across the state that operate sewage systems to prepare and keep on hand a set of standard operating procedures that can be referred to when plant operators are unavailable. The engineering company that operates Harford’s sewer system has provided the township with such a book of procedures. It may not have been ready in time for one recent incident.
An observer at the meeting noted that it took nearly a week for someone to repair a sewer pump after the control box light began flashing. It seems that the plant operator who should be responsible for such things was unavailable for a time, ailing and in a hospital. The problem was eventually taken care of, and the Supervisor conceded that “the ball got dropped” on that one.
Renovations and repairs at the sewer plant itself on Burns Road are progressing. Supervisor Terry VanGorden reported that township crews and equipment were used at the plant to dig trenches and do other work, for which the township will be billed. Harford Township and its sewer authority are essentially one and the same, but their accounts are kept separate so that only sewer system subscribers are paying its bills.
Supervisor Garry Foltz reported that a different permit would be needed for the project to repair a sluice at a swampy location on Richardson road. The project is to be paid for in part by a grant from the Susquehanna County Conservation District. Mr. Foltz said that pipe was deeper than originally thought, and that an engineering study would be required before a DEP permit can be issued. He hopes that the work can get under way early next Spring.
The Jeffers business is preparing application to DEP to open a new quarry off Route 547. A plan was submitted to the township for review, however, since any driveway would be on a state road, and the 2-acre site is completely within Jeffers property, the township could have no objection.
Mr. Foltz has also received two quotes to repave School Street in Harford Village, as he prepares a grant application to help pay for it.
Mr. VanGorden expressed some disgust at an accumulation of trash at the corner of School Street and Market Street, apparently in response to Bronson Pinchot’s recovery of the village triangle from the Historical Society last year. Mr. VanGorden suggested that now that the issue is settled, it is time to move on, declaring such an expression of disappointment as childish. His crews will collect the leavings in the interest of keeping the town tidy. He said that the township would prosecute anyone found doing this again.
He can’t quite control vandalism to the township’s signs, however. The state police have been notified about damage to, and disappearance of, some of the new street signs the township is installing in preparation for a coming deadline for making the signs more visible. Clearly, if they’re missing, they’re not more visible.
The township will finish replacing the street signs under next year’s budget. The old signs are stored in the township garage, and the Supervisors are mulling over plans for their disposition. Mr. Foltz wouldn’t discuss an idea they are developing for fear that the signs might be stolen before they can be replaced. Now what does that mean?
The budget for next year is due to be adopted next month, so the Supervisors have scheduled another meeting for November 24, so that the spending plan can be advertised well in advance of formal approval in December. Asked whether they are considering setting aside some money for police in the budget, Mr. Foltz said that the township alone could not afford its own police force, and paying a stiff fee for state police service as proposed in the legislature in Harrisburg would substantially increase taxes. He said that Harford should consider discussing the issue with its neighboring municipalities.
Examination of the treasurer’s report shows solid balances in all of the accounts as the year comes to a close. More than $81,000 remains in township accounts, about $77,000 in accounts subsidized by the state, and over $99,000 in the sewer account.
The next meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors will take place before this report appears in print, but their meetings are usually scheduled for the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
The members of the county Council of Governments (COG) have been awaiting the results of a shared police services feasibility study being compiled through the auspices of DCED. Greg Hostettler, who is authoring the study, had been expected to attend a COG meeting for several months but his appearance has been delayed by a number of other commitments. Mr. Hostettler was to have attended the November 17 meeting to present his report, but once again was unable to attend due to medical issues.
The COG members whose municipalities had elected to take part in the study, which was open to all who were interested, not just COG members, have been anxious to hear the results, especially with the possibility of HB1500 or a similar bill being enacted; the bills call for municipalities who do not have full-time police coverage to pay a per capita “service fee” for State Police coverage.
There were those who were not happy about yet another delay; after discussion, it was agreed that the Governor's Center for Local Government should be contacted as well as DCED, as both had been involved in initiating the study.
Items of correspondence reviewed included the recent issue of the PA COG newsletter, which included highlights of their recent conference and one interesting item of news. Two bills are currently making their way through the legislative process that, if enacted, will permit municipalities and government organizations that have their own websites to post announcements that up to now were required to be published in the legal sections of newspapers. As these notices are sometimes rather lengthy, and subsequently expensive to publish, this item was of particular interest.
The executive committee has prepared a tentative 2010 budget, which was made available for members to review, and it was agreed to keep the membership dues for 2010 at the current rate.
There was some discussion of the open records policy, as there have been some instances of people requesting permit information without giving specifics. Such vague requests could involve extensive research time, and could result in substantial charges for copies. It was agreed to amend COG's policy to require that requests be specific, to allow COG five days to respond, and to include an estimation of the cost of the copies involved. Those requesting information will also be required to pay the estimated cost before research is done or copies are made.
The sewage committee received notice that chairman Harvey Rosenkrans had resigned from his position as supervisor of Franklin Twp., and subsequently from COG. Vice chair Rudy Mattes was moved up to the position of chairman until election of officers, which will be held at the February meeting. An interim vice chairman will be needed until the election.
SEO John Watson wished to compliment the contractors he has had to deal with; they have all been very professional, he said, especially in light of COG being shorthanded at the present time. He added that the contractors he has worked with seem optimistic about the current economic conditions, and are planning a heavy load of projects for the spring.
Agreements have been made with Jessup and Springville Townships, who had withdrawn their membership in COG, to close out the open sewage permits in their municipalities.
And, although there has been no definite word, it seems that the state will be greatly reducing the sewage enforcement reimbursements it makes to organizations such as COG. It appears that COG will be receiving only 42.5% of their eligible reimbursement request. It was noted that two sewage enforcement organizations in nearby counties have not survived the cut in funding; one has filed for bankruptcy and the other's future is not looking good.
At a prior meeting, a commercial building in Choconut had been discussed, specifically that the handicap accessibility had been changed somewhat since the site's initial inspection. Labor & Industry had recently inspected the site, and apparently did not find any safety issues. Unless there are, they will not require changes to the building. It was noted that if there is not adequate access for some, there is always the possibility that an individual could bring a lawsuit against the owners.
And, codes chair Ted Plevinsky had high praise for the local magisterial system. There had been an individual in Liberty Twp. who was not in compliance with codes. Letters were sent, and they were ignored. The case was brought before the local magistrate, and the individual is now cooperating.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, December 15, 7:00 p.m. in the COG offices in the New Milford Boro building.
Between November 28 and April 17, Tamara and Victor Santarellis were arrested for setting fire to a bath house in 2007 and a residence in 2009 within the Shady Rest Campground. At the time of the fires the Santarellis owned the campground and lived in the residence. Each fire resulted in multiple fire departments responding. Charges include arson, insurance fraud and reckless endangering. Tamara was charged with the 2009 fire and both were charged in the 2007 fire. Bail for each was $20,000 unsecure for each case.
On November 16, a juvenile removed an ipod touch, an electronic music storage and playback device from a residence in Hop Bottom borough, all without authorization to do so. Charges were pending at time of report for violations of PACC.
On October 23, at approximately 8:55 p.m., Amanda Huston of Forest City was traveling on State Hwy 106 in Clifford Twp. when her vehicle exited the roadway and rolled over. Huston was wearing a seatbelt; she was not injured.
On November 10, Tamara Tyler of Nicholson reported damage to her vehicle sometime overnight. Her vehicle was “keyed” while parked outside her residence in Lenox twp.
HIT AND RUN
On November 16, at 6:00 p.m., Zakk Finkenbinder of Union Dale was traveling southbound on SR 493 in Gibson twp. when, while attempting to negotiate a left curve in the roadway, his vehicle exited the roadway to the west of the travel lanes. After impacting a ditch, the Neon came to a final rest in the driveway of house #630, after it was driven from the point of initial impact. Finkenbinder fled the scene prior to police response.
On November 14, at 1:29 p.m., Damion Daniels of New Milford lost control of his vehicle while negotiating a curve on state hwy 2073, exited the road, and struck an embankment. Daniels sustained no injury; he was utilizing a seatbelt.
A juvenile was caught in possession of paraphernalia by school staff on November 4 at Montrose Area High School. The juvenile was subsequently charged for the same and released to his/her mother pending future juvenile proceedings.
CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY/MONEY LAUNDERING
On November 12 at 10:45 p.m., Tpr. Lindsay responded to a disabled motorist on Interstate 81 south at MM 206.8. Information was obtained from the passenger and operator, Christopher Hoopes of Mt. Arlington, NJ and Michael Bleich of Canadensis, PA respectively. A records check was performed. The passenger had a warrant out of New Jersey extraditable for failure to appear on other charges. A search of his person was performed and a large amount of US Currency was discovered on his person. The operator was then patted down by Tpr. Bauman. The operator was in possession of additional currency. The currency was taken back to PSP/Gibson. Tpr. Powell and K-9 were summoned to perform a cash scan. A cash scan was performed on the currency. K-9 Johnny hit on the suspect money seized from the scene. A count was then performed on the money. It totaled $6,289 in US currency in various denominations. The operator, Michael A Bleich, was given a copy of the property record showing 6,289 which was placed into evidence. Assistance was provided by Tpr. Robert Bauman. The passenger, Christopher Hoopes, was arraigned as a fugitive from justice. He was arrested and housed in the Susquehanna County Prison awaiting transport to Morristown, NJ.
On November 14, at 7:47 a.m., Ashley Palmer of Montrose was traveling North on SR 29 when she lost control of her vehicle, which struck several fence posts and trees before rolling over onto its right side. Montrose Fire and EMS responded to the scene. High Tech towed the vehicle. Palmer was not injured; she was utilizing a lap and shoulder belt.
Approximately 30 pieces of flagstone were removed from property belonging to Gerald Pennay of Brooklyn, with the theft going undetected while occurring.
On November 6, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Jamie Pena-Alfaro Jr. of Kyle, TX was traveling northbound on SR 2009 when his vehicle exited the roadway and entered a ditch. It proceeded to strike a mailbox and a culvert, before becoming airborne and striking some trees. Pena-Alfaro was transported by ambulance to Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock, Pa with minor injuries. He was utilizing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
HIT AND RUN
On November 10, at 5:28 a.m., Andrew Chaparro of Hop Bottom was traveling West on state hwy. 2041 in Lenox Twp. At this time another, unknown driver was attempting to turn on SR 2045, off SR 2041. When Chaparro struck the turning vehicle in the rear, it fled the scene. No EMS or Fire responded. No tow was used.
On November 9, at approximately 3:31 a.m., an accident occurred on I 81 northbound in Great Bend Twp. At this time Craig Goines of the Buffalo, NY area encountered a deer positioned within the travel lanes. Goines continued north for approximately 238 feet after impact, before coming to a final rest in the median portion of the highway. No injuries were reported with this collision.
Between the 6th and 9th of November, between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 1:45 a.m., a person whose name was being withheld due to investigation at the time of report made repeated telephone communications with a Hallstead victim at extremely inconvenient hours. The investigation was ongoing at time of report.
On November 4 at 9:30 p.m., Christopher Herman of Hop Bottom was traveling southbound on SR 2073. Failing to properly negotiate a left hand curve in the roadway, Herman lost control of his vehicle, which fishtailed and went off of the right berm. The front end of the vehicle struck a dirt embankment; the vehicle rolled onto its left side and then onto its roof. It came to a rest in the southbound lane facing north. Herman was utilizing a seatbelt; he was not injured.
Between the 1st and 2nd of November, a tree was cut down next to the weight house belonging to Montrose Materials in Bridgewater Twp. The tree struck a porch railing and a metal antenna pole as it fell to the ground.
On November 7 at 5:18 a.m., Andrew Scro of Montrose was traveling southbound on SR 700 in Jackson Twp. when he traveled through the intersection of SR 492 and impacted a utility pole. He exhibited signs of intoxication and was transported to Barnes Kasson Hospital for medical treatment and BAC testing. He was not utilizing a seatbelt, and it was unknown in the report whether or not he sustained injury.
On November 6, at approximately 12:01 p.m., Richard Swingle of Dunmore, PA was traveling southbound on SR 11 when he swerved to avoid a deer in the roadway and lost control of his vehicle. The vehicle in turn exited the roadway off the east berm, struck a culvert and a mailbox, and overturned, striking a parked truck tractor before coming to a rest. Swingle was utilizing a seatbelt; he sustained minor injuries.
On November 5, at approximately 5:50 p.m., Jeffrey Brown of Meshoppen was traveling east on SR 3023 in Dimock Twp. At this time Rachel Warriner Bartron of Montrose was also traveling west on that road. The trailer of Brown's Freightliner came detached, and Warriner Bartron struck the detached trailer. Both parties were utilizing seatbelts at the time; neither sustained injury.
If you have information regarding any of these incidents, please contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154I.
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