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The Susquehanna Community School Board began their December 2 meeting with their annual reorganization. Returning members Carol Jackson, Clay Weaver and Lori Canfield and new member Amanda Cook were sworn in. Election of officers was held, with Steven Stanford and Clay Weaver returning to their respective positions of president and vice president.
The regular meeting followed, beginning with the good news that attendance has returned to normal. Earlier this school year, there had been a high incidence of absentee students, mostly due to uncredited rumors about the H1N1 virus. Both building principals reported that attendance has lately been at normal levels. The district had obtained and administered vaccines, with second doses to be given out later in the week. Superintendent Stone said that once all requested doses have been administered, the remainder of those the district obtained will go to the hospital's health center.
The state budget was another topic, one that was not about good news. The state has not been friendly about basic education allocations, which means that the district will not be getting as much funding as had been expected. A motion carried to amend the 2009-10 fiscal year budget; a transfer of $84,234 out of the line item budgeted for retirement was approved and reallocated to elementary and secondary salaries, maintenance supplies, pupil health service supplies and special education staff development. State revenue estimates were revised to reflect actual subsidy receipts in accordance with the adopted state budget.
Another item of concern was the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System. The district, among many others, anticipates a dramatic increase in retirement payments. $1,160,093 of the district's fund balance will be earmarked for future PSER payments. Mr. Stone urged taxpayers to contact their state legislators to take action on what he called a pending crisis, as taxpayers will ultimately bear the burden of meeting those payments. An additional $1,000,000 of the fund balance will be earmarked for future early retirement incentives.
Seventh graders will soon be taking Keystone exams, similar to New York State's Regent's exams; the expectation is that these new assessments will take the place of junior PSSA tests.
Several information nights are scheduled; there will be a financial aid session on Tuesday, December 15 at 6 p.m.; on December 22 at 6 p.m. there will be one on the O'Neil scholarship, with past recipients scheduled to speak on December 23.
Roughly 70% of the high school's students in grades 7-12 have achieved Honor Roll status this marking period, and the district is hosting two foreign exchange students, one from Ecuador and one from Beijing.
In other business, the board approved the following:
- The meeting schedule for 2010.
- A “Taxpayer Relief Act” (Act I) resolution, which is a statement that the board has no intention of raising taxes for the 2010-11 school year at a rate that exceeds the index as calculated by the state Department of Education; that index is 4.4%.
- An energy service contract with Schneider Electric Building America to upgrade the internal building lights, replace the elementary boiler and improvements to the hot water system.
- Donating $100 to the county library's 2010 support drive.
- Larry Todd of Como Construction for snow removal at the rate of $24 per occurrence.
- Approving two self-certification applications for non-reimbursable construction projects (high school roof and parking lot project).
- A 60/40% split in the salary for the SNN advisor for the 2009-10 school year, with John Siegle receiving 60% and John Ord 40%.
- Hiring Megan Clough, Special Education teacher, for one year only.
- Hiring of George Paterno, substitute aide, and volunteers Natashia Beach and Ken Travis, Jr., fifth and sixth grade girls' basketball.
- The customary list of activities and fundraisers.
- A borrowing resolution related to the general obligation bond, series 2010, at no tax increase, proceeds to fund facility improvements - repairs to the high school roof, the parking lot at the high school, and installation of a bus lane at the elementary.
- A memorandum of understanding with the Susquehanna County Animal Response Team; this will allow space in an outbuilding to be used for pets should the district's facilities be needed for evacuees in an emergency.
- East Stroudsburg University's request to use the elementary school for college classes in the spring.
- Luzerne County Community's use of the high school for college classes in the spring.
- The Susquehanna Junior Sabers' cheerleaders request to use the elementary guy to practice for a cheerleading competition December through February.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, January 20, 7 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.
The New Milford Borough 2010 Budget posed some problems for the Borough Council at its December 3 meeting. Present were President Jim Carr, Secretary Amy Hine, Teri Gulick, Barb James, Mayor Joe Taylor and Sue Abbott; three council members were not in attendance.
On top of the budget list was the discussion of the amount of money allocated for lifeguards at the Borough's community pool. Eight thousand had been budgeted, but the amount needed to be reduced.
According to last year’s figures, approximately $7,500 had been spent alone for lifeguards.
In an attempt to bring the budget within its means, council has reduced that amount to $4000 which would allegedly cover about 1 to 1/2 months of the summer session the pool is open.
"I hate to say we can pay only that amount, but we really have tried to cut a little everywhere and we would hope that the Parks and Recreation Association would be able to kick in the rest and keep the pool running all summer," Jim Carr stated, echoed by Mayor Joe Taylor.
On hand was Parks and Recreation President Ken Carey, who stated that he would be willing to take some lifeguard hours to help with the problem and he felt assured that several community residents would also chip in more volunteer time. "As a citizen I would want the pool and be willing to hold fund raisers and what have you to help with the costs.” Although the volunteer lifeguards would have to be trained and pass security assessments (for children’s safety, etc), Carey still felt that once the community realizes that this is a matter of having a pool versus no pool, he feels more residents will take up the cause.
Sue Abbott suggested raising the fee to use the pool as a way to help defray costs, however Barb Jayne mentioned that a raise in the $1.00 fee for using the pool could prevent some children from attending, some of the families do not have the extra money to attend the pool. “We shouldn’t cut them out," Carey added.
Carey will be checking with community residents to help find extra ways to save expenses at Parks and Recreation. "I know that we can monitor some of the costs in a more restricted manner, which will help, and I think that you will see as a whole a number of people kick in."
Carey also stated that the practice of leaving 2 lifeguards on during a rainy day would be one of the items which would help reduce the needed funds. "We can send them home on a rainy day."
Council was also in a standstill for a vote on presenting the advertised budget before them with two members voting yes to pass the budget with the cut in the lifeguard area and two votes no, leaving the mayor to cast the tie breaking vote.
Taylor voted that unfortunately he had to side with keeping the $4,000 amount and he would hope that the Parks and Recreation Committee along with the community would understand that that is a bottom line figure, the proposed $8,000 life guard line item was just too much. "I hate to vote like this but we have cut several other places tightly, with little capitol if there is an emergency. It is apparent, we need the community support to keep the pool running throughout the season." Council agreed.
Carey emphasized that he would check with residents and do some work on his own to help provide the necessary lifeguards and payment. Council was also reminded by Ainey and Taylor that it wasn’t too long ago that the decision to fill in the pool was discussed. Unfortunately that could be an option, if things aren't worked out basically at this time. The talk regarding closing the pool, once the lifeguard money has been exhausted, could become a reality. Council did say that if they were able to help a little, it could be a possibility, but currently this budget has been cut and minimized as much as it can be without a higher tax increase. New Milford has been proud of the fact that they have self sufficed for many years without raising taxes, and have endured hardships without borrowing a tax anticipation loan, but that is not the case here. “This is a bare bones budget. We did what we could, not what we wanted but we are here to watch the taxpayer’s wallets as a whole, and that is how we came up with these figures.”
Also "under fire" was the raise requested by the fire company of .19 mills. Council President Jim Carr stated that he was unhappy with this amount and felt that the fire company did not show adequate need for such an increase. Carr said he asked for figures depicting such need and has not yet received an answer. "Just because Harford, Great Bend or Susquehanna are giving raises in millage is not a reason for New Milford to follow suit.” Without figures to work from, Carr is not satisfied with the .19 mil increase for the fire department.
It was mentioned that they could ask for a 3 mill increase, but again, Carr wants to view numbers and then he is still uncertain what to do.
The real estate increase being budgeted is currently at .53 mills, or an average of $5.59 per household. "I am here trying to watch the taxpayer’s wallets, not to cause arguments or misunderstandings. I just feel they need to show us the amount is really needed before we agree to another tax hike.”
Mayor Joseph Taylor offered to go to the fire department on Friday and get some figures to see just what they are asking for and if there is a need for the requests.
Items which were cut included the part time employee, Bob Ehm, who is currently working approx. 35 hours a week. This cut may be from 20-25 hours depending on work load and seasonal extras or lack there of. Mayor Taylor pointed out that Bob does a lot of extra things for the borough and they would be hard-pressed to cut or restrict him too much. "Part of the reason our equipment stays in good condition and running properly is due to the fact that Bob does the mechanical work on them himself, which saves council considerable money. Bob does a good job and he is well appreciated, we would be hard-pressed to find someone to do a better job than he does,” Taylor emphasized.
Council agreed and were reminded by Rick Ainey, a former council member, that some of Bob’s work regarding specifications under the Liquid Fuels money could be used to pay Bob, thus giving council and Bob more room in which to work the necessary extra hours out. There are guidelines which must be followed, but it could lead to saving some of council monies to be utilized elsewhere.
Council also voted on no raises for its employees this year.
The Police Department will have a two year contract with no increase in the $27 per hour fee for 2010 through 2011. The police have been out and noticed and it was stated that there has been considerably less vandalism in the Borough. Residents are very pleased with the police work. The coverage hours are switched throughout day, evening and weekend times, so that no one will know when they are in town or not, with the idea of people keeping on their toes.
Also under consideration for the police was Earl Armond requesting some more coverage in the main street and cemetery area due to the influx of trucks heavily loaded and not following the speed limits, which could cause a bad accident and injury at some point in time, Armond added.
Teri Gulick Police Coordinator, expressed that they have been out in day hours and have even apparently aggravated truck drivers, several of which flipped the officers off when driving by. So it is known that they can and are out there and throughout the borough policing the Borough.
Discussion was also held regarding the sad shape of the pavilion, needing to be built better. Mayor Taylor and others thought that they may be able to work with some community businessmen to help get the work done fairly reasonably and make it safe again. Council woman Sue Abbott suggested that maybe even businesses could sponsor a board or the like, to help with the funding.
The budget may be revisited or opened in January, 2010 to further go over all items with the new Borough Council, coming in and, with two members going out.
In other business, the trash burning ordinance has become more of a nuisance than imagined, it could put 3 local businesses out of commission, plus restrict residents from cooking outdoors and several other line items. "It’s to restrictive" Teri Gulick said.
It also appears that the main consideration for this ordinance has stopped illegally burning trash and what have you after a letter was sent to the landowner about the legalities of burning on her property.
This matter will go again before the solicitor for advice and council will take another look at it, but it is felt that they can’t pass it due to the 3 businesses and the lack of cooking in your own yard being stopped or restricted.
There was a complaint about barking dogs which was seconded by a neighbor who lived further down the road on Johnson Street. Council will send Codes Mike Dopko to check into the situation. Council is not sure if the dogs have been removed or not.
Atty. Jodi Cordner has been retained as Borough Solicitor for another term at a $120 retainer and $120 per hour rate.
Endless Mts. Tourism has refused Council's request for help rebuilding the gazebo, due to the fact there have been too many inquires and not enough money to go around. (getting it back into shape).
Rick Ainey was on hand with a few questions regarding the proposed budget and had much advice and information for the borough to look into before agreeing to pass the budget as it was presented.
There was a little disappointment on "Santa in the Park" this year, as it had been moved indoors to the borough office, "We had some good turnout but not like usual" Amy Hine and Teri Gulick responded. It was also asked that Borough thank those who donated monies for the pictures, candy, etc. for the annual event.
A need for another "on call snow plower" was expressed, anyone interested in helping the Borough with snowplowing at a reasonable rate is asked to call the borough office for information.
Ken Bondurant was present to pass out copies of the 1959 blue book from the Bicentennial and said they are working on a new copy, but not as large as that one.
Council stated that the 1959 books were very interesting and really showed good historical information on the town's historical events.
Bondurant also added that they are in works to update and do a smaller version of the 1959 booklets for the time capsule and for residents who wish to purchase the updates. "We are still working on those, trying to get it together. We are hoping that organizations and groups or families will write their own information and then give that to us and we will utilize that information in the new book. We had a wonderful turnout and many people enjoyed the Bicentennial Weekend," Bondurant said. He suggested that perhaps a concert may be held every so often with one of the bands or groups they had during the bicentennial. "It would be a nice thing to get all the people together again," he added, and wouldn’t be that expensive and “would probably pay for itself."
Toys N Tots 10 year anniversary held a dance on December 5 asking people to attend at ten dollars admittance plus one new unwrapped toy for ages from infant to 16 years old. There were raffles and door prizes, free beer and free food. Thanks were expressed to local community members who helped last year when 140 families were provided for.
It was expressed that all toys go to families in the local Blue Ridge areas. The event is sponsored by Forever Bouquets by Judy and for questions or donations please contact Kristen at 607-760-9443.
*REPORTERS' NOTE: Please be advised that the January, 2010 meeting for New Milford Borough Council will be held the first Monday, January 4, as a reorganizational meeting and the new council will be sworn in, then regular business will be conducted.
They started a half hour early this month, so they could consider a budget for next year. But it wasn’t until the very end of the regular business meeting on December 3 that the Great Bend Borough Council formally adopted a budget that expects to spend $27,200 more than in 2009, an increase of almost 23%.
The biggest single change in the budget will be paid for by a 3-mill increase in property tax rates. The budget allocates $20,000 for police, whether a fee imposed by the state legislature to support the state police, or to contract for police services with another municipality, or as a share of a regional police organization of some sort currently under consideration.
There are adjustments throughout the $146,700 budget. Another new category provides $10,550 for pensions. To pay for that, the budget cuts $10,000 from road and bridge maintenance. Among other line items, some are up, some are down. In the end, however, the budget is actually in flux, because it could be several months before some of the initiatives anticipated in the new budget - like police - may actually be implemented.
A group of representatives of various communities have gathered twice already to consider options for police services, instigated by legislation in Harrisburg that threatens to impose a stiff fee for state police service on communities without police of their own. At the latest meeting, on November 23, the consensus was to form a regional commission encompassing Great Bend Borough, Great Bend Township, Hallstead Borough, Oakland Township and Susquehanna Borough. The representatives were charged with polling the sense of their communities, and sending 2 official representatives to another meeting on January 13, 2010 to begin more detailed discussions. It was reported that Oakland Township has already chosen its delegates. Great Bend Borough selected Council member Jerry MacConnell, and Mayor Jim Riecke; Council member Pat Thatcher will be an alternate. Council will hold another special meeting on the police question after it reorganizes itself on the evening of January 4.
The December business meeting actually opened with the annual review of the Borough’s insurance coverage with B.J. Giangiulio of H.A. Thompson, insurance brokers. Making minor adjustments to individual items on the schedule of covered property, Council decided to increase deductibles to help keep premiums down. The new budget expects to spend $9,000 for insurance in 2010, down $3,000 (not including workmens’ compensation coverage). The Borough’s policies cover about $689,000 worth of buildings and equipment.
Bret Jennings, Council’s representative on the Board of the Great Bend-Hallstead Joint Sewer Authority fielded a discussion of progress reforming the operations of the sewer system. He is optimistic that the sewer authority is now in good hands, but there are issues still challenging the costly utility. For one thing, he reported that the New Milford Municipal Authority, which is responsible for paying the sewer fees of system subscribers in that community, has so far not paid the increase instituted at the end of 2008 of $6 per EDU (equivalent domestic unit), leaving them in arrears by some $40,000 so far. Questions about grease buildup in the system, particularly from restaurants in the plaza area, and the allocation of EDUs among those businesses, are still being debated.
Council President Rick Franks thanked Mike Wasko for his 18 years of service on the Borough Council. At this, his last meeting as a Council member, Mr. Wasko urged his colleagues to continue to pursue the installation of an emergency exit from U.S. Route 11 into the visitor center on the interstate. During the flood in the summer of 2006, PennDOT put in a small ramp over a curb to the center so that residents of the town, isolated by high water, could get out. PennDOT has said that, since the visitor center is on a federal limited-access highway, an exit to U.S. 11 - even a locked one - couldn’t be installed. Yet Mr. Wasko has pictures of a similar facility at another location on the interstate and wants the town’s representatives in Harrisburg and Washington to push the matter. Mike VanGorden, who will take a seat at the Council table next month, suggested that Charlene Moser, the county emergency management director, might be able to help.
Council has also been trying to get some support for repairing the bridge over the railroad tracks on, what else?, Bridge Street. The current owner of the railroad claims that the bridge is the borough’s responsibility. Borough Secretary Sheila Guinan said that the borough has a copy of the original contract under which the bridge was built, through the cooperation of the state, the railroad and the borough. Council knows that the borough never had, and never will have, the resources to build such a bridge, so, although the street surface over the bridge - the “carriageway” - is the responsibility of the borough, the paperwork covering the owner of the bridge itself may have gotten lost in the many changes of ownership of the railroad over the years.
The next scheduled business meeting of the Great Bend Borough Council will take place on Thursday, January 7, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Council will welcome its new members at its reorganization session beginning at 6:00 p.m. on January 4, to be followed immediately by a special meeting on police. A general meeting on the police proposal will take place on January 13, beginning at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are held at the Borough Building at Elizabeth and Franklin Streets.
Birchard Credit Shelter Trust UTD (by trustee) and Birchard Trust (by trustee) to Fiondi, Inc., in Forest Lake and Middletown Townships for one dollar.
Cancro Residuary Trust (by trustee) to Brian S. and Christine A. Gibbons, in Dimock Township for $98,000.00.
Edward S. Derbin (estate) to Yvonne Forkal, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Richard C. Higgins, Jr., to Richard C. Higgins (trust), in Harford Township for one dollar.
Joseph B. and Margaret Bavuso to Garry L. and Catherine D. Foltz, in Harford Township for $58,870.00.
John D. Hayes to Diana and Robert Fox, in New Milford Township for $20,000.00.
Bruce C. and Judith A. Jones to Distant Ventures Limited Partnership, in Jackson Township for $65,000.00.
Jeanne and Jack Sible to Jeanne and Jack (AKA) Jackie Sible, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Jeanne and Jack Sible to Jeanne and Jack (AKA) Jackie Sible, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
John and Cara A. Dubas (NBM) Cara Ann Canevari to John and Cara A. Dubas, in Lenox Township for one dollar.
Bald Mountain Sportsman Club (AKA) Bald Mountain Sportsmans Club to Bald Mountain Sportsmans Club LLC, in Oakland and Great Bend Townships for one dollar.
Bald Mountain Sportsman Club (AKA) Bald Mountain Sportsmans Club to Bald Mountain Sportsmans Club LLC, in Oakland and Great Bend Townships for one dollar.
Bald Mountain Sportsman Club (AKA) Bald Mountain Sportsmans Club to Bald Mountain Sportsmans Club LLC, in Oakland and Great Bend Townships for one dollar.
Ronald D. Strong to Gregg P. and Sally A. Zahora, in Liberty Township for $69,900.00.
Thomas C. (AKA) Thomas and Patricia C. (AKA) Patricia Goss to Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Jr. and Donna M. Fekette, in New Milford Township for $92,500.00.
Mark and Sandra Wilmot to Lynda J. Cantarella, in Forest City for $55,000.00.
Eric J. (AKA) Eric and Mary (AKA) Mary C. Wheaton to Eric J. and Mary C. Wheaton, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Lester W. and Bernadette Boettcher (NKA) Bernadette Wargo to Lester W. Boettcher, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
JT Spano LLC to Elegante LLC, in Forest City for $70,000.00.
Habitat for Humanity of Susquehanna County to Richard and Sherre Greenwood, in Montrose for $84,317.00.
Donna M. Finkenbinder to Robert M. Dibble, in Lathrop Township for $80,000.00.
Frank M. Lewis to Bradley J. and Antoinette McAlla, in Clifford Township for $205,000.00.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of December 4, 2009 at 9:40 a.m.
Antonio L. Alcantara, Duane Aldrich, David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, John W. Barber, Sr., William D. Barton, Harold R. Bensley, David Shawn Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Howard A. Burns, III, Robert B. Carrier, Beverly A. Carvin, Darryl M. Chaffee, Christopher J. Clark, Benedict Diaz, Edward J. Dickson, Jr., Deborah L. Drish, Keith Edwards, Jr., Christina Elmy, 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, Mark J. Jarocha, Kenneth M. Kintner, Eric C. Kohlhepp, Erik E. Krisovitch, Lee Labor, Joshua Lee, 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, Ryan A. Rhoads, Timothy W. Rogers, Robert A. Ryman, David J. Shiner, Richard D. Shoemaker, Darin Sink, Sinon C. Smith, Sr., Duane Spencer, Robert J. Sterling, Donald Louis Stocks, Garrett M. Thomas, Keith W. Vroman, John Wansacz, Jr., 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.
Mr. Matthew Curley accepted the title of temporary president at both the December 1 Elk Lake and SCCTC school board meetings, for reorganizational purposes. He swore in the new members of the board, Mrs. Diane Ives and Mrs. Donica McGee, who took the places of Mr. Pierson and Mr. Sible. Also repeating the oath were reelected members Mr. Arden Tewkesbury and Mr. Eric Emerich. Nominations for president and vice president were opened, with only one nomination being made for each role. Mr. Curley then, with what appeared to be some pleasure, handed the reigns back over to Mr. Place, the incumbent president voted in for another term. Mr. Tewkesbury was also unanimously voted into the role he had just vacated, that of vice president. The reorganizational portion of the SCCTC meeting followed much the same pattern.
A reporter at the meeting asked Dr. Bush about the water situation, as calls had been coming into his paper from parents concerned that the matter was not yet fixed properly. Dr. Bush responded that over the Thanksgiving break workers had come and installed a new pump, the water of which was tested and cleared. Over the Christmas break, he continued, it is planned that the other be replaced, and that a third eventually be installed as a backup. The difficulty was strictly mechanical, it was asserted, and had nothing to do with the oil and gas drilling.
Mr. Tewkesbury then asked how the district was making out with its policy of combating swine flu by providing bottled water rather than utilizing drinking fountains. The administration responded that 16 water systems have been put in place, 8 in the elementary, 7 in the secondary school, and 1 in the vo-tech. The action was done at the recommendation of Mrs. Teel, who broached it at the meeting prior out of concern regarding the dangers of shared fountains during the season.
It was suggested that this action might be the root of some of the rumors of continuing water trouble. Fountains in both the hallways and classrooms have been put off limits, and an e-mail was sent out to students and faculty regarding the move. Despite this precaution, it was said, the water itself is actually fine. Some students, in fact, fill their water bottles with the school's water. The problem is not with the water itself, but with having students' mouths on the fountain.
This led, almost naturally, into a discussion of the progress of the gas well. It was stated that the company is at the point of the fracking process, though there has been some confusion as to when it was to actually begin. DEP had been spoken with regarding the fracking process, and had stated that they would have staff on site for it. Mr. Tewkesbury said that he felt the situation needs to be watched very carefully, and every precaution ought to be taken, to ensure that what has happened to some does not happen at the school. Mrs. Teel said she heard that it was the concrete casings deteriorating which had lead to the water pollution at some sights, but this was only hearsay. Mr. Place pointed out that the pressure up here, he had heard, was grater within the Marcellus shale than down south, so that the company's are learning how to deal with the difference.
A visitor had asked the month before about the agenda, feeling that it ought to be put up sooner. She acknowledged at this meeting that it had been.
Dr. Cuomo reported on an initiative which the high school staff is involved in, where faculty submits lesson plans to be assessed for their rigor and relevance. Some of these may be deemed gold seal lessons, and posted on a website. Thirty-six of these lessons have been submitted by the staff, and several have already been approved.
Dr. Cuomo also brought forth a proposal to reduce the number of credits required for graduation from 28 to 26, though this reduction would only lessen required coursework by one credit. The credit would be an elective; no core content at all would be affected. The reasoning for the proposal, he explained, was to grant students, especially those in the tenth grade, with some freedom and flexibility. for scheduling. Currently this grade year is very packed, with some students having no study halls in a cycle. This way it might be possible to bump some classes to the eleventh grade year, etc. It could also better allow students who are behind to make up a credit in the school, without haven’t to devote extracurricular time to credit recovery. It might also open up opportunities at the upper grade levels to enroll in work release or internship programs. Many students, he said, graduate now with more credits than they need anyway. No action was taken on the proposal at the meeting, it was to be put on the agenda in January after review. Dr. Bush pointed out that, according to studies, falling behind is positively related to not finishing a degree, and that research has also demonstrated that the best way to catch up is to do so during the school day.
A driver cell phone policy was also presented at the meeting, for review prior to January action. While there isn't a lot of precedence in this area amongst schools, and cell phone use is not actually illegal in the state, the reasoning behind it is to create a safer situation for kids. It would restrict cell phone use at all during contracted time, whether students were on the vehicle or not. The only exception to this would be in an emergency situation, and only when a vehicle's radio did not work.
The 2010 board meeting agenda was approved that evening. All of the meetings, unless something changes, are on Tuesday with two exceptions. The February meeting was moved to the 17th in order to accommodate the Montrose vs. Elk Lake basketball game, and the May meeting was moved to the 19th to avoid conflicting with the primary elections. This schedule, it was stated, would be advertised in the papers and placed on the website and in a few additional places as was requested by the public.
With the loss of Mr. Sible, the board needed a new NEIU representative. Mr. Emmerich was nominated for the position, and accepted it.
The question of the swine flu shot was raised. The district, Dr. Bush responded, still does not know when the vaccine will be received. The district had touched base before Thanksgiving with those responsible, who had said that it would be December. Elk Lake isn’t the only district still waiting for the vaccine.
The audience was almost silent on the matter of the expansion this month, save one woman who attended to request statistics and level accusations. She asked how many students were in the vo-tech program (374), how many of those students were from Elk Lake (142), and how many students there were total in the Elk Lake student body (350 in grades 10-12). (Numbers may be approximated.) She then argued that the board members had said, two meetings ago, that they were concerned for the well being of the students, and provided her opinion that the message the expansion was sending to the academic students was that the board did not deem them worth its money. She insinuated that when the board was spending 10 million dollars on the vo-tech alone, which comprised only about a third of the student population, it was a sign that the academic students were of less importance in the eyes of the board. She asked Mr. Place specifically, as the president of the board, what message he thought this was sending, and if he felt that all students should go to vo-tech. When Mr. Curley tried to answer, she stopped him, wishing to hear only from Mr. Place.
Mr. Place responded that, while he felt the vo-tech certainly had a place in today’s society, it benefited some students while others were college bound. When she asked whether or not he thought the libraries, etc. needed any upkeep, he replied that they receive it. He then asked her if she had been at any of the meetings where he explained the 20 year rule, and when she responded to the affirmative, he told her that was the answer to her question. He requested that old questions not be asked again repeatedly, stating that he would be happy to address any new concerns, but did not wish to continue to repeat the same answers.
Mr. Curley then did speak, and expressed that he was offended on the administrators’ behalf. He stated that any accusation that the events of the vo-tech were hurting elk lake students simply wasn’t true. He did not believe, he said, that there were kids at Elk Lake being neglected at the expense of the vo-tech.
Another visitor spoke up at this point, with a monetary argument which hadn’t been made before. She said that many students who have emotional problems attend the vo-tech, and thereby learn a useful trade and necessary skills. (She was not insinuating that all students at the vo-tech had emotional problems.) If, she argued, these students were trained for self-sufficiency now, then the taxpayers would save in the long run as they would not need to pay for them to receive SSI or other assistance later in their lives.
Mr. Tewkesbury then spoke up, also in defense of the district not favoring the vo-tech. He provided a brief history of large projects undertaken by the board through the years, beginning with the elementary addition and continuing to over a million dollars on the science department. Several million dollars, he related, has probably been spent to improve academics. He said that the public can disagree with the vo-tech expansion, that this was their right, but requested that no one insinuate the board had done nothing for the other students.
Mrs. Davis pointed out that the vo-tech students do receive academic instruction as well, working on numeric and literacy skills.
Speaking of the vo-tech, several activities and potential activities were mentioned. The health care technology program raised $800 to assist interfaith in providing Christmas gifts for two families. The cosmetology department held a pink out one week in October, and raised $1000 to give the cancer society, in honor of breast cancer awareness month.
Mr. Faillace attended the meeting with a proposal to replace the robotics club (which club’s advisor had resigned) with an electric car club. This program would have no deadline (as opposed to the six week robotics program). It would extend to other shops, and provide a cross curricular experience, giving more students a chance to interact. The mission would be to create a battery powered car which could then be titled and put on the road. It would, he said, train kids for jobs not even thought of yet, and while students would not be competing against others they would be competing against themselves. It would involve the principles of math and physics, and, as with the robotics club, there is the potential for non vo-tech students to become involved. The board gave their support of this endeavor.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for their regular monthly meeting on November 4, at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes, Mr. Peter Frank, Mr. Fred Rhone, Mr. Robert Buck, Mr. Anthony Palonis and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were present.
President Rhone called the meeting to order, and the minutes from the previous meeting were read. The motion to approve carried.
The Treasurer’s report was given and the motion to approve carried.
The bills were presented and the motion to approve payment carried.
The following Correspondence was received:
A notification that Smokey Heller & Sons has merged with Paraco gas was read.
A new fee schedule from the Wayne County Department of Planning was presented.
The estimated Liquid Fuels Allocation for 2010 was received from Penn dot.
The 2009- 2010 contract from Freddy’s Refuse Removal along with a list of prices was presented. The motion to approve the contract carried. (A copy of the price list will be placed on the bulletin board.)
The 2010 fire protection contract from the Thompson Hose Company was presented and the motion to approve carried.
A letter from the Softball league asking for use of the Hall was read and the motion to allow it’s usage by the league as requested carried.
In Borough Reports:
The motion to forward the $20,000.00 (twenty thousand dollar) grant to the Redevelopment Authority for the Stephano Bridge Project carried.
In New Business:
The proposed Budget for the year 2010 was presented and reviewed. The motion to accept the budget and advertise the same open for public inspection carried.
A proposal for the Audit of the 2009 books and accounts of the Borough from William Owens and Company for the quoted price of $3100.00 was read. The motion to approve the proposal and adopt the Resolution carried.
In Public Participation:
Mr. Jack Downton referred to letters he has sent to the Borough requesting documents. He stated he’s “gonna give that up for now.” The secretary explained that more than 400 (four hundred) documents have already been complied and if he wants to suspend his request, he must do that in writing, but he still is obligated to pay the Borough for the documents already complied. He argued that the secretary did not read his letters at the Council meetings. The secretary explained that what he was referring to as letters were requests for documents, and she was appointed as “Open Records Officer” under the new State Law and she was following the procedure as set forth in the Law. He referred to a request of Council to obtain copies of maps, which the secretary explained was a separated request of Council and should be submitted in writing addressed to Council. He stated that he contacted Scott Williams of Butler Surveying and asked for copies of the Buck’s Road and Kellogg Road maps and Mr. Williams told him he could provide them with Council’s permission for the cost of $20.00 per map, which Mr. Downton stated he would pay. The motion that Mr. Downton submit his check to the Borough for $40.00 and Council will request the map copies from Butler Surveying and forward the same to him, carried.
Mr. Robert Martin asked if anything was being done with the Auditor General’s report and Mr. Rhone stated it is being addressed.
No further business to come before the Board, the motion to adjourn carried.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for a special meeting on November 24, at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Fred Rhone, Mr. Donald Haynes Jr. Mr. Peter Frank, Mr. Anthony Palonis, Mr. Robert Buck, and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were present. President Rhone called the meeting to Order and announced an Executive Session.
The meeting was reopened and the Board considered a quote from Barry L. Anthony - fine bookbinder to place the Borough minutes in a Bound book as recommended by the Borough Solicitor and required by Borough Code. The quote of $961.53 includes six years. (2004-2009). The motion to hire Mr. Anthony to place the six years of minutes in a bound book and to further authorize the inclusion of the 2010 minutes in a bound book, carried.
The Board then considered a Resolution to adopt the Leech Creek road (as surveyed) as an official road in the road network of Starrucca Borough. The motion to adopt the Resolution and to further authorize the Borough Solicitor to record the same in the Courthouse, carried. Mayor DeBalko asked what work has the Road Committee done on the Fairmount road. The Committee is waiting for the signed easement from the landowner (Jack Downton).
A nine page report with six pages of exhibits attached containing an answer to the recommendations of the Auditor General’s office was read and reviewed. Among the attachments read: A copy of Starrucca Borough special meeting minutes dated June 12, 1986 concerning repairs to the Buck’s Bridge of $6590.00 and $9580.00 for repairs to the Gibser bridge, of which Mr. Roger Glover made the motion to authorize the repair and Mr. Robert Martin seconded the motion. Those serving in the capacity of Board members at the time were: Raymond Mead, Robert Martin, Gale Williams, Art Kopp, Charles Downton, Roger Glover and Dave Soden.
It should also be noted the Board’s intention of paying for most of the repairs from State funds, the rest to be borrowed. Also read were the minutes of November 3, 1986 where a Resolution was adopted to borrow $5000.00 (General Funds) to pay for the bridge repairs (both Buck’s bridge and Gibser Bridge). The bills of that meeting were also read, among them State Fund $3000.00 to John Bonham Contracting and General Funds $16,440.00 to Bonham Contracting.
Also attached and read aloud was a copy of a letter from a former Starrucca Borough Official Paul Everett addressed to Thompson Borough, dated October 3, 2004 concerning repairs of the Buck’s bridge, stating that “It is our (Starrucca Borough) bridge” and “None of your business.” Further an article from the Pike County dispatch paragraph three concerning a tax increase necessary to pay a Court-ordered settlement to a developer by the name of Katz. A $100.00-$300.00 tax increase to each and every tax payer for the duration of twenty years is expected. Also an article stating “Clarks Summit loses its verdict for closing off a road from a developer,” in an adjacent Township. The Court awarded the developer over two million dollars, which the taxpayers will have to bear that burden as well.
After review and discussion, the motion was made to accept the four recommendations of the Auditor General as set forth and as stated in the report, Starrucca Borough officials and employees will comply with the recommendations now and in the future, further to forward the report to the Borough Solicitor to address minor changes, and once made, forward the report to the Auditor General’s office, as well as record the same with the County Prothonotary. The motion carried. (President Rhone and Mr. Robert Buck abstained from the vote).
Mrs. Ruth Mzoraska asked about the proposed Wind Ordinance and President Rhone stated the Solicitor has reviewed the Ordinance and found it to be adequate.
Mr. Robert Martin asked if the Auditor General’s report will be made a public record. The answer was yes, as soon as it is finalized, he can make a request for a copy.
No further business to come before the Board, the motion to adjourn carried.
Gary Slick of Lathrop Twp. reported that damage was done to his mail box between the dates of November 22 and November 31. The investigation was ongoing as of the time of report.
On November 30, at 1:00 a.m., Craig Decker of Susquehanna was traveling east along SR 1009 in Harmony Twp. when he fell asleep at the wheel and drifted off the road to the right. The jeep wrangler broke through a guard rail and then rolled down an embankment, before coming to rest against a tree. Decker was not utilizing a seatbelt; he was able to walk from the wreckage with minor bruises. Decker was to be charged with numerous traffic violations as of the time of report.
STATE POLICE VEHICLE CRASH
On November 28, at 11:35 p.m., James Bernosky of Wyoming, PA was traveling northbound on SR 2073, when a deer ran into the roadway from the west berm. The deer was struck with the left front fender of the vehicle. Bernosky was utilizing a seatbelt at the time; he was not injured.
On November 28 at 1:26 p.m., a juvenile female from Thompson, PA was traveling south on SR 1001 in Thompson Twp. when she failed to properly negotiate a curve in the road at the intersection with Brown Hill Road. The girl swerved the car and went off the road, striking a stone wall, spinning around, and striking a tree with the rear of the car. The Toyota corolla continued to spin and rolled over onto its roof, before coming to a rest in the middle of the road blocking both lanes. The girl was wearing a seatbelt; she sustained minor injury and was taken to Barnes-Kasson hospital. Thompson Hose Co. responded; French's Auto removed the unit.
ACCESS DEVICE FRAUD
Between the 27th of November and the 1st of December, unauthorized credit card purchases totaling $296.43 were made to the account of David Vangorden of Great Bend. The perpetrator was unknown at time of report.
THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING
Between the 1st and 27th of November, one or more unknown perpetrator(s) reportedly broke into a lock box belonging to John Saam of Uniondale contained within a structure in that borough. Once opened, five $1,000 bundles, all 100 dollar bills, of US currency were removed, in addition to $2,000 additional currency in various denominations. Nothing else was taken, even though additional currency was inside the lock box. The perpetrator(s) fled the scene by unknown means and direction. It is believed that the structure was not burglarized as no signs of forced entry were observed. Anyone with information is asked to contact PSP/Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
On November 26 at 2:40 a.m., Casey Holleran of New Milford was stopped for driving on the wrong side of the roadway in Harford Twp. He was subsequently arrested for Driving Under the Influence. This and other related charges were filed with District Court 34-3-03.
On November 26, at 6:20 a.m., Kurt Steele of Springville was traveling east on SR 3013 when he lost control of his vehicle, which exited the roadway to the right and then returned to the road, crossed it, then drove into a house. Steele was transported to Endless Mountain Health Services in Montrose for treatment. He was not utilizing a seatbelt and sustained an injury, the severity of which was unknown at the time of report. Mile Hill towed the Dodge W150 from the scene. Springville fire and EMS responded. Steele was arrested for DUI.
Donald Glover of Ararat Twp. reported that sometime between August 1 and November 21 a 22 ca. pistol was removed from his home.
On November 20, Rebecca Benscoter of Laceyville reported, a package containing frontline plus flee medicine was stolen from her residence in Auburn Twp. Anyone with information is asked to contact this station.
Between the 22nd and 23rd of November, overnight, a mailbox belonging to Lisa Difabritus of Friendsville was smashed. Between the 20th and 23rd of that month, a mailbox belonging to William Goodrich of Hallstead was also smashed in Liberty Twp.
On November 8 Deborah Litzenburg of Elverson, PA reported that unknown person(s) were in her summer house on Bow Bridge Road. It was determined that the person was her grandson, whom she claims does not have permission to be there. The grandson, Joshua Litzenburg of Douglasville, PA, was cited for trespass.
If you have information regarding any of these incidents please contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
Forest City Regional School District board members met Tuesday, December 1 for a reorganization meeting, followed by a regular business meeting. Returning members were sworn in, along with new member Linda Zefran. Dr. Henry Nebzydoski was elected president, with William Kubus elected vice president.
Following, the board set the meeting schedule for the coming year, which will consist of one regular business meeting on the second Monday of each month at 7:30 PM in the high school library. Public work sessions have been eliminated.
Following a question from the public, Dr. Robert Vadella, School Superintendent, announced that the athletic director is working on the school’s sports injury procedure.
Elementary students Neil Albright, Mike Kitchura and Alexander O’Neill were chosen to participate in the Boys’ Choir at Lackawanna Trail on Wednesday, November 4.
High School Principal Christine Acevedo met with a review panel at the Intermediate Unit on November 23 to discuss the Forest City Regional High School’s School Improvement Plan. Acevedo explained that the plan involves more contact between teachers and parents and includes grade-level and department meetings, as well as the new tutoring program.
On November 19, Isaiah Mueller won the Poetry Out Loud contest, which was held at Quotes.
In his report, Vadella announced that an evening bus will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to accommodate students involved in the new tutoring program; drop-off points will be centralized.
Concerning grants, FCR has received $25,000 to aid in funding the Classrooms for the Future program. In addition, partial funding has been received for dual-enrollment, which will enable FCR to offer dual-enrollment students a partial tuition reimbursement.
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