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It was the shortest meeting of the year, and the last. Chairman Terry VanGorden was out with a bum leg for the meeting of the Harford Township Supervisors on December 22. Garry Foltz carried on in his place, with Sue Furney filling out the quorum.
Mr. Foltz reported on progress developing materials for a grant application that he hopes will help pay for repaving School Street in Harford village. He also said township crews will visit all 60-plus miles of road on Christmas Eve just in case. He said they would all be willing and able to be out on Saturday, in case the weather turns bad.
The major order of business was formal passage of the budget for 2010. The budget comes in 3 parts, so Mr. Foltz gave a summary for each part, as follows:
Township General Fund
Cash on hand 12/31/2009 - $70,100
2010 Revenue - 308,750
2010 Expenses - 329,835
Cash on hand 12/31/2010 - $49,015
Cash on hand 12/31/2009 - $77,036
2010 Revenue - 173,976
2010 Expenses - 186,700
Cash on hand 12/31/2010 - $64,312
Cash on hand 12/31/2009 - $99,260
2010 Revenue - 100,300
2010 Expenses - 131,866
Cash on hand 12/31/2010 - $67,694
In order to pay for some of the shortfall in the Township part of the budget, property tax rates will rise by 1 mill, to 4.13 mills per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The tax for support of the fire company remains at 1 mill.
That done, the Supervisors adjourned for the year. The next meeting is expected to be a reorganization meeting on the evening of Monday, January 4. All meetings are held in the township office on Route 547 just west of the Interstate.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for their regular monthly meeting on December 2, at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone (serving as acting Mayor), Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes, Mr. Peter Frank, Mr. Robert Buck, and Mr. Anthony Palonis were present. (Mr. Fred Rhone and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were absent).
President Rhone called the meeting to order, and called for an Executive Session with the Deposition’s Committee to discuss legal matters.
The meeting was re-opened and the minutes from the previous meeting were read. The motion to approve carried.
The minutes of a special meeting held on November 24 were read, and 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 letter from the Wayne County Firemen’s Association asking for a $500.00 annual commitment towards their foam bank for fighting hazardous fires.
A notice of a Christmas Party hosted by Building Inspection Underwriters to be held on December 22.
A resignation letter from Solicitor Bugaj was read. He thanked the Borough for the opportunity and wished the incoming Council the best. The motion to accept the resignation and send him a thank you for his service carried. (A card will be sent).
In Borough Reports:
Mr. Darl Haynes, referring to Starrucca Borough’s report to the Auditor General’s report, stated that the future Council government not just the Council that has served the last four years.
1. Starrucca Borough Council should refrain from any future projects that do not benefit the entire community - Starrucca Borough will contact the Auditor General and ask for their input, in writing on any future projects within the Borough.
2. Starrucca Borough Council should refrain from any future projects that are beyond the financial capability of the Borough - Starrucca Borough agrees to contact the Office of the Auditor General and utilize the services of other State Agencies in assisting it in making sure that future projects are within the financial capabilities of the Borough.
3. The Starrucca Borough officials and employees should comply fully with requirements of the Ethics Act and the Borough Council Handbook regarding avoidance of conflicts of interest. Further, the 2010 Council members will supply every official and employee with a copy of the Ethics Act and the Borough Council Handbook and hold periodic workshop sessions to familiarize officials with its requirements. Further, prior to voting on a specific project, it will seek the written input and guidance of it’s solicitor with regard to issues of conflict of interest.
4. Starrucca Borough should seek reimbursement of the cost of the project from the parties who benefited from the bridge improvements - Starrucca Borough Tax payers will pay for the costs associated with the Bridge project.
Mr. Buck presented a cost estimate from ABCO Construction for the replacement of the doors at the Community Hall. The “kitchen” door is not currently handicap accessible and the double doors he reported are completely rusted. A replacement “kitchen” door had already been purchased and is stored in the Hall. The cost would be to modify the opening, install the door and install door casing. The quoted price to do so is $350.00. The cost to replace and install the double doors was quoted at $2525.00. The motion to approve ABCO Construction’s installation of the “kitchen” door only at the quoted price of $350.00, carried.
In New Business:
The motion to adopt the 2010 Budget, with no tax increase, carried.
The changes to the Wind Mill Ordinance were discussed. The motion was made to adopt the Ordinance with the following changes: the setbacks throughout the document will reflect 5 (five) times the Hub height, including property line setbacks. Page 9 (nine) Section C will reflect “all dwellings.” Page 10 listing Official Offices will include Penn dot. Page 11 Section 13-3 the word “forever” will be included. The motion carried.
In Public Participation:
Mr. Jack Downton asked “What is the best beneficial of the Starrucca Borough to pay $3100.00 to a C.P.A.?” Mr. Kopp stated “that a professional job will be done with an Independent Auditor and it should end the previous wrangling. Mr. Palonis added “to get the job done correctly.”
No further business to come before the Board, Mr. Haynes made the motion to adjourn, second Mr. Buck, motion carried, meeting adjourned.
The Starrucca Borough Council met for a special meeting on December 15, at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall in Starrucca. President (Kirk) Rhone, Mr. Fred Rhone, Mr. Arthur Kopp, Mr. Donald Haynes Jr., Mr. Anthony Palonis and Mayor (MaryAnn) DeBalko were present. (Mr. Robert Buck, and Mr. Peter Frank were absent).
President Rhone opened the meeting and announced an Executive Session with the Depositions Committee to discuss legal matters.
Immediately following, the meeting was re-opened and a report titled “Shadigee Creek Wall Project” was read and repeating in part is the following: (Full copy with exhibits are attached to the minutes).
The Shadigee Creek Wall was damaged in the flood of January 1996 and the minutes of that time indicated it was repaired.
September 2004 Hurricane Ivan damaged a large portion of the wall. A Penn dot letter states “that the retaining wall is located on private property.” Also, a letter from Wayne Conservation at that time stated “funding is available for stream repair where the stream is an eminent threat to a primary residence, the Borough’s responsibility is to act as the project sponsor.” (Gurske transcript)
In May 2005 Councilman Paul Everett reports Starrucca Borough has been included as a Federal Emergency for Municipal claims only.
June 2005 minutes reflect Renee B. Warden’s deed was presented indicating ownership to the center of the creek with no exception for the wall. The July minutes show Councilman Paul Everett was present when the June minutes were read and approved. The Designation of Agent Resolution (Nov. 4, 04) signed by Paul Everett as the applicant’s agent, certifies that all costs claimed under this application for actual costs incurred by the applicant in performance of authorized work as defined in the eligibility criteria established by FEMA.
FEMA guidelines (page 52) - FEMA cannot provide public assistance funds for the permanent repair of flood control works. This restriction applies even if funding is not available from other agencies. Paul Everett sent an e-mail (Oct 8, 05) to Borough Solicitor Mike Lehutsky stating that FEMA cannot give money for municipal projects if the property owner is financially responsible. (Above from Everett transcript).
Paul Everett testified under oath (July 23, 07) that the wall project was funded with NRCS and DEP. He testified that the Shadigee Creek Wall was on Renee B. Warden’s property, which is private property, also that Evan Jenkins (PEMA/FEMA) stated more than once “we will not fund something that is on private property.” He testified these conversations were had November and December 2004 and January and February 2005, before the 2005 flood. Further he testified the Compliance Order issued by DEP (April 4, 07), that the owner was responsible for maintaining the wall to remove T-wall sections that had collapsed into the Shadigee creek occurring in 2004 and 2005. (Paul Everett transcript).
A letter from Borough Solicitor Alfred G. Howell to the Borough states: pursuant to Renee B. Warden’s deed recorded at Wayne County (book 2116 page 149) that the Shadigee Creek Wall is owned by Renee B. Warden (letter was copied to Mark R. Zimmer attorney for Warden and Mr. and Mrs. L. Gurske). An e-mail from Chris Kulich (DEP May 5, 08) stating that Starrucca Borough no longer has responsibility for collapsed panels or future collapses of T-wall sections. A FEMA/ PEMA letter (September 6, 06) to the Borough states, “the wall is privately owned and FEMA must deobligate the funding.”
Conclusion: The Shadigee Creek Wall needs to be funded only with eligible funding and all legal steps and procedures followed.
The motion to accept and approve the report as read, and have the same recorded with the Office of the Wayne County Prothonotary, carried.
The motion to set the reorganizational meeting of the Board on Monday, January 4, at 7:00 p.m., at the Community Hall, carried.
Mr. Palonis made the following statement to explain the votes he made concerning the Shadigee Creek Wall project, including the issue with Ken Rauch Excavating concerning the construction. His main concern, was to prevent possible FEMA fraud, and based on a lot of the information contained in this Report.
In Public Comment:
Mr. Jack Downton asked why the report was going to be sent to the Prothonotary and Mr. Rhone answered public record. Mr. Downton then asked if Council contacted FEMA or FEMA contacted Council to deobligate the money. This was answered FEMA contacted the Borough, and the letter of September 6, 2006 included in the report, which was just read, was referred to.
No further business to come before the board, the motion to adjourn carried.
The Mountain View School District reorganization meeting was not covered, not due to any slight on the part of this newspaper, but due rather to the legislative imperative which mandates that such meetings occur in the first weeks of December, causing multiple conflicts. This reporter would like to formally apologize if any such slight was perceived, and assure those involved that it was not intended to be so. Mrs. Dava Rinhart-Cowan was apparently added to the board rolls at that meeting, bringing the number of recently added board members to three. (Dr. Todd L. Adams and Mrs. Gina Yarrish are the other two.)
At the December 21 school board meeting business resumed as usual, despite the membership alterations. The Taxpayer Relief Act resolution was approved, the district stating that it will not raise taxes above the state index of 3.9%, or 1.268 mills. Currently, the value is set at 32.5 mills.
Students at Mountain View may soon have the potential to study Arabic, mandarin Chinese, German, and Russian, through the Language Institute Pilot Program under VLINC. The program, which is offering the district six free seats in the spring as a kickoff incentive, utilizes online learning and relatively local instructors (from Pennsylvania, not necessarily this area). Half of each course is pursued in a synchronous format, with the instructor and other students participating at the same time. The other half is devoted to independent work.
The problem of the slippery gym floor was addressed. The last time the floor had been worked on seriously, the district had opted to put on a coating which was not only less expensive, but termed more environmentally friendly. This finish has not held up very well, however, leading to a slick and potentially hazardous surface. This issue was addressed, and potential solutions, to include reverting to the finish used in the past, were discussed.
It was asked whether or not the board had an official viewpoint on the vo-tech expansion. Dr. Chichura explained the expansion to the new board members, and explained that when the board had reviewed the matter 6-8 months prior it had had no official viewpoint. Not having a say in the project one way or the other, the board declined to take a stand that evening either, though it was stated the district would continue sending its students to the center and pay the tuition each year. Dr. Chichura did say that he knew that there was in increasing need for technical education, and that he, personally felt the proposed expansion in up to date areas would enhance student selection and education, though he didn't know enough to state anything officially.
Mr. Doster proposed an alteration in the criteria for students participating in the vo-tech program, feeling that there was a deficiency in this area. The new criteria would cover five areas to include: transportation, academics, attendance, and behavior. With the amount of money spent to send the students to vo-tech, it was felt to be a problem that students were failing at Mountain View and still attending vo-tech. One large area in which this had been occurring was that of graduation projects. Room would be made in the policy change for administrative discretion. Penalties for violation could include not being allowed to attend vo-tech, and students would need to be in good standing academically to even enroll in the other school. Mrs. Yarrish asked if the vo-tech programs would be alright with the students missing days of their instruction there. Mr. Doster answered that both programs had been spoken with, and were willing to work with Mountain View. In the past, Mountain View had let its students skip vo-tech for pep rallies and other activities, and would compromise by cutting down on this. There was some discussion then, as to the technicalities of this, and if a student had to be taken out of vo-tech if the money could be recovered. This is something which would need to be further investigated, it was stated. It was mentioned that some kids would not be in school if they were not allowed to attend the vo-tech program. Mr. Doster said that the school was not looking to yank the rug out under kids, but time would be given for remediation of problems. It would be a process. He had a problem, he said, with kids doing nothing at their home school, he said, sometimes failing with grades in the twenties. There had also been a serious discipline history with some of the vo-tech students.
Mr. Doster also broached the matter of academic eligibility and sports. The current policy stated that students could not fail more than two subjects. A proposed policy change would state that the students must be passing at least four core subjects or their equivalents, which is the PIAA minimum stipulation. Mr. Doster recommended that the board keep the eligibility requirements the same, that students could not fail more than two regardless of what they were.
The H1N1 vaccine, it was said, had arrived. A clinic was scheduled for January 9, between 10 and 1 p.m. Parents had been surveyed, and approximately 800 students were pre-registered to receive the vaccine. Over 20 volunteers, and 10 additional nurses were slated to help dispense the vaccine. Someone asked if staff would also receive it; and it was answered that they could if there was extra, now that enough vaccine existed that some of the restrictions had been removed. It would depend, it was said, on how many students showed up on the day. Some had already received the vaccine through other avenues. The district received both types of vaccine, though the primary form would be the injectable vaccine. The drugs themselves had been carefully managed to avoid a change in temperature, and were to be stored at the Lenox medical facility over the holidays. All of them, it was said, fit in a space only about as large as three shoe-boxes. The question of immuno-compromised children being around those receiving the live vaccine was raised, and though the board did not know if this situation would exist in the district it was thought that the nurses would.
The district had received 60 computers, donated by the Tobyhanna Army Depot at no cost. Its gratitude for this act was expressed publicly, and this was part of the reasoning behind the creation of a temporary technology position which was approved during the evening, though not unanimously.
It was said that the elementary holiday program had been a great event, and been so well attended it was standing room only. Mrs. Pippitone reported this, though she had not been in attendance. She then proceeded to explain why she had been away. The school would be interested in applying, it was said, to the Science, It's Elementary program. This grant would provide the school with professional development and hands on equipment, and would cover mileage, training, substitutes, etc. It would give classrooms science kits that contained consumable and durable materials. Each grade would study a different topic, and enough materials would be included for the kids themselves to participate in the experiments. For example, kindergarten students would be allowed to stain fabric and then try to get it out. The program is multidisciplinary, including a writing component with a science notebook. At the end of the year, the kits are returned and replenished. After three years the district could look at renting the kits, or buying them, though the latter would require that the school be responsible then for the kit maintenance.
Several items of note were mentioned at the secondary level. Duane Galumbos and Joseph Valentine had been inducted into the national technical honor society at the SCCTC. A brief ceremony had been held to honor Jan Price, with a citation from the House of Representatives being presented by Mr. Doster. She was called one of the “winningest” coaches. Ridge Bernosky was the winner of the fight song contest, penning lyrics to the tune chosen by the music department. He was to receive a $50 gift certificate to Borders and would have his varsity letter jacket purchased for him. A video was played for the board and administration of the chorus singing the song. Chesty, the new mascot, had been unveiled at a pep rally, with the eagle emerging from a large paper mache' egg. The old chesty had been retired with a walker, though it was thought that he would be cleaned and then perhaps mounted in a shadowbox display. That same pep rally had included a students versus faculty basketball game.
Mrs. Voigt discussed a visit the Title 1 and Reading Recovery programs had received. As part of the Reading Recovery program a behind the glass classroom would be required. This room was supposed to be located in IU 18, but it hadn't been begun, so it was said that if this did not occur Mountain View would be approved as the site. A representative of the Smithsonian Institute had shown interest in speaking with Mr. Barbolish, Mrs. Kile, and Mrs. Aten about their culture shock program, and the potential for its use at the national level.
Ryan J. Cosklo to Ronald J. and Gail A. Cosklo, in Clifford Township for $20,000.00.
Clayton H. and Elizabeth H. Swartz to Pennsylvania Commonwealth of Susquehanna County, in Jessup Township for $109,832.97.
Lawrence M. Grasso (revoc living trust by trustee) to Oakland Borough, in Oakland Borough for $4,700.00.
Susquehanna County Hosing and Development Corporation to Hallstead Elderly, Inc., in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Hugh D. and Geraldine Beck to Andrew D. and Nan Beth Wallace, in Jackson Township for $200,000.00.
Scott J. and Tara L. Vogler to Alfred A. and Denise Hampton, in Susquehanna for $125,000.00.
Mary Bronchella (by atty) to Misty R. Bennett, in Forest City for $57,240.00.
Joseph and Phyllis Honigmann to Family Land Resources, Inc. and Luciano G. Fasullo, in New Milford Township for $45,000.00.
IAMAW Local Lodge No. 1653 (NBM) South Montrose Lodge Local 923 IAMAW to Richard Davis, in Bridgewater Township for $40,000.00.
Camp Comfort, Inc. to Montrose Hunting Camp, in Middletown Township for $4,680.00.
George R. and Dorothy A. (AKA) Dorothy H. (by atty) Smith to Dorothy Lutz, Tracy Millard and Roderic Smith, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Ramona M. and Robert E. Auchinachie to D. Mark and Christine L. MacGargle, in Silver Lake Township for $260,000.00.
Peoples National Bank to Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority, in Susquehanna for $20,000.00.
Teresa K. Shea, Joseph J. (AKA) Joseph (by atty) and Helen Lashinski to James R. and Mary M. Klock, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Mary A. Snyder (estate) and Barbara Klein to John S., III and Wendy S. Pepkowski, in Susquehanna for $26,000.00.
Helen Elaine Heed (by POA) to Rebecca J. Stone, in New Milford Borough for $55,000.00.
Thomas A. and Vivian Rutherford to Pamela Schleif, Thomas W., Thomas A. and Vivian Rutherford and Mallory Phelam, in Harford Township for one dollar.
John T. and Katherine Race to Jacqueline Denike, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Frank E. Slater to Frank E. and Sheri L. Slater, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Eliza J. Dungey of Springville vs. Philip Boardman of Prot Leyden, NY, married 2005.
Clint J. Long of Montrose vs. Hilary B. Long of Jenkintown, PA, married 2007.
Katherine A. McLaughlin of Harford vs. Neil John McLaughlin of Ocean City, MD, married 1981.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of December 24, 2009 at 9:40 a.m.
Antonio L. Alcantara, Duane Aldrich, David P. Atherholt, Jr., Erika L. Back, William D. Barton, Keith B. Beach, Neeko A. Beahan, Harold R. Bensley, David Shawn Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Howard A. Burns, III, Robert B. Carrier, Beverly A. Carvin, Darryl M. Chaffee, Christopher J. Clark, Edward J. Dickson, Jr., Deborah L. Drish, Christina Elmy, David J. Fischer, Ryan M. Forder, Kelly Fox, Racheal L. Frisbie, Deborah E. Gould, George Graham, David Haines, Jr., John J. Hall, Suzanne R. Hansen, Amanda L. Henderickson, William N. Hendrickson, Kenneth M. Kintner, Erik E. Krisovitch, Lee Labor, Joshua Lee, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Jason Lindquist, Eric Lynn, Patricia J. Marrero, Bradley W. Megivern, Joseph Mershon, Kimberly L. Mershon, David N. Miller, Joseph C. Moore, Robert A. Muzzy, Shane Nelson, Anthony Neri, Benjamin Newell, Jesse R. Rhinebeck, Jr., Ryan A. Rhoads, Timothy W. Rogers, Robert A. Ryman, David J. Shiner, Richard D. Shoemaker, Darin Sink, Duane Spencer, Donald Louis Stocks, Garrett M. Thomas, Keith W. Vroman, John Wansacz, Jr., Donald L. Welch, Jamie L. Williams, Roderic R. Williams, Kenneth L. Wilmot, Jr., Patrick L. Yachymiak, Karl David Zantowsky.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners announced on Wednesday, December 23, that there will be no tax increase for the county for 2010. According to discussion at that meeting, several areas have cut expenses and belts were tightened throughout county offices and services.
The millage for 2010 is 11.5 mills for Federal Real Estate Tax for the General Fund, 1.01 mills for Debt Service, and .33 mills for the Library Fund. Total millage for real estate is 12.84.
In other business, three people were re-appointed to the Growing Greener II Advisory Committee for a two-year term, which begins January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2011. Brian Driscoll, Jim Garner and Bobbi Jo Turner were all reappointed, while Bill Stewart was appointed for the first time.
Mr. Joseph Matis was reappointed as the Housing Authority Director for a five-year term beginning January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2014, as per the Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors.
Commissioners signed an Emergency Generator Set Planned Maintenance Agreement between Susquehanna County and Penn Power Systems in the amount of $1,655.00 for inspection and preventative maintenance on the following generators: Jailhouse/Courthouse/Fairgrounds/Lower Office Building/Pig Pen Alley/ Friendsville Tower, and emergency repair service at rates between $93.00 per hour and $186.00 per hour depending on day and time of occurrence.
Commissioners also signed a Community Block Development Block Grant, Contract Number C000046525, between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development and Susquehanna County, in the amount of $288,102.00 for the term October 2, 2009 through October 1, 2014. The projects included in this grant are: Hop Bottom Borough handicap bathroom, Middletown Township handicap bathroom, Gibson Township handicap bathroom, the demolition of a vacant home in Thompson Borough, storm sewer work on Dundaff Street in Forest City and $25,000 toward the demolition of a building in Susquehanna. Susquehanna County Housing and Redevelopment Authority are administering this grant. Bobbi Jo Turner is the Grants Administrator for the Housing Authority.
Commissioners also signed another maintenance agreement with Gazette Communications for repairs and routine maintenance of telephones in the Recycling Center for an annual fee of $144.00 for the period December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2010.
Magisterial District Judge Suzanne Brainard hired Kelly S. Feduchak, Kingsley, to the open full-time position of clerk-typist in the District Court 34-3-03, in Clifford at the rate of $7.87 per hour with 32.5 hours weekly and a six-month probation period, effective December 14, 2009. A Purchase of Service Agreement between Susquehanna County Services for Children and Youth and VisionQuest Standing Timbers Academy, Gouldsboro, effective November 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010, inclusive for the following programs only: Shelter and Short Term Residential Services, Certificate of Compliance 221040, per diem $198.00 and IV-E allowable $193.04.
Commissioners also signed a contract with McFarland Johnson, Binghamton, NY, for professional engineering services by submitting reports evaluating the numerous different heating and air conditioning systems and providing recommendations for improvements in the courthouse, the attached annex and the Warner Building. The contract amount is $8,900.00.
These reports are to comply with the $100,000, ARRA grant the County has been awarded.
A 1988 Chevrolet Astro Van is being posted "For Sale" for a period of 10 days, with bids being submitted to the Chief Clerk’s Office and then the vehicle will be sold to the highest bidder.
The Susquehanna County Commissioners’ meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 9 a.m. promptly
Hallstead Borough Council met on Monday, December 21 to adopt the 2010 budget, in the amount of $214,869.00. A motion also passed to approve the corresponding ordinance that will raise the real estate tax millage to 6.78. A final vote will be taken on the ordinance at the regular January meeting.
There was a discussion about outdoor wood-burning furnaces, as there have been complaints about neighbors having to deal with the resulting smoke and fumes. It was noted that most stove manufacturers recommend that they not be installed in close proximity to neighboring homes. And, according to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the state is in the process of enacting regulations that will include requirements for chimney height and distance from neighboring homes. It was agreed to wait for the time being and see what happens with the state law rather than the boro enacting an ordinance.
Correspondence reviewed included the minutes of the Hallstead Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority minutes.
Council will meet briefly for their reorganization on Monday, January 4 at 7 p.m., and their regular meeting will be on Thursday, January 21 at 7 p.m.
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