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Issue Home March 3, 2010 Site Home

USDA Offers Home Mortgages
Youth Participate In Holstein Convention
County Retirement Plan Sees Increase
PNB Contributes To Local Education
The Silent Killer
Community Foundation Welcomes New Members
County FSA Announces New Executive Director
Pickett, Major Announce Grant Funding In County
Protect Your Family From Lead Exposure

USDA May Help With Home Repairs

USDA Offers Home Mortgages

Tunkhannock - Rural Development, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), offers a subsidized government program designed to assist low income, credit worthy families and individuals in purchasing existing or building new homes in rural areas.

To qualify, applicants must be under the low-income limit for the county they would live in, have an acceptable credit history, and meet certain debt to income ratios. The current interest rate is 4.875% fixed (33 years), no down payment is required, and funds for repairs (and sometimes closing costs) can be included in the loan. The unique feature about Rural Development mortgages is that the payments can be subsidized, meaning that part of the monthly payment is paid by the government, based on the applicant’s circumstances.

The loan officer who serves this area is Beatrice Elliot. Call the Wyoming Area Office at (570) 836-4157 Ext 4 for more information. Beatrice can pre-qualify you over the telephone, if you supply her with your annual gross household income and monthly debt payments. Deductions to the annual gross income are made for the number of children in the household, child care expenses, and persons with disabilities.

Rural Development does not compete with other lenders. In fact, Rural Development will participate in a joint loan where another lender contributes part of the money as a first mortgage and Rural Development contributes the balance of funds as a second mortgage. If an applicant appears to qualify for a joint loan, they will be asked to apply for at least 20% of the loan with another lender.

USDA, Rural Development offers several housing programs and administers a water and wastewater financing program in rural areas, cities, and towns with populations less than 10,000. Other programs include technical assistance for community development; financial programs for community facilities such as fire trucks and day care centers; and loans and guarantees to rural businesses to save or create jobs. For more information on the programs offered by Rural Development, contact the Wyoming Area Office at (570) 836-4157 or visit their website at

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Youth Participate In Holstein Convention
Submitted By Michelle Kowalewski, Penn State Cooperative Extension in Susquehanna Co.

“Holsteins Now and Then in 2010” was the theme for the Pennsylvania Junior Holstein Convention held February 5-7 in Cannonsburg, PA. Over 300 people braved the two feet of snow that hit the Pittsburgh area during the weekend of Junior Holstein activities. Twelve Junior Holstein Association members from Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties participated in events during this year’s convention. These youth are also all involved in 4-H programs in Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties.

Sabrina Clark, Springville, and Luke Sherwood, Meshoppen, were recognized during the Junior All-Pennsylvania Awards dinner on Saturday evening during the convention. Sabrina’s four year old cow, Kozy Kountry Pop Stacey, received the Reserve Jr. All-Pennsylvania award for this age category. Luke received the Reserve Jr. All-Pennsylvania award with his senior two-year-old cow, Markwell-LB Goldwyn Donna-ET. The Junior All-Pennsylvania awards are given out based on an animal’s points earned at Pennsylvania Holstein Shows held during the 2009 show season.

Trevor Tompkins, Montrose, received a 30,000 pound production award recognition for his four- year-old cow, Evergreen MCT Mort Cordelia. Cordelia has produced 31,694 pounds of milk. Amos Lyon, Hallstead, received a Breeder of an Excellent Cow award for Lyon Farms Advent Susannah-Red. Amos’ cow Susannah is classified Excellent at 91 points.

Pictured above, members of the Susquehanna County Junior Quiz Bowl Team: Cassie Clark, Sharon Snyder, Callie Curley and Trevor Tompkins.

In the Dairy Quiz Bowl Competition two teams from Susquehanna County entered. In the Junior Division team were: Cassie Clark, Springville; Callie Curley, Montrose; Sharon Snyder, Greenfield Township; and Trevor Tompkins, Montrose. They vied against 15 teams from across the state. The Susquehanna County junior team competed to the semi-final round and finished third overall. The Senior Team from Susquehanna County consisted of: Morgan Williams-Clark, Montrose; Amos Lyon, Hallstead; Nate Oleniacz, Montrose; Chris Schuler, Montrose; Luke Sherwood, Meshoppen; and Jonathan Small, Montrose. The senior team competed to the semi-final round and finished third overall against twelve teams. The Dairy Quiz Bowl Teams are coached by Maureen Kane, Dr. Mike and Michelle Kowalewski, and Heidi Stephens-Pavelski.

Pictured above, members of the Susquehanna County Senior Quiz Bowl Team: front - Morgan Williams-Clark and Nate Oleniacz; back - Luke Sherwood, Chris Schuler, Amos Lyon and Jon Small.

Dairy Quiz Bowl is a team event in which youth must answer questions on dairy-related topics. Youth must be knowledgeable of subjects such as animal breeding, genetics, herd health, nutrition, record keeping and Holstein history. Dairy Quiz Bowl challenges youth to learn life skills as they prepare for the contest - critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving, communication skills, listening skills, speaking skills, and independent thinking.

Victoria Clark of Springville participated in the junior division folding display contest with a display on “How to Show a Dairy Heifer.” A collaborative group effort was put forth in the Banner Contest. Victoria Clark, Sabrina Clark, Cassie Clark, Morgan Williams-Clark, Sharon Snyder, and Callie Curley put their ideas together to come up with a catchy theme “PA Jr. Holstein Activities - A Perfect 10 in 2010!” for their banner. Also, Austin Graham, Montrose, entered two photographs in the photography contest.

The Susquehanna County Juniors are coming together to organize a formal Susquehanna County Junior Holstein Club. All youth under the age of 21 are invited to participate, the only requirement is that you must be a junior member of Holstein Association USA. Youth outside of Susquehanna County are also eligible to participate. Their first meeting will be held Sunday, March 7 at 1:00 p.m. at the County Office Building in Montrose. For more information about the Susquehanna County Junior Holstein Club, contact Kim Clark at 570-965-2519 or Michelle Kowalewski at 570-278-1158. Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Michelle Kowalewski at 570-278-1158 in advance of your participation or visit.

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County Retirement Plan Sees Increase

On Wednesday, February 24 the Susquehanna County Retirement Board met with their consultants from The Seneca Group of Graystone Consulting. For the full year of 2009 the plan rose over 16.5% net of fees, an increase of over $1.5 million. Capturing a large percentage of last years market recovery while maintaining a conservative allocation with high quality holdings met with the objectives of protecting the county’s portfolio. The retirement board continues to believe a conservative posture with the taxpayers’ money is the most prudent move in light of the uncertainties and risks in the current market. This focus on principal preservation helped the fund fall less that the markets during the weakness seen so far in 2010. The Seneca Group reiterated their concerns as the markets continue to deal with the repercussions of the credit bubble bursting. They recommended capitalizing on the opportunity set represented by higher yielding stocks through a change from relative value exposure, which was ahead of its benchmark for the last three years, to a high dividend strategy which was out of favor in 2009. They also recommended a conservative equity mutual fund to invest the cash from the county’s contribution in December to bring the fund back within investment policy guidelines.

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PNB Contributes To Local Education

For the seventh consecutive year, Peoples National Bank has made generous contributions to the pre-school and K-12 Scholarship Programs administered by The Community Foundation of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) gives businesses corporate tax credits for donations to support scholarships for low to moderate income families to assist with preschool through high school tuition and to support public school improvement projects.

“EITC allows the bank to bring our state tax dollars back to be spent on education in our local communities,” explains Deb Dissinger, Executive Vice President of Peoples National Bank. “Improving education brings us another step closer to a better future in our corner of Pennsylvania.”

Pictured (l-r) above: Community President Peter Quigg and Peoples National Bank President and CEO Alan Dakey.

The scholarship programs supported by companies like Peoples National Bank are helping struggling parents provide opportunities for their children through tuition assistance for pre-school education, elementary and high school private schools, career and technology education, dual-enrollment in college courses while in high school, and other educational programs. Peoples donated over $16,000 to the foundation’s pre-kindergarten scholarship program and $24,000 to the kindergarten through 12th grade scholarship program.

The bank has also generously provided $27,000for an Educational Improvement Project, which this year is helping Susquehanna Community School District upgrade its Industrial Technology Program by providing funding to implement the engineering and design curriculum known as Project Lead the Way.

Peoples National Bank has by far been the most substantial supporter of these scholarships and public school projects, with these recent donations bringing the bank’s total level of funding above $500,000, thus helping The Community Foundation provide over 1,000 scholarships to local children and their families. In previous years the bank also provided funding to renovate the Computer Lab at the Montrose Area High School.Peter Quigg, President ofThe Community Foundation, states, “Peoples National Bank has provided tremendous support for these scholarships and for projects in our local schools. This ongoing assistance illustrates the interest and concern the bank’s directors and administrators have for our communities, and their assistance is appreciated very much.”

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The Silent Killer

Each year, nearly 5,000 people in the United States are treated in hospital emergency rooms for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This number is, however, believed to be an underestimate of those poisoned because many people exhibiting the symptoms of CO poisoning mistake these symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed.

Why is CO the silent cold weather killer?

CO is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with gas, oil, kerosene, or wood may produce CO. If such appliances are not installed, maintained, and used properly, CO may accumulate to dangerous and even fatal levels in cars, homes, or poorly ventilated areas.

CO poisoning can kill without warning as your family sleeps. Because CO gas has no odor-warning properties even at toxic or life threatening levels, it is considered a silent killer. And, since so many deaths occur as the result of defective or poorly operated home heating devices, CO has been termed the "silent, cold weather killer."

Where Does CO come from?

CO is produced by products that burn fuels. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source. Electrical heaters and electric water heaters, toasters, etc., do not produce CO because they don't involve combustion of fuels. Under normal circumstances, CO levels in the typical home or workplace should not be above levels found outdoors.

When appliances are kept in good working condition and are properly vented, they produce little CO. Improper installation, operation, or poorly vented appliances can produce elevated - or even fatal - CO concentrations in your home. Likewise, using kerosene heaters or charcoal grills indoors or running a car in a garage can cause levels high enough to result in CO poisoning.

Common sources of CO include the following: room heaters (not radiant or electric), furnaces, charcoal grills, cooking ranges (not electric), water heaters (not electric), automobiles run in closed garages, fireplaces, portable generators and wood-burning stoves.

Who is at risk of CO poisoning?

Any person or animal in a space shared with a device capable of generating CO should be considered at risk of CO poisoning. CO exposures especially affect unborn babies, infants, and people with anemia or a history of heart disease. Breathing low levels of the chemical can cause fatigue and increase chest pain in people with chronic heart disease.

Although not always experienced, the initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, but without the fever. They include: dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea and irregular breathing.

It is critical to note that death from CO poisoning can occur quickly or when sleeping, with some or all of these symptoms never being experienced, in which case, the overexposed victim becomes unconscious and never regains consciousness.

How can CO poisoning be prevented?

Dangerous levels of CO can be prevented by proper appliance installation, maintenance, and use. Periodic inspections of potentially CO-producing equipment, and the use of CO alarms, are also key to avoiding a CO fatality.

You can learn more about industrial hygiene and protecting yourself from CO poisoning by visiting A consultants listing of industrial hygienists that includes specialists in CO poisoning is available on the site.

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Community Foundation Welcomes New Members

The Board of Directors of The Community Foundation of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties welcomed three new members at its January 14 meeting. Sandra Boyle, Karl Kail IV and Robert McNamara were elected unanimously to a two-year term. Also, four current members were reelected to two-year terms as well.

Boyle, who practices law in Nicholson, lives in Tunkhannock and graduated from Elk Lake High School, attended Marywood University and graduated from Villanova Law School. She is a board member of the Countryside Conservancy and is the President of the Wyoming County United Way. She also served as solicitor for several agencies and local government departments.

“I have for sometime been interested in the endeavors of the Community Foundation. That it is doing so well is a testament to its founders. In addition to my family and my work as an attorney, I am interested in the welfare of children and the environment. I believe those interests to be in tune with the work of the foundation,” Boyle explained.

“Our region is on the brink of tremendous growth and change. One of the areas that will experience this growth and change is charitable giving. I consider it a great privilege to be part of the Community Foundation at this time. I have attended two board meetings so far and the Foundation looks to be more than prepared for this exciting journey.”

Kail grew up at Heart Lake and has recently returned home after many years on the West Coast. He obtained his BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado and a MS and Engineering Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. After retiring from Naval Aviation, Kail worked in the defense industry and founded CardioNet, and ambulatory cardiac monitoring company. Kail and his wife returned to the area having missed the sense of close-knit community and hoping to enjoy semi-retirement. Kail is now involved in local real estate development.

“I learned about the Foundation a few years ago and was impressed with its objectives. Our family feels strongly about helping the community we live in and when offered an opportunity to join, I felt it was a great way to contribute,” Kail said.

McNamara is most widely known from his time as Principal at Susquehanna Community School District and Superintendent of the Blue Ridge School District. He is a graduate of Laurel Hill Academy of Susquehanna, Marywood University and Mansfield University. He also served in the Army, retiring in 2001 as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 154th Quatermaster Battalion. He is the President of NEPA Community Health Center, a member of the Susquehanna County Railroad Authority, and serves as a mentor for the Pennsylvania Leadership Initiative. He’s a former Chairman of the Delahanna District, Baden-Powell Council, Boy Scouts of America.

“I am very pleased to have been invited to serve,” McNamara said, “because I have seen the good work that the foundation has done and I hope to be able to continue to support that effort.”

Current Board Members whose terms were renewed are Maggie Cartwright, Richard Lochen, Rep. Sandra Major, and Arthur Sherwood. Officers for 2010 are Earle Wootton, Chairman, William Lewis, Vice Chairman, Peter Quigg, President, Arthur Sherwood, Treasurer, and Maggie Cartwright, Secretary.

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County FSA Announces New Executive Director

Acting County Executive Director for Susquehanna County Farm Service Agency (FSA), Kelly E. Sundy, is pleased to announce that Jason Pontillo has been named as the County Executive Director of the Susquehanna and Wyoming/Sullivan FSA offices. Jason began his appointment on February 16.

Jason (pictured above) has relocated from Westmoreland County in southwestern Pennsylvania and is a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University. He received a degree in Agri-Business Management with a specialty in Animal Science. Jason began his career with the Farm Service Agency as a Program Technician in the Washington and Greene County FSA office. Due to his previous FSA experience, he has extensive knowledge in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) . He recently completed FSA’s County Operations Trainee Program, in which he had the opportunity to train at various locations throughout Pennsylvania. Jason has also attended management and leadership courses in preparation for this role. He possesses a great deal of agricultural knowledge and experience resulting from previous employment on farms throughout Pennsylvania.

Join the agency in welcoming new Executive Director Jason Pontillo. He will be an asset to the organization and has a unique background that will enable program participants to better utilize programs that the agency currently has available. An open house is being planned for Tuesday, March 16, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m at the Susquehanna County FSA Office, Montrose. All are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to attend and introduce Jason to your farming operation.

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Pickett, Major Announce Grant Funding In County

HARRISBURG - Reps. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) and Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) said today that nearly $180,000 in state grant funds will benefit Susquehanna County, thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recycling grant program.

"Ensuring that products are reused instead of thrown away not only reduces the amount of trash accumulated in our state's landfills but contributes to a growing recycling industry," Pickett said. "Recycling in Pennsylvania continues to grow and creates many jobs and business opportunities in terms of collecting recycled goods to finding new ways to use the products."

Forest City Borough will receive $132,474 for its curbside recycling program and the county will receive $46,052 for its recycling center.

"As more of our natural resources are diminishing, it is becoming even more important to recycle," said Major. "This funding will go a long way toward providing the borough and the county with the necessary means to continue, and even expand, already successfully proven programs that capitalize on community recycling efforts."

Priorities for funding this year included inventive-based programs, alternative fuel vehicles, multi-government projects, and new fiber collection and processing programs.

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Protect Your Family From Lead Exposure

Des Plaines, Illinois, - The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is making homeowners aware of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that will take effect April 22, requiring remodelers working in homes built before 1978 to follow practices designed to minimize the exposure of residents to lead hazards.

“Lead is harmful to both children and adults. In children, a tiny amount of exposure can lead to neurological damage, and in adults, lead inhalation can lead to hypertension, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and nausea among other symptoms,” says Bob Boothroyd, owner of The Boothroyd Group and an EPA Certified Renovator in Connecticut.

The EPA is calling for all remodelers who intend to work in pre-1978 homes to register their company and complete an 8-hour training and certification course with an accredited trainer. The course teaches remodelers how to safely contain lead in a home as it is being disturbed and reduce exposure to residents and workers.

NARI wants homeowners to know how to protect themselves from harmful lead exposure during renovations. If you know your home was built before 1978 and your renovation will disturb painted surfaces you will have to hire an EPA Certified Firm.

“Consider it a red flag if a remodeler doesn’t mention lead if you live in an older home. Even though the law is not in effect until April, they still need to make homeowners aware of lead exposure,” Boothroyd says. He adds that current law requires that renovators give homeowners an EPA brochure called “Renovate Right,” which includes facts about lead and lead safety in the home and have it signed to signal that homeowners have been properly notified of the dangers.

If owners of a pre-1978 home decide to remodel, it is important to assume lead is present unless testing is done to identify exactly where the lead is by using a lead test. The following three main areas of safe work practices recognized by the EPA can be used to help homeowners start the lead conversation:

Containing the work area so that dust and debris does not escape, complete with warning signs, heavy-duty plastic and tape.

Minimizing the dust by using methods such as misting water on areas before sanding or scraping.

Cleaning up thoroughly on a daily basis using special cleaning methods such as using a HEPA vacuum and wet mopping with plenty of rinse water.

Certified firms are obligated to prove the certification by displaying their training certificate to homeowners and on the jobsite. Note that states are able to create more stringent criteria in addition to the EPA’s criteria, and the certificate should reflect the state in which the work is being completed.

The EPA also recommends that homeowners have the remodelers specify what the final lead inspection entails. If a homeowner has any doubts about the quality of lead safe practices being conducted in their homes, call 1-800-424-LEAD.

NARI can connect you with remodel-ready contractors who will take care of the entire remodeling process. Find a NARI member on For green remodeling information, please visit

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USDA May Help With Home Repairs

Are you tired of high heating bills and feel a new furnace or added insulation to your home is needed? Is your roof in need of repair or replacement? If so, USDA Rural Development may be able to help.

Rural Development has a program available to assist homeowners with repairs to their dwellings. Many households in the Susquehanna County area have benefited with this assistance. In addition to the above noted repairs, other items that can benefit are window replacement, siding replacement, sanitary water and waste (disposal systems), update wiring systems, wheelchair ramps, and making bathrooms more accessible to persons with disabilities, along with a variety of other renovations.

For families to be eligible for this assistance, they must meet the very low income limits, own their own home, be unable to obtain the requested assistance through other sources, have adequate repayment ability, have acceptable credit and have the legal capacity to incur debt.

The loans made to individuals are at a 1 percent interest rate with the maximum amount you can borrow being $20,000. The repayment term cannot exceed 20 years.

Anyone seeking more information on this program may contact the Wyoming Area Office at One Hollowcrest Complex, Tunkhannock, PA 18657, 570-836-4157 Ext. 4, or e-mail Beatrice Elliot, Rural Development Specialist at or visit USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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