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Issue Home March 24, 2010 Site Home

Going... Going... Almost Gone!
SCSD Super Very Concerned
Courthouse Report
Hallstead Says No To Tests
Susky Gets Funding Update
New Milford To Sign Lease
Rampant Rumors Rile ELSD


Going... Going... Almost Gone!

This building on East Main Street, Susquehanna had been on the demolition chopping block for quite some time, but once the Borough procured the proper funding this (dangerous) eye sore will soon become a much needed parking area for this section of town.

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SCSD Super Very Concerned

There were two topics of great concern at the March 17 meeting of the Susquehanna Community School Board.

The first has been discussed at length at the last several meetings, the district’s contribution to the PA School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). PSERS is funded through contributions from active employees, school districts, and the state. Currently, the district is paying a 5% (of payroll) contribution, but with the dismal financial market of late, the projected contribution for the 2010-2013 school year is at 28%. The governor has proposed that school districts’ contributions be kept at a more gradual increase over the next three years, at only 1% for the current year and no more than 3% thereafter, but the rate has already been set by PSERS. The district has been building up its fund balance to offset the drastic increase in payments, which at this point looks to be inevitable. Superintendent Bronson Stone has been maintaining a blog on the district’s website on this subject, but as there has been a lack of interest on the part of the taxpayers, he plans to change to a new topic this week.

The proposed state budget doesn’t look any more hopeful than the PSERS situation; as it stands, there will be no increases in funding for special education, and only a two percent increase in basic education funding, the lowest to any district in the entire state.

One visitor at the meeting was present to introduce himself. Geoff Wood, who is the NE PA representative from the federal Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General, has been visiting with districts in the area to explain what his department does - they investigate allegations of fraud, waste or abuse of funding, particularly funding received through the federal stimulus program. Districts are required to report any such incidents, and any tips, whether they be from districts or employees are investigated. Their function is to protect taxpayers’ dollars, and they work closely with local law agencies.

In other business, Superintendent Stone was pleased to announce that a donation of $500 has been made by Dean Lewis for the Hooked on Fishing program, which provides lessons, a fishing pole, a tackle box and a tee-shirt to participating students, and culminates in a picnic at Camp Wayne. Those who have taken part all said that it is a worthwhile experience for students and adults alike.

Plans are underway to change the district’s yearbook, as there have been declining sales over the last few years. One of the changes will be to keep it affordable.

PSSA testing will be conducted during the month of April. Grades 3-8 and 11 will be tested in reading and math on April 7, 8, 13 and 14 and grades 5, 8 and 11 on April 20 and 21; and grades 4, 8 and 11 will be tested in science on April 27 and 28.

A group of students took part in a computer fair at Keystone College, with several placing first and going on to state competition.

Registration has been held for the pre-kindergarten program, with 63 enrolled in the K-5 and 43 in the K-4.

The district education association is planning to increase the scholarships they award to seniors, with $1,000 to go to a student planning to continue in the field of education, and two additional $500 scholarships to students not going into the education field.

Other items approved by the board are as follows:

- Exoneration of the tax collectors from collection of unpaid school taxes for the year 2009.

- The proposed 2010-11 NEIU #19 budget of $939,036; the district contribution is $10,709.61.

- The school calendar for the 2010-11 school year.

- Transportation contracts for the 2009-10 school year.

- The 2010-11 Blended Schools “user band” form; this allows users to store information off campus, rather than in the school computer system.

- Permission for the superintendent to solicit quotes for new carpeting for three high school classrooms.

- Sponsorship of a night football game, tentatively set for October 1 against Carbondale.

- A homebound request for a third grade student.

- Permission for the Parent Involvement Committee to use elementary photos for the creation of an elementary yearbook, which will be distributed free of charge to all elementary students.

- The intent to retire at the end of the 2009-10 school year from Ann Marie Leber, elementary teacher.

- Additions to the substitute list: Edward Judge, Shane Decker, Justin Marbaker and Vicki Cain.

- Additions to the substitute bus driver list, Chris Herbert and Daman Sisler.

- School play volunteer, Mike Marino.

- The resignations of Randi Lightcap, junior high softball co-coach, effective immediately and Jime Grabowski, yearbook, effective at the end of the school year.

- Hiring for three positions, high school after school tutor (substitute), junior high softball co-coach, and substitute track game manager.

- RBC Capital Markets Corp. for completion and submittal of Plancon Part K - Project Refinancing, to the state Department of Education for their approval.

- Football volunteer Ed Snee (brother of NY Giants’ Chris Snee).

- The customary list of activities and fundraisers.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, April 21, 7:00 p.m. in the administration offices in the elementary building.

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Courthouse Report
Compiled By Lauren Price Ficarro


Donna L. Cramer (estate) to Ricky James, Donald Lee, William David and Robert, Jr. Cramer, in New Milford Township for one dollar.

Lena M. Valada to James D. and Lisa M. Baileys, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.

Thomas T. and Sherri L. Shanley to Daniel W. Welsh, in Susquehanna for $79,500.00.

Margaret Elizabeth (AKA) Margaret E. Striley (estate) to Ferol B. Yarrington, Harry, Barbara and Seth Striley, in Choconut Township for one dollar.

Jonathan R. and Rebecca W. Moldover to David Sloan and Anne B. Wilson, in Middletown Township for one dollar.

David L. Wallace to Jason and Melissa Scott, in Liberty Township for $63,000.00.

Bonnie Lee Read to Kaye E. Holtsmaster, in Herrick and Gibson Townships for one dollar.

Nancy P. Hanna to Charles W. Jaget, in Gibson Township for $92,000.00.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (by POA) to Peter Zaccone, in Auburn Township for $36,500.00.

Mooring Capital Fund LLC to Terrace Hill Ventures LLC, in Bridgewater Township for $860,000.00.

Cheri J. Decker to Drew K. Decker, in Franklin Township for $20,000.00.

Janet M. Denney to Myron Denney, III, in Lanesboro Borough for one dollar.

Eathel Jane Bennett and Eathel B. Cafferty (estate) to Eathel Jane and David Bennett, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.

Eathel Jane and David Bennett to Eathel Jane Bennett, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.

Charles R. and Joan M. Ewins (NBM) Joan Moran to Charles R. and Joan M. Ewins, in Herrick Township for one dollar.

Lori A. Cokely to Lori A. Cokely, in Auburn Township for one dollar.

Theresa S. Shamis to Michael Shamis, in Springville Township for one dollar.

Horace E. Baldwin (rev living trust by trustee) to Jacob Fissler, in Rush Township for $75,800.00.

Mary E. Guiton to 1075 Real Estate Associates Limited Partnership, in Middletown Township for one dollar.

Vinette (AKA) E. V. (AKA) E. Alderson (estate), Virginia and Lanny Russell, Lewis (estate), Larry D., Venita (estate) and Verne Alderson to Larry D. Alderson ad Lanny Russell, in Middletown Township for one dollar.

Frantz J. and Megan E. Lincoln to Michael Ivey and Entrust Northeast (FBO Stephen Parker IRA), in Auburn Township for $175,000.00.

Pamela J. Land (by tax claim) and Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau to Deadra Bahl, in Choconut Township for $11,100.00.


Judith A. Barziloski vs. Jeremy J. Barziloski, both of Tunkhannock, married 2007.

William C. Beagle of Brackney vs. Julie M. Beagle of Montrose, married 2003.


The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 9:40 a.m. on March 19, 2010.

Antonio L. Alcantara, Duane Aldrich, Erika L. Back, David Shawn Blaisure, Joseph Bonavita, Howard A. Burns, III, Darryl M. Chaffee, James W. Donahue, III, Deborah L. Drish, David J. Fischer, Racheal L. Frisbie, George Graham, David Haines, Jr., John J. Hall, Erik E. Krisovitch, Lee Labor, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Jason Lindquist, Patricia J. Marrero, Bradley W. Megivern, Kimberly L. Mershon, Ronald N. Mitchell, Robert A. Muzzy, Anthony Neri, Sheri Pabon, James E. Purse, Jesse R. Rhinebeck, Jr., Robert A. Ryman, Richard D. Shoemaker, Darin Sink, Duane Spencer, Christina L. Trayes, Keith W. Vroman, Donald L. Welch, Jamie L. Williams, Kenneth L. Wilmot, Jr., Karl D. Zantowsky.

Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.

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Hallstead Says No To Tests

In spite of the increasing gas drilling activity in the area, some firms are still actively exploring for local oil and natural gas deposits. At their March 18 meeting, the Hallstead Boro Council discussed a request they received to allow access to boro property for seismic surveys that will be conducted in the area. The survey involves placing sensors on the ground surface for about three weeks, but in some cases it also involves digging holes three inches in diameter and about twenty feet deep, and setting off explosive charges. The law does require that such activity not be conducted in close proximity to any structures, wells or pipe lines and after testing, the hole would be filled in and any debris cleaned up. But, council's concern was that such tests might cause damage not immediately apparent, such as to water or drainage lines or foundations in the areas near the tests. Although the firm requesting the tests would pay a fee to conduct them, it would be a very nominal fee. Council did consult with the boro's attorney before making a decision, and after discussion it was agreed not to consent to the tests on boro property.

In other business, Mark Kotar from the Hallstead-Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority was present to keep council updated on the authority's expansion project. Ground has been broken for the new construction, footings and walls for the clarifiers are in, and the next stage is to begin work on adding a second floor to the office building and on the receiving station at the plant. He promised to continue to keep council abreast of the project’s progress, as he has been.

Complaints included a problem with dirt on the road near a construction site on Wellington St. There have also been problems with drains in the immediate area getting packed with mud and a drain pipe broken by heavy truck traffic. The firm doing the construction has been keeping the streets swept, but council authorized maintenance supervisor Jim Canfield to speak with someone with the construction firm about getting the pipe cleaned out and the broken one fixed when the project is complete.

Bids have gone out and been awarded for the Bridging Communities sidewalk project, and work is expected to be complete by summer. PennDOT has set up a meeting with involved parties to review the plans and discuss any input.

A motion carried to purchase the pipe needed to fix a drain on Chase Ave. and to purchase a new light for the flagpole at the river bank park.

And, council concluded the meeting discussing a priority list of streets in need of paving and/or drainage work.

The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 15, 7:00 p.m.

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Susky Gets Funding Update

Over the past few years, Susquehanna Boro has benefited greatly from its participation in the state’s Main Street program, with many improvement projects either complete or ongoing. New sidewalks have been put in, façade renovations have been partially funded, and several buildings have been demolished. But, the state has decreased funding to the program, and competition for funding from municipalities has become more competitive. Margaret Biegert from TREHAB addressed the Susquehanna Boro Council at their March 16 meeting to discuss what options are available to the boro to continue pursuing funding for improvements. She suggested that, with the reduction in Main Street funding, a more viable option at this time would be to apply for Housing and Redevelopment Assistance program funds. The application would need to be submitted by the boro, but TREHAB could continue to administer the funds, if obtained, much as they have done with the Main Street funds. After a short discussion, motions carried to approve filing of the application as well as an administration agreement with TREHAB. Council thanked Mrs. Biegert for her efforts over the past few years, which have been so beneficial to the boro.

In other business, Mayor Reddon’s report included a reminder to residents that there is no burning allowed within the boro; there have been several complaints about open burning. The boro does have an ordinance which prohibits it, with resulting fines beginning at $100 for the first offense.

The mayor also reported that demolition of the Capra building on Main St. was scheduled to be demolished within the next few days. There was some discussion as to who would be liable for the cost of having police on duty to direct traffic if it was requested; the bids usually include the cost as demolitions usually take place during hours when there are no regularly scheduled officers on duty.

Public comment included concerns from a resident about a house in disrepair on West Main St., and a question about PennDOT regulations concerning a private parking area on West Main. This was referred to council president Roy Williams, who was not present, as he has been in contact with PennDOT about the issue.

The boro’s employee handbook is still in the process of being revised.

Corrected quotes were received for replacement of the boro building doors; at last month’s meeting prices had been received but there was some question about the actual number of doors the price was for. The total cost of replacing all five building doors came to just over $9,000. Replacement had been discussed because there has been a continuing problem with the door to the library’s section of the building, and as they were all constructed similarly replacement of all five was considered. Council had also hoped to recoup some of the cost through the Main Street façade program, but as the replacement of the doors would not actually be a “beautification” project, it is unlikely that it would qualify for reimbursement. After some discussion, it was agreed to proceed with replacement of the library door only, if the price was at one-fifth of the total price quote.

One of the building’s fuel tanks will need to be moved to a new location (in the building) where it can be vented to the outside. Several council members plan to do the work themselves, and said that volunteers to help out would be appreciated.

At their March 2 committee meeting, council had carried a motion to form four committees to oversee each of the boro’s departments. Appointments to those committees were tentatively set as: Police, Dave Scales and Joe Varsik; Streets, Dave Scales and Bill Perry; Codes, Mike Matis; and Administration, Sue Crawford and Bill Perry. Roy Williams and Allen Wolfe, who were not present, would be asked their preferences at the next meeting.

The next regular meeting will be on Tuesday, April 20, 7:00 p.m. at the boro building. Their committee meeting is held on the first Tuesday of the month, and informational meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday.

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New Milford To Sign Lease
By Melinda Darrow

The representative from Cabot Oil arrived at the New Milford Township meeting almost too late to arrive at the meeting. When he did arrive, the supervisors and their solicitor declined to sign the resolution he provided. A resolution number was assigned it, however, and the lease was verbally passed with an understanding that the written resolution would come later. The option to extend the 5 year lease was stricken from the agreement. Included in the lease is the land between Rt. 11 and Rt. 81 from Birch's land to Birch's land, just past the borough's end line. Someone asked what measures were being taken to protect the water, etc. from the deleterious effects of drilling. The supervisors explained that, with right of way issues between the two major roadways, the chances of drilling were slim to begin with. Also the township doesn't drink the water there anyway, the well is 400 ft. deep and basically only exists so that water issues don't arise when washing heavy equipment, etc.

The borough secretary, Mindy, was temporarily designated as the PEMA disaster relief agent. The action was only temporary because she had, it was announced, informed the supervisors that she would be leaving the township.

The township discussed looking into the purchase of a video recorder to tape damage to roads. This is largely for documentation purposes. The township has folders for such evidence, and audio capabilities will help in the identification of roads which might otherwise be difficult to differentiate by photographs alone.

The tax collector requested permission to increase the fee for certifications and tax bills from $5.00 to $10.00, as permissible by law. This might come into play if someone requested information on a particular property. The supervisors approved the increase.

The supervisors had no objection to various permit applications. F.S. Lopke, the township received notification, was in the process of transferring a small blue stone mining permit. Tracey Whitney proposed a subdivision plan, and so long as he followed the sewer enforcement act no objections existed. The Holiday Inn Express submitted a land development plan to the Susquehanna County Department of Planning and Development to add 24 rooms to the existing Holiday Inn Express commercial development. Preliminary approval of the plan was granted, pending receipt of the Municipality Report Form from the supervisors. No problems were seen with this project, especially as the inn was under the umbrella of the Gibson sewer system anyway.

Jeremiah Wolfe of Turn Key Operations submitted a land development plan to the Susquehanna County Department of Planning and Development as well, to place a repair garage on 492, where the old trailer park was.

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Rampant Rumors Rile ELSD
By Melinda Darrow

Pitchers of water adorned the table at the SCCTC and Elk Lake school board meetings, a fact which was, while slightly unusual, not accidental. Mr. Place requested they be there, at least in part, to combat the recent rampant rumors that the school's water was polluted.

Two local women attended the meeting to ask the board about this very subject, wondering if the tests performed on the school water would become public. The reasoning, one of them explained, lay with the fact that both women had hired an independent contractor to test their water, and felt that the water tests performed by Cabot might not be sufficient. It wasn't that they didn't trust the school, she said, but they had been learning that the tests run by the company do not test for everything. She said that her water had arsenic, lead, barium, and dangerous levels of manganese, which the original water test hadn't told her. Methane, she stated, was the least of her worries. When a board member asked if the levels of these substances were above the legal limits, she responded that they had to ask what an acceptable level of barium was for a child to drink. She said that Cabot would only test what they had to, and at times they had only tested as if they were buying a house.

Dr. Bush responded that the school took a sample of the water prior to drilling, and would continue to do so throughout the process. Also, administration had met with DEP, and further testing was to be done the day after the meeting. He did offer to compare results with the women, and a meeting was to be arranged.

Mr. Place then discussed the false reports that had been going around. He said that the DEP and EPA had been at the school, and the water was fine. The editor of a newspaper had even made contact regarding a rumor that the pool water was contaminated. Mr. Place asserted that if the board found anything out about any contamination, it would not hide it. The rumors, however, have been costing the district a lot of money.

The water coolers were put in place when a board member was concerned over the spread of germs from water fountains during the swine flu epidemic. That board member stated, however, that she regretted this, as it had fueled all of these rumors.

Early on in the evening, the district entertained a federal agent in the form of Geoffrey Wood form the US Department of Education's office of the inspector general. Although this office does the majority of its work at the college and vocational level, with the incoming potential for stimulus money it was felt that representatives should let people know what it was about. Coming out of Philadelphia, the organization investigates “fraud, waste, and abuse” where funds are concerned. If a tip or information is received, there is a requirement for follow up through an audit or investigation. If there is an overdraft, the school is required to pay the money back. There is also a criminal investigation aspect to the work, which comes into play where bribes, etc. are concerned. In fact, if anyone has concerns it is a requirement of them to let the office know. Collaboration might then be pursued with either the local or US attorney's office. Also, he desired to alert the board, the federal whistle blower's protection act was expanded to include any employee of non-federal grantees, i.e. Any public school employee would be free of repercussions should they wish to report something. Dr. Bush asked if there was any possibility of stimulus funds being used toward the pension crisis. Mr. Wood replied that he would look into that. He also gave his phone number, (215) 656-9653, when requested by the public, so that the public would have access to it.

A retirement pension resolution was voted upon. Currently, it was reported, the only alternative to the current situation being brought forth is one proposition by two senators to change from defined benefits to defined contribution for new hires at a certain point. The current situation in question is the impending pension crisis, which could see an increase in the employer contribution rate to 8.22% in the 2010-2011 school year, a 72% increase over the 2009-2010 rate. The rate is then projected to continue to increase sharply during the next four years, peaking at 36% in the 2014-2015 school year and remaining over 30% until the year 2020, and even then declining slowly. These projected increases would cost the Elk Lake School District and its taxpayers an additional $3,159,391 between the 2010-2011 and the 2014 and 2015 school years. Elk Lake changed the standard resolution (put out by the PSBA) some, after meeting with others from the Pennsylvania association of Rural and Small Schools, adding to it suggestions that vesting be changed from 5 to 10 years, the multiplier be reduced from 2.5% to 2.0% for new hires and incentives be offered to existing staff to reduce it to voluntarily, and minimum contribution rates be established and held steady. The reasons behind the crisis were discussed, as the state and schools paid less into the pension funds due to relying on investment and stocks. Then, when the stock market tanked, difficulties ensued. Also, when things were good, the state decided to put less into the account. Mr. Tewkesbury expressed his opinion that the difficulties were not just due to the economy, that the state had known this was coming for 4 or 5 years. Mr. Curley thought that the fixed contribution would be huge.

The wells are producing, and one man asked if the district had any idea as to where the money would go. Dr. Bush responded that while yes, the wells were online, he did not know when the royalties might come in, if there were any.

The forensic team had another successful year, it was reported. Three students had particular success, Shea Skinner, Rick Guiton, and Austin Cohen, who all qualified for the state competition. Rick was the first elk lake student ever to make it to this competition in Speech, and Elk Lake was the only school to have 2 debaters place in the top ten. Austin was the only freshman to qualify. Shea and Austin also qualified for nationals at one competitions, being in the top four. Ricky barely missed this honor, placing fifth.

At the elementary level, ELSD received a distinguished title 1 school accolade, for their title 1 scores. Mr. Pirrone acknowledged the work of the students and the staff team in achieving this success. Some of the staff also were able to present at a conference in Pittsburgh.

The proposed 2010/2011 calendar made an appearance, being briefly discussed. It was said that the calendar would be posted on the website, as well as given to staff. The major change from last year lay with a projected end of the year date of June 1, effectually placing the snow days at the end. Graduation could still, it was hoped, be scheduled then around June ninth, allowing for plenty of weather wiggle room.

The board approve plan con d, in relation to the expansion project. These plans are steps addressing the different aspects of the construction process. PDE had approved plan con d , and the board needed to approve that it had been approved. Board members also approved the submission of plan con e which would give more details than the blueprint the state already has. One woman at the meeting asked if the board had considered going green with the project. Dr. Bush said that, while they are planning on utilizing more efficient lighting and heating, when it had been looked into the cost of going green was prohibitive. It was asked how many phases there were, and at which point the district would be committed to the expansion. The process goes to plan con k, and in plan con g the project would be put out to bid. Once the board accepted a bid, then it would be committed.

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