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It’s pretty obvious there’s some remodeling going on in the cafeteria at Blue Ridge: for the School Board meeting on June 28, the tables were shoved out a bit to accommodate the demolition that will make way for a completely renovated 1976-vintage kitchen and serving areas. What’s not so obvious is how the project is being financed.
Food Service Manager Linda Cole-Koloski made her annual year-end presentation to the Board to repeated applause. At least $50,000 of the cost of the remodeling will come from her own surplus, up by about that much from last year. Her operation is so efficient that, for at least the third year in a row, there will be no increase in meal prices when school resumes in August, leaving Blue Ridge with the lowest meal prices of any school district in the area. And that despite the free breakfasts fed to all Elementary School students.
Ms. Cole-Koloski said that her kitchen served 50,000 meals during the school year just ended, up 10,000 from the previous year. And she is in the 6th year of the summer program that offers free meals to anyone participating in a program on campus this summer. Because of the construction of course, she can offer only a “cold menu,” but one that is “nutritionally sound,” she said. The summer program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
She attributed her success to several factors:
The use of technology to help parents manage their meal payments on-line.
The services of Kevin Price in repairing and maintaining equipment, resulting in repair and maintenance costs very nearly zero.
Taking full advantage of U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities programs.
Helping low-income parents apply for aid when appropriate.
Personally contacting parents in arrears.
All of which led to a year-end balance with “zero debt.” She also thanked the Board for putting the cafeteria renovation on a fast track, and helping her to complete “another good year.”
The Board’s business agenda was relatively short, but had some interesting moments, particularly in personnel:
John Scavone of Malvern, PA was hired as the high-school music and band teacher beginning in the Fall. He attended the meeting to accept the Board’s welcome.
Tonya Haley and Tracey Sienko were hired as “para-educators” beginning in the Fall, Ms. Haley in life skills and Ms. Sienko in K-1 learning support.
Special Education teacher Laura Irwin’s resignation was accepted with regret.
The positions of Director of Transportation and Director of Athletics and Activities were eliminated. The position had been held by Jim Corse, who was given a special severance package. This action may be one part of a broad re-alignment to help keep the budget under control. Asked who would cover these functions in the future, Board President Alan Hall said that the question is currently under consideration.
Mark Fallon was re-hired as Special Education Director. His position last year was under a one-year contract, for which he had to compete with 3 other candidates.
A compensation plan was approved for Assistant Business Manager Sharon Warren, to cover the period until the end of August, when she will retire. In the meantime, she is training her replacement.
Mr. Hall reported that the search for a new Superintendent “is in process.” Thirteen candidates were screened; 4 will be personally interviewed.
And last, but certainly not least (although it got no discussion this time), the budget for the fiscal year to begin 3 days hence was formally adopted. It is balanced at $17,793,852, but only with about $400,000 from accumulated reserves. At that, the new budget still requires a property tax rate increase of 1.89 mills, or just over 4%, to 45.89 mills.
At the same time, the homestead/farmstead exclusion for 2010 was accepted in the amount of $8,264, or $379.24 for the highest-taxed properties. Business Manager Loren Small said that 2002 parcels were approved for the exclusion this year, up 200 over the previous year. The owners of 72 of those pay less than the exclusion already, and would therefore owe no property taxes at all. The exclusion is made up by the state from gambling revenue.
Mr. Hall had nothing positive to report about doings in Harrisburg that might benefit the district. He expects some difficult times trying to “reduce cost while not cutting educational programs.”
Mr. Small also reported that work is already underway on all of the scheduled projects around the campus, most of which are obvious to visitors. He is very happy so far with the contractors, and said that everything so far is on schedule.
There is only one scheduled public meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board in July, on the 19, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the chaos of construction in the cafeteria in the Elementary School. Board committees often meet earlier on the same evenings.
The New Milford Borough council met on July 1, to discuss various issues. Included was discussion on Peck Hill, the Montrose Street Bridge, and the wage tax.
A letter, or at least part of the letter, was read aloud, announcing the resignation of codes enforcement officer Mike Dopko. Mr. Dopko had written to say that he would temporarily be unable to fulfill his duties. He left it up to council's discretion whether they took the letter to be a resignation, or a leave of absence. He thanked the council for the chance to perform his role, calling it a pleasure. Council chose to accept the resignation.
The controversial property on Peck Hill was addressed. Ms. Gulick began the discussion with an outline of all of the parties which have become involved. The borough's solicitor has been informed, to deal with the removed culvert. The assessment office was informed that he has more occupied buildings and apartments than was originally thought. COG was involved when there was a permit some time ago given for two storage buildings, which at the time had been inspected and were indeed used for storage. Now that the usage has changed the matter was to be addressed. Also there was a building in which four apartments were to be located, to which five meters were attached. Soil conservation became involved due to a stream being crossed. Another agency was notified, and when they went up the hill it was discovered that the owner had definitely tapped into the municipal sewer with one building. The New Milford Township SEO had been contacted, but he said that it was up to the municipal authority now. There had also been rumors that there was a quarry up there. Ms. Gulick had made a trip to the courthouse, and found a landowner consent form to himself about the quarry, but when DEP had been called it was stated that there was no quarry permit issued. Thus one step of the paperwork for a quarry had been completed but the other had not. It was confirmed that he owned the land. Ms. Gulick seemed to sum up her finding with the statement, “He's doing things backwards.” She was also going to alert the solicitor about this. The borough secretary stated that she thought the municipal authority was going through the DA for their concern.
This led to another discussion over the drainage on that road, with the visitors in attendance. They asked about the ditches being cleaned. Mr. Taylor asked about a stump in the ditch, and it was responded that a resident had placed it there to divert the water from his property. When a council member expressed concern that this would hurt the township road, one visitor quipped, “better your road than our driveways.” There was also discussion over things flowing through the other side of the road, where a ditch didn't even exist. Mr. Taylor blamed this on the removal of the vegetation from the hill. A councilwoman then asked about the large piece of machinery parked at the top of the road, which was diverting water, wondering if the borough could do anything about it. There was some discussion, however, over whether anything could be done, which appeared to at least partially hinge on whether or not the machine was on borough property or private property. It was agreed that they want to pursue the matter. Ms. Gulick recommended that the residents write up a statement to help the borough residents realize that the matter is not an inconvenience, it is a serious issue and destruction of property. As for the ditches, the council decided to try and submit to him a letter asking him to move the machinery so the ditch can be cleaned. When discussing grass in the ditch, it was decided that a letter would also be sent to one of the residents who threw his grass clippings in the ditch. The borough maintenance man was sent up to clean the ditch out, but the warning was given that if a stump was in the ditch it also would likely be removed. One of the residents, who claimed to be the only one up there who has a non-filled in ditch, also warned that if the ditch on her side of the road was not filled in, on Montrose Street, she feared the road itself might begin to cave in. It was referred to as damage from 2006 which only had cosmetic fixes done.
Also discussed the month prior were speed limit signs. A councilwoman reminded council about this, as the police cannot do anything until they are up. The council decided to put signs up, but due to PennDOT regulations it has to be posted to at least 25 miles per hour. A resident also asked if a one lane road sign might also be put up, but the fact that it was a two lane road in reality was clarified, even though only one car can make it up at a time.
The trailers on main street were also discussed. The matter was summed up by stating the fact that they were still there.
There is a wall washed out from Vogel's in the creek up at Church Street, which has to be removed. It is the result of the flood. The one person called in to assess the matter responded that he couldn't move it. It was under the bridge from the flood, and it should have been taken out before the bridge was fixed. It wasn't, and now it can probably only be removed by a jackhammer. Mr. Taylor expressed his fear that the water is pushing against it and, if another large amount of water was received, the bridge could be taken out again. The township had apparently offered its assistance, and it was decided that perhaps it could help with this mater. Mr. Taylor was to meet with them the next day. It was stated that a permit wasn't required unless someone actually went in the creek.
Mr. Taylor also reminded the council that he wanted them to remember to leave some money aside for the floor of the gazebo. The council, however, answered him that they did not feel it was likely to be done until the next budget was decided.
Ms. Zick went to the COG meeting, and reported back. They are still working on the police study, as well as new street signs. She said that if anyone needs new signs made up now is the time to address it.
Ms. Gulick said there was a meeting the night before, which included the PennDOT historian, three PennDOT representatives, and the PennDOT engineer from Harrisburg, as well as Sandra Major. They had come the day prior with the railroad and DEP to discuss the railroad culverts under the bridge on Montrose Street, which is responsible for Cobb Street flooding. No one from the borough could be at the first meeting, so the ones that could stay hung out in New Milford to meet with council members. Only Ms. Zick and Ms. Gulick showed up, which Ms. Gulick called really embarrassing. She said that these people really pulled some strings to get here for the town, and then they stayed in the town, and it didn't look good when out of seven council members two attended. She then gave a synopsis of the meeting. The railroad feels the water is sufficiently getting through the culvert and does not want to do anything. The only way, the engineer had said, to avoid Cobb Street flooding would be to put in a second culvert, which would be at least a million dollar project. The railroad doesn't have the money to do this, and they are saying that the water is going through fine. Ms. Gulick said that it was their responsibility then to convince them that something had to be done. One councilman apologized for not responding, and explained that he was at work. Another had already responded. If anything is done with the bridge, it would be done at the end of 2011 or within the 2012 year.
Terri asked them to discuss planting trees along the creek at Blue Ridge park. She was recommending that, now that the park is back and fixed, a few trees be planted along the bank. A soils conservation representative had actually suggested that this be done. In the past it was all lined with trees. Mr. Carr asked if they would buy the trees, and it was thought that there might be someone willing to help. Mr. Carr also pointed out the potential dangers of planting trees too close to the new track.
The council went through a list of applicants for the Codes Enforcement Officer position, and three candidates were chosen. It was decided that they would like to have the meeting recessed, to interview the candidates, and then continue it afterward. The recessed meeting could then be reconvened. It was suggested, instead, that a motion be made to approve the choice of those responsible for interviewing the candidates. It was felt, however, that this might not be proper, as hiring needs to be done at a public meeting. In the end the meeting was recessed until July 15, at 7:00 p.m.
The council then moved on to the subject of the wage tax. Ms. Gulick expressed surprise that more people hadn't attended the public hearing. A visitor said that she thought the consensus was that it didn't make a difference whether they approved or not, the council would decide as it pleased. The council assured them that this would not be the case. Ms. Gulick said that she had then visited three small business owners to ask if they would be put out of business due to this, and they had not felt this would be the case. One visitor spoke up to say that she had been paying it anyway, so while she did not want another tax she was paying it to another municipality anyway. The council again stated that the purpose behind this was to try and lower real estate taxes, and a few visitors asked questions about the subject. Ms. Gulick said that she had spoken with other municipalities, and Berkheimer had projected lower than was actually collected. For New Milford, Berkheimer estimated $100,000 to $110,000 revenue. Based on old census numbers, the Berkheimer representative also projected that 25% of the population would be taxed. Ms. Gulick expressed her opinion that this could alleviate the taxes on those collecting social security and disability, and so many of the residents already pay elsewhere so the money might as well be brought home. She said that she would not go for leaving real estate where it is and adding this tax, she is hoping the one would lower the other. Ms. Gulick said that if people didn't want it, they wouldn't do it. However, when it was said that no one at the meeting was in favor of it, it was responded that although the handful of people in attendance were against, the people outside didn't seem opposed. One person said that she felt if people were against it the house would have been packed. Someone asked if it could be put on the ballot. It was also confirmed that money received would go into the community.
It was brought to the one council member’s attention that the burn ordinance idea be looked into again, as complaints have been brought to the council. The council can't do anything unless an ordinance is in place. A council member spoke up about the repercussions of putting a restriction on everyone when there are only a few people violating it. Mr. Carr spoke up that the matter keeps being resurrected. It was wondered what else could be done, with a burn ban aside. DEP said that they would not do anything because there was no ordinance. A visitor asked if an ordinance couldn't be made to restrict the same items DEP restricted. In the past they had decided not to pass one because setback regulations would have put three businesses out, that ran barbecue pits. Ms. Gulick suggested that perhaps a letter could be sent to residents when a complaint was filed, stating what could and could not be burned, to remind them. A complaint form would have to be filed, or a complaint made at a public meeting, and the matter would be addressed at the next meeting.
Lauren K. Fiegener to Charles E. Boman, Jr., in Jackson Township for $6,000.00.
Barry Jude (estate), Romayne and Stephen Francis (AKA) Stephan Francis (AKA) Stephen F. (estate) Malaker to Jan and Theresa Wioncek, in Herrick Township for $20,000.00.
Eileen L. Wright to Ilona L. Scroggins, in Silver Lake Township for $117,000.00.
James W. (by atty) and Barbara L. (by atty) Sanders to Scott Klein, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Yeisley Family Revocable Trust Agreement (by trustee) to Alice Ann Yeisley, in Hallstead Borough for $200,000.00.
Robert and Diane Strait to Robert L. and Susan M. Birtch, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Roger Owen and Elizabeth A. Sherman to Diane Laytos, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Roger and Judith Deluca to Judith and Michael Deluca and Linda Ritchie, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Joel and Kelly J. Ropecka to Joel Ropecka, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Joseph F. and Jean Santamour to Joseph F. Santamour, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLC to BP Mineral Holdings LP, in Gibson, Harford, Lathrop and Springville Townships for $10.00.
Gary A. Parker to Gary A. and Theresa M. Parker, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Dora Ochse to Dora Ochse and Patricia Aiken, in Jessup Township for one dollar.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 10:53 a.m. on July 2, 2010.
Erika L. Back, Harold R. Bensley, Tonya S. Birchard, David Shawn Blaisure, Allen S. Bowman, Devin S. Brewer, Ryan T. Brooks, Howard A. Burns, III, Deborah L. Drish, Shawn P. Fiorentino, David J. Fischer, Racheal L. Frisbie, George Graham, David Haines, Jr., Ceejay B. Halstead, Keith G. Harms, Erik E. Krisovitch, Joshua S. Lee, Joshua S. Lee, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Jason Lindquist, Mark C. McCarey, Matthew S. Miller, Jennifer M. Miller, John M. Murphy, Shane Nelson, Anthony Neri, Sheri Pabon, James E. Purse, Arthur D. Quick, Neil D. Shaffer, David J. Shiner, Richard D. Shoemaker, Kristopher M. Slocum, Duane Spencer, Garrett M. Thomas (aka Staudinger), Justin Thompson, Christina L. Trayes, Tamara Tyler, Keith W. Vroman, 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.
They increased tax rates this year to raise $20,000 to pay for it, and Council is determined to get police service in Great Bend Borough, one way or another. They’ve been trying for more than a year to find a way to supplement the meager coverage of the state police, and have now decided to go it alone.
Jon Record, Chief of the Lanesboro police department, has attended several meetings with borough Council members to offer his services. At the regular meeting on July 1 he had to cool his heels for an hour and a half while Council worked through a normal business agenda. He attended 2 special meetings in June to help refine the proposal with cost estimates. This time he got a commitment of sorts. Council passed a motion declaring its intent to establish a police department for the borough and to do whatever may be necessary to that end.
Councilman Jerry MacConnell was frustrated by the slow pace of deliberations on police in the borough, and took charge of the latter part of the meeting, assigning tasks to individuals, such as purchasing radios, a shotgun, badges and decals, acquiring furniture, telephone and Internet service for the officers, who will be based in a corner of the borough garage at Washington and Elizabeth Streets.
The borough’s solicitor, Frank O’Connor, agreed to look into the legal details, but would not commit to a target date for his opinion, arguing that the meeting was the first he’d heard of council’s intention to create its own police force. He was especially concerned since remnants of the cooperative police department that dissolved a decade ago still occupy the borough in the form of a dispute over pension money.
Every police agency in the country must be assigned an Originating Reporting Agency Identifier - an ORI number. The ORI number issued to the now-defunct police department might be reused, but Mr. O’Connor would prefer that a new department be clearly unencumbered by the past. Mr. Record and one of his experienced officers, Tom Golka, have said that acquiring a new ORI number could take up to 4 months.
Jerry MacConnell doesn’t want to wait that long, repeatedly pressing Mr. O’Connor to commit to a target, and asking Mr. Record and the borough’s secretary to expedite whatever paperwork may be necessary to proceed. He is especially concerned about acquiring a car for the department; Mr. Record has located a suitable vehicle at a police department in New York State that Council may want to take a look at.
At one of the special meetings in June, Council heard from its insurance carrier. Additional premium for a police force is estimated to cost about $4,000, but will not be certain until the insurance company’s underwriters review the details.
In order to press the issue further along, Council held another meeting about police on July 5.
In the meantime, preparations continue for Great Bend Days, a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the borough’s birth. The event, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, July 16-17, will feature an evening parade. Council expects to have its own float, and they want something (other than candy) to distribute to youngsters along the route. They perused a catalog from Oriental Trading, and then decided on about $150 worth of trinkets, when suddenly, Bob Starr offered a check for that amount.
Mr. Starr is retired, and serves as constable in Great Bend Township. He offered his constabulary services to the borough as well, but may not be able to run for the same elective office in 2 jurisdictions at the same time.
A constable - and particularly, a police force - could control the use of fireworks in the borough. Council received a form from a resident that, signed by Council or the fire company - would authorize the display of fireworks. Council members were reluctant to allow anyone but licensed exhibitors to shoot fireworks in the town. Mr. O’Connor was concerned that signing the permit application would expose the borough to some liability should something go wrong.
Mr. O’Connor also reported that a natural gas pipeline is being laid from the western part of the county through to Windsor, NY. He said it would run just north of the borough, and perhaps north of the welcome center. Several meetings are scheduled about the project, including one on Wednesday, July 7 at 1:00 p.m. at the Great Bend fire company.
One town resident, cited repeatedly for an untidy property, sent a letter to the borough claiming incapacity and lack of funds. Council members were unsympathetic and requested that Sheila Guinan, the borough’s secretary and codes enforcement officer, proceed with the requisite action to get the place cleaned up.
Another of Mr. MacConnell’s favorite issues is apparently nearing resolution. For some time he has demanded that the sidewalks along Main Street be properly trimmed. He reported that for a cost of about $140, most of the project is complete, and that several residents have joined the effort for their own properties.
Residents have surely noticed the new sidewalks and curbs in the lower end of the borough. This project is managed and financed by a beautification committee known as “Bridging Communities,” which has been at work on the project for several years. Ms. Guinan said that some residents have commented on the “No Parking” signs in the construction area. She said that the signs are temporary only, for the duration of the construction. She said that one person even complained about the new curbs because it prevented her from parking on the sidewalk.
The borough has installed new, heavy-duty, swings in the parks for a cost of about $300. Additional replacements will be installed at Memorial Park.
The long-running dispute between the Hallstead-Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority and New Milford continues. Council member Bret Jennings, the borough’s representative on the sewer authority board, has been pursuing the payment of delinquent sewer fees by the New Milford Municipal Authority. He vowed to “[force] the issue,” and said that the sewer authority’s attorney has recommended negotiating a compromise with New Milford. But he said that “no one should accept less than the full amount due,” and that if a lower payment is negotiated, all other rate payers will have to make up the difference.
The Great Bend Borough Council’s scheduled monthly meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, at the Borough Building at Elizabeth and Franklin Streets.
HIT AND RUN
A crash occurred on June 27 at 10:45 a.m., when a 2000 Nissan Senora was parked at Mess's fireworks. An unknown vehicle backed up and struck the parked car, before fleeing the scene south on SR 11.
TRESPASS BY MOTOR VEHICLE
Sometime between June 26 and 27 Richard Cobb of Thompson got drunk at his house, then proceeded to drive his motor vehicle through the property of William Wallace, also of that town. Cobb then drove his vehicle into Wallace's pond. Cobb then went to the barn of Cheryl Zimmerman in that town, where he spent the night. Cobb woke up on June 27 and walked home. Charges were filed at 34-3-02.
On June 27, at approximately 2:12 p.m. Steven Kelly of Greenfield Township went to the residence of Justin Conrad in Lenox Township and entered it without permission. Kelly then drank Conrad's beer, went throughout his house, and, when Conrad came home with his children, Kelly was lying on his sofa. Kelly then left Conrad's house when he was taken into custody, by PSP Gibson. He was transported to PSP Gibson, charges were filed, and Kelly were arraigned at district court 34-3-02. Kelly was then unable to post bail, and was transported to the Susquehanna County Jail.
On June 21, at 10:00 p.m., Theodore Burris, aged 79, of New Milford, reported an actor arrived at his home looking for his son. When she was told he was sleeping, she asked to use the bathroom. She then made her way into the victim's bedroom and removed his wallet and money clip, before fleeing the scene. The investigation was still continuing as of the time of report.
On June 25 at 8:14 p.m., James Sullivan, Jr. of Vestal was traveling north on SR 858, when he failed to negotiate a slight left curve in the roadway for no apparent reason and traveled off the east berm into a wooded area. The vehicle struck several trees prior to coming to a final rest. Sullivan then left his vehicle in the northbound lane and left the scene without reporting the crash. Anyone who may have witnessed this crash or might have information is asked to contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154. Sullivan was charged with multiple traffic citations.
On June 20 at 1 a.m., two burglars gained entry to the Endless Mountain Pharmacy by smashing a front window. Once inside the pharmacy the actors rummaged around the counter area. The actors removed two boxes of pharmacy labels before fleeing the scene through the point of entry. Anyone with information is asked to call PSP/Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
Several bags of garbage and tires were dumped along the roadway of Orchard Road in Great Bend Township. The incident is from April 17, apparently at an unknown time.
FATAL MV CRASH
On June 25 at 11:10 p.m., Thomas Williams of Meshoppen was traveling southbound on SR 29 when his vehicle exited the roadway off the east berm, traveling southbound approximately one hundred thirty one feet. The vehicle then re-entered the roadway, crossed both lanes leaving approximately sixty eight feet of yaw marks before exiting the roadway off the west berm and striking a utility pole with the vehicles driver side. The Volkswagen Gold spun approximately 280 degrees around the pole and came to rest at that location facing east. The operator died at the scene. The investigation was continuing at the time of report. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154. PSP was assisted on the scene by the Susquehanna Co. Coroner, Montrose EMS and Fire, Springville EMS and Fire, Hi-Tech Collision and Towing, and Harford EMS.
HIT AND RUN
On June 28, at 10:45 a.m., an unknown driver was attempting to back up in the Hallstead Plaza parking lot in Great Bend Borough and backed into the left rear bumper of a Toyota Corolla. The driver then fled the scene prior to providing the required information to the other vehicle's owner. The offending vehicle is described as a Red Ford Explorer with a partial plate of 06073. The plate is believed to be a handicap plate, with an unknown state. Anyone with information is asked to contact PSP at (570) 465-3154.
Between the 14th and 26th of June, a burglary occurred at the home of Charles Brabant of Bay Shore, NY, located in New Milford Twp. During the incident a basement door was kicked in, and numerous bottles of alcohol, a dirt bike helmet, and dirt bike goggles were taken from the residence prior to the scene being fled. Anyone with information is asked to contact PSP Gibson.
On June 26, at 11:30 p.m., a juvenile female elected to be indifferent to parental authority and ran away from her Great Bend Twp. Residence. The girl is described as being aged 15, 5' tall, 109 lbs., with brown hair and eyes.
Between the 24th and 25th of June, the truck belonging to Edward Kozlowski of Hop Bottom was damaged, while located in Brooklyn Twp.
On June 24, at 9:00 p.m., an unnamed 14 year old Hop Bottom male, who had utilized head protection, manifested himself at Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock with minor injuries after a collision occurred when, while traveling south on SR 2009 in Lathrop Twp., his Honda ATV exited the road while negotiating a curve in the roadway.
On June 24, at approximately 5:50 p.m., an unknown white mail driving a blue Chevrolet 1500 regular cab pickup truck stopped at the Great Bend Pump and Pantry, placed a wheelbarrow into the bed of his truck, and left the scene. The man was wearing dark pants, a red and white long sleeved plaid shirt, and sunglasses.
On June 23, at 3:00 a.m., Jennisias Rafferty of Carbondale was traveling east on TR 597 when, while negotiating a left curve, she lost control of her Chevrolet Cavalier. The vehicle exited the roadway and went down an embankment, striking tress on both sides, and coming to an uncontrolled stop wedged between two trees. The vehicle was in this position upon police arrival. No one sustained injury, though only one of the passengers, the only one over the age of 18, was utilizing a seatbelt.
Between the 13th and 14th of June, Sinead O'Hare of Harmony Township reported the unauthorized use of her debit card to make online purchases during these dates.
On June 15 at 10:50 a.m., Jessica Dumont of Fulton, NY was traveling south on SR 81 when, for unknown reasons, the Chevrolet Blazer caught fire. Dumont pulled the vehicle off onto the west berm and all occupants exited it before it became fully involved. Both Dumont and her passenger were utilizing seatbelts; neither was injured.
On June 19, a chain erected between two trees in an attempt to discourage illegal dumping at the Heart Lake Rails to Trails in Bridgewater Twp. was cut and removed.
Between the 11th and 12th of June, overnight, a criminal mischief incident occurred in which the back windows of two vehicles were damaged in Laceyville. The estimated amount of damage is approximately $700 combined.
On June 17, between 9:00 and 9:25, the porch door belonging to Guiseppe Scotti of Meshoppen was damaged at the hinges. The vandal then left the scene on the left side of the trailer.
Between the 24th of May and the 4th of June, unnamed juveniles took money and gas from Taylor Rental in South Montrose. Charges were being filed as of the time of report.
If anyone has information regarding any of these incidents contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
Quite a bit was discussed at the June 28 Mountain View School Board meeting. Some big changes loom on the horizon for the district and its students.
One visitor questioned why two group leaders were being appointed for the custodial department, when the district already has a head maintenance person. Dr. Chichura explained that they were negotiated into the support staff contract during the last negotiation, with the support of both the support staff union and the administration. The men in the new positions could not supervise other staff, but would otherwise take care of a lot of details at their respective buildings on a daily basis. This would include the scheduling of substitute staff and supplies. Prior to the current contract there were two positions in the district, along with the supervisor, termed head custodian and paid $2000 a piece. The current group leader positions have similar responsibilities but receive a much lower pay rate. The maintenance supervisor oversees the staff and programs in general, etc. The group leaders have only organizational leadership.
One of the questions raised that evening was whether or not the administrators would be receiving raises. A visitor asked, prior to the voting, if this information could be made public. Dr. Chichura responded that they were receiving raises ranging from 0%-2%, but did not provide particulars. The same visitor then made her opinion known that she did not feel, after having read the district's test scores in the Scranton Times, that raises for instructors and administrators were necessarily warranted. She spoke about merit raises, and whether the board ought to consider this when applying raises.
At a previous meeting the board had voted to abolish the GED program; at this meeting that action was rescinded. When a visitor questioned this action, Dr. Chichura explained that a cost analysis of the program had been performed. The $50 per student testing fee could, it was discovered, cover the testing part of the program. The combination of the instructional component and the testing, however, put the program in the red. In order for the instructional portion to be kept, the cost of the test would have to be raised to $100 per tester. Both options were put before the board, which decided to keep the cost of the test as is and leave the instruction abolished. It was pointed out that there was no other testing location in the very near vicinity, although there were other instructional programs. Also, to raise the testing fee would be to charge those testing for a course in which many of them were not participating. Near the end of the discussion Ms. Rinehart-Cowan pointed out that the district still has a contractual obligation with PDE anyway.
The board had received three close photography proposals, Northeast Exposure, Craige's, and Mowry's. Ms. Rinehart-Cowan recommended Mowry's, while Phillips expressed that he was happy with Northeast Exposure. Mr. Griffis pointed out that Mowry's was the cheapest, and that he felt they had done a good job in the past. The district had used all three companies at one point or another. In the end Mowry's was appointed by vote.
The 2010 Homestead and Farmstead Resolution was approved. The state, it was announced, came through with $522,780.84, which meant a $215 tax decrease for those approved for the exemptions within the district.
The resignation of Marilyn Fargnoli as a music instructor and choir director was accepted. The resignation of Gail Alquist from the special education department was as well. Mrs. Alquist was later approved as a special education volunteer. Both women had made significant contributions to the lives of their students for several years, and will be missed.
The board approved the advertisement of an elementary principal position, in tandem with the announcement that Ms. Susan Pipitone, the current principal, will be moving to the Director of Special Services position. The latter had been advertised, and readvertised for, with no acceptable candidates found. It was thought that there would be more candidates for an elementary position than for the director spot, and Mrs. Pipitone does hold the certification necessary. Mrs. Pipitone said that she wanted the community to know that she would work hard in the position and that, while she loved her current job, she was looking forward to the challenge of the new post.
Mrs. Pipitone, in her report, said that the elementary still has a long way to go, but appeared to want to defend against the visitors earlier comments about student performance. In the last three years, she said, the school has gone from not making AYP in either reading or math, to making it in both. She acknowledged the elementary faculty and staff for the hard work which made the progress possible. She also cited, as a difference, the response to intervention program, and spoke about the pre-k and the impact those children might have in a few years when they first test. She also spoke of the Science It's Elementary program, and stated her opinion that next year there would be changes in the scores from that alone.
The job description for the athletic director was adopted, after revising the revision. Dr. Chichura said that he had taken the previous job description, slightly revised it, and then added another section to it defining those areas Mr. Beamish will be responsible for, those Mrs. Price will be responsible for, and those that will be a joint responsibility.
Mr. Wescott asked if he could change a vote at a certain point during the evening. It was answered that they didn't think so, once the vote was finalized.
In his report Dr. Chichura spoke of a program by Robin Phillips, the Elementary Art Instructor. A program had been read about, in which students created small pins or magnets from scrap materials. It was called Houses for Haiti. The items made by the children were sold, and the money donated to organizations that work on houses for Haiti. The third grade classes worked on creating the blank pieces, and the sixth grade created the pins. With help, the children were able to sell all the pins, and were pleased to present a $300 check.
Mrs. Voigt explained the published scores alluded to earlier in the meeting. The individual scores for the current year were not out yet, neither was AYP status. When the individual scores do come back, parents can either pick them up at the office, or wait until their students return to school. The scores in the paper were from the 2008/2009 school year, not the tests which were just taken. Although the paper was right in saying that most of the school districts were failing to meet the state average, she continued, most were making AYP. At the high school Mountain View had been in school improvement the first year in Math, in one of its subgroups. It fixed this, but the next year was low in reading for another subgroup. However, for eleventh grade reading the district actually scored above the state average. At the elementary school, two years ago, two subgroups scored in such a way as to leave the district in school improvement. There has been steady progress since then, and if the district can show progress again it will be out of this phase. Mrs. Voigt spoke of a desire to give all students the accommodations they need to take the test. While many districts employ math and literacy coaches, Mt. View does the work itself. She expressed pride at the work achieved at the schools, but pointed out that a challenge is looming as scores are to be raised.
The SATs, however, reflected positively on the district. Sixty-four students took the test, though it wasn't required.
There was some discussion of the incoming seventh graders, after Mr. Doster had said that between 18 and 28% of students coming over from the elementary school failed one or more classes. Mrs. Voigt pointed out that many sixth graders scored proficient in math, and that this demonstrated that they were not failing because of a lack of adequate instruction, but because they did not do the work, etc. They had the knowledge, but it was suggested that perhaps they weren't prepared for the change. Mrs. Pipitone explained that at the elementary level grades five and six will be departmentalizing. The staff will be taking the time and doing a whole organization system, which will be color coded, and the students will go from instructor to instructor. This will give them some experience in the secondary school format while they still have the support system of the elementary school. It was hoped that this would make a difference.
An update was given on the driver education program. The district will not endorse any specific driver education school or individual, but will make available to any parent calling the high school the various alternatives available to the children. This is the only way the district will be involved, dispensing information.
Mr. Wescott asked what was going to be done with the wrestling practice room. When it was confirmed that it was not being used for storage, he asked if batting cages could be set up in it.
Mrs. Aherne reported on the NEIU meeting. At the meeting it was announced that Lourdesmont school is closing and selling its facility to the Scranton School for the Deaf. Also, a memorandum of agreement was signed with Marywood University to maintain an autistic program for people aged 18-21, to provide them with a bit of a college experience.
Someone asked about arranging things with the new openings to assist furloughed staff. Dr. Chichura stated that only one person was furloughed - Mr. Wilson. The others were temporary employees who had no right of recuperation. Their contract was terminated, and they could apply when a position was posted.
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