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State law requires school boards to organize themselves in December of each year. This year one couldn’t properly say that Blue Ridge re-organized its Board of Directors, although they went through the motions.
First, Joel Whitehead was elected temporary president, to preside over the election of officers for the next calendar year. And he did a fine job, soliciting nominations, accepting motions, and hearing votes. In the end, of course, nothing changed. There was only one nominee for each of president and vice president, and they were the same as they have been: Alan Hall remains president, and Christina Cosmello remains vice president.
The only curiosity was that Board member Shane Rumage voted against both of them. He wouldn’t comment on his votes, saying only “they wouldn’t like it.”
Adjourning the organizational meeting, and following a second Pledge of Allegiance, Mr. Hall called the December business meeting to order, the last of 2010.
High School Principal Scott Jeffery was absent, so in his place, Middle School Principal Matthew Nebzydoski named two seniors to be recognized. Rhonda Lynch could not attend, so Mr. Nebzydoski read off a long list of her accomplishments, including over 150 hours of community service, achievement in calculus and several honors courses. He said she hoped to attend either Wilkes or Marywood University to study criminology or criminal justice.
Greg Stonier was there to speak for himself. President of the National Honor Society and Vice President of the Student Council, Mr. Stonier hasn’t chosen a college yet, but wants to study chemistry or biology, looking to a future as an anesthesiologist with the government. He gave special thanks to his parents.
Next up, Michael Dougherty of Murphy Dougherty & Co. gave a brief presentation on the audit his company had recently completed. He reported that Blue Ridge ended the fiscal year in June with a fund balance of some $2.4 million, of which $490,000 was allocated to the pension fund that may ultimately cost the district even more. He said that revenues were $308,000 higher than projected, and expenses some $868,000 lower, resulting in a positive addition to the fund balance. The district used up a substantial portion of $697,000 of its capital reserves on the projects over the summer. He noted that the district’s food service is one of the few in the area that covers its own expenses, ending last year with $27,000 in net income.
Mr. Dougherty noted only two important potential weaknesses. He said that the state’s unfunded pension liability may cost the district as much as 17% of its professional payroll by 2014, up from just under 5%. The money that is being set aside will help cushion taxpayers against major increases that will be necessary to fund the gap, but more will yet be needed.
He also reported that the district’s self-funded health insurance program ended the year with a fund balance of only $4,000, down from $400,000, and recommended building that up substantially.
Business Manager Loren Small responded that the budget he is developing expects to put an additional $240,000 into the health insurance program, with an additional $500,000 transfer from the general fund balance.
Technology Coordinator Mike Stewart next introduced Christy Savakinas representing the North-Eastern Instructional Unit #19 (“the IU”) to urge the board to switch Internet service carriers. The Verizon contract ends next year, and the IU has joined the other 28 IU’s to form PAIUnet to offer improved connectivity between participating school districts, higher bandwidth and speeds, and additional services, all at lower cost. As it happens, PAIUnet has chosen Verizon as its provider, and will need to sign a contract by February of next year.
The estimated cost to Blue Ridge to sign on to PAIUnet could be under $3,000 per month; as much as perhaps 90% of that cost could be covered by eRate, a federal program that subsidizes communications for local schools under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The actual cost to Blue Ridge will depend on how many school districts ultimately sign up. Ms. Savakinas said that the IU needed a decision from Blue Ridge by mid-January.
There was an executive session next, as the business meeting struggled to get under way. 20 minutes later the Board emerged with an addendum to the agenda recommending “discipline action” against a student. All but Laurie Brown-Bonner approved the measure.
When they finally got around to it, the business meeting was quickly dispatched in a single motion. Among other items, the Board Approved a long list of teachers “for on-going curriculum work” at $28 per hour.
Approved a license agreement with R & H Theatricals for a production of “The Phantom of the Opera” for next Spring at a total cost of $1,393.50.
Recommended a number of policy changes for review, covering such items as military recruiting, harassment (sexual, ethnic and otherwise), and employment details, most of which are minor.
Accepted the resignation of Greg Pechocki as head baseball coach.
Mr. Hall then recognized Theresa Whitehead, the student representative on the Board. She said that the Student Council had placed a suggestion box in the library and already received a number of submissions, which she expects to bring to the Board.
Ms. Whitehead also asked the Board to clarify its position on the color issue; that is, what colors may be used on apparel, a controversial topic at a couple of recent meetings of the Board’s Activities Committee, and a favorite of Mr. Hall. Board member Christina Whitney told her that only the school colors, red and white, are permitted for clothing for events and organizations that represent Blue Ridge; sports teams are also permitted to use “athletic gray” for practice and workout uniforms.
An observer then asked about logos. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) has a red-white-and-blue logo; the Blue Ridge Chapter would like to use the logo on their shirts. It didn’t seem that the Board gave a definitive ruling on that one, but the consensus seemed to be that, as long as Blue Ridge red and white were dominant, the logo should be okay.
With another executive session looming to discuss personnel and negotiating strategy for upcoming talks on the teachers’ contract, Mr. Hall asked his administrators to keep their reports to the “short version.” Mark Fallon, Special Education Director, reported only that the Blue Ridge program had been recognized as meeting national standards. Mr. Nebzydoski encouraged family and community attendance at an assembly scheduled for December 16 titled “Rachel’s Challenge, to combat bullying (Rachel Scott was killed during the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado). He thanked Peter Quigg of the Community Foundation for helping to secure $1,900 in funding for the program from Peoples National Bank and the Tourje Family. The event will be coordinated with a similar program at Mountain View.
And so they finished for the year. The next public meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will be on Monday, January 10 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Harold Empett said that his Facilities & Grounds Committee will meet that same evening, probably beginning at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Oakland Township has been contracting police services from Oakland Boro for several months, and the two entities have begun talks to form a consolidated police department. Mayor Randy Glover was not at the December 9 Oakland Boro Council meeting, but councilman Tom Kubus reported that the two municipalities have been meeting on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:00 at the Oakland Township building to discuss the particulars. Mr. Kubus said that residents of both municipalities are welcome to attend, and are encouraged to. The discussions included entering into a ten-year contract, which can be canceled if both parties agree. Mr. Kubus said that the contract would ensure that neither municipality be left hanging in the event that (only) one chose to withdraw. The contract could be canceled if both parties agree, and does include provisions for renewal over the ten-year span. Coverage for each municipality will be based on that municipality’s financial contribution to the department.
The department will be overseen by a board made up of two representatives from each municipality. As Oakland has a mayor, and the mayor’s chief responsibility is to administer the police department, the mayor would be one of the boro’s representatives, and a council member would be the other. Oakland Township’s representatives would be two supervisors. There was some discussion about whether it would be more advisable to set up a separate board with appointed members, so that there would be no change of personnel due to elections. It would also give council the option to remove a board member if they were not happy with his/her actions. The mayor would still be a member of the board, but the other members could be appointed.
There were some questions from the audience, such as whether or not the matter (to form a combined department) could be put on the ballot. Council agreed that it could be, but that doing so would involve a considerably long time process and wouldn’t happen until after the contracts need to be signed. Another question was whether officers would be fulltime or part-time; they would be part-time, and would not receive benefits. And, council was asked if the proposed 2011 budget three-mil increase was due to forming the police department. It is not, one mil is solely for starting a building fund for a new boro building.
The monthly codes report was discussed. Litigation is being started on two violations, and there was discussion as to whether or not to pursue action on a third situation. A motion carried to do so.
There was a detailed discussion about the park improvement project. Materials must be purchased before the end of the year in accordance with the grant stipulations. At last month’s meeting, a local contractor had approached council about working on the project. He was asked to work up two proposals, one to oversee the work and one to do the work, but as of this date neither had been received.
There was a long discussion about the budget, whether it was advisable to raise taxes by three mils in the present economic situation. There are many boro residents who are retired and living on a fixed income who will not be receiving a cost of living increase, homes are being abandoned and utility costs are rising. Even though residents have expressed the desire to have their own boro building, is this the right time to start saving for one? The increase would be used to set aside $5,000 towards a new building. There were opinions on both sides of the issue. The prevailing belief was that if the fund is not started now, it won’t get done. The budget passed four to three with Gary Boughton, Tom Kubus, Dave Trevarthan and Brian Rhone voting yes and Jack Agler, Dave Dibble and Ron Beavan voting no.
A motion carried to approve the highway aid budget as well as the water budget, which reflects an increase of $5.00 per payment. Mr. Agler also voted no on this item.
There will be a special meeting on Friday, December 31 at 11:00 a.m. to adopt the budget.
Council approved a sixteen-month agreement for commercial electric generation for the pump house with Constellation Energy. After the first of the year, electric costs are expected to rise by about 12% and many municipalities are shopping for more favorable costs.
Cynthia Beavan, the boro’s representative on the board of River Bounty, reported that a lease has been signed with Renew Hydro (for the hydro electric plant on the Susquehanna River).
And, the annual Christmas decorating contest will be held again this year. Boro residents are encouraged to participate by decorating their homes for the holiday.
When Forest City Borough met for a business meeting December 6, opening matters involved a neighboring municipality. Robert Trusky, Forest City Council President, read a letter to Vandling Council concerning the police protection contract between the boroughs. Forest City is requesting a renegotiation of the old contract in order to reach a “mutually acceptable” agreement.
A second matter concerning Vandling involved its use of cinders, supplied at a fee, by Forest City. Trusky explained that Vandling owes for cinders from previous occasions, and Forest City will not provide cinders to Vandling until all outstanding costs are paid in full. The matter was to be discussed the next day at a meeting with Vandling Council.
Another police matter was the announced resignation of three officers from the department. Trusky read letters from all three individuals. Brian Widzon thanked Forest City “for the eighteen years of employment.” Council accepted the resignation “with regrets.” Scott Perry resigned retroactive to November 2. Both Widzon and Perry cited demands of other jobs as cause for the resignations. Additionally, Joseph Nolan is retiring from his position as assistant chief of police. Borough records show that he was employed full time in Forest City since 1991, and Council accepted his resignation “with deep regrets.”
In his report, Mayor Patrick Coles added, “I’ll miss working with Nolan greatly.” Coles thanked NEP for putting up lights in town and received Council’s permission to offer free holiday parking on Main Street from December 13 through January 1.
Trusky read a letter to the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation concerning a DCNR grant for Kennedy Park. The grant, which is for twenty thousand dollars, has been designated for improvements to the ball field, such as correcting drainage and installing benches. Forest City is asking for an extension of the grant into next year.
Next, a letter was read from Darlene M. Harris, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman, requesting Forest City’s participation in a resolution to ban corporate gas drilling. Harris is asking every municipality in Pennsylvania to enact stricter laws to protect the “health, safety and welfare” of communities by “preventing drilling within the confines of the municipality.” Forest City Council members will review the matter, which will be discussed at the next borough meeting.
Yet another letter to Council involved a Vision 2000 lean forgiveness request for a home at 612 Delaware Street, a matter that has been discussed at previous business meetings. Vision 2000 enabled low-income homeowners to borrow funds for home repairs at no interest. According to the resident who wrote the letter, participants in the program, including her late mother, believed that the $10,000 borrowed would be forgiven at the end of ten years. Evidently, in some instances, “No money was collected, and mortgages were satisfied.” Because of the “potential for litigation,” Forest City Solicitor, Paul E. Smith, would not discuss the situation in detail but stated, “there’s nothing in the paperwork about forgiveness.” A participant in the program concurred, but said that when she signed the paperwork, she had been told that there would be a forgiveness after ten years. Smith promised that the matter would be discussed in an executive session following the meeting.
A letter from DEP informed Council that the sewer project design does not meet approval. “Combined sewers at a few locations through the borough” were cited as a factor in the decision. Approval would require “separate sanitary sewers, excluding storm water lines.” Council members ridiculed the decision, stating that problem areas have been connected to the sanitary sewer “to err on the side of caution,” and will not pollute. Trusky announced that satisfying state and federal requirements would require a total reworking of the borough’s storm water system. We are “looking at another $10,000,” he said. Smith stated that the borough is ready to begin the project, commenting, “We could dig tomorrow, but we can’t get approval from DEP.” A meeting is scheduled with the Lackawanna River Basin Sewer Authority to reach a “unified response” to DEP.
Council would like to remind residents that waste pick-up for December 24 and December 31 will be conducted through Waste Management, with stickers required on garbage bags. Franceski Waste will begin pick-ups on January 7.
A budget review meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 28 at 7 p.m. in the borough building, when Council expects to pass the final 2011 budget. In 2011, regular business meetings will occur on the first Monday of each month, with the July meeting on Tuesday, July 5 and the September meeting on Tuesday, September 6, due to holidays.
The Great Bend Township Supervisors’ meeting of December 6 began with a resident asking about the status of the regional police discussions; the supervisors said that there were no developments. The supervisors were asked if there would be a public meeting to see what township residents want in regard to police services if it comes to the point were a decision needs to be made; the supervisors said that it would, absolutely. There was some discussion about the status of HB 1500, which would require all state municipalities to provide police coverage. At this point, the bill is still in committee and hasn’t yet been brought to the floor for a vote, but it seems almost certain that some form of the bill will eventually pass. The supervisors feel that it is better to plan ahead for that eventuality rather than be faced with a short deadline in which to act (to provide coverage). The alternative, to pay a per capita fee for State Police services, would be prohibitive and would double the township’s taxes within the first three years of passage of HB1500.
The roadmaster’s report was given; the crew had spent time cold-patching, cleaning sluices and ditches, servicing and storing summer equipment. The new spreader has arrived and was assembled and ready to go.
Hallstead Boro had asked if the township could sell them ten tons of salt at the current year’s price; the supervisors agreed to do so, provided they pick it up.
The new five-year Agility agreement with PennDOT for plowing the rest area was received and will be reviewed.
Permits issued during the month included Assessment/UCC permits for the Dollar General Corp., Dawn Mervine, Keith Brant, John Bleck, Christopher and Sharon Gorick, and Scott Haley. A driveway permit was issued to Dawn Mervine.
Correspondence included notification from DEP about a possible re-designation of Silver Creek, East Branch Hemlock Creek, Little Egypt Creek and East Branch Tunkhannock Creek; notice of a local EMC training session on December 7; notice that FEMA is restudying six streams (three in the township, Trowbridge, Dubois and Salt Lick) for new FIRM (floodplain) maps; and notice that Cabot Oil & Gas has submitted an application for consumptive use at the Susquehanna County 3 station (Harmony Road) for increased consumption.
The township is still in need of an Emergency Management Coordinator.
A motion carried to pass the 2011 budget.
During public comment, it was asked if the supervisors had been contacted by any of the gas drillers about using Baptist Hill road for water hauling; they had not.
The next regular meeting will be on Monday, January 3 at 7:00 p.m. and will also be a reorganizational meeting.
At the beginning of the December 7 Elk Lake School board meeting, Matt Curley took over the temporary presidency for the purposes of reorganization. Mr. Place was elected to the post for another year, and thanked the board when they unanimously voted him in. A similar process was followed when Mr. Tewksbury was reelected to his role as vice president.
The principal's reports were very short, but did hold some interesting information. Mrs. Staats announced that the school was going to hold its third annual transition program open house in February. Mr. Pironne spoke of the impending 5th and 6th grade band and chorus concert, and a visit from Santa. Mr. Mallery also spoke of the band and chorus concert, and congratulated various runners on being honored, one as the runner of the year. He also recognized Will Squier, who was named coach of the year. This was a double award, for both the boys' team and the girls' team. Dr. Cuomo stated that the senior high band and chorus concert had already passed, and congratulated those involved.
A discussion was held regarding principals' accounts. In the prior year this had been used at the high school year to offer incentives which bolstered the senior attendance rate and supported good testing scores. In the past this had been funded at least partially by vending machine revenues, but these had been falling off, Dr. Bush stated. The incentives included such items as reductions in prom tickets and an Olive Garden dinner. Dr. Bush recommended, then, that the board approve the transfer of $3,000 to the high school principal account. Mr. Emmerich motioned, and the board approved.
Comprehensive Consulting, the lab that does the drug testing for CDL drivers, had contacted the district due to changed regulations at the federal level. This was going to increase the testing fee by two dollars per test. The new cost would be somewhere around $52, it was thought.
Some financial ends were tied up. There was no alteration in the assignment of check signers as the president, vice president, and secretary were the same as the previous year. The audit report was brought up, there was one finding. This had already been reported in May, but the board needed to sign the paper and send it back.
A mother attended as a parent representative on the football front, wondering if there had been any developments. Mr. Emmerich reported on a meeting which had been held, where the board's concerns were discussed. He said that the next step was to meet with Susquehanna, to find out what issues they had encountered when they merged with Blue Ridge, and after that a meeting was to be held with Mr. Ognosky for more discussion.
At the beginning of the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center meeting, the reorganization occurred in much the same manner as the Elk Lake meeting, with the same results.
A letter was received from the Trehab food bank; it expressed appreciation for an “amazing” donation of food.
Donna Evans Schwartz submitted her letter of resignation. It was accepted with regret, with Mr. Tewksbury commenting on the good job she had done, and Mr. Place asking in good humor what would happen if they did not accept it. He called her very professional, and also commended her work.
During the director's report, some vo-tech activities were reviewed. The vo-tech donated, for the tenth year, Dr. Davis reported, doghouses to the humane society. Birdhouses were also made and donated. Some students went to New York City for a chocolate show, and Dr. Davis quipped with a smile that the board would be seeing more chocolate on the menu. The board granted permission to accept bids for the third house project. A Wastewater management contract was approved, as part of the permit requirements.
Dr. Bush explained that with the lower bids the district had looked at the financing of the expansion project, and was now looking to pay the project off in 15 years. Previously, it had been a 20 year mortgage plan. This was felt to be an added benefit to the taxpayers.
Maxine S. Fox to Fawn E. Fox, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Barbara J. Shapiro, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Steve Levy, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Bremer Hof Owners, Inc. to Richard J. and Milicent J. Werner, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Kirk S. and Barbara (AKA) Barbara A. Hinkley to David A. and Carrie L. Hinkley, in Great Bend Township for one dollar.
Steven J. and Linda S. Molcon to Steven J. Molcon, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Frederick R. and Cheryl L. Kulikowski to Bent Creek Associates LLC, in Silver Lake Township for $1,000,000.00.
Bent Creek Associates LLC to South Jersey Resources Group LLC, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Chase Home Finance LLC to Homesales, Inc., in Montrose for $10.00.
Homesales, Inc. to David Taylor, in Montrose for $35,300.00.
Edward J. and Karen C. Smith (NBM) Karen C. Ogrady to Edward J. Smith, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Roy M. Holbrook to Lawrence Holbrook, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Alyn J. and Judith C. Scheatzle to Louis M. Whitehead, in Clifford Township for $103,000.00.
Leslie Reed (AKA) L. Reed Grosvenor (estate) to Bide A. Wee LLC, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Lloyd R. and Jackie L. Shaw to Lloyd R. and Jackie L. Shaw, in Springville Township for one dollar.
Angel L., Jr. and Ann M. Cabrera to Robert J. Polito, in Forest City for $18,500.00.
Eric G. (AKA) Eric (estate), Linda and Eric, Jr. (by trustee) Stephens to Eric Stephens, Jr., in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Frederick I. (by Tax Claim Bureau) and Mary K. (by Tax Claim Bureau) Greenleaf to Thomas P. Gallagher and Christopher M. Carver, in Susquehanna for $200.00.
Nelson E. (by Tax Claim Bureau) and Veronica M. (by Tax Claim Bureau) Carter to Thomas P. Gallagher and Christopher M. Carver, in Susquehanna for $500.00.
Donald A. and Mary A. Burns to Pennsylvania American Water Co., in Susquehanna for $25,000.00.
Jams W., Jr. (by POA) and Barbara L. (by POA) Sanders to Scott Klein, in Herrick Township for $100.00.
Joseph A. and Linda L. Monteforte to Laser Northeast Gathering Company LLC, in New Milford Township for $360,000.00.
Gregory S. Grover to John Michael Phillips, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Carl G. and Nancy J. Alekna to Carl G. (trust by trustee) and Nancy J. (trust by trustee) Alekna, in Jackson and Harmony Townships for one dollar.
Paul F., Sr. and Marie Moran to Paul F., Sr. and Marie Moran, in Little Meadows Borough for one dollar.
Rita Galazewski (AKA) Rita Gallis (AKA) Rita M. Gallis (AKA) Rita M. Pazzaglia Galaszewski to Doreen and Anthony Caramanno, James and Sharon Roche and Paul Hirjak, in Lenox Township for $195,000.00.
Paul F., Sr. and Marie R. Moran to Charles D. Darrow, in Little Meadows Borough for $35,000.00.
A. Gerald Washburn and Joyce E. Coager to Edward B., III and Penelope K. Greene, in Harmony Township for $150,000.00.
James and Vesta Adriance to Dennis Troup, in Susquehanna for $33,500.00.
Mary C. McColl to Jennifer Brown, in Ararat Township for $140,000.00.
Meredith Sutter McGraw to Edward D. Kilgore, in Herrick Township for $43,000.00.
Stephen J. and Jean M. (AKA) Jean K. Martin to Anthony J. and Jane H. Martin, in Clifford Township for $114,585.00.
Peter R. Martin and Christine A. Alexander (AKA) Christine A. Martin to Anthony J. and Jane H. Martin, in Clifford Township for $114,585.00.
Irene E. and Donald R. (estate) Langstaff, James and Amy J. Beckley (NBM) Amy J. Coleman, and Karen J. and Steve Swalberg to Amy J. Beckley, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Cathy Piskorik of Ararat vs. Joseph M. Piskorik of West Wyoming, PA, married 2005.
Robert W. Sampson vs. Lori A. Sampson, both of Susquehanna, married 1996.
Barbara A. Eldred of Hallstead vs. Robert E. Eldred, married 1964.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 10:08 a.m. on December 10, 2010.
Erika L. Back, Keith Bryant Beach, Harold R. Bensley, David Shawn Blaisure, Ryan T. Brooks, Douglas Buckman, Bryan S. Burnett, Howard A. Burns, III, Jonathan Fathi, David J. Fischer, Thomas Fisher, Jeremy J. Grick, David Haines, Jr., Keith G. Harms, Gerald C. Hundley, Jason R. James, Erik E. Krisovitch, Casey J. Lawton, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Derrick Lezinsky, Jason Lindquist, Jennifer M. Miller, Shane Nelson, Anthony E. Olszewski, Brian T. Phillips, Jeremy Presson, Arthur D. Quick, Michael S. Rieman, David J. Shiner, Richard D. Shoemaker, Sinon C. Smith, Sr., Justin Thompson, Robert J. Twilley, Roderic R. Williams, Steven G. Wormuth, Karl D. Zantowsky.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, on the third day of January at 9:00 a.m.
Ararat Twp.: William Sparks.
Auburn Twp.: Vida Finlon, Russell Leichliter, William Smith.
Bridgewater Twp.: Evelyn Foster, Brad Hitchcock, Paul Organisciak, Cheryl Wellman.
Brooklyn Twp: William Hunter, Edward Yachymiak, Steve Zangerle.
Choconut Twp.: Beth Leonard.
Clifford Twp.: Lenore Begliomini, Leland Caraballo, Joseph Connor.
Dimock Twp.: Tom Bisel, Gary Cole, Patricia Gesford, Carol Jones, Kenneth Visavati.
Forest City, 2W: Cheri Durko.
Forest Lake Twp.: Karol Hopkins, Bill McCollum, Shannon Miranda, Alayne Snow.
Franklin Twp.: Tony Carter, Steven Puterbauch.
Gibson Twp.: Donald Cole, Tom Ferguson, William Shay.
Great Bend Boro: Patricia Forsyth.
Great Bend Twp.: Kevin Mansfield, Elizabeth Navickas, John Ord.
Hallstead Boro: Victor Arnold, Courtney Erceg, Gerald Remick, Paul Walker.
Harford Twp.: Ramond Crouthamel, Ann Estabrook, Linda Whitney.
Harmony Twp.: Dorothy Arthur, Jodi Cordner.
Herrick Twp.: Tammy Oreilly.
Jackson Twp.: Kristy Bayle.
Jessup Twp.: Kathleen Brown.
Lathrop Twp.: Michael Novitch, Gary Sabuacak, Georgia Schoonmaker.
Lenox Twp.: Kevin Benedict, Kimberly Benjamin, Jeff Horrocks, Cheryl Matulevich, Joseph Nemeth, Carolyn Taylor.
Liberty Twp.: Tim Burgh, John Kellum, Earl Raub, Heidi Vanvorce.
Middletown Twp.: Clifford Bunt, William Capwell, Robin Clonan.
Montrose Boro, 1W: Shelly Sunderlin.
Montrose Boro, 2W: Carol Lake.
New Milford Boro: James Carr, Donald Marshman, III.
New Milford Twp.: Robert Gunn, Cheryl Hart.
Oakland Boro: Theresa Bixby, Brian Hall, Jason Trevarthan.
Rush Twp.: Merton Bowman, Clyde Trible, William Warner.
Silver Lake Twp.: Bruce Franchak, Todd Geertgens, Michael Kirchmeier, Michelle Mayes, Virginia Schmitt.
Springville Twp.: Sally Brozonis, Donna Malandri, Catherine Minick.
Susquehanna Boro, 2W: Mary Tigue.
Thompson Boro: David Carmody.
Thompson Twp.: William Leinauer, William Sparks, III.
Union Dale Boro: Robert Lavin.
At the start of the Montrose School Board Meeting the district did not, in fact, begin with the reorganization meeting but began instead with its highlight of good things. First honored were Ryan Franklin, Kevin Zamorski, and Michael Gardner, who had excelled at the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center. They received a certificate of recognition and the standard round of handshakes. Ryan's mom was present to shake hands on his behalf. Mr. Ognosky said that this was their second real go-around with the technology center, after a lull, and that the district had seen some real success recently from the students.
Also recognized were Amelia DiPhillips, Cierra Cook, Emily Hewes, Lila Weiss, and Rebecca Maxey, the student body officers. Mr. Tallarico likened them to his daughters away from home, speaking of how respectful, organized, and involved they were. The homecoming event, he said, was a huge success, as was the pink out week. With all the bills paid, he estimated, the district would be able to give over $4,000 to the Cancer Society overall. The girls, according to his words, work together as a group very well. They also received certificates and handshakes.
Mr. Ognosky then recognized the principals. At Choconut Valley, he said, for the PSSA's there are thirteen different targets to meet, with 17 at Lathrop Street and the high school. In order to meet AYP a school building has to meet all of the targets. The state has Keystone awards, presented to individual schools that have made all of their targets for two consecutive years. This year all of them did so. For Choconut Valley and Lathrop Street this was old hat; since the PSSA's have been in existence these schools have never missed a target. At the high school this was the first award, having met it across six grades in all. They received large cardboard signs and handshakes.
After this, and a very brief break, reorganization began. Mr. Caterson was elected the temporary president for the purpose of reorganization. Doug Wilcox was nominated to act as president for another year, and unanimously elected. He accepted the position, thanking the board and calling the last year “interesting.” Mr. Wimmer was nominated then to renew his position as vice president, a motion also passed unanimously.
Due to four resignations from the football staff this month, coupled with the two resignations the month prior, Mr. Ognosky stated that the school would be hiring a whole new football staff. The way this would work, he said, would be to hire a new head coach. Apparently this advertisement went out nationwide, as Mr. Ognosky had received applications from various states. The football staff which had been in place, he said, was very professional. The head coach came to him, and stated that they wanted to give someone else a chance. They approached the administration, not the other way around. Elk Lake has a renewed interest in doing a cooperative agreement, though this will not happen immediately.
Mr. Ognosky asked Mr. Tallarico and Mr. Adams to discuss the qualifications of the long term substitutes they hired. Both men spoke positively of the women who were hired. Sarah Wisniewski was hired for an art position, Jody Molenko for sixth grade at Lathrop Street, and Janet Flaherty for the learning support position at Lathrop Street. The woman who had been in the last position, it was explained, had been doing very well but had not been special education certified.
Mr. Ognosky wanted it known that the meeting on Wednesday December 8, the Finance Committee meeting at 7 p.m. in the Superintendent's office, was a public meeting. That is where the audit report was to be given.
Mr. Ognosky read a note from Dr. Golden regarding special education numbers. He spoke of the big change the district had experienced, moving from 41 special education students being instructed off-site to 17 students instructed out of the district. Mr. Ognosky spoke very positively of this, and of the programs which the district had brought into the schools in the recent past. Also, he said, it was hoped that the district would be able to bring the elementary support program back in the near future.
When Mr. George Gow asked about the number of students and how a child received an IEP, Mrs. Pam Staats explained that the state set the requirements and the school psychologist assessed the students and assigned them to a label. The requirements are rather scientific and inclusive, the way she explained it. Mr. Ognosky pointed out that the percentage of IEP students is actually lower than it had been four or five years back. For example, an emotional disturbance has to be evidenced both at home and at school to be labeled as emotional support. Also, the gifted students are factored into that number. Mr. Ognosky explained that in the past there had been concern that it was too easy to be labeled with an IEP, and the district had put in a response to intervention program and other measures to try and lower the numbers. Mr. McComb said that the schools are exhausting every effort to help a child succeed in a regular education classroom prior to placing them in a learning support room. Mrs. Mordovancy asked if the schools were as on top of the gifted program as the other programs. Mr. Adams explained that the gifted program is fed by referrals, either parent or educator, with standards that do need to be met after that. This led to a somewhat lengthy discussion of the gifted process, which kids were and were not identified, and whether these numbers were accurate. It was emphasized repeatedly that the students needed to be either referred by instructors or the parents, but either way they had to meet a particular set of criteria.
Mr. McComb reported on the fifth and sixth grade Christmas concert, the whole school sing-a-long, and Santa pictures and Santa's Secret Shop. Also, the school was planning a holiday minute to win it contest. Mr. Adams also spoke of the traditional December events, the faculty basketball game, the Christmas parties, and the choir being selected for a screening on WNEP starting Christmas eve. The secondary school was also chosen for this honor. Mr. Tallarico spoke of the Veteran's Day program, put on by the civics program, where letters from the War Front were read. The district had been given a banner in honor of Danny Arnold, the shop framed it, and the school has since begun an unofficial wall of honor. He wished to thank Mrs. Winn for the work in the play, which involved elementary students and the music department as well. This was apparently very well received. The trip to France was uneventful and safe, he reported next. The Life Skills program put on a Thanksgiving dinner for the faculty, which he spoke very positively of. Mr. Tallarico had met with the football team, which had heard rumors. He explained to them that the program was not ending, and that he hoped after the holiday he would be able to introduce them to their new coach. Around 90 kids expressed interest. It has been arranged that they can work out at the Montrose gym on their own until the new coach is hired.
Someone asked how the dress code was being enforced. Mr. Tallarico assured the questioner that the school is trying to stay on top of it, and that the professional staff is assisting in the endeavor.
Mr. Owens was commended for his work on lighting at the Christmas concert. He was also commended for his balloon handling skills at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
It was decided that the district would keep their meetings the same as they have been date, time, and location-wise. The meetings are held on the second Monday at 7 p.m., rotating between the sites.
Mr. Ognosky reported on the administration building project. He said that it was coming along well.
Right in the middle of the central business block of Main Street in Susquehanna Boro sits a three-story brick building, dating from about 1900. The Trehab organization acquired the building and, over a span of several years and some unforeseen obstacles, refurbished the building. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Monday, December 6, with attendees representing various entities, agencies and individuals involved with the project. Those involved with the project include Mullin and Lonnergan and Associates, Consultants; UpStreet Architects, Inc.; Charles W. Grimm Construction; and funding sources, the Susquehanna County Commissioners; DCED; Federal Home Loan; PA Housing Finance Agency; Peoples National Bank; Community Bank and Trust. Also represented were Trehab, the Susquehanna Community Development Association, the Endless Mountains Heritage Region, Susquehanna Boro, Rep. Sandra Major and PRN Associates.
The newly renovated Station House building on Main St. in Susquehanna Boro, refurbished by Trehab, which now houses Trehab offices and programs and six housing units for low-income elderly.
Those attending the ribbon cutting were taken on a tour of the Trehab offices on the first floor of the building. Programs offered include Workforce Development, offering assistance to unemployed, low-income individuals and dislocated workers. The Workforce Development program offers online training, GED preparation, life skills classes, assessments and job readiness preparation as well as use of an on-site learning center. A resource room, available to anyone, has a job board and computer access for job searches or on-line assessments. Trehab also has a youth program to help high school students prepare for their careers. All services are individually based, and adjusted to the individual’s needs. There are several case managers on-site as well as a pre-placement welfare case manager.
The tour then moved to one of the six apartments on the upper floors. Each apartment has a walk-in kitchen with a built-in eating counter separating it from a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom. All of the rooms are spacious and attractive. Every effort was made to preserve the unique characteristics of the building while providing roomy, modern and elegant apartments. Potential residents must be age 62 or over, and meet income eligibility.
After the tour, the participants were invited to introduce themselves and to offer comments on the project. There were many kind words for those at Trehab, particularly for their persistence in obtaining the funding for the project despite a lot of competition. Trehab was also commended for taking on projects that many others wouldn’t touch and for not turning their backs on the community. The project itself wasn’t without unexpected obstacles; the entire rear brick wall had been found to be structurally unsound and had needed to be replaced.
The event ended with awards of appreciation, beautifully framed photographs of the Station House being given to Peoples National Bank, the County Commissioners, Susquehanna Boro, and Rep. Sandra Major.
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