The new year brought some good fortune to the borough in the form of two new police cruisers.
Borough Coordinator Joe Mazur said at Tuesday night's meeting that he learned the state had money left over in its agriculture budget for 2012. So he inquired about how much the borough could get. Turns out, it got enough to purchase two new cruisers, he said.
Zero cost, Mazur said. We did all right.
Council said the new Ford Explorer and Taurus cruisers already are in the borough's possession and only need to have radios installed and the borough markings applied. The new additions will bring the number of cruisers in the borough to four.
In other business, council:
• Said it will look into getting parking meters repaired and calibrated. Council President Frank Coughlin said the meters should bring additional revenue.
• Accepted a quote from First Keystone Community Bank for a $350,000 tax-anticipation note for 2013 at a rate of .89 percent. Council President Frank Coughlin said the loan will be repaid by the end of 2013 and the interest rate is one of the lowest ever seen in the borough.
• Will look into adding two shift sergeants to the police force. Chief Myles Collins said the new sergeants would be responsible for following up on criminal investigations that patrol officers initiate.
• Heard from Councilman Bill Dixon, who asked for an itemized copy of the bill each time solicitor Mike Kostelansky submits one. He is paid a $200-per-month retainer plus an hourly rate, council said.
I want to see a bill even if it's for a paper clip, Dixon said.
The impact of the 2011 flood that ravaged sections of Northeastern Pennsylvania is still being felt in the township.
During Thursday's regular meeting, the Plains Township Commissioners, by a vote of four to zero in Commissioner Brigid O'Connor's absence, agreed to carry out a $1 million project with the Federal Emergency Management Authority to acquire and demolish 14 properties within the municipality.
Most, if not all, of the properties are located in the municipality's Plainsville Flats section. The assessment and identification of the properties was handled on federal and county levels. Township officials expect to have an official list of the properties by next week, but, in the meantime, are directing interested residents to the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority.
Individual property owners already have been notified. It is expected that each of the properties will be demolished.
One of the affected property owners, Ray Condo of Roberts Street, applauded the buyout program but took issue with the method of property value assessment.
Condo feels that his 20,000-square-foot property, including a garage of more than 7,000 square feet, is undervalued at $90,000, he said. He complained that the assessor determined the value of his home without entering it, and also felt it was improper for his property value to be comparable to neighboring homes that have been completely gutted.
In other matters, the Commissioners reminded the residents that there are ordinances in place that prohibit gunfire within the municipality.
Township resident Dave Willis has complained that, of late, target shooting has increased in the wooded area behind his home on South River Street. He also feels the shooters are using larger guns, causing much louder noise.
The next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14.
Borough Council on Monday night directed residents to park vehicles in driveways during weather emergencies.
Keeping cars off the road will allow for better clearing of area streets and better resident safety during the winter season, Councilman Joe Onzik said.
Ed Connor, head of the Swoyersville Ambulance Association, said the ambulance had been dispatched 439 times during 2012, with an 89 percent overall response rate. Connor said that with more snow predicted this winter, he anticipated an increased need for ambulance services.
In another matter, Ken Rosa of Slocum Street addressed council about a possible landlord ordinance that would call for the inspection of rental properties to ensure safety and compliance with code. Zoning Officer Joe Ruscavage said such an ordinance would have to be carefully drafted and introduced by council. Council will discuss the matter at a future meeting.
Richard Harned, representing Swoyersville Slow Pitch Girls Softball, was given permission to build a garage at the Tripp Street softball field. Borough employees will assist in placing the footers of that garage.
Hanover Area School District Superintendent Anthony Podczasy presented plaques to the school board's members at Thursday's meeting.
Podczasy, who will be retiring at the end of the school year, said January is School Board Recognition Month and he commended the nine board members. These elected, unpaid volunteers are your friends, neighbors, community leaders, parents and engaged senior citizens who make difficult decisions on budgets and finance, curriculum and paths to student achievement in your local schools, he told a packed room.
Through their efforts, he said, public schools are taking flight to new levels and greater achievement.
Board member John Pericci was absent.
Podczasy presented David Fisher, district secondary principal, with a plaque to recognize his 36 years of service as an administrator and teacher. Fisher also will retire at the end of the school year.
Podczasy also commended board Solicitor George Shovlin, and Business Manager Thomas Cipriano, as well as the teachers, administrators and staff for their service.
In another matter, the board passed the first reading of the revised dress code policy that will go into effect at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The policy will be adopted and approved after the next two monthly meetings.
The policy is in line with those at other area school districts such as Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming Valley West and Pittston Area, said board President Evelyn Evans.
The new dress code policy is designed to improve the safety and welfare of our students and to encourage and foster a better educational environment for our students as well as our faculty, Evans said. The new policy does not impose a single ‘school uniform,' as there shall still be reasonable freedom of choice within the bounds of the policy.
The policy is available on the district's website: www.hanoverarea.org.
The board will hold its next work session on Monday, Feb. 4 and its regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Luke Casey, a 17-year-old high school junior, spoke at Thursday evening's School Board meeting regarding an incident that allegedly occurred last summer between he and Greater Nanticoke Area basketball coach Ken Bartuska.
Casey played for the GNA basketball team prior to his transfer to Crestwood High School, he said. Casey wanted to detail the reason for his transfer. As well, Casey's eligibility has been denied by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association stemming from the June 28 incident in which, Casey stated, Coach Bartuska verbally attacked me in front of my peers.
Casey stated that at no point during the incident did he argue with the coach.
In other matters, the board has accepted the resignation letters of Edward Choma, technology assistant, and Tina Kalinay, computer aide.
Elementary school Principal Mary Ellen Scott has been granted permission from the district to purchase and plant 10 pine trees on the Church Street side of the playground. The Pro-Social Project Pennies for Pines collected $850 through the efforts of the students and staffs of the Kennedy Elementary and the GNA Elementary Center, so that there will be no cost to the district.
The GNA Chorus Parents Organization will host the annual high school variety show in the auditorium at 6 p.m. on March 15.
The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 14.
Scott Gomb B. Garret Rogan Geri Gibbons Camille Fioti Susan Bettinger