News

Honoring the fallen

Tri-Valley veterans gather for Memorial Day observance

By Robert Wheary, Staff Writer • csrobwheary@gmail.com

cs31memorial_p3

ROB WHEARY/Staff Photo Veterans Barry Miller and Roland Wolfgang place a wreath at the veterans memorial during the Memorial Day observance at Friedens Cemetery on Sunday, May 27.

HEGINS —With American flags flying and a quiet respect among the crowd, many gathered to remember those that paid the ultimate price in defense of their country.

Valley View American Legion Post 575 and Chapter 103 of the Disabled American Veterans hosted their annual Memorial Day Observance on Sunday, May 27 at Friedens Cemetery, Hegins.

Herbert Borchert, the master of ceremonies for the program, had to perform several other duties at the event, as he also had to give the invocation and benediction in the absence of the preacher and to give a few remarks after the scheduled guest speaker, Capt. Jennifer Renninger was absent at the start of the ceremony.

Borchert told the story about how he met up with five friends of his during a chance meeting in Hong Kong before the men were scheduled to be deployed to Vietnam.

“We got together for one last drink, and now I’m the last survivor of that group,” Borchert said. “After that, I knew that I had a responsibility for ceremonies like this, to pass along such knowledge like this for future generations.”

Borchert said that the biggest disappointment he has is that he finds that there are not many people that have respect for the laws of the country, and the freedoms some of those laws give us — freedoms that he and other veterans and those lost in combat fought and died for.

“If people don’t have respect for the law, then all the sacrifices made are for naught,” Borchert said. “As you leave here today, I challenge you all to resolve to serve God and country like I did and so many before did many years ago.”

The ceremony featured a placement of a memorial wreath on a veterans monument at the ceremony, the reading of the names of the deceased veterans and several patriotic musical selections, ending with a rifle volley and the playing of “Taps.”

Inside the observance’s program, the veterans wrote another special message for the public to ponder.

“Your presence and participation demonstrate patriotism and the highest ideals of Americanism. Enjoy the Memorial Day Holiday, but do not forget the men and women of our Armed Services who have given their lives for the protection of our Nation. Please honor those who have served and are now serving.

 

Advertisements

Financial crisis at Tri-Valley

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • rebecca-z@citizenstandard.com

Teachers, programs to be cut

HEGINS – Nothing brings members of the public to a meeting of the school board, than when the school is facing a financial crisis. That’s where Tri-Valley School District is at right now, as many other school districts in the state are also feeling the pinch.

The board held a special meeting May 23 for the sole purpose of adopting the $13.7 million proposed budget. A budget that is going to raise real-estate taxes, cut programs and teachers.

Prior to the vote for the preliminary budget, the board and the public heard from several teachers of Tri-Valley and the father of one of those teachers who will be losing his job.

Amanda White, an English teacher at the high school and fiance of Ryan Wagner, a civics teacher who also has certification in library sciences, and will be losing his job, addressed the members of the board first.

“I have been a teacher here for nine years and this is where I met my future husband, Ryan, a man who goes above and beyond what his contract calls for,” said White. “We learned about a week ago that Ryan wasn’t going to have a job after this school year.”

White went on to list all her fiance’s accomplishments at Tri-Valley. He teaches a civics course and does a library rotation. He has also served as a former coach of the girls soccer team, was instrumental in bringing the Warrior Challenge to Tri-Valley and raising more than $23,000 for the PA Wounded Warriors. She also noted that recently she and Ryan were part of a curriculum committee in order to come up with ways for the schedule to better serve the high school students.

“I know this may appear as an easy fix to the district to just cut Ryan’s position, but cutting library from the students would have a huge impact on future test scores and the students will suffer,” said White.

“This has come as a shock and a surprise to say the least,” said White. “Ryan and I have purchased land here in this community and were planning to marry and build a home in August. I feel like the district is sending the message that you don’t want families like Ryan and I to live here and be part of this community. Ryan has been dedicated to this community.”

Ryan Wagner took the mic after his fiance. “I realize I walk a fine line addressing you tonight,” said Wagner. “I know the district is in a financial crisis and I’m not here to argue that one teacher or the other is better to cut. I know you are obligated to act in the best interest of the school,” said Wagner. “I am proud to be a graduate of Tri-Valley and I carried that with me everywhere I went. I was honored and dedicated to working here at Tri-Valley. Have you considered my family history here at Tri-Valley? My uncle served as principal for several years; my father served on the school board for 16 years; my mother volunteered for many years in the elementary school before being hired.”

“Have you considered the message that will be sent to the remaining staff at Tri-Valley in making this particular decision?” he asked. “As an optimist, I believe in this difficult time, you have an opportunity to minimize the damages and even improve our school district with the right decisions. With an analogy fitting to this area, I hope you take this opportunity to cut the fat. At the same time, I hope you aren’t making a mistake by discarding a lot of meat.”

“It’s easy to look at the financial implications facing the district,” said Daniel Wagner, father of Ryan. “Believe me, I know, I sat up there in your position for 16 years. “The board’s decision also effects families that have decided to set roots here. Some of the district’s good teachers may be looking elsewhere for employment.”

Adam Dietrich, librarian and history teacher also addressed the board and paraphrased Shel Silverstein’s book, “The Giving Tree.”  Dietrich’s been a teacher for almost 14 years and he expressed the importance of library and encouraging critical thinking and the evaluation of what is being read.

“We need to give everything that we have to offer,” said Dietrich. “We must think carefully. We must appreciate everything and we must not forget, or take lightly what people have given with an open heart to our school. This is our home, this is all of our families, this is Tri-Valley.”

Joanne Love, a parent in the district also addressed the board expressed a need for improved communication between the board the public. As a librarian, she also said the district risks losing library service funding if it doesn’t have a full-time librarian.

“I’m almost to the point where I’d rather merge with another district, rather than lose services,” said Love.

The proposed budget will include an increase to the real-estate millage to 1.066 mills from 33.316 to 34.382 mills. The board raised the real-estatae tax to the maximum allowable without a referendum.

Other tax levies will remain the same, including: per capita section 511, $5; per capita 679, $5; occupation tax, $230; earned income tax, 0.5 percent of salaries/wages; realty transfer tax, 1 percent; local service tax, $10.

Just before the vote for the proposed budget, Kelly Carter, head of the finance committee, presented a few slides and information to those in attendance concerning the financials of the district.

“I’m happy to see all of you in attendance and next time I hope you come and bring your friends and neighbors, not just to board meetings but also to committee meetings,” said Carter. “I heard your plea for more communication and I’m trying to accomplish this, as she shared upcoming dates of meetings

“We’ve held off as long as we can, and the buck has to stop tonight,” said Carter. “Instead of being reactive, we have to plan to move forward and be proactive.”

She showed several slides of figures demonstrating why the district is in a financial crisis. She pointed out that over the past seven years, there’s been an 84 percent reduction in the district’s unassigned fund balance, which is the district’s safety net. In 2010, the fund balance was at $1.8 million; but in 2017, it had dropped to $284,967. Carter said that’s a trend facing many districts.

“One of the biggest increases, at a whopping 384 percent over the past seven years, is the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) rate,” said Carter. “That’s dictated by the state and is an amount that’s out of our control.”

She also noted that Cyber Charter School is another huge expense to the district.

“Cyber/charter schools may not cost the parents anything to enroll their child, but all the taxpayers are footing the bill. This is anther expense we can’t control,” said Carter.

Carter said the district needs to take the next six to nine months to rebuild and move forward. She suggests that the community come together with the faculty, board members, support staff and administration and all work together for Tri-Valley and get the fund balance built back up.

The board took the final vote after Carter’s presentation. The proposed $13,734,982 budget passed on a 5-4 vote. Voting in favor were directors Jerry Beaver, Diane Dietrich, Carl Shankweiler, John Schmeltz and Roger Heidlebaugh. Those opposed were Kelly Carter, Guy Julian, Jennifer Reed and David Miller.

“There will be staff realignment in the areas of music, art, library, health and physical education, social studies, elementary education and special education,” said Superintendent Dr. Mark Snyder.

Library services throughout the district are being evaluated to best provide access to all students. Dr. Snyder noted there are several staff members who have library certification.

“Three retirement positions are not going to be filled and the alteration and curtail of programs could lead to additional positions not being retained,” said Dr. Snyder.

He also said the board is looking into the possibility of having a ‘pay to play’ program put into place for athletics and other activities in the district.

The final adoption of the budget will be conducted at a special meeting June 27, at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The budget is now on display for the public at the district office and is accessible during regular office hours Monday through Friday.

 

Reward offered for arrest and conviction of Hegins-Hubley burglars

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • rebecca-z@citizenstandard.com

hh burglary P1

Two individuals were captured on video surveillance inside Hegins-Hubley Elementary School on February 17.

VALLEY VIEW – While state police are still seeking information and trying to find the identity of the two people who burglarized the Hegins-Hubley Elementary School, a local individual, who wishes to remain anonymous has put up a $1,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the two individuals who committed the break-in and burglary at the school Saturday, Feb. 17.

“I want these people to know that we are not going to tolerate this kind of activity in our community,” said the donor.

According to police, two people forced entry into the school by breaking a window. The two were wearing black hooded sweatshirts, dark pants, gloves, black hats, and had bandanas covering their faces. They also wore backpacks.

The persons were captured on surveillance footage. They left the school by prying open a door with a pry bar they had in a book bag. They fled the scene in an unknown direction by unknown means.

Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the two individuals or the burglary should contact PSP Schuylkill Haven at 570-754-4600.

Pick up a copy of this week’s Citizen-Standard to read the full story.

Police say school burglary suspects could be male or female

From Staff Reports

Trooper David Bohm, Public Information Officer of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop L Reading, released an update, Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. to the police report concerning the burglary at Hegins-Hubley Elementary School.

Police now say the unknown actors could be male or female.

The school at 1801 West Main Street, was burglarized on February 18, between 1:55 a.m. and 2:16 a.m.  According to police, two people forced entry into the school by breaking a window. The two were wearing black hooded sweatshirts, dark pants, gloves, black hats, and had bandanas covering their faces. They also wore backpacks.

The persons were captured on surveillance footage. They left the school by prying open a door with a pry bar they had in a book bag. They fled the scene in an unknown direction by unknown means.

PSP K9 requested to sweep the school. It is unknown if anything was stolen at this time.

Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the two pictured individuals or the burglary should contact PSP Schuylkill Haven at 570-754-4600.

Hegins-Hubley Elementary burglarized

By Staff Reports

hh burglary P1

Two individuals were captured on video surveillance inside Hegins-Hubley Elementary School on February 18.

VALLEY VIEW – Two unknown individuals burglarized Hegins-Hubley Elementary School, 1801 West Main Street, on February 18, between 1:55 a.m. and 2:16 a.m.  According to police, two people forced entry into the school by breaking a window. The two were wearing black hooded sweatshirts, dark pants, gloves, black hats, and had bandanas covering their faces. They also wore backpacks.

The persons were captured on surveillance footage. They left the school by prying open a door with a pry bar they had in a book bag. They fled the scene in an unknown direction by unknown means.

PSP K9 requested to sweep the school. It is unknown if anything was stolen at this time.

Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the two pictured individuals or the burglary should contact PSP Schuylkill Haven at 570-754-4600.

See this week’s Citizen-Standard for more photos.

Hegins Twp. secretary ousted

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • rebecca-z@citizenstandard.com

VALLEY VIEW – Three of the Hegins Township Supervisors shocked Cathy Moyer, secretary/treasurer, by voting her out of her position during the reorganizational meeting held Tuesday, Jan. 2. Former County Commissioner Gary Hornberger, Hegins, was voted in as her replacement.

Moyer, who has been employed with the township since 2012 and previously from 2001 to 2006, was in disbelief and demanded to be given a reason why Supervisors Bruce Klouser, Gary Harner and Doug Lucas voted her out of her job.

“What did I do,” asked Moyer. “I have tried to work with all of you and I feel I have a right to know your reason for this action.”

Supervisor Chairman Harner said he didn’t need to give a reason. Supervisors Brad Carl and Mike Begis also questioned what the reason was for the action.

“I didn’t know there was an issue with Cathy and I certainly didn’t know her job was up for grabs,” said Begis. “If there was a job opening do we have other candidates to choose from besides your friend,” asked Begis.

Harner said it was advertised in the newspaper about the reorganization meeting.

The ad which ran in The Citizen-Standard Newspaper on December 28, stated the following: The Hegins Township Board of Supervisors’ Re-organization Meeting will be held on January 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM in the Hegins Area Ambulance Association Building, Gap Street, Valley View, PA.

Moyer said Hornberger’s resume arrived at the township office about a week prior to the advertisement published in the newspaper.

Carl was concerned because Cathy went through a lot of training and does a lot of stuff for the township that he feels Hornberger may have no clue how to do. Carl also demanded a reason as to why this was happening.

Again Harner said I don’t have to give a reason.

“It’s a personnel issue and we don’t discuss that publicly,” said Harner.

Carl made a motion to enter into an executive session to discuss it, however, Harner refused stating that since the lawyer wasn’t present he was not entering an executive session.

“You three have no experience whatsoever when it comes to local government and you make all these rash decisions,” said Begis.

At that point, since Begis and Carl weren’t given any reason for Moyer’s dismissal and Harner refused an executive session, Begis stood up, pushed his chair in and said, “See ya tomorrow night, I’m done with this bullshit tonight.” He wished Cathy good luck and left the building.

Since no one was giving any reasons or explanations for the Moyer dismissal, The Citizen-Standard contacted the legal department of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association to inquire if Begis and Carl should have been aware this was going to come up prior to the meeting and if they should have had an opportunity to review Hornberger’s resume.

Attorney Melissa Melewsky offered the following statement: “Three supervisors constitute a quorum, and if the three held discussions about township business outside a public meeting or properly called executive session, it’s a Sunshine Act issue and there could be liability, criminal and civil. The Sunshine Act allows agencies to talk about specific personnel issues during an executive session, but all members of the board must be given at least 24 hours advance notice of the executive session, and the employee being discussed has the right to request that the discussion happen during a public meeting. Moreover, if there was a personnel executive session, the agency has to publicly announce the details either before the session took place or at the public meeting immediately after the session took place. No one should have been blindsided in this situation because the law sets out a very clear set of rules that govern elected officials’ conduct for deliberation of agency business and decision making.

There’s no way to know for sure if the three supervisors held private deliberations, but the decision to fire/hire bring their conduct into question. They need to address the situation publicly and explain when this issue was discussed, who was involved, and explain why the public, the employee and the other members of council were not involved.”

The next evening, January 3, the regular monthly meeting of the board of supervisors was held and again, Moyer asked for a reason while Hegins Township Solicitor Donald Karpovich was present.

“As your attorney, I’m advising you to not comment on this matter publicly unless you want to risk a law suit,” said Karpovich, to the board of supervisors. “No reason needs to be given.”

“She simply wasn’t reappointed, and no reason needs to be given,” said Karpovich. “It’s called politics and it happens all over the state.”

Prior to the Moyer debacle, at the reorganization meeting, Gary Harner was named chairman of the board of supervisors while vice-chairman position was changed from Carl to Bruce Klouser.

“Gary do you realize what you are doing,” asked Begis, referring to the appointment of Klouser as vice-chairman. “You realize if you miss a meeting, he has to run it, please don’t ever miss a meeting.”

Other appointments remained the same as the previous year.

Hegins Township Police looking for two theft suspects

cs11suspects_p1

Ryan M. Sibel

HEGINS —Township Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating two suspects wanted in connection with thefts in the area.

Warrants have been issued for Ryan Michael Sibel, 32, with a last known address of Hegins, and with John Michael Edwards, 32, with a last known address of Barry Township.

Police issued an active warrant for Sibel’s arrest on a felony count of receiving stolen property, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property, and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit theft.

Sibel is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 175 pounds, with long red hair and blue eyes.

cs11suspects_p2

John M. Edwards

Edwards is sought on an arrest warrant on felony counts of failure to comply with registration requirements, conspiracy to commit receiving stolen property and receiving stolen property, misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking, theft by unlawful taking, and citations of criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of either individual is asked to contact the Hegins Township Police Department at 570-682-3133.

 

Carl comes under scrutiny for use of truck

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • rebecca-z@citizenstandard.com

VALLEY VIEW – With one supervisor accused of doing illegal activity and the road foreman being questioned why there are binoculars on the dashboard of the township truck, the Hegins Township Road Foreman’s report was interesting topic at last Wednesday’s supervisor’s meeting.

Chairman Supervisor Gary Harner questioned Supervisor Brad Carl who authorized him to help with a paving project in Deep Creek back in October? Harner noted that it states in the minutes from the January 2016 reorganization meeting minutes that a supervisor must be authorized by at least three of the supervisors in order to work for the township and will be compensated $12 per hour.

Harner said Carl helped with a paving project and had no authority to do so.

“Why are you bringing this up now, when this took place in October,” asked Carl. “Why, now Gary. What’s the problem with what I did for the township?”

(more…)

More technology for Upper Dauphin

Barder re-elected as school board president

By Robert Wheary, Staff Writer • csrobwheary@gmail.com

LOYALTON — Stemming from their purchase of Apple iPads for their students earlier this year, The Upper Dauphin Area School District is once again reinvesting in technology with a larger purchase.

At their meeting Dec. 5, the board voted to spend almost $70,000 on Apple-branded computers, based on a quote sought by superintendent Evan Williams that was set to expire on Dec. 10. The purchase will be for 13 five-packs of MacBook Air computers, 65 total, at a total cost of $64,200. Those computers will be used by the middle and elementary school teachers.

The district will also purchase five 21.5-inch iMac desktop computers at a total cost of $5,245. Those computers will be used for the student help desk initiative where students help to fix computer troubles, and in the elementary and middle school libraries.

(more…)

WV students help give cats a warm place to go

By Robert Wheary, Staff Writer • csrobwheary@gmail.com

cs09kitty_p2

Rob Wheary/Staff Photo Students in the Williams Valley Elementary 21st Century Learning program work on their cat shelters during their after school program on Monday, Nov. 6. The students took plastic totes, styrofoam and hay to create cat shelters that will be used by volunteers to help provide a place for feral and homeless cats to be safe from winter weather and storms.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Students at Williams Valley Elementary School recently got the chance to help keep some four-legged friends safe from the winter weather with a craft project.

Fifth and sixth-grade students, part of the 21st Century Learning program at the school, teamed up with Paws for a Cause to construct some feral cat shelters that volunteers will be using.

The materials they used were simple — styrofoam, hay, and large plastic storage bins — but according to Angie Bixler, the kids are learning much more than a craft project.

(more…)