By David Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - The Shenandoah Valley School Board held it's April meeting on Wednesday night, and among the agenda items was the final 2017-18 budget. The budget, which doesn't include a tax increase, was approved in an 8-0 vote.
The general operating budget for 2017-18 stands at $17,860,608, an increase of $18,.955 from 2016-17. Real Estate taxes remain at 56.975 mills.
Prior to the vote, Board Member Thomas Twardzik read a statement written by the late Board Member Richard C. Zimmerman. Zimmerman outlined the state of the system the Commonwealth uses to fund its public schools, noting how it doesn't fairly fund schools which need more funding for special education, ESL, and other programs. Zimmerman also noted in the statement the exponentially rising cost of district contributions to pension plans, and the effect it has on budgets.
"Public Education must have more money and fewer mandates to fulfill its mission of educating our children. We also need a more equitable distribution plan for that money so all school districts in Pennsylvania have a fair shot at providing a comparably fine education. Without addressing fairer funding, creating an adequate overall tax plan to fund public education, and enacting serious pension reform, the rally cry of eliminating property taxes is a magician's misdirection." the statement continued.
The vote included the following tax schedule with no changes from the current fiscal year. Taxes marked as “shared” are divided for distribution, with 50 percent to the school district and the remainder to the school district’s municipalities, Shenandoah and West Mahanoy Township.
.Also at the school board meeting, several students from across the district were honored for various accomplishments.
Devin Davis, 18, Weston Place, a senior at Shenandoah Valley High School, was recognized at the meeting for becoming the first Eagle Scout from a Shenandoah troop in 36 years.
In order to earn the distinction of Eagle Scout, Davis had to complete 12 elective merit badges and a community service project. His project was one which benefits the entire athletic department at Shenandoah Valley.
"My project was to remodel, refurbish, and reuse all the weights and equipment up in our weight room so that people had a nicer weight room and help show our school spirit and pride, so that everybody could come up there and enjoy weightlifting too." Davis told those gathered at the school board meeting.
Also recognized at the board meeting were two students who won awards at the Schuylkill County Regional Computer Fair, one of whom will be travelling to Carlisle to compete in the Pennsylvania State Fair.
Kaitlyn Hepler won first prize in the regional computer fair for her animation project A Day on Mars: Stop-Motion Animation. The award advances her to the state fair, held on May 23rd at Dickinson College.
Hepler also placed 2nd in Web Design at the regional fair, as part of a team with brother Gabe Hepler and Justin Tietsworth
The website was designed as a photography portfolio for Tietsworth.
It was also revealed that the meeting would be the the last Shenandoah Valley board meeting covered by John E. Usalis from The Republican-Herald.
"I appreciate your integrity, your honesty, and your fair reporting towards this board at all times. Thank you, John." Board President Daniel Salvadore said during the meeting.
In other business, the Shenandoah Valley School Board
By David Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - According to a legal notice published in Monday's Pottsville Republican-Herald newspaper, three northern Schuylkill ambulance associations will merge into one to "to better serve the emergency medical service needs of the community."
Lost Creek Community Ambulance, which serves western West Mahanoy Township, and Ringtown Community Ambulance, which serves Ringtown borough and parts of Union Township, will merge into Shenandoah Community Ambulance on August 1st 2017.
"This means that, while Lost Creek Community Ambulance Association and Ringtown Community Ambulance Association will be discontinuing service under their current names, you will still receive the same service from us, without any interruption, as we become a part of a unified ambulance service to better serve the emergency medical service needs of the community" the legal notice read.
After a rather uneventful election year at the local level, several prominent positions will be up for election in northern Schuylkill County municipalities, including the Mayor in most boroughs, but who's on the ballot? Ahead of the May 16th primary election, we take a look at the options for northern Schuylkill County voters.
TAMAQUA - Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) second-year nursing student Jennifer Kalenkoski, Shenandoah, has been elected president of the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA)., according to a press release issued by the college on Tuesday.
Kalenkoski was elected to the post at the 65th annual NSNA Convention, which took place April 5-9 in Dallas, Texas.
Kalenkoski currently serves as the president LCCC's Student Nurses Association of PA chapter, and will serve a one-year term as president of the NSNA.
Kalenkoski will represent NSNA at the International Council of Nurses in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of May and at various other national organizations throughout the year.
Her duties, according to the press release, will include:
Kalenkoski will graduate from LCCC in May, at which time she will begin a position at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on the Medical Cardiology Progressive Care Unit. Beginning in Fall 2017, she will pursue her bachelor's degree in nursing through Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mississippi.
SHENANDOAH - Around 10:00pm Friday Evening, police officers were called to the area of W. Cherry Street and S. Gilbert Street in Shenandoah Borough for a report of a male with gunshot wounds.
Officers arrived to find Alex Spaid, 31, Shenandoah, with gunshot wounds to the arm and head. Police allege Spaid was shot by Leo James, 58, 400 W. Cherry Street, after a reported argument over an incident which occurred a month ago. The argument escalated to a point where James fired a handgun.at Spaid.
Spaid was flown to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where he is in stable condition.
James was interviewed at the Shenandoah Police Station where he allegedly admitted to shooting Spaid.
James was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, three counts of simple assault and firearms violations. and arraigned by on-call Magisterial District Judge Christina Hale, Frackville, and committed to Schuylkill County Prison on $200,000.00 straight cash bail.
State Troopers from the Frackville barracks, and police officers from Mahanoy City and Frackville assisted Shenandoah Police at the scene.
SHENANDOAH - Shenandoah Borough Council held a special meeting last night. Among the topics discussed were improvements for Girard Park, street repaving, and the appointment of Raymond Stasulli to the Municipal Authority - Borough of Shenandoah board.
Daniel Cook, project engineer for Alfred Benesch & Co., presented a three-phase plan for improvements at Girard Park, which will be submitted to DCNR as part of the grant application for the improvements. The proposed improvements include replacing the current basketball court and tennis court with two new basketball courts, a paved parking lot and pathway to the park, and new playground equipment.Council unanimously approved a resolution for the improvements.
Council awarded two paving projects to Landis C. Deck & Sons to repave North White Street from Coal to Washington Streets, and South Chestnut from Poplar to Cherry Streets at a cost of $59,939.
Council appointed Raymond Stasulli to the Municipal Authority board to fill the vacancy on the board. Stasulli is an employee at Mrs T's Pierogies, Shenandoah's largest employer.
SHENANDOAH - There'll soon be another empty storefront/business in Shenandoah's downtown. The Shenandoah office of the Pottsville Republican-Herald newspaper, which has been open since the Republican and Shenandoah Evening Herald merged in 1995, is reportedly permanently closed.
A sign on the office window, dated February 21st, notified customers of the office's closing, and provided a phone number to call for service.
The office is also no longer listed under the "How To Contact Us" section of the newspaper. It hasn't been listed since the March 28th edition.
Customers of the newspaper should now call 570-462-4050 for service, or visit their main office at 111 Mahantango Street, Pottsville.
Customers needing to drop off items for the Hazleton Standard~Speaker will now need to visit their main office at 21 North Wyoming Street, Hazleton, Luzerne County.
GIRARDVILLE - The 14th Annual Girardville Saint Patrick's Day Parade is set for this Saturday, April 8th, and United States Senator Bob Casey (D- Scranton) has been named Grand Marshal.
The parade, originally scheduled for March 25th, commences at noon on this Saturday, April 8th. New Traffic Patterns will be in place that day, which can be viewed at the parade's website, www.girardvilleirishparade.com
An Irish Mass held at Saint Vincent's Worship Center, 2nd and "C" Streets, kicks off the day's events at 10:00am. Reverend Paul Rothermel, from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Ashland, will celebrate the Mass. Following the parade, an outdoor celebration will be held at the Hibernian House, 21 Beech Street.
Those attending the parade are asked to approach Girardville from Ashland due to traffic congestion.
Any organizations interested in entering a float or in participating in the 2017 parade can still register online at www.girardvilleirishparade.com or by calling Parade Chairman Joe Wayne at 570-590-1826 or Parade Manager Donald Dudash at 570-590-5328.
FRACKVILLE - In a press release, The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. announced its location at the Schuylkill Mall near Frackville would close on May 1st.
The store, originally opened at the mall in 1983 as Pomeroy's, when it relocated to the mall from downtown Pottsville, is another addition to an ever-growing list of closures at the mall, whose future remains uncertain under new owner NP New Castle, LLC.
“Closing a store is never an easy decision,” Kathryn Bufano, president and chief executive officer for The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. said in the press release. “We would like to thank the loyal customers who have shopped with Bon-Ton over the years as well as our devoted store associates for their dedication and friendly customer service to this community.”
The closure leaves Dunham's Sports as the 726,000-square-foot shopping center's sole anchor, with remaining stores operating on month-to-month leases.
According to the press release, the closure effects 35 associates, who will be offered the opportunity to interview for available positions at stores in the area or receive career transition benefits, including severance, according to established practices and state employment service support.
In Northeastern/East-Central Pennsylvania, The Bon-Ton has locations in Bloomsburg, Columbia County; Reading, Berks County; and Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County.
SHENANDOAH - In response to several inquiries, and in our efforts to continue to improve our service to the community, we've decided to launch several options to donate to the Sentinel financially. None of our followers are, or will ever be, obligated to provide any sort of financial support to us. Our coverage of news and events in northern Schuylkill County will always be a free public service we provide to our community.
The first is through a website called Patreon, which is a way for fans of online content creators (YouTubers, Artists, etc) to fund their favorite creators, and for those creators to earn a sustainable income. The way our page is set up, you can donate an amount you set per month. If all of our followers donated just $1 per month through this method, covering the news and events in upper Schuylkill County would officially be our full-time job. That page can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/ShenSentinel
The other is a more traditional method, T-Shirt Sales. Currently available is a T-Shirt with Shenandoah's skyline in four colors.The cost is $15, with shipping set at $3.99, and the shirt can be found here - https://teespring.com/shenandoah-skyline-t-shirt . More designs may be developed and sold at a later time.
Any assistance is greatly appreciated. We'd like to thank all of our followers, and everyone in the communities we serve for allowing us the privilege to cover the news and events that matter to you. Thank you.