News in brief
Delaware to consider a sole assessor
HORTONVILLE, NY — Despite the fact that the idea was shot down by residents a number of years ago, the Town of Delaware board will consider changing the number of assessors from three to one. “We are one of the rare towns that have three assessors,” said Jim Scheutzow, board chairman. “Most, if not all, have only one.”
The town board rejected the idea of holding a non-binding referendum during the next election. “You have the power right now to decide to have one assessor if you wish it,” said town attorney Ken Klein.
One of the problems is finding a person who already has the skills and the knowledge to do the job. A new assessor would have to attend several weeks, if not months, of training in order to do the job. The term for assessors is six years.
Since most assessor positions in small towns are part-time, it was suggested by one of the board members that the job should be shared with another town’s assessor. The town board will decide at its next meeting after hearing the legal ramifications from the town attorney.
Literacy programs in NEPA forfeit funding
NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA — Five programs providing literacy, English as a Second Language and GED services in Northeastern PA will not receive funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of ABLE. One of them is the Wayne Pike Adult Literacy Program (WYPALP).
In May, the WPALP Board of Directors unanimously voted not to apply for funding from the Bureau of ABLE for the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, on the basis of major changes in the state policy and funding guidelines that the organization felt run counter to its mission.
Because the new guidelines require workforce employment goals, they would have ruled out WPALP’s service of student volunteers who go on to teach literacy to others. In addition, WPALP would have been able to serve only adults with a reading level of fifth grade or lower, and would not be able to keep them on beyond a ninth grade reading level. Some of the expectations for English as Second Language were also changed in ways WPALP considers unacceptable. The Reverend William L. Samford, WPALP board president, said, “Our mission continues to be to serve all who seek literacy help and our intention is to do our best to keep the integrity of our program intact.”
Shale coalition conference, shale gas rally in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Pro- and anti-gas drilling forces will be in Philadelphia next week, at a major conference of the Marcellus Shale Coalition in Philadelphia on Wednesday, September 7 and Thursday, September 8.
At the conference, called “Shale Gas Insight,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and former governors Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell will speak in support of the industry. The event is billed as “a best-in-class conference that will offer abundant opportunities for industry stakeholders to gain insight into techniques to advance best practices and shape public policy.”
The rally, titled “Shale Gas Outrage” is called an effort to protect air, earth and health and will be held on Arch Street between Broad and 13th streets, in front of the Pennsylvania Convention Center on September 7 from noon to 2 p.m. It will be followed by a march. Locally, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability is inviting residents to sign up for the rally. Visit damascuscitizens.org/Regional_Action_Sept-7th_Rally.html.
Tougher fracking standards proposed
ALBANY, NY — New York State Senator Greg Ball (R/C) has proposed legislation that would toughen standards for hydrofracking in the state. The legislation is a response to a trip the senator took through Pennsylvania, about which he said, “I can tell you right now that the pain that I’ve seen here today, and the pain that I experienced first-hand speaking with families and farmers in Pennsylvania, it will be over my dead body before I allow what happened in Pennsylvania to happen here in New York.”
Among the proposals in the bill are mandatory full disclosure of all chemicals and compounds used by drilling companies; mandatory water and soil testing by an official governmental third-party for presence of chemicals used by the fracturing process prior to drilling; a requirement that all fracking companies sign a Presumption of Causation Agreement with the state; mandatory reimbursement to property owners by negligent fracking companies for 150% of the real estate’s market value of property, based on estimates prior to drilling, and 100% of the cost for full remediation of soil and water; and allowing local governments to enact or enforce certain laws and ordinances relating to oil, gas and solution mining(affirmation of home rule).