2018 Draft Budget Calls for .28-Mill Tax Increase
HONESDALE (Nov. 30, 2017)
The Wayne County Commissioners have released the proposed 2018 General and Debt Service Budget for public inspection. The balanced budget of $31,812,050.18 will be available for inspection in the Wayne County Commissioner’s Office during normal business hours and can be viewed on the county website; www.waynecountypa.gov. The commissioners intend to formally adopt the budget on December 21, 2017
This budget includes a millage rate increase for the first time since 2013. The increase is in the amount of .28 mills. A review of the county’s financial records shows that, since 2013, the income generated from increases in assessed value has only risen $358,591.00, while the costs of county operations has gone up over $2.0 million during that same time. Wayne County receives about 2/3 of its total revenue from local real estate taxation. The balance of income is derived from interest, user fees and state and federal funds. The state and federal governments continue to impose unfunded mandates on counties, without any corresponding revenue to cover the additional cost. This means that local taxpayers are forced to fund the difference. Just as one example, the effects of the Sandusky legislation have greatly increased the workload for our human services agencies with no increase in state or federal funding.
Some of the county increases, since 2013 are:
Adult and Juvenile Probation $260,000
Human Services/Drug and Alcohol $155,000
Human Services/Aging $396,532
Human Services/Children & Youth $160,527
The Opioid epidemic that Wayne County has experienced contributes to some of this increase in costs and as well, has contributed to an increase in overall criminal justice operations. The County Correctional Facility has seen a net increase in expenses of $600,000 since 2013 due to criminal justice costs and the termination of a prisoner housing contract from the Department of Corrections.
Although the county experienced relatively little growth in its assessed value over the last five years, the County Commissioners have remained committed to economic development. By increasing investment in this area by more than $200,000, the Commissioners have leveraged funding for the Stourbridge Incubator Project, created an Economic Growth Fund Program and will continue to assist with expanded Broadband access as well as provide a match for a Community Investment Model/Agricultural Study.
The new millage rate will be 3.99. Each mill represents $1 in taxation for each $1000 of assessed value. For 2018, a property assessed at $100,000 will pay $399.
Veterans Day Ceremony
SALEM TOWNSHIP (Nov. 11, 2017) — The Commissioners attended the Veterans Day Ceremony at The Hideout, in Salem Township on Saturday November 11, 2017. Sgt Scott Ogden USMC (1943-45) participated in the ceremony and also performed the National Anthem. The Wayne County Commissioners thank Scott Ogden and all of our Veterans for their service to our great country.
Wayne Citizens Join PA Voter Hall of Fame
People across the Commonwealth prepare to head to the polls for local elections on Tuesday, and eight Wayne County voters have been added to the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame. At the Oct. 12 induction ceremony, Clayton Crum, Maria Drobnicki, Helen Estus, Donald Guida, Sally Hawley, Jean Marie Matoushek, Susan Springer and Louis Welch were recognized for voting 50 consecutive years in the November General Election. They each received a citation signed by PA Governor Tom Wolf and the Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes. The Polls are open tomorrow, Nov. 7, from 7 am to 8pm. You can view a sample ballot at the County Bureau of Elections
Nov. 28 Workshop to Focus on Challenging Behaviors
HONESDALE (Nov. 2, 2017) — The Link to Aging and Disability Services hosts a free training program on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at Ladore Lodge & Conference Center, South Street in Waymart. The Managing Challenging Behaviors Workshop, which includes a breakfast buffet from 8:30 to 9 am, will be held from 9 to 12 noon. Aimed at those working with individuals with difficult behaviors, such as care managers, case managers, nurses, social workers, substance abuse workers and counselors, will focus on how to address challenging behaviors by consumers. Those attending will also learn the importance of managing their own behavior and the experience they bring to these interactions. To register for the workshop, call or email Juliann Doyle at 570-253-4262; email@example.com
Wayne DA’s Drug Task Force Makes Heroin Arrest
HONESDALE (Nov. 1, 2017) – Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards announced the arrest of a Greentown man for the delivery of heroin and other charges Tuesday.
John Joseph Henneforth Jr., 38, has been charged with a felony counts of Delivery of Heroin, Criminal Use of Communication Facility and a misdemeanor charge of Possession of Heroin after he made the sale of 10 bags of heroin to a confidential informant of the Wayne County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force this month. Henneforth is a suspect in large scale drug deal ring in Wayne County.
DA Edwards said, “The heroin problem must be addressed with a combination of education of our youth, treatment of those addicted and prosecution of drug dealers. Safety of our towns and our residents must come first. Drug dealing always brings with it crime. Today’s charge is a great step in arresting dealers who sell large amounts of drugs in our county.
She said various law enforcement officers joined the Wayne County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force in this investigation, including the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pike County Detectives Office, the Honesdale Borough Police Department and the Waymart Borough Police Department.
Henneforth’s bail was set at $250,000 by District Magisterial Judge Linus Myers. He is currently on State Parole for a previous conviction in 2013 for Delivery of Heroin and related drug offenses.
He is scheduled to appear in Central Court at 9 am on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Wayne County Courthouse.
Bring the Kids for Trunk-or-Treat on Sunday, 4-6
HONESDALE (Oct. 25,2017) — The Wayne County System of Care hosts a Trunk-or-Treat event at the Park Street Complex this Sunday, Oct. 29 from 4 to 6 pm. There will be games and activities for all ages and a costume contest to choose the cutest, most original and scariest in four age groups from newborns to teenages, with candy and giveaways. Get a jump on the Halloween fun.
Wayne County Prepares for Active Shooter w/Monday Drill
HONESDALE (Oct. 17, 2017) – The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department conducted an active shooter drill at the County Courthouse in Honesdale Monday morning, designed to help prepare employees for how to respond to a violent incident.
Sheriff Mark Steelman said the drill involved simulated gunfire. He noted feedback from county employees indicated the sound of shots created a more lifelike scenario that added a sense of urgency to the evacuation.
The drill, which is conducted annually, was desigend to allow employees a chance to practice their decision making regarding whether and how to get out of the building through alternate exits, and instructing members of the public, who may have been in their offices at the time, on how to react and where to go.
Sheriff Steelman said the preparedness exercises are of great value because of the nature of the work that is being conducted at the Courthouse every day. He said, “Although people often come to the court house to get a dog license or a marriage license, they may also be involved in situations that are highly emotional and may cause a violent reaction.”
The drill helps to insure that courthouse staff are prepared to do what it takes to keep themselves and any members of the public safe during such an incident. “It’s about creating a mindset,” he noted.
Employees were encouraged to get out of the building if they can, and if not to hide or shelter in place until the incident has been brought under control.
The Sheriff’s Department, which is responsible for security at many county facilities, will also be conducting similar drills at other sites, such as the Park Street Complex, in the near future.
RACHEL’S CHALLENGE RISES AS CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
Community Wide Go Orange Day Set for October 24
(September 28, 2017, Honesdale, PA)… The entire community is invited to participate in the 5th annual Go Orange Day on Tuesday, October 24, by publicly showing their embrace of “a culture of kindness and acceptance of others” first introduced to the area by Rachel’s Challenge. The Rachel’s Challenge program, which has reached more than 10,000 people in Wayne County and the Greater Forest City area through rallies, projects and “chain reactions”, has evolved. Its new name is CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, and it’s already thriving in area schools.
“We are excited to take Rachel’s Challenge to a new level,” said Donna Decker, RN, manager of Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Community Health Department. “This year, we’re encouraging people to ‘go orange’ by wearing a Challenge Accepted t-shirt or any article of orange clothing. Keep the flame alive!”
Organizers say Challenge Accepted will remain rooted in the same basic principles as the original Rachel’s Challenge initiative: Look for the Best in Others; Dream Big; Choose Positive Influences; Speak with Kindness and Start Your Own Chain Reaction.
Wallenpaupack Area, Wayne Highlands, Western Wayne and Forest City school districts have already launched programs in keeping with the Challenge Accepted message. Wallenpaupack has scheduled monthly activities such as a bulletin board that is covered in sticky notes with supportive comments/words. Students can take a note and share it with another student, teacher or staff member. In November, their theme will be Pay it Forward…service to those in need. They have also planned a Paupack Rocks! rock garden with inspiring messages.
Wayne Highlands Middle School’s What’s Your Word campaign challenges faculty, staff and students to choose words that foster a kinder, gentler, more positive environment. The high school has launched a What You Do Matters campaign— a bulletin board with post-it notes, acknowledging students’ acts of kindness.
Western Wayne is using “school pride” to advance supportive messages, and Forest City is employing its Forester Television Station to highlight positive messages. Forest City is also assigning students to a teacher who will meet with them to discuss topics such as respect, kindness and anti-bullying.
Rachel’s Challenge is a Colorado-based program started by the family of Rachel Joy Scott, one of the victims of the Columbine shooting incident, in the hope that her message of love and kindness would start a chain reaction.
Will you accept the challenge? “Join us on October 24 in any way you can,” says Decker, “the Challenge Accepted message is meant to be shared and in a way, shouted from rooftops—it’s all positive and hopefully can make a difference in our lives.”
Challenge Accepted t-shirts are available in bulk from Platform Industries, 570-499-3902 or individually by calling Sarah at 570-253-9200 or Jean at 570-253-8990. The deadline for ordering is October 10th. For smaller orders, the t-shirts are $5 each.
Challenge Accepted committee members, which also include Wayne County departments such as Behavioral & Developmental Programs & Early Intervention, are collecting stories of how people show their embrace of the program. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to add your story!
National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month – September 2017
The Wayne County Commissioners issued a proclamation in recognition of “National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month” and recognize Saturday, September 23, 2017 as “Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day”
The proclamation mentions that Wayne County had 17 confirmed cases of death by suicide in 2016 and 11 confirmed cases to date in 2017. The Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative is dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through collaboration, education and advocacy, and to reach out to people at risk and those impacted by suicide.
Kathy Wallace, President of the Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative, spoke of the upcoming Wayne/Pike Counties Suicide Awareness, Prevention and Remembrance Walk. The “Share the Journey” walk is held annually to honor loved ones, raise awareness and fight the stigma that stops people from asking for help. The walk is free with any donations appreciated. All money raised stays locally in Wayne/ Pike counties. The walk will be held on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 at the Wallenpaupack Area High School in Hawley, PA. Registration begins at 10 AM. You can also donate online at www.northeastsuicidepreventioninitiative.org
Seated from left: Juliann Doyle, Wayne County Human Services; Kathy Wallace, President of the Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative; Michelle Valinski – Vice-President Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative; Behavioral Health Director at Wayne County BDPEI; Erin Stroyan, Carbon/Monroe/Pike MH/DS
Standing from left: Wendell Kay, Commissioner; Darlene Miller, Wayne County BDPEI; Brian Smith, Commissioner; Cindy Batzel, Wayne County Children & Youth; Ernie Laskosky, Wayne County System of Care Coordinator; Joseph Adams, Commissioner
H’dale Woman Pleads Guilty in Fentanyl Case
HONESDALE (Aug. 31, 2017) — A Honesdale woman pleaded guilty in Wayne County Court Thursday, Aug. 31, to one count of Theft of Fentanyl, a Felony of the 3rd Degree, and one count of Adulter or Misbrand Any Controlled Substance, an ungraded Misdemeanor.
Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards announced Karen Feldner, 56, of Honesdale, faces up to eight years’ incarceration and a $20,000 fine. She is scheduled for sentencing on Thursday, October 19 at 9:30 a.m.
In October of 2016, a report was made of theft of and tampering with approximately 2,000 fentanyl vials from Mountain Laurel Surgery Center, Honesdale. Fentanyl, a schedule II controlled substance, is used in medical procedures for anesthesia and also used illegally since it is a highly addictive, potent pain medication.
The DEA was notified and conducted an investigation in conjunction with the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office, which found Feldner stole Fentanyl from the surgical office as an employee, altered and tampered with vials of Fentanyl and replaced them with another substance.
She also altered documents and forged signatures at the surgical center, obtained Fentanyl through misrepresentation and deception by claiming to have authority from her employer to obtain it when she did not and was in possession of fentanyl.
DA Edwards stated, “As I have previously said, Fentanyl is not just another opioid. It is highly addictive and potentially lethal. I am proud of the work done on this case by Wayne County DA Chief Detective Peter Hower and the DEA to ensure that criminal charges were filed. A concern for the potential safety of others in this case was paramount due to the dangers of Fentanyl. This particular crime not only fed the appetite of an addict but risked the lives of patients. I’m pleased that she pleaded guilty.”
The following cases were also addressed by the President Judge Raymond L. Hamill, on Thursday, Aug. 31:
DARRIN A FURLONG, age 21 of Plantation, ME, was sentenced to the Wayne County Correctional Facility for a period of not less than 3 months nor more than 23 ½ months for one count of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, a Felony of the 3rd Degree. He was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, undergo a mental health evaluation, and submit to the drawing of a DNA sample, and pay $250.00 for the cost. The incident occurred on June 20, 2017, in Salem Township, PA.
ANTHONY LANGIAN, age 28 of Lake Ariel, PA, was sentenced to the Wayne County Correctional Facility for a period of not less than 7 months nor more than 5 years less one day for one count of Criminal Trespass- Break Into Structure, a Felony of the 2nd Degree. He was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, undergo a mental health evaluation, submit to the drawing of a DNA sample, and pay $250.00 for the cost, and obtain employment within 30 days of parole. The incident occurred on February 13, 2017, in Texas Township, PA.
JOSEPH ALEXANDER REIDER, age 21 of Honesdale, PA, was sentenced to the Wayne County Correctional Facility for a period of not less than 15 days nor more than 6 months for two counts of Defiant Trespass-Actual Communication, graded as a Misdemeanor of the 3rd Degree. He was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, shall not enter Grace Episcopal Church, shall not enter Turkey Hill on Main Street in Honesdale, PA, and undergo a mental health evaluation. The incidents occurred on May 28, 2017 and May 29, 2017 in Honesdale Borough, PA.
MICHAEL FRANICS VOGEL, age 27 of Kansas, was sentenced to the Wayne County Correctional Facility for a period of not less than 120 days nor more than 5 years for one count of DUI, a Misdemeanor of the 1st Degree, one count of Unauthorized Use of Automobiles and Other Vehicles, a Misdemeanor of the 2nd Degree, a Misdemeanor of the 2nd Degree, and one count of Reckless Driving, a Summary offense. He was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, pay a fine in the amount of $1,700.00, participate in and cooperate with the drug and alcohol addiction, complete the Alcohol Highway Safety Program, resolve all outstanding warrants, and obtain employment within 30 days of parole. The incident occurred on June 11, 2017, in Clinton Township, PA.
CORY JONES, age 23 of Honesdale, PA, was sentenced to Wayne County Correctional Facility for a period of not less than 5 days nor more than 12 months for one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, an ungraded Misdemeanor. He was also ordered to pay the costs of prosecution, pay a fine in the amount of $300.00, undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, and maintain employment. The incident occurred on June 14, 2016, in Honesdale Borough, PA.
MELISSA HOOKER, age 43 of Blakely, PA, was placed on the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for a period of 6 months related to DUI. She was also ordered to pay all Court costs and perform 40 hours of community service and have her operator’s privilege for a period of 60 days. The incident occurred on March 17, 2017, in Lake Township, PA. Her BAC revealed a .236%.
Conservation District Announces Cover Crop Incentive
HONESDALE (Aug. 31, 2017) — The Wayne Conservation District announces an incentive program to promote the planting of cover crops on fields that would normally be bare after harvesting.
Nutrient Management Special Zach Jones says, “Cover crops provide many soil health benefits, are excellent soil builders, and nutrient scavengers.”
Producers will be reimbursed for 75% of actual seed costs that are applied at the PSU recommended agronomic rate on their land located in Wayne County. Seed applied above or below the agronomic rate is not reimbursable. Contact Jones with questions about recommended application rates.
Only fields producing an annual crop (one that leaves the soil open) will qualify for the cover crop seed reimbursement such as corn, soybean or a commercial vegetable garden. This funding is available to active farmers only.
The goal is to promote the Best Management Practice of cover crops, to reduce erosion and to scavenge nutrients. The seed must be planted with a No-Till Seeder. Farmers may use their own No-Till Seeder or the District has a seeder available for rent. Cover crops must be planted within a timeframe where final inspection of growth for program payment can be made by the District on or before Nov. 15.
Seed purchased before July 1, 2017 will not be reimbursed.
You must be pre-registered in order to participate. Call Zach Jones at the Wayne Conservation District Office, 570-253-0930 to schedule an on-site registration and field eligibility visit.
CCAP Puts Focus on Wayne County in Summer Magazine
HONESDALE (Friday, Aug. 18) – The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania recently featured Wayne County in the “Focus On” feature in the Summer 2017 issue of Pennsylvania County News magazine.
The article not only discusses Wayne County’s fascinating past, from rafting logs to hauling coal to decorative glass, but it also looks at the area’s vibrant present, and the efforts of a growing county to meet the many needs of both its citizens and businesses.
The article delves into the county’s future and the Commissioner’s focus on creating a collaborative environment to address a variety of demographic and economic challenges through the Wayne Tomorrow Initiative. It also explores the county’s unique approach to workforce development.
Finally, the seven-page article reviews the county’s many natural, historic, artistic and cultural resources that contribute to Wayne County’s exceptional quality of life.
Scholarship Opportunity for Veterans
TonaLaw is offering a $1000.00 Veterans Scholarship. This is awarded semi-annually for Fall and Spring semesters.
Applicant requirements are:
- Only open to students attending school in the United States
- Applicant must be a veteran of any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States
- Applicant must be a student at an accredited school, or be accepted to begin school within 6 months of application
The deadline for applications for the Fall Semester is July 31st. Spring semester applications are due by November 30th. For more information and to fill out an application go to https://www.tonalaw.com/scholarship/
Honesdale Masons Laud Sheriff, Deputies
HONESDALE (June 30, 2017) — Harry McFarland of the Honesdale Lodge 218 F&AM places a pin on the uniform of Wayne County Sheriff Mark Steelman on Thursday as Honesdale Lodge member Dominic Fatigati and Deputies Chad Hankinson and Claud Neer look on. The Masons Lodge honored the Sheriff’s Department this year as part of their annual First Responders Recognition Program, calling them everyday heroes. Chief Deputy Chris Rosler and Deputies Mark Santoli, Ray Gabikian and Danene VanHorn also attended the presentation during the Wayne County Commissioners weekly meeting.
Dominic Fatigati (seated at left) and Harry McFarland of the Honesdale Lodge 218 honored the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department through their First Responders Recognition Program. From left are Deputy Chad Hankinson, Commissioner Wendell Kay, Deputy Mark Santoli, Chief Deputy Chris Rosler, Sheriff Mark Steelman, Deputies Danene VanHorn, Ray Gabikian and Claud Neer, and Commissioner Joseph Adams.
Two Mark 20 Years of Service to Wayne County
HONESDALE (June 21, 2017) — The Wayne County Commissioners issued Certificates of Recognition to long-time county employees, John Dunsinger, seated at left, in the Juvenile Probation Office and Laurie Collins from the Prothonotary’s Office, who each have dedicated 20 years to their respective departments. Chairman Brian Smith, center, noted the public is often not aware of the important work of the county’s many dedicated employees and these anniversaries are an opportunity to change that. Commissioner Wendell Kay, left, lauded the pair for their work in assuring the smooth functioning of the county court system, and Commissioner Joe Adams said since joining the board he has been struck by the number of hard working people who have had such long tenures serving the county.
Two Win Bikes at Safety Fair for Kids
HONESDALE (June 20, 2017) Each year, Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria in Honesdale donates one girl’s and one boy’s bike to be raffled off at the Wayne County Safety Fair for Kids. Five-year-old Joey Haines (left) and Jordan Hattler, 6, both of Honesdale, were the winner and can start perfecting their skills. The two attend Stourbridge Primary Center with Jordan heading into first grade and Joey looking forward to the start of kindergarten. The training wheels will remain for the time being, but both were excited to get riding. The raffle was open to any child who visited at least half of the safety tables at the event back in May. Elegante staff members Courtney Peck (left) and Lisa Cowger (right) join Leann Wash (center), one of the event coordinators, at the Main Street, Honesdale, eatery for the presentation.
Old Glory Takes Center Stage on Flag Day
HONESDALE (June, 14, 2017) – The US Army Recruiters Color Guard unfurled the American Flag over the Wayne County Courthouse this morning as the Commissioners marked Flag Day with a ceremony on the front steps.
County Veterans Affairs Director Frank Muggeo coordinated the program and spoke about his connection to the flag during his years of military service in theaters throughout the world.
County Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith shared three stories about the American Flag that illustrated the pride, hope and sacrifice it represents. Commissioner Wendell Kay reflected on the connection to the flag as an iconic symbol, not just individually but as a whole nation. In leading the group in the Pledge of Allegiance, Commissioner Joe Adams encouraged everyone to consider the meaning of those very familiar words.
Honesdale High School senior Emily DeCrotie and HHS Choral Director Martha Curtis provided the music for the ceremony, including the National Anthem.
As part of the observance, local school students produced artwork and other items for display in the lobby of the Courthouse, and the public is welcome to view the exhibit from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm through this Friday.
The annual ceremony ends with a group photo on steps of the Courthouse.
Veterans with questions about benefits and services can contact the Office of Veterans Affairs Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at 570-253-5970 ext. 1752.
Wayne Honors Three New Eagle Scouts in Lake Ariel
LAKE ARIEL (June 13, 2017) — Wayne County Commissioners Wendell Kay (left) and Joe Adams presented Certificates of Recognition to three members of Boy Scout Troop 102 in Lake Ariel for their outstanding character, leadership and citizenship. The accomplishments of Wil Petersen (center), Austin Kidder and Dalton Buckman (right) were celebrated at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on Sunday at St. Thomas More Church.
Wayne Lauds Pocono Fox Trot Fundraising for Parkinson’s Disease
HONESDALE (June 6, 2017) – As the Wayne County Commissioners issued a proclamation for Parkinson’s Awareness Month, they learned that Northeast Pennsylvania’s only Michael J. Fox Foundation event has raised more than $50,000 in its first two years.
Roland Grote said the third annual Pocono Fox Trot 5K Walk/Fun Run and 1 Mile Community Walk for Parkinson’s Research will be held, rain or shine, Saturday, June 17, at Ann Street Park in downtown Milford. Registration starts at 8 am.
“We hope to remove the stigma associated with Parkinson’s Disease and offer support to patients and families,” Grote noted.
The event was founded in 2015 not only to raise money for a cure but also to bring together all the Parkinson’s Disease resources available locally. It raised $22,000 that first year and another $30,000 last year. The goal for 2017 is $35,000.
The After-Party includes the Resource Fair, free food, music and a gift basket raffle at the Ann Street Park.
The 5K Fun Run and Walk begin at 9 am and the one-mile Community Walk gets underway at 10 o’clock with a Kids Dash and Virtual 5K planned as well. Register for all four events online.
If you are not able to attend you can donate online, or send checks payable to Pocono Fox Trot 5K, Box 2776, Gold Key Lakes, Milford, PA 18337.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has funded more than $700 million to speed a cure, investing more than half of that in altering the disease by helping develop a treatment to restore damaged dopamine neurons, nearly a quarter on defining Parkinson’s and nearly as much on addressing untreated symptoms of the disease. Learn more at the Michael J. Fox Foundation website.
PA Launches Tax-Free Savings Plan for Those w/Disabilities
HARRISBURG – Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th) joined Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) to officially launch the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE program, a landmark tax-free state savings account to help alleviate some of the financial challenges faced by families raising or caring for those with disabilities.
During remarks made Monday, Baker noted the importance of the program for a family’s financial health and well-being.
“The ABLE program reflects sensible and solid change. Initiative and family responsibility are rewarded. The door opens for individuals to take steps to increase their ability to function and contribute. When families can set aside funds for a better safety net, worry diminishes. No longer will so many families be forced to make an impossible choice between services and savings,” she said.
Sen. Casey led the effort at the federal level, and Baker worked with disability advocates from throughout the state to bring the program to Pennsylvania. Administered by the state treasury, ABLE accounts:
- Provide people with disabilities with a way to be more financially independent.
- Save on taxes; accounts grow tax-free and, when used for qualified disability expenses, are tax exempt.
- Protect eligibility for means-tested federal benefits and state disability, medical assistance, health, and student aid benefits.
- May be used to pay for a wide range of disability expenses including basic living, housing, education, health, legal, transportation, and more.
- Allow others to give funds to the eligible individual without the gift impacting benefits.
Praising those that helped to ensure families have a way to plan for the lifetime support needs of individuals with physical or intellectual limitations, Baker said, “The people deserving commendation are the families, the groups, and the individuals who engaged in the advocacy and education efforts…your caring and commitment truly made the difference.”
To learn more or to enroll, go to: http://www.paable.gov/
PennDOT Outlines Construction Projects for 2017 Season
HONESDALE — PennDOT recently unveiled its plans for the 2017 construction season in Wayne County, with 83 miles of state roads scheduled for surface improvements along with 10 bridge projects, a half dozen slide repair jobs and other safety projects and enhancements. View the map here.
More than half of the surface improvements will take place in the northern part of the county, while most of the bridge work is in the south and central regions.
The county maintenance crews will be applying oil and chip treatment on Callicoon, Conklin Hill, River, Adams, Brook, Pond, Finn Swamp, Spinner, Weniger Hill, Kinghill, Starlight Lake, Starrucca Creek and Rock Lake Roads along with Miller Drive. Calkins, Rutledgedale and Beech Grove Roads will receive base and edge repairs this year while Smith Hill and Gallilee Roads will be paved.
The 2017 schedule includes bridge projects on Routes 191, 296, 371 and 652 and the Narrowsburg and Kellam bridges over the Delaware River.
Contractors will also be paving just over half a mile of White Mills Road from Route 6 and just over eight miles of Cortez Road. Crews will also be repairing a series of slides along Routes 191, 370 and 590 as well as on Milanville Road, Owego Turnpike and Maple Grove Road. The Route 191 and 590 four corners in Hamlin has also been slated for improvement.
Finally, crews will be paving the shoulders of Route 652 from the Delaware River to Route 6 and installing edge line rumble strips to improve safety.
PennDOT continues the major reconstruction project on Interstate 84, with the rebuilding efforts moving into Wayne County this season.
Wayne Receives Gaming Grants for Infrastructure
HONESDALE – The Wayne County Commissioners received good news about grant funding for two important projects this week: an expansion of broadband service to the Sterling Business and Technology Park; and the creation of a space for the Newfoundland Area Food Pantry.
Overall, the Commonwealth Finance Authority announced grants for five projects in the county from the Local Share Account, funded by gaming revenues from Mt. Airy Casino.
The county received $300,000 to support efforts to extend high-speed, broadband internet service from its existing terminus in South Canaan along Route 296 then Route 191 to the Sterling Business Park.
The authority also awarded the county $136,000 for a collaboration with Pike County to create space, through the expansion of a municipal building, to house the Newfoundland Area Pantry program.
The Commonwealth Finance Authority also approved grants from the Local Share Account to the Palmyra Township Supervisors for an expansion of their municipal building, $100,000; to Honesdale Borough for the next phase of the Blake’s Creek storm-water project, $93,000; and Canaan Township for replacement of the Davis Road Bridge, $120,000.
Teen Teaches Programming at Stourbridge Project
HONESDALE – In just over a year since it opened, the Stourbridge Project business incubator and accelerator already has the makings of its first success story in 16-year-old Bruce Johnson. The home-school student has a keen interest in computers and technology.
Bruce approached the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance about the possibility of teaching classes in computer programming, the electronics platforms called Arduino and the microcomputer called Raspberry Pi. Bruce’s endeavor named Pi Crafters fits well into the Stourbridge Project’s mission of promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and a focus on technology.
Bruce has developed his own semester long curriculum and worked with a professional software engineer mentor to refine the program. Bruce also produces his own video tutorials that he posts on his website for additional how-to support for his students. The class welcomes everyone, from ages 13 on past retirement age.
The Honesdale teen traces his fascination with computers to when he was about eight years old, when he began tinkering with old computers that the members of his church would drop off. A few years ago, he and his brothers were saving to buy a laptop. Bruce suggested the inexpensive Raspberry Pi would allow them to build their own machines. They did and had so much fun doing it, Bruce asked for a little space at the Wayne County Public Library to host a class where he now teaches robotics. The Pi Crafters group kept growing and could no longer fit in the youth room at the Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale, which led him to the Stourbridge Project.
He started last summer leading a gaming group and began his programming classes in the fall. From learning the basics of circuitry to working in four programming languages, participants learn to construct their own machines and projects throughout the class and design their own websites as well as program computers.
Bruce hopes he can raise the overall hands-on technical skills in the community by training more and more people in programming and electronics. Pi Crafters classes are $30 and run for five months. Wednesdays from 5 to 7 pm at the Stourbridge Project and are repeated on Mondays at the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance in Hawley.
This summer the Gaming Team, which is free, returns to the Stourbridge Project on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 pm where teens can play computer games and enter a MineCraft Competition.
Bruce has planned an event to introduce people to the fun and excitement of electronics. This Saturday April 1st is National Arduino Day, named for the open-source platform that has revolutionized electronics and programming. The event is from 9 am to 2:30 pm, in the cafeteria at the Wayne County Park Street Complex, 648 Park Street, Honesdale, PA.
The event includes an introduction to Arduino and how it is changing the world of electronics, Arduino-based robotics stations to learn the basics of programming and several free classes to help get you started. There will also be an open showcase of Arduino projects. The doors open at 8:45 am and the project showcases begin at 1:30 pm. Food is available for purchase. For information visit http://arduinodaynepa.weebly.com/.
County Agrees to Apply for River Trail Study Grant
A grassroots movement to build an interconnected trail system from Honesdale to Hawley and possibly beyond gained the support of the Wayne County Commissioners, who agreed to allow the county to serve as the applicant for a grant to fund a feasibility study.
Members of the newly formed Wayne-Pike Trails and Waterways Alliance hope to build – or improve – vibrant and safe trails for hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, nature education and other activities along the Lackawaxen River, the Stourbridge Rail Line and Honesdale Borough parks.
“We are thrilled to have the Commissioners on board,” said Alliance member Dan Corrigan. “It’s a big step in what we anticipate to be a multi-phase journey, a very long – and very exciting – road.” Corrigan noted that the Wayne County Community Foundation has agreed to be the non-profit organization through which funds are collected and funneled for the project.
Wayne County, on behalf of the foundation and the alliance, will apply to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for matching funds to support a Greenways Trails Feasibility Study, estimated to cost approximately $80,000. The study will review property owner issues, lease arrangements, existing municipal and county plans, water access possibilities and cost estimates for any needed construction. It will also seek public input throughout the process and look at potential funding sources.
“The Wayne County Community Foundation has also approved our first funding request for $5,000,” added Corrigan. We have another $5,000 committed from other sources and are looking to the community for the remaining $30,000.
The Alliance is a consortium of four groups with a common goal. The Stourbridge Rail and Trail group, along with the Honesdale River Project and HonesTrails, and the Wallenpaupack Trails and Lock 31 Group all envision a trail system embracing the river that runs through the Honesdale-Hawley corridor and the natural beauty of the area’s parks and woodlands.
The partnership will be soliciting commitments for funds to meet the grant applications deadline of April 12. “We won’t need the money until we know the grant has been received,” said Corrigan.
For more information or to donate, visit https://www.honesdaleriverproject.com or follow them on Facebook.
Planning/GIS Mapping Projects Grow More Interactive
HONESDALE – In large part, the work of the Wayne County Department of Planning and Geographic Information Systems happens behind the scenes, like updating addresses for the 911 system so the EMTs can find you when you need them.
But that’s been changing of late.
Director Craig Rickard recently presented the 2016 Annual Report to the Wayne County Commissioners, noting the department’s mapping work has become more and more interactive.
It really started with “The Map,” an interactive digital map of the county that was overhauled last year to provide even more information and resources that people can access on home computers and mobile devices. If you have never used the Wayne County Interactive Map, it’s pretty likely your cable guy, your realtor or your contractor has.
In 2016, the department also did some mapping for the Wayne County Historical Society for its Secret Garden Tour and Past-Port initiative, and a Planning/GIS-generated map of the region helped gamers at The Cooperage Project’s annual International Table Top Day pinpoint where they came from.
Most notably, the department played an important role in the Wayne County Walk of Honor honoring veterans buried in the county’s 150 cemeteries. A project of the Business and Professional Women of Wayne County, it involves the display of the names with an associated reference, which corresponds to a location on a Planning/GIS-generated map etched into a permanent monument at the site next to the Courthouse in Honesdale.
And there’s more to come. The Planning/GIS Department recently provided preliminary mapping for a nascent community development project aimed at activating the river corridor in Honesdale. The Honesdale River Project has engaged a variety of stakeholders to create additional public access and around and beyond the confluence of the West Branch Lackawaxen and the Dyberry Creek.
To access the complete 2016 Annual Report or for a link to the Wayne County Interactive Map visit http://waynecountypa.gov/county-department-of-planninggis/.
Adult Day Services Support Family Caregivers in Hawley
PA Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne (top left)) joined the Wayne County Commissioners, the Wayne and Pike Area Agencies on Aging and other dignitaries on Friday for the grand opening of the new Wayne County Adult Day Services Center in a new addition at the Drake Senior Center in Bingham Park in Hawley.
The Secretary spent much of her career in Northeast Pennsylvania and told the crowd of well-wishers she knows first-hand the sincere drive of all the partners in the center, which is being operated by Telespond Senior Services, to use their limited resources to care for the most vulnerable.
Sec. Osborne called it important work, “but it must be imbedded in reality. Our Senior Citizens expect and deserve real action to give them access to the support they need to live safely and well in their community.”
The impetus for the Adult Day Service Center sprang from a local support group, which first identified the need that was later validated by a community needs survey.
Adult Day Centers primarily serve older adults with either dementia-related conditions or adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The core services include personal care, nursing services, therapeutic activities, social services, nutritional and therapeutic diets, and emergency care, giving family caregivers peace of mind and a much-needed respite.
Telespond Board member Warren Watkins says the non-profit company is starting out small at the Hawley facility, but expects the program to grow as they have at the Lackawanna County facilities.
“The opening of the Wayne County Adult Day Services Center is vital to improving the lives of older Pennsylvanian’s and their caregivers in this largely rural area,” Secretary Osborne said.
Among those attending the open house and ribbon cutting were Wayne County Commissioner Joe Adams, whose mother served as the first director of the Hawley Senior Center. He was joined by Commissioner Wendell Kay, State Sen. Lisa Baker, State Rep. Mike Peifer, Governor’s Northeast Regional Director Cassandra Coleman and Hawley Mayor Kevin Hawk as well as members of the Wayne County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council and the Telespond Board.
Wayne Offers Match for Ag Economic Development Study Grant
HONESDALE – In examining the county’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, the Wayne Tomorrow Initiative and its work groups saw agriculture as an ideal way of moving toward several of its highest priorities.
Wayne Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Mary Beth Wood calls farming, “The ultimate small business that also provides healthy food and promotes a sustainable environment.”
So the Wayne County Commissioners and WEDCO are asking the Appalachian Regional Commission for a grant to help fund an economic development study focused on agriculture, and where and how the county can build up the industry.
Wood said the pre-application has resulted in an invitation to formally seek the $50,000 grant, and the Commissioners recently provided a commitment letter for the $ 50,000 required match.
The scope of work includes traditional land use planning but also other types of infrastructure planning. The Wayne Tomorrow analysis has also shown, for example, that farms are trending toward smaller operations that need more support.
There’s also the question of building a qualified workforce to address needs in all elements of the industry from new farmers to veterinary services to post-production processing.
Efforts to revive agricultural education and workforce development here in Wayne County prompted state labor officials to recently add farming to the list of the Commonwealth’s high priority occupations.
“The agriculture industry,” said Wood, “is fundamental to our economy and to our standard of living.”