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State Senate ends disaster emergency declaration

Locally elected and appointed officials voted on the following matters in the past week:

Federal

• The Senate 81-16 on the confirmation of Zahid N. Quraishi, of New Jersey, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey. U.S. Sens. Robert Casey, D-Scranton, and Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, voted yes.

• The House was out of session.

State

• The Senate voted 30-20 to end Gov. Wolf’s pandemic disaster emergency declaration. State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, voted yes.

• The House voted 121-81 to end Gov. Wolf’s pandemic disaster emergency declaration. State Reps. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township; Joe Hamm, R-Montoursville; and Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, voted yes.

• The House voted 120-83 in favor of a bill that would ban abortions prompted by a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. State Reps. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalock Township; Joe Hamm, R-Montoursville; and Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, voted yes.

• The House voted 124-79 in favor of a bill that would allow gun owners to get their legal bills covered by local tax dollars if they challenge local gun laws that are stricter than the state’s gun laws. State Reps. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township; Joe Hamm, R-Montoursville; and Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro.

County

• Lycoming County commissioners voted 3-0 to approve an $89,400 agreement with Palumbo Group Architects for engineering and design services for the county health care center. Scott Metzger, Rick Mirabito, and Tony Mussare voted yes.

School Districts

• Statistics summarizing how COVID-19 impacted the district over the last school year were shared by Mark Stamm, superintendent at the South Williamsport Area School District, at the school board meeting. He said that there was a total of 74 students who were positive for COVID-19 and 26 staff members who were positive. Stamm noted that although there was some misunderstanding, the district does not have the authority to quarantine anyone but was permitted to exclude students from school for the purpose of a Department of Health quarantine issue. The district excluded from school, or from work, a total of 76 staff members at one point or another, and the one that I find most shocking is we excluded from school, 1,258 student at one point or another during the year.

Related to the district’s handling of the pandemic, the board voted to repeal the current Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan for Schools, Athletics and Extra-Curricular Programs approved for the 2020-21 school year. The board then approved the adoption of a proposed interim Health and Safety Plan. This plan will serve as a bridge between the plan that was adopted in July, 2020 and a new plan which has to be formulated and submitted to the state’s department of education by July 30, 2021. The interim health and safety plan states that the district will abide by the guidelines and the recommendations for schools coming from the CDC, and the state’s departments of health and education. The plan applies to all instructional, athletic and employment activities by students, staff and visitors. It will be in place until the new health and safety plan for returning to school in the fall is approved.

• By a unanimous vote, the Montoursville Area School Board approved the 2021-22 budget with no tax increase to district property owners. In conjunction with this, the board approved a tax levy resolution sets real estate taxes at the current rate of 16.23 mills, an earned income tax of 1.15 percent and a realty transfer tax of .5 of 1 percent.

Budget figures for the upcoming fiscal year show a deficit of $489,255 which will be covered by using monies from the unassigned fund balance. Brandy Smith, board manager and secretary, told the board that as of June 30, 2022, the district will have $3.3 million in the unassigned fund balance category.

Municipal

• Montoursville Borough Council voted 4-0 to approve an agreement with Lycoming County for Community Development Block Grant funding toward COVID-19 response needs for borough residents. Eric Greenway, Misty Emick, Robert Brown, and Ted Haines voted yes. Christoper Lucas and Tillson were absent.

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