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Issue 34 — Thursday, March 26, 2015
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Seventh Grader Wins
Tri-State Spelling Bee

PORT JERVIS — Area youngsters from five different schools competed Sunday afternoon at the annual Tri-State Spelling Bee held at Port Jervis High School cafeteria. Representing Montague Elementary, Delaware Valley MS, Eldred Central, Port Jervis, and Dingman-Delaware MS, these spellers vied for 10 rounds (one of the shortest contests on record) until a champion, Darius Bermudez, a seventh grader, emerged victorious by spelling the winning word, “ boutique.” By contrast, last year’s bee ran for over 40 rounds and ranked among the longest in local bee history and featured a classic match-up between Shane Fagan and Carson Monks in the final rounds. Carson won his third consecutive trip to the national contest and Shane placed second for the second year in a row.
Tied for second place were Skylar U’Glay, grade 8 and Josh Caraballo, grade 6. All three students are from Delaware Valley MS.

Darius has won an all-expense paid trip to the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, MD, where he will compete in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee May 24-29. The local bee, in its 37th year, is sponsored by the Tri-State Spelling Bee Committee. The finals will be televised on ESPN Thursday, May 28 from 8 to 10 p.m. Among the national sponsors and providers of prizes to the youngsters are the Encylopedia Brittanica, the Samuel Louis Sugerman Award, Merriam Webster, Inc., and the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The road to the final spelling bee came after students took a 25-word written spelling test, with the top scorers competing in their respective school bees. The best five spellers from each school then competed in the Tri-State Bee. School coordinators are: Montague, Chris Gregory; Delaware Valley MS, Emily Shedluaskas and Anna Masker; Eldred Central, Don Post; Port Jervis, Barbara Cathy, and Dingman-Delaware MS, Eric Cooley. James Burnett, retired Delaware Valley English teacher, was the pronouncer. Committee treasurer and liaison to the National Bee is Paul Brislin.

Monticello Man
Sentenced For
Heroin Sales In
Dingman Twp.

MILFORD — District Attorney Ray Tonkin announced that Edwin Quiles, age 43, of Monticello, NY, was sentenced in Pike County Court after being convicted by a jury in January of dealing Heroin in Dingman Township, Pike County. Quiles was convicted of two counts of Delivery of Heroin and one count of Criminal Conspiracy to Deliver Heroin, all felonies.

Pike County Judge Gregory H. Chelak sentenced Quiles to 9 years to 30 years in state prison and a $3,500.00 fine. In determining the sentence, Judge Chelak considered that Quiles was under court supervision in Connecticut for a conviction of a prior drug sale at the time of his arrest on these charges.

According to Tonkin, this is one of the longest sentences issued in Pike County Court for drug dealing. Tonkin noted that “People who would travel to Pike County to deal drugs will be investigated, arrested and sentenced.”

The investigation was conducted by the Pike County Drug Task Force. The Task Force is made up of members from the Pike County Detectives, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Eastern Pike Regional Police Department, the Milford Police Department and the Shohola Police Department.

 

Megan’s Law
Offender Sentenced
For Failure To
Properly Register

MILFORD — District Attorney Raymond Tonkin announced that Frederick Joseph Decker, age 39, of Port Jervis, New York was sentenced in Pike County Court for failure to register a residence he had in Westfall Township. Decker, who was required to register his residence with the Pennsylvania State Police due to a prior conviction of sexual abuse of a child under 11, was convicted at a January trial before a jury.

Judge Gregory H. Chelak sentenced Decker to 7 years to 14 years in state prison and a fine of $300.00. In sentencing the Defendant, the Judge noted Decker had been previously convicted of Megan’s Law violations on four separate occasions.
In summer 2014, Eastern Pike Regional Police Department got a tip that Decker was living at the Westfall address. Decker was found at that address and admitted to the police he was living there for 6 to 8 weeks. The police charged him with failing to comply with registration requirements.

As a result of a prior conviction for Sexual Abuse in the State of New York, Decker is classified as a Tier 3 sexual offender under Pennsylvania’s version of Megan’s Law. Under the law, upon establishing a residence in Pennsylvania, Decker was required to register the address with the state police.

District Attorney Raymond Tonkin was satisfied with the long sentence imposed by Judge Chelak. Tonkin stated “Decker is both a sex offender and has a prior conviction under Megan’s Law. These individuals are required to provide their information for public safety purposes and my office will vigorously seek long sentences for those that fail to comply with the law.”

Coach “Z” Honored By School Board

DINGMANS FERRY — At the Delaware Valley School District School Board meeting last Thursday, March 19, Superintendent John Bell presented Coach Victoria “Coach Z” Zielazny with a plaque commemorating her coaching of the girls’ swimming team from 1994-2015.

Coach Z will retire this year, along with 12 other retirements accepted “with regret” at the meeting. Bell said that these and earlier accepted retirements for this year reflect 441 cumulative years of service... for complete story get this week' s issue.

PayPal Charge Dropped At Roe Hearing

LACKAWAXEN — Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin briefed supervisors about the Shawn Roe case. Tonkin spoke briefly about the case at last week’s regular Lackawaxen meeting held at the township building on Urban Road. The case referred to the Pennsylvania State Police/Blooming Grove Barracks filing in December of a complaint at Pike County District Justice Alan Cooper’s court in Shohola Township.

That complaint included seven felony charges related to alleged embezzlement schemes perpetrated by Shawn Roe, the former Lackawaxen Township Secretary-Treasurer. Police accused her of taking, without legal authorization, $222,242 over a 10-year span, during which she controlled township finances.

At a recent Preliminary Hearing, held at District Justice Alan Cooper’s court, Cooper bound over six of the seven felony charges to Pike County Court of Common Pleas for arraignment, according to Tonkin, who is Pike County’s chief prosecutor. Lackawaxen Supervisor Chairman Bob Cocchi said in an interview after the meeting that at the Preliminary Hearing, Roe’s attorney Michael Weinstein objected to one of the felony charges (Criminal Use of Communication Facility, 3rd Degree) as unsubstantiated and therefore subject to removal from the list of felony complaints.

This felony charge is applicable to a person who uses a communication facility [such as a laptop computer capable of logging on to the Internet] to commit a crime. The charge stated the following: “The defendant did utilize employer (Lackawaxen Township) provided equipment including a desktop and laptop computer for personal use when she made PayPal transactions using monetary funds from the Lackawaxen Township General Tax Fund totaling $93,629.18, knowing that those transactions were not authorized by supervisors.”

Weinstein said in an interview on Monday that he presented the argument that the township auditor and state police did not show full documentary evidence directly linking a PayPal account and money trail to Roe’s account. Weinstein said that whether Cooper dismissed the one charge due to Weinstein’s presentation is not conclusive because Cooper did not explain why he dismissed the charge.

Meanwhile, the DA’s office now has the option to include any charges related to the original state police complaint in the DA’s (Prosecutor’s Information) filing to the Court of Common Pleas. And, Cocchi, a retired New York City Police Department Detective, said that though Cooper bound over the six charges to the Pike County Court of Common Pleas, it is Cocchi’s understanding that State Police are continuing their investigation regarding PayPal transactions. Therefore, state police could still file an amended complaint, if additional information germane to the case arises... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Twp. Weighs Possible Tax Break For Commercial Developers

BUSHKILL — Pike County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Executive Director Mike Sullivan and Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg asked Lehman Township supervisors to adopt an ordinance supporting the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA).

LERTA is Pennsylvania-based enabling legislation authorizing local taxing entities, such as school districts, counties, and municipal governments, to offer tax incentives defined under LERTA to companies seeking to expand or build new facilities. Sullivan and Osterberg lobbied for LERTA at a regular Lehman Township meeting last week.

Lehman Supervisor John Sivick announced that supervisors would address the recommendations and that they would research and discuss the feasibility of the LERTA option before voting on it. In the past year, Sullivan began making the rounds of all Pike municipalities and school districts to get them to pass ordinances authorizing LERTA. Osterberg accompanied Sullivan on some of the visits.

Sullivan said that LERTA offers companies an average of 55 percent in tax breaks for five years on the improved portion of property under development.

According to Sullivan, all municipalities, the county, and school districts stand to gain tax revenue after the five-year LERTA period, during which none of the taxing entities would lose any revenue on the land and unimproved portion of the property.

He said, “That is a win-win situation for everyone.” Sullivan noted that so far, Shohola, Lackawaxen, Dingman, and Delaware townships, Pike County Commissioners, Delaware Valley School District, and Wallenpaupack Area School District have each adopted ordinances supporting LERTA in one form or another. He is next going to East Stroudsburg Area School District to seek their support... for complete story, get this week's issue.

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