On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

It is hard for me to believe but the first day of school is tomorrow, Thursday September 3, 2015. 2823 students were registered in the Crestwood School District as of the last school board meeting, a loss of 52 students from August 2014. Rice has 806 students in K-thru 6; Fairview has 671 in K-thru 6, a difference of 135 students. Why hasn’t Crestwood made some redistricting plans? Enrollments district wide have been dropping for years. 62.5 students should be reassigned to Fairview Elementary. Both schools are identical in space, and number of classrooms. I can only conclude that class size at Fairview is nearly 20% smaller than those at Rice.

You don’t hear any complaints from Rice parents or teachers, despite the higher numbers. Both schools can easily house 800 students within their physical plants. Rice has always risen to the expectation of their capabilities. It’s time for the board and administration to get down to the drawing board and revise their boundaries.

Bus Run Information

Last week the Eagle published the Crestwood School District bus runs. I did not see the finishing listing in the Eagle until the paper was ready for print. The Eagle donated the better part of six pages informing Crestwood families of their yearly bus run information. In previous years the information was contained in four pages or less. The listings were superfluous, confusing and ridiculous.

When we inquired about the listings by bus number instead of by school, we were informed that it was changed this year at the bus garage. How about listing by school and neighborhood? I don’t know how easily the parents of the children could read what was published. Listing every turn of the bus route even before the first pick-up was unnecessary.

The bus routes should have been edited to the format that the Eagle has published for the past 30 years, the one that is easily readable and understandable. The Eagle will not publish six pages of superfluous bus information again. Ice Lakes in Danger

The Eagle got an urgent call from Shawn Keiderling last week informing us that water was leaking out of the Upper Ice Lake in Rice Township and flooding the Lower Ice Lake. Keiderling estimated that at least two inches was disappearing every day and water moccasin snakes were prevalent at the shoreline. The Upper Lake is protected by a damn.

Charlie Grubert came back from a kayak outing last week and stated that the water level had dropped substantially. He paddled near the damn and could hear what sounded like water rushing through the dam.

I called Rice Township and Roadmaster Bob Pipech told me he had the township engineer and DEP on the case and efforts were ongoing to find a faulty pipe that could be the cause of the water release. Pipech estimated that the water level was down at least four feet. The recently installed floating dock at the Ice Lakes Park is in danger of damage with the dropping water levels.

Pipech confirmed the snake problem on the enlarged shoreline and noted that turtles living in the lake were washing up on shore.

“We will get to the bottom of this and soon,” Pipech emphasized, when we spoke on the weekend. “I am using all of our resources to solve the problem.”

The Ice Lakes are a popular recreation spot for small boats, fishing and enjoyment from shore.

Pipech, who was a township supervisor from 2002 to 2008, and was appointed to the vacancy when Mark Taney resigned at the end of June, also updated me on the township’s paving projects. “American Asphalt is finishing up jobs in Wright Township and they will be over to do the Rice Roads soon.” The contract for paving parts of Fairwood Boulevard, Alexander Boulevard and Wilderness Drive was awarded July 7, 2015. “We have been patching and we still have a lot of work to do. I may recommend more paving while American Asphalt is on the mountain,” said Pipech. “So many areas have been neglected in the past six years, but we are going to get them all taken care of,” he added.

I was thrilled to see Prospect Road in Dorrance Township has a wonderful new smooth paving job in place. Prospect had not been paved in at least 10 years.

Rice needs to look at the worst section of Henry Drive, which connects to Prospect Road for a priority-paving job. There is $350,000 in the Rice accounts, more than enough to get Henry Drive in shape for winter.

Dicus Family Visit Ending This is the last week for the Dicus

family 2015 visit. Every member of the family had their special time last week with Mema and Papa. I took Kate school shopping on Monday, Patrick shopping for electronic fun things he had been waiting for since his birthday in April on Tuesday, and Maggie for lunch and a diversified shopping trip. I will golf with Charlie and Patrick this week. Lara and I have a special time every night and enjoy watching a couple of quality shows each week.

Mark Dicus wanted to can some of our abundant tomato harvest and surprisingly we found all the old water bath canner equipment and enough jars and lids in our basement to make 5 quarts of fresh sauce.

Charlie Grubert found the canner and then patiently searched for the rack, that is essential to boiling the jars and sealing them, with no success. Lara found an alternative on the Internet to making a “rack” out of aluminum foil. The jars cannot touch the bottom of the canner pot. Mark cut up the ripe tomatoes, simmered them on the stove, separated the meat of the tomatoes from the seeds and skin in the Foley Food Mill, and cooked the mixture down to the consistency of sauce. Meanwhile the jars had to be washed and sanitized in boiling water and the lids and rings had the same treatment.

After about three hours of preparation we were ready to put the sauce into the jars. Lovingly Mark and Kate Dicus ladled the sauce into the jars. The tops were wiped and the lids carefully placed on top of each jar. Rings were attached and each jar was gently placed in the water bath canner on top of the aluminum foil “rack”. 40 minutes of boiling/ processing saw Mark take out the jars and place them on a towel to cool. We were now about 5 hours into our canning experience.

One by one the lids “popped” signifying that the “canning” had been successful. I was so happy that no jars had exploded or cracked. It had been about 30 years since I last used my water bath canner and without a traditional rack I was fearful. Mark Dicus had the joy of completing a task with his children. I am perfectly happy to store the finished sauce I make in the freezer and use it year round in my chili recipe.

The newly canned tomato sauce went back to Brooklyn, NY Sunday night. Enjoy the experience and the sauce, Mark. You won’t forget your half-day canning with Mema and we could do it again next weekend. I know we will see that sauce again one day, but we still have a nice big pile of tomatoes waiting.