County funds to maintain Meals on Wheels service

BY STACI WILSON

Proposed cuts to the Area Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program will not affect Susquehanna County residents who take advantage of the service.

The commissioners will pay $25,000 to B/S/S/T (Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga) Area Agency on Aging, Towanda, to continue with the five day per week meal deliveries inSusquehannaCounty. The payment period runs retroactively from July 1 and continues until June 30, 2013.

A proposed cut would have curtailed the service to three days per week in the county.

The move to approve the funding for continuing the meal delivery service was unanimously affirmed at the Wednesday, Aug. 22 commissioners’ meeting.

After acknowledging the hiring of Samantha Robinson by President Judge Kenneth Seamans as an Intake Officer in the Domestic Relations department, the commissioners questioned some of the hiring details.

At the center of the discussion was the number of hours work per day in the position.

Commissioner MaryAnn Warren asked, “Why are we still hiring people at six and one-half hours per day? Haven’t we been getting people up to 40 hours per week?”

Chief Clerk Sylvia Beamer said the hours for the position had always been set at six and one-half hours.

The commissioner agreed the position would likely be raised to a 40-hour work week at the time of contract negotiations.

Commissioner Alan Hall spoke about the cost factor involved in hiring people and more employees are required when they only work six and one-half hour versus eight hour days.

“It costs the county down the road,” Hall said.

Before the county puts on more employees, he said, jobs needed to be maximized to 40 hours per week.

The commissioners exonerated the Tax Claim Bureau from collecting delinquent taxes on a Franklin Twp. parcel consisting of a trailer in the name of Dawn Cook on thelandofWilliam Cook, assessed at $9,500.

The trailer had been exonerated from the Assessment rolls on Aug. 17 as being unhooked and unlivable.

Total tax to be exonerated is $957.35.

The commissioners also accepted a proposal fromMCMConsulting Group Inc. to complete a Hazardous Materials Unconventional Well Site Emergency Response Plan in the county.

MCMwill also provide guidance and procedures to augment response and operations during an emergency at a cost of $1500. The cost is 100 percent reimbursable to the county; FEMA will cover 80 percent and PEMA covers 20 percent.

Following the business on the agenda, the floor was then opened to public comment.

Edna Paskoff asked the commissioners when they discussed items on the agenda.

Hall said each of the commissioners see the items individually but do not discuss the agenda items with each other prior to the meeting.

Commissioner Michael Giangrieco then turned the tables on the public comment but asking a question of Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association board president Toby Anderson about a recent library board decision.

Giangrieco said he had been approached by several people concerned with the cuts in hours and services available for commercial searchers at the Historical Society.

Andersonsaid the Historical Society’s primary function is as a museum; with research records available on file there as a secondary purpose. Records are kept there, he said, mostly on microfilm.

“Until recently, our rule was anyone can go,”Andersonsaid, with a daily or annual fee charged for use of the facility.

Andersonsaid, “Gas researching has deluged (the Historical Society) with title searchers spending huge amounts of time.”

He said the one full-time and two part-time employees were not sufficient to handle the workload.

“The researchers need assistance,” he said. “It’s eating up the time of the staff.”

Andersonsaid a meeting was held with gas industry representatives on Aug. 8 to discuss needs. Researchers were invited, he said, but only three showed up.

Andersonsaid the limiting of the hours available to the commercial searchers to two afternoons per week was “a money issue.”

“If was had the resources, we would add a couple of staff up to full-time,” he said.

Craig Stevens and Vera Scroggins questioned the commissioners about natural gas drilling issues around the county and what the elected officials were doing about those concerns.

After some back and forth between the commissioners and the audience members, Hall said, “Everyone who comes here assumes we don’t do anything.”

Hall said the commissioners regularly speak with state and federal agencies and representatives.

Scroggins asked if Giangrieco was feeling frustrated with the public comments.

“Yeah,” the commissioner answered, “because you have your version of what we’re doing or not doing in the best interest of people.”

Paskoff suggested the commissioners report on the discussions they have with gas industry representatives and elected officials.

“It’s your duty to inform these people,” she said. “Tell us what you’re doing. It would be helpful to ameliorate a lot of ill will.”

Bruce Paskoff then asked the commissioners to provide an example of conversations the commissioners had regarding the natural gas industry.

Hall said, “I’m not going to keep going through this,” setting off a back-and-forth between Bruce Paskoff and himself.

“No, my public comment is not done,” Bruce Paskoff said.

Hall retorted, “Don’t raise your voice with me.”

The county commissioners meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, at 9:30 a.m., in the commissioners’ meeting room of the Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose.