County adds requirement for Trehab fuel assistance

BY STACI WILSON

The Susquehanna County Commissioners pulled back a little from their move to give Trehab $35,000 out of Act 13 monies for its rental and fuel assistance program.
The commissioners rescinded, at the Feb. 27 meeting, a motion passed Feb. 13 to grant the agency’s funding request.
Instead of directly paying out the $35,000, the commissioners agreed to reimburse Trehab up to $35,000 for the utility assistance, upon verification of the expense.
Commissioner Michael Giangrieco, who voted against the initial funding request on Feb. 13, joined Commissioners Alan Hall and MaryAnn Warren in approving this request.
But Giangrieco voted against another use of $44,000 of the county’s Act 13 monies.
The Progress Authority was authorized to submit an application on behalf of the county to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Community and Economic Development’s Municipal Assistance Program.
The Progress Authority handles the day-to-day economic development activities in Susquehanna County.
Those funds will used as a match to fund a project which will assess current housing needs, as well as study the feasibility of developing an industrial park along the Interstate-81 corridor.
“Why do you need a study when all the county is an industrial corridor?” Vera Scroggins asked.
The commissioners also split a vote when it came to hiring the former Deputy Chief Clerk Kathy Aldrich as an independent contractor, at a rate of just over $23 per hour, to aid in the transition and training of the new Deputy Chief Clerk.
The position will likely last about five weeks, Hall said. Hall and Giangrieco voted in favor of the move; Warren cast a dissenting vote.
“Do we have a signed contract?” Warren asked prior to the vote.
Hall said they would get one.
Audience member Rick Ainey, of New Milford, also questioned why help from the former deputy chief clerk was needed.
Hall explained that the office was short-staffed. “We need to bring (Aldrich) back to get the daily work done,” he said.
“How do you ratify a contract without a public meeting,” Ainey asked.
Bruce Paskoff, of Montrose, said he thought the wage to be paid for the position seemed high compared to other wages paid to people in the county’s employ.
Several personnel and staffing changes also came before the commissioners.
The commissioners accepted, with regret, the resignation of Amanda Wilston as the Assistant Director of Elections/ Assistant Voter Registrar, effective end of business March 6.
Luann Mariani, of Springville, was hired to the position of Assistant Director of Elections/ Assistant Voter Registrar.
The commissioners also acknowledged the hiring of Matthew Granick, Union Dale, by Sheriff Lance Benedict as a deputy sheriff.
Giangrieco noted that the position was one recently created by the salary board and is contingent upon Act 13 monies.
Scroggins asked why there was a need for another deputy sheriff. “Is there an increase in crime?” she queried and asked if any studies had been done in the county on crime.
Hall explained the sheriff’s office was understaffed and said no crime studies had been done in the county.
The commissioners also signed several Children & Youth service agreements.
A 2004 Chevrolet Impala is being offered up for sale to the highest bidder. The estimated value of the vehicle is under $1,000. Sealed bids are being accepted. The vehicle will be awarded to the highest bidder or sold for current junk value, whichever is greater.
The purchase of a new 2013 Ford Utility Police Interceptor for the Susquehanna County DUI Task Force was also approved.
The $34,464 purchase is being made through the Co-Stars program and is being paid for from the existing DUI fund.
The new vehicle will replace the old Task Force car.
Several people, including Scroggins, voiced concerns about natural gas industry development and the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection.
Craig Stevens, of Silver Lake Twp., said he felt former elected officials and DEP staffers and appointees were “using their positions with the state to gain lucrative positions with the gas industry.”
Hall advised one man with road concerns to speak with his township and/or PennDOT.
Scroggins also advocated that the county utilize Act 13 money to conduct a study of health impacts near gas sites.
Hall told her there was no allocation in the funding to do that.
Near the end of public comment, Scroggins asked to make another comment.
“You’ve had your time,” Hall told her starting a back and forth between the two.
“Since when are there limits on time?” Scroggins asked and continued speaking.
Hall asked that the sheriff’s department be called and Scroggins removed from the meeting.
With a deputy sheriff present in the room, Scroggins was not removed from the meeting.
The three minutes allotted to each person for public comment came under fire at the Nov. 28, 2012 meeting when it was first implemented by the commissioners.
The commissioners proclaimed March 2013 as “American Red Cross Month” in Susquehanna County as a time to recognize and thank those who volunteer, donate blood, take life-saving courses or provide financial support to the organization; as well as the Red Cross for its response in times of disaster.