Engineering fees generate debate

BY STACI WILSON

Proposed engineering fees and design work generated discussion over the costs at the April 27 meeting of the county commissioners.

Commissioner Chair Alan Hall presented information about from the county contracted engineering firm regarding generators for the courthouse, county office building and the Chenango St. property.

Commissioner Michael Giangrieco said, “It’s too much money for what they provide us.”

He suggested the county get prices from other firms for comparison before approving the expenditure.
Hall said, “This is the company we chose to be the county’s engineering firm.”

The $19,000 quote was for only the engineering and design work of the proposed project, Hall said.
He said the generator in the courthouse was not sized correctly to handle the necessary operations in the courthouse.

Hall also said there was currently no generator at the Chenango St. property.

Susquehanna County Conservation District and Penn State Cooperative Extension are housed in the building. The county morgue is located in the garage of the property. The morgue does have an alarm system in case power to the building is lost.

Giangrieco perused the proposal prior to the meeting. And Commissioner MaryAnn Warren said she had no chance to read the document before the meeting.

The commissioners said they will continue to review the generator issue.

In other business, the commissioners approved the purchase of four computers and four scanner for the Clerk of Courts office and a contract with Infocon to image specific files. Total cost of the project is about $13,399 which will be reimbursed by the Administrative Officer of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC).

Three dispatcher trainees were hired in the 9-1-1 department: Garrett Schneider, John Stackowitz and Peter Lee.

Carol Ainey, of Hop Bottom, was hired as the addressing/GIS Clerk in the 9-1-1 department.

The commissioners also acknowledged the transfer of Michael Harlost, by County Register & Recorder Mary Evans, from a part-time clerical position in the Register & Recorder’s office to the position of 3rd Deputy Register & Recorder.

Alan Sivers submitted the highest bid of $1,501 for the 2004 Ford Explorer and was awarded the bid by the commissioners.

A Children & Youth service agreement was also signed by the county.

Warren noted that the county was now closer to reaching a Memorandum of Understanding with the County Conservation District which will become independent from the county on June 28.

Audience member Craig Stevens alleged to the commissioners that Vera Scroggins, who was also in attendance at the meeting, had been assaulted by a Montrose borough councilman at the showing of “FrackNation” at the Montrose Theatre. He said law enforcement was now involved.

Stevens said, “Our community should not be torn apart because of a difference of opinion.”

He also spoke of a situation in Bradford County where he said production costs were now being removed from royalty checks paid to landowners.

He also said that he had been contacted by about 20 state senators from New York to tour natural gas development sites in Susquehanna County.

Stevens questioned why no one from this area showed an interest in taking a similar tour that looked at the gas industry prior to development in the area.

Cheryl Matulevich said that in 2008, prior to the ramp up of drilling, the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau sponsored a presentation by Asher Terwilliger of the Chemung County Farm Bureau and a landowner advocate who addressed natural gas drilling and leasing concerns at the time.

The Progress Authority, the agency that handles economic development activities in the county, also took an informational trip to the Barnett shale region in Wise County, Texas in August 2008.

Audience member Bruce Paskoff asked if the commissioners had given any consideration to purchasing a “noise meter” to monitor compressor stations in the county.

Hall said it was not the county position to do that. He said the compressor stations are tested and certified by an engineering firm and that information is available.

One audience member said, “The alternative to local drilling is to rely on foreign oil.” The alternative: “What are we going to do – freeze in the dark?”

“There are problems (with natural gas development) but there are also benefits,” the man added.