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Charleroi-based firm lands day reporting center contract

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Fayette County commissioners awarded the contract for a day reporting center for criminal offenders to a Charleroi-based agency. Commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to enter into a contract with Southwest Behavioral Care Inc., an affiliate corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services Inc.

The county will pay startup costs of $125,576 in the center's first year, according to Timothy J. Merlin, the agency's executive director.

After that, $427,725 in annual operating costs for the center will be covered by funding from various sources, including the county, the state's Health Choices program for welfare recipients and other third-party service providers, according to the agency's proposal.

Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky said the center will operate from the agency's facility at 84 N. Gallatin Ave. in Uniontown.

The agency is familiar with many of the service providers that will be used in the center, he said.

“They can hit the ground running, so hopefully we will see a reduction in our prison population,” Zapotosky said.

Fayette often rents jail cells in neighboring counties because its aging jail cannot accommodate its inmate population. In 2012, the county spent about $750,000 on jail rental fees.

Commissioners said the day reporting center will serve as an alternative to jail for nonviolent offenders. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink said the center will coordinate various services in one place, including drug-and-alcohol counseling, mental health counseling and job training.

“It's a method … to coordinate the programs and the reporting methods into one area so you can better maintain, regulate and make certain the offenders are adhering to the sentencing guidelines,” Zimmerlink said.

According to the agency's proposal, the center will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Participants will be subjected to random drug testing and will be required to report to the center one to six days per week.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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