Contractor approved for grading, infrastructure work at Center Township industrial site

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 10:42 a.m.

Work on the Joseph Land Development industrial park project is moving forward after the Indiana County Commissioners approved awarding a contract for grading and utilities at the 50.87-acre site in Center Township to A. Merante Contracting, of Pittsburgh.

The contract for bulk site grading of individual building lots, rough grading for a new access roadway, erosion sedimentation control, stormwater managment and water, sanitary, natural gas, electric and communications utility extensions totals $677,777.75 and will be funded through a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant.

“This is a great project,” said Byron Stauffe, executive director of the county's office of planning and development at the Aug. 14 meeting of the commissioners. “This is one of our (Keystone Opportunity Zone) sites... PennDOT, when they were developing 119, basically took a sloped piece of property and they benched in two flat terraces. We basically have 27 acres that does have elevation, but the opportunity for development in between those two terraces is quite significant.”

Stauffer said his office is actively marketing the site off Luciusboro Road near Coral and Graceton to potential tenants. A groundbreaking ceremony was to have been held Wednesday at the site.

The county is also looking to generate revenue by leasing space on its public safety radio system towers to cellular telephone service providers.

Commissioners approved an agreement between the county's Emergency Management Agency and engineering firm L.R. Kimball to draft specifications for leasing space on county radio towers to cell phone companies and ensuring cell phone vendors' equipment doesn't interfere with the public safety radio system's operation at the tower sites. The contract pays Kimball $12,097 for the service.

One tower site in Banks Township, where a cell phone signal is difficult to find, has already drawn interest from Verizon, according to John Luko, county information services director.

Luko said leasing space on the towers to commercial cell phone service providers could generate between $2,000 and $3,000 per month for each tower. Commissioner Chairman Rodney Ruddock said 60 percent of lease revenue would go to the county and 40 percent would go to the township in which the tower is located.

Leasing tower space to private companies was part of the county's plan all along, Ruddock said.

“We wanted to make sure the tower sites would be constructed in such as way that they would be able to provide additional harnessing, not only of the microwave systems but any other commercial vendors that would want to come into Indiana County and extend their capabilities to the county. Specifically, we were looking at cellular service providers,” Ruddock said.

Enhancing cell phone service in areas of the county where a signal is scarce brings an added benefit in emergency situations.

“We had a mine blowout down in Bear Run, it washed out our road and the state road. I went down to check on it, I had to run six miles back to my place to use the telephone to call in to 911 and PennDOT to get the roads blocked,” said Banks Township supervisor Ron Smith. “We blocked them ourselves until somebody got there, but it's just ridiculous. And out at our building, there's no service whatsoever.”

The commissioners approved a trio of private provider contracts: A deal between the county's probation office and Westmoreland County Regional Youth Services Center to provide secure detention at a rate of $275.30 per day and contracts between the county's Department of Children and Youth Services and Pressley Ridge, for group home service, and Indiana Psychology Associates for in-home assessment and therapy.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved a revision to the budget for the Emergency Solutions Grant Second Allocation Program. The revision eliminates a total of $3,750 from various line items in the miscellaneous expenses category and adds that amount to the travel expense line. The change was requested due to staffing changes which caused the case manager to move from the main office in Indiana to an office at the Pathway Homeless Shelter in Black Lick. The miscellaneous expenses eliminated in the revision are funded by another funding source at the Pathway Shelter.

• Approved an RACP grant contract with the state totaling $1 million in reimbursements from development of the Kovalchick Convention & Athletic Complex. The total project cost is estimated at roughly $2.01 million, with matching funds previously secured with participation from Indiana County, Indiana Borough, White Township and the Indiana County Development Corporation for construction of the Hawk's Landing parking lot near the KCAC.

• Approved a cooperation agreement with Indiana University of Pennsylvania to establish compliance responsibilities and administration related to the KCAC/Hawk's Landing grant.

• Approved a cooperation agreement with Indiana Borough to outline the administration responsibilities for another $3.25 million RACP grant, which will provide reimbursements for a portion of the third phase of the Downtown Indiana Streetscape Project along Philadelphia Street between Sixth and Ninth streets.

• Approved a reimbursement agreement with Blacklick Township for work on Aultman Bridge No. 3. The county will reimburse half of the municipal cost for the project, roughly $32,500.

• Heard from Indiana County Register and Recorder Patricia Streams Warman regarding the county's Veterans ID Card Program, which has provided identification cards to nearly 1,000 military veterans. The commissioners also recognized veteran Sam Smith, who is working with the county Office of Veterans Affairs to approach businesses in the county to offer discounts and promotions to veterans carrying the ID card. Smith said the program will soon be offering decals for participating businesses to place in their windows or doors.

• Recognized the Indiana County 4-H Forestry Team of Caleb Brady, Thomas Brady and Jesse Isenberg, for winning the national 4-H Forestry Invitational. It was the first time a team from Pennsylvania has won the competition, according to team supervisor Debbie Beisel, and also the first time a three-person team has won. Normally, teams of four compete with the judges dropping the lowest individual score.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at (724) 459-6100, ext. 2913 or

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