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Indiana-area building projects gain county commissioners' support

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

The Indiana County Commissioners pledged their support through resolutions for two rather large projects proposed for Indiana County — updates planned for the emergency department at Indiana Regional Medical Center and renovations at St. Andrew's Village.

Tax Equity and Physical Responsibility Act hearings were held for both projects Oct. 16, with no public comments for or against the projects voiced at either hearing.

The Indiana Hospital Authority has already approved the project at IRMC, which will involve construction of a new operating room theater and supporting space, a new ambulatory treatment area, patient elevator, skilled nursing unit and renovation and expansion of the intensive care unit.

“It's an absolute critical need to the community,” said Commissioners Chairman Rodney Ruddock. He said the improvements to the facility and the equipment and technology updates are needed in order to attract skilled physicians and specialists to the hospital.

The Indiana County Industrial Development Authority has approved the major renovations planned for St. Andrew's Village, which will include the design, construction, installation, furnishing and equipping of the expanded retirement home.

According to St. Andrew's Village Executive Director Brian Parks, the planned improvements are a major repositioning of the entire 131-bed nursing home and health care center that was originally built in 1982.

Included in the renovations will be a memory support unit, a short-term rehabilitation unit and an existing long-term care nursing unit. An additional long-term care nursing unit will be constructed. The project's aim is to create a more intimate way to provide care, Parks said, by converting the units into “households” with living rooms and dining rooms centered around four country-style kitchens.

As part of the project, outdoor space will also be enhanced, a large community living and learning center will be incorporated, three bathing spas will be adde and every resident room will have new furnishings and refurbishments. The $10 million project is scheduled to start at the end of the month, and is expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months.

While the county has no financial responsibility for either project, the commissioners went on record to indicate the projects would benefit the community.

“I think they're both outstanding projects because they afford the citizens to make decisions of where they want to be taken care of,” said Ruddock. “I think the public understands that this will play an important role in the economic scheme of things as well.”

Several proclamations were read, designating National Business Women's Week Oct. 20-26; Special Olympics Day Oct. 19; and Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Barbara Weyand was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for the Indiana County Senior Corps-RSVP program.

Weyand dedicates her time to the United Area Food Pantry, where she helps to unload, sort and distribute food. She serves as treasurer of the organization, which serves more than 200 families per month.

She has been a volunteer there for the past 28 years, also helping with various fundraisers and aiding with paperwork. She also volunteers with the Girl Scouts, sorting and delivering cookies.

The commissioners agreed to apply for $370,000 in competitive community development block grant funds through the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The money would supplement $196,500 from the county's own 2013 block grant to address water treatment deficiencies at the Arcadia plant. The project is estimated to cost $521,500.

The commissioners also gave the green light for a contract award with Garvin Engineering and Municipal Management, which will provide engineering services for installation of a handicapped accessibility lift at the Black Lick Fire Hall. Plan drawings by a professional engineer, preparation of required permits and bid/contract documents and site review of the construction activities are included in the contract.

The $4,950 contract award will be paid for by Burrell Township's 2012 CDBG funds.

The commissioners agreed to reject all bids that were received for an automated weather observation system for the Jimmy Stewart Airport after waiting for grant funds to become available in order to cover the cost of the system.

Bids for the project were opened May 17, and bids were to remain valid for 90 days while the county worked to secure grant funds from the state Bureau of Aviation. The 90-day deadline passed before the grant funds were awarded.

The county will now seek a new round of bids for the project.

The commissioners authorized the county human services department to enter into contracts with several local agencies and nonprofits to share a database that will help agencies, organizations, churches and county departments cut down on duplication of services.

The database will be a password-protected spreadsheet that contracted organizations can access to share information on project aid and utility, food and financial assistance that is already being provided throughout the county.

Sharing the database currently will be: Alice Paul House, Indiana County Head Start, I&A Residential Services, Indiana County Community Action Program, Trinity United Methodist Church, St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Entities interested in joining the database should contact the county human services department.

In other business, the county commissioners:

• Announced free drive-through flu shots will be given continuously from 7 p.m. Oct. 26 through 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at three sites in the county: Clymer Fire Hall, 550 Sherman St., Clymer; Indiana Regional Medical Center under the front portico, 850 Hospital Rd., Indiana; and WyoTech, 500 Innovation Drive, Blairsville. Those receiving their shots between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. will be entered to win four Penguins tickets.

• Approved the purchase of a 2014 Ford Explorer for the county district attorney's office at a cost of $27,289. It will replace a 2002 Chevy Trailblazer that needed several costly repairs.

• Approved a change order in the amount of $880.34 for the replacement of deteriorated roof sheathing on two of the six units at the Parkhill Apartments in the Burell Township village of Josephine, revising the contract total with BCS Construction, Inc. to $186,655.34.

• OK'd private provider contracts with the following agencies for the county's children and youth services: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg (foster care); Northwestern Human Services Pennsylvania (foster care and group home); Outside In School of Experiential Education, Inc. (group home); C.A. Hughes and Associates (placement services); and Shippensville Project Point of Light, Inc. (placement services).

• Appointed Delbert Highlands of Dayton to the county's Parks and Trails Commission, with a term to expire in August 2018.

• Made the following appointments to the county return board for the Nov. 5 municipal election: Democratic — Margaret Preite and Margaret J. Karp; Republican — Margaret Babco and Darla Coble.

• Reminded county residents that the last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the Nov. 5 election is Tuesday.

The next regular meeting of the Indiana County Commissioners is set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.

Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or

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