Indiana County honors local grid champs, shares credit for inmate program
The Indiana County Commissioners opened their Wednesday meeting by highlighting positive accomplishments by Indiana County groups.
The commissioners read a proclamation recognizing the Homer-Center High School varsity football team for its Heritage Conference and District 6 Class A championships this season. The Wildcats finished the season with a record of 12-2 and reached the state quarterfinals. The team's tally of 12 wins is the most in school history.
The commissioners also recognized the work of groups from Indiana, Armstrong and Clarion counties that earned the counties the COMCARE County Behavioral Health Collaboration Award for 2013.
Numerous agencies in the three counties have worked together to assist county jail inmates in need of inpatient drug and alcohol treatment. Those efforts were honored in November by COMCARE – or County Managed Care Resources, a program of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
“Armstrong, Clarion and Indiana counties all received this award, and the departments that took part in having this happen were the probation department, the district attorney's office, the courts, the county jail, the county assessment office, the commissioners and the drug and alcohol commission,” Indiana County Commissioner Patricia Evanko said. “They have also collaborated on a medical assistance jail pilot to identify county jail inmates who need inpatient drug and alcohol treatment and assist them in applying for HealthChoices eligibility effective as soon as they are released from jail.”
She explained the former inmates can then can be transferred from the county jail directly to an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility. The program started first in Armstrong and Clarion counties in December 2012, with Indiana County joining this past May.
“In the first nine months of the program, we saw over 80 individuals be referred to the program and over $200,000 in savings to the agency's budget that normally would fund these individuals for treatment,” said Nicole Salvo of the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.
The commissioners awarded a loan of $600,000 to the Indiana County Development Corporation for use toward land acquisition and engineering for the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park in White Township. The loan's interest rate will be fixed at 2.75 percent for a term of 180 months and will be leveraged by ICDC funds totaling $1.2 million.
The county panel voted unanimously to accept an amended grant offer that increases the grant total and local share of costs for the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) at the Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport. The county board also accepted a grant offer for monitoring wetlands constructed to replace those destroyed during the airport runway construction project. The amended grant for the AWOS upgrade includes $94,764 in state participation with a local share of $31,588. The commissioners previously approved a grant offer of $87,710 in state funds and a local share of $29,237 for the project.
The wetlands monitoring offer proposes $18,750 in state participation and a local share of $6,250. The local shares for both grants will be paid for by the Indiana County Airport Authority, according to authority chairman Ron Anderson.
The commissioners also approved a budget revision to the HOME affordable home-ownership program contract, shifting $40,000 from a budget line tabbed for substantial rehabilitation to the line reserved for acquisition. The contract total remains at $500,000, with funds budgeted for substantial rehabilitation reduced from $180,000 to $140,000 and acquisition funds increased from $120,000 to $160,000. All funds initially allotted to the acquisition line have been expended to assist first-time home buyers, according to the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development. Funds added to the acquisition line will allow the county to assist additional applicants.
The last of nine tentative union agreements with county employees was approved, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, granting members of the Indiana County Detective Association pay increases of 2 percent in 2013, 2.5 percent in 2014 and 2015 and 3 percent in 2016.
The commissioners additionally approved a contract with Wessell & Company, enlisting the company to audit tax collectors for Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and Blairsville Borough. The school district and borough will pay prorated portions of the cost of the audit while the maximum cost to the county for the audit will be $1,995, according to commissioners.
The commissioners agreed to apply for a juvenile accountability block grant through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The county has been awarded $10,000 through the grant program for several years and has used the money to defray the cost of juvenile public defender contracts. In a related item, the commissioners approved a contract with Thomas Kauffman to serve as juvenile public defender, effective April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, at a salary of $25,000.
Due to a delay in the county Emergency Management Agency's receipt of Hazardous Material Emergency Planning And Response Act funds from the state, commissioners agreed to lease an EMA vehicle that had been approved for purchase in October. Under the four-year lease agreement, the total vehicle price remains the same. The county can purchase the vehicle for $1 at the conclusion of the lease term, according to the agreement.
The commissioners met Dec. 4 to approve an agreement with S&T Bank that alters the repayment schedule for roughly $9 million in county loans. The new payment schedule spreads about $1 million that would have been paid during the next three years throughout the full length of the loan, making payments in each of the next 13 years roughly equal and saving the county money while the county-wide property reassessment is conducted.
The commissioners will meet at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 18 in the county courthouse to approve a 2014 budget.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.