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Indiana County Commissioners give Aultman Bridge replacemant top priority

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

The Indiana County Commissioners identified a Blacklick Township bridge carrying Aultmans Run Road over Aultmans Run as a top priority, and pledged to back the township's efforts to replace the structure.

The commissioners approved a cooperation agreement with the township, under which the county would pay half of the required 5-percent match for federal and state grant funding and the township would pay the other half. The county and the township would use money from their respective liquid fuels budgets to cover the match, commissioners Chairman Rod Ruddock said.

“We recognized that there were no bridges in Indiana County that had a priority of need and support more than what our township bridges needed,” Ruddock said. “The bridge that sort of surfaced among the township and borough bridges was the Aultman Bridge (No. 3). So, therefore, we made it a priority to the county.

“There is a requirement to have federal and state reimbursement for this particular cost. But there is a local share as well, and for townships or boroughs to assume this local share is really pretty substantial, even at the 5-percent reimbursement rate.”

At their Jan. 22 meeting, the commissioners also voted to have Gibson-Thomas Engineering complete a technical and price proposal for the Aultman Bridge replacement. The project is still in the design phase and a total cost estimate was not yet available.

The bridge is listed as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete in PennDOT's 2013 year-end list of spans on locally owned roads, with a sufficiency rating of just 29 percent.

The bridge was constructed in 1940 and is posted with a weight limit of 3 tons.

Homer City Borough is the second municipality to obtain public safety radio equipment from the county through a lease-to-own agreement. The commissioners approved a five-year lease of five portable radios for use by Homer City's police force with the borough paying $2,960.40 each year.

“In talking with the (Homer City) chief of police, they may come back and ask to add some additional mobiles in the ensuing years,” said Tom Stutzman, director of the county's emergency management agency.

Commissioners approved a similar lease agreement with Clymer Borough at a previous meeting.

The emergency management agency will retain Gilmore Tragus Strategies, LLC as grant writers for 2014 at a fee of $60,000 for the year.

“They were significant in getting us the million dollars that we used for the fire service radio procurement,” Stutzman said of the firm. “They have since submitted another grant for another million-dollar project that is part of the expansion of the radio system that allows us to do high-speed mobile data.”

The county is awaiting word on the success of that federal grant application, he said.

The commissioners approved four contracts totaling more than $1.2 million for modifications to 625 Kolter Drive in White Township. The building houses Diamond Drugs and renovations would allow for the expansion of Remedy Repack, a subsidiary of the company that specializes in breaking down bulk orders of medical drugs into smaller quantities for distribution.

The contracts approved for the project include:

• Right Electric of Shippenville, electrical, $479,700;

• Baer Services Inc. of Johnstown, plumbing, $40,270;

• Reno Brothers Inc. of New Brighton, mechanical, $248,154;

• Fred Burns of Butler, general, $432,000.

The project is being funded through a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, with interim financing provided by the Indiana County Development Corporation through a loan from Indiana First Bank.

Unrelated to the contracts, Ruddock noted the county had stored its voting equipment at Diamond Drugs' Kolter Drive location at no charge to the county and is working to prepare the county's recycling center on Route 119 in Center Township to store the equipment.

“We have been in there for about three years, and this is a handshake agreement with Diamond Drug at no cost to Indiana County,” Ruddock said. “If you want to look at what the cost would be to rent that (space) for that period of time, we estimate the cost to be about $8,000 a month.”

Ruddock said the arrangement with Diamond Drugs has saved the county roughly $300,000 total.

The commissioners awarded a $150,000 loan from the Infrastructure Revolving Loan Fund for the ICDC to use for eligible project costs at Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park in White Township and the Joseph Land Development in Center Township. The loan will be for a 12-month term with no interest. The IRLF offers interest-free loans to help finance engineering and design of infrastructure improvement projects.

ICDC also received the commissioners' approval for an installment sales contract for the acquisition of Lot 9 of the Indiana County Commerce Park, allowing ICDC to defer making payments until Sept. 1, 2015. The maturity date of the contract specifies all payments must be made by Dec. 31, 2016.

“BioControl had vacated the building, declared bankruptcy, so the county had an empty, 30,000-square-foot facility...” Indiana County Office of Planning and Development Executive Director Byron Stauffer said of the Commerce Park lot. “The ICDC agreed to purchase that building and convert it back to a multi-tenant building.”

Bonni Dunlap, the county's human services executive director, provided an update on the county's participation in the Pennsylvania 2-1-1 Southwest human services hotline. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day and provides callers with confidential advice and referrals on obtaining human services assistance.

The hotline has received 837 calls from Indiana County zip codes since the county joined the program last February, with the top needs expressed being assistance with household utilities, rent, housing, food and employment.

“We have been watching the needs over the past 20 years as far as looking at them in both the surveys that we've done and the calls to our office and the calls to 2-1-1. These needs are consistently the same except for food,” Dunlap said. “This is the first time that I've seen food float to the top five needs in all those years.”

Commissioners approved agreements adding three churches to the human services database: Creekside United Methodist Church, Grove Chapel Lutheran Church and Harmony Grove Lutheran Church.

Walter Schroth of Indiana was appointed by the commissioners to the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board for a term expiring Sept. 30, 2015 after being recommended by the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioners approved a proclamation recognizing the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education, Inc., which will hold its 44th annual conference on Feb. 22.

Commissioners authorized the sale of three county vehicles, all of which are being sold ‘as is.' The vehicles for sale are a 1986 GMC truck, a 1989 Chevrolet truck and a 1975 Arctic Cat snowmobile. Bids for the vehicles are due by Feb. 10.

The commissioners' next regular meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 12 in the county courthouse.

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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