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Indiana County commissioners commend jail pilot program

| Friday, July 18, 2014, 5:54 p.m.

The Indiana County Jail and its staff were commended by the county commissioners at their July 9 meeting after the county received a Criminal Justice Best Practices Award from the County Commissioners Association.

The Indiana County Jail, in cooperation with the Indiana-Armstrong-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission, launched a pilot program in May 2013 that had the county probation office identifying inmates in need of residential drug and alcohol treatment. Drug and Alcohol Commission staff would meet with and assess those inmates, and if eligible, would help them fill out medical assistance applications online. Those meeting application requirements could transition directly from the jail to a treatment facility on the date of their release.

“It takes people who are leaving the facility and gets them put into medical assistance programs a little sooner,” said Sam Buzzinotti, warden at the Indiana County Jail. He noted that it used to take months for inmates to complete that process.

“So they're not back on the street, they're not getting into trouble again, they're getting treatment directly from the jail,” said Kami Anderson, executive director of the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.

The former inmates may eventually be able to step down from residential facilities into halfway houses or into outpatient levels of care, where they will continue to work with Anderson's staff.

“We've had a lot of success with it,” said Anderson.

In its first year, the program saved the county an estimated $238,000. The program will be expanded to other counties by August based on the success of the pilot.

“This award, I think, is impressive because it talks about partnerships and how we make things happen and get the best bargain for the people we have working in our county to serve those who really have a need to be supported through our court system,” said commissioners Chairman Rod Ruddock.

The commissioners also approved several items for the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development:

• A change order increasing a contract with Mackin Engineering Company of Pittsburgh by $53.20 for services provided for Indiana Borough's zoning and ordinance review, which will be covered by the borough's 2009 Community Development Block Grant funds;

• A contract award for $3,850 with Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates of State College for geotechnical engineering services and subsurface exploration for the Clinton Street Commons project, where the permanent housing project for homeless veterans in Indiana will be located.

• A contract amendment that will extend the termination date for Indiana Regional Medical Center's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant of $1,750,000 from July 31, 2014 to July 31, 2015. The grant partially funds capital project costs at IRMC, including site improvements and renovations.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Announced that Indiana County Days at Idlewild Park will be held July 25, sponsored by the Indiana County Tourist Bureau and the Indiana County Christmas Tree Growers Association. The county will have its own gazebo, and there will be giveaways and a visit from Santa. Tickets cost $22, a savings of $17.99 off the regular price, and can be used any weekday (an additional $11 must be paid at the gate for weekend use). Advance tickets are available at the Indiana County Tourist Bureau in the Indiana Mall; Indiana First Bank in Blairsville; the Homer City BiLo supermarket; the Fourth Street BiLo in Indiana; Tate's Supermarket in Clymer; and the All American Barber Shop in Saltsburg. For more information on the discount tickets, call 724-463-7505 or visit

• Approved an application for a $15,000 impaired driving grant for the district attorney's office, to be used for roving DUI patrols, sobriety checkpoints and mobile awareness campaigns;

• Entered into a lease agreement with McNaughtton Brothers to expand storage space already occupied by the county Emergency Services Agency on Indiana's South 13th Street, adding an additional 1,200 feet of storage, at a cost of $400 per month, to be paid out of HAZMAT funds;

• Announced that representatives from CRAssociates, Inc. will attend the next commissioners' meeting to discuss the Virginia-based company's operation of the new Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic, to be built at the former site of the Rex electronics store at Regency Mall near Indiana.

The next commissioners meeting will take place at 10:30 a.m. July 23 at the Indiana 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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