CLEARFIELD — The Clearfield County Commissioners approved submitting a grant application to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Justice for Families Program.
Planning Specialist Lisa Kovalick provided details about the grant to the board on Tuesday. She said the county has applied for the funding in the past and was successful, but last year it was not.
Commissioner Mark McCracken said, “Clearfield County received grant funding from this program in the past. We were very fortunate because the grant is very competitive. Several people have told me how good the grant had been for the county. I hope we get the funding.”
The Justice for Families Program was authorized in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 to improve the response of the civil and criminal justice system to families who have a history of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking or in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse.
An application requesting $377,464 in non-matching grant funds will be submitted. If the application is successful, the funds would be used for a safe connections center that would provide safe supervised child visits and exchanges for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking or cases involving allegations of child abuse. It would also offer civil legal services to ensure victims of domestic violence and non-offending parents in matters involving allegations of child sexual abuse, civil protection orders, custody and divorce and matters where the other parent is represented by counsel.
The grant would be administered by The Clearfield County League on Social Services in partnership with Clearfield County Judge Paul E. Cherry, Community Action’s CROSSROADS project, Prevention and Services for Sexual Assualt through Guidance, Empowerment and Support Inc., Clearfield County Child Advocacy Center, Clearfield County Children and Youth Services, Clearfield County Victim Witness Office, attorneys, Penn Highlands Clearfield hospital and Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township police departments.
“We are looking at other funding mechanisms. Many families need these services but don’t have the funding for them,” Kovalick said.
DuBOIS — Members of the DuBois Area School Board are expected to make their recommendation on who will fill a vacant Region A seat at Thursday’s special board meeting.
The seat, which represents the City of DuBois, is vacant after the Nov. 15 resignation of longtime director Scott Farrell, who resigned due to a change in residency.
Interested candidates submitted a letter of interest indicating their address and a resume to the district by noon Dec. 1. Two city residents submitted applications – Lee A. Mitchell and Pat Reasinger. Mitchell, who recently served the last four years on the board, did not run for re-election in the primary election in the spring. However, he received write-in votes in the November election but was defeated by write-in candidate and current Director David Schwab.
Last week, a special board meeting was held immediately following the reorganization meeting for the purpose of interviewing candidates for the vacant seat. A recommendation by the board is expected to be voted on at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Administrative Center on Liberty Boulevard, DuBois.
“I would like to welcome both candidates for submitting their applications of interest in serving as a member of the DuBois Area School District’s board of directors,” said board President Patty Fish.
Board members asked prepared questions to both the candidates and Fish, as president, asked the first and last question. In order to assure fairness, the board rotated per question so one question started off with one of the applicants and the next question started off with the other candidate.
“The intent of tonight’s interview is to highlight the strength of each candidate,” Fish said. “The purpose is not to engage in debate. Please base your response to each question according to your background and experience as well as your goals if you were to become a member of the DuBois Area School District board of directors.”
Director Ben Haugh asked if the board will be able to have discussion publicly or during a session privately.
Solicitor Carl Beard said the board is not permitted to have any executive sessions relative to candidate qualifications.
What experience do you have with complicated budgets? When the board is given a 400-page budget for the district, what would be your process to determine if it is a good budget for the system?
Reasinger: “I’ve dealt with smaller budgets that the school district, with church and with work. Something like that, I would really hope there is somebody that would guide me through that. I’m assuming that there are experts that can help us and I can ask questions. It would be new to me. I’m sure there are accountants here.”
Mitchell: ”As part of my day-to-day job, I actually am a department head for a company that deals with technology and, as part of that, I regularly have to do forecasts of not just technical resources budgeting but also the financial budgeting for my department. Outside vendors, staffing, the cost of services rely on. So dealing with budgeting forecast modeling is something that I’m just used to doing.”
”As far as the school specific side of things. Most certainly, I’ve been on the board for four years and I’ve seen how the budgetary process works. Importantly, most of it is fixed by the state and of that quarter based budget, only a small portion would have any impact on. What I would do is pretty much what we have done in the past, rely on the experts, the superintendent, business manager and any other experts within the district to advert their knowledge to come up with where we should reallocate resources.”
What do you see as an opportunity or challenges in this district?
Mitchell: ”The opportunities are to continue to improve our education. We already rank fairly high on the number of metrics but we can continue to expand on that. That’s why this is in existence, that’s what we should focus on. The opportunity is improved and we have the opportunity to improve that and part of that again, dealing with the facilities issue and that’s an opportunity to create a new educational environment. One of the challenges is figuring out how to pay for it.”
Reasinger: ”Of course there is always opportunities to be more efficient. I would say probably the biggest opportunity is with the teachers is to make sure that they have the necessary resources to do their best with the kids. Some of the challenges, it’s hard because you’re dealing with parents, you’re dealing with the state, federal laws and things like that. Just to work through all of that would be one of the challenges, I think.”
If a parent or principal comes to you regarding, for example an issue at a particular building or a situation revolving a particular teacher, how do you see your role as a school board member in resolving that issue?
Mitchell: “I think that sometimes parents of the district who don’t have any connection to employees here, they may be a bit intimidated as far as contacting a principal or with a teacher that there’s an issue with or a superintendent. Either because, just in general there’s an intimidation factor, there just is. You might not experience it unless you’ve been in those situations but there is. And having the board members there come they can reach out to, to the benefit, because on one hand they’re actually an elected representative of the people and so they can be a liaison and reduce some of that anxiety that there may be with regards to bringing issues to the district.”
Reasinger: ”No, I would listen to that person whether it’s whoever it was. Obviously, I would not be qualified to answer following most of those questions so I would find out what staff would best be able to work with that and either go in and talk to that person with that person or direct them toward someone that can help them. I think communicating, you just listen.”
Each applicant was given the opportunity to make last statements.
Mitchell: ”Well I served on the board for four years and whenever it came time to do the petition signing I thought what I had done in the previous four years that was beneficial. I like these contributions to have positive impact, but I didn’t see any kind of major items coming up that I would really want to weigh in on. Not until a couple months ago, whenever the idea of potentially doing massive renovations or new buildings came up. Those decisions are going to have a substantial impact on the educational environment over the next several decades. I mean, this isn’t a decision that’s just going to affect the students for the next couple of years. It’s really going to be decades, it will be a generational impact here. And I wanted to have my input heard on this and so I found a way to actually run again. I decided to put my name in for this.”
Reasinger: “I’ve always been pretty community minded. As you can see from my resume I was 17 years with the Boy Scouts, so I believe children, cliché, are the future. But they really are. There’s nothing more important than an education. You guys gave me a good education, my kids, my wife. I guess I just want to help.”
FALLS CREEK — The Washington Township Supervisors held their last meeting of 2017 two hours earlier than normal on Tuesday due to some scheduling conflicts. That early time did not stop them from unanimously passing the 2018 budget, which does not have a tax increase.
The early start time for the meeting was properly advertised, which allowed three Weeblos II Cub Scouts from Beechwoods Pack 35 to observe the meeting. Hunter Graham, Colton Ross, and Michael Pirow joined the supervisors to see the end of 2017.
The supervisors joined neighboring municipalities in passing a resolution opting out of allowing a casino to come within its borders. The supervisors said that they could revisit that decision at any time in the future, should the need arise.
The ongoing negotiations for the franchise agreement with Zito Media will resume soon. The township solicitor and Zito will talk on Friday and the current agreement ends in April. Some complaints came into the supervisors, but those complaints were fixed quickly. However, a resident attending the meeting pointed out that it is not fair that several homes in the township do not have access to faster internet speeds. The supervisors suggested that the resident take that up with the cable companies because there may be enough interest to draw them in.
The supervisors learned about the plight of the Sewage Association. With a key retirement and some additional money issues, if something is not done soon, the association will be broke in a year. The association is weighing options and looking at ways to avoid this problem. More meetings are planned in December.
With the Cub Scouts there, Supervisor Bob Hrin reminded the boys that the annual Wreaths Across America event at Beechwoods Cemetery will be at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16.
The Washington Township Supervisors will meet on Jan. 2 at 6:30 p.m. for the 2018 reorganization meeting.
BROOKVILLE — During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners approved several grants submitted by the Hotel Tax Committee.
They included: $1,500 for The Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s billboard; $1,605 for the Jefferson County Historical Society to be used for brochures and distribution; and $1,500 for historical signs in Summerville.
The commissioners also approved the third quarter payment of $81,601 to Northwest PA. Great Outdoors, the county’s designated tourist promotion agency. The county collects a tax on every hotel room rented in the county. Jefferson County Treasurer Jim VanSteenberg said the agency receives about $225,000 annually from the fund, 25 percent of which then goes towards grants and other local projects.
By a unanimous vote, the commissioners appointed a new member to the Jefferson County Housing Authority. Alan Towns, of Sykesville, was appointed for a 5-year term that will expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
Per a unanimous vote, the county will enter an agreement with Anderson & Kime Employee Benefits, Inc., in which the company will assist in the preparation of reports mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The agreement comes at no cost to the county.
“We’ve been doing it the last two years. It’s a benefit that Anderson & Kime does to us because they’re our insurance provider,” county Finance Director Veronica McNutt said during the meeting.
William Setree, director of Community Development, appeared during the meeting to announce that his office had funding available for housing rehabilitation. Homeowners interested in obtaining the funding, he said, should contact his office for eligibility information. One must be paid up on their taxes in order to be eligible, he said, and fall within certain income guidelines depending on the number of people living in a home.
“Right now, we are targeting the Borough of Punxsutawney,” he said.
VanSteenberg announced that fishing licenses for 2018 are now on sale throughout the county, as are dog licenses. He also reported that five veterans reached out to his office for military hunting licenses when it offered them during extra hours over Thanksgiving weekend.
“They were all tickled to death. I ended up coming back in, one on Saturday, one on Sunday, helping guys that couldn’t make it on the Friday,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it does make a difference to those guys.”
The next meeting of the board of commissioners will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Jefferson Place, Brookville.