BROOKVILLE — With the beginning of the new year, resolutions are usually made and that is no exception for the Jefferson County Commissioners.

On Jan. 14, they approved a resolution authorizing the submission of an application for a $2 million grant from the Commonwealth Office of the Budget to be used toward the O/I Furnace Rebuild Owens-Brockway Glass Project.

Jefferson County Director of Economic Development Jaime Lefever noted that the OI project was to rebuild a furnace, which has been completed. “So we’re in reimbursement and part of the reimbursement the county has to adopt the resolution saying the county is the grantee and will be accepting the funds. Then we’ll funnel them back through to Illinois. So this is just taking some of the final steps to complete that process.”

She went on to say the furnaces were rebuilt by December 31, 2018, and this is just a reimbursement program.

Stump Creek projectCounty Director Community Development Bill Setree noted at the Jan. 14 meeting that his office is “conducting a survey of Stump Creek area, trying to determine if they qualify for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. And as of today, there’s about 30 people out there that have not returned their income surveys. If they do not return the surveys, they will not qualify for the funding. They will have to basically look at loans to complete that project. So it’s very important that they send those back to our office.”

The income surveys are 100 percent confidential and protected and do not go into a public database, Commissioner Jack Matson noted with Setree agreeing.

In answer to a question by Commissioner Herb Bullers, Setree said the water authority provided his office with a list of customers. Setree said his office then notifies the customers via a postcard that there is going to be a survey conducted, which is followed a few days later with the actual survey, a letter of instructions, a sample survey and a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which to return the completed survey.

After a month, if the survey has not been returned, Setree’s office gets in touch with the water authority to try to get phone numbers for the people who have not responded to the survey or have authority members go door to door to inform them that they need to return the surveys.

Setree said the importance of completing the survey has been stressed. He attended a public meeting in Stump Creek when the community began to have problems with the water system and informed everyone at that meeting what needed to be done.

An exact cost for the project isn’t yet known because of not being able to determine if the area qualifies for CDBG funds. If they qualify then a budget would be put together including everything that needs to be taken care of. Setree said his guess would be the grant money needed would be in the $1 million range. It’s a lot of money that the Stump Creek area could lose if they don’t return the surveys.

If they cannot get CDBG funding, he said, they may have to look at loans, which would in turn need to be repaid.

Local News Coverage

Legal contractsThey have entered into two contracts for legal services in regards the county’s public defender’s office.

The commissioners contracted with Fred Hummel and with Scott Allen for both men to discharge the duties of assistant public defender. Hummel will be paid a yearly rate of $24,000 and Allen, $24,500, for 2020.

Re-appointmentsDuring the Jan. 6 reorganization meeting, the commissioners also re-appointed Joe Ryan, parents attorney –Children & Youth Services, at a rate of $13,500 for the year.

Another re-appointment was Kerith Taylor as Guardian ad Litum with CYS at a rate of $18,500 for the year.

AppointmentsAt the Jan. 6 meeting, several appointments were made to various positions. These included:

  • Karen Lupone, chief clerk
  • Wendy Truitt, assistant chief clerk/voter registrar
  • Krupa Steele, director of Veterans Affairs
  • Susan Seigworth, director of Assessment/Tax Claim
  • Seth Kerr, GIS director
  • Tracy Zents, director of Emergency Services
  • Veronica McNutt, director of Finance
  • Kary Schneider, director of Human Resources
  • Jaime Lefever, director of Economic Development and Planning
  • Bill Setree, director of Community Development

At the Jan. 14 meeting, they appointed Lefever and Larry Chenoga, of Punxsutawney, to the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning & Development Commission’s CEDS (Community Economic Development Strategy) Committee.

ReorganizationMatson was elected to be chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, Bullers was elected vice chairman, and Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik was elected secretary.

Regular meetings were set to be the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 10:30 a.m. in the large conference room at Jefferson Place.

During the reorganizational meeting, the commissioners also voted to enter an agreement with Anderson & Kime Employee Benefits Inc. to assist the county in preparing and complying with the new reporting requirement under the Affordable Care Act at not cost to the county.

They also voted to put into effect for 2020 the Jefferson County Emergency Operations plan, which would be enacted by the director of the county’s Department of Emergency Services as need in times of disaster or emergencies.

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