BROOKVILLE — It’s official. Jefferson County will have a new voting system in place for the November 5 General Election.
The Jefferson County Commissioners approved paying Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. $597,117.83 for the new election equipment. The equipment includes 40 scanners and 40 ADA-compliant tablets. Voters will once again use paper ballots to make their candidate selections at the polls.
While it may seem a step back into history, there are some changes with the new system over the paper ballots of old. As voters complete their ballot they will place their own ballot into the scanner, which will count the votes.
There will be one scanner and one ADA-compliant tablet at each precinct. There are 37 precincts in the county, so there are three extra scanners and three extra ADA-compliant tablets as backups.
Commissioner Jack Matson said they are working to have one unit at each of the public libraries in the county so that people can get used to the new system before the November election. The commissioners and election staff had wanted to have the new system in place for the November election as a trial run before the presidential election in 2020.
Matson noted that Gov. Tom Wolf has pledged to reimburse the counties 60 percent of their costs to purchase one of the state-approved new voting machine systems. Counties were mandated to make the change to provide security in the election process.
The painting of the Jefferson County Courthouse has been completed, according to Matson. However, while painting was being done, it was noted that some repairs had to be made to the roof. Those repairs are currently being undertaken and should be done by next week.
The county will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the courthouse on Sept. 13. The courthouse will be open to the public as usual that day with rack cards explaining what each office does. Some people will be in period costumes. Several speakers are planned including Judge John H. Foradora, U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, state Sen. Joe Scarnati, state Rep. Cris Dush, Justice Kevin Doverspike, and Commissioners Herb Buller and Jeff Pisarcik. Brookville Mayor Dick Beck will be issuing a proclamation and there will be a proclamation coming from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.
“The Punxsutawney High School Band will be playing the music and there will be a play performed in the courthouse. It will be the Trial of Judge Heath, an early abolitionist story of Jefferson County where one of our judges was on trial down in Pittsburgh,” Matson said.
“We’ll be having cupcakes made by the bakers at Jeff Tech and we have a new lighting rig to change colors of the bell tower and the clock faces that will culminate the evening with the lighting of the tower and fireworks,” he said.
The original deed of the courthouse has been transcribed and Matson noted that new information has been uncovered such as Alexander Hamilton actually owning property in the Rathmel Run area of the county. There is also going to be a photo exhibit that shows the courthouse across the decades leading up to the celebration and after. Matson noted one of the photos EMS director Tracy Zents showed him Monday was one he had never seen before. Lightning had struck the spire and flames were shooting out of it. He said he was told that it was raining so hard “you couldn’t look up and they couldn’t put men up on top of the ariel (truck). So they were trying to put it out remotely with Tracy running the ladder and someone standing in the Carberry gas station, underneath the canopy, doing hand signals – pointing left, right, up, down – and when they finally hit it, they knocked the spire off and it stuck head first into the roof. But it was out.”
The commissioners approved a request for the county to act as the grant administrator for Route 28/219 intersection project in Brockway. The borough has received two $1 million grants from the state’s Financing Authority Multimodel Transportation Fund Grants.
No date was given for when the project will begin.
The commissioners approved entering an agreement with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for $75,000 for the 2019 Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund Program. The money comes from the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee program and can be used for the Jefferson County Housing Emergency Assistance program. It can be used for, but is not limited to, repair or replacement of roofs, furnaces, water heater replacement, electrical repairs and upgrades, plumbing repairs, and foundation repairs. The county expects to be able to provide assistance to 10 owner-occupied housing units with this funding, according to Bill Setree, director of Community Development for Jefferson County.
Liquid fuels money
The commissioners approved an application for county aid under the Liquid Fuels Program for Young Township in the amount of $7,000 for the Doby Road Drainage project. The application was retroactive to July 23.
Hotel Tax funding
The commissioners also approved several projects for funding as presented by the Hotel Tax Committee. Those projects include: $1,400 for the Jefferson County History Center for fall/winter advertising and another $4,384 for the center for Scripture Rocks signage; $2,000 for the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce for a marketing grant; and $2,000 for the Groundhog Club for the 2020 Schedule and Travel Guide.
County veterans emergency fund
Ben Steele, president of the Jefferson County Chapter of ABATE, attended Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting to present the county with a check for $5,342. Another $500 he said will also be coming. The money was raised for the Jefferson County Veterans Emergency Fund.
Jefferson County Veterans Affairs Department Director Krupa Steele said the response from the community has been overwhelming and she is very thankful to all who have donated. More than $10,000 has been raised so far, she said. The fund will offer financial assistance to Jefferson County veterans for the necessities of life. As an example she said a veteran diagnosed with cancer who is awaiting for his insurance to kick in may fall behind on rent or utility payments. It is for situations that are beyond their control, she said.
Any veteran in Jefferson County needing assistance can begin an application process though the Veterans Affairs office. Requests will decided on a case by case basis. The veterans information will be kept confidential within the Veterans Affairs office.
County Treasurer James “Moon” VanSteenberg said his office is mailing out the first round of antlerless deer licenses. The second round of licenses will be processed beginning Monday, he said, urging hunters to get their applications in the mail by this Friday, Aug. 16. So far a little more than 10,000 licenses have been processed plus 700-800 D-Map tags. There are D-Map tags available again, he said. “They were sold out the first part of July and the (Pennsylvania) Game Commission added another 3,100 tags just for the 30-45 zone and the 34-66 zone. So there are quite a few of those tags available yet.”
The commissioners will next meet at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Jefferson Place.