DuBOIS — The first phase of a three-part project at Penn Highlands West was approved Monday by the DuBois City Council.

The first phase involves expansion of the West Wing Annex with a five-story addition that will house some of the units and services that will be relocated prior to phase two.

The second phase requires modification involving a setback. The request has not been formally submitted, so the council could not approve it Monday.

The second phase will expand the Emergency Department, doubling the number of beds and also create a Level 3 Trauma Center.

The Center of Excellence, the third phase, will be a “one stop shop for specialities such as orthopedics.”

The city Planning Commission recommended approval of the master plan, which was presented by Jen Zaffuto of KTH Architects and Eric Kann from Hawker Engineering.

The projects at the West Campus are in addition to one at the East Unit, the formal Maple Avenue Hospital.

It involves construction of a three-story building and the demolition of the Fugate House and Tyler Building. The campus will become a Behavioral Health Complex that will have a total of 126 inpatient beds, an increase of 82 over its current capacity.

The new complex will create 104 new full- and part-time positions in addition to the current complement of 64 full-time and 24 part-time jobs.

The council approved a letter of support for the East Campus project last month.

Streetscape contract

Dave Roman Construction was awarded the bid for the Main Street Streetscape Project in the amount of $2,284,600.28. Roman submitted the low bid for the work, which is part of the turnback of that thoroughfare by PennDOT to the city.

Councilman Randy Schmidt noted that contractors should be held to a timetable for completion of their work.

City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio said the Streetscape project has a four-month window and is expected to begin in mid-April.

Opportunity Zones

Councilman Diane Bernardo reported on the creation of Opportunity Zones in Clearfield County.

The zones are part of the recently enacted federal tax reform legislation.

In Clearfield County, DuBois, Clearfield and Curwensville were selected for the designation based on low income and other distress criteria.

According to Economic Innovation Group in Washington, DC, “Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide.

“The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds that are dedicated to investing into Opportunity Zones.

“U.S. investors currently hold trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains in stocks and mutual funds alone— a significant untapped resource for economic development.

“Opportunity Funds provide investors the chance to put that money to work rebuilding the nation’s left-behind communities. The fund model will enable a broad array of investors to pool their resources in Opportunity Zones, increasing the scale of investments going to underserved areas.”

Next meeting

The council will hold a work session at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 22. The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, March 26. All meetings are held in council chambers in the city building on West Scribner Avenue.

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