CLARION – Along with a new person to fill the position, the Clarion County District Attorney’s Office will soon have a new location.
Commissioners Ted Tharan, Wayne Brosius and Ed Heasley Tuesday morning voted unanimously to execute a sales agreement with Jeffrey and Deborah Green to purchase a building along Liberty Street in Clarion to house the top county prosecutor and related services at a cost of $155,000.
The commissioners said the possibility of purchasing a new facility first arose when current district attorney Mark Aaron, who owns the building the county had been renting, announced his candidacy for Common Pleas Judge.
“We anticipated that this might happen late last year,” Tharan said Tuesday morning of the county’s need for a new DA’s office, explaining that the county had budgeted $500,000 for capital purchases should the need arise.
Due to the need for security and county stipulations governing the location of the building, county officials decided early on that it was better to own a building than to lease.
“We found it prudent and in the best interests of the county and its finances to purchase the building mainly because of the security [required] for that building,” Tharan said, noting that the county spent approximately $282,000 renting the current DA’s office over the last 20 years.
According to Tharan, the approximate 3,000-square-foot building — which currently houses a chiropractic practice near the current DA’s office — will have room to store all necessary county district attorney records, as well as serve as a headquarters for the Drug Task Force and county detectives.
“Structurally, the building is in good condition,” Tharan said. He noted that since the structure is already ADA accessible, divided into office space, and has central air and new windows, minimal rehabilitation work will be necessary.
“This building wasn’t even on our radar until September,” He continued, explaining that Jeffrey Green reached out to the county about purchasing the building before it was even put on the market. “Everything fell into place.”
Despite the building’s good condition, Tharan said it will cost the county $20,000 in addition to the sale price to move the DA’s office to its new location — wherever that would have been. This includes running fiber optic lines to the new building, and installing security cameras inside and out, a door lock system, and cameras and speakers at every door.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into moving the DA’s office into any building,” Tharan said.
With its current office lease slated to end Dec. 31, Tharan said the county is on the “fast track” to occupying the new DA space, and expects to close on the building no later than Oct. 15.
“He [Aaron] has treated us more than fair over the last 20 years, [but] time moves on and he has chosen to do something else with his building,” he said, noting that the office is only being moved out of necessity. “These are just the cards that were dealt to us.”
• The commissioners awarded $5,000 grants from the Marcellus Legacy Fund to the Redbank Valley Trail Association (RVTA) and the Rimersburg VFW.
Designated to be used for the development or upkeep of recreational spots, parks or green spaces, the commissioners said the Marcellus money will be used by the RVTA to help repair a portion of the Redbank Valley Trail that was washed out by the July flooding. The VFW will use the grant for repairs to its veterans park and museum.
• A contract with Ashley Urik to be the post conviction relief attorney for the Public Defender’s office was approved at a cost of $1,000 per month.
Brosius noted that the position was previously held by area attorney Sara Seidle, who is expected to take the position of Clarion County Common Pleas Judge in January.
• The resignation of Bryan Howard from the Board of Assessment Appeals was accepted effective Sept. 11.
Sal Mazzocchi was appointed to fill the vacant position on the board effective Sept. 17.