CLARION – For the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Clarion County officials recently extended the county’s emergency declaration.

At the request of the county’s Public Safety department, Commissioners Wayne Brosius, Ted Tharan and Ed Heasley unanimously approved a motion extending Clarion County’s Declaration of Disaster Emergency until Sept. 15 during their meeting Tuesday morning.

According to Brosius, the declaration will better ensure that the county is eligible for state and federal reimbursements for emergency purchases and operations related to COVID-19.

“It allows us to make emergency purchases through the federal and state agencies if we need to,” Public Safety director Jeff Smathers explained of the declaration. “We’ll get a better grip on what’s happening here in the next few months and we can relax it, but right now, we don’t want to close that door.”

In addition to authorizing the director of Public Safety to “take all appropriate actions needed to alleviate the potential affects of the disaster...and take other emergency response action deemed necessary to respond to this emergency,” the declaration also allows the continuation of the county’s Corona Local Task Force committee for COVID-19 to meet as needed without formal advertisement.

“We meet once a week to talk about the current situation,” Brosius said of the committee, which consists of the commissioners; the commissioners’ chiefs of staff; the directors of Public Safety, Human Services, Human Resources and Buildings and Grounds; EMA coordinator; Fiscal Director; the President Judge and court administrator; sheriff; warden; coroner; IT director and the county solicitor.

“The ongoing impact of COVID-19 has the potential to endanger or threaten the health, safety and welfare of a substantial number of persons residing in Clarion County, and threatens to create problems greater in scope than Clarion County may be able to resolve,” the declaration states. “Emergency management measures are required to be proactive to reduce the potential severity of this disaster and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the affected residents in Clarion County.”

In other business during the July 28 meeting, the commissioners also approved the county’s Human Services Plan for 2020-21, which includes provisions for operations during the ongoing pandemic.

The plan outlines all the services provided by the Human Services Department and plans for the upcoming year.

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“It covers everything from Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Early Intervention to Housing, and Drug and Alcohol,” Clarion County MH/DD/EI Administrator Nancy Jeannerat said.

According to Jeannerat, the biggest impact the coronavirus had on the mental health and developmental disabilities field was providers’ increased use of telehealth to provide services to clients.

“It really bloomed into a work from home kind of service,” she said. “We were able to continue services for folks who couldn’t get to the offices.”

While the state budget only carries through the end of December, Jeannerat is optimistic that plans and programs that the county has in place beyond that will be fully funded.

Other Business:

• The following bids on the county’s repository list were accepted: Licking Township — 177 acres, coal only, $230; Redbank Township — 30 acres, coal only, $430; Redbank Township — 54.25 acres, coal only, $258.

• A contract with the Hartford for life insurance for full-time employees was approved with a monthly premium of $727.66 for $20,000 Life and AD&D.

• Also approved was an application for a Probation with Restrictive Conditions Grant, formally known as the IP Grant, in the amount of $165,000.

• The commissioners opened and awarded sealed bids for 15 county vehicles and three coolers that were previously approved for auction.

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