KITTANNING – Efforts to develop a countywide “land bank” to help Armstrong County municipalities battle blighted properties was advanced last week.
County commissioners Pat Fabian, Jason Renshaw and George Skamai approved an agreement with the Gulotta Group that will provide administrative services for the development of a land bank.
The contract is not to exceed $7,000, with the funding coming from a grant the county received last year from the state to deal with blight.
County planning director Rich Palilla said that the county’s Blight Task Force last August recommended the creation of a land bank which could be used by municipalities to address blighted properties.
Palilla also said that in addition to working on model ordinances for municipalities, the county’s blight efforts will also include the demolition of three buildings which have been identified in Kittanning and Leechburg boroughs. He said the work could start in early spring.
“This has moved along more quickly than we anticipated,” Fabian said of the blight remediation efforts, telling Palilla, “I commend you and your team.”
“The task force really did a wonderful job,” Palilla added.
In other businesses at the Jan. 18 commissioners’ meeting, new annual contracts were approved for county assistant district attorneys, public defenders and the county solicitor.
Officials said the contracts, retroactive to Jan. 1, include an average pay increase of 2.2 percent.
Contracts were approved for assistant DA Tim Miller, public defenders Preston Younkins, Chuck Pascal, James Wray and Debra Lost, and conflict counselor Paula LaStrapes. A contract was also renewed for county solicitor Andrew Sacco.
• The commissioners presented a certificate of recognition to 911 dispatcher Evan Keener who recently helped a Kittanning woman deliver her baby.
911 director Ron Baustert said this was only the fourth time in 11 years that a dispatcher has helped deliver a child via the 911 phone call.
“It’s a very rare opportunity for us to bring a life into the world,” he said, noting that dispatchers more often deal with death and illness.
• The county entered into a contract with Tetra Tech Inc. to conduct a hazard mitigation study involving all municipalities in the county. The study must be completed every five years. The county will pay for the effort with a $54,915 grant.
• Paul Stubrick of Kittanning was reappointed to the county’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board.