Measure adopted to honor veterans

Proclamation: Country’s duty to honor servicemen

The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a proclamation urging all area residents to recognize and honor those who served in the military this coming Veterans Day. Participating in the proclamation ceremony were, from left, Commissioner Stephen Dunkle, Chris DeArment, the countyás director of veterans affairs; Commissioner Lisa Nancollas, and Commissioner Kevin Kodish.

LEWISTOWN – Noting that American citizens owe an inexpressible debt to this nation’s veterans, the Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a proclamation recognizing Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

“Carefully preserved within the pages of American history lie the valiant stories of the men and women who fought with valor and fortitude to defend the ideals upon which our great nation was founded: liberty, freedom, and justice,” Commissioner Lisa Nancollas read from the proclamation. “These dedicated men and women, our United States veterans, reinforce the truth that heroism is not a gift or a goal, but often a moment, and sometimes a lifetime, of pure selflessness.”

The proclamation also noted, “It is the county’s duty to honor the memory of our dedicated servicemen and women who never returned home, having made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our nation and its way of life.”

On hand to accept the proclamation was Chris DeArment, the county’s

director of veterans affairs.

On a related note, the commissioners reminded those in attendance of the upcoming Veterans Day Parade, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, Nov. 10, in downtown Lewistown.

“We’re very proud to get this up and running,” Nancollas remarked. “I want to thank everybody who plans on participating and we hope the community will come out and support it.”

Local resident Michele Bair, during the public comment period, noted she saw on a recent television program that nationally everyone is being encouraged to display a green light in support of veterans, and she encouraged area residents to take part in that effort.

In other business, the commissioners adopted a second proclamation, this one honoring the many achievements of the Mifflin County Garden Club, which this year is celebrating its 80th anniversary of being federated.

“The Mifflin County Garden Club is an active volunteer organization with members from Mifflin and Juniata counties,” Nancollas noted. “The gardeners inspire youth through the junior gardening program and nurture the elderly by leading monthly craft classes. The Garden Club conducts flower shows every two years and participates in maintaining the gardens of the historic McCoy House, plants flowers at the Mifflin County Library and the Lewistown Municipal Building, and has adopted a two-mile stretch of road with the Adopt-a-Highway program.”

Two representatives of the Garden Club, Lois Armstrong and Michele Bair, were on hand to accept the proclamation.

Also on Thursday, Commissioner Stephen Dunkle reported the commissioners recently visited the Perry County Prison to gather facts on that facility’s compliance with the state’s Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), legislation that all county prisons will have to conform to in the years ahead.

“PREA is intended to eliminate any possibility of rape in prison,” Dunkle reported. “Unfortunately, this is an unfunded mandate and there will be costs to be in compliance.”

Dunkle said in the not-too-distant future, those prisons not in compliance with the act will be subjected to substantial penalties, particularly federal funding.

Commissioner Kevin Kodish said one of the main expenses will be an upgrade of the security camera system at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility.

“Many of the cameras at the jail are nearing the end of their life,” Kodish said. “They have a lot of blind spots that need to be eliminated. You may remember we used to house female inmates from Perry County but they have been moved because we aren’t yet PREA compliant.”

In other business, Dunkle provided a brief update on the county’s “Operation Fairness” initiative, a two-tiered program designed to identify people who are not currently paying taxes, whether through improvements to their properties or by not paying per capita taxes.

“Those are moving along nicely,” Dunkle said, adding the program to date has identified thousands of dollars in revenue for the school district, county and townships and boroughs in which the census has been completed.

Also on Thursday, the commissioners:

¯ Approved a request to proceed to negotiate a contract between the engineering firm of Buchart Horn of State College, Derry Township and the county for Derry Township Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. James Lettiere, community development administrator with the county planning office, said five firms submitted requests for proposals and that following review, it was recommended to go with Buchart Horn to negotiate a contract for engineering services for upcoming projects.

¯ Appointed Cynthia Kennedy to fulfill the unexpired term of Judy Tunall on the Mifflin County Library Board. Kodish noted Tunall resigned during the illness of her husband Jim, president of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce, who passed away recently. The term expires Dec. 31, 2018.

“We join with the rest of the county in mourning Jim Tunall’s loss,” Kodish said. “He was a tremendous advocate for the area and he will be missed.”

¯ Appointed Craig Bubb to a subcommittee for the capital project on the Natural Gas Cooperative.

¯ Approved an intergovernmental cooperative purchasing agreement between the county and National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance Company, a co-op that numerous counties participate in to gain increased purchasing power. Solicitor Stephen Snook said the agreement places departments in a position to gain bigger savings on purchases, mostly office equipment. There is no cost to the county, he added.

¯ Approved a request from Oliver Township for its 2016 liquid fuels allocation in the amount of $3,317.67.

¯ Approved receipt of the 2016-17 Hazardous Materials Response Fund Grant in the amount of $5,314. Emergency Services Director Phil Lucas noted the money is a state grant used to fund programs and support for first responders in the field.

¯ Approved the resignation of Peggy Moore as a part-time LPN at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility, effective Oct. 24.

¯ Rescinded the resignation of Tammy Swartz as asset building specialist in the Human Services office, effective Oct. 21.

¯ Approved the hiring of Nikki Leister as a part-time 911 telecommunicator, effective Nov. 7.

¯ Approved the resignation of Kyle Tudor as a Children & Youth caseworker, effective Nov. 1.