Internet project moving forward

LEWISTOWN — An ongoing project to improve broadband internet access to under served areas took a step forward on Thursday following action taken by the Mifflin County Commissioners.

Following a recommendation by County Planning Director Bill Gomes, the commissioners approved a Broadband Expansion Agreement with Noovis, LLC of Hanover, Maryland to partner with the county by preparing a results-oriented report that will provide the county with suggested areas for pilot projects, along with anticipated costs and schedules. The agreement is in the amount of $13,000.

“This is a long-standing process that has been going on for 2 ¢ years now,” Gomes said. “We’re at the point where we need technical assistance to continue to move this process forward. To be competitive, we need more technical information.”

The Noovis proposal said the county has already collected a lot of data that will be helpful. It said ensuring the project captures all available resources for opportunities involves further identification of what it calls “Community Anchor Institutions.”

Once the recommended data is compiled, the company said it will analyze the information and research appropriate technical and financial models. The final step would be the detailed report and updated GIS maps. “The detailed report will justify the broadband initiative, provide financial and infrastructure approaches to include cost estimates and collective information for decision making purposes as well as future funding opportunities,” the proposal stated.

Gomes said the cost of the agreement will be shared by “eight or nine” municipalities across the county, as well as Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, the Lewistown Municipal Authority, Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation and the Mifflin County School District.

In other business Thursday, the commissioners:

¯ Approved a resolution authorizing the submission of a 2019 Community Development Block Grant competitive application for a $1 million grant that would help pay for an infrastructure improvement project in Wayne Township.

¯ Approved a change order in the amount of $485 for additional materials in the Bender Park, Reedsville, fishing pier project.

¯ Approved purchase of service agreements for use, if needed, by Children & Youth with the following agencies: Centre County Children’s Advocacy Center of Bellefonte, Pathways Adolescent Center Inc. of Oil City, The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh, and Family Care for Children and Youth Inc. of Milton.

¯ Approved a purchase of service agreement with Mark Remy, Esquire, from the Law Offices of Knepp and Snook, as assistant district attorney for the period Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019, for a monthly sum of $2,625.

¯ Approved a purchase of service agreement with Mark Remy, Esquire, from the Law Offices of Knepp and Snook, as prison board solicitor for the period Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019, at a rate of $100 per hour.

¯ Approved a purchase of service agreement with Brian Baker, private detective, as criminal investigator for the public defender’s office at a rate of $695 per month for the period Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019.

¯ Approved applications for 2018 Liquid Fuels Allocations with Burnham Borough ($2,061.68) and Menno Township ($2,912.44).

¯ Appointed Gene Wolfkill to the Mifflin County Internet Advisory Board.

¯ Approved a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund the update of the county’s Hazardous Mitigation Plan.

¯ Appointed the following to the Hazard Mitigation Plan Advisory Committee: Matt Stringer, McVeytown Borough; Ron Napikoski, Derry Township; Paul Maidens, Mifflin County School District; Sharina Harshbarger, Bratton Township; Matt Moore, Valley View Haven; Rex Fink, Lewistown Borough; Bob Henry, Juniata Valley Behavior and Developmental Services; Pat Shoop, Fame EMS; Ann Thompson, Union Township; Brenda Aumiller, Armagh Township; and Craig Bubb, Municipal Authority of the Borough of Lewistown.

¯ Approved a resolution authorizing signature changes on the Recorder of Deeds Record Improvement Fund.

¯ Encumbered $20,000 of Liquid Fuels money for the Dorcas Street bridge project.

¯ Encumbered $30,000 of Liquid Fuels money for the Whiskey Road bridge project.