Supporters of internet project recognized

LEWISTOWN – Organizations and municipalities that have committed to financially support the county’s ongoing initiative to widen broadband internet service to the area were recognized during Thursday’s business meeting of the Mifflin County Commissioners.

Bill Gomes, the county’s planning director, said three years ago a committee was formed to explore ways to increase internet access to underserved areas. Recently, it was determined a study was needed to outline various ways to improve service. A letter was sent to organizations and municipalities asking for help to pay the $13,000 it will take to complete the study. Gomes said 13 groups responded with donations of $9,500. They included Mifflin County School District, Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, Municipal Authority of Lewistown, Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation, Armagh Township, Brown Township, Derry Township, Granville Township, Lewistown Borough, Menno Township, Oliver Township, Union Township and Wayne Township.

Commissioner Kevin Kodish thanked those who contributed. “I also want to thank the committee,” Kodish added. “Their sheer commitment has provided this project with the means to move forward. I think the future is bright. Hopefully, this study will provide more information to getting high speed internet to all residents of the county.”

In other business Thursday, Commissioner Stephen Dunkle reiterated his comments from two weeks ago with regard to the closure of three branches of the Mifflin County Library in 2014. Dunkle said officials of the library and its board of directors were “less than transparent” in the decision to close branches in Allensville, Milroy and McVeytown and he invited current Library Director Dr. Molly Kinney, and former board members Tom McNabb and Teddy Snyder to come to the Jan. 31 commissioners meeting to explain the methodology used at the time.

During the public comment period, current Library Board President Keith Altiery said he was on hand to talk about and promote activities at the library, but not to reflect on the past.

“We’ve moved on from this issue,” Altiery stated. “I was not a member of the board at that time. My goal is to promote the library and move forward. I’m here to answer questions about now and in the future. I cannot speak for what happened in the past.”

Following Altiery’s remarks, Dunkle responded, “All I’m asking for is a public acknowledgement that this could have been done better.”

In other action Thursday, the commissioners:

¯ Adopted a proclamation designating April 2019 as “Pennsylvania Safe Digging Month.”

¯ Approved requests for exoneration of 2018 county real estate tax bills for two parcels located in Granville Township that have been designated as Keystone Opportunity Zones. The exonerations are for $172,850.24 and $129,346.33 respectively.

¯ Approved a proposal from J-Way Architectural of Summerhill, PA to conduct a study of the county’s buildings. Commissioner Rob Postal said the study is necessary to look at whether county-owned buildings are being used in the most efficient manner. Cost of the study will be $9,800.

¯ Approved an inmate housing agreement with Union County to house prisoners, if needed, for fiscal year 2019.

¯ Approved updated fees and costs for the tax claim bureau effective Feb. 1.

¯ Approved the following coroner fees: $500 for autopsy reports; $100 for toxicology reports; and $100 for inquisition or coroner’s reports.

¯ Approved a proposal from Morocco Electric Inc. of Somerset to upgrade county security systems at a cost of $56,495. Maintenance Director Lonnie Griffith said the improvements were recommended by a committee studying the issue and that $43,700 of the cost will be paid for by grants from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the PA Court System.

¯ Approved an agreement with Perfection Commercial Cleaning of McAlisterville to provide cleaning services at the office of Magisterial District Jonathan Reed at a rate of $200 per month.

¯ Approved the promotion of Kathy Ritter from second deputy register and recorder to first deputy effective Jan. 7.

¯ Approved the promotion of Michelle Terry from domestic relations receptionist to intake officer effective Jan. 21.

¯ Accepted the resignation of Harry Clever as tax claims director effective Jan. 21.

¯ Approved the hiring of Steven Durst as a part-time corrections officer effective Jan. 28.