Commissioners okay Geisinger bond issue

Sentinel photo by JOE CANNON
The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday recognized several recently-graduated Mifflin County High School graduates for being named winners on the annual Communities That Care Positive Message Campaign. They included, front, from left, Joseph Peachey, Ethan Kauffman, Kenzie McCarter and Fern Sifies; back, from left, Commissioners Kevin Kodish, Stephen Dunkle and Rob Postal.

LEWISTOWN — The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday approved a resolution endorsing bond financing of up to $1 billion for Geisinger Health System to pay down debt and to fund new health care facilities and equipment throughout its entire system.

Several Geisinger officials were on hand at the meeting to request the resolution, required by boards of commissioners in all counties served by Geisinger, including Mifflin, Centre, Columbia, Lackawana, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour and Northumberland in Pennsylvania, as well as Atlantic County in New Jersey. In order for the bond issuance to move forward, county government approvals are required under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982.

Kirk Thomas, chief administrative officer of Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, was among the Geisinger officials on hand. He said the bond issuance will be used to provide “continued access to care and quality of care closer to home.”

Thomas said some of the money will go toward replacement of radiology equipment, along with new technologies and renovation to facilities.

“Geisinger remains committed to growing services locally,” he stated.

Following approval of the resolution, Commissioner Kevin Kodish noted, “We’re thankful for Geisinger being a good neighbor to residents of Mifflin County. We look forward to a great relationship in the future.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners recognized several recently graduated students from Mifflin County High School for being named winners in the Communities That Care Positive Message Campaign, which encouraged students to create materials to educate on mental health issues facing young people today.

The winners included Kenzie McCarter, Joseph Peachey and Fern Sifies for video; Peachey and McCarter for radio public service announcements; and Ethan Kauffman, Peachey and McCarter for graphic design.

Also on Thursday, during the public comment period, Teresa Bodtorf, a former employee at the Mifflin County Correctional Facility, gave a tearful plea for the commissioners to look into recent allegations of sexual harassment by corrections officers toward herself and other female employees. She said she contemplated filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against the facility but chose not to because other female employees feared their jobs may be in jeopardy.

“I think something needs to be taken care of at the facility,” Bodtorf said. “It’s not fair for female employees what’s going on down there.”

Kodish thanked Bodtorf for her comments and said, “Your concerns are noted and we will look into it.”

In other action Thursday, the commissioners:

¯ Approved an easement agreement with Juniata Concrete Co. for the next phase of the Juniata River Trail project.

¯ Approved an engagement letter with Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, of Harrisburg, to perform the 2018 county audit.

¯ Approved the Medical Assistance Transportation Program grant agreement with Call-A-Ride Services and the 2019-20 allocation in the amount of $466,523.

¯ Approved the 2019 Liquid Fuels allocation to Derry Township in the amount of $8,939.05.

¯ Approved the following personnel items: the resignation of Dakotah Roe, part-time corrections officer, effective July 5; the hiring of Nathan Wyland as a probation officer, effective July 15; and the hiring of Lance Dressler as a part-time corrections officer, effective Aug. 5.