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Commissioners recognize local United Way Month

Officials show appreciation to volunteers

LEWISTOWN – Noting their appreciation toward volunteers of the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata and its partner agencies for their contributions of time and energy, the Mifflin County Commissioners adopted a proclamation designating January as “United Way Month” this Thursday.

“The United Way’s mission is to improve people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community,” Commissioner Mark Sunderland read from the proclamation. “United Way believes in creating opportunities to a better life for all by ‘Living United’ and we encourage our residents to designate their United Way contributions to their home communities.”

On hand to accept the proclamation was Oksana DeArment, executive director of the United Way of Mifflin-Juniata, who thanked the commissioners for their support.

“Our goal this year is $450,000,” DeArment reported. “Currently, we stand at 70 percent of that as of this morning.” DeArment said a major fund-raiser, “Dancing With the Stars,” helped propel the organization over its 2019 goal and said she hopes the same thing will happen this year. “That will be held on April 4,” she stated.

In other business Thursday, during the public comment period, Craig Bubb, executive director of the Municipal Authority of Lewistown Borough, reported the authority is suing Lewistown Borough to fight against a resolution he said will wrest power from the authority and essentially allow the borough to run the service, potentially costing customers more money.

“We believe the resolution is unlawful on five different levels,” Bubb said. “We don’t know what the borough’s end game is yet, but it’s going to be costly if the borough is able to take over the authority. It could cost a lot of money.”

Bubb said the borough appointed one of its council members to the authority’s board earlier this week “to keep an eye on things.” He said the borough’s goal is to get a majority on the authority board. “This is not good for Mifflin County,” he said. “Basically 70 percent of our customers live outside of Lewistown Borough. I’m here today to tell you the water authority will challenge the borough in this attempt. I urge you to weigh in on what is potentially a bad situation.”

Also on Thursday, the commissioners were asked by Ferguson Valley resident Helen Kirk what, if anything, can be done to resolve spotty internet access in many areas of the county.

Commissioner Rob Postal said Kirk’s question is timely because one of the five priorities set by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania for 2020 is to improve broadband internet access to all areas of the state.

He said the Mifflin County Internet Committee is already looking into ways to improve service, noting, “We can’t wait for the state. We need to progress on this issue through our own initiatives. At the next internet committee meeting, our state legislators will be present to discuss the issue.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners:

¯ Approved a resolution authorizing the submission of the application for funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for a $2.5 million grant to be used, if successful, to fund two initiatives in the county. Postal said the money would be used for renovations to the county’s annex building in the amount of $1 million, and for expansion at the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology in the amount of $1.5 million.

¯ Adopted a resolution noting the county intends to partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to do the following: Share the importance of the 2020 census with county residents; Encourage residents to respond to the census when they receive it in March; Support census takers as they help complete an accurate count; Promote the availability of census jobs in the county; and encourage residents to participate in events and initiatives that will raise the awareness of the 2020 census and increase participation.

¯ Approved the county’s share of operating costs for the Central Counties Youth Detention Center in Centre County in the amount of $285,879.

¯ Approved licensing agreements for various software programs in the adult probation department.

¯ Approved a web program enrollment agreement with the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania for the association to continue to provide web hosting for the county’s website.

¯ Approved an engineer agreement with EADS Group Inc. for the Dorcas Street bridge project for a lump sum of $31,900.

¯ Approved using up to $20,000 in Act 13 funds for repairs to the Juniata River boat ramp in McVeytown.

¯ Approved an on-the-job-training contract with Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation to retrieve 50 percent of salary costs for individuals who have been displaced from their jobs and are training for new ones.

¯ Approved the following personnel items: the promotions of Dwayne Kurtz and Katelyn Rauch from part-time to full-time corrections officers effective Jan. 5; the hiring of Blaine Wainwright as a probation officer effective Jan. 6; the hiring of Bobbi Jo Price as an LPN at the prison effective Jan. 17; the promotion of Jill Conner from eligibility clerk to fiscal assistant in the Children & Youth office effective Jan. 20; the hiring of Casey Willis as a part-time corrections officer effective Jan. 20; the hiring of Joseph Cox Jr. as a part-time corrections officer effective Jan. 27; the hiring of Adam Waite as a part-time 911 dispatcher effective Jan. 20; the hiring of Tiffany Mast as a court reporter effective Feb. 3; the resignation of Children & Youth caseworker Mikayla Brumbaugh effective Feb. 7.

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