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Susquehanna Advisory Board Gets Left Out of Emergency Advisory Panel

A motion at the latest Susquehanna County Commissioners meeting, which would adopt a resolution establishing an Advisory Board of the Emergency Services within the county and name nine board members, opened a can of worms.

Apparently, the board has been meeting on a "volunteer basis" and recommended several functions for themselves, including oversight of personnel matters dealing with 911. The group apparently also didn't want 911 Director Dawn Watson present at its meetings and got its way.

Furthermore, the nine proposed members included five people who are involved in fire and rescue, one in EMS, one in enforcement, a commissioner and a communications person, but no 911 dispatchers. Several of the dispatchers from 911 were at the meeting to ask why the group was refusing to appoint one of them. Another person in attendance asked why Watson wasn't going to be allowed to run her own department. Finally, with so many questions and very little answers, it was decided by the two commissioners present, Jeff Loomis and Mary Ann Warren, to put the motion on hold until it could be further reviewed.

Another sticky point was brought up regarding the hiring of Kimball & Associates which has offices in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and State College. They were hired as the consultant to 911 and EMS for $2,000 a month on a six-month trial basis to replace the previous consultant who had passed away. Asked when they were hired, Loomis indicated that it was a professional service and didn't need to be bid. Still, they were told from two members of the media, the actual hiring had to be done in public. After a couple go-rounds about that, and after sending Chief Clerk Suzanne Brainard to check on things, Loomis made the motion to officially ratify the hiring of Kimball & Associates.

This company will assist in grants, prioritize projects, help with guidelines and come up with project proposals including a possible replacement area for 911 if a disaster should make the current location inoperable. Kimball has told the county that there will be money available (grants) to help accomplish a second location. It was said that Kimball has offered more services for its fee than the previous consultant who charged between $2,000 and $9,000 a month. Last year total fees amounted to $79,000. The previous consultant had been with the department since 1993.

The bid for the elevator in the courthouse was awarded to Jerry Gantz, Inc. of Scranton for $220,987. The elevator should be installed by the end of the year. It will be for general public use and will be completely within the existing structure so that there will not be any change to the historical look of the exterior of the building.

An award was also given for the replacement of carpeting in the Warner Building to Rug Fair Commercial and Industrial of Endwell, NY. The cost will be $17,550, about $10,000 lower than a local company's bid.

The Economic Development Department has entered a memorandum of understanding with the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission for a portion of a grant from DCED dealing with business retention and expansion. For this county's part, 17 interviews will be conducted by Director Elizabeth Janoski at $225 per interview.

The Economic Development Department also was designated as the Industrial Development Organization for the county. This designation is needed to receive LEDA (Local Economic Development Assistance) funds, and the department is designated as such each year. Last year's grant amounted to $21,000. LEDA funds are used for site development projects, for incubators and by the rail authority for feasibility studies.

Joe's Disposal Services, Inc. of Hallstead, owned by Bob Thatcher, was awarded the refuse dumpster bid as the lowest bidder. Dumpsters are placed in four locations with monthly fees for each, plus added fees if additional pickups are required.

In personnel matters, Heather Yonkin was hired to a part-time position in the Treasurer's Office to process antlerless permits, while Adrian Kinney, Linnie Donohue and John Stopka were rehired for the same work.

Yonkin's salary was set by the salary board at $5.35 an hour, with Kinney receiving $5.56 and Donohue and Stopka getting $5.79 an hour.

Rita Driscole will be the temporary person in the Tax Claim Office, earning $8.32 an hour until work is done on the sale of 9/20. Mindy Williams has a part-time custodial job at $5.79. Reuben Lyle Sherman and Jason Sechrist will be part-time Correction Officers at the jail, starting at $10.54 an hour.

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