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Wyoming County Commissioners Proclaim Business Women's Week

By D.C. Koviack

The Wyoming County Commissioners have joined the nation in proclaiming October 17-21 National Business Women’s Week on Tuesday morning. The yearly event is sponsored locally by the Tunkhannock Business and Professional Women’s Club, and nationally by the National BPW.

According to BPW statistics, 40 percent of privately-owned firms are 50 percent owned by women. The goal of BPW is to promote equal opportunities and equal pay for all working women. Currently, women earn on average only 75 cents for every dollar a man earns doing the same work in the same job. On hand for the Proclamation were Tunkhannock BPW President Terri Wetherbee as well as past presidents, current members and representatives of the area’s working women. The Tunkhannock BPW will be inducting nine new members this month, bringing their current membership to 47.

On Tuesday, the commissioners also discussed the fact that the expenses of the “as needed” magistrate for the far eastern section of the county (Factoryville) is running at about $7,000 for this year to date. “This is a budget item we never anticipated,” noted County Administrator Bill Gaylord. The reason the “as needed” magistrate is in place is due to the fact that the vacancy left by President Judge Shurtleff leaving the Factoryville District Justice Position was not filled by the state making a temporary appointment. There will be a new magistrate elected in November, and s/he will take office in 2012. However, since Judge Shurtleff left the position, Linda Baumunk from Sullivan County has been filling in at the Factoryville office as needed, which is the cause of the expense to the county.

The County’s Conservation District will be applying for a Watershed Rehabilitation Grant through the National Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant, which will consist of federal and state monies, will allow for assistance to impacted structures in the county affected by the flooding. The grant should mean a faster turnaround for homeowners to receive assistance, and the grant will be county wide. It is meant to repair structures in imminent danger of collapse. The county participated in this type of grant in 2006 and repaired about 15 structures. It expects to have about the same number qualify this year.

On a related topic, Commissioner Tony Litwin again commented that “without some kind of stream bank work these structures will still be in jeopardy the next time it rains.” Litwin said that because the flooding caused several streams to drastically alter their courses, excavation as well as bank protection needs to be done so the streams and creeks flow correctly and do not flood as easily as they have recently.

In other business, the County’s Prison Board met briefly prior to the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. Warden Mickey Ameigh noted an issue with the failure of the institution’s emergency generator and sump pump. He says the problem has been repaired, but during the recent rains, nearby street drains were plugged and over two feet of water made its way into the jail’s basement. Street drains as well as the drain in the jail’s employee parking lot have been cleared so the problem should not recur. Ameigh reported his budget is finished; all department budgets will be reviewed in November and the preliminary county budget for 2012 will be crafted in December. Final passage is at the end of the calendar year. Ameigh told the prison board that although the jail’s population is up, hovering around 60, choosing inmates to participate in community service has become more challenging. “I am not always comfortable sending inmates out to work,” Ameigh said. “It’s hard to find inmates you trust to go out.” Despite this, he said that one inmate recently helped with flood cleanup in the borough.

After a short executive session where personnel was the topic and no decision made, Ameigh and the board talked about the new Act 22 and how that will impact the jail. Act 22 is a recent effort by the PA legislature that limits the amount charged by health care providers to the medicare/medicaid rate. It also allows prisoners to continue to use their medical assistance cards while incarcerated for eligible medical expenses. The act is retroactive to July 1 of this year, but counties are still mired in interpretive literature and have yet to see any real benefit, although they are certain this is coming. “The savings to us will be huge,” noted Ameigh on Tuesday. Each county is also required by the act to establish an escrow account in conjunction with the implementation of the act, but again, details are being worked out. One question not yet answered is whether or not ancillary services such as out of facility drug and alcohol treatment will be covered under the act. Ameigh noted that 2011 has been the highest year to date for medical fees for the jail. “Our number one expense is typically an ER visit, and we have a lot of them,” claimed Ameigh.


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