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Wyoming County to Have New Outreach Program


By D.C. Koviack

A new program targeted at physically-challenged people who are over the age of 60 will be coming to Wyoming County soon. The grant-funded program is a cooperative effort by Northeastern Pennsylvania Center for Independent Living (NEPACIL), the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging and Allied Services.

Keith Williams of NEPACIL told the Wyoming County Commissioners on Tuesday that consumers of disability services, including in-home assistance with daily living, often suffer a gap in services once they pass their 60th birthday. After 60, consumers are considered senior citizens, and their benefits are assessed according to different criteria. “That shouldn’t be,” Williams commented, adding that very often consumers’ service assessments after 60 years of age automatically lower the number of hours per week of care they are eligible to receive, particularly at a time when they likely need more hours.

The new program will strive to assess all applicants once, and to keep that assessment in force regardless of the consumer's age. Increased or decreased hours of eligibility will only be determined on level of need, which Williams said would change over time. However, he said it should not automatically change merely because a consumer reaches a certain age.

The program will establish Aging and Disability Resource Centers to assist consumers with the application and assessment process. There will be a website as well that interested consumers may turn to for information. The program is funded by a federal initiative from the National Center for Medicaid Services through the state's Department of Public Welfare and the Office of Long Term Living.

In other business, the Prison Board met briefly on Tuesday just prior to the commissioners’ meeting. Warden Ameigh presented his monthly report, which was received without comment. He noted that the county jail had been inspected once again by the U.S. Marshalls because the prison contracts to hold prisoners who are in the custody of the U.S. Marshall Service. Ameigh also mentioned that employees will be re-certified in First Aid and related skills this month.

A question from last month regarding the noise of the air handler on the roof of the prison was brought up again. The subject arose in June because of a complaint by a resident who just built a new home adjacent to the prison. In June, the homeowner said he and his family found the noise to be irritating and asked if the county could check into installing sound dampeners, or to see if the unit was operating properly. It is thought that the unit has been checked but it is not known if sound dampeners are already in place. Although no homes have been sited in as close proximity as the new construction is, other residents have lived adjacent to the prison for many years and this was the first time a complaint has been received.

The agreement was signed for the Police Cooperation Agreement. This will expand the coverage for DUI patrols and checkpoints in underserved areas of the county. Each municipality in the county will have to enact an ordinance that includes the municipality in the agreement, thus eliminating jurisdictional and enforcement issues. According to Chris Ciprich of Adult Probation, nearly all the county’s municipalities will be participating.

A new maintenance worker for the evening shift was hired on Tuesday. Gary VanVraken lives in Tunkhannock Borough and has maintenance experience. He was chosen from a list of several applicants interviewed recently.

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