New positions may ease lack of space at prison

The Lycoming County commissioners are expected to approve two new positions this week within the Lycoming County Prison that may help alleviate inmate housing issues.

Positions for a supervised bail release manager and bail officer are on the commissioners’ Thursday agenda. The employees would help oversee electronic monitoring of eligible individuals who are released on bail.

The move is expected to free up some beds inside the prison, but Commissioner Jeff Wheeland said it would be several months until those hired are trained and officially start their jobs.

Wheeland said the positions are based on the recommendations of Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt and Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Nancy L. Butts.

“I think it’s a positive sign that the district attorney and the president judge are working cooperatively to seek alternatives to incarceration in our prison and Pre-Release Center,” Wheeland said. “There’s a certain segment that can be maintained by technology.”

In the meantime, nine inmates were sent Tuesday to the Clinton County Correctional Institution in McElhattan, according to Wheeland. It costs Lycoming County about $65 a day to house overflow inmates there, plus the cost of transportation.

Commissioners also will review an application for a rail freight assistance grant that would provide access to a 20-ton industrial service crane at NuWeld, 2600 Reach Road.

The $350,000 grant would extend rail lines into an unused, vacated section and provide economic benefits to area businesses, said Bill Kelly, county deputy director of the planning and community development department.

“The real result of this project is that other companies will have use of it so they can have their goods shipped out of Lycoming County,” added Wheeland.

An agreement with the city to provide $140,000 of Act 13 natural gas drilling fees allocated to the county also is expected to be approved by commissioners Thursday.

The money will be used for demolition of the former Brodart warehouse building on Memorial Avenue to make way for a mixed-housing development at the site.