Relief well improvements to begin with help of $1M state grant

The Lycoming County commissioners voted Thursday to accept a $1 million federal grant to fund 50 percent of the cost to repair or replace relief wells as the first step toward recertifying the levee.

The grant, through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, will allow work to start soon, although decisions must be made on where the remaining $1 million will come from, said Fran McJunkin, deputy director of GIS for county planning.

The county and its municipal partners together will initially fund the relief well improvements before being reimbursed through the grant, McJunkin said. “Our next meeting” will focus on how to cost-share the remaining balance, she said.

Engineering for the improvements already is complete, so work can begin anytime, pending the weather and water levels, McJunkin said.

“We should be able to move out anytime after we have the official award,” she said. “When it gets done really depends on water conditions, rain conditions, but we hope to have it done this spring.”

The relief wells are meant to relieve water pressure from under the levee as water levels rise. There are almost 30 wells between Williamsport and South Williamsport, McJunkin said.

In another matter, the commissioners were met with several questions during public comment period from Jersey Shore resident Todd Lauer.

He asked if the commissioners had considered other options before approving a $13,000 purchase of new weightroom equipment for the Pre-Release Center on Aug. 3, such as asking other organizations for unwanted equipment, rather than spending taxpayer dollars.

The commissioners explained the cost was paid through commissary — not with the commissary many know as the prisoners’ personal accounts into which they or others can deposit money, but through the part of commissary that is made up with dollars spent on things such as vending machines.

“I think there’s confusion here,” said Commissioner Rick Mirabito. “We’re talking about the machines, like the vending machine in the hallway (of Executive Plaza). Under state law, we don’t have the right to raid that machine for whatever we want. There’s a law that says the profit made is split between the company that puts the machine there and the prison, and that has to be used to help prisoners.”

In other business, the commissioners:

• Accepted a contract from the federal Environmental Protection Agency for a revolving loan fund of $800,000 to be used as loans or grants to property owners to clean up brownfields, or properties that are abandoned or underutilized due to contamination.

• Approved the sale of a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander to bidder Keith Fields for $160.

• Approved the following personnel actions: Lori A. Wallis reclassified to full-time fully qualified fiscal technician at $18.21 per hour, effective Oct. 7; Chelsea Myers as a full-time replacement hazard reduction planner in the planning department at $42,179.89 per year, effective Monday; Salvatore Vitko as a full-time replacement zoning officer in the planning department at $38,500 per year, effective Monday; Emiro J. Mugno as a full-time replacement correctional officer relief in the prison at $16.01 per hour, effective Oct. 8; Matthew J. Myers as a full-time replacement correctional officer relief in the prison at $16.01 per hour, effective Oct. 14; and Chase C. Willard as a full-time replacement correctional officer relief in the prison at $16.01 per hour, effective Sunday.

Commissioners Jack McKernan and Tony Mussare also were present. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Executive Plaza.

The commissioners will take action on all agenda items Tuesday as there will not be a meeting Thursday, they said.

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