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Applications OK’d for courthouse programs

The Lycoming County Commissioners unanimously approved two grant applications Thursday totaling about $30,000 on behalf of the court house for its treatment court and upcoming veterans court programs, which include funding to purchase bicycles and bus passes for program participants.

Commissioner Tony Mussare took issue with that aspect of the grant applications, stating purchasing items for criminals in programming is taking away accountibility.

“We’re taking all the accountibility away from them, I’m sorry,” Mussare said. “Seniors are crying because they can’t afford the taxes we’re charging them. A bike. How do you think that makes them feel? They’re losing their homes. We better come up with different solutions.”

Jennifer McConnell, director of court services, who presented the grant applications, offered her sympathy. However, the requested funding only can go toward certain categories within treatment or problem solving courts or for newly implemented courts — one of which is transportation support, she said.

“We would definitely never sit here and disagree with (needing solutions for seniors),” McConnell said. “There must be some other funding to help those individuals.”

Mussare asked if the funding requested for transportation support could be used for something else within the grant.

“No,” McConnell said, adding the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, the entity adminstering the grants, sets forth “very specific guidelines.”

Others commented on the bicycles, suggesting purchasing bikes now would save money in the long run.

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime,” President Judge Nancy L. Butts said, repeating the old adage. “This is a way of, whether it’s bicycles or exercise or education, it’s a way to alleviate poverty by creating self-sufficiency.”

Jerry Walls, retired county planning director, offered his “taxpayer perspective.”

“Bicycles can enable those participants to go to work. Bicycles can enable them to go buy food and other necessities,” he said. “Bicycling can help them gain improved physical health and, thereby, perhaps lessen their dependency on drugs.”

Despite his frustration, Mussare “reluctantly” seconded Commissioner Rick Mirabito’s motion to approve the applications, then voted in favor.

“I did vote that way because there’s so many other good things that the grants cover,” he said.

If approved, the grants also will fund oral drug testing kits and iPads for officers to use in the field, passage for a handful of program administrators to attend the National Conference for Drug Court Professionals this July in Maryland, supplies for the veterans court program that launches Monday, and more.

In another matter, the commissioners praised Kim Wheeler, who resigned from her position as deputy planning director after nearly seven years with the county effective Tuesday.

“Kim had really done an excellent job in this community,” Mirabito said. “On behalf of the taxpayers, I want to thank her.”

In other business, the commissioners:

* Amended the county Stormwater Plan Model Ordinance to offer exemptions to landowners building single-family homes. If the home is on land larger than one acre, no stormwater plan might not be required; if on land smaller than one acre, a simplified plan may be required. Discretion will be up to individual municipalities.

* Approved a professional service agreement with Keystone Communications Service for preventive maintenance and emergency repairs on an as-needed basis for Resource Management Services.

* Approved the following personnel actions: Brian R. Hillis as a full-time replacement truck driver for the Transfer Station at $16.59 per hour, effective Monday; Brandy Perchinski as a part-time replacement special detective in the DUI Center at $15.64 per hour, not to exceed 1,000 hours annually, effective Monday; Adam A. Stabler as a full-time replacement correctional officer relief in the prison at $16.01 per hour, effective Monday; Alisha M. Myers as a full-time replacement clerk III in the district attorney’s office at $13.95 per hour, effective Monday; and Kayla N. Killinger, Justin A. Smith and Jonathan D. Hall as full-time correctional relief officers in the prison at $16.01 per hour, effective Feb. 3.

Voting were Mussare, Mirabito and Commissioner Jack McKernan. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

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