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Commissioners allocate more funding to Let’s End COVID

The Lycoming County commissioners continue to help fund campaigns to educate the public on the need to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The board this week approved a $25,000 allocation to River Valley Health & Dental for the Let’s End COVID group to educate the public about coronavirus and vaccinations.

The payment brings the total county allocation to $50,000, the amount requested by the organization earlier this year.

The money is being reimbursed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency as the state works to convince more people to get vaccinated.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito said the group continues to meet weekly, advertise its mission and educate youth about COVID-19.

But only about 41 percent of Lycoming residents are vaccinated, Mirabito noted.

The county continues to fall below the state average of 50.7 percent vaccinated.

However, Commissioner Scott Metzger said the county has a very low infection rate.

About 65 percent of the cases occurred between November and early February, he added.

Mirabito said the Delta Variant of COVID-19 remains a concern.

On a related topic, Rachelle Abbott of STEP Inc. reported to commissioners that the agency received 895 applications for help through the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

So far, she said, the program has processed $1.53 million in payments to landlords and utilities on behalf of tenants in need of help as a result of losing income amid the pandemic.

More than 800 adults and children have been helped through the program, according to Abbott.

She noted the program also strives to help recipients become self-sufficient.

Commissioner Tony Mussare said he’s concerned that not enough people know about the program.

“Do we have enough outreach for them to know this exists,” he said.

Abbott said some landlords simply want to evict tenants who can’t pay rent.

“I think that’s an unfortunate thing,” she said.

Commissioners are urging more people to apply.

Also this week, the commissioners approved the UGI Pipeline Investment Program agreement to bring natural gas to the Timber Run Industrial Park.

Under the agreement, the county receives $287,379 in grant funding, with the stipulation that matching dollars in the amount of $552,389 from the county’s Act 13 money are allocated.

Timber Run is to be the site of the Digger Manufacturing, which is expected to initially employ 150 people, and is scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2022.

Commissioners voted to hire two people to fill vacancies in the Resource Management Services Department.

James E. Schneider was approved for the position of materials recovery facility maintenance specialist at $20.01 per hour and Charles E. Snyder as an equipment operator at $18 per hour.

Commissioners approved a one-year contract extension for Jeana Longo as a conflict attorney at a cost not to exceed $40,000.

Also, the board approved a contract extension with RK Webster to provide engineering services for the utility elevation project to help mitigate flooding of properties.

Scott Miller, of Williamsport, approached the commissioners to consider how to spend a portion of the county’s $22 million American Rescue Plan Act recovery funding.

He suggested money be allocated for employment training for older adults and the disabled, infrastructure needs and recycling education.

The next commissioners’ meeting will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St., Williamsport.

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