The Schuylkill County Industrial Development Authority (SCIDA) has come to the financial rescue of Schuylkill County by providing an early Christmas present, it was announced at the weekly public meeting of the Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Fiscal administrator Mark Scarbinsky reported receiving a check for $2,250,106.85, which represented a prepaid note to the county from SCIDA. The county back in 1998, issued a general obligation bond for $4.2 million for infrastructure improvements at the Highland Business Park, which was established in Foster Township. With the subsequent development that has taken place at Highridge, SCIDA has been paying down the note, and decided due to present market conditions to pay, off the note to the county.

The foresight of the past board of commissioners has resulted in more than 3,000 jobs as well as more than $700 million in capitol investment at Highridge.

In other business, the commissioners announced the 209 "Make A Difference Day" award winners: Girl Scout Cadette Troop Number 31468, of Orwigsburg; Jacob and Diane Herring, Auburn; Sixth grade class of Minersville Elementary School; Mrs. T's, of Shenandoah; PEER Group, of Pottsville; Sixth and seventh grade students of the D.H.H. Lengel Middle School, Pottsville; Rest Haven Nursing Home, Schuylkill Haven; and Schuylkill Regional Resource Center, Mahanoy City.

They will be honored at a dinner to be hosted by Saint Catherine's Medical Center in Fountain Springs Village, Butler Township, on Jan. 22. Joanne Parulis, executive director of Schuylkill County's VISION will be the keynote speaker.

Grant writer Gary Bender received approval to file five grant applications to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, seeking $50,000 to update the county's technology system in keeping track of persons who may be arrested in more than one county; $150,000 to improve programs for alternatives to incarceration for non-violent adult offenders; $200,000 for hiring of an adult probation officer and an adult probation officer assistant; $200,000 for hiring of two juvenile probation officers and $110,000 for hiring of a victims' services provider.

Replace board member

The commissioners failed to reappoint William Zimmerman, of Ashland, to the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board. His term ends this month. He is being replaced by Eric Seitzinger, of Orwigsburg, a real estate agent, who was appointed for a term of three years ending Dec. 31, 2012.

Dale Gerber, Orwigsburg, and Norma Corse, Pottsville, were appointed for three-year terms to the Office of Senior Services's Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Board to serve from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012.

An agreement was reached with the U.S. Census Bureau to provide space for a questionnaire assistance center within the courthouse for the purpose of helping those persons who request assistance in completing their 2010 census questionnaire. The center will operate three hours per day from March 19 through April 20. A vacant office in the real estate department will be made available. Schuylkill County residents early next year will be receiving through the mail a letter requesting filling out 10 questions. The census figure is very important to the county because if it is under 150,000, the county would lose its Fourth Class standing, which would mean getting less federal and state funds. The goal is to make sure everyone is counted.

The board reappointed five members and two new members to the Sweet Arrow Lake Park Board. Reappointed were, Earl Matz, Pine Grove; John Babinchak, Shenandoah Heights; Greg Glunz, Pine Grove; Bruce Schneck, Tower City; and William Wollyung, Tower City; and as new members, Forrest Shadle, Lavelle and Gary Slutter, Friedensburg.

Francis Menne, Pottsville; Mary Ann Bausch, Pottsville; Jann Murray, Tower City; Thomas Hale, Schuylkill Haven and Irene Burke, Saint Clair, were reappointed to the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Advisory Board for three years from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012.

Personnel matter

Human service director Martina Chwastiak reported two retirements: Bonnie Eckert, of Norwegian Township, as a clerk in the domestic relations department; and Cynthia Long, Mahanoy City, court stenographer.

The board approved hiring Elizabeth Vervoom, Shenandoah, as a part-time nurse's aide at Rest Haven Home at $11.72 per hour. Two resignations were announced at Rest Haven Home, Kay Moyer, a part time nurse's aide and Kristy Aungst, part-time licensed practical nurse, both are from Pine Grove.

The adult probation department announced appointing two unpaid interns, Mitchell G. Kramer, New Ringgold, and Kelly Joyce, Ashland, and the court announced the resignation of Thomas Maidenford, Pine Grove, as a court attendant and the appointment of Catherine Snopeck and Paul Gombola as court attendants, both of Pottsville.

Several leases were renewed with coal companies to strip mine for coal on county-held land. Joe Kuperavage Coal Company, of Blythe Township, had two leases renewed for both operations. For both leases he paid $11,840 in royalty to the county for 2009. Michael Coal Company, Tremont, $66,255.72 in royalty payments for $2009 and Char-PAC Coal Company, Foster Township, $22,177.21 in royalty payments for 2009.

Four contracts for home modification under the Office of Senior Service were approved. Two of the contracts are with Phillip McArdle General Contractor, Andreas, one for $1,162 and the second for $425; one with Jack Construction Company, Port Carbon, for $350; and one with Robert Buglia High Road Contracting Company, Pottsville, for $1,800.

Four contracts for services at Rest Haven Home and Hospital were approved. They include a contract with Healthcare Services Group Inc., Bensalem, for the provision of housekeeping and laundry management services and supplies for a fee for service contract totaling $113,148; a contract with Robert C. Talecki and Associates, Harleysville, for provision of financial and cost consulting services for $10,500; a contract with Patricia Davis, Pottsville, for provision of personal care service for residents for $9,500 and a contract with Uniform Corner, Schuylkill Haven, to supply uniforms to staff members for $51,775.50.

A lease agreement was renewed with the Pottsville Parking Authority for one year, ending Dec. 31, 2010 for 90 reserved parking spaces at the Capital Parking Garage at $25.50 per space per month and 10 permit parking spaces along Laurel Boulevard fronting the courthouse building at $18.50 per space per month.

An addendum to the collective bargaining agreement between the county and the Teamsters Local Union No. 429 covering the prison was approved. This addendum allows for a change to the uniform allowance policy to include a one-time uniform allowance payment in the amount of $400 for contract year 2009.

Meeting dates

The courthouse will be closed Friday for Christmas Day. There will be no commissioners' meeting next week. The board will meet on Monday, Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. in the commissioners' board room in the courthouse to reorganize. The commissioners will hold a work session on Wednesday, Jan. 6 in the Hoffman room which adjoins the board room beginning at 10 a.m.

Swearing-in

The oath of office will be administered to those officials who were elected in November's General Election at ceremonies to take place at the Schuylkill County Courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 10 a.m., with the six county judges sitting court en banc. President Judge William E. Baldwin will administer the oath to the following: Sheriff William G. Groody, District Attorney James P. Goodman, District Justice David A. Platchko, District Justice Anthony J. Kilker and Jury Commissioners Peggy Zimmerman and Edward M. Kleha.