A proclamation designating Saturday, Oct. 24, Make A Difference Day in Schuylkill County was adopted by the Schuylkill County Commissioners at Wednesday's public meeting held at the courthouse in Pottsville, with students from Tamaqua Area Middle School participating in the ceremony.

Janice Johnston, of Community Volunteers in Action, Pottsville, introduced Lauren Elston, Tamaqua Area School District Student Council Advisor and Student Council members Brianna Bittner, Miranda Amey, Joann Butkus and Jordan Frank.

Elston told the commissioners Tamaqua Area School District has been a participant in the event for the past 11 years with the students coordinating a County Collectibles project, where they host a packaged food drive for the county Human Service Agencies. Last year they collected thousands of dollars in food that was distributed to those in need, including consumers of the of Office of Senior Service, Schuylkill People Who Care, Schuylkill Women in Crisis, Schuylkill Wellness Service, as well as the 18 county food pantries administered by Schuylkill Community Action.

The proclamation was read by Commissioner Mantura Gallagher, chairperson of the board announcing the date read as follows, Make A Difference Day and urged fellow citizens to answer the call to improve the quality of life for everyone in our area by reaffirming that each one of use can make a difference.

AppointCitizens Corps

The commissioners appointed 13 people to serve on the Citizens Corps Council, which acts as the advisory board for the Community Emergency Response Team. According to Arthur Kaplan, coordinator of the Emergency Management Agency, these programs are based on concepts of neighborhood helping neighbor during a disaster.

Named were: John W. Blickley, Frackville, who is the operational training officer with the Emergency Management Agency; Carol Bowen, Frackville, project director for RSVP of Schuylkill County; Janet Curtis, Wayne Township, executive director of American Red Cross of Schuylkill and Eastern Northumberland counties; Richard Deal, Pottsville, planning and logistics specialist with Emergency Management; Timothy Firestone, Mount Carbon, director of Emergency Services, American Red Cross; Charles Hepler, Butler Township, associated with Schuylkill County Block Grant Program and Schuylkill People Who Care; Janice Johnson, West Mahanoy Township, director of Community Volunteers in Action; Arthur Kaplan, Frackville, coordinator of Emergency Management; Joel Koch, Schuylkill Haven, Pottsville Broadcasting Company; Vanessa Miholda, Port Carbon, Communication Director for Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce; Beth Muir, Frackville, CERT Team member and trainer; Susan Smith, Pottsville, private citizens; and Jay Woodford, Frackville, coordinator of Schuylkill County Animal Response Team.

Approve agreements

A new contract was approved with D&R Logging Company, Hegins, to increase the acreage on current timber leased by three acres. The new agreement is for 219 acres with a monthly payment of $329 for removal of timber.

A fiscal sponsorship agreement was approved for the Schuylkill County Bicentennial Fund between the county commissioners and Schuylkill Area Community Foundation.

Approved was a contract with Epaymentnow for the purchase of dog license software for the treasurers office, which sells the licenses.

Approved was an amended purchase order with Berks County Youth Services for detention beds, shelter care, prep program and other services for the Juvenile Justice Deparmtent. The cost of detention beds was set from $236.92 to $282.66 per day and participation in the prep program. increased from $218.47 to $262.92 per day and shelter care from $168.17 to $167.04 per day.

On behalf of Office of Senior Citizens Agency a contract was entered with Robert Buglia, Pottsville, for home modification services for $3,850. Also, a contract with Lamar Schwartz, Tremont, for housing specialist services at $50 per hour with a contract cap of $3,000 and a contract addendum with United Disabilities Services, Lancaster, for financial management services at $75 per person per month.

Approval was made to amend an agreement with Y. Kim Architects, Pottsville, for additional studies pertaining to a building for the Children and Youth Agencies at a cost of $4,500.

A purchase of service agreement was entered with United Children's Home Inc., Hazleton, on behalf of Children and Youth Services Agency for residential program, emergency shelter and supervised independent living, each at $114 per day.

Willliam Liptok, public works director, was authorized to seek bids to provide cleaning services at the courthouse building for one to three years.

Personnel matters

Stacie Herring, Pottsville, was hired as an assistant director of nursing at Rest Haven Home and Hospital for the 11 p.m to 7 a.m. shift and her salary set at $50,325.80 per year.

Rest Haven announced the resignation of two employees, Aaron Charles, New Ringgold, and Kristina Harley, Summit Station, who served as full time nurse's aides. Office of Seniior Service announced the resignation of Valerie Shoup, Schuylkill Haven, as aging care manager.

Eight persons were hired at Rest Haven Home as part time nurse's aide trainees at $7.70 per hour. They were, Heather Tipping, Schuylkill Haven; Amanda Bruen, Port Carbon; Richard Dietz, Schuylkill Haven; Vanessa Duncan, Pottsville; Courtney Hengen, Auburn; Kimberly Oravsky, Port Carbon; Sandra Kehler, Auburn; Helena McCready, Port Carbon; Ana-Kay Rhoden, Whitehall; and Cheryl Hower, Shenandoah. Appointed as a full time housekeeper and floor care technician was Brandon Miller, Cressona, at $9 per hour.

Seek increase

At the monthly meeting of the Schuylkill County Employees Retirement Board, which followed the commissioners' meeting, a letter was read from the Schuylkill County Retired Employees Association requesting a cost of living increase in the pension for 433 retirees in 2010. The letter points out no increase had been granted in 2007 and 2008.

The letter states, We know our pension fund lost an enormous amount of money in the stock market in 2008 and feel if we could have received an increase we would not have lost that amount in the stock market.

Controller Melinda Kantner, who acts as secretary for the retirement board, reported the market value has been rising and as of Wednesday it was valued at $84,416,693.49.

Gallagher announced the commissioners will take the request under advisement. The retirement board is comprised of Commissioners Gallagher, Francis McAndrew and Frank Staudenmeier, Treasurer Jacquelyn McGovern and Controller Kantner.