Carbon County will use $599,543 in state grants to build a turning lane into the Packerton Business Park along Route 209 from Jim Thorpe to Lehighton.

The money is among Carbon's slice of a $1.69-million state funding pie announced this week by House Speaker Keith McCall and state senators David G. Argall and Raphael Musto.

The turning lane is included in Phase II of the project. The site of the former Packerton Yards, the business park is expected to create 591 full-time jobs and generate at least $12.4 million in annual state and local tax revenues upon its completion.

Also on Thursday, Commissioners acknowledged the achievement of the Girl Scout Gold Award by Amber Getz of Palmerton Scout Troop 33401; approved the agreement with Robert Miller of Nesquehoning as a "roving troubleshooter" for the municipal election on May 18. He'll be paid $200 a day plus 45 cents per mile; and awarded the two-year boat rental concession at Mauch Chunk Lake Park to Jeremy Barbosa, Palmerton.

In other matters, Commissioner Wayne Nothstein urged Carbon County residents to be counted in the U.S. Census. Failing to send back the completed Census form could cost the county, he said.

Nothstein said he was troubled by Penn Forest Township's lack of interest. Only 27 percent of the forms from that municipality have been returned, he said. "That's extremely low," Nothstein said.

It's extremely important – the value to the municipality is tens of thousands of dollars. Not only that, the Census will now have to send people out to the homes that have not returned the forms. And that costs tax dollars.

Commissioner Charles Getz said that county prison inmates will be picking up trash along Route 903 today or Monday, and that perhaps juveniles remanded to the Pennsylvania Youth Services site at Camp Adams may also be on pick-up duty.

"903 is a mess," he said.

In other business, Controller Robert Crampsie announced the county retirement fund is doing well. The portfolio value was $59,781,995 as of the end of the first quarter."I can tell you, March was an extremely good month as far as performance. We were up $2.5 million for the month of March," he said.

Also, the county has received its third distribution, $4,034.60 of its share of the WorldCom class action suit settlement.

In Feb. 2008, it received $37,557.71; the second distribution was $11,370.33, for a total of $52,962.64, Crampsie said.

He said the county probably lost about $900,000 in the WorldCom scandal, in which the telecommunications company inflated revenues.