Carbon County is applying for a $63,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to help create a hazard mitigation plan.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Commissioner Wayne Nothstein made the motion to move forward with the application.

Prior to the motion, he explained that the county is in the process of creating the plan but help from an outside company, which specializes in mitigation plans, is needed. The grant would cover the costs for hiring a company that specializes in these types of plans.

The hazard mitigation plan looks at the issues that occur throughout the county, that create problems for residents and officials. Issues, Nothstein said, can be anything from floods to winter snowstorms and anything that creates hazardous conditions for the residents.

The company that would create the county's plan would look at the history of the county and see where issues are located.

Nothstein added that the company would then look for ways to prevent disasters from occurring, and create plans to help when natural disasters strike.

In other business, Nothstein said that he feels the number of change orders that the county has approved for the courthouse renovations is too high.

He added that he thinks the number could have been cut down if the architects better communicated with each other.

Nothstein then asked if the county could look into seeing if all change orders were necessary, and if not, if someone could be held responsible.

Commissioner Charles Getz echoed Nothstein's thoughts, saying that he thinks it would be a good idea to look into whether everything was necessary.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said that the board will sit down and go over everything, but he doesn't agree that the number of change orders is staggering.

"We were dealing with an old building that required a lot of changes," O'Gurek said. "So the fact that there were a lot of change orders, I don't think is as alarming as it may seem."

The reason for the renovations was due to the need for a third judge in the county. Renovations called for the creation of a third courtroom, judge's chambers, jury room, and associated offices.

Last year, officials awarded contracts to six companies for the renovations. The total cost of the project was expected to be around $1.1 million; but numerous change orders that have been approved throughout the year have increased the final price tag to over $1.3 million.

This is the first major renovation that has taken place in the county courthouse in decades.

The commissioners also recognized members of the community who visited yesterday's meeting.

Gene Duffy of Jim Thorpe, and William Taylor Reil of Chester County approached the board and talked about the state constitution and how they feel government doesn't uphold the constitutional rights of the people.

Duffy said he was concerned about three major items on the county level. They included: the way the courts are operating; the property rights being taken away from the people; and the role of the county sheriff in protecting the residents' rights and property rights.

Reil, who said he studied constitutional law for two decades, asked the commissioners if they read the Pennsylvania constitution. When officials replied that they had not, he provided them each with a copy of the constitution for their records.

He also talked more about how government does not uphold the constitution, even though the officials take an oath when they are elected to office; and feels that things should be changed.