Schuylkill County's response to the census program was higher than the national average response, the county commissioners were informed at their public meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Wilson Fredericks, of the census bureau, appeared at the meeting to thank the commissioners for their support of the program and paid special tribute to Charles Ross and Gary Bender, two county employees who were in charge of the county's census count, for their great work. Fredericks reported 76 percent of the county's population has responded to the count compared to 72 percent nationally.

He reported the task has now been turned over to the enumerators who will make visits to the resident's of those who have not made returns. He said by late July or August there should be a report on the numbers but the final report will come out the census bureau in Washington by year's end. Many of the county unreturns came from addresses with box numbers.

The count is very important because federal grants are based on population. Currently the county is fourth class and hopes to remain so but it needs a population of 150,000 to remain from dropping to a fifth class county.

Scout honored

The commissioners adopted a proclamation congratulating Eric T. Ritchey, a member of Boy Scout Troop Number 624, Orwigsburg, on becoming an Eagle Scout.

He has earned 35 merit badges, including the Arrow of Light, The World Conservation award, the Kittany award, the Polar Bear award, the Student of My Faith award, and the Council Certificate of Merit for meritorious actions and is a brotherhood member. His project involved building an ironwork arch and gates with the church name at the main entrance of Saint John's U.C.C. Cemetery in Orwigsburg.

Other business

Re-appointed to the Office of Senior Service Aging Advisory Board for three year terms were Julia Kubich, Minersville, and Rose Kern, Mahanoy City.

Approved was an administrative entity operating agreement for the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Program with the Office of Developmental Porgrams, of the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, for persons with mental retardation.

Purchase of service agreements were made on behalf of the Children and Youth Services with providers as follows:

NHS of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, for foster care plus at $84 per day and family based transitional living at $125 per day; Bethany Home, Womelsdorf, residential treatment, $128.75 per day and shelter care, $172 per day; Centre County Youth Service Bureau, State College, female shelter/group, $155 per day; male shelter/group, $116 per day and independent living, $118 per day.

Also, Keystone Children and Youth Services, Harrisburg, foster care for baby with mother, $33.60 per day; transitional foster care, $49.15 per day and Level 111 Foster Care, $145.05 per day; Bethanna, Southampton, medical foster care, $50.25 per day and foster care 111, $92.97 per day; law firm of Lewis, Williams and Caravan and Attorney James G. Conville, Schuylkill Haven, legal services at $3,350 per unit.

A cost reimburement contract was entered with Clinical Outcomes Group, Pottsville, for provision of re-entry case management services. The contract cap is $12,000.

An agreement was approved with Signal Service Inc., West Chester, to perform repairs and general upgrades at six of the county owned traffic signals in North Manheim and East Brunswick townships.

An agreement was entered with Guers Topsoil and Mulch Products Inc., New Philadelphia, for snow and ice removal at two parking lots at the courthouse, jury parking lot on Sanderson Street, prison driveway and parking lot and parking lot of Human Service Department at per diem rates.

The commissioners are also seeking bids for coal for the courthouse and prison for one, two or three years.

Prison complex

Action was taken towards the construction of a pre-release prison proposed to be built on a tract of land adjoining the state correctional institution in the northern part of Ryan Township. The law firm of Cerullo, Datte and Wallbillich, Pottsville, was hired to serve as bond counsel for the proposed $2.5 million loan sought from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture financing. The contract with the law firm is for $8,000 with the fee payable upon and at the time of the closing on the financing.

On behalf of Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance (NEPA) Board of Directors the county is submitting the names of Robert S. Carl Jr., Orwigsburg, and Ed Clark, Ashland, to serve two year terms on the board.

Personnel matters

The commissioners approved the promotion of Greg Koperna, Washington Township, from caseworker 1 to caseworker 2 with the Children and Youth Services Agency and salary increased to $16.8419 per hour; promotion of Kellie Potts, Schuylkill Haven, from caseworker 2 to caseworker supevisor with the Children and Youth Services and salary increased to $39,727 per year and appointment of Angeline Porter, Port Carbon, as a caseworker 2 at $16.8419 per hour.

Donald Adams, Pottsville, was added to the maintenance staff at the courthouse at $10.6598 per hour.

Three appointments were made at Rest Haven Home. Alyssa Blankenhorn, Schuylkill Haven, part time general practical nurse, $15.0580 per hour; Colleen Wronski, Mahanoy City, part time nurse's aide, $11.72 per hour; and Jessica Harig, Cressona, part time licensed practical nurse, $15.99 per hour. Two emplloyees were terminated, Heather Lauck, Saint Clair, a full time nurse's aide; and Stephanie Corela, Girardville, full time licensed practical nurse.