Transferring the operation of Rest Haven Home to a private company was discussed by the Schuylkill County Commissioners at the work session held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville on which action will be taken at next week's public meeting.

The commissioners recently entered into a contract with Service Access and Management Inc. (SAM) to begin July 1 to administer and manage Rest Haven Home for $730,000 per year. Rest Haven has 142 beds and recently many were vacant. The commissioners felt the firm, which has a highly regarded reputation throughout the state in serving individual needs, would be ideal in running the county home and hospital. Also, SAM is currently constructing a $2.3 million facility in Pottsville on Nicholas Street, the highway leading from Pottsville to Saint Clair. SAM is a private, non-profit agency, and is currently engaged in providing human services for Schuylkill County.

Reviewed was the proposal to lay off eight people employed in the administration office at Rest Haven Home but all will retain their jobs and work for SAM beginning next month. They will no longer be county employees.

Positions named to be eliminated are, administrator, held by Jane Schaeffer, Pottsville; administrative assistant and materials manager, Lisa Brinich, Pottsville; business office manager, Brent Clark, Pottsville; staff development director, Joseph Fesniak, Marion Heights; maintenance supervisor, Robert Potts, Pottsville; supervisor of payroll, Jessica Haberstroh; and accounting clerks, Rachel Woll, Saint Clair, and Dawn Yost, Schuylkill Haven.

Also reviewed was a purchase service agreement with SAM pertaining to performing mental health services in the county at a cost of $5,523,851.68 for the period beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2013.

These services include blended and administrative case management, early intervention service coordination, intellectual developmental disability support coordination, mental health forensic case management and case management intake coordination services. Approval will be sought at the public meeting.

Free bus ride

A proclamation was adopted joining with transportation systems across the country, and for the seventh year in a row, designating June 20 as "Dump the Pump Day."

The proclamation declares the Schuylkill County Transportation System will offer county citizens an opportunity to ride the fixed bus routes "free" that day. The proclamation points out people who ride public transportation can save on average of $10,000 per year; for every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is generated in economic return; use of the transportation reduces the country's carbon footprint by 37 million metric tons, equivalent of 4.9 million households using electricity in one year; U.S. transportation use saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline per year, the equivalent of 900,000 cars filling up every day; and public transportation use in 439 urban areas in the United States saved 796 million hours in travel time and 303 million gallons of fuel.

Housing projects

The Schuylkill County Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board presented a request to review a proposal the board adopted and which projects they have been recommended to be funded.

Gary Bender, a member of the board, told the commissioners the fund was allocated a grant of $169,565.73 but request proposals totaled $208.000, which far exceeded the amount of funding. He asked on behalf of the board for the commissioners to approve the proposals the board voted to fund.

The trust fund board approved allocation of $13,000 to the bridge housing programs in the county which provides safe haven for battered women; $18,740 to the program which provides counseling for low-come people interested in purchasing homes on how to go about it; $60,000 to modernize the elevator at the Minersville Hi-Rise Building; and $70,000 to low income seniors and those disabled on helping make repairs to their homes.

The commissioners also reviewed extensions of leases by coal companies to mine on county held land and service contracts for Children and Youth Services Agency, Drug and Alcohol Agency, and Office of Senior Services.

Approval was given to county prison Warden Eugene Berdanier to seek bids to purchase staff uniforms. Sealed bids will be accepted by the county controller's office by July 2 and bids will be opened at the commissioners' public meeting on July 5.

Personnel matter

The commissioners reviewed personnel matters under their jurisdiction and received information on hirings for other departments.

District Attorney Karen Byrnes Noon is eliminating the position of victim witness coordinator. Noon appointed to the position of victim witness assistant Katelynn Steich, Eldred Township, at a salary of $13.2605 per hour. Also, she named Kacie Dellatore, Cressona, as an unpaid intern in her office.

Human Services Department is eliminating the position of benefits coordinator and creating the position of benefits administrator and is naming Sally Weisacosky, Walker Township, to this position at $35,297 per year. It is also creating the position of administrative assistant and is naming Patricia Hotsko, Tamaqua, to the position at $34,167.04 per year.

The commissioners are eliminating the position of assistant county clerk, which became vacant when Martina Chwastiak became director of Human Services Department.

Children and Youth Services Agency seeks to create two caseworker positions.

The Tax Claim Bureau overhauled its poster department, who are people hired to post properties the bureau is in the process of taking ownership for non-payment of real estate taxes.

Terminated were Joseph Contrady, Jennifer Johnstone and William Johnstone, all of McAdoo; John McGauley, Shenandoah; Gary Rhoades and Jason Rhoades, Branch Township; and Joe Stanf, Pottsville.

Hired as posters on a per diem basis at $11 per hour were, David Bolish, Port Carbon; David Briggs, Union Township; Abigail Willard, Pottsville; and Benjamin Turrano, Walker Township.

Action on the proposals will be taken at next week's public meeting.