Preserving farms is one of the priorities of the Schuylkill County Commissioners who approved the certification of county funds for 2013 program year in the amount of $51,538 for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements, in action taken at the work session held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier reported this amount represents the total interest collected from Clean and Green rollback tax penalties imposed in 2012 which amounted to $1,539 which is added to the $50,000 allocation added in local matching funds from the county budget

"The Farmland Preservation Program," Commissioner Gary Hart added, "currently has 94 farms enrolled in the program covering more than 10,000 acres and the county has 86 farms on waiting list to be included in the program."

The commissioners believe the program is helping preserve good farm soil from being converted into subdivisions and to assure that the public has a plentiful food supply.

Other business

Named to the Executive Board of the Schuylkill County Fire Chiefs Association were Frank Zangari, Girardville; Dave Sattizahn, Pine Grove; John Matz, Deer Lake and West Brunswick Township; Scott Krater, Port Carbon; and Jason Witmier and Gary Witmier, Pottsville. Named to the advisory board of the chief's association were Art Connely Jr., Tamaqua; Glenn Sattizahn, Schuylkill Haven; and Jack Messner and John Kellman Jr., Pottsville.

Approval was given to Gary Bender to have the grant writer's office seek bids for the county demolition program for demolition of structures in Girardville and Eldred Township. A hearing was held this afternoon before Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin for Girardville to gain ownership of the property to raze it. The property recently collapsed.

Approval also was given to Bill Liptok, public works director, to seek bids for the county's Human Services Complex, located on North Centre Street, Pottsville, for cleaning services. Bids are one, two or three year periods and must be in the controller's office by 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Attorney Robert Frycklund received permission to file a petition to court to remove from the tax list properties which were razed by fire, demolition or natural disaster, and have been ruled unliveable. Also, properties that have been double assessed, mobile homes removed from leased land, properties owned by municipalities and properties taken by eminent domain and should not have been taxable. "It is a action of cleaning house," Frycklund said.

The board hired Attorney William Burke to serve as the county's hearing board solicitor for the specific and limited purpose of a hearing coming up before the county's zoning hearing board regarding a strip club operated by the Dutchmen MX Park, LLC in Washington Township.

John Matz, director of Emergency Management Agency, was granted approval to attend the I81 Coalition Conference and Training Session in Hagerstown, Md., on March 25-26. Matz said the event will focus on traffic incident management programs, mapping and website improvements, and new emergency respond workshop that may be available for the responders along the county's section of the interstate.

Mike Micko, director of Schuylkill Transportation System, which operates the county wide bus system, announced PennDOT has approved federal and state funds for the STS. Federal funding of $525,368 for seven shared ride replacement vehicles and two-way communications equipment; $100,000 for communications equipment to conform with Federal Communication Commission (FCC) narrowbanding regulations; and $323,000 for operation. The county is contributing $36,787 as matching funds.

Personnel matters

The board reviewed personnel matters which it will be taking action at next week's public meeting.

Tax Assessment Bureau - Tera Klinger and Philip Klinger, Port Carbon, are retiring as clerk typist and mapper, respectively.

Office of Senior Service - Bruce Wolfgang, Tremont, retired as an aging case manager.

Rest Haven Home - Courtney Ditzler, Port Carbon, is being transferred from part time nurse's aide to fulltime.

District Attorney's Office - Katelynn Stine, Eldred Township, promoted from victim-assistant to victim advocate, a new position. The position of juvenile justice victim advocate is being eliminated.