Contracts were entered with PPL Energy Plus Company by the Schuylkill County Commissioners, to provide natural gas for the county courthouse and prison located in Pottsville, and Rest Haven Home and Hospital in Schuylkill Haven, in action taken at the public meeting Wednesday at the courthouse. The terms of the contracts are from Nov. 1 to Oct. 31, 2010.

Bill Liptock, director of county maintenance, said the addition of gas gives the county a flexibility to negotiate with fuel providers, something ordinary households do not have. Rest Haven Home has used gas but the courthouse and prison in the past have been heated only by coal. However, coal is still being purchased for the courthouse and prison since the installation of new boilers, which use both fuel sources. This fall the boilers at the courthouse and prison will be started by using gas and then it will be determined which is the cheaper commodity to burn as a cost saver. This also allows a flexibility for the county to negotiate prices with the different fuel providers.

Paul Strake, county fiscal officer, who negotiated the contracts with PPL for the gas, said the cost price is a fixed contract for purchasing gas at $6.948/dekathem for the life of the contract. He said this price may vary as this is the price quoted now and the actual purchase price will be at the time PPL receives the signed contract and makes the purchase.

Straka predicted this cost for natural gas will be a savings for the county as the costs for natural gas for the previous year varied from over $9 to $13 per dekathem. Also, Strake believes the contract will allow for the county to realize additional savings beyond the installation of the energy conservation measures installed at the courthouse, prison and Rest Haven Home. All three facilities were retrofitted with more efficient lighting and those steps have already amounted to more than $25,000 in savings in electric bills when comparing January through June 2009 to January through June 2008. The savings at Rest Haven Home from October 2008 through June 2009 was estimated at $22,000.

Fall cleanup week

This year's annual fall cleanup in the county will be held Sept. 30 through Oct. 3 with 50 percent of the expense reimbursed to the county by the state through a household business hazardous waste collection program grant.

The commissioners took action at the meeting to name firms that will provide services which will be needed in the cleanup. They are: Weiner Iron and Metal Corporation, Pottsville; Sorin Iron and Metal Inc., Shenandoah; Hazleton Scrap Recycling Inc.; Mostik Brothers Disposal, Atlas; and Potts and Monger Sanitation, Pine Grove. Also a contract was entered with Mahantongo Tires Inc., Liverpool, for the collection and recycling of waste tires. A contract was approved with ECO International Company to collect, transport, dismantle and recycle all electronic waste received at all 10 locations during the fall cleanup.

Contracts were approved with Eastman Kodak for imagelink microimager for $5,063 and with T.C.T. Microphics for microfilm reader-printer at a cost of $475.

Approval was given to submit an application to the Department of Community and Economic Development in Harrisburg in amount of $60,000 for the Main Street Program.

Three new members were named to the Office of Senior Services Aging Advisory Board. They were Helen Clay, Minersville, and Paul Gombola and Dorothy Kelly, both of Pottsville.

Timber, coal leases

An agreement was entered with D&R Logging Company, of Hegins, to lease 216 acres of county-held timberland in Reilly Township with the county to receive a monthly royalty payment of $324 for the timber removed.

Approval was given to increase the acreage on the current coal land lease of Premium Fine Coal Inc., of Hazleton, for an additional 80 acres on the county-held coal surface land in Schuylkill Township. The land was formerly leased to Tuscarora Mineral and Mines. The new total lease for Premium Coal will be 448.7 acres and the new monthly minimum royalty payment beginning Oct. 1 will be $1,795.

An increase in acreage on the current coal land lease of White Pine Coal Co. Inc., of Ashland, for an additional 265 acres was approved. The new total acreage is 37.5 and the new minimum monthly royalty payment will be $324.

Approve services

Although no funds are coming in from the state because of the lack of a new budget, the commissioners were reluctant to curtail or discontinue services for clients of the Children and Youth Services Agency, although the agencies unpaid bills have exceed $1 million, and some services have not been paid since last April, according to a report by controller Melinda Kantner.

Purchase of service agreements were approved for five companies as follows:

Kidspeace National Centers Inc., Schnecksville, for decision making at $62.43 per unit; Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Schuylkill County, Pottsville, for a prematch phase at $250 per unit, a new match at $1,000 per unit and continuing client at $250 per unit; Presbyterian Children's Services, St. Louis, for emergency crisis intervention at $78.85 per unit, severe needs at $109.73 per unit and intensive need at $143.63 per unit; and an addendum to the contract of Big Brothers/Big Sisters to increase the contract by $6,250 from $9,000 to $15,250.

Personnel matters

Two promotions were approved at Rest Haven Home and Hospital. They were: Elena Hendricks, New Ringgold, from part-time nurse's aide to full-time at $11.72 per hour, and Jessica Withrow, Pine Grove, from part-time licensed practical nurse to full-time at $15.99 per hour.

The commissioners were informed Susan Perreault, Port Carbon, resigned from the public works; Colleen Bowers, Pottsville, was hired as clerk II in the treasurer's office at $12.7918 per hour; Scott Rizzardi, Minersville, resigned as a prison supervisor; Shalen Graver, Pine Grove, named an unpaid extern in the adult probation department; and Amy Rowan, Tamaqua, an unpaid intern at Rest Haven Home and Hospital.

Commissioner Francis McAndrew conducted the meeting in the absence of Mantura Gallagher with Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier.

Retirement board

The Schuylkill County Employees Retirement Board held its monthly meeting following the commissioners meeting and Kantner, secretary, reported the total market value of the retirement fund as of Aug. 31 increased to $81,862,248. Four retirees passed away.

Dog tags on line

County treasurer Jacqueline McGovern announced dog licenses are now available for purchase online by way of www.padoglicense.com [1] (Pennsylvania Dog License System), which allows dog owners to purchase a license from any computer.

"It's fast and efficient," McGovern said, "and features PA Lost Dogs (www.palostdogs.com [2]), which is a free service."

McGovern said the law requires all dogs 3 months or older be licensed, and failure is a summary offense with a fine up to $300. An annual fee is $8, a spayed or neutered dog, $6, and discounts are available for senior citizens and people with disabilities. To get your license online there is a $2 fee.