Approval was given by the Schuylkill County Commissioners to county Solictior Robert Frycklund, who did the negotiations for the county, to agree to a settlement of an assessment appeal with three property owners, including owner of properties in the Greater Tamaqua Industrial Park in Rush Township, in action taken at a work session held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Trans Western Polymers Inc., a California corporation which is owner of 11.02 acres of improved land with industrial and manufacturing facilities fronting Progress Avenue and Claremont Avenue in Rush Township, last November appealed the decision of the county Assessment Appeal Board which fixed the assessment for its property at $1,298,125 for 2009 taxes. This extablished the market value at $3,253,671.68 which they claimed was grossly in excess of the actual value of the property.

It was reported to the commissioners after extensive negotiations and based upon an expert appraisal report the parties will stipulate to the court to a decrease in the fair market value from to $2,280,000 retroactive to Jan. 1. The court had set a hearing date for later this month, however, if Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin approves the stipulation the hearing will be cancelled.

The commissioners also approved two other stipulations.

The property owned by R. M. R. Realty Partneship, West Mahanoy Township, calls for an increase in the market value from $719,000 to $750,000 for 2010 and on the property owned by Sharp Mountain Plaza, LLC, Pottsville, calls for an increase in the fair market value from $479,050 to $1,100,000 for 2010. These stipulations will also be submitted to the court for approval.

Energy savings

County Engineer Lisa Mahall reported to the commissioners a mid-term measurement and verification review of the energy conservation measures installed in the courthouse and prison buildings in Pottsville and Rest Haven Home in North Manheim Township. Mahall reported the total cost savings were $82,761, exceeding the guaranteed costing savings of $64,674, or an increase of 28 percent over and above the guarantted savings.

In September 2008 the county entered into an agreement with McClure Company for the installation of energy efficient electric lighting retrofits and replacements to the heating systems at the courthouse, prison and Rest Haven Home. The electric lighting retrofit involved changing from T-12 lamps with magnetic ballasts to energy efficient T-8 lamps with electronic ballasts.

The heating system at the courthouse and prison were replaced with redundant heating systems allowing for fuel flexibility of natural gas and/or anthracite coal during the winter months and natural gas during the warmer months. The gas boilers also serve as backup heating unit should any breakdowns occur with the coal boiler. Rest Haven's heating system was upgraded with a properly sized natural gas boiler and the existing gas boiler as the backup heating plant.

The electric upgrades were completed in January 2009 and the savings amounted to 423.979 kilowatt hours for all three facilities with the actual savings realized at 76 percent over the guarantee, which translates into a cost saving of $59,076 when the guaranteed savings were projected at $34,172. Mahall announced at the close of 2010 a full evaluation will be performed.

Rubber duck month

The commissioners adopted a resolution proclaiming April as "Duck Month" in Schuylkill County and announced the 21st annual duck race will be held on the banks of Mill Creek in front of Walmart Super Center, Saint Clair, on Sunday, April 25. Thousands of rubber ducks will be available for adoption order to be entered into the race and all donations from the adoptions will benefit children and adults participating in programs offered by Avenues.

Approval was given by the commissioners for Gary Bender, grant writer, to submit a grant application to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for funds to renovate the Number One Courtroom, which is the largest in the eastern part of the country. It can seat 300 people. Its wall murals are deterioating and need upgrading.

William Liptok, public works director, was given permission to seek bids to provide plowing and hauling of snow and ice and salting and cindering county facilities.