Seeking more space for its agencies the Schuylkill County Commissioners took action at Wednesday's public meeting held at the courthouse in Pottsville to proceed through a condemnation action to seek to acquire a building in the business district of Pottsville. The vote was 2 to 1 with Minority Commissioner Gary Hess casting his first negative vote since assuming office last January. He said he is not opposed to the proposed project but disagrees with Commissioners Frank Staudenmeier and George Halcovage in the method and time for acquiring the building. He added he could not comment further as negotiations are still ongoing.

The land sought is owned by Dale F. Schoeneman and his brother, Franklin Schoeneman and is known as the former Empire Beauty School Building, located at Centre and Laurel Boulevard, across from city hall building, plus a parking lot behind the building and three additional small parking lots located on Second Street near the courthouse building. Passage of the motions permits the county solicitors to take all legal steps necessary to accomplish the condemnation, including obtaining the services of a qualified real estate appraiser to comply with the Eminent Doomian code and the County Code. The county is setting compensation in an amount not to exceed $740,0000.

Commissioners Staudenmeir and Halcovage said that it would move its Children and Youth Services Agency, located in a building across the street from the proposed new acquisition, because it is now located in cramped quarters. They also stated that the former beauty school building has a big bay area in the basement where the county's more than 400 electronic voting machines could be stored. There is also a large parking lot behind the building. Acquisition of the two parking lots near the courthouse would add more parking space for the public. Parking space during court trials has been a big problem.

Space at Rest Haven

The commissioners approved entering into a lease agreement with Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, for rental space in the basement and on the roof of the Rest Haven building located at 401 University Drive, North Manheim Township, for the installation, operation and maintenance of communications equipment. The lease agreement is for a five year period at a cost of $7,200 per year and the lease can be extended for three additional five year terms with the first five year extension for $8,280 annual rental, the second five year extension for $9,522 per year and the third five year extension at $10,950.30 per year.

On behalf of Rest Haven Home, the commissioners approved a contract with Symphony Diagnostics Services, DBA Mobilex, of Horsham, for the provision of mobile x-ray, EKG and ultrasound services for its residents on a fee for service contract basis. The contracts for the year 2013 at a cost of $18,500. Another contract was entered with Christine Sullivan, DBA Prostat Company, Reading, for the provision of temporary staffing of nurses at a cost of $20,000 for 2013.

Other contracts

An agreement was entered with the Pottsville Parking Authority for 90 parking spaces in the Capital Parking Garage at $28.50 pe space per month and 10 permit parking spaces in the 200 block of Laurel Boulevard, by the courthouse building, at $18.50 per month for the period January through December of 2013. Commissioner Staudenmeier stated these parking spaces are used for employees located at the Human Services Complex, a block away.

An agreement was entered with the county's drop off recycling centers for a three year period with automatic renewal. The leases are with municipalities of Ryan Township, East Brunswick Township, Girardville and Saint Clair Boroughs.

A supplement to the contract with Larson Design Group for the engineering design repairs for the covered county bridge which carries Newswanger Road over Little Swatara Creek in Washington Township. The net supplement increase is $21,239.27 which increases the revised contract to $390,612.06. County Engineer Lisa Mahall explained the increase in engineering services is associated with PennDOT which requested a geomorphological study and archaeological investigation at the site to meet the requirement for the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Grant.

Approval was given to the County's 9-1-1 to add a fourth addendum to the master antenna tower contract with Jordan Realty Inc., of Pottsville, to lease space on towers, buildings and related facilities at eight tower locations at a cost of $386,400 commencing January 1, 2013.

Approved awarding a contract to Alfred Benesch, Pottsville , for engineering services related to West Penn Township and Pine Grove Township, in their projects under grants they received from the state's CDBG (Community Development Block Grant). Both townships became eligible to apply on their own for these grants and are no longer subject to receive funds from the county's CDBG, however, they had engaged the county to supervisor management of the projects to be undertaken under the grant.

Reappointed

Three members of the Schuylkill County Planning Commission were reappointed for a four year term ending December 31, 2016. They were, Gary Bender, Tower City, who is chairman of the board; Anthony Prudenti, 167 Archery Club Road, New Ringgold and David Briggs, Ringtown.

Eric Seitzinger, chairman of the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board, was reappointed for a three year term ending December 31, 2016.

Action taken on personal matters were:

The commissioners hired Amanda McNulty, Wayne Township, as a per diem research clerk in the tax claim bureau at $8.50 per hour; Deanna Carl, Schuylkill Haven, was promoted from secretary at the Emergency Management Bureau to interim mapping specialist trainee in the tax assessment bureau at $18.9244 per hour and Amanda Brach, Pottsville, was promoted from caseworker 1 to caseworker 2 in the Children and Youth Services Agency at $18.0415 per hour and Michael Cutler, Coaldale, resigned as a social services aide 2. Denise Arndt, Cressona, resigned as a part time nurse's aide at Rest Haven Home. Abigail Willard, Pottsville, was hired as a clerk i in the archives department at $11.17 per hour.

Actions taken by other department heads were:

Recorder of Deeds A. Matthew Dudish promoted Gerard Klema, Norwegian Township, from clerk typist 1 to clerk typist 2 at $14.61 per hour and appointed Jo Ann Reed, Pottsville, as clerk typist 1 at $13.31 per hour.

District Attorney Karen Byrnes Noon promoted Attorney Thomas Campion, Norwegian Township, to first assistant district attorney at an annual salary of $64,900.

Courthouse closing

Commissioner Staudenmeier announced the courthouse will be closed next Tuesday, January 1 in observance of New Year's Day and there will be no meeting next week. The next scheduled meeting will be the commissioners reorganization meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at 10 a.m. in the commissioners board room at the courthouse, followed by the prison board's reorganization meeting. The next commissioners work session will be Wednesday, January 9 at 10 a.m. in the Hoffman Room which adjoins the commissioners board room.