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Board approves bond issue for new building for SAM

Published February 16. 2012 05:01PM

A resolution was adopted by the Schuylkill County commissioners approving the issuance of a bond to finance the cost of a project to construct an office building in Pottsville to house the staff of Service Access and Management Agency (SAM), a non-profit organization which cares for the mentally ill in the county, in action taken at the work session held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville. Other counties served by SAM included Berks, Lehigh and Northampton.

Service Access replaced the former Mental Health and Mental Retardation Agency. A blue print of the proposed one story building to be built on Terry Reiley Avenue in the northern part of the city was shown the commissioners. The bond issue is for $3,060,000. There is no cost to the county.

The bond will be used for and towards the acquisition of the land and construction of the building into a suitable office building to handle mentally ill cases. It currently leases office space in the southern part of the city. The office building will be 10,000 square foot size and employ 70 people and there will be parking space for 60 vehicles.

Its case management services in the county since 2004 has helped more than 2,000 county residents "live richer and more fulfilling lives," Ms. Mary Kowalonek, chief financial officer and treasurer, said.

She added, "The mission of Service Access and Management Inc. is to help people throughout Pennsylvania enhance the quality of their lives by effectively and efficiently managing and providing needed, accessible and individually satisfying human services."

Kowalonek told the commissioners, "We are in the business of helping people," and listed services provided, including mental health services, outpatient, drop-in centers, community residential rehabilitation services, infant, toddler early intervention services, mental health case management services, crisis intervention and emergency services and certified peer support services.

She reported regulations have been established for the mentally ill particular environment as they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in every interaction.

Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier said the agency and the county has had an excellent work relationship with SAM since it turned the mental health agency over for its operation. Commission George Halcovage added that before becoming a commissioner he served on the board of the directors for mentally ill and also experienced an fine working relationship.

In hospital

Minority Commissioner Carl Hess was not present at the work session as he was hospitalized several days ago with a blood clot in his lungs. He is reportedly doing fine.

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