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Tamaqua officer on DA's drug task force

Published March 29. 2012 05:01PM

A Tamaqua police officer was one of three veteran officers appointed by the Schuylkill County commissioners to serve as investigative-consultants for the District Attorney's Drug Task Force, in action taken at Wednesday's public meeting, held at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Corporal Henry Woods of the Tamaqua Police Department; Chief Michael Carey, Saint Clair Police Department; and Chief Shawn Tray, West Mahanoy Township Police Department, were named to the temporary part-time service positions to be utilized by the district attorney's drug task force on a per-diem basis when called by District Attorney Karen Byrnes Noon or her assistant district attorneys.

The trio provide consulting for surveillance, specialized investigations and controlled buys of illicit drugs. The salary board had set the salary for the consultants at $28.50 per hour.

First Assistant District Attorney William C. Reiley commented that the three officers will be of great assistance because of the knowledge of the areas they have patrolled for years. He added that their pay will come out of a grant of $400,000, which was awarded years ago to the Pottsville Police Department and that $35,000 remains, which now will be used for the consultants' services. The grant is known as the Community Oriented Policing Services (COP) Grant and was awarded by the Department of Justice.

Noon explained that the role of the investigative-consultant will be to educate detectives to conduct specialized investigations, including, but not limited to surveillance and controlled buys of illicit drugs, in conjunction with the district attorney's office and other municipal, state or federal members of the district attorney's drug task force; assist with filing service of search and arrest warrants and provide testimony in court cases.

Adopt policy

The commissioners adopted a financial internal control policy which establishes a policy regarding the deterrence and investigation of suspected misconduct or suspected misconduct and dishonesty by employees, elected officials, appointees, volunteers and vendors.

Mark Scarbinsky, county administrator, said this policy has been in the works by the Human Resource Department. He denied it was initiated because of the missing check discovered recently in the controller's office, which denies the county recovering $52,000 from a class action law suit. Controller Christy Joy said the county solicitor's department is making efforts to obtain a new check from the company.

Scarbinsky added the purpose of this document is to provide specific instructions regarding appropriate action in case of suspected violations, such as forgery of checks, drafts, promissory notes and securities; presenting a false claim for payment; misappropriation of funds, securities, supplies or any other asset; any irregularity in handling or reporting money transactions; any false reporting or communicating of financial information; seeking or accepting anything of material value from vendors, consultants or contractors doing business with the county.

The policy also states that each elected official and department manager is responsible for instituting and maintaining a system of internal control to provide reasonable assurance for the prevention and detection of fraud.

The county administrative office is the designated compliance officer and has the primary responsibility for investigation of all activity.

Adopted proclamation

A proclamation was adopted declaring month of April as "Sexual Assault Awareness Month," to draw attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and has public health implications.

It asks all county residents to support the efforts to educate the public about sexual violence, how to prevent it and how to help survivors connect with services. The commissioners were informed that last year more than 400 men, women and children sought services and this year to date response has been made to 450 victims.

Land leases

The commissioners renewed two leases to strip mine coal from county held land.

• White Pine Coal Company to strip mine in Reilly Township: The company paid $1,925 in royalties for the last 12 months and $10,025 for the lease grand total.

• Gale Mining Company to strip mine on county held land in Schuylkill Township, for the first year of its lease turned in $2,562.50 in royalty payments. The county receives $3 for each ton of coal removed.

• They also renewed the lease of Michael Kopinetz to store wood pallets on county-held land in Cass Township for which royalty payments of $1,750 were received for a year's period and $13,450 for the life of the lease.

Personnel matters

Action was taken on personnel matters.

• Rest Haven Home: Appointed were Lori Donohue, Schuylkill Haven, as part -time licensed practical nurse at $15.99 per hour; and Denise Arndt, Cressona, and Diane Ball, Shamokin, were appointed part-time nurse's aides at $11.72 per hour.

• Children and Youth Services Agency: Heidi Yeastedt, Pottsville, and Leigh Reed, Orwigsburg, received promotions from caseworker 1 to caseworker 2 at salaries set at $18.04 per hour.

The board was informed by actions of heads of other departments.

Vince Kowalick, Frackville, resigned as a court attendant; Lynn McNamara, Pottsville, resigned as a full-time nurse's aide at Rest Haven Home; and Justin Wank resigned as county caseworker 2 with Children and Youth Services.

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