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Transportation funding reduced, but operations won't be curtailed

Published July 26. 2013 05:03PM

Carbon County's Medical Assistance Transportation Program is taking a hit in funding next year, but operations will continue as normal, officials report.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to ratify the fiscal year 2013-2014 Medical Assistance Transportation Program grant agreement. The tentative allocation is $1,622,400, which represents a decrease of $104,200 from the last fiscal year. The funding comes from a mix of state and federal funds.

The MATP program, which is operated through Carbon County Community Transit and overseen by LANTA, is designed to help people on medical assistance or with the ACCESS card by providing a free ride to medical appointments.

Commissioner William O'Gurek said that the decrease in funds could be a result of the state cracking down on the medical assistance program.

He noted that the county has given over 30,000 rides to doctor appointments to approximately 525 residents enrolled in the program last year.

"The program is very valuable," O'Gurek said.

In other matters, the commissioners highlighted a piece of correspondence notifying the county that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has approved the Pocono Counties Local Workforce Investment Board's local plan for program years 2012-2016.

O'Gurek said that the state came in looked at all the practices and operations of the Pocono Counties Workforce Investment Board located in Jim Thorpe, which acts as the administrative entity for workforce training programs in Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties.

"I want to compliment Joe Sebelin (executive director for the Pocono Counties Workforce Investment Board) and the people of the Workforce Investment Board," O'Gurek said. "Collectively, they handle over $3 million worth of programs that are very beneficial to people, including employment training opportunities for those who are out of work, classroom training, welfare to work programs.

"This is a program that goes on all the time that usually goes unnoticed so I think when they (the state) came in and did this monitoring service and approved our plan, it speaks well for the work our people are doing. Anytime someone comes in to monitor or do a review of a program in order to substantiate receiving money in the future and you pass the test, I think it's reason to be proud."

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein also commended Sebelin and the board for the work they are doing in the four counties.

The commissioners also acted on the following items. They include:

• Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard commended Carbon County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Mark Nalesnik for his efforts during the search at Beltzville for the missing boater. He also recognized all volunteers who have given countless hours to the search, which is still taking place today.

• Adopted a resolution recognizing Robert Adams of Boy Scout Troop 25 of White Haven. Adams achieved Eagle Scout, Boy Scouting's highest honor, after completing a project.

His project was to assist City View BMX Track of Hazleton. He led a team of family and friends, building bleachers for the track to improve the safety of spectators, painting the track buildings, landscaping some of the ground areas and making improvements to the finish of the track surface for rider safety.

• Adopted a resolution recognizing Mason Everett of Boy Scout Troop 82 in Lehighton. Everett also achieved Eagle Scout rank.

His project included constructing, painting and mounting five bat boxes throughout Lehighton and Franklin Township. The boxes were created for bats with white nose disease and each box can house approximately 100 bats. The boxes also aid in insect control and were placed where people gather.

• Approved the 2013-2014 renewal of the state Offender Supervision Fee five-year agreement, which commenced July 1, 2012 and ends June 30, 2017.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the county, Juvenile Court Office, and Victims Resource Center to provide services to victims of juvenile offenders and their families relative to the VOJO grant.

• Approved program year 2013 Workforce Investment Area financial agreement for employment and training and related administrative services between Carbon and Monroe counties. Monroe's maximum payment shall not exceed $1,253,737.

• Approved the employment separation of seven Mauch Chunk Lake Park employees. They include: Joel T. Baier of Jim Thorpe, seasonal park ranger II; Katelyn M. Collevechio of Summit Hill, park attendant; Brandon Gurka of Summit Hill, part-time seasonal park maintenance; Gina M. Heintzelman of Summit Hill, lifeguard; Marie D. Knadler of Mahanoy City, seasonal park ranger I; Paige L. Kosica of Tuscarora, lifeguard; and Adam J. Matika of Lehighton, seasonal park ranger II. The employment separation for the seven was effective July 25.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said no details about the separations could be released because it was a "personnel matter."

• Approved the change of status for Joseph M. Kloap of Jim Thorpe, from summer laborer for the Liquid Fuels Summer Program to part-time seasonal park maintenance at Mauch Chunk Lake Park, effective July 26.

• Approved Michael P. Maher Sr.'s leave of absence request from July 22 to Aug. 25.

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