By Rick Hiduk
(Exclusive to EndlessMtnLifestyles.com readers)
Wyoming County has received an Act 13 disbursement from the Public Utility Commission of $1.07-million, and a portion of it was earmarked at Tuesday’s meeting of the county commissioners for law enforcement equipment.
Fees collected from natural gas drillers are distributed annually to counties and municipalities and can be used for public safety. The county will pay Overfield Township $33,450 to purchase a 2013 Dodge Charger and 2015 Chevy Tahoe that were used as patrol cars for the municipality’s recently disbanded police force, as well as some other apparatus.
According to county sheriff Bob Roberts, the vehicles are equipped with everything that he and his deputies would need to put them into service. The sale is contingent on an inspection of the cruisers this week. The commissioners also granted approval for Roberts to spend up to $2,000 on decal removal and the application of new ones.
Also part of the transaction are unspecified firearms, tasers and miscellaneous items that will be stored at the courthouse for future need or trade-ins for other equipment. Roberts referred to the additional items as “equipment that you can’t generally sell to the public.” Commissioners Tom Henry and Ernie King agreed that the deal will save the county money in the long run.
Much of the remainder of the July 7 agenda items followed up business discussed in previous weeks.
The commissioners have completed an online assessment appeals course and felt prepared for their first round of property tax appeals scheduled for today. “I think it was very beneficial to all of us,” commissioner chair Rick Wilbur said of the course.
A meeting with AmeriTrade, one of two pension advisers for the county, confirmed that their portion of the pension account is back where it was prior to the start of the COVID-19 health crisis. “We didn’t make any money during the pandemic, but at least we didn’t lose any,” Wilbur maintained.
More than 80 applications had been received by the commissioners as of Tuesday morning for the Wyoming County COVID-19 Relief Block Grant program. Since announcing the availability of Federal CARES Act money to small businesses and non-profits in the county, the federal government has relaxed restrictions on business owners who had already sought assistance through programs like the Payroll Protection Plan. Subsequently, the commissioners are now encouraging those business owners to apply to the county as well for any losses beyond what other resources have covered. Preference will still go to those entities that have not pursued other funding. (read details here: http://www.endlessmtnlifestyles.com/?p=16406 )
With the number of new COVID-19 cases in the county holding fairly steady, the commissioners are not anticipating the return of the state-mandated restrictions on gatherings and businesses observed under the yellow phase of reopening, Nonetheless, a small uptick in cases in Lackawanna County has limited some services to clients of agencies shared with Wyoming County.
The commissioners plan to maintain the same protocol at county offices that have been in place since their reopening. Appointments are still required for residents needing services, and security guards are still screening visitors as they arrive – taking their temperatures and making sure they are on the appointment list for the day. Such procedures, including mask wearing, will remain in place for at least another two weeks while the board waits to see if Independence Day travel results in any significant increases in coronavirus cases.
Prior to closing the public meeting, the commissioners acknowledged the recent deaths of long-time county employees Judy Owens (switchboard), Albert Mroz (maintenance) and Barbara Frear (conservation district).
The next meeting of the Wyoming County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 21, will be preceded by a meeting of the Wyoming County Prison Board. Log-in information for the virtual GoTo Meeting will be posted at www.wycopa.org.