Bradford County Commissioners (above, from top left) Daryl Miller, John Sullivan and Doug McLinko held what they hope will be their final all-virtual meeting from the courthouse in Towanda this morning. The July 11 meeting will be held in the pavilion at Sunfish Pond County Park. By August, it is hoped the meetings can be reopened to the media and the public.
By Rick Hiduk
(Exclusive to EndlessMtnLifestyles.com readers)
While the Bradford County Commissioners admit that they have no idea yet how long the current “green phase” of reopening the economy will last, nor what comes after it, they have applied to the Department of Community and Economic Development for a COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant in the amount of $5,447,701.
According to commissioners chair Daryl Miller, how the funds will be distributed has not yet been determined, but the board has reached agreement on some of the recipients. One use will be to offset some COVID-related expenses within the county, some to help small businesses that have been “crippled” by the shutdowns, and quite likely some to offset the losses to fire companies and EMS services that have not been able to conduct or host fundraising activities
“We hope to send a healthy check out to our first responders,” said commissioner Doug McLinko. “They have all taken hits and need the help.”
Miller indicated that the board hopes to finalize a plan in the coming weeks. As for moving beyond the green phase, Miller noted, “We are getting no direction as to what’s next. The unfortunate part is that we have peoples’ lives and businesses held in limbo.”
“I think it’s garbage,” said McLinko. “We get it that it’s dangerous and that it spreads. But we have to start getting our lives back in order. It comes down to personal responsibility. If it feels unsafe, don’t go.”
“If given clear and concise instructions, we can do this. Business owners and customers can make decisions,” Miller continued. “The whole process is held up in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It’s confusing and mind-numbingly complicated, and it doesn’t have to be.”
In addition to getting and keeping businesses open, which they maintain is their highest priority, the commissioners were asked what the county is doing to attract new businesses.
“We’re trying to be a business-friendly county as best as we can by keeping taxes low,” Miller responded.”
“There’s nothing that will help bring businesses to our county better than solid broadband,” McLinko added.
Miller agreed that Bradford County’s “dark fiber project” is geared to enhancing cell and internet capabilities for both residents and businesses. The erection of several more towers is currently underway in under-served “gray areas” with challenging terrain issues that will first enhance the county’s 911 communications system. After that, space on the cell towers can be leased to internet providers to expand their services to more homes and businesses.
Some Things to Look Forward To
Despite the large number of summer events and activities being canceled due to limitations on large gatherings, the commissioners were happy to share some news of events that are still on the calendar, including a 5K run, a fireworks display and, tentatively, the Troy Fair.
Commissioner McLinko reported that Bob Raimo, owner of Shooters Gauntlet on Stone Mountain in Monroe Township will provide a free fireworks display on Saturday, July 4. Residents on surrounding hilltops should be able to enjoy the display. “People should be able to see it from Armenia,” McLinko suggested. The fireworks will also be visible from Mountaineer Park in Monroeton, where the Monroe Hose Company will be collecting $5 per car load as a fundraiser.
The second race in Bradford County’s Summer Series 2020 will be held on Saturday, July 11 at Sunfish Pond County Park, starting at 9 a.m. The first 125 registered runners are given three hours to complete as many loops around the pond as possible, each loop equaling one mile. The winner of the Sunfish Shuffle will be the one that finishes the most loops. Interested readers will find more details and registration information on the Run Bradford County Facebook page.
“It’s a great outdoor activity in a beautiful park,” Miller remarked, adding the July 9 meeting of the Bradford County Commissioners will be held at Sunfish County Park at 10 am. The meeting will be recorded, then streamed on the BC Commissioners Facebook page when service is available.
Though they have no control over the outcome, the commissioners are hoping that the Troy Fair, set to open on at 5 pm on Monday, July 27, will take place. “They are moving ahead as if they are going to have the fair, Miller said of the organizers. “They don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. We’ll all just have to stay tuned.”
“Hopefully, they are able to pull it off,” McLinko remarked. “Because it’s a huge event and brings a lot of resources and activity to Bradford County.”
Staff Changes Discussed
The board approved an employment contract with James Shadduck for the Bradford County Manor effective July 1. Shadduck is returning from the Vestal, NY area as an administrator at a salary of $125,000 per year. “We are glad to have him back,” McLinko stated.
Trisha Pratt is also returning to Bradford County to become the new director of nursing at the Manor at $100,000 per year. When questioned about the salary, Miller maintained that it is in line with others in similar positions. “Nursing is a very competitive field,” he said.
“You can’t just hire anyone for that position,” McLinko concurred.
Commissioner John Sullivan was appointed to the BeST Authority Board to replace Ed Bustin whose term was set to expire on December 31 of this year.
The commissioners meeting scheduled for July 23 has been canceled, as Miller will be in Harrisburg with the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.