Mass testing for the coronavirus will be available to Wyoming County residents late next week at the county’s Emergency Operations Center. Participants in Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Wyoming County Commissioners included (from left) chief clerk Bill Gaylord, commissioners Ernie King and Rick Wilbur and solicitor Paul Litwin III.
By Rick Hiduk
(Exclusive to EndlessMtnLifestyles.com readers)
In a relatively short meeting of the Wyoming County Commissioners held this morning, it was announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) will conduct free COVID testing at the Wyoming County Emergency Operations Center at the east end of Tunkhannock from Thursday to Monday, Dec. 10 to 14.
According to commissioner chair Rick Wilbur, testing will begin at 10 am each day and run to 6 pm or until 450 tests have been administered. “That’s all the lab can handle in one day,” he explained. ‘But that’s 2,250 tests available for county residents. And its free.” The DOH had intended to provide testing over five week days, Wilbur noted, but the commissioners asked them to schedule them over a weekend to provide the opportunity to more people.
Wyoming County EMA will handle logistics of the testing, which will be conducted in the main parking lot. More details will be released, but the current plan (above) is to have people enter via Sunnyside Road and exit onto Route 6 after they have been tested. DOH staff will provide information onsite for people to follow up and get their results.
In other news, Wilbur announced that the planned closure by PennDOT of a section of Route 92 in Falls Township for replacement of an old bridge has been modified. In a Nov. 24 press release from Sen. Lisa Baker’s office, it was disclosed that PennDOT would instead install a temporary traffic signal when they start the work of dismantling a historic hand-laid stone bridge under the roadway just south of the former EIHAB facility.
The commissioners had worked with Baker, Rep. Karen Boback and PennDOT to help residents in that area avoid a 29-mile detour for several months while the work is done. “It will be just a minor inconvenience waiting for a traffic light,” Wilbur remarked. Bids for the project will be put out at the beginning of 2021, and the work should begin in the spring.
The commissioners spent the better part of Monday fine-tuning the county’s budget for 2021. “The good news is that there will be no tax increase,” said Wilbur, noting that frugal maneuvers, including laying off some county employees, helped them keep the budget in check. He fully expects a final draft of the budget to be available for public inspection by Dec. 9.
Relocation of files from the Wyoming County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (H&RA) offices in Nicholson to the courthouse in Tunkhannock is complete, commissioner Wilbur explained. Trehab will work with the county to manage a number of projects that were formerly conducted by the H&RA. “We had some problems with the way some things were being handled,” Wilbur stated. Trehab has a similar mission of providing housing for low- to moderate-income residents, he noted, and the commissioners see the Trehab as better suited to provide oversight that was often questioned in the past. “It’s just a good move for us.”
“We will still have a Redevelopment Authority,” commissioner Ernie King maintained, though the ongoing responsibilities of the state-funded agency have yet to be determined. In the meantime, King added, “We’re looking forward to a long relationship with Trehab.”
The commissioners have provided a letter of support for Senior Health Care Solutions to pursue plans to construct a new nursing home on West Street in Tunkhannock. At the Nov. 17 meeting, Wilbur said that the new 70-unit facility proposed by the Scranton-based company would offer specialized cardiac and Alzheimer’s services. The letter does not obligate the county in any way, he related.
The commissioners have been engaged in discussions with Keystone College administrators about reducing tuition costs for Wyoming County residents.
The next public commissioners meeting is scheduled for 9 am on Tuesday, Dec. 8. It will again be virtual while the courthouse remains closed to the public. Interested readers can log on to www.wycopa.org to participate.