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INDIANA COUNTY: Officials praise program at jail

by on July 10, 2014 10:59 AM

The Indiana County commissioners Wednesday credited Indiana County Jail Warden Sam Buzzinotti and Kami Anderson, executive director of the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission, with successfully shepherding the Medical Assistance County Jail Pilot Program, which led to the county receiving a Criminal Justice Best Practices Award from the County Commissioners Association.

The pilot program, launched in May 2013, enables jail inmates, upon their release at the completion of their sentence, to go directly into residential drug and alcohol treatment programs, if needed. Previously, long periods of time often elapsed between an inmate’s release from jail and the start of needed drug and alcohol treatment, and in some cases inmates never followed through on getting needed treatment.

In its inaugural year, the pilot program saved the county $238,000. It has proved so successful that it will be implemented in other Pennsylvania counties starting in August.

The commissioners also had praise Wednesday for Jim Struzzi, president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, and Byron Stauffer, executive director of the Indiana County Development Corporation, for their coordination of today’s Pittsburgh Business Times Corridors of Opportunity event at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

Struzzi said investors, developers, business leaders and others will gather at the KCAC to learn more about what Indiana County has to offer and to tour facilities such as the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park and the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport.

Commission chairman Rodney Ruddock was especially complimentary of a six-minute promotional video showcasing Indiana County that was produced by Gazette Marketing & Media. The short video will be shown at today’s event and eventually will also be seen on the websites of the chamber of commerce and the Indiana County Center for Economic Operations.

Ruddock said representatives from CRAssociates Inc., the Virginia-based company that will develop and operate the new Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic for Indiana County, will attend the commissioners’ July 23 meeting to provide more details about the CBOC, which will be in the former Rex electronics and appliance space at the Regency Mall.

Ruddock noted there have been considerable negative comments about the VA in recent months, but he feels the agency did its due diligence in planning for the Indiana CBOC that is expected to eventually serve 4,000 military veterans.

Ruddock said he’s pleased the local CBOC will have a behavioral health component.

Brenda Stormer, director of the Indiana County Office of Veterans Affairs, said her office soon will release information on how vets can enroll to receive medical treatment at the new CBOC.

Ruddock said the commissioners, along with state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, and state Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, have sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, urging support for WyoTech’s Burrell Township campus. WyoTech will be put up for sale due to a dispute between its parent company, Corinthian Colleges Inc., and the U.S. Department of Education over financial aid dollars Corinthian depends upon to operate.

In the letter, the commissioners said more than 600 students and 114 employees have a vested stake in WyoTech continuing to operate, and that the tech school spurred the growth of the 100-acre Corporate Campus and ancillary businesses along the Route 22 corridor.

WyoTech, he said, is an important part of Indiana County’s workforce development.

“We request our federal delegation encourage the DOE to continue working with Corinthian Colleges to achieve the goal of allowing for a smooth transition for the potential transfer of schools and avoid any disruption to students as they pursue their degrees and diplomas,” the commissioners wrote in their letter.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Denise Liggett, executive director of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, reminded county residents that July 25 will be “Indiana County Day — Christmas in July” at Idlewild Park, near Ligonier.

The bureau is selling tickets for admission to Idlewild Park at a special price of $22, a savings of $17.99 off regular park admission, at several locations around the county.

More information on the discount tickets is available by calling (724) 463-7505 or (877) 746-3426 or visiting www.visitindianacountypa.org.



Randy Wells has been a reporter and staff writer at The Indiana Gazette since 1988. His regular assignments include coverage of the Indiana County commissioners, Indiana Borough council and the Marion Center Area School District. His email address is rwells@indianagazette.net.
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