INDIANA COUNTY: Commissioners approve preparation work for Creps plant
March 14, 2013 10:50 AM
by RANDY WELLS

The Indiana County commissioners Wednesday took action to help get a county business back in operation as soon as possible and put about 100 people back on a payroll.

The commissioners approved a contract with Adam Eidemiller Inc., of Greensburg, for grading work to level a lot for a pad at the new Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park in White Township where Creps United Publications will build a new printing plant to replace the one that burned in October.

The contract price for leveling 1.8 acres of the lot is $213,433.

A groundbreaking for the new business park is planned for Friday, and already the park’s first tenant is preparing to move on site.

“This speaks for the importance of having this park in the (county’s economic development) plans,” said commission chairman Rodney Ruddock. He commended the Indiana County Development Corporation, the owner of the 197-acre future business park, for moving ahead so quickly in getting the park ready and for helping the leadership of Creps decide to rebuild and keep their operations in Indiana County.

“This is an indication that we have a partner out there to make these kinds of things happen,” Ruddock said.

Creps United is one of the largest printers of full-color advertising in the eastern United States. It specializes in newspaper inserts.

Managing partner Jake Creps said Wednesday that his company’s plans are to have their printing presses running again from the new location by late August or early September, in time to capture orders during the important fall advertising season.

Going backward from that date, printing presses would have to be installed by late June, so the company’s new 91,000-square-foot building would have to be substantially completed by then. And the tentative schedule calls for the pad to be leveled by April 23 so work on the buildings’ footers could begin immediately after that.

One concern, Creps said, is that the unpredictable spring weather may disrupt the construction timetable.

Creps said his company laid off about 110 of its 260 employees following the October fire, and he’s not sure how many will be called back to work, or how soon. That will depend in part on how quickly Creps’ customers start giving the company new printing orders.

If Creps is back in production by September, it would mean the company bounced back from a devastating fire and accomplished a turnaround — with a new building and mostly new equipment — within 11 months.

“As soon as it happened we started looking for new equipment,” Creps said. And the company’s insurance companies have been good in helping the company get back in operation as soon as possible, he added. “We’ve been fortunate. Things are running smoothly.”

Creps said the company chose to build at a new site, rather than rebuild its old plant along Philadelphia Street in White Township, because the Windy Ridge park will afford the company more space and the new park is designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone, a state economic development program that excuses businesses within such zones from paying taxes for a time.

Meanwhile, demolition work continues at the site of the former Creps plant. That is being handled by M.D. Sleppy Construction, of Penn Run.

Yet another improvement is on the way at the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport. The commissioners accepted a tentative allocation of $97,500 from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Aviation to help install a new automated weather observation system at the airport. The airport’s existing AWOS is 18 years old, is not operating and repair parts are not available.

Todd Heming, airport manager, said the AWOS gives pilots an idea of what weather conditions at the airport are like to help them decide if they can safely land there or need to divert to another airport.

The AWOS provides information on visibility, cloud ceiling heights, wind direction and velocity, barometric pressure (needed to calibrate instruments on board aircraft) and weather trends.

The Indiana County Airport Authority will contribute $32,500 as a local share of the AWOS system and $3,000 as a local share toward the cost of removing an obstruction.

Heming said the new AWOS may be in use at the airport by summer.

The commissioners hope to reverse a revenue stream for the county that has been drying up in recent months.

The Indiana County Jail at times held as many as 70 state inmates, and the county has received about $54 per day from the state for each of those inmates. But as new state prisons are completed, the number of state inmates being incarcerated temporarily in county jails has been dropping, and the final 33 state inmates were pulled out of the county jail a few weeks ago.

The commissioners Wednesday approved a new agreement for the county jail to hold state inmates when needed. Warden Sam Buzzinotti said county wardens around the state are trying to get the state to agree to pay counties $65 per day for each state inmate incarcerated in a county jail in an effort to cover the costs of more services these jails are required to provide inmates.

In other action Wednesday, the commissioners:

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