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Indiana County officials have approved a loan to help a second local business to recover from economic losses due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions and mitigation efforts.

The county board of commissioners on Wednesday approved $50,000 from the county’s pandemic-related aid for businesses, the CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund, to SDC2014 LLC, through owner Shane Caylor, for El Tesoro Mexican Bar & Grill in downtown Indiana.

The funds may be used for operating capital including payroll, utilities and inventory to mitigate losses attributed to the COVID-19 disaster emergency, said Angela Campisano of Indiana County Office of Planning and Development.

The loan terms are 0 percent interest fixed, no payment for 12 months, and principal payments for 36 months.

Caylor’s company is the second to borrow from the newly established loan pool. The county in December loaned $50,000 to Rustic Lodge banquet hall in White Township from the $1.23 million fund.

The county planning office administers the fund on behalf of the Economic Development Administration. Campisano said the loan would enable El Tesoro to retain the equivalent of seven full-time employees.

Companies that demonstrate they have been impacted by the pandemic are eligible for the assistance. The COVID-19 loan fund is designed to help a broader spectrum of businesses than the industrial and manufacturing sector that is eligible for the traditional revolving loan fund.

Campisano said business owners seeking aid should directly contact the planning office to file an application.

In other business Wednesday, the commissioners:

• Ratified revised paperwork for the construction of the new Westmoreland County Community College branch campus on the grounds of Indiana County Technology Center in White Township.

What was presented as a change order adding $5.1 million to the cost of the project amounted to a formality for moving to the next planned — and fully funded — phase in the work.

The county late last year approved the $1.7 million purchase of components for the 26,400-square-foot pre-engineered metal building, in agreement with the general contractor, Cavcon Construction Company, of Greensburg.

The cost approved Wednesday represents the labor component for erection and assembly of the building, wall panels and all other interior and exterior facets of the project, according to Executive Director Byron Stauffer, of the county planning office.

Stauffer said the agreements set the “guaranteed maximum” cost of the project at $6.8 million and that any savings achieved through subcontracting by Cavcon would be shared by the contractor (40 percent) and the county (60 percent).

The project is funded by Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program ($4.1 million), the federal Appalachian Regional Commission ($350,000) and local bank loans ($3 million).

The building is designed to replace WCCC’s rented quarters in the Airport Professional Complex and provides space anticipated for the Challenger Learning Center, for space and science education, that still is seeking money needed to outfit its space in the building.

• Accepted reimbursement from the state for a portion of the cost of an additional ballot-counting machine that tallied absentee and mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The county paid $53,975 for the state-certified machine and has been repaid 60 percent of that cost, $32,385 by the Pennsylvania Department of state. The money came from the Grants for Election Modernization and Security (GEMS) program, said Chief Clerk Robin Maryai.

• Renewed a maintenance agreement between the district attorney’s office and “SAVIN,” the Pennsylvania Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification system. The system is provided at no cost by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute.

SAVIN provides 24-hour, seven-day email or text messages to registered crime victims and witnesses to alert them of changes to the custody status of offenders — for example their transportation to and from courts, transfer between facilities, or release from jail or prison.

“So you don’t turn the corner in Giant Eagle and there’s your offender,” DA office manager Linda Callihan said. “You’ll know ahead of time.”

• Renewed an agreement with Southwest Behavioral Health Management Inc. for service to the county in 2021 at a fee of $992,589.72, reflecting a 3 percent increase from 2020, according to Southwest’s administrator, Tammy Calderone.

Calderone said the agency hasn’t had an increase in basic support from the state in 15 to 20 years and experienced a 10 percent cut in 2012. The state, she said, only has increased funding when the agency added a required project or program.

The agency provides health choices administrative oversight and consultation for Indiana and Armstrong counties Calderone said, including “participation as a voting board member; review of contracts, policies, procedures and reports; and participate in work groups and committees; and provide ongoing education about health choices to all stakeholders.”

• Approved changes for the construction project at the former State Job Center building along North Fourth Street, which is being converted into a court, offices and detention center for Indiana District Court.

The change orders include adding $465 to change masonry walls to ballistic walls between the waiting room and administrative office area, adding $2,900 to replace two toilet stalls and two water coolers, and adding $1,675 to purchase new doors, frames and sidelights. County Maintenance Director Mike Yanity told the commissioners that the original plan to move toilets, water coolers and doors from the current district court in the Courthouse Annex could not be completed without irreparable damage to them.

• Approved contracts between Indiana County Children and Youth Services and service providers Allen Fiechuk, an attorney to represent parents at dependency matters, at $55 an hour, and LifeSpan Family Services of Pennsylvania for service to dependents from birth to age 21.

• Renewed a contract with Diann Overman, of Center Township, as the veterans outreach program coordinator for 2021 at $20 an hour for a maximum of 960 hours or $19,920.

“She is the backbone of our veterans group program,” Human Services Department Director Lisa Spencer said. “She receives no benefits but we pay for travel because the different events she must attend sometimes are quite far.”

• Reappointed Kathleen Abbey Baker as the health and human services subcommittee consultant, in support to the county’s emergency planning committee, at $15 an hour for 367 hours.

• Approved a cooperation agreement between the Department of Human Services and U.S. Treasury, which names Indiana County Community Action Program as the administrator, for an expected share of emergency rental assistance funds.

Spencer told the commissioners that Pennsylvania initially has been allocated $852 million of aid that first will be divided among 18 counties with a population of more than 200,000. But the approval granted Wednesday would position the county to quickly respond on a tight deadline to accept funds when awards are made to smaller counties, she said.

Earlier, ICCAP managed $132,000 of aid to county tenants from the federal CARES Act program.

• Approved an extension of the deadline from April 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, for completion of the South 15th Street, Indiana, storm sewer project with community development block grants awarded in 2016.

• Approved the county’s continued participation in an unemployment compensation insurance pool operated by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

The commissioners also reappointed or appointed numerous county residents to volunteer service on a variety of county boards, authorities and commissions, including:

• James Szalankiewicz and James Duncan, to new terms expiring January 2026, on the Indiana County Airport Authority.

• Larry Deal and John Stumpf, to new terms expiring January 2026, on the Highridge Water Authority.

• Robin Gorman, a new member, for a term expiring January 2024, and Frank Kinter, a holdover member, to a term expiring January 2026, on the Indiana County Hospital Authority.

• Jeffrey Boden, for a new term expiring January 2026, in the Housing Authority of Indiana County.

• Joseph Kinter, for a new term expiring January 2026, on the Industrial Development Authority of Indiana County.

• Frank Holuta, for a new term expiring January 2027, on the Indiana County Municipal Services Authority.

• Joseph Trimarchi and Ross Bricklemyer, for new terms expiring January 2026, on the Indiana County Planning Commission.

• Carolyn Princes, a new member, for a term expiring January 2023, and Thomas Falcone, a holdover member, for a term expiring January 2026, on the Redevelopment Authority of Indiana County.

• Michael Foote and Kenneth Brown, to new terms expiring January 2026, on the Indiana County Solid Waste Authority.

• John Hardesty, a new member, for a term expiring January 2023, and Daniel Berkey, a holdover member, for a term expiring January 2026, on the Indiana County Transportation Authority.

• Greg Bachy, for a new term expiring January 2026, on the Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals.

• Beth Marshall, for a new term expiring January 2024, on the Indiana County Zoning Hearing Board.

• David Flowers, for a new term expiring Dec. 31, 2023, on the Armstrong-Indiana Behavioral & Developmental Health Program.

• Britany Allison, Patricia Berezansky, Haley Crownover, Michelle Jordan, Jill Northey, Carolyn Princes and Todd Fulton, a new members, to terms expiring Dec. 31, 2023, on Indiana County Children’s Advisory Commission.

• Sherene Hess, as the commissioners’ delegate to the Friends of the Conservation District Board.

Maryai reported that Vera Bonnet recently declined to be reappointed to the planning commission, and said that residents who are interested in serving should contact the commissioners’ office.

Courthouse workers and leaders this week said “so long” to Sharon Mlecik, the first deputy in the county prothonotary and clerk of courts’ office, whose retirement after 40 years of service was noted by the Indiana County Salary Board.

In recent meetings, the salary panel hired Stephanie Neal, Brad Black, Tierra Shipley and Malinda Shultz as part-time correctional officers at Indiana County Jail at wages of $15.10 an hour effective Wednesday (Jan. 13) and promoted Christina Dolan from part-time to full-time correctional officer, effective Dec. 22, at $17 an hour.

The salary board, which oversees all personnel moves for the courthouse, jail, airport, district courts, nursing home and other off-site offices, is composed of the commissioners and the county treasurer.

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the county courthouse; Indiana Area and Homer-Center schools; Blairsville, Homer City, Clymer, Center and Burrell; and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.