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INDIANA COUNTY: Development to continue at Windy Ridge

by on July 24, 2014 11:00 AM

A Somerset County construction company has been hired to continue site development at the Windy Ridge Business & Technology Park in White Township under a $1 million contract awarded Wednesday by the Indiana County board of commissioners.

Straw Construction Co., of Boswell, has been selected for the “Area 2” grading project for a base cost of $642,230, and will perform grading and cross pipe installations on areas designated as Lots 1, 2 and 3, according to Byron Stauffer Jr., director of Indiana County Office of Planning and Development.

Straw submitted the lowest qualifying offer out of eight bids opened Monday by county officials.

The bids ranged from $200,000 to $1.95 million, Stauffer said.

“We’re very familiar with Straw Construction,” Stauffer said. “They did the Corporate Campus development back in the 1990s, and most recently we worked with them on the Hyundai dealership. They did that major cut (along Oakland Avenue and Lenz Road, White Township) and ICDC took some of that material for Windy Ridge. We’re very familiar with Straw and confident in their numbers, so we think we’re good.”

At Stauffer’s recommendation, the commissioners also accepted Straw’s alternate bid for additional work on the same project, including Lots 4, 9 and 10 at Windy Ridge, for about $357,971, raising the total cost to $1,000,201.

The business park covers 197 acres in southwestern White Township near Oakland Avenue and Route 422. The first business to locate at Windy Ridge was Creps United Publications, which opened a production plant this year to replace the plant that was destroyed by fire in October 2012 along Philadelphia Street west of Indiana.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved a change order in the emergency radio upgrade project contract between Indiana County Emergency Management Agency and Motorola Corp. ICEMA Director Tom Stutzman said costs have been reduced by $72,727 because improvements made in technology since the contract was signed in 2011 have enabled the county to switch to less-expensive components.

The overall cost of the radio upgrade now stands at $8,511,094.70.

Various emergency service providers in the county have made the transition to the new radio system and ICEMA has been holding training sessions this week for volunteer firefighters. Sessions have been held in Cherryhill Township, Indiana and Cherry Tree, another is scheduled this evening in Plumville, and others will be provided next week at fire stations in the southern half of the county.

“The emergency services piece will be fully operational at midnight Aug. 1, so beginning Aug. 2, all emergency service providers will have been transitioned over to the new system,” Stutzman said.

“Through August, we will run the old system and the new one in simulcast form so we can transition slowly. We will keep the old fire radio system in operation on a limited basis so we will have something to fall back on if there is a problem with the new system.”

• Approved a performance grant of $72,083 awarded to ICEMA by the state. ICEMA was awarded $66,000 last year and applied for $101,000 this year, Stutzman said.

• Approved the addition of Lawrence County as the sixth partner in the Indiana County-based ICORRS radio project.

ICORRS, the Inter County Regional Radio System, is anchored by switching equipment that enables emergency responders and agencies in the member counties to directly contact one another.

Until the partnership was formed, originally among Indiana, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties, in 2011, a patchwork of incompatible radio systems made inter-county communication difficult.

Somerset and Fayette counties earlier this year became partners in the system, agreeing to share in the equipment costs and take advantage of the new communication links that it offers.

“Overall, this reduces our annual cost for maintenance by four and one-third percent by sharing it with Lawrence County,” Stutzman said.

“This is a good example of a program initiated by Tom and his colleagues involving just three counties and now we’re up to six,” said Commission Chairman Rod Ruddock. “The original cost was really significant and … we’re now saving the county money.”

• Hired Aidan Izzo, Michael Mulgrew and Donald Sensabaugh to post tax claim sale notices on delinquent Indiana County properties in September at a rate of $10 per property and $25 for personal service to each property owner.

Frank Sisko, director of the Indiana County Tax Claim Bureau, said hiring the individuals is more cost-efficient than hiring a company to manage the tax sale notices.

• Approved applications by the probation office for a grant-in-aid from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Probation and Parole. Last year, the county received more than $101,000 from the program, said Chief Probation Office Mike Hodak.

• Approved the probation office’s application for reimbursement of probation fees submitted to the state in the amount of $127,817.

• Approved annual renewal of private service contracts between Indiana County Children and Youth Services and Avanco International Inc. for case management database services at a cost of $27,192; and with Justice Works YouthCare, of Pittsburgh, and Playhouse Children’s Center, of Punxsutawney, at no increase in current hourly rates on an as-needed basis.

• Appointed Robert A. Jones, Debra Faloon, Karen King, Kathy Armstrong, Dawn Frederick, Larry D. Davis Jr., Helen Mack, Lesley Simmons, Connie Hill, Stephen Lowman, Michele Greenawalt, Pamela Ruffner, Jill Gaston, Tammy Shetler and Sarah Ross to serve on the Children’s Advisory Board.

• Approved an allocation of $14,714.73 of liquid fuels funds to Homer City Borough to cover two-thirds of the estimated cost of $22,360 for paving several streets, at the recommendation of the planning office.

• Stauffer said four municipalities remain — Indiana, Shelocta, Smicksburg and Armagh boroughs — to share in the remaining $107,036 of liquid fuels money.

• Approved the auction sale of two vehicles now used by ICEMA and various surplus office equipment belonging to the county. A 1985 Chevrolet Tahoe truck and a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe will be available for public inspection at the emergency management center along Saltsburg Avenue, White Township, and the office equipment may be inspected Aug. 6, 7 and 8 at the county recycling center along Route 119 in Center Township.

Bids will be accepted until 10:30 a.m. Aug. 11 and opened for awards at the commissioners’ next meeting on Aug. 13.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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