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INDIANA COUNTY: Officials OK fiber optic line extension

by RANDY WELLS on March 28, 2013 11:00 AM

The Indiana County commissioners Wednesday approved business-benefiting changes to the fiber optic line being installed as part of the county’s new emergency and public safety radio system.

The changes with installer Salsgiver Inc., of Freeport, will extend the planned fiber optic line to the new Joseph Land Development/119 Business Park and to the new Windy Ridge Business & Technology Park near Routes 422 and 286 in White Township, and to the lot at the Windy Ridge park that will be occupied by its first tenant, Creps United Publications.

“Here’s a good example of where we’re able to profit from the emergency radio system,” by extending fiber optic availability for commercial use, said Rodney Ruddock, chairman of the commissioners.

Another change will extend the fiber optic line about nine blocks in Blairsville from where the county’s line ends to the beginning of an existing fiber line. That connection will avoid the need for expensive microwave equipment for the system in Blairsville, and will link the county’s fiber line to one that runs to Greensburg and into a “fiber ring” that extends through several southwestern Pennsylvania counties, according to Tom Stutzman, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

Ruddock said Stutzman’s efforts in arranging the nine-block link will save the county about $300,000.

The commissioners officially gave their support to the Regional Challenger Learning Center being proposed for somewhere in Indiana County.

The centers were started by survivors of the astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, and encourage students to pursue careers in science and engineering, using aerospace exploration as a theme.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our region,” Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro, chairwoman of an ad hoc committee guiding the Challenger Center process locally, told the commissioners.

Organizers are now seeking more support from area school districts.

“We feel we’re gaining a lot of momentum,” Cuccaro said.

Tom Harley, president of the Indiana Area School District board of directors, said he has been pleased by the number of people and organizations donating startup money for the center.

“The community, as is typical, has been very generous,” Harley said.

“We’ve had a lot of projects come before us, but this one really excites me,” said Commissioner Patricia Evanko.

The commissioners agreed to apply for two state grants, each for $180,000, and to use one as the required match for the other, for engineering and design of a bicycle/pedestrian bridge that will carry the Hoodlebug Trail over Route 22 near its intersection with Route 119.

The prefabricated bridge would also provide a safe route for workers at the nearby Corporate Campus and WyoTech students to cross Route 22.

Gibson-Thomas Engineering will provide the preliminary engineering services and prepare the grant applications.

The commissioners also approved a $155,000 contract agreement with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for the proposed homeless veterans housing project at North Fifth Avenue and Clinton Street in White Township. The $1.4 million project will be built through several funding sources.

Indiana County, in conjunction with its partner, the Northern Cambria County Development Corporation, plans to build six permanent housing units at the site designated for homeless vets.

The commissioners also authorized the solicitation of bids on the county’s natural gas under the Ghost Town Trail near Black Lick.

Ed Patterson, director of Indiana County Parks & Trails, said gas wells already exist in State Game Lands 276 along both sides of the trail, and if any drilling or exploration company is interested in the gas under the trail no structures would be built on the trail itself.

“Anyone on the trail probably won’t see anything,” he said.

The commissioners proclaimed April 3 as Child Abuse Awareness Day and April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Indiana County.

Commissioner David Frick, who read the proclamations, said he is amazed how many abuse cases there are.

“So much of this abuse starts in the home, and is tolerated in the home,” Frick said.

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