Hoodlebug Trail

There will be an apparent delay in completion of the extension of the Hoodlebug Trail for hikers and bikers as an urban pedestrian lane through the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus and Indiana Borough.

The Indiana County board of commissioners on Wednesday agreed to reject the bids for the extension under the MultiModal Corridor project, at the request of coordinator Josh Krug of the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development.

Krug recommended the commissioners’ approval of advertising for bids on a “slightly revised scope” for the project.

Changes in the timeline for completion of the trail extension and the bike lane designations through Indiana were not announced.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Authorized Indiana County Community Action Program and Indiana County Office of Planning and Development to file the county’s request for $180,361 of Emergency Solutions Grant funds through Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

The money would be matched by other state and local funds budgeted by ICCAP, and would be used for 18 months of rapid rehousing, homeless management information system data collection, and administration of homeless service programs in the county.

In tandem with the fund application, the commissioners approved a cooperation agreement between the county and ICCAP for the ESG program, formally designating ICCAP as the homeless service provider and operator of the Pathway Homeless Shelter in Black Lick on behalf of the county.

• Approved an independent-contractor agreement with Bonnie Sarver to serve as the coordinator of the Indiana County Sustainable Economic Development Task Force through September at a salary of $4,000.

Sarver served as an intern with the program until her graduation this month, Commissioner Sherene Hess said.

Under supervision of the county planning office, Sarver will help to coordinate the Sustainability Summit III and to help the task force focus groups to meet their project goals, Hess said.

• Ratified an intergovernmental agreement between Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Indiana County Jail, for state officials to provide training and technical assistance to county jail staff through the nearby SCI Pine Grove.

County jail warden Sam Buzzinotti said the paper contract formalizes what has been a longstanding “handshake” agreement for the same cooperation between the county.

Approved a memorandum of agreement between the jail and Cornell Abraxas Group for off-site custody of juvenile offenders.

“We can’t house them inside our jail,” Buzzinotti said. “With the restrictions and the laws we have to keep them safe and sound, separate from adults, that’s why we have to have agreements in place. If we get a youthful offender, we have to move them to a secure facility.”

Buzzinotti said the county has used the service once during his time as the warden, when a youth was sent first to Cambria County for youth detention then was transferred to Westmoreland County.

• Approved revisions to the contract between the county and 50 Marketing, which recently unveiled an overhaul of the county’s website.

“What we have recognized is that you cannot stop the initiative of technology. Once you start it, you’ve got to continue the effort,” said Commissioner Rodney Ruddock. “It’s hard to find time with the people who are in place in the county to do that effort, so we are recommending the agreement for consulting services, website contact development, public relations assistance, social media management, search engine optimization ... and other digital marketing services.”

The agreement provides 50 Marketing services at $3,000 a month for one year.

“We’re fortunate to have 50 Marketing here in Indiana County,” said Commissioner Chairman Michael Baker, adding to Ruddock’s praise of the company’s work so far. “The have done a tremendous job for us … they are easy to work with and bring a lot of talent to the table.”

• Commended chief clerk Robin Maryai and the courthouse information technology team for conduct of the party primary voting and state Senate special election Tuesday, using newly acquired voting machines that bring the county into compliance with government election security standards.

• Approved a reimbursement agreement between the county and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the Hoodlebug Trail resurfacing project for the planned improvement of six miles of the trail in the spring of 2020 at a cost of $310,495.

• Announced the sale of surplus office furniture and equipment from county parks and other facilities throughout the county, including a small building that had been used as the polling place for West Mahoning Township. Maryai said the sale is tentatively set for either June 26 or 28.

• Appointed Mark Henck to fill a vacancy on the Indiana County Airport Authority board for a term that runs through January. The commissioners hailed Henck’s qualifications as a physician at Indiana Regional Medical Center and an aircraft mechanic, pilot and flight instructor.

• Approved an update to the employee handbook for Communities at Indian Haven to reflect changes in personal vacation and sick time, “in order to be more competitive with other surrounding facilities,” according to county Human Services Director Melissa Miller.

• Observed the 225th anniversary of the establishment of the Crete Presbyterian Church in Center Township, dating to the late 18th century mission visits to the township by a Scottish immigrant, the Rev. John Jamison, of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and Jamison’s role as an explorer, political and education leader in the early days of Indiana County.

The commissioners issued a proclamation to recognize the milestone at the request of the pastor, the Rev. Katie Ward Stear.

• Proclaimed Child Welfare Professionals Appreciation Week in recognition of the work of Indiana County Children and Youth Services.

“The work of these dedicated professionals requires them to enter into situations in which their personal safety may be at risk; our committed professionals work with children who have been victimized … must develop great skill in working with families who are in crisis situations … (and) must possess substantial knowledge and skills in a myriad of areas to effectively serve the families of Indiana County,” Commissioner Sherene Hess read from the proclamation, designating June 3 through 7 for the observance.

• Renewed a non-placement contract with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Research Institute as a private provider of therapy options, competency and neuropsychological evaluations, and court testimony service to Indiana County CYS on an as-needed basis at no change in previous year rates.

Staff writer/Web Editor, The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the Indiana Area and Homer-Center school boards and White Township, Center Township, Homer City and Burrell Township, and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.