Commissioners talk storm damage

The interior of the county’s adult probation office and the 911 center are a “total loss” after heavy rains caused a failure of the roof drainage system nearly two weeks ago.
The county commissioners provided an update at the Wednesday, July 26 meeting, of damage to the county office building, and the impacts of recent heavy rains throughout the county.
Commissioner Alan Hall said that the ceiling, flooring, computers, monitors and phones are “all gone.” He also said the lower portion of the water damaged drywall was removed from the office area.
In addition to the damage in the probation office, the 911 department sustained electrical and wiring damage. Televisions – utilized during disasters in the emergency operations center – were also lost; and water-damaged walls have been removed, Hall reported.
The county also lost two grinders pumps but those have been replaced.
The probation department is expected to be able to move back into the space by the end of the week.
Housed temporarily in the former site of the Montrose District Court (Old Jail), 911 has now been moved into the Emergency Operations Conference room in the county office building.
Hall said the space would be 911’s new home, with the former area used by the department converted into a conference room.
With the cost of the wiring and computer hook-ups to move 911 into the space, Hall said moving it back to its original location would end up costing the county millions of dollars.
For the past several years, the county has been looking at moving 911 out of the county office building basement to a more centrally located site.
Hall said the county is moving forward with that plan.
Commissioner MaryAnn Warren spoke last week with Senator Bob Casey’s office about the project.
Funding for the project is included in the state’s pending capital budget. Hall said he spoke with Sen. Lisa Baker’s office about the need to get that grant money pushed through Harrisburg.
A number of county employees worked overtime in the days following the storm, and Hall said numerous other agencies stepped up to assist the county.
He thanked Pennsylvania State Police and the Montrose Borough Police Department; as well as the local fire company personnel who manned the stations in case of any glitches in the 911 system.
He also offered thanks to United Fire Company, of Montrose. “They immediately found the cause and plugged the drain, saving (the county) from additional damage.”
Lackawanna, Bradford, Pike, Wyoming and Wayne counties also sent people to assist. “That shows the brotherhood of 911 and emergency management,” Hall said. “They help out when they can.”
Hall also spoke about damages around the county.
“Eight inches of rain fell in the Choconut, Little Meadows and Forest Lake areas,” Hall said. “Choconut Twp. lost a bridge.” He also noted damage in Franklin and Silver Lake townships.
“All these storms are like Armageddon,” he said.
The losses of crops – like corn, pumpkin and hay – were also noted. “Farmers are taking a lot of hits in this.”
“There has been a lot of damage throughout the county,” Hall said. “One of the best things about Susquehanna County is when people have problems; others step up to help them.”
But, Hall said, it is highly unlikely that there was enough damage in the county to qualify for PEMA funding.
In the business portion of the meeting, the commissioners handled a light agenda.
The retirement of Detective Debra Strong, effective close of business Aug. 30, was acknowledged with regret.
Strong is one of the county’s longest employees – serving over 30 years. “We wish her all the best in retirement,” Hall said.
The transfer of Matthew Higgins from 911 to the position of Field Appraiser trainee in the Assessment Office was approved, effecting Aug. 3.
Timothy Smith, of Endicott, N.Y., was hired to the position of Information Technology Technician, effective Aug. 7.
The transfer of Jeff Oleniacz, Montrose, from 911 Telcommunicator to 911/IT Technician was approved, effective July 24.

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