BY STACI WILSON
County Commissioner Alan Hall called out the state treasurer’s office after a ceremony to return a Purple Heart to a local veteran’s family was canceled at the last minute.
Hall said the Harrisburg office objected to the Susquehanna County Director of Veterans Affairs Richard Ely’s invitation to the ceremony after discovering he had been named in a lawsuit filed against the county last year. Ely, along with Commissioners MaryAnn Warren and Elizabeth Arnold, had been directly named in the suit but have since been removed from the case, leaving the county as the sole defendant.
The Bolles’ family – who would be receiving the Purple Heart – however, decided they would not go through with the ceremony without Ely present. He had been instrumental in efforts to return the medal to the family.
Hall said a local ceremony to return the medal will be held in New Milford at a later date.
The commissioner said he expressed his “deep displeasure” to the Harrisburg office for not giving the matter “due diligence” to check on the status of the lawsuit; and cited the incident as further proof of the capitol’s general disregard for Susquehanna County.
He also generally addressed lawsuits filed against the county. “This group of commissioners is not going to roll over and pay people off just because they want to sue the county,” he said, following the close of the commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, July 25.
In the meeting, the county appointed Robert Housel of Harford and Scott Adams of Susquehanna to the Susquehanna County Industrial and Commercial Development Board, effective July 25.
Effective Jan. 1, 2019 the Industrial Development Authority will no longer have coverage under the county’s insurance plan; and the board will need to provide the county with proof of insurance by that date or dissolution proceedings will begin.
The board was formed in about 1976 with a 50 year charter, according to information provided at the meeting, but has been active for years.
The commissioners also acknowledged the assignment of Rebecca Warner, Montrose; Mark Mulvey, Mayfield; James Bernosky, Gibson; and John McArthur, New Milford, as Susquehanna County Task Force detectives in the district attorney’s office. All formerly served with the Pennsylvania State Police.
The four new hires will eventually likely spin into School Resource Officer positions.
The county expects to receive the SRO agreements from participating school districts and the district attorney’s office for approval this month.
The commissioners also acknowledged, with regrey, the removal of Michael Hornak, Thomas Sheehan and Brianna Hollenbeck from Task Force Detective positions.
The commissioners also acknowledged, with regret, the resignation of Jesse Pruitt from the position of Deputy Sheriff, effective Aug. 3.
A change order in the amount of $108,745 with C&D Waterproofing was approved for the replacement of the existing roof on the Courthouse.
The Susquehanna County Housing and Redevelopment Authority was authorized to revise its 2015 program by transferring $3,604 of unneeded funds from a demolition project in Forest City Borough to assist with the completion of a neighborhood facilities project in Lanesboro.
The Salary Board created two part-time file clerk positions in the Clerk of Courts office, effective July 25, per the recommendation of Clerk of Courts Margaret “Jan” Krupinski.
Each position will work less than 1,000 hours per year, varied hours, at a wage of $8.75 per hour.
The Retirement Board moved to change the county’s investment rate from 7.5% to 7.25% based on the proposal from Kornferry. Hall explained that the account is overfunded.
In a letter from Kornferry’s David Reichert it was recommended the county change the investment rate. “The reason is that there is a trend to lower the investment rate assumption,” Reichert wrote.
He further explained: “Because lowering the investment rate to 7.25% would increase the present value of liabilities, the unfunded accrued liability would change from $(2,099,039) at 7.5% to $(1,557,320) at 7.25%. At both rate, the funded ratio is over 100%. At 7.25%, the annual contribution would be $272,505 which is more than our estimate. All of these number are good which is a reflection of the great job that the retirement board has done.”