County brings on outside legal counsel

The Susquehanna County Courthouse was built in the Greek Revival style – one of the architectural styles prominent in the Montrose Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Facing lawsuits regarding the award of the general contracting bid for the public safety building and the suit filed by the Trump campaign regarding mail-in ballots and naming the county’s voter registration office, the Susquehanna County Commissioners have retained Robert Schaub of Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald for representation in the litigations at a rate of $200 per hour. (See the story “Judge expedites mail-in voting lawsuit” on Page 3).

The approval by the commissioners was given at the Wednesday, July 22 meeting held in the commissioners’ meeting room in the courthouse.

Questioned about the county’s decision to hire additional legal representation for the lawsuits, Commissioner Chair Elizabeth Arnold said, “That is what we felt we needed to do.”

Wyoming County President Judge Russell D. Shurtleff granted a emergency motion for preliminary injunction against the county in the public safety building bid matter on July 22; and ordered the plaintiff Domenick Scartelli of Union Dale file a surety bond of $250,000 with the Susquehanna County Prothonotary’s Office by Friday, July 24.

Judge Shurtleff also ordered a full injunction hearing be scheduled for Wednesday, July 29.

Scartelli is the owner of Scartelli Construction Services & General Contracting, Inc., sought the preliminary injunction to keep the county from awarding the contract and moving forward with construction until the court makes a determination regarding the validity of the county’s rejection of Scartelli’s bid.

Scartelli submitted a bid of $9,025,200 for general contracting services for the pubic safety building project on June 10, with a lump sum bid of about $8.7 million, with unit price bids for various items of about $341,200.

According to court documents, following the opening of the bids, Scartelli determined he had made an error in the bid, and asked it be adjusted upward by about $300,000. The county rejected the request and Scartelli agreed to honor the initial bid amount.

On June 19, the county advised Scartelli that it deemed the bid as nonresponsive and rejected it citing the instruction to bidders that prohibits parties from adding stipulations to the bid; and for being deemed an “unbalanced” bid.

The lawsuit alleges the county failed to take a “full and careful investigation” of Scartelli’s low bid. Scartelli and Patricia Beynon, who filed the suit, are represented by Edward Seglias, of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman.

In other business, the commissioners accepted, with regret, the resignation of Jason Beardsley from the position of Assistant Pubic Defender, effective July 24.

They also approved the transfer of Kiana Lavery from the position of Deputy Director of Planning/GIS to the position of Director of Planning/GIS, effective July 22.

Three parcels were exonerated per the request of the Tax Claim Bureau:

*a parcel in Great Bend Twp. in the name of Kenneth Ayers, that the mobile home had been moved;

*a parcel in New Milford Twp., in the name of William Thompson, that the mobile home had been razed;

*and a parcel in New Milford Twp., in the name of Jack McKeeby, that the mobile home had been razed.

The county also entered into a contract with Motorola Solutions for the purchase and warrants of dispatch consoles with CTI and remote console for the public safety building, at a purchase price of $598,000, paid through Act 13 monies; and annual maintenance, support and software for seven years with those amounts paid through a PEMA grant.

The commissioners offered up information regarding the recent COVID-19 mass testing held earlier this month in Susquehanna and Montrose. They reported that 48 people tested in Susquehanna had negative results; while there were seven positive results stemming from the 90+ people tested at the Montrose site. One of the positive cases was from a Lackawanna County resident who came to Montrose for testing, they said.

Commissioner Judy Herschel explained that contact tracing was being conducted by a public health nurse servicing the county and that was overseen by the state Department of Health.

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