County pulls resource app due to foreign ties

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

A mobile app launched in December 2019 by the county to connect residents with community resources has been shut down after commissioners say it had ties to Russia.

“If you peel the onion back through the layers, it’s there,” Commissioner Alan Hall said about the SusQ Mobile app’s connection with potential foreign interference. “They use layers to make it hard to discover, but it’s there.”

The mobile app served to connect users to the county website, as well as to other community agencies and organizations. But could, agreed Hall, potentially have led to phishing scams. Phishing is a cyber attack used to fraudulently gain sensitive information from a user.

At the Wednesday, Jan. 13, county commissioners’ meeting, Hall also said the county’s mobile app had not had much usage since its December 2019 launch. Much of the information that was provided by the app is available on the county website,, under the “Community Information” tab.

At the commissioners’ meeting, the resignation for purpose of retirement from Mark Shelp, effective Jan. 15, was acknowledged with regret. Shelp served as the warden of the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility.

The commissioners said they are currently in the interview process and Shelp’s successor has not yet been determined.

The hiring of Glen Whitney, New Milford, to the open part-time, position of County Detective/School Resource Officer, effective Jan. 13, per the recommendation of District Attorney Marion O’Malley was acknowledge by the commissioners; as was the acknowledgement of the acceptance, with regret, of the resignation of Rebecca Warner from the full-time position of County Detective/School Resource Officer, effective Dec. 31.

The commissioners also acknowledged the acceptance, with regret, of the resignation for purpose of retirement of Deborah Gregory from the 2nd Deputy Prothonotary position, effective April 15. Gregory has been in that office for 15 years.

The Jan. 4 hiring of Tierstin Newhart to the position of Deputy Sheriff, by Sheriff Lance Benedict, was acknowledged by the commissioners.

In other matters, the commissioners approved the signing of the maintenance and service agreement with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys’ Institute for the SAVIN software used in the DA’s office and the county jail. The county is not responsible to pay for any of the maintenance fees.

A contract with Tu-Way Communications for maintenance and software for 911 equipment was also approved and will be paid with PEMA funding. Total CPE maintenance cost, $58.696.96; total Esinet Maintenance: $63,653.43; and total mission critical response cost, $19,726.89.

A lease for land for a 911 tower with Zoran Cupic Life Insurance Trust  was approved by the commissioners at a total annual cost of $24,000.

DATOM Products was designated by the county as the primary spill response contractor, effective Jan. 13 – Dec. 31.

The commissioners also approved a Tax Claim Bureau exoneration request for a parcel in Harmony Township. Tax Claim received notification in Dec. 2020 that the mobile home had been removed from the premises to an unknown location.

The Susquehanna County Commissioners meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in the commissioners’ meeting room in the County Courthouse, 31 Lake Ave., Montrose, at 9 a.m.

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