Some payments made from the office of the Susquehanna County Register/Recorder have raised concern from the county auditors and the matter has been sent to the district attorney’s office for investigation.
In a statement made at the opening of the Wednesday, Feb. 24, county commissioners’ meeting, Commissioner Alan Hall said that the auditors had made progress on the 2018-2019 books from the row office helmed by Register/Recorder Michele Estabrook. “The real issue is with 2020,” Hall said, saying the county auditors issued a finding.
He said that preliminary findings show that a total of $10,000 – 10 checks of $1,000 each – had been paid to a family member. Hall did not name the person or persons that signed off on the payment, nor did he name the recipient.
Hall said the financial records for the office had been an ongoing issue. “We’ve been working for several years for a resolution on this,” he said.
The matter has been sent to the district attorney’s office for investigation, according to the commissioners. They also said they would not be offering any other statements.
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing
The Department of Health announced that drive-through COVID-19 testing would be conducted in Susquehanna County, along with Lycoming, Perry and Forest counties, in the final week of the state’s 12-week testing initiative offering free COVID-19 tests in 61 counties through a contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI).
Testing is available through Friday, March 5, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., at the Harford Fairgrounds, 485 Fair Hill Road, New Milford.
The commissioners also said they are working to bring a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination center to the county and will release more information when a date, time and location is scheduled.
The commissioners announced that the county will receive about $2.6 million in rental assistance grants to help tenants, as well as landlords, with rent and utilities.
Susquehanna County will also see nearly a half million dollars as part of the Commonwealth Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), which was made available through the passage of Senate Bill 109, and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. It will allocate a total of $145 million in finding assistance to hospitality businesses adversely affected by the pandemic and is being administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Counties are required to establish grant programs for eligible businesses.
The grant program will roll out in March.
The county entered into a sub-recipient agreement with the Progress Authority for the administration of the grant program, as required by DCED.
The Progress Authority is contracted by the county to administer day-to-day economic development activities.
Suicide Awareness Town Halls
A three-part series of Suicide Awareness Town Halls will be held, with the first one happening Thursday, March 4, via Zoom at 6 p.m.: Reducing Suicide in Susquehanna County.
The series continues on Thursday, March 11, and concludes on Thursday, March 18, all at 6 p.m., with speakers addressing a number topics, including emotional wellness, mindfulness, reducing stigma, and prevention.
The Susquehanna County Suicide Awareness and Prevention Initiative is sponsored by the Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners and Lackawanna-Susquehanna Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention Program.
Find more information on the county website: www.susqco.com.
Agenda items approved
The commissioners approved the following:
*entering into a contract with Guyette Communications for upgrading the phone system in the courthouse at a cost of $1,826;
*entering into a contract with W2O for annual maintenance and service on the Vaughan chopper pumps and associated equipment at the county jail, at a cost of $2,150;
*entered a contract with PenTeleData Limited Partnership for services to ethernet port, ethernet virtual circuit, and point to point transport for 911 connections at a cost of $9,027 for the public safety center for facility setup and pole attachment and line build. An additional $1,919 per month for connections will be paid with PEMA funding;
*entered into a contract with Shadow Technologies for virtual host servers and storage for the courthouse at a cost of $148,225.93, at Co-Stars pricing and paid with Act 13 funds;
*entered into a contract with Capital Area Communications to add microwave, router, antennas and additional equipment to the 911 tower at a cost of $410,494.97, paid with Act 13 funding;
*entered a contract with Laser Ammo ISA for a training room and simulator for the new public safety center, at a cost of $4,619.49, paid from Supervision funds;
*approved an additional $3,016.15 to the contract with BMC Office Furniture for additional office furniture at the public safety center, paid through CJAB and Supervision funding. The total contract price with the addition is $166,832.32.
The following people were appointed to serve on the Susquehanna County Local Emergency Planning Committee for 2021:
Commissioner Alan Hall, elected official; Blaine Dibble, medical; Gordon Bennett, facility owner/operator; Phil Price, fire fighting personnel; Thomas Jimmie Jr., hazard materials response; Ralph Schwartz and Scott Aylesworth, emergency management; Don Kessler Jr., SARA Title Facilities, PAWC; Kate Kamp, SARA Title Facilities, Oil & Gas; Michael Stalnecker, PEMA Eastern Regional Office; Cody Butler, broadcast/print media; Joe Adornato, law/health/med/trans.