Board moves forward with upgrades
TOWANDA - At their most recent meeting, the Bradford County Commissioners took steps that will lead to a $500,000 replacement of the Bradford County Courthouse's roof and a $300,000 upgrade to the Bradford County Manor's sewage treatment plant.
In addition, the commissioners modified the rules and regulations for Bradford County's three county parks, which include some minor changes - mainly decreases - in some of the county's camping fees.
At the meeting, the commissioners voted to advertise for proposals from architects who would be interested in preparing the bid specifications for the roof replacement project.
The roof of the courthouse is not leaking, Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko said. "We keep it in repair, (but it's going to need to be done (replaced)" and it's going to be very expensive to do the project, McLinko said.
The courthouse has copper roofing, and McLinko noted that roof is original to the building, which was constructed in the 1890s.
While the copper roofing is not yet in a deteriorated condition, the commissioners want to replace it before it gets to that state, McLinko said.
The Bradford County commissioners will use revenue from the Act 13 impact fee on gas drilling companies to pay for the replacement of the roof, which, based on a preliminary estimate, will cost $500,000, McLinko said.
"We've done upgrades to different parts of it (the courthouse roof), but not to the main roof," which is the section that will be replaced, McLinko said.
The courthouse's dome will not be part of the roof replacement project, but the rest of the roof will be replaced, Bradford County Commissioner Daryl Miller said.
The cost of the project is expensive, due to the large size of the roof and to the cost of copper, he said.
"Copper is not cheap," Miller said.
The new roof will be copper roofing, too, in order to make it authentic, McLinko said.
There were other repairs and upgrades that were done to the roof in recent years, including replacing copper flashing on the dome and between the dome and the main section of the roof, and some of those upgrades were done "kind of in preparation" for the roof replacement project that the commissioners are moving forward with at this time, said Kim Corbett, county maintenance director. None of the earlier repairs and upgrades will need to be re-done as part of the roof replacement project, he said.
The roof replacement project is an allowable use of revenue from the impact fee, McLinko said.
The upgrade to the sewage treatment plant is being done partly because the age of the plant's equalization tank is getting to the point where "maintenance of it could be rather expensive," Miller said.
"In the not-too-distant future, it (the tank) will need to be replaced," he said.
The building over the tank will need to be replaced as part of the project, since the existing building will need to be torn down to remove the tank, he said.
The tank holds the effluent that comes into the sewage plant, before it is treated.
A preliminary estimate of the cost of the upgrade to the plant is $300,000, McLinko said.
The new equalization tank will also be larger than the existing one, in order to increase the capacity of the plant, he said.
The plant treats sewage from the Bradford County Manor and the Bradford County Correctional Facility, as well as leachate that is piped to it from the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority's landfill.
The leachate does not seep into the ground, but is instead captured by the landfill's lining and funneled into the piping that transports it to the sewage treatment plant, Miller said.
The plant's capacity is being increased to meet future needs that may arise, McLinko said, adding that the landfill is expanding. At this time, no expansions of the Manor or the jail are planned, he said.
The upgrade to the treatment plant is being paid for using the Manor's own funds, McLinko said. Taxpayer dollars are not paying for the project, he said.
The commissioners on Thursday authorized the chief county clerk to advertise for bids for the new equalization tank.
The new camping fees for 2013 apply to the two county parks where camping is currently allowed, Sunfish Pond and Larnard-Hornbrook county parks.
For the use of a camper in Larnard-Hornbrook park, the daily rate was decreased from $42 to $35; the weekly rate was decreased from $180 to $150; and the monthly rate was decreased from $480 to $450.
In Sunfish Pond County Park, the daily rate to use a camper was reduced from $40 to $35, although the weekly camper rate was increased from $145 to $150.
The weekly rate for camping in a tent in Sunfish Pond and Hornbrook parks was decreased from $120 to $100.
The rates were revised to bring them more in line with the rates at private campgrounds, McLinko said. The parks "belong to everybody" so the rates shouldn't be high, he said.
In addition, the commissioners voted to increase the maximum length of a leash that the public can use to walk a dog in the county parks from 6 feet to 8 feet. Dogs must be on a leash at all times in the parks.
The length of a leash to tie a dog to a post in the parks was also extended to 8 feet.
The commissioners also voted to apply to the state to release the remaining $145,000 in funds that have been allocated for the county's stream stabilization program.
The stabilization program's funds are used mostly for projects where a stream is threatening a structure, so the $145,000 could be used, for example, for projects where a house, driveway or bridge was in jeopardy, according to the Bradford County Conservation District.
Appropriate measures to stabilize the streams, such as installing rip rap, are used in the projects.
The stream stabilization program has to date funded 70 to 80 projects, and the additional $145,000 might fund four to five additional projects, according to the Conservation District.
The commissioners also ratified action that they had taken on Jan. 15, in which they provided a letter of support to Pinnacle Health Community Services for its application for a Lead and Healthy Home Grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Pinnacle would use the funds for an educational campaign to make the public "more aware of the lead in their homes, and, if there is lead found in their homes, (information on) how to remove it," said chief County Clerk Michelle Shedden.
"There is a lot of lead in older homes," McLinko said. "It's important to understand ... how to deal with it."
The commissioners also approved the allotment of $47,046 for the county's Agriculture Conservation Easement program, which preserves local farmland in perpetuity. The $47,046 is the interest that the county earned from the 2012 Clean & Green rollback tax penalties, the commissioners said. No other county funds are being allocated to the easement program during 2013, the commissioners said.
The commissioners also accepted a $7,200 state Keystone STARS education and retention award for the county's day care center in the Sayre Enterprise Center. The money will be distributed to teaching staff at the facility who have attained specialized degrees, credentials and credit based on professional development in areas that correspond to the developmental needs of children being served at the center.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.