County farmland near CTC has potential buyer; no updates on County/City negotiations over Municipal Building

3 min read1,652 views and 19 shares Posted February 7, 2020

The four acres of farmland the Lebanon County Commissioners are interested in selling, located near the Lebanon County Career and Technical Center and the PennDOT Driver Licensing Center, along Route 422, has a potential buyer in Aspen Hill Partners of Altoona, which will use the land for commercial development.

Sale of the land has been in negotiations for about three years, said County Administrator Jamie Wolgemuth.

Advertisement

“Traffic is a challenge in that area, so the company has been going back and forth with PennDOT,” Wolgemuth said. “But we’ll probably settle by June.”

The County Commissioners renewed a lease this week for the 13 acres of farmland, of which the four acres for sale is a part, with Ken Reist, who has been farming the tillable land near the CTC for a number of years.

Even though the property is under contract with the Altoona company, the commissioners expect Reist will farm the land until the sale is final.

Advertisement

The sale price of the land was not immediately available.

In another matter, city offices now in the municipal building are expected to be transferred to the HACC building on Cumberland Street, if and when a sale being negotiated by Mayor Sherry Capello reaches fruition.

The city has been searching for a location more central to Lebanon for some time, and the HACC building would also be able to offer more square footage for city offices and departments, including the fire and police departments.

Advertisement

Read More: Council greenlights HACC purchase; Capello lays out downtown vision

In that case, the county will have the option to buy the remaining parts of the municipal building from the city.

It is all far from being a done deal, Wolgemuth said.

Advertisement

“At this point, both the city and the county have sought appraisals,” Wolgemuth said. “We’ll be getting together with the city and I think we’ll be meeting soon.”

If the cost of the building is too high for the county, the sale won’t go through, Wolgemuth said. But it’s too early to tell.

The city is on a two-year timeline, Wolgemuth said, until the sale is accomplished and all the offices are moved downtown.

“If something would work, nothing would transpire until they leave,” Wolgemuth said.

Advertisement

In other business, Chief Clerk of Voter Registration Michael Anderson told the commissioners that the Board of Elections has certified the Democrat and Republican parties as the major political parties in the county, a legal formality needed before voting.

The commissioners gave approval to Anderson’s paperwork for the “Help America Vote Act,” showing that county expenditures last year met the requirement to spend at least $181,860 in the acquisition of equipment needed to update the voting system.

Citizens can register to vote 15 days before the election, Anderson said.

Advertisement

“Now there’s no excuse not to vote because people can vote in their homes,” Anderson said. “We have a no-excuse mail-in ballot.”

Read More: County readies for absentee changes, possible impact on presidential race

Voters may ask for an absentee ballot or a write-in form, Anderson said, saying there is a difference, with both options requiring their own separate form and separate application.

Anyone who wants to vote by mail needs to contact the voter registration bureau for an application.

Advertisement

Only one ballot will be given; folks can’t come to the bureau and ask for ballots for family members, or anyone else.

“When we process an application, it will show up in our records,” Anderson said, explaining that there is fail-safe security in place so that folks cannot vote at home and then vote at a polling place.

In another matter, Bob Dowd, chief of the Department of Emergency Services, and Gary Verna, county HazMat chief, updated the commissioners on the HazMat response team, which now has 19 members certified as radiological response technicians.

The commissioners gave permission for the HazMat team to apply for re-certification, which is needed every four years.

Advertisement

Dowd said the Department of Emergency Services received a grant of $15,072 due to the county’s proximity to Three Mile Island.

Dowd said he didn’t know how long the department would be receiving that grant, due to the closure of TMI.

All the commissioners thanked the team for their work.

“Your professionalism is well-documented and appreciated,” said Chairman Bob Phillips. “This county is much safer for your work.”

Advertisement

An informed democracy is a healthy democracy.
An independent press makes democracy work better. Join LebTown as a member to help us make a difference. Benefits include member happy hours, an email preview of what we plan to publish each week, and access to our Friends of the Newsroom group on Facebook.

Learn more and join now here.

Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Bob Phillips, and Jo Ellen Litz were advertisers on LebTown during the previous election cycle. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.

More Stories