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There is general conversation and lighthearted banter that precedes most meetings of the Lebanon County Commissioners. But not on Thursday. 

The room was quiet and the mood somber one week after the county was shocked by the shooting that killed a Lebanon city police officer and left two other officers severely wounded.

Lt. William Lebo was killed and officers Derek Underkoffler and Ryan Adams were wounded on March 31 after responding to a domestic dispute at a residence located at 1108 Forest St.

Read More: Details shared on attack that took Lt. William Lebo’s life, injured two others

During the traditional observance of a moment of silence, chairman Robert Phillips used the occasion to pay tribute to the three officers, their families, and all first responders and their loved ones across the nation.

“I would ask that you consider the families, especially the Lebo family, for his heroism and sacrifice he made a week ago and also officers Underkoffler and Adams, that they have a speedy and full recovery,” said Philips. “And Officer McCarrick, who was one of the first responders and who’s heroic efforts protected his brother officers that day. We ask for the safety of all responders everywhere and thank the families of those officers for their sacrifices.”

Throughout the rest of the meeting, Phillips publicly thanked numerous county officers and their staff members for the assistance their departments provided city officials, including the past week and in preparation for the public funeral service. A Celebration of Life for Lt. Lebo is scheduled today at 11 a.m. the Giant Center in Hershey.

Read More: Funeral procession from Lebanon to Hershey will precede service for Lt. Lebo at Giant Center; public invited

Phillips thanked the county’s sheriff’s, probation services, and emergency services departments for the aid they gave to the city during the emotionally trying week. 

It was noted that there has been an outpouring of support from other police departments nationwide and that a large contingent of officers from around the country are expected to attend Lebo’s service, which is open to the public.

Following the meeting, Robert Dowd, director of the Department of Emergency Services, told LebTown that many of his employees will be attending the service. He added that numerous local EMS agencies are loaning their staff members to the county so that EMS services will continue uninterrupted.

Also Thursday, commissioners conducted the county’s business concerning a variety of items across numerous agencies, all of which passed unanimously. 

Sean Drasher, chief clerk of elections, requested a change in the Jackson East (23E) polling precinct. The precinct is being moved one-half mile from the Myerstown Borough building to StoneRidge beginning with the May primary. 

Drasher also presented the preliminary ballot, which he said is the final version since there are no contested races pending in the state’s court system. May 17 is the date for the 2022 Primary Election in Pennsylvania. 

Erin Moyer, administrator for Children and Youth Services, requested payment of first and second quarter invoices for fiscal year 2021-22 in the amount of $1.7 million for the first quarter and $1.785 million for the second quarter. 

In a separate item, Moyer said the Bucks County Youth Center is changing its per diem rate from $350 to $400 for 24-hour juvenile supervision for youths housed at their detention center beginning July 1. 

Holly Leahy, administrator for Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities and Early Intervention, presented 37 contract amendments for provider services for fiscal year 2021-22 in the amount of $320,669. The financial difference in the amended contracts will be paid from block-grant funding, meaning no additional revenue will be required from county coffers. 

“There are nine amendments for early intervention, which is primarily for higher utilization of services,” said Leahy. “We have 23 amendments for the intellectual disability program, primarily due to the increase that was implemented by the Office of Developmental Programs.”

Leahy said the largest amendment concerning mental health is for the nonprofit Housing Development Corp. of Lebanon County, in the amount of $168,000, to “secure and renovate two additional apartments for permanent-supported housing for individuals with serious mental illness.”

“They pay up to 30 percent of their rent and we pay the rest of that in an arrangement with their landlords,” said Leahy, about those individuals who qualify for the nonprofit housing program.    

The commissioners voted to enter into a Statement of Levy and Lien of Assessment Agreement with the Sustainable Energy Fund for the state’s C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. The commissioners agreed to charge a $250 fee, which is the statewide norm, to administer the program for future businesses that apply for the C-PACE program.

Audrey Fortna, director of Probation Services, asked commissioners to renew the Offender Supervision Fee Funding Agreement with the commonwealth. The county entered into an agreement with Pennsylvania through its Board of Probation and Parole, which addresses the procedures and guidelines for the handling of supervision funds by the county and the commonwealth.

“The supervision fee was established, I believe, in 1991, statewide, to help offset the cost of supervision that probation departments encounter, and our department is in charge of assessing those fees and collecting those fees,” said Fortna. “We’re also required, as stated in the agreement, to send half of those collections to the state. Each year, there is a renewal to that agreement and what that does is initiate the release of half of that funding that the state sends back to us.”  

The commissioners also approved 10 liquid fuel applications for local municipalities to help cover costs for various projects. The municipalities to receive funding, the amount and projects are:

  • Bethel Township, $5,007, general road maintenance
  • Cleona Borough, $2,080, general road maintenance
  • Cornwall Borough, $4,112, general road maintenance
  • East Hanover Township, $2,801, line painting
  • North Cornwall Township, $7,553, paving project
  • North Londonderry Township, $8,068, paving project
  • South Londonderry Township, $6,991, general road maintenance
  • Swatara Township, $4,055, line painting
  • Union Township, $3,099, road salt
  • West Lebanon Township, $781, road salt

In other county business, the commissioners voted to:

  • Approve a master agreement resolution for the county commission chairman to sign future Master Planning agreements between PennDOT and Lebanon County.
  • Grant six real estate tax exemptions for disabled veterans.
  • Gave consent to the Lebanon County Housing and Redevelopment Authority to not seek an additional allocation of funding through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program since the county still has $2.3 million to spend by Sept. 30. 
  • Submit the county’s annual hazmat report to the state. EMS director Dowd noted that 2021 was a static year and that there was nothing significant to point out to the commissioners in the report.
  • Approve the local match to Lebanon Transit in the amount of $136,603, which was already approved in the 2022 fiscal budget. The approval was a formality to release $34,150.75 quarterly to the transit authority.
  • Provide funding to the Lebanon Valley Conservancy for two projects through the county’s hotel tax grant fund. The commissioners agreed to a $1,350 funding request to clean graffiti painted on Dinosaur Rock for a project estimated to cost nearly $4,180. The conservancy will also receive $6,700 for a $9,000 project to provide maps for the Campbelltown, Colebrook and Lawn Heritage Trail.
  • Appointed Scott Trowell to represent the new Fairfield by Marriott Hotel, located across from the Expo Center, on the board for Visit Lebanon Valley.
  • Pay six debit payments due in April totaling nearly $689,350.
  • Approve the minutes of the March 17 meeting and numerous personnel transactions.  

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James Mentzer

James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; and Lancaster...