The county commissioners unanimously approved Thursday a grant application for a shared easement between Lebanon City and the county for the John E. Wengert Memorial Park.

Read More: Wengert Memorial Park packs big vision in small site, new anchor for rail trail

An application in the amount of $600,000 was submitted in April to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) towards development of the park but was missing the easement agreement. The park, which is located on the western edge of Lebanon City, was created in memory of John E. Wengert, a local dairy farmer and founding chair of the Lebanon Valley Conservancy.

“This easement agreement really should have been part of our submission at that time,” said John Wengert, whose grandfather Samuel K. Wengert founded Wengert’s Dairy. “I thought that the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] that we had between the city and county was sufficient.”

Read More: Dean Foods bankruptcy another blow to local dairy industry

John told the commissioners that “all signs point toward DCNR approving the grant application” – pending completion of filing the required signed easement agreement as part of a process that allows grant appliers to file supplemental paperwork needed to meet grant guidelines.

“Lori’s signaling in this process indicates to me that we have a pretty high chance, a pretty high likelihood that we get this grant,” Wengert said. “I feel pretty confident that we’re going to get it based on her comments and the fact that she wants to make sure that everything is buttoned up.”

As part of the easement agreement, the city will have access to a berm located along the southern side of the flood channel for periodic repairs and maintenance in that portion of the park.

“We were discussing even as late as of this morning with Mayor Capello and council on how to address that and the language for that area that is delineated by the yellow line is what the city would prefer to have some control over through approval of what gets installed in that buffer area,” Wengert said. “We’ve developed some co-use language, which I think is a great solution that will be acceptable to DCNR. It recognizes in the easement agreement that the city will have needs to keep that area clear.”

To clear that area, Wengert noted that some trees near the retaining wall will need to be moved so that area can be maintained in the future via boom mower equipment.

In other county business on what was a very light agenda, the commissioners approved a request by Lebanon County Correctional Facility officials to reapply for funding as part of the Medical Assistance Treatment (MAT) grant program, which began in 2019 with the distribution of Vivitrol to help treat opioid and alcohol addiction. The program, however, was paused at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.

“The opportunity has come again for us to reapply to get funding so that we can restart the MAT program,” Litz said. “We were using Vivitrol to help our opioid and alcoholic populations re-enter the community.”

Litz said MAT is a non-county match grant program, meaning local officials do not have to match the grant with an equal amount of funding from county coffers.

The commissioners also approved annual contracts for businesses that provide services at the Renova Center, which is an intermediate care facility that provides a home-like atmosphere with 24-hour services for 24 individuals with severe or profound intellectual disabilities. Services include medical care, social services, recreation, physical, occupational, speech, and music therapies.

The newly approved contracts for the 2021-22 fiscal year, according to Jamie Wolgemuth, chief clerk/county administrator, include:

  • First Aid and Safety Patrol to provide emergency and non-emergency transport for residents at an annual subscription rate of $40 per bed.
  • Developmental & Disability Services to provide evaluations for each resident and behavioral support plans for adaptive skill levels at a rate of $94 per hour.
  • Apex Rehabilitation Solutions to provide physical, occupational, and speech therapies for residents at a rate of $70 per hour for physical therapy and $68 each for occupational and speech therapies.
  • UPMC Primary Care of Fredericksburg to be the primary 24/7 medical provider for all residents at a rate of $1,090 per month. The new rate is an increase of 2.8 percent over last year’s contracted amount of $1,060 per month.
  • Arthur & Zeisloft Training and Consulting, Inc. to provide consulting services and preparation of facility program cost reports and waiver requests to the state at a cost of $175 an hour, up from $165 an hour from the previous year, a 6 percent increase. The company also submits the facility budget and supplies agreed-upon procedures to Lebanon County officials.

The contracted rates for 2021-22 for First Aid and Safety Patrol, Developmental & Disability Services, and Apex Rehabilitation Solutions remain the same from the previous year.

In two other action items, the commissioners:

  • Approved a hotel tax grant application in the amount of $2,534 from South Londonderry Historical Commission for the erection of a historic road sign marker to recognize the village of Colebrook. The total cost of the project is $3,191, according to Wolgemuth.
  • Issued a proclamation recognizing Jamie Harris for “20 years of distinguished service in the county’s probation department.” Harris is retiring from the county’s probation department in mid-June.
Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Bob Phillips, and Jo Ellen Litz were advertisers on LebTown during previous election cycles. Ames Home Services is a current advertiser on LebTown. 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.

This article was updated to correct terminology regarding Renova Center’s services.

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; Lancaster...