Lebanon County commissioners approved Thursday the recertification of all 60 polling places as handicap accessible.

Michael Anderson, director/chief clerk of Voter Registration, asked the commissioners to approve the 2021 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Polling Place Accessibility Report, noting that all voting locations throughout the county have been recertified as handicap accessible.

“I would note that within the next year that we are going to go out and reassess all of these locations,” said Anderson. “It’s been awhile for some of these and these should be done once every few years, so we are going to be putting that on our agenda.”

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Commissioner Chairman Robert Phillips asked Anderson if his office, as part of that evaluation process, will look at turnout numbers for each location to potentially consolidate polling places, which had increased from 55 to 60 locations a few years ago.

“Yes, that is something we will be doing,” answered Anderson. “It will not be a part of this survey just because that is actually (for) the specific locations to make sure they are accessible. But right now, we are blocked out due to the 2020 Census and redistricting. Once that is over, we will have the opportunity to address some of those, so we will be doing that because it is on our agenda. That is something that is on our mind and we will report to you when we are able.”

The commissioners also acted on contract requests from several county offices, including Children & Youth Services (CYS) and Community Action Partnership (CAP).

Erin Moyer, CYS administrator, presented, and the commissioners approved, third quarter invoices for fiscal year 2021 in the amount of over $1.75 million.

The commissioners also voted to approve the new contract for the Northampton Juvenile Justice Center in the amount of $280 per day per resident for fiscal year 2021-22. The amount covers costs for all of the center’s treatment programs and detention services, according to Moyer.

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Moyer also received approval of a six-month contract in the amount of $40 per hour for her department to hire a fiscal consultant to assist in the completion of the needs-based budget. The contract, which runs from July 1 through Dec. 31 of this year, will cover the work normally executed by the fiscal operations officer, who is retiring on July 16.

Samuel Ortiz, CAP administrator, asked for approval of a contract for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) in the amount of $1.69 million for fiscal year 2021-22.

The new contract, which was approved by the commissioners, will cover about 35 independent contract drivers as well as funding for secondary transportation providers, including First Aid and Safety Patrol, Lebanon Transit, and Central Ambulance Medical Services.

CAP also provides MATP services for WellSpan Philhaven Mental and Behavioral Health Care Services, which mostly covers the “transportation of children via bus to their meetings.”

“We lost a number of them (independent drivers) at the beginning of the pandemic but the bulk of them remain,” said Ortiz. “So we are just resigning contracts for people who have been with us for a number of years. We have added a few new drivers to the roster but, as I said, the bulk have been with us for some time.”

Ortiz noted that CAP currently has scheduled about 13,000 MATP trips, of which approximately 9,000 have been completed.

Since MATP is an entitlement program, if the financial need is greater than available funding, the county can then reapply to receive additional monies to cover those additional costs, according to Jamie Wolgemuth, chief clerk/county administrator.

In other county business, Wolgemuth presented two action items to the commissioners.

The commissioners voted to provide $15,000 from the Hotel Tax Grant Fund to the Lebanon Area Fair for website redesign, marketing and advertising, both in print and electronic formats, for the annual event, which runs the last week of July.

“We know they had a difficult time last year getting a whole fair together, which they didn’t do. They were able to do something partial, however,” Wolgemuth said. “This year, I believe they are planning a full-blown fair like they typically have.”

Wolgemuth said it is a worthwhile expenditure given the fair’s popularity.

“It does obviously draw a lot of people when it is a full event, weather permitting,” Wolgemuth said.

Wolgemuth also requested an amendment be added to the agreement of sale for the four acres of county land near the driver’s center on Route 422 that is slated to be sold later this year.

Wolgemuth said there is a “stumbling block” with the land development plan that is detrimental to all concerned parties that necessitates extending the execution of the property settlement agreement to September.

“Some of this impacts the rest of the property that is not under agreement of sale, so the county does have a pretty deep interest in seeing this through and working out some details, if we can,” said Wolgemuth. “…The roadblock we have is mutual. We’re not trying to squeeze any more juice out of this one, just trying to get it resolved, if we can.”

The commissioners also heard a short presentation by Susan Eberly, president of Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) concerning the disbursement of $1.58 million to 40 area businesses in the hospitality industry as part of the COVID Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP).

Read More: Annville Inn owners praise CHIRP program; 40 area businesses receive financial relief

Eberly told the commissioners the state has approved the CHIRP report filed by LVEDC, and added that the corporation will be returning some monies to the state for interest accrued over the past few months.

Phillips told Eberly that he had read an article in LebTown earlier that day that revealed how complex the application process was, and congratulated LVEDC staff for clearly communicating all of the work involved in the execution of the CHIRP program.

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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...