SUNBURY — Magisterial District Judge Michael Diehl and his staff will be getting a new office possibly by the end of the year as the county commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to purchase a property at 45 Locust St. in Milton.
Diehl’s current office at 1 Broadway St., Milton, is small compared to the other three magisterial district judges’ offices in the county and plans for expansion or a new location have been in the works for about a year.
Commissioners Sam Schiccatano and Richard Shoch agreed to purchase the property owned by Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg for $130,000. Minority Commissioner Kym Best voted against the purchase and referred to the process of obtaining a new home for the judge’s office as a “debacle.”
She said 45 Locust St., which is located a few blocks from the Susquehanna River, is in a flood plain like the current office, which is located across the street from the river.
Schiccatano said a day care center, which is operating at 45 Locust St., plans to relocate to Watsontown in the near future.
He said initially the commissioners considered an offer by the landlord of the present judge’s office to remain at the site if it was expanded. He said the landlord purchased an adjacent building and planned to consolidate it with the judge’s office into one building with the appropriate remodeling.
But Schiccatano said the landlord wanted to increase the rent and make the county responsible for the renovations.
After passing on that option, Schiccatano said the county considered purchasing vacant land next to the Milton Senior Action Center from Northumberland County Housing Authority at a total cost of approximately $570,000.
In addition to being too costly, Schiccatano said issues developed over parking and a basketball court at the site.
The commissioner said by purchasing the property at 45 Locust St. and making interior renovations, the county will save significant money in the long run when compared to the other two options.
Schiccatano said moving the office to the Locust Street site, which has ample parking, is expected to cost approximately $200,000.
Shoch said there’s a chance the new office will open by the end of the year.
In other business, the board recognized the accomplishments of 23 scholar athletes from the county from 12 different schools.
Joseph Klebon, chairman of the Northumberland County Recreation Commission Scholarship Committee, introduced each student who received $100 and a certificate from the commissioners.
Klebon, the commissioners and recreation commission chairman Tom Aber congratulated the scholar athletes and their parents.
Scholar athlete award winners included Gracie Crone and Brenan Ryan of Danville Area School District; Sierra Bobb and Wesley Long of Line Mountain School District; Kaylee Wanamaker and Nicholas Doresky of Milton Area School District; Nicole Varano and Manus McCracken of Mount Carmel Area School District; Selina Albert and Dawson Williams of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School; Maryssa Erdman and George Zalar of Shamokin Area School District; Abigail Walter and Gabriel Tilford of Shikellamy School District; Breanna Burd and Elijah Hoffman of Southern Columbia Area School District; Rosaria James and Gage Anzulavich of Warrior Run School District; Trey Baughman of Meadowbrook Christian Academy; Hosannah Ilgenfritz and Ethan Underkoffler of Northumberland Christian School, and Jenna Stuck and Seth Kabonick of Northumberland Christian School.
T.J. Aikey, of the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, asked the commissioners to support an application for a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) in Milton.
She said the parcels being proposed for KOZ status are 230 Lower Market St., Industrial Park Road, 250 Mahoning St., five parcels on Marsh Road, North Industrial Park Road and 201 Industrial Park Road.
Aikey said nine of the 10 proposed parcels are accessible by rail and cover a total acreage of 186.368. Most of the proposed parcels are in Milton Industrial Park.
She said Sept. 1 is the deadline for the application to be sent to SEDA-COG. She said Oct. 1 is the deadline for the state Department of Community and Economic Development to receive the application, which will then go before Gov. Tom Wolf for approval or rejection by Dec. 31.
Aikey said there will be 12 new KOZ designations awarded in the state in 2018.
Aikey said the application process began in March.
She said Northumberland County is one of five counties in the central region of the state vying for KOZ designations covering a total of 375 acres.
Aikey said Milton Borough, Milton Area School District and Northumberland County must approve the KOZ application before it can move forward.
Shoch told Aikey the commissioners expect to pass a resolution next month approving the application.
The commissioners unanimously approved five of six travel requests and attendance at workshops/seminars in accordance with the county’s personnel manual travel reimbursement policy.
Shoch and Schiccatano voted in favor of a request for one employee from the planning department to attend the Industrial Management Forum in Philadelphia on Sept. 15 to Sept. 19. Best voted against the request.
Best asked if anyone was keeping track of the travel expenses since the budget was passed in December.
Budget director Steve Cook said all the departments were within their budgets in terms of traveling expenses, but he didn’t have a total of the expenses incurred this year available. Cook told Best he would supply her with an expense total after the meeting.
The five requests receiving unanimous approval came from Children and Youth Services, Drug and Alcohol, Elections Office, Register and Recorder’s Office and Tax Claims.
Chief clerk Maryrose McCarthy announced Jim Brumbach will conduct a public auction at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at the Northumberland County South Campus.
Janice Kotwica was reappointed to SEDA Foundation Inc. for a term ending April 24, 2019.
Meghan Shambach was appointed to the Local Emergency Planning Committee for a term ending Dec. 31, 2018.
The board approved 2018-2019 funding in the amount of $7,371 for the Mount Carmel Borough/Lower Anthracite Transportation System (LATS).
The commissioners adopted a resolution for an intergovernmental agreement with the state Department of Corrections to provide a staffing survey, offer recommendations regarding CERT and chemical munitions, conduct K-9 searches and other searches or recommendations concerning safety and security at the new county prison being constructed in Coal Township.
The board approved honorary letters and certificates for Mr. and Mrs. Allen Spigelmeyer, of Sunbury, for their 50th wedding anniversary, and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kasinowski, of Shamokin, for their 70th wedding anniversary.
Mr. and Mrs. Kasinowski are the father-in-law and mother-in-law of Commissioner Schiccatano, who read a special commendation to them during the meeting.