New Venango County Commissioner Board Passes Resolution Opposing Polk Closure

| January 15, 2020


FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – The new board of the Venango County Commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday once again opposing the closing of the Polk State Center.

“I thought it was very important that all of us, as a new commissioner board, reaffirm our commitment to keeping Polk Center open and urging the state and Governor Wolf to make the right decision,” Sam Breene, the new chairman of the Venango County Commissioners said.

“This is far too important an issue.”

The resolution says that Polk State Center has been an integral part of Venango County since 1897 and that Venango County is fully vested in the welfare of the residents and employees of Polk State Center. It goes on to say that Venango County believes Polk State Center provides “extraordinary” care and it is in the best interest of its residents to remain open.

“The County of Venango believes it is not in the best interest of the individuals residing in Polk State Center to be uprooted from their lifelong home and placed in group homes where they may not receive the same level of care,” the resolution stated.

The resolution went on to mention that the proposed closure would affect approximately 800 employees causing economic hardship to them and a negative $134,400,000.00 impact on the region.

“Therefore, be it resolved that the Venango County Board of Commissioners do hereby declare their opposition to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services proposed closure of Polk State center,” the resolution stated. “Be it further resolved that the Venango County Board of Commissioners will submit this resolution and accompanying letter of opposition to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and respectfully asked the citizens of Venango County to join them in their opposition.”

All three commissioners – Breene, Mike Dulaney, and Chip Abramovic – all voted in favor of the resolution.

“I think we should also consider getting (the resolution) out to as many members of the (Pennsylvania) House (of Representatives),” Breene said.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that would put a moratorium on the closing of any state center.

Representative R. Lee James, who represents Venango County, has proposed some changes to the Senate bill that was already passed. The bill is expected to be voted on as soon as Wednesday, January 15. Although, because of the amending of the bill, it will need to go back to the Pennsylvania Senate for passage.

NEW CLEARANCE POLICY COULD DELAY HIRES

The Commissioners also ratified a new clearance policy in Human Resources to meet the Commonwealth’s requirements under Act 47 that require any County employee who would have direct contact with children to have their clearances in hand prior to being hired.

Breene said this could delay the hiring of some potential employees who need to get their clearances. In the past, they could be hired and then get their clearances but since it is a Commonwealth-mandate, it only makes sense.

“It is for the good of the children,” Breene said.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business the commissioners:

  • Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Dian T. Myers and Associates, Inc., to be a consultant for a new housing program under Human Services.
  • Appointed Glenn Speer to the Venango County Regional Planning Commission and reappointed Greg Miller and Rick Burchfield to the Venango County Regional Planning Commission.
  • Ratified a contract with STV, Inc. to provide bridge inspection services to the County. According to Abramovic, STV is paid out of liquid fuels monies and they inspect all Venango County-owned bridges and all bridges owned by Venango County municipalities.
  • Approved Josh Sterling as the Fair Housing Officer, the Labor Standards Officer and the Language Access coordinator for the County.
  • Appointed Sabrina Backer as the Venango County 504 Officer.
  • Passed a proclamation declaring April as Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month in Venango County. The commissioner urged residents to use the Pennsylvania 811 system before they dig throughout the year.
  • Appointed themselves – as prescribed – to the Venango County Economic Development Board with Breene to serve as the Chair of the Economic Development Board.

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