Repair of Luzerne County-owned Chase Road cleared by state

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
Luzerne County Courthouse -

The state Department of Transportation has agreed to proceed with bidding to pave Luzerne County-owned Chase Road in Jackson Township — infrastructure that has prompted frequent citizen complaints due to its deterioration.

County officials have been working with the state to advance the project for three years. The state will fund 80 percent of the work.

“Finally! Great news!” county Manager C. David Pedri wrote in an email informing county council of the development last week.

• Three county council committees will meet at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre Tuesday: Act 13 grant, 4 p.m.; legislative, 5 p.m.; and real estate, 5:30 p.m.

• The real estate committee plans to discuss a proposed resolution authorizing the county manager to hold an auction attempting to sell unused county-owned property, according to the agenda posted at www.luzernecounty.org.

Pedri has compiled a list of more than 50 parcels that have no county purpose so they can be unloaded to generate revenue and return them to the tax rolls. Many are vacant tracts and slivers in neighborhoods or remote areas.

The county inherited most of the properties decades ago, possibly as leftovers from tax auctions.

The proposed resolution would allow the manager to explore other means of selling the unused properties if they are not purchased at auction.

• Council is set to vote Tuesday on an agreement authorizing PPL Corp. to switch to more cost-efficient LED lighting while the utility company repairs circuits on the county-owned Fire Fighters’ Memorial Bridge on Water Street, which links Pittston and West Pittston.

PPL will pay for the work. A citizen had complained about bridge darkness due to non-operational lighting.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.

• Chief Public Defender Steven Greenwald’s request for an $80,000 transfer from the county’s 2018 budget reserve to cover the cost of expert witnesses in a death penalty case also is up for council approval Tuesday.

• A $254,902 windfall related to unemployment compensation is on the work session agenda following the voting meeting.

The county is receiving the money because it purchases compensation coverage through a County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) trust. The trust overseer decided to return a $2.75 million dividend to participating entities because its fund has a surplus.

Council members are expected to discuss whether to use the money to beef up the dwindling capital projects fund or place the money in reserve so it can be applied to deficit reduction.

• The county mapping/GIS department is preparing to move to its new courthouse basement office this month, according to a county division head summary. The department’s current space near the rear basement entrance will be converted to a visitor security screening area.

• Another 19 drug overdose deaths were confirmed by the county coroner’s office in May, bringing the year-to-date count to 46, with seven more pending toxicology results, the division summary said.

There were 155 overdose deaths in the county in 2017, the third consecutive year of a new record high.

Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_web1_luzerne-county-courthouse-1.jpgLuzerne County Courthouse

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.