The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 1, 2013

Sunbury district judge move enables weapons ban at county building

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Sunbury District Judge Ben Apfelbaum will move out of City Hall and into the Northumberland County Administration Building after commissioners unanimously approved the move.

Commissioners Vinny Clausi, Steve Bridy and Rich Shoch voted to move Apfelbaum out of City Hall and into the administration building by Jan. 1.

But there may be more to the move than meets the eye.

After a gunman killed three people at a Ross Township building earlier this year, Clausi decided it was time to pass a resolution banning weapons.

Clausi said he was then challenged by gun owners and Shoch because of the legality of the motion. So Clausi spoke with Northumberland County President Judge Robert Sacavage and asked for Apfelbaum to be moved, thus insuring no weapons will be permitted into the building.

By federal law weapons are not permitted where a judge’s office is present in a building.

“I feel bad for Sunbury because we are moving the judge, but this was one of the reasons we needed to do this,” Clausi said. “All we were asking for was for safety for our residents and our employees and we were challenged.”

Clausi also said the move also saves the county about $15,000 a year.

“The second part is the savings, but a life to me is worth more than $15,000,” Clausi said. “We looked at doing this anyway for quite some time.”

Shoch said it was cost-saving measure and he spoke with Sunbury Mayor David Persing prior to the vote.

“I let him know what we were thinking of doing,” Shoch said. “This does validate that any guns can’t be brought into the building.”

Persing said he is not thrilled about the decision to move Apfelbaum. “It’s not good,” he said, referring to the loss of revenue. “But we still have three months to rent it out to someone else.”

Clausi said he is upset the city will lose the revenue but will look and see what other county office may need the space.

“We would be thrilled to work with the county to relocate an office from the county in that space,” Persing said. “But in the meantime we will go out and promote this area for rent.”

Apfelbaum’s new location will be at 399 South Fifth Street beginning Jan.1.