CEO invites commissioners to Watsontown college branch open house

Bob Garrett, CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, discusses the Luzerne County Community College's new Greater Susquehanna Center in Watsontown, at the Montour County commissioners meeting.

DANVILLE — Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Garrett said Luzerne County Community College's new Greater Susquehanna Center in Watsontown is looking real sharp for classes starting in September.

He invited the Montour County commissioners to an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 28 and a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 21.

The college will begin offering courses starting in September, including in English, math, speech, biology, sociology, art, first year experience, computer information systems and CPR. There will be five classrooms, two computer labs, an office area and a student lounge, he said.

High school juniors and seniors in the Greater Susquehanna Valley can earn credits for $64, which is a huge savings to families and credits are transferrable, he said.

The new center, in the former Watsontown Elementary School, will serve Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Montour, Clinton and Lycoming counties.

Fundraising

In keeping with the community aspect of the college, he said they have a fundraising goal of $100,000 a year from the six counties the center covers.

He said he knows budgets are tight, but hopes the county may be able to allocate money in next year's budget.

County Commission Chairman Ken Holdren said Montour has a "very tight budget" and there are a number of branch campuses in the area.

He agreed the community college is needed and said he appreciated Garrett's efforts.

Rail improvement contract awarded

The commissioners also awarded a $714,891 contract to low bidder Chesapeake Thermite Welding, of Port Haywood, Va., for rail improvements at the former Metso Minerals owned by DRIVE.

The county applied for and received a $1 million state multimodal transportation grant on behalf of DRIVE, the economic development entity serving Montour and Columbia counties. DRIVE plans to use part of the grant for the project.

The project involves raising a bridge over Sechler's Run by 13 inches to prevent flooding; raising the rail track by 13 inches from Railroad Street to Wall Street; and installing rail siding along the south side of the track, a grade crossing along Wall Street and three grade crossings to provide access to the former plate shop on the property.

They also approved a memorandum of understanding with Radio Station WPGM to build a tower to alleviate radio communication problems. Commissioner Trevor Finn said they hope to solve those problems, which existed before 911 centers were merged in Montour and Columbia counties, by joining the state's STARNet system.

In other business, the commissioners:

Voted to advertise, if necessary, under the Local Government Unit Debt Act, for radios for fire companies, police, the sheriff's office, probation, the prison, emergency medical services and the emergency management agency.

Approved an agreement with Aura IQ Beta Test to protect county computer systems from being attacked. Holdren said the son of Protonotary Susan Kauwell runs the company and the service is free to the county. The company would look from the outside in on people trying to attack our systems, he said, adding it will be an additional level of protection.

Voted to pay Peters Consultants, of Berwick, $880 to do an asbestos inspection in conjunction with replacing the courthouse boiler, installed in 1967. Finn said they need to make sure no one is at risk.

Approved a letter of support for Mahoning Township's grant application for a bike and pedestrian project along Bloom Road.

Accepted, with regret, the resignation of Nancy Springer, assistant chief clerk the past three years, who will be moving with her family to Bellefonte. Her resignation is effecive Sept. 13. Holdren said they wished her well and appreciated a job well done. Finn echoed his comments.

Voted to schedule at meeting at 11 a.m. Aug. 21 in the courthouse to consider a number of items, including upgrading radios for emergency responders and an air conditioning contract for the former Danville Elementary School the county purchased to convert into offices.