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Armstrong County News
IN RECOGNITION OF THE 2011 CLASS OF RETIREES PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 12:03

Armstrong County Officials honored 18 retirees during a special ceremony at the Board of Commissioner's public meeting on March 15th. Those in attendance are shown displaying plagues honoring their years of service. From left to right in foreground are: Nancy Dragan, 33 years, Health Center; Nancy Barker, nine years, Belmont Arena; Kathy Peat, 28 years, Health Center; Kim Volpe, 27 years, Veterans Affairs; Darlene Cooper, 30 years, Health Center; Donna Wilson, 17 years, Health center; Marlene Kunselman, 30 years, Health Center; and Penny McKain, 16 years, Health Center. In rear (L-R) are Commissioner Dave Battaglia, Controller Myra Miller, Commissioner Bob Bower, Treasurer Amanda Hiles, and Commissioner Rich Fink.

 
Young Inmates Earning Regular High School Diplomas PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 11:00

Three young inmates at Armstrong County Jail, Jeremy Thomas, Lorenzo DiMartino, and Caleb Vaughn, recently earned a high school diploma from the schools they would have been attending before a criminal conviction interrupted their graduation.

Another, Jacob Antoszyk, Is working toward that goal.

Administered by the Armstrong County School District, inmates between the ages of 18 and 21 can receive a diploma through the Armstrong County Jail Incarcerated Youth Education Program which for several years has been helping prisoners earn the credits they need to graduate.

Jail Educator, Carrie Satterfield, was quick to point out the diploma is not a General Equivalent Diploma (GED). She said it is the same document issued to all the other students at the inmate's respective high school.

Mrs. Satterfield, who has been teaching homebound students for Armstrong School District for

 

"I see the side of them that is crying out for help." Satterfield said, "But I also realize they are in here for a reason."

Satterfield said one graduate was so proud of his diploma that he insisted on washing his hands before touching it. He carefully examined every inch of it before looking up at her with a huge smile saying, "This Is awesome. This is so awesome."

"These are the moments that make all of the hard work involved in teaching worthwhile," said Satterfield.

She began her assignment with an enrollment of two males, and later picked up the third and two females. She said both young women were very bright but dropped out of the class for one reason or another before completion. Currently, she is working with a fourth male.

Classes are segregated by gender under jail guidelines and are conducted from

Inmates 21 years and older can earn a GED through a separate program during their incarceration.

Youth Education Services teacher Carrie Satterfield shakes hands with Armstrong County Jail inmate Caleb Vaughn while presenting him with his high school diploma. Vaughn is one of several inmates to earning regular diplomas while serving time.

Youth Education Services teacher Carrie Satterfield shakes hands with Armstrong County Jail inmate Caleb Vaughn while presenting him with his high school diploma. Vaughn is one of several inmates to earning regular diplomas while serving time.

 
INFLATION CATCHES UP WITH INMATES PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 10:48

Seems like inflation is hitting everyone these days, even inmates serving time at the Armstrong County Jail, who will see co-pays on everything from TV rentals to trips to the dentist hiked effective March 1st.

But like everyone else, prisoners are biting the bullet and accepting the fee increases with stoic resolve, according to county jail officials.

Warden Dave Hogue said, “We posted a memo on the proposed new fee schedules and there was only one negative response from our current jail population of 147 inmates.”

The fee increases won unanimous approval at the February 9th Prison Board meeting. Members of the Board voting at the meeting included County Commissioners Dave Battaglia, Bob Bower and Rich Fink; Sheriff Larry Crawford and County Controller Myra Miller. District Attorney Scott Andreassi was absent.

Commissioner Rich Fink said, “These fees relieve a financial burden on taxpayers and also teach offenders a lesson of behaving in a responsible way. The cost of providing medical care is constantly increasing and Armstrong County jail is by no means insulated from this problem.”

Under the new rate schedule, the booking (processing) fee, charged to all prisoners entering jail, will increase from $25.00 to $30.00. Doctor visits (in-house) and prescription drugs will each be upped a dollar to $11.00 and $6.00 respectively. Reading glasses will jump from $6.00 to $10.00 a pair.

Outside medical services such as trips to Armstrong County Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, or to a physician or dentist will go from $20.00 to $25.00. Warden Hogue said, “That is still a bargain, considering the skyrocketing price of gasoline and the fact that two correctional officers must accompany the prisoner to an appointment.”

Commissioner Bob Bower said, “With the Governor’s decrease of 20 percent to Human services throughout the Commonwealth, the savings at the prison will give us a chance to review where we can help Human Services maintain their programs in the county.

“Inmate commissary money helps reduce the operating expenses at the prison along with the County Commissioner’s Association’s Health Care Program that provides for inmate doctor and hospital visit,” Bower added.

Deputy Warden Kevin Shepard said daily rental rate for a 12-inch TV will be adjusted from $2.25 to $2.50 per day.

The TV rental program generated $25,791.75 in fees for the county last year. He said the program pays for itself and costs the taxpayers nothing.

Shepard also noted, “Use of a TV is a privilege that can be taken away if an inmate breaks the rules. It is another tool we can, and have used, to control behavior.”

Room and board charged to prisoners on work release programs did not escape economic forces either. The daily cost for someone working at a job paying $8.00 or less per hour will raise $2.00 to $13.00. Rates increase incrementally for those earning higher wages up to a maximum daily rate of $22.00 for an inmate working at a job paying $14.00 or more an hour.

Shepard noted the cost of room and board still includes breakfast, a packed lunch for on the job, and dinner, plus laundry services for work clothing in addition to prison uniforms. He said the increases would help defray some of the jail’s combined general fund expenses paid to physicians, dentists, ambulance transport companies and medication providers. That sum amounted to $230,797 last year.

Other fees collected from prisoners in 2011 and assigned to the general fund were: medical co-pays, $13,963.58, and booking fees, $18,942.28.

 
Probation Office gives life-changing hope to addicted paroles PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:30

There is now more than a glimmer of hope for drug and alcohol addicts being released from jail -- who wish to stay clean and sober -- thanks to the Intensive Supervision and Treatment program available to Armstrong County residents.

The program is one of the ideas initiated by Judge Kenneth Valasek to try to combat a serious issue for the community.

The Intensive Supervision and Treatment (IST) Program, first launched in 2009, has enrolled approximately 22 participants in the post-prison rehabilitation program.

Ten have graduated from the program and are moving on with their lives as productive members of society, according to Probation Officer Lee Grafton, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of IST. Officer Grafton noted that this is the first step and that graduates have to continue to work on maintaining sobriety. There is no such thing as a cure.

He said some have already reunited with their families after nearly severing those relationships due to destructive behavior while in the grip of addiction. Most have found gainful employment, or are attending school.

Seven did not complete the program successfully, while the remaining five participants are currently active in treatment sessions. The program lasts an average of 18 to 24 months. The curriculum is divided into six "step-down" stages of treatment. Contact with the probation officer generally decreases as individuals are able to demonstrate a commitment to living a drug and alcohol free lifestyle.

The program is court ordered. Participants, who generally have had multiple drug and alcohol-related brushes with the law, agree to enter the program as an alternative to incarceration. Most are looking at a prison sentence ranging from one year to more than five years in jail.

Many participants have already been through a rehabilitation center two or three times. Grafton said that past failure does not disqualify offenders from participation. However, he pointed out the Probation Office does not recommend the IST program for hardened career criminals, violent offenders or convicted drug dealers. Maintaining the safety of the community is a top priority. Thus, the intensive supervision aspect is designed to monitor behavior closely.

Dave Hartman, Chief Probation Officer, said the first step, and perhaps the most important, is the initial interview to determine if a person is really interested in recovery.

"They must be interested in changing their lifestyles," said Hartman. "The interview is quite intense and if we detect that they still want to take drugs, or use alcohol…well, we will see them again when they’re ready."

Most clients undergo residential treatment, halfway house and community reintegration under the intensive supervision of the Probation Officer. A case manager is assigned to assist the client with educational, housing, employment, mental health or other needs that can impact upon their sobriety.

Contacts begin when they are in "Rehab" and continue throughout the duration of the program. During all phases, clients can receive rewards including small gift certificates donated by local businesses and churches. Clients must submit to random drug and alcohol screenings throughout the program.

The intensity of the treatment diminishes during the subsequent five stages until clients reach the Aftercare Stage, at which time the goal is to have them fully integrated into the community as shown by employment or in an educational program.

The length of time in each phase of the program can vary depending upon the client’s progress. Clients are required to be actively involved in support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. This is critical to the client continuing to maintain an alcohol and drug free lifestyle. The individuals who have graduated are currently working to organize an IST alumni support group.

 
ILLEGAL DUMPING COSTLY AT RECYCLING SITES PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:20

Illegal dumping at Armstrong County Recycling Center’s ten collection sites is costing hundreds of dollars and placing trainees from the Progressive Workshop of Armstrong County at risk to injury and disease, said Sally Conklin, Planning Division Director

Conklin said since the recycling program was launched as a pilot project in 2004 with three trailer sites, "The amount of (recyclable) material collected at the sites has increased exponentially. Unfortunately, the amount of garbage and trash being discarded in and around the trailers has as well."

In some instances, illegal dumping has resulted in the Recycling Center being contacted and asked to remove the trailers. "In other locations, the property owners are threatening to have us pull our trailers from the site," she said.

Additionally, the garbage placed in or around the trailers is causing an increase in the program’s operating costs, because the Armstrong Recycling Center has to haul it away and pay an average of $150-a-ton "tipping" fee charged by area landfills.

But Conklin said she was most concerned about the dangers posed to Progressive Workshop trainees when handling waste materials such as moldy food containers, broken glass and even dirty diapers. Workshop trainees participate in the Center’s recycling program as part of their training.

Progressive Workshop is a non-profit vocational rehabilitation facility for individuals 18 and older who have a diagnosed physical, emotional or mental disability.

Acceptable recyclable items are as follows: #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs; green, clear and brown glass bottles and jars; newspapers and magazines; aluminum and steel cans, and corrugated cardboard.

Conklin said, "To place any other items in the trailers, or on the ground around the trailer is considered illegal dumping and Armstrong County authorities will vigorously prosecute anyone caught doing so."

Illegal dumping is a summary offense, punishable by a fine of no less than $50, or more than $300, and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days in the county jail.

 
County Electronic Monitoring Program Means Big Savings PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:10

County Electronic Monitoring Program Means Big Savings


 Armstrong County Probation Office announced yesterday electronic monitoring programs (ankle bracelet) for non-violent offenders saved county taxpayers a half million dollars in 2011 by eliminating 11,519 days of jail time for persons convicted minor crimes.

 Deputy Chief Probation Officer Regina B. Himes, who compiled last year’s figures, said the current costs to incarcerate a prisoner at Armstrong County Jail, in Rayburn Township, is $44.11 per day.

  The Probation Office said in addition to the $496,743.00 savings the county realized last year, the two electronic monitoring programs the office operates actually pays for itself as offenders are required to “rent” the ankle devices at a daily rate of  between $5 and $25, based on the person’s ability to pay. 

 Chief Probation Officer David Hartman said Armstrong County uses a Global Positioning type device for persons convicted of non-alcohol related offenses, and a device called “SCRAM” (secure containment alcohol monitoring) for people charged with drug and alcohol crimes such as drunk driving, or possession of illegal drugs.

 Hartman said Armstrong County began using the SCRAM monitoring system about two years ago with great success. He said the device not only tracks and prevents alcohol use; it has also become a vital, behavior modification tool in changing lives.

 “We have had first-time DUI offenders, not normally required to wear the SCRAM device, actually ask to wear it, especially during the Christmas and New Years holidays and all the way through Super Bowl Sunday,” Hartman said. “Some people are that serious about getting sober.”

 Hartman said the greatest success has been seen among repeat DUI offenders. He said if person can stay sober 90-120 days wearing the SCRAM, concurrent with court ordered counseling through agencies such as ARC Manor and Family A.C.T.S., Inc, their chances of recovery are markedly improved.

 Himes said records show the number of repeat DUI offenses has decreased by more than 92 percent since initiation of the SCRAM program. She said last year a total of 123 offenders were ordered to wear one of the two monitoring devices, 63 wore the GPS device and 60, the SCRAM. 

 The GPS device tracks an offender’s movement, such as to and from work. The SCRAM monitors alcohol use only. People convicted of drug-related crimes are often required to where the SCRAM device, because many will attempt to switch to alcohol to get “high” during the drug monitoring period of their sentence. 
 
 David L. Sproat, General Manager for Advance Alcohol Monitoring Programs, said the company’s SCRAM device is virtually “tamper-proof” and is so sensitive that it can readily distinguish between consumed alcohol and alcohol distillates used in a workplace environment such as certain types of paint and cleaners.

House hold products containing alcohol such as spray disinfectants, certain medicines and personal hygiene products that might trigger a false reading. All readings, false or positive, must be checked out and that means extra time consumed.

 SCRAM can read the smallest trace of consumed alcohol emitted through the pores of the skin.
 
 Hartman said proof of the program’s success can be measured in the faces of the offenders themselves. “They come in here the first day to have the device installed and you can see expressions of dejections and depression. Thirty days later when they return for an equipment check, or battery change, their faces are brighter and much more alert,” Hartman said.

 Sproat said a similar device that will detect drug use is in development and could be available in the next three to five years.

 “Technology is changing all the time,” he said. “But for now, SCRAM is doing what it was designed to do with many side benefits. Are our highways safer? Are families being put back together? The answer is yes.”

 

ARMSTRONG County Chief Probation Officer David Hartman displays the SCRAM ankle device persons convicted of alcohol related crimes are sometimes ordered to wear as a part of the terms of their sentence.


David Hartman, Chief Probation Officer
Armstrong County Probation Office
Room 303 Courthouse
Kittanning, PA 16201
(724) 548-3491; (724) 548-3460 FAX



 

 
Armstrong County Biggest Loser Contest off and Running. PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 09:59

 Groundhog Day marked the kickoff Armstrong County’s annual “Biggest Loser Contest” with 50county employees joining 11 teams in a spirited competition to determine which team and which individuals can lose the most weight between February 2 and April 12.

 County Human Resources Director Maryanne Koleny said the obvious goal of the contest is to lose weight, “But the ultimate goal is to improve an employee’s overall health in a fun way.”

 Employees, representing nearly all county agencies and departments, lost a total of 391.2 pounds in the 2011 Biggest Loser Contest. Participants weigh in each week. Cash prizes are awarded to the first and second place teams and the individuals who lose the most weight at the end of the 10-week contest.

 Last year the “No More Brownies” team split $300, or 35 percent of the purse for placing first with an average weight loss among team members of 9.04 percent. “Hot Tubs” took second place, losing an average of 6.48 percent. Team members split 25 percent of the purse. The top two individual winners lost 12.7 and 12.6 percent respectively of their total body weight and split the remaining money. Eighteen others were recognized for losing at least 10 pounds or more during the challenge.

 Prize money is raised through registration fees, weekly dues and fines on participants who gain weight. One dollar is charged for each pound gained. This is the seventh year of the contest.

For more information, contact:

Maryanne Koleny
Armstrong County Human Resources Director
Suite 210, Courthouse Annex Bldg.
Kittanning, PA 16201
(724)548-3201

 
 

 

 

 
County Commissioners Believe Armstrong Power Plant Closing Could Have Far Reaching Consequences PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 09:48

Members of the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners are deeply disturbed by the news of FirstEnergy Corporation’s decision to close its coal-fired, electric generating facility along the Allegheny River at Adrian, PA.

With the rate of unemployment in Armstrong County hovering around the national average of about 8.5 percent (Armstrong November figures), the loss of 60 jobs, 46 of them union jobs, today’s announcement was not welcome, commissioners said.

“This is a huge negative for Armstrong County with far reaching consequenses,” said Board Chairman Dave Battaglia, “Not only are good paying jobs being lost at the Armstrong Power Plant, jobs will certainly be lost in ancillary industries, support services and by small coal mining operations.

“What impact is this going to have on owner-operator coal truck drivers and fleet operators that deliver the 50 of 60 thousand tons coal to that plant every month? What about the privately owned machine shops that service equipment out there?”

Battaglia also wanted to know what effect the closing will have on local coal prices by pulling thousand of tons of locally produced coal from the market?

A spokesman for the industry, who wished not to be identified, believes coal prices will fall here, based on the “old business axiom” of too much supply with too little demand.

Commissioner Rich Fink said “these coal industry-related federal regulations are killing us in Western Pennsylvania, and especially here in Armstrong County where so much of our economy, including all the spinoff jobs, is tied into our coal and energy resources.”

Fink also made the following observations:

>The timeline for emission changes for coal fired power plants, requirement of new standards from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, are not realistic. Two or three years are not enough time to comply with these stringent clean air standards.

      >The federal Environmental Protection Agency has been “tone deaf” about what kind of impact the new standards will have on our coal-fired plants and the communities where they operate.

Commissioner Bob Bower said, “The continuance of these bureaucratic mandates not only leads to the erosion of our most valuable asset, our workforce, it further depletes the county tax base.

“At a time when job creation is our highest priority, it is very disappointing to find that we are loosing another multi-employment facility,” Bower said.

“I support steps to cleaner air. All that is needed is a more realistic time for utilities to meet the new standards. As of now, those new requirements must be met by 2016,” Fink concluded.



 
Meet and Greet Held with New County Commissioners PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:32

CELEBRATING-IN STYLE-THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ADMINISTRATION, ARMSTRONG COUNTY COMMISSIONERS DAVE BATTAGLIA AND BOB BOWER HOSTED A CATERED LUNCHEON IN THE COURTHOUSE ANNEX JANUARY 13TH. BOB AND DAVE PAID FOR THE SPREAD OUT OF POCKET, SAYING IT WAS THEIR WAY OF INTRODUCING THEMSELVES TO THE COUNTY STAFF, LOCAL MEDIA AND COURT HOUSE REGULARS.


davebobstudents

ARMSTRONG County Commissioners Dave Battaglia and Robert Bower flank Lenape Tech Culinary Arts students (left-right) Ashley Good, Ford City; Allison Bowser, NuMine; and Karrah Bush of Apollo during a “Meet the New Commissioners” luncheon last week in the Courthouse Annex. Lenape catered the event, which was paid for by Battaglia and Bower. The culinary class serves lunch to the public every Thursday and Friday at Lenape and students took opportunity to show off their latest menu. Being non-profit, prices are very reasonable students said.

 prob

 BELOW, Commissioner Battaglia assists students on the serving line as Lenape Tech Culinary Instructor Andrea Fahlor (center) keeps things moving along. More than 100 county employees, special guests, members of the local news media and a number of the public (who happened to be at the Court House on business) were served a delicious buffet luncheon in the lobby of the Courthouse Annex building. Hot trays of food and platters of fruit and vegetables from the luncheon were donated and delivered to the Armstrong County Health Center for patients and staff to enjoy later that afternoon.

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LENAPE TECH culinary arts student fills a receptacle behind ice sculpture with lemonade, which then flows through the block of ice, coming out chilled in front. Students designed and carved the sculpture for the “Meet the New Commissioners” luncheon on January 13th. The sculpture depicts an old fashion “pop” (that’s soda for non-residents) bottle sitting atop an ornate pedestal. Carved on the front label are the words, “Lenape Tech Culinary Class of 2012.  

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COUNTY employees and guests of the Courthouse help themselves to a delicious luncheon spread prepared by Lenape students for the Meet the Commissioners event.

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COMMISSIONERS Bob Bower and Dave Battaglia enjoy a glass of lemonade from an ice sculpture dispenser that was designed and carved by Lenape Tech culinary class students. Sculpture was the centerpiece at the Meet the Commissioners Luncheon.

 
Armstrong Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Group Increases Membership PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Office of the Commissioners   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 13:54

Burrell Township and Manorville Borough this month became the latest Armstrong County municipalities to join the Armstrong Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Group, bringing the total membership to 33 townships and boroughs.

 In addition to approving the membership requests of the two municipalities, Armstrong UCC re-elected William Reddinger of Mahoning Township to serve as chairman, Robert Conklin of Kittanning Township as Vice-Chairman and Rich McMillen of Kittanning Borough as Secretary/Treasurer.

The Armstrong UCC Group administers the Uniform Construction Code for its member municipalities.  The Group currently contracts with Bureau Veritas, a Third Party Inspection Agency, to conduct inspections. Benefits of members include competitive fees for inspection services, an Appeals Board, and technical support from the County.

 Contact: Darin Alviano          

Planning Coordinator

724-548-3723

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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