‘It’s the people’s Piper building’

SARAH SMELTZ/FOR THE EXPRESS Clinton County employees and guests gather for the ceremonial ribbon cutting celebrating their purchase of the Piper Blue building.

By JOHN RISHEL

jrishel@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — In a move that has now been almost two years in the making, the Clinton County Commissioners officially cut the ribbon to celebrate the county’s purchase and move to the Piper Blue Building, 2 Piper Way, Lock Haven. In 2017, the commissioners proceeded with that purchase, and after a year of remodeling and preparation, the building is now the mecca of all local government services in the Clinton County area.

The Piper building will allow the opportunity for visitors to have “one stop shopping to all the services county government has to offer,” according to commissioner Jeff Snyder.

With the move, the following county offices are now under one roof — Register and Recorder, Assessment, GIS, Planning, Treasurer, Auditors, Information Technology, Children and Youth Services, Independent Living, Voters Registration and Commissioners.

“This is the first time ever that the Clinton County CYS staff have all been under the same roof. It allows for better collaboration,” said Autumn Bower, the county’s Children and Youth director.

The building was opened up to the public as grants administrator Gabriel Caprio and Children and Youth coordinator Hope Mitchell served as tour guides to the nearly 200 people that walked through the doors.

As the tours winded down momentarily, Commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz took the ceremonial shears and commenced with the traditional ribbon cutting.

“We want it recognized as the people’s building, the county’s building…it is the people’s Piper Building,” Smeltz said.

Light refreshments were offered before all guests were asked to convene on the second floor, in the commissioner’s meeting room for a dedication ceremony.

County chief clerk Jann Meyers thanked everyone that contributed to the event, noting that Kathy Dremel and Maria Boileau were the “main drivers” of a committee that organized the celebration.

Smeltz took the time to thank the members of the public that attended, which included Lock Haven University president Robert Pignatello, Jacquelyn Martin, superintendent of Keystone Central School District, Sheriff Kerry Stover, many township and local officials, among others.

Though the building was purchased by the county for $972,132.18 in 2017, commissioner Paul Conklin explained that an appraisal was done on the building for insurance purposes and the appraised sound value of the property was $4,633.872.

“When I took office as commissioner in 2016, there were multiple people in one office, the sheriff was in the basement of the County Courthouse,” Conklin said, also noting that the county was forced to rent space for Children and Youth and other departments. “It became clear the county was out of space to provide services, we had people stuffed into corner. when the former Piper administration building became available, I thought it was a really good idea, and a fantastic price. Built in the 1960’s, it is an incredible building, and the price included the contents; filing cabinets, desk chairs and other office equipment.”

Snyder said that when the building was purchased, “it was all open space with cubicles.”

The appraised value of conference room furniture, cubicles and a backup generator, along with other included contents, was $231,000.

“I met with Children and Youth and the other departments. I met with the architect and we put it together, what we are seeing now is the end result of a lot of hard work,” he said.

From there, it was just a matter of moving people in, one department at a time.

“If we didn’t work as a team, nothing would have gotten done,” Snyder said, noting that he was the one that negotiated the purchase.

“They were a little insulted when my first offer came in at $600,000,” he remarked.

Snyder noted that improvements on the building included security upgrades at the cost of $37,975, renovations at the cost of $158,118.66, IT fiber expansion from the Garden building to the Piper building at the cost of $105,487.08, architect services at the cost of $14,253.23, and the total amount of bond funds used was $1,287,966.72.

Snyder also said mentioned the probation department’s “day treatment program” will lower incarceration costs at the county’s correctional facility, allowing per diem revenue of $883,800 per year, along with the sale of the county’s Route 64 property at $150,000 and the elimination of renting office space for a savings of $22,800 per year along with other “immeasurable benefits” to having this new central location of local government.

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