BELLEFONTE - With jury selection scheduled to start next week in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, Centre County officials say they are ready for the onslaught of local and national media.
"We're about as ready as we can be. All the preparations are in place," county Administrator Tim Boyde said at Tuesday's commissioners' meeting. "The Court Administration Office is working closely with Judge (John) Cleland's office. We're as good as we can get trying to make it look good for the national media and the local citizens."
Part of that effort is a new paint job at the courthouse, one that was needed but took on extra significance with the Sandusky case, he said.
"As near as we can tell, we're as ready as we can be with the few surprises that could come up, and there will be some surprises," Boyde said.
The county earlier this year stashed away $25,000 to deal with not only the Sandusky case, but the other court cases that have been scheduled for this spring and summer. One unknown, however, is whether the Sandusky jury will be sequestered, causing the county to spend money on transportation to and from their lodging, the lodging, meals and other costs, including possible portable toilets for the media.
"If there's a sequestered jury, we will go over the $25,000," Boyde said. "We will adjust and adjust accordingly."
There were some concerns during Sandusky's preliminary hearing late last year, but the county is addressing them by upgrading its Wi-Fi capabilities, as well as system upgrades in the court itself, including sound and a closed-circuit feed to a third-story in the adjacent Courthouse Annex.
"It can be an expensive process," Boyde said, noting the state's Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts is paying for some of the upgrades.
Probably the most expensive cost will be for overtime for all court-related employees, Commissioner Steve Dershem said.
"There will be a lot of overtime in all court departments, specifically the sheriff's department," he said.
Judge Cleland previously has decided local jurors will determine Sandusky's fate.
Sandusky, 68, is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, including a former student at Central Mountain High School, but recent defense filings have suggested prosecutors may have designated as many as seven additional victims. He denies the allegations and is confined to his home to await trial.
Sandusky's trial is scheduled to start with jury selection in Bellefonte next Tuesday.
In another matter at Tuesday's meeting, the commissioners re-authorized an agreement with the state to have the county conduct weights and measures inspections.
Ron Williams, county sealer of weights and measures, said he inspected 1,423 fuel pumps, 417 scales, 1,713 parking meters and over 200 check-out devices last year.
In addition, he said, he handled about 40 consumer complaints over the accuracy of gas pumps in the county, though he noted most of the discrepancies ended up in the consumers' favor, with an allowance of one-half ounce per gallon of gas.