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County furloughs 49 employees due to COVID-19

LOCK HAVEN — Although Clinton County has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at this time, the county commissioners are making preparations if the COVID-19 hits our area.

On Thursday, the commissioners approved the furlough of 49 employees — 33 full-time and 15 part-time– effective April 5.

Commissioner Miles Kessinger called it a “downsizing” in each department.

“Hopefully… we’ve got our fingers crossed that it will not strike Clinton County… but if it does, we don’t want to lose an entire county department to the disease,” Kessinger said.

The only departments not affected by the furlough are the Department of Emergency Services and the 911 center, Kessinger said.

“We need full staff there due to what we’re going through,” he said.

Commissioner Jeff Snyder said the commissioners met with department heads and courts before making this decision. He said, “the main purpose of the furloughs is to have employees home and safe if we need to recall them. We’re seeing less work coming in right now. It’s about keeping people safe.”

Snyder noted that the county buildings remain on lockdown, but the county is providing services to the public. He said there are mailboxes outside each county building where residents can drop off taxes and anything else they need to get to the county.

Kessinger added that the county buildings will remain on lockdown until further notice, at least through the end of April.

“We’re taking all the steps we can to keep people free of the virus,” Kessinger responded to a call from a resident with concerns about precautions for the inmates at the prison.

“We just passed a state inspection with a 100 percent rating,” he added, when the caller said she heard that the laundry facilities at the prison were broken and questioned the cleanliness of the inmates.

Snyder called the accusation a “falsehood.”

“There is no issue with the clothing. We just recently upgraded to commercial washers and dryers down there. That’s a falsehood. We’re doing all we can to protect our inmates from the virus,” Snyder said.

Kessinger said two inmates described as the “most liable” for the coronavirus, had been released to their families and left the area. And some additional inmates of “lower concerns” have also been released.

Commissioner Angela Harding said there are no cases of the virus at the prison. “Warden Angela Hoover is doing a good job,” she said.

In other action, the commissioners,

— Approved the temporary reassignment of Brian Walizer from deputy sheriff to 911 dispatcher, effective April 5, with no change in salary.

— Approved a revolving loan fund loan to Clinton County Memorials LLC, Andrew Noll, owner, in the amount of $75,000 for purchase of real estate, working capital expenses and closing costs.

— Approved a maintenance support agreement with Tyler Technologies for New Worlds Engerprise software, effective April 1 through March 31, in the amount of $47,873, and an amendment with Tyler Technology for elimination of support for the asset management module and the addition of the leave management module at a net cost of $4,163.

— Awarded contracts to Gallagher’s Carpet One for flooring and tile at the Garden Building in the amount of $69,218; to PBCI-Allen for heat repairs at the Clinton County Correctional Facility in the amount of $18,151, and to Secure Tech Systems for a county instant warning system in the amount of $31,300.

— Approved a resolution designating William Frantz as authorized agent to execute all required forms and documents for the purpose of obtaining financial assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

— Approved payment of county bills in the amount of $969,275 and net payroll in the amount of $284,893 for the two-week period ending April 3.

Harding ended the meeting encouraging everyone to “please stay at home. Go out only if you absolutely need to, and protect your neighbors.”

This was the second meeting the commissioners have live-streamed since the county buildings were shut down to the public. The commissioners will not meet next week. The next meetings are a work session on Monday, April 13 at 9 a.m. and a voting meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday April 16. Both will be live-streamed.

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