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Centre County readies for move from red to yellow

BELLEFONTE — As Centre County prepares to re-open on Friday, the Centre County Board of Commissioners took some time talk about what residents should look for and expect.

Centre, of course, is one of 24 counties that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tabbed to move from red to yellow on Friday. The move from red to yellow will allow for certain businesses to re-open.

“We’re encouraging all businesses that are going to be starting to reopen and get back to work to still continue those social distancing guidelines and to follow the guidelines that are set out by the Governor, the CDC, the Secretary of Health,” said chair Michael Pipe. “The longer that we can make sure we are practicing those social distancing techniques and methods, the longer we’ll stay in the yellow phase and get to that green phase. It’s so important.”

Pipe also said that he hopes Centre County residents will support their small home-grown businesses.

“Let’s patronize them, utilize them as we see fit,” Pipe said. “Again, we should remain very vigilant as we move forward.”

Commissioner Steve Dershem said that it’s important that residents keep doing what they’ve been doing.

“There are a lot of counties that wish they were in our position,” Dershem said. “We’re gonna have the opportunity to move to the next phase on Friday and I do believe it’s very important that everyone remember that we have certain guidelines that we need to follow … social distancing, wearing masks, being respectful of this whole process. I know there are a lot of folks out there who are frustrated with it, but the quicker we get through this process, the quicker we can get into the green phase and move ahead.”

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that the yellow phase is critical to small businesses in Centre County.

“Thankfully, our small businesses and local businesses will begin to re-open here on Friday … please be patient. Some of these businesses haven’t been opened for seven or eight weeks now and they’re not going to be at 100 percent capacity and service levels on day one, day two, day three or even four. Let’s follow the guidelines so we can get to green sooner rather than later. We certainly don’t want to go backwards to red,” Higgins said.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

— Approved four personnel moves. In the office of criminal justice planning, executive secretary Jessica Herren was move from full-time furlough status back to regular full-time status. In the office of human resources, human resources specialist Samantha Rees was moved from reduced hours furlough to regular full-time status. In the office of planning, senior planner Linda Marshall was moved from reduced hours furlough to regular full-time status. In the office of sheriff, deputy sheriff/airport security 2 Richard Bowes was moved from reduced hours furlough to regular full-time status. Herren, Rees and Bowes will move to regular full-time hours effective today. Marshall’s move will take effect on Monday, May 11.

— Issued Proclamation No. 9 of 2020, proclaiming May 10-16 as National Police Week and May 15 as Peace Officers Day in Centre County.

— Agreement with the Centre Region Council of Governments designating the COG HazMat Team as one of the county’s hazardous materials response contractors under Act 165. This agreement shall continue in full force and effect until terminated by either party upon one year’s written notice to the other. The agreement was moved to next week’s consent agenda.

— Announced that the Office of Elections has received more than 11,500 applications for mail-in ballots. Election Day in Pennsylvania is scheduled for Tuesday, June 2.

“One of the challenges that presents is getting them out in a timely for the June 2 election. I would really suggest that if you intend to vote by mail, that you get the applications in sooner rather than later. We are processing them, but it is a laborious process. This is our first time and we are bringing people back just to process them,” Dershem noted.

The commissioners will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12 at the Willowbank Building. The meeting will be televised by C-NET.

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