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County continues push for more vaccine

LOCK HAVEN — The COVID-19 vaccine was a hot topic again yesterday at the Clinton County commissioners meeting, as elected officials continue to show frustration in getting local residents vaccinated and push for more vaccine to be sent to this area.

“Clinton County is not getting hardly any,” commissioner Angela Harding said.

Although more than 300 people received vaccinations at Wednesday’s UPMC clinic at the Dunnstown Fire Hall, Harding explained that those vaccines are being sent to UPMC Williamsport and then distributed to Clinton County. She said the most recent vaccines coming to Clinton County were for Mill Hall Pharmacy and Weis markets.

“We are making pleas to our legislators to send more vaccine to Clinton County,” she continued, urging residents to go to the UPMC website — vaccine@upmc.com — or call 844-876-2822 to get on the list for a shot of the vaccine.

“That’s the only way to get on the list,” Commissioner Jeff Snyder said. “The shot’s meant for you when you’re on the list.”

“The clinics we are conducting are all done by appointment only,” according to Tyler Wagner, Manager of Communications for UPMC, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s clinic.

“We are currently only vaccinating people that are 75 years of age or older,” Wagner said. “Our intention is to eventually drop down the age and vaccinate people that are 65 years of age and so on and so forth,” he added. He said UPMC hopes to schedule more clinics in this area, saying those on the list will be called with an appointment time and place.

People who got their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday were scheduled for their second dose and given a card before they left the fire station, Wagner said.

Another topic that has been front and center in recent weeks and was discussed again yesterday is the County Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), which will bring $437,560 to Clinton County businesses. The money is available to eligible restaurants, hotels, motels and other businesses driven by tourism, with grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

The commissioners Thursday ratified a contract with the PA Department of Community and Economic Development for CHIRP and approved a professional services agreement with SEDA-COG for administration of the CHIRP grant at a cost of $300 per application with the total cost not to exceed $12,035.

The state’s appointment of SEDA-COG to administer the grant isn’t sitting well with the commissioners.

“I don’t know why the county can’t administer this money on its own,” said commissioner Miles Kessinger. “It makes no sense to me. It’s just the state legislature flexing its muscles. We were granted authorization to handle $3.5 million in CARES funding and they don’t see fit for us to handle this.”

Snyder said its unfortunatel that Clinton County doesn’t have an organization that is certified to manage this grant. He said SEDA-COG will take the applications and award the funding to those selected.

Harding said she wants the public to know that the commissioners did indeed try to gain oversight of these funds. “But it was written into the legislation and we could not make it happen,” she said.

Under personnel, the board accepted the resignation of Michael Doebler as a member of the Clinton County Recreation Board, having served for 48 years, 36 years as chairman of the board.

The commissioners have prepared a certificate of recognition for Doebler that will be presented to him by Judd Caruso, golf pro at Belle Springs Golf Course, who had nothing but wonderful things to say about Doebler and his wife, Bev, for their service and involvement at the golf course.

“There is no other organization in Clinton County that has had somebody with 48 years service,” Caruso said of Doebler.

Harding said Mike’s wife, Bev, plans to remain involved in the golf course as her husband recovers from illness.

Watching and listening to the meeting via Zoom, retired Clinton County Judge Richard Saxton said of Doebler, “We’re missing a friend at Belle Springs.”

The commissioners approved resignations of Audra Helms as dispatcher trainee at the 911 center and Lorie Griev, part time custodial worker.

The board hired Dustin Zettle as Resource Conservationist at the Clinton County Conservation District, effective March 15, at a salary of $36,297. He replaces an employee who has left the position.

Also hired was Rachael Kibler as full-time 911 dispatcher trainee at an annual salary of $28,439, effective March 1.

Communications Center Director Andrew Kremser noted there are four vacancies at the 911 center.

The commissioners approved an applying for an Emergency Solutions Grant for coronavirus aid on behalf of the Clinton County Women’s Center. The money will be used as hotel and associated cost funding, directors of the Women’s Center reported, noting that domestic violence has increased significantly during the pandemic. From June 2020 to October 2020, 27 households, 61 adults and 28 children were served.

The next meeting of the commissioners will be a work session at 9 a.m. Monday, March 8. The next voting session will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 4. All meetings are live-streamed on Facebook.

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