People Above Politics

Litz brings Local Government, Small Business, and Conservation Experience to the Table.

   Jo Ellen is a 5-term Lebanon County Commissioner who is the Boots on the Ground for local government implementing programs to Protect Children, Serve Families, Secure Justice, Manage Emergencies, and Safeguard Elections.  In short, Commissioner Litz Safeguards the Public Trust.

Whether it was the 2004 Campbelltown Tornado, Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, or the 30" 2016 Snowstorm Jonas,

I've been here for you.

Litz was elected by her peers from across the state of Pennsylvania to serve as the 2012 president and 2013 chairman of the Board for the statewide commissioner's association. 

Litz is about starting a conversation from public structures like roads and bridges, water and sewer, schools, and energy.  A sound infrastructure is the basis of a sound economy.  Litz believes we need these Economy Boosting Jobs to put money into the pockets of people so that they can buy homes, cars, and goods.  Litz supports a transportation plan to make our roads and bridges safe.  In this way, we will create good paying jobs, get people to these jobs, our goods to market, and children to schools. 

Jo Ellen served as the chair of the MPO (2012-15)--Metropolitan Planning Organization for Lebanon County--where she helps to prioritize local road and bridge projects with PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. 

Keep Litz doing the People's Business.

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County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz speaks to voters- Duration- 78 seconds

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Litz Co Commercial Rentals, 1.386 acre Property Available with established Rt 422 access & curb cuts.  Out of the flood plain.  Shovel ready with public water, sewer, electricity, gas & cable.  Zoned C2 General Commercial in N Lebanon Twp.  Another fast growing municipality, N Cornwall Twp is across Route 422.  Drone tour of subject site:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv_DZAQniR8&t=3s

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Lebanon PA  17046

644-4698

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Thank you for your help and support during this campaign.  Your unwavering commitment is the wind beneath my wings.

On election day, every vote matters.  You matter!  And I can't win this race without you.
 
Volunteer  today  Jo Ellen Litz
 
Thank you for your support and for all that you do.

Sincerely, Jo Ellen

People Above Politics

Team Litz:  Treasurer, Cathy Garrison

Honorary Chair:     Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll --a woman who broke the glass ceiling and contributed greatly to PA politics; born in 1930, died November 12, 2008.

Jo Ellen Litz Campaign Video
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What do you think Lebanon County?  This is your chance to have your opinion published right on the web!  Email me and I will periodically update your comments on this page!

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HH01580A.gif (1311 bytes) Litz@MBComp.com  Topics on this page:  High Band - Budget - Prison Rape  - Child Support  - ParoleSunshine Law

 

12/30/04  I don't understand how three cell towers can provide adequate coverage when we are supposed to activate a total of seven towers.  Please explain.

In the last thirty days, there were 2,354 alpha-numeric pages sent by EMA.  This does not include those that were dual dispatched digital and voice, which brings the actual number of pages to around 4700.  Of about a dozen complaints, all but three failed dispatches were attributed to dual dispatch or human error.  One of the three was a programming error in the paging base with the Friendship, a second with Campbelltown Fire Company missing some pages on Christmas, and another amounted to pagers not activated, which we cannot explain.  To trace the last problem type, EMA purchased a Doplar-style radio antenna to search for stray signals interfering with EMA transmissions--perhaps from a local business or other source.  Keep in mind that all dispatches use our current 3-tower system.  I asked EMA Director Dan Kaufman how this could be.  Put another way, why do we need seven towers?  Three towers cover the the County, but seven towers will build in redundancy.  Right now, if a tower goes down, we do not have coverage throughout the County.  Redundancy is recommended for Homeland Security.

Then, he said, “In the past, when a 100 watt signal was sent out over low-band, the signal had the potential to follow the ground and travel further than an equivalent high-band transmission.  However, three things have impacted this ability:

1.      Competition for air space with neighboring counties--York and Lancaster--who are assigned the same channel;

2.      Increased “white noise” from all of our electronics—tv’s, computers…; and

3.      Lack of sensitivity of the pagers from the resulting decreased signal strength.”

Therefore, because of less competition for space and less white noise on high-band, when using three towers after switching to an alpha-numeric system only on January 1, 2005, it will not be perfect, but more pagers will receive a digital signal and there will be less human error.  It is even possible to receive pages in the basement of the Municipal Building.  There are qualifications:

  1. It is still possible to have a bad pager, which will need to be brought in for repairs (loaners are available if it is not an immediate fix);
  2. For safety, if a company doesn’t respond, another company is called out within five minutes;
  3. Standard Operating Procedure for transmission order and abbreviations will take effect January 1; and
  4. It is still possible to have a dead spot although increasingly rare.  No system is 100% error-free.

Advantages of alpha-numeric high-band paging include:

¨      Human error should be reduced significantly.  We've all lined up as children and started a story at one end to see what message was announced by the person at the other end of the line.  Similarly, seven steps may be involved now, but reduced to five steps with one dispatch; then reduced again to two or three steps with a CAD system—increasing accuracy by eliminating steps and adding technology.  Currently:

                                                               i.      An operator answers the phone, tape records and writes down the message;

                                                             ii.      A second operator listens and enters data into an alpha-numeric paging computer;

                                                            iii.      A voice message is broadcast;

                                                           iv.      Tones are hit;

                                                             v.      A hand log is entered by the second operator;

                                                           vi.      A media log is entered;

                                                          vii.      And a police log may also be entered onto still another computer.

¨      You can also page individuals numerically and leave your phone number.

¨      The pagers hold 60 pages for future reference.

¨      Even if a message is not complete, more pagers will receive a signal.  At least you know to respond to your fire company or can call EMA.

When the seven towers go live, we will have an even better system.

Call volume is continually increasing.  In 2004, 50,012 911 calls were received by telecommunicaters, and that’s without police and firemen who call in.  Right now, because of cell phones, it is not uncommon for thirty people to call in for one accident.  Each person can theoretically provide an additional piece of information—a victim thrown from a car, for example.

The bottom line, there will be fewer glitches with alpha-numeric paging only than there is with dual dispatching or voice paging.

12/28/04  I was at the Budget Hearing.

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Will County taxes really go up by 23%?  Judge Eby pointed out that the average household will experience a county tax increase of about $1 per week.  Admittedly, 3 mills is 10% of the General Fund budget, but 23% of the revenue raised through millage.  Unfortunately, the same increases that you are facing, the County is facing, and we have limited ways to raise revenue to balance our budget, which we are mandated by the state to do.
bulletDid you vote yourself a raise, and are you part time?  No.  I work fulltime--on call 24/7.  Remember the tornado?  I also get called when there is a prison break....  I attend meetings any where from 7:30 am through 9:30 pm.  I am usually at my desk in the courthouse in the morning.  I answer emails at night.  Further, a board of commissioners can not vote for their own salary.  The previous board of commissioners voted for the pay scale.
bulletWhat kind of perks do you get?  The short answer is, the same as most people--like social security, workman's compensation, and unemployment compensation.  I did not sign up for County medical insurance.  I do not have a County car, and I do not get mileage for meetings--and I am "assigned" a lot of regional meetings--South Central Employment Corporation, Resource Conservation and Development District, and tourism was regional at one time.  I do get reimbursed for training at the County Commissioner's Association of Pennsylvania.
bulletDid everyone speak against a tax hike?  No.  Skip Wolfe gave an example of the $21,000 that was cut from Coleman's Park last year.  He explained that that resulted in Coleman's laying off one of two employees and cutting back on services, which the public noticed and complained about.  Another man said that he understood the increase, but asked the judge to back the reserve out of the increase that he grants.  CW
bulletFor your information, a budget is a plan of financial activity for a specified period of time.  It provides a mechanism to allocate resources for the pursuit of community goals.  Budgeting helps commissioners set goals, and assists department heads in improving organizational performance.  The budget is a concise way to communicate changes in priorities and rational for decision making.  It can help people understand the need for change and reasons behind policy decisions.  Finally, a budget establishes public accountability by offering residents a clear statement of how tax money is spent and proof that county finances are in good shape.  To inform the public, this is the first year that the County of Lebanon posted the budget on their web page. 

12/04

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Taxes are the root of all evil, simply because people rely on government to do things for them instead of doing for themselves.
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You say insurances went up, did you shop for better prices elsewhere.  Yes.  Initially medical insurance carriers wanted over a 40% increase.  Highmark came in at 19%, and then Blue Cross dropped to 18%.
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Are the employees paying their share of their Medical Insurance.  That is in union negotiations.
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People in prison why can't they be made to do road work or any thing that costs can be cut. They cut into somebody's rights or they wouldn't be there in the first place. We do have trustees who cook in the prison kitchen, mow lawns....
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Are the employees doing the work they are getting paid for, maybe we can double up on some projects. At the prison and Cedar Haven, we get audited by the State, and the audit report suggests a ratio of guards or nurses to patients and inmates.
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With all the new homes going up and all that tax money coming in how can you justify raising taxes.  Unfortunately, I'm told that taxes from development do not cover all of the services provided.  It is actually "cheaper" for municipal services to have farmland which does not require police protection, schools, prisons, nursing homes....
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Since I am not in your position, maybe I shouldn't judge, but if you would be in my position and on a fixed income like so many of us are then we must speak up.  Services are great and I am no different then the next person I like things free too, but we must realize all things cost the tax payers who must foot the bills.  Understood.
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Years ago I though all taxes should cover expenses only, not to build up reserves or slush funds.  No slush.  Utility bills go up, lawsuits creep up, disasters strike, and union negotiations don't always favor the government.   We are to have a "savings account" (not to exceed 10% of the general fund) for such unexpected expenses.
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The longer things are done this way the harder it will be to get back on track.  I hope all three of you read this letter, I am thinking of putting this in the Public Form and see what response I get.

Dale M

11/04 Where is it written that the County must balance the budget (Eric W)?  While not as clear as the requirement for the state (found in Article 8 sections 12 and 131 of the Constitution), the provision for counties is (emphasis added):
 
§ 1783. Annual budget appropriations and tax rate
The budget shall reflect as nearly as possible the estimated revenues and expenditures for the year for which it is prepared.  The commissioners shall, upon adopting the budget, adopt the appropriation measures required to put it into effect, and shall fix such rate of taxation upon the valuation of the property taxable for county purposes as will, together with all other estimated revenues of the county, excluding operating, capital and other reserve funds, raise a sufficient sum to meet the said expenditures.

OK  So once the budget is passed, why do you (commissioners) insist on micromanaging departments?  Shouldn't departments be allowed to work within their approved budget?
§ 203. Vesting of corporate power
 The corporate power of each county shall be vested in a board of county commissioners.
 
 and § 202. General powers
 Each county shall have capacity as a body corporate to:
 (1) Have succession perpetually by its corporate name.
 (2) Sue and be sued and complain and defend in all proper courts by the name of the county of .....................
 (3) Purchase, acquire by gift or otherwise, hold, lease, let and convey such real and personal property as shall be deemed to be for the best interests of the county.
 (4) Make contracts for carrying into execution the laws relating to counties and for all lawful purposes.
 (5) Have and use a seal which shall be in the custody of the commissioners thereof.  The official acts of the commissioners shall be authenticated therewith.  The commissioners may prescribe the form of such seal.
 (6) To make appropriations for any purpose authorized by this or any other act of the General Assembly.
 
and § 1701. Functions of county commissioners
The county commissioners shall be the responsible managers and administrators of the fiscal affairs of their respective counties in accordance with the provisions of this act and other applicable law.
 
Taken together, these essentially say that unless otherwise provided in the Code, the commissioners are wholly and exclusively responsible for management of county affairs. The preceding courtesy of Doug Hill.

I also wanted to take a few minutes to address your question without quoting an Act.  I need to ask, as a taxpayer, are you advocating that commissioners should not worry about or be held accountable to balance the budget?
As prescribed by a 1956 Act of the Pennsylvania Legislature, most county governments provide a host of mandated services at the local level—from emergency management to mental health services.  For the most part, voters from within their county’s borders elect county commissioners.  Once elected, commissioners have the responsibility to review, then work within a budget that has undergone public scrutiny. 

Unlike businesses that must compete to survive in the market place for sales revenue, county government receives the bulk of its operating revenue from real estate taxes.  However, the public pays directly for some services in the form of user taxes--review of farm nutrient management plans (plans to dispose of animal manure in an environmentally safe manner), for example.  Funds also come from the county courts, which also collect fines and impose penalties on guilty persons for everything from drinking and driving to failure to pay child support.  Further, many counties have started charging inmates for room and board while housed in their prisons.  Together with taxes, these funds and more comprise a county’s operating budget.

County government provides for public health, safety, and welfare, often becoming one of the largest employers in their region (Lebanon County has more than 1,000 employees, thereby ranking in the top ten county employers).  Therefore, commissioners also need skills in human relations management and collective bargaining.   Finally, county government cannot go out of business.  With the election and turnover of county commissioners, there is a system of checks and balances on the bureaucracy of a perpetually operating government entrenched in providing mandated services without fear of competitors for their services.  In addition, there is seldom a county that goes bankrupt.  At one time, Schuylkill County almost declared bankruptcy.  But a court order mandated procedures until attaining solvency.  In contrast, businesses regularly succeed and fail based upon the ability of the entrepreneur or board of directors to establish a vision and direct production of a product or service.   

In summary, common sense dictates a balanced budget each year.  Jo Ellen

**8/04  What is your opinion on potential rapes at the County prison?  First, neither man or woman, in prison or out of prison, deserves to be raped.  Since this is both a sensitive and volatile topic, rather than shooting from the hip at last Thursday's meeting, I did some research on rape policy at the prison.  While Warden Raiger was out, I did talk to medical staff.  A summary follows:

Often times, inmates are afraid to speak to officers, probably because other inmates may see them in conversation. However, nurses seem to be the 'safe haven' for inmates to talk.  If sexual assault is reported, an inmate is taken immediately to the hospital for DNA, sexually transmitted disease, and other tests.  There are also times that rumors prompt nurses to call inmates in to talk.  If an inmate confides that an assault took place, the inmate is sent to the hospital for examination, and the State Police are called in to do an investigation.  Two times in the last several years, accused assaulters were separated and put in restrictive housing, then tried and when found guilty, sent to State prison for five to ten years.  When I learned that one of the two inmates was in prison for child molestation, I was convinced that this policy is enforced across the board without discrimination.  For your information, in the last several years, no women have reported rapes.

**8/04  I am married to a man who has been since I've known him (almost two years) in a cycle with the child support system, they have laws in place to help the plaintiff but not the defendant who has no legal representation at all.  He is paying but not enough to cover the order that was put in place when he was working at a different job.  He is not allowed to put in for a modification for whatever reasons and he needs legal help.  We don't qualify for low or no cost because of my income, why, I am not responsible for his child support.  I already handle all of the household bills due to his obligation for child support what more can I do.  There has to be someone or some agency out there that can help but no one seems to want to get involved.  Can you tell me why not, at least I will know what I am up against.  DW.   First, I am not an attorney, and my comments can not be considered legal advice.  Also, please don't take them personal.  I am not taking sides.  I am simply relaying my observations that may help you to "understand" not necessarily agree with how the court system works.  That being said, as I understand it, the courts have a firm belief that a parent must pay child support to the custodial parent who must get up with the child in the middle of the night to care for him when he's sick; they must help them with homework, make sure he takes a bath, combs his hair, and brushes his teeth;  see that he gets to school; takes him to the doctor....  The list goes on.  A judge would probably ask you if you knew about the child support when you got married.  Then he might ask if it is right that someone produces a child, then doesn't help to care for him, at least through child support.  Knowing this "school of thought", attorneys may know that pursuit of an appeal might be another financial burden that you can't afford, and that may be why most attorneys don't want to take your money/case.  While you don't mention how old the child is, support normally ends at age 18.  Please don't shoot the messenger.

**My relative has served his six months, and he has not been released on parole from prison.  Why?  First, because of overcrowding and the fact that we have the expense of feeding, clothing, and providing shelter for a prisoner, the commissioners do not want to keep anyone in prison longer than we have to.  My guess is that your relative was sentenced to something like six months to two years.  That means he is eligible for parole at the end of six months, but there is no guarantee that he will be released in six months.  Six months is simply the first time that he is eligible for parole.  I am aware of two things that could extend his stay:  1) a misconduct for violating prison policy, which may have an automatic three month extension (did he get into a fight or throw things at people?), 2) lack of an approved home plan.  The chief of probation explained to me that prisoners got into prison through making bad choices.  To help them keep on the right path when leaving prison, probation officers help prisoners make good choices with an approved home plan.  For example, a prisoner would not be released back into a setting where drugs were available or where violence occurred.

**7/04  I don't get this whole thing about the Sunshine Law.  Can you explain it to me?   I consider Doug Hill, the president of the County Commissioner's Association of Pennsylvania, to be the expert.  Here's what he says:

This is to confirm the information we discussed concerning the circumstances in which commissioner meetings are determined to be open meetings under the Sunshine Law.

The Act (65 Pa.C.S.A. 701 ff.) sets a general standard that all meetings of covered agencies at which agency business is transacted are open to the public, unless closed for some reason specifically stated in the law. 

Your question is a basic one concerning the general standard for open meetings.  While the law creates a standard that all meetings are open, it does not create a presumption that every time commissioners gather it constitutes a meeting.  Rather, the law creates a three part test by defining a meeting as “any prearranged gathering of an agency which is attended or participated in by a quorum of the members of an agency held for the purpose of deliberating agency business or taking official action.” 

Taking these tests in turn, the first is prearrangement.  Typically this includes the normal advertised regular or special meetings, but can include other meetings for which the members of the agency received advance notice.  It does not include chance encounters, nor does it include other nominally “scheduled” public events such as church services, theater events, and so on.  Naturally there is a presumption the agency will not use the opportunity of a chance encounter to conduct agency business, however.

Second is participation by a quorum.  This test is commonly met for most county and township boards, which consist of three members and thus have a quorum any time two are present.  Because a quorum is so easily established, our analysis of the statute rarely focuses on this test.

Finally, the meeting must be for the purpose of conducting deliberations or official action on agency business.  In this respect, the definitions of either “deliberations” or “official action” must be met.  Deliberations are “the discussion of agency business held for the purpose of making a decision,” and official action includes (1) recommendations made by an agency pursuant to statute, ordinance or executive order; (2) the establishment of policy by an agency; (3) the decisions on agency business made by an agency; or (4) the vote taken by any agency on any motion, proposal, resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance, report or order.

All three tests, each of which is clearly delineated, must be met before the meeting is considered to be open under the provisions of the act, and failure to meet any one of them places the meeting outside the statute.  For example, the common practice of new or newly-reconstituted boards of commissioners meeting with agencies under county purview or related to the county to receive information on agency functions and projects does not satisfy the definition of meeting, since the simple gathering of information meets neither the standard of deliberation nor any of the four standards of official action.

Even if all the tests are met, it should be noted that the law at section 707 provides three clear exceptions to the meeting standard, including executive sessions, conferences, and certain meetings of auditors.  The conference exception includes “any training program or seminar, or any session arranged by State or Federal agencies for local agencies, organized and conducted for the sole purpose of providing information to agency members on matters directly related to their official responsibilities.”

Last, it is important to note that the act also recognizes the unique nature of county government, in which the governing body has both legislative and administrative functions.  The issue is dealt with in the Act’s definitions of “administrative action”, “agency business”, and “official action”:

§ 703. Definitions

 

            The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

 

            "Administrative action."   The execution of policies relating to persons or things as previously authorized or required by official action of the agency adopted at an open meeting of the agency.  The term does not, however, include the deliberation of agency business. (Emphasis added)

 * * *

             "Agency business."   The framing, preparation, making or enactment of laws, policy or regulations, the creation of liability by contract or otherwise or the adjudication of rights, duties and responsibilities, but not including administrative action.  (Emphasis added)

 * * *

             "Official action."

(1) Recommendations made by an agency pursuant to statute, ordinance or executive order.

(2) The establishment of policy by an agency.

(3) The decisions on agency business made by an agency.

(4) The vote taken by any agency on any motion, proposal, resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance, report or order.

 The Act requires that all official action, and deliberations leading to official action, must be held in an open meeting.  Official action includes “agency business”, but the definition of agency business specifically excludes “administrative action”, so the conclusion is that administrative action is not official action, and hence not subject to the statute’s open meetings requirement.

This is in fact an issue we lobbied when the bill was under consideration in the Legislature.  Given the dual roles of county commissioners (and the fact that any time two commissioners are together there is a quorum), we felt it important to distinguish between their legislative and their executive/administrative roles.  The legislature agreed, and addressed the issue as described above.

Note that there are no cases we know of that give more guidance as to what constitutes “administrative action”, but there are a number of cases that show the other end of the spectrum regarding what constitutes “official action”.  Your solicitor can begin by reviewing the cases cited following 65 Pa.C.S.A. 703 in Purdon’s.

I hope you find this information useful.  You can find more information in the DCED publication on open meetings, found by going to the Departmental website at www.inventpa.com, clicking on “Communities in PA”, then on “Center for Local Government Services” and finally on “Publications.” Note that this letter reflects our experience with the statute and its genesis, but should not be construed as legal opinion.

bullet9/5/99  This site is packed with helpful and needed information. It's a great resource and a wonderful way to reach John Q. Public.  Lisa W.  Thanks Lisa.  Your comment comes around the first year anniversary for this site.  You and a couple of thousand other people found the site worth visiting.  So you, John Q. Public, made the site successful!
bullet7/1/99  What is the Internal Medicine Building?  Ed2  The building is a doctors office down the road from the Municipal Building (acquired in the 1999 bond issue) that will be used as an adult and juvenile probation center.
bullet6/25/99  Does the County and City ever talk or cooperate on
projects?  YES.  Please allow me to review some projects done in concert with the City.  Since I've been your County Commissioner I can recall:  appropriating liquid fuels funds to the City for road repairs; since we operate the prison to punish convicted criminals but don't have a police force (disparit jurisdiction), Commissioners designated the City to receive our $26,000 allotment; to help with economic development, the County approved release of the bankrupt steel foundry from our repository (forgiving all back taxes) to Jack Keener for clean-up and development; and we approved and signed a resolution supporting a KOZ (Keystone Opportunity Zone) to help attract businesses to ailing properties like the Colonial theater; in addition, I supported an overpass for the City of Lebanon for priority inclusion at the top of our 12 year plan for Penn Dot.  Perhaps not as grandiose, the County supports the 25 cent COLT bus routes to the downtown business district; installed security at the courthouse; cooperated by opening the courthouse on a Saturday to accommodate security when the KKK was in town; and will fund and install the mechanicals (pipes and electric upgrades) at the Courthouse.  Granted, the City will pay back their share over a period of time, but they didn't have to "front" their 25% for the needed upgrade.  Finally, the Mayor and County Commissioners jointly issue proclamations to worthy organizations like the Children's Miracle Network.
bullet5/20/99 I am a 50 year-old student of the PA State University and a resident of Lebanon County for 48 years.  Are you aware of any Victim Services Certificate programs, similar to a program at California State University Fresno, being taught by a college or university of the Commonwealth of PA?  Several students and myself are very interested in acquiring a certificate which will provide us with the knowledge, foundation, and skills needed for work with crime victims here in PA.  Ronald Stegal   JoEtta Shultz, our victim witness coordinator, knows of various colleges providing interns to her for credit.  For more information, she suggests calling the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency at 1-800-692-7292 or visit http://www.pccd.state.pa.us .
bullet5/4/99  Through a search, I found your place on the internet and some information on the bootcamp program.  My long term goal has always been to become a Drill Instructor at at Juvenile Justice Boot Camp, and I am looking for information to keep me moving in that direction, especially on requirements for the position.  Trevor W.    Dennis Heckard, our juvenile probation officer, recommends contacting Cornell-Abraxas Leadership Development Program, PO BOX 354, South Mountain PA  17261 or Northwestern Academy Boot Camp, 3800 State Route 61, Coal Township PA  17666.  Jeffrey Imboden, our chief adult probation officer suggests trying Quehanna Boot Camp, Box HC32, Karthaus PA  16845. 
bullet3/30/99  I don't understand why we need a new courtroom even with a fourth judge.   Why can't we have evening court?  We will still have to have additional staffing, BUT, the citizens won't have to spend tax dollars for an additional court room, AND if they have domestic type cases in the evenings people won't have to take off work and lose pay they really can't afford to lose.  Thanks for listening...Great web site!  Ideiner                     Thanks for the input.  A cost study was done concerning those people working at night.  In the long-run, because courts are labor intensive (judges, lawyers, deputies & transport, tip staff, stenographers...), it would be much more expensive to run night court than to build the space.                            
bulletAlso, about 20 years ago, the prison guards ate the same food as the inmates at TAXPAYERS expense.  If this is still happening, it should be discontinued.  No other job provides meals for employees.  If it continues, feed all the city/county employees.   Good point, but most people don't want to eat the prisoner's food.  You never know what's in there.   If guards choose to eat inmate's food, it's at their own risk.  Seriously though, in September 2004, a reader provided some important insight. 

"My father-in-law works in a State correctional facility, and I know that his meals are provided there, for what seems to me an obvious reason:  because he interacts with inmates throughout the day, he cannot bring outside food of any sort with him into the facility.  If employees brought lunches, they would have to be searched daily to ensure that employees are not bringing any banned substances in to inmates. 

If an employee were to bring a lunch of his own, he would need to keep it outside of the prison facility until lunchtime, then leave the prison complex to eat it.  That practice would be particularly inconvenient for guards, who may need to be called upon during the lunch hour to settle disturbances.  If the correctional facility did not provide meals for its employees, it would be short-staffed every day at meal times....

Perhaps the security measures are different at the County prison, but at the State prison it is a matter of safety for the inmates.  It's much safer if no one is allowed to bring food into the prison, to prevent employees from sneaking in drug-laced cookies (or any less-offensive perks) to give to inmates." AL

bullet10/26/98  Congratulations on a great web site.  This is going to be a more responsible way for many of us to access information about our local county government after hours.  Is there anyway you can keep us informed of what the County Commissioners do at their meetings?  Many of us would appreciate your comments.   Thanks for doing a great public service.  John H

       John:  This may make a great new page.  Give me a little time, and I'll see what I can do.  Thanks for the input!  Jo Ellen

bullet10/7/98  Please think long and hard about an outside management firm.  The only way to run things cheaper is to screw the workers.  The county is already too cheap.  I can't believe you can find EMA personnel less than $30,000 a year.   Those people are way underpaid.  So you don't even want to hear what I have to say about Cedar Haven, Domestic Relations, and every other hard working person.  I find it hard to believe any other company can do the same job, employ the same number of people (no lay off) and make a profit, without screwing the already underpaid little guy.   Thank you for giving me a way to reach you and express this.  Tom Rank