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Former Ben Franklin building to house BC Sheriff's office

TOWANDA — Though the building has stood empty for nearly two years, Towanda’s former Ben Franklin store has now been purchased and will soon be back in use, this time as the home of the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office.

Bradford County Commissioners announced the purchase during a commissioners meeting on Thursday.

The county has purchased the former Ben Franklin building, located mere steps from the Bradford County Courthouse, for $300,000 and plans to renovate it to house not only the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office but also storage for county files and for the area’s newly purchased voting machines, according to Bradford County Commissioner Chairman Doug McLinko.

McLinko stated that commissioners have been considering the building’s purchase for nearly two years and that the decision was made to remove the Sheriff’s Office out of plans for Towanda’s new Public Safety Building due to location, budget and spacing factors.

Because the Sheriff’s Office provides security for the courthouse as well as the human services building across the street, it is “critically important” to keep them located close to town, said McLinko.

The commissioners also told that state law has mandated that departments such as domestic relations begin to keep more files on hand, which calls for more storage space.

McLinko stated that renovations to the new county building will include a secure, climate controlled space to store Bradford County’s new voting machines, valued at $1.3 million, and will provide easy access to the machines for required bi-annual testings.

Another benefit to purchasing the former Ben Franklin building is that the space will not need to be built to the same weather emergency standards as the public safety building, which will allow for lower costs than if the sheriff’s department was built there, according to McLinko.

The commissioners stated that no renovation work will take place in the building this year as they are overseeing the completion of the public safety building and rapid bridge repair project, but that the building’s exterior will eventually be painted and cleaned to “be something that we can be proud of” on Main Street.


Coy Gobble / Review Photo/Coy Gobble 

Bradford County Assistant Director of Elections Jessica McDermott demonstrates how to use the County's new voting machines at the Monroeton Public Library on Thursday. The demonstration was the last of five held by the Bradford County Election Bureau in September and October throughout the county. The new voting machines had been implemented in this year's primary election already, but the Bureau wanted to give voters who may not have voted in the primary a chance to test out the new equipment.


Local
Wysox Township names Guthrie Towanda Memorial EMS provider

WYSOX TOWNSHIP — The Wysox Township Supervisors carried a motion naming Guthrie Towanda Memorial EMS their primary emergency services provider for the township in their most recent meeting on Wednesday evening.

The move comes more than a week after Western Alliance abruptly ended their BLS (Basic Life Support) service in the Wysox area and other nearby municipalities (Rome Township, Rome Borough, Standing Stone Township, Asylum Township) in late September.

“The abrupt abandonment of services by Western Alliance is a disappointment, but we are actively taking steps to ensure there is no lack of coverage or care for our residents,” the township said in a statement in early October after Western Alliance gave verbal confirmation to the township that their service was ending.

Supervisor Evan Barnes said in the meeting that the township had not yet received an official written notice from Western Alliance, which was required by Pennsylvania law 90 days before the service ended.

Western Alliance CEO Rodney Decker told the Review on Thursday that Western Alliance had sent out written notices on Thursday and that the respective municipalities should receive them soon.

Decker also said on Thursday that subscriptions paid to Western Alliance by people in Wysox and surrounding areas would be honored by Towanda Guthrie Memorial EMS after a pro-rated agreement was struck.

A representative from the Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital told the Review on Thursday that the membership program would continue to run in the future at the same rates as all communities that are served by Guthrie Towanda Memorial EMS.

Also in the meeting, township manager Jon Kulick announced that they had received three donations from the Towanda VFW ($150), the Monroeton Gun Club ($500), and C&N Bank (two payments of $4.4K, with the second to come in the new year) to purchase ADA compliant picnic tables for the recently refurbished Wysox Park on the Susquehanna River.

The supervisors also set a date and time for a special meeting to vote to advertise next year’s budget. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Oct. 23 at the township building.


Local
Local arts organizations receive over $40,000 in grants

TOWANDA — A total of $46,339 in grants were given away at the Bradford County Regional Arts Council Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts annual grants awards ceremony at the Historic Keystone Theatre on Thursday.

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants were awarded to nonprofit art organizations across Bradford, Tioga, Susquehanna, Columbia, Sullivan, Lycoming, and Wyoming counties.

The Bradford County Heritage Society, the Borough of Sayre, Endless Mountain Choral Society, the Northeast Bradford School District, Troy Youth Arts Council, West Branch Arts Consortium and 25 other groups were awarded grants at the ceremony.

Grant recipients were determined by panelists and those that were scored a high enough were awarded grants up to a maximum of $2,500. Grant recipients were judged on outreach potential and the quality of the application.

Renae Chamberlain, with the Bradford County Regional Arts Council, 36 organizations applied and 31 were awarded grants through the program.

“This is amazing,” said Chamberlain. “I do most of the administration side, but I still do get out to most of the projects. To see more applications coming in every year from different organizations and to see the impact they are having on their communities is just a fabulous thing to be involved in. I couldn’t be more proud to be apart of PPA, Northern Tier and Bradford County.”

Chamberlain stated that the focus of the event is on the applicants and their art.

“The spotlight is on the recipients and the work that they will be doing.”