SCI Somerset temporarily taking Blair Prison laundry

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County will use the State Correctional Institution at Somerset to handle laundry services while repairs are made to the prison’s laundry and roof

that were damaged last week by fire.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to authorize laundry services at 47 cents a pound.

Commissioners also, through adoption of an emergency resolution, directed the prison staff to work with county Purchasing Agent Deb Wyland on securing quotes to repair the prison facility, including the roof above the laundry.

The emergency resolution, allowing the county to avoid advertising requirements associated with major purchases or projects, will permit the county to move faster with repairs.

Solicitor Nathan Karn said the resolution is warranted because the prison no longer has the ability to do laundry, and it’s incurring an additional expense as a result.

Deputy Warden Marc T. Masucci also mentioned that while a tarp was placed on the fire-damaged roof, the most recent windstorm was able to loosen the tarp.

Commissioner Diane Meling said she heard fire damage was estimated at $200,000 but declined to judge the accuracy of that estimate until the quotes are collected.

The county has property insurance to pay for repairs, Meling said, but the policy has a $10,000 deductible.

Masucci said the prison staff, with help from the inmates, cleaned up the prison area damaged by the fire and painted the dry goods area.

A visitation room in that area still has a slight smoky smell and footprint markings that will need to be cleaned, Masucci said.

“We thank you, the warden and, quite frankly, the inmates for everything that got done,” Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said.

Masucci said the prison’s washers are believed to be OK, but the dryers will need to be replaced.

Until then, SCI Somerset personnel are picking up and delivering the prison’s laundry as part of its laundry services route that regularly pass by the prison, Masucci said.

The fire also forced the county to temporarily stop providing laundry services for Valley View Home, Tomassetti said.

The county prison handled that task when the county owned the home and continued to handle the duty after selling the home at the end of May.