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Blair to meet twice a week

Commissioners alter schedule to address expected increase in pending business

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County commissioners are beginning to convene public business meetings twice a week, starting today.

The change was mentioned Tuesday during the traditional weekly meeting and a week ago when commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb spoke of the need for another meeting due to what he expects will be an increase in county business.

One of the commissioners’ pending tasks is the allocation of $11 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to small businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments affected by the ongoing pandemic. Grant applications are currently under review by a consultant examining requests for eligibility.

At today’s commissioners meeting, which convenes at 1:30 p.m., no action is scheduled on the grant applications, based on an agenda posted on the county’s website. Instead, commissioners are expected to vote on or further explore agenda resolutions reviewed Tuesday. Those resolutions normally would have stayed on hold until next week’s meeting. Commissioners also have the option of bringing up matters to be considered.

The commissioners will continue to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesdays; and through Dec. 30, they also will convene at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

While commissioners and some other county personnel have video and audio access to the weekly commissioners’ meetings through an online meeting application called BlueJeans, only audio access has been made available to the public.

Those interested in listening to the meeting can call 1-408-419-1715 and enter the meeting code 2468097683#.

Items up for vote today include authorization of an agreement with NPC Inc., which will print and process the county’s mail-in and absentee ballots.

Commissioners are also expected to vote on allocating $10,000 toward demolishing Altoona properties at 306 Maple Ave. and 1318 N. Fourth Ave.

The city has also pledged $10,000 toward the demolition. With commissioners’ approval, the county’s portion will come from a demolition fund supported with revenue from mortgage fees.

Another agenda item reviewed Tuesday authorizes a new transportation agreement with Fullington Trailways LLC for juror transportation, at $305 per bus through the end of the year and in 2021.

The price is $15 higher than the current rate of $290 per bus.

The county’s cost of bus transportation for jurors has increased because more buses are needed.

To resume jury trials during the pandemic, the county started summoning potential jurors in smaller groups over several days. That practice allows potential jurors to sit farther apart during jury selection. They’re also divided among two buses on jury selection days so they can maintain some distance from others while riding between the courthouse and the Antique Depot parking lot in Duncansville.

This year’s cost of extra bus transportation in light of COVID-19 can be recouped from the CARES Act funding if it exceeds budgeted amounts, County Administrator Nicole Hemminger said.

For 2021, however, Hemminger said there’s no assurance of CARES money being available.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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