Blair Commissioners


Grant money to help with death penalty cases

Blair County will accept a $40,000 grant to help cover expenses associated with two death penalty cases.

Commissioners voted Thursday to accept the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency money.

The commission’s website says the money can be used to assist indigent defendants in capital cases — at $20,000 per case — for costs associated with expert witnesses, forensic testing, mental health evaluations, investigators, travel costs and legal research.

Blair County’s most recent capital case involved April’s retrial of Paul Aaron Ross in the 2004 murder of Tina S. Miller of Hollidaysburg at Canoe Creek State Park. Before the jury announced its verdict, Ross rendered a plea to third-degree murder in exchange for 42 to 84 years’ incarceration.

The county has spent $85,304 since 2014 for expert witnesses in the Ross case.

The county also is expected to use the grant toward costs in the pending capital homicide case of Drue S. Burd, who is charged in the smothering of a 16-month-old baby who died May 25, 2018.

$50,000 set aside for grange demolition

Blair County will provide $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to help pay for demolishing the Sinking Valley Grange Building in Tyrone Township.

Commissioners on Thursday approved a resolution assigning unspent 2017 CDBG funds toward the building demolition and clearing costs.

County, Altoona seek law enforcement grant

Blair County and the city of Altoona will again file a joint application for 2021 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant.

In prior years, the county and the city have obtained funds by submitting a joint application. The federal initiative makes money available to local governments seeking help to cover costs associated with law enforcement activities and/or equipment.

Altoona Police Chief Joe Merrill and Blair County Sheriff James Ott advised commissioners Tuesday of plans to submit a joint application for $20,206, with $16,000 allocated to the city and $4,206 allocated to the county, based on a funding formula.

Commissioners on Thursday authorized a memorandum in support of the joint request.

Contract awarded to cut trees at Valley View park

Blair County is hiring Maier’s Tree Service and Landscaping in Hollidaysburg to remove 20 trees and grind down 15 stumps at Valley View County Park.

Maier’s rendered the lowest of three quotes at $11,200, which commissioners unanimously approved Thursday.


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