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December 17, 2013

Somerset County hires consultant to find train station funds

JOHNSTOWN — Somerset County commissioners on Tuesday took another step toward making the proposed Rockwood train station a reality by hiring a consultant to procure money.

Commissioners approved the hiring of former state representative Richard A. Geist of Altoona.

Commissioners say as much as $3 million is needed to build an Amtrak station that would become a stop on the Capitol Limited line between Chicago and Washington, D.C.

“(Geist) feels that because of the way the transportation bill was written, there is money set aside for rail service,” Chairman John Vatavuk said. “He’s very confident we can be successful.”

Money is needed for signal upgrades, security and parking lot improvements.

Geist will be paid up to $95,000 with money from the discretionary hotel tax fund.

Commissioners also announced more than $200,000 in tax refunds for boroughs, townships and school districts.

“This is money that has been collected from tax sales over the years,” Vatavuk said.

The money is expected to be distributed by year’s end.

 In other business, commissioners tabulated write-in votes in the Allegheny Township supervisor’s race.

They declared Bert F. Zerfoss Jr., with 12 votes, the winner.

Zerfoss will serve a four-year term. Ronald Dawson and Dwight Deeter round out the three-member supervisors board.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on


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