The Cambria County commissioners, acting as members of the salary board, agreed unanimously to hire one full-time person to run the central booking system that will be in effect at the prison soon.
The fourth member of the salary board, Controller Ed Cernic Jr., was absent from the meeting, held Thursday evening at Penn Cambria High School.
The commissioners hold meetings on a regular basis at various locations for the benefit of the public.
Police officers from departments throughout the county will no longer have to wait until defendants are arraigned before heading back out on patrol.
A prison employee with the rank of lieutenant will handle the duties that police have had to do at a magistrate’s office as well as some processing work that included fingerprinting at the police station, said Cambria County Prison Warden John Prebish.
The lieutenant will come from within the ranks of the the prison staff. The employee’s salary was set at $42,949 and will be paid from the $200 booking fee that will be paid by defendants, Prebish said.
In response to a question from one of the Penn Cambria students, Prebish said the $200 would be refunded if the defendant was found not guilty.
In other business, the salary board agreed to transfer the risk management duties from Christian Masci, director of maintenance, to Ron Springer, executive director of the Department of Emergency Services.
President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder said Masci already has enough work to do and it makes more sense to have Springer – who, along with his staff – already is tasked with protecting personnel and the public.
Neither of their salaries will change.
Acting in their regular county government capacity, the commissioners approved a contract between the county’s Behavioral Health department and Peer Empowerment Network for Peer to operate a drop-in center at a former funeral home on Somerset Street in Johnstown.
The $283,500 contract is for one year and will be paid for through a state grant.
The commissioners also approved a $54,000-per-year parking lease with the city of Johnstown for spaces for county employees at the Main Street East Parking Garage.
Employees had been parking at a lot along Clinton Street and rode a shuttle to the Central Park Complex building, where they work.
Commissioner Thomas Chernisky said the lease payment for the Clinton Street lot was being sent to the owners in New Jersey. Now the money will stay in Johnstown, and the city will be able to use the money to make improvements to its garage, he said.
Three dozen Penn Cambria students, their teachers and administrators attended the meeting.
Three students – Brad Petyak, Tyler Prebish and Hunter Conrad – started the meeting by singing the national anthem.
Senior class President Taylor Freem and district Superintendent Mary Beth Whited welcomed the commissioners.
Teachers Tim Whited, Sean Davison and Adam Clevenger encouraged their U.S. government students to attend the commissioners meeting to watch how government works.
The students enjoy such events, and last fall participated in the commissioners debate at the school by asking questions, Whited said. When the students return to school after the Easter break, they will discuss the meeting in class and write a report.
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