COG updated on county projects

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

The Franklin County Council of Governments once again proved to be a forum to disseminate information to all county municipalities and governing agencies. Members at the Sept. 15 meeting in Chambersburg learned about progress at the courthouse and other area projects.

County commissioner David Keller announced that the county had entered into a contract with Noelker-Hull for site evaluations at the current courthouse location and at the Jennings car dealership on North Second Street. With the cost of construction down 30 percent and financing at its lowest point in 60 years, Keller said it was a prime time to expand the courthouse, as well as a crucial need.

"We are trying to define the scope of the project to present to the public," he said. "We are trying hard to right size it to mitigate the need to raise taxes. There will have to be some increase."

The expansion was estimated to run $50 million.

He explained that the current facility was retrofitted over the last 30 years and just wasn't big enough for the five judges. Safety and security for employees and the public were the biggest issue.

The result of two feasibility studies indicated Franklin County needed 150 percent of the space now available, he continued. The plan was to build something that could be adapted and improved for the next 50 to 100 years to meet future needs.

Commissioner Bob Thomas encouraged COG members to read the results of the studies. "These people know their business. The situation is real. Denying it is irresponsible."

Phil Tarquino, director of the Planning Department, said the comprehensive plan was in the final stages. Long-range transportation goals were under review by PennDOT. He wanted input from the boroughs and townships on their transportation projects. "They won't happen unless they are on our plan," he said.

COG treasurer Harold Duffey recommended that for 2011 no dues be assessed the members. The fee, which ranged from $75 to $175, could be waived one year because of a healthy fund balance of $8,255, and projected expenses of only $2,410.

Historian Ted Alexander shared highlights of Franklin County's role in the Civil War. Convention and Visitor's Bureau director Janet Pollard announced that Franklin and Adams counties were teaming up with the initiative Civil War 150. They were planning tourist promotions from 2011 to 2015 to commemorate the anniversary.