July 2, 2014 —
HONESDALE, PA — “The good news is that we have more training. The bad news is that we could have used it last year,” Brian Smith, chair of the Wayne County Commissioners, said of a new agreement for Wayne County’s share of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) regional funding.
Marie McDonnell, the county’s WIA coordinator, appearing to report and seek the commissioners’ approval of the new agreement, said the pact running from July 2014 through June of 2015 provides a 17% funding increase for Wayne of the unchanged four-county money pool. “Unemployment funding is catching up,” she added.
According to the May 28 report from the PA Department of Labor and Industry, Wayne unemployment, as of April 2014, stood at 5.5%, down from 7.2% in April of last year.
This compared the state unemployment rate projected for May of 5.6%, down from 7.5% in May 2013. Additionally, McDonnell said the unemployment rate does not include “many who are underemployed and some who have stopped looking.”
Another pertinent statistic, population decrease, indicated that from April of 2010 to July of 2013 Wayne County population fell by 2.4%, which was the third highest rate of decrease statewide.
New funding, in part, would support Northhampton Community College to offer GED diploma courses that would be offered at Honesdale WIA Center, she said.
In other news, former South Canaan township supervisor Dave Daniels spoke during the public comment period, in part to thank the commissioners and Sen. Lisa Baker for the box-culvert replacement of the Curtis Bridge in South Canaan. He said the culvert was a more durable and lasting alternative to a new bridge.
In addition, Daniels offered his support for maintaining the historic style of the Wangum Bridge on the Wangum Falls Road. The Wangum Bridge site once carried the Pennsylvania Coal Company gravity railroad.
Earlier this month the commissioners approved additional funding for the bridge replacement contract, related to PA Museum Commission concerns about the project.
“A lot of people would like to see it remain as close as possible and retain the history. It’s unique and there’s not a lot [of the old railroad] left,” Daniels said.
The commissioners also received a clean state audit of the county’s Title 4-E programs, managed by the county Human Services Department.
Commissioner Wendell Kay highlighted the audit, saying the funding for foster care, early childhood intervention and behavioral health services was positively reviewed and received “high marks for the best use of funds in the state.”