Clarion County can’t get copy of report on blaze

A state police fire marshal has issued a report on the blaze that damaged the building at 22 North 6th St. in Clarion last month, but the owners of the building haven’t seen the report.

Clarion County owns the building, but the fire marshal’s report was sent to Clarion Fire Department.

“We have been told we cannot get a copy of the report,” Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan said Tuesday. “We will have to get a subpoena to get a copy of the report.”

The county’s insurer, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, has been contacted regarding the matter.

The Sept. 5 fire forced the temporary evacuation of District Judge Duane Quinn’s office space and the Clarion County Probation Department.

Tharan said until the fire marshal’s report is obtained the county will not know the full extent of the damage.

It is a believed a burning cigarette that was disposed of in a plastic ashtray caused the fire. That will not be confirmed officially until the fire marshal’s investigation is released.

The county solicitor is pursuing the matter.

In other business at Tuesday’s Clarion County commissioners meeting, it was announced the county is hoping to reach a new contract agreement with one employee union but is still in negotiations with a second union.

The sheriff’s deputies are represented by the Butler County Community College Police Department. That contract expired in December 2018.

Tharan was optimistic about that contract.

“I think the sheriff’s deputies are almost done,” he said. “We are making progress.”

The court related employees, represented by the Teamsters, are currently in arbitration. Their contract expired in December 2017.

The arbitrator has made a ruling but the county hasn’t received the report. The county and union have the option to accept or reject the non-binding report.

Support for program

Commissioners also approved a letter of support for Community Connections, a program designed to help “engage youth in a career pathway.”

The program is sponsored by North West Pennsylvania Job Connect and will benefit Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango and Warren counties.

“The objective of the program is to recruit out-of-school youth, ages 18 to 24, who were previously in detention or incarcerated and engage them in a career pathway leading to education and training or meaningful employment,” Commissioner Wayne Brosius said. “It is hoped the program will reduce recidivism.”

“It is hard for those people to find jobs,” Brosius added. “It is important because right now the unemployment rate is so low.”

The program will enroll 100 youth (50 subjected to the justice system and 50 previously incarcerated).

Each of the participants will be assigned a joint adult mentoring team for advice through their participation in the program.

A coordinator of services will be hired by the Title 1 provider to help the participants navigate the services and insure participant completion of all of the required steps.