Clarion County moves ahead with 911/broadband plans

Clarion County signed an agreement with Wein Brothers Building, which allows the county to obtain drill core samples that will be analyzed to determine soil compaction for a new 911/broadband tower in Paint Township.

The deal goes hand-in-hand with the county’s recent $670,000 purchase of the former Sorce warehouse.

The 50,000-square-foot building will be converted into the county’s new 911 and Emergency Management Services center, and the new tower will be a key link in the county’s plan to eliminate gaps in 911 coverage and provide broadband capabilities to county residents.

In addition, a new tower is currently being erected in Leeper. The total cost of that project is $313,767.

The county is using part of the $3 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grant for the work on the emergency system. Under the provisions of the CARES Act, improvements to a broadband system are allowable.

Portions of the cost of the Sorce building purchase and the tower construction are allowed under the grant.

The commissioners also approved core-sampling agreements in Porter and Brady townships ahead of construction of 911 towers at those locations.

Commissioner Ted Tharan said the COVID pandemic caused a greater reliance on the system from new users, including for telemedicine, distance learning and others who are now working remotely.

The projects must be completed by Dec. 31 under the current guidelines. Tharan said U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson is working to have the deadline changed.

“Rushing these projects will only lead to waste,” Tharan said during this week’s commissioners meeting.

During his recent visit to Jefferson County, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said the Senate also has been working to push back the deadline.