Centre County commissioners to investigate appointees to elected positions

County commissioners have been called on to investigate what has been perceived to be a large number of appointments to elected positions within the county.

Bellefonte resident John Adams, who has routinely held protests in front of the Centre County Courthouse, brought his concerns before the board Tuesday. Adams alleged that the appointees are skirting the electoral process, putting people in official positions that were never voted for.

“This is troubling,” he said. “I’m a citizen, I’m trying to pay my bills. The questions I have are who’s appointing these people?”

According to Adams, in some cases, resignations are being made and appointees are being ushered in without public knowledge. He asked that commissioners look into the issue and uncover how many elected positions in the county have been appointed instead.

In a case he cited in Worth Township, a write-in candidate who won the election refused his seat. Adams said he later saw an advertisement for the position in the Centre Daily Times.

“This looks dirty,” he said. “It looks like an elite group of people are able to pick and choose who they want to run where, and the voter is being kept completely in the dark.”

Chairman Michael Pipe cited a few instances in which township supervisors vacated their positions for different reasons, including a death, disqualification and criminal charges. Each municipality throughout the county has different ways they fill vacancies, he said.

“As vacancies occur, there is a need to fill them,” he said. “There’s nothing sinister about that. There are rules, regulations and precedents to fill them.”

County solicitor Betsy Dupuis advised the board to take a month to look into the processes for the municipalities in the county and report back to the public.

In other business, commissioners discussed a contract between the county and the state Department of Community and Economic Development on behalf of the village of Rebersburg in Miles Township for water main replacement.

County senior planner Matt Milliron said the county was awarded $115,600 in 2014 for the project. Last year, SEDA-COG submitted an application for a second grant, which was awarded to the county.

The grant totals $695,700, he said, with $64,200 for contract administration services through SEDA-COG. The Rebersburg project involves replacing about 3,000 feet of water mains on the east end of the village.

Once the county solicitor reviews the contract and it is approved by commissioners, it goes back to Harrisburg for final execution, SEDA-COG project coordinator Tyler Dombroski said. An environmental review will take about 90 days, during which time the Miles Township Water Authority will begin soliciting for an engineer to start designs.

Once the project is out to bid, he said, construction will hopefully begin by late summer or early fall.

Commissioners will vote on the contract next week.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews