April 17 will be the first evening meeting for the Franklin County Commissioners

March 19 – The Franklin County Commissioners will meet tomorrow and they’re planning to kick off their first evening meeting on April 17 at 272 North Second Street. 

After that, the evening meetings will be once a month and three of those will be at various locations throughout the county. 

Franklin County Commissioner John Flannery said, “I’d love to see good attendance because our administration did some research in other counties, we reached out, we asked, hey have you guys tried this? What are the results? A lot of counties have a similar schedule to our current schedule where they meet during the day because all the offices are open. That’s when business happens. And unfortunately, a lot of the public can’t be there. I think we’ve got to get the message out there to actually get people out to attend because like I said, a lot of those other counties did not have success, trying this.”

The meeting will be between 6 and 7 p.m. 

The Children and Youth Advisory Board met last week. 

Flannery, who is on the board, said, “They’re really busy and this isn’t good news. As an example, monthly referrals which are the phone calls that come in. The majority of them come from schools, a teacher or an administrator sees something on a kid or has a concern or a counselor may talk to a child and make a phone call to Children and Youth that they suspect there might be something at home that may be going wrong, but the monthly referrals are up. 

In February 2023, Children and Youth received 238 referrals. In February 2024, they had 336 calls. 

Why is the increase happening? 

Flannery said, “We don’t know. It’s all over the board. In that meeting, we’re trying to figure it out, but it’s just so hard to know. Is it just a post COVID thing? As people settle back in and kids have to go back to school there’s a lot of truancy issues. We’re not quite sure and I think the possible effects of COVID may be starting to catch up to us.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “COVID, people found it odd. They said well, wouldn’t reporting have been up during COVID because kids were home and people were irritated and stressed. But actually no, because you don’t have the reporters, the mandatory reporters in school that see things. So they said actually that the numbers dropped during COVID and then went back and is this a reflection of that?”

Flannery said, “That is true, they did drop during COVID and just if you want to correlate to kids that are actually in placement, and when I say in placement, I mean the majority of those kids are in foster homes, due to issues of being pulled out of the home. But in February of 2023 we had 90 Children in placement. This year 2024 last month, we now have 121 in placement. So there’s an increase there as well.”

The Franklin County Housing Authority Board also met yesterday. 

Flannery said, “Daniel Myers is going into his third month as the executive director, making a lot of progress there. Mr. Myers has been able to work with staff and they’re really catching up. They’re using grant money that dates back to 2020. The board approved a bid yesterday for Rockwell Construction to completely overhaul the park. It’s about a half million dollar overhaul. So we’re excited about that. All the equipment will be replaced. There’s going to be the erection of a pavilion out there, outdoor restrooms, new sidewalks, a new mulch pit and an area in the front to secure it up with some fencing and some possible other barriers for safety. So that’s exciting. And this is grant money. So it’s not going to cost the Franklin County taxpayers any money.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM suggested, “Let’s also make sure we put some cameras around that as well too. Because if you’re laying that kind of money in there, youngsters shouldn’t have to be at the mercy of vandalism for the untoward.”

The Federal Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law recently, which gives the Franklin County Metropolitan Planning Organization $2 million towards the 81 project.

Flannery said, “We allocate monies for projects with PennDOT in regards to interstate 81. I’m sure you’ve seen the exit 12 project. We already have money allocated to it. Now I don’t know if we’re at $60 million yet, but we will be and this confirms that the project is on track for 2026.” 

Why $60 million?

Flannery said, “You should hear what the price tag is to get 81 a third lane through Franklin County. I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous. I travel 81 quite a bit. And I’ll tell you it even helps through our three exits in Chambersburg that we have that entrance/exit lane, that third lane that kind of sits there. I’m thinking man the start’s kind of already there. Why can’t we make this happen? When I drive this corridor and head south, and I head down through West Virginia, they have those three lanes and no trucks in the third lane and I’m not discouraging trucks. They bring our goods to us. I can’t fault them. But you get a truck doing 58 miles an hour and the truck wants to pass them doing 59 miles an hour on a two lane road, it backs up traffic for miles. It’s not their fault. Some of those trucks are governed, but it’s amazing what that third lane does through West Virginia. So why can’t we make this happen here in Franklin County? It just blows my mind. It’s a really touchy subject for me.” 

Jansen suggested, “I also wonder if 60 million, would this be the prevailing wage? I think so, too. We really need our state legislators to do something about that. We should not be paying the same prevailing wage throughout the state that’s based in the cities and their higher costs for the most part, out here in south central Pennsylvania. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Ryan said, “That prevailing wage hurts the school districts and hurts the highways.”