New Castle News

Closer Look

July 2, 2014

County to continue saving energy

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County is about to enter the second phase of a major energy saving upgrade for its buildings.

Joe Price of Johnson Controls, a global company with offices in Youngstown, told the county commissioners Tuesday that the program started in 2008 for $2.2 million has been more successful than anticipated.

The upgrades done at that time in the county government complex were guaranteed to save $620,000 in energy costs, he said, and to date, they have saved $687,000. Work done in Phase 1 included comprehensive upgrades on heating, air conditioning and other energy systems.

The next phase will cost $3,032,432. It will include new boilers in both sections of the government center, heating and air conditioning upgrades at the county jail as well as kitchen work to save energy, and indoor and outdoor lighting and sign upgrades for the entire government complex.

These upgrades, Price said, are estimated to generate $1.4 million in savings over 15 years.

Commissioner Dan Vogler said the cost of Phase 2 will be included in a bond issue that will be floated for the new public safety building. Final action on the contract is expected next week.

The commissioners also approved new limits on required bidding for county purchases as enacted by the state Legislature in 2011.

The county now has to advertise for sealed bids for any job costing more than $19,100. For jobs between $10,300 and $19,099, they must obtain written quotes. Anything under $10,300 needs neither bids nor quotes.

The amounts regularly change based on consumer prices under the legislation. The former bidding limit was $18,750.

Also, the commissioners agreed to extend a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development contract for a housing rehabilitation program for three months to allow completion and audit of the program.

According to Kim Hnida, regional healthy homes coordinator for Lawrence County Social Services, the program provides funds for permanently disabled low-income people to construct ramps, chair lifts, grab bars or other alterations in their homes for accessibility.

The program provided $300,000 this year and served 40 households. Hnida said the extension was needed to finish the projects because the funds arrived late. Hnida said after the meeting that application will likely be made for another grant. Low-income disabled people in need of these funds should call the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership at (724) 656-0090.

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