John K. Manna
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Lawrence County commissioners have invited area legislators and other officials to discuss options for the Youth Development Center property.
Commissioner Chairman Dan Vogler said the meeting, set for tomorrow afternoon will basically be “a brainstorming session” among the officials “to discuss what options are open to us.”
In addition to the county’s two state senators and three state representatives, the commissioners have invited Linda Nitch, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp., a member of the governor’s action team and the Shenango Township supervisors.
Gov. Tom Corbett announced on Jan. 15 that the Youth Development Center will be closed on Feb. 15. The juveniles who were housed at the facility — 31 as of the first of the year — were transferred to other youth development centers immediately.
The closure affects 223 employees at the facility off Frew Mill Road in Shenango Township.
A press release issued by the governor’s office said reasons for the closure included a declining population over the last several years and the cost to operate the facility.
The release said the state would assist dislocated employees by providing them information regarding unemployment compensation and health care benefits and also to help them become reemployed.
It also said the state would work with local government and organizations to market the property.
State Rep. Jaret Gibbons said he and other legislators met last week with Beverly Mackereth, deputy secretary for the Department of Public Welfare, who explained reasons for the closing.
Gibbons said the state’s decision is “set in stone,” so now legislators are looking “to see how we can reuse the facility and replace the jobs that are lost. And making sure the employees are receiving assistance.”
He said legislators expressed their “frustration” on how quickly the closing occurred without any advance notice.
Gibbons noted tomorrow’s meeting with the commissioners, adding, “We’re looking for all ideas to redevelop the property.”
(Email: jmanna @ncnewsonline.com)