Courtyard demolition under way at courthouse

An excavator chips and drills away at the concrete planters in the courtyard of the courthouse. In the background, Gary Pezzuolo, left, talks about the project with Commissioner Loretta Spielvogel. Pezzuolo is owner of G.P. Construction, the contracted company that is doing the work. 

The courtyard at the Lawrence County Government Center is about to get more upgrades.

The commissioners Tuesday awarded a contract to Sowers Building Inc. of Valencia, Butler County, for the installation of sidewalks with wheelchair accessibility. Sowers was the lowest of four bidders at $58,958.45.

Commissioner Loretta Spielvogel, who has been overseeing the project plans, said the work will be a scaled-down version of what was bid under the previous board of commissioners. Price quotes for the work last year came close to $500,000.

Earlier this year, the county commenced with the removal of concrete walls and barriers and benches that had been in place for nearly four decades. 

"The barriers are gone, the trees are gone, and we're down to just the leveled topsoil," she said at the commissioners public meeting, noting that plans are for basic sidewalks, with more enhancements planned for the spring.

The previous board of commissioners previously had approved a contract with G.P. Construction of Hillsville for the removal work, which it completed about a month ago at a cost of $84,700.

The sidewalk installation is expected to be done by the end of this year, Spielvogel said, in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Frank B. Taylor Engineering drew up the specifications for the project.

The cost is being paid with safety grants the county received from PCORP — the Pennsylvania Counties Insurance Risk Pool —  and PCOMP — a County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania workers compensation program — both of which the county is a participant.

Commissioner Dan Vogler suggested the commissioners talk to New Castle city officials about having crosswalk stripes painted and signs put up on Court Street, where the sidewalks end.

He also suggested the county obtain a commonwealth of Pennsylvania flag to fly on the flagpole with the new American flag that is flying there.

Vogler added that a monument noting two county's Congressional Medal of Honor recipients of the Civil War should be upgraded to include the name of Sgt. Leslie H. Sabo Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient who died in the Vietnam war.

In other bidding matters, the commissioners accepted a bid of North Beaver Contracting of Edinburg company for improvements at Quaker Falls, a recreational tract of ground in Mahoning Township that is currently receiving upgrades to create a public park area.

The company was the lowest of six bidders at $181,196.

The bids were reviewed by the project engineer and the solicitor, explained Rebecca Shaffer, county greenways and environmental planner. She emphasized that the bid approval is not the approval of the contract.

 The project, which includes ground, tree and trail work, posting of signs and upgrades to an entrance off Route 224, is being funded entirely from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, Shaffer said. 

The commissioners also approved a contract for Levine Law LLC to conduct title searches of tax-delinquent properties. Levine was the lower of two bidders, at $125 per property and $35 per mobile home.

Artisha Foster, county tax claim director, said the title searches will be done next year in advance of the annual judicial sale of tax delinquent properties. She said the firm also notifies all of the property owners who are delinquent two years in their tax payments, before their properties go up for sale.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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