Luzerne County Council to vote on airport consultant Tuesday

Luzerne County Council is set to vote Tuesday on the hiring of Delta Airport Consultants Inc. to handle engineering and planning for a multimillion dollar overhaul at the Wyoming Valley Airport in Forty Fort and Wyoming, according to the agenda.

Council had earmarked $6 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding for capital improvements at the 110-acre, county-owned complex, and additional government aviation funding is available, officials said.

Following a request-for-qualifications, an administration committee recommended Delta. Headquartered in Richmond, Va., Delta has an office in Harrisburg that would handle the local airport project.

If selected, Delta would develop a plan to identify what projects can be completed along with a schedule and costs.

Council’s approval would be for a five-year master engagement agreement. Because some funding will come from the Bureau of Aviation through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, each task will have an agreement with specified fees, officials said.

Tuesday’s voting meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre, with instructions for the remote attendance option posted under council’s online meetings section at

Board appointments

Council also is scheduled to pick one citizen Tuesday to serve on the new Commission on Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement.

Five applicants were publicly interviewed: Katrina Favata, Mary Butera, Ann Marie Kochuba-Mantione, Neil Oberto and Attorney Sheila Saidman.

The commission must identify and recommend the best uses for $25 million the county is expected to receive over 18 years from the state’s settlement against opioid manufacturers and wholesale distributors. Council has the final say on how the money is spent.

Also serving on the panel are council Chairman John Lombardo, county District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce, county Drug and Alcohol Administrator Ryan Hogan, county Human Services Division Head Lynn Hill, county Correctional Services Division Head James Wilbur and county Manager Romilda Crocamo.

A Republican citizen seat on the county ethics commission also is on the list to be filled. Duryea resident Ben Herring is the lone applicant for the seat, which has been vacant since the end of 2023.

The other board seats to be filled, along with the citizens on the eligibility list:

• One seat on the Northeastern Pennsylvania Health and Higher Education Authority — Joseph Donahue and Debra Yanuzzi.

• One seat on the Arts Advisory Board — Carl Frankel and Brian Gill.

• One seat on the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board — Donald Warren.

• A medical/health care seat on the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Drug and Alcohol Executive Commission — Raymond Bernardi.

A seat also is open on the county Flood Protection Authority, which oversees the Wyoming Valley Levee system along the Susquehanna River, but council can’t fill it until it formally declares it vacant, which is scheduled to occur Tuesday.

Heating/ventilation/air conditioning

Also on the agenda is the administration’s request to allocate an additional $442,000 in federal American Rescue Plan funding for a heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement project.

The past request for $1.5 million, which was granted, was “grossly underestimated,” while equipment costs have increased, the administration said. Without additional funding, planned improvements cannot proceed at the courthouse and county-owned Penn Place building in downtown Wilkes-Barre as specified in the original application, it said.

To date, the county has entered into contracts for new Trane HVAC units at two county-owned properties as part of the American Rescue project — the courthouse annex on River Street in Wilkes-Barre and the record storage building/coroner’s office in Hanover Township.

Both contracts were awarded to United Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. in Pittston Township — $176,952 for eight Trane rooftop units at the courthouse annex and $124,254 to replace four Lenox rooftop units with new Trane ones at the records/coroner’s building, records show.

A council majority had tabled a decision on the additional earmark last month hoping to secure a price reduction, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Council agreed to vote Tuesday to ensure the units can be procured in time to meet American Rescue project completion deadlines.

American Rescue modifications

Continuing a trend in recent months, a new batch of approved American Rescue funding recipients have asked council to extend their project completion deadlines and/or adjust funding categories without increasing their overall awards. All deadline extensions requests cite circumstances that have delayed projects.

A synopsis of those up for consideration Tuesday:

• Fork Over Love Inc. — change $23,000 of its $500,000 allocation from contractor fees/printing to community meals so more residents can be served.

• North Branch Land Trust — shift allocations within the $122,125 earmark and extend the deadline from June 30 this year to June 30, 2025, to construct a public access area and complete a conservation easement at the Huntsville Reservoir in the Back Mountain.

• Municipal Authority of Hazle Township — extend completion from June 30 this year to Nov. 30, 2025, for its $2 million allocation to replace three antiquated, underground wastewater/sewer pump stations with new above-ground ones and replace the sanitary sewer force main from the Hollywood Pump Station.

• Back Mountain Recreation Inc. — reprogram the entire $156,900 earmark for construction to cover increased costs of walking path improvements.

• Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office — adjust budget categories within the $1.58 million allocation to cover office materials and personnel and extend the deadline from June 30 to Dec. 31 this year.

• Freeland borough — extend the deadline from June 30 to Nov. 30 this year to complete $2 million in stormwater improvements that include new storm pipes, inlets, curbing and paving.

• Geisinger Health — extend the deadline from June 30 this year to March 31, 2025 for its $100,000 award to complete an East Mountain public health and wellness trail master plan.

Litigation, Hazleton annex

A litigation settlement with Gary Wargo also is up for council approval, although the dollar amount has not yet been released.

According to the agenda, Wargo filed a complaint in the county Court of Common Pleas in 2021 alleging he was physically injured due to the negligence of the county and prison workers while he was serving an incarceration sentence.

A lease reduction also is up for council approval for space the county is occupying in Hazleton City Hall for a southern county annex.

The administration has decided to house the treasurer’s and assessor’s office with judicial services and records offices in the building, resulting in a $13,710 yearly lease reduction, the agenda said.

County Veteran Affairs also requested space in the southern annex and will be housed with the administration, the agenda said.

The new annual lease amount will be $28,650 through the end of 2025, it said.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.


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