Commissioners’ chair Rich Caridi said the board was taking advice from the media on July 3 when Pike County’s leaders voted to move their primary outlet for public emergency information to the Internet social network Facebook.
Since Hurricane Sandy, the commissioners have been discussing ways of better information outreach, Commissioner Matt Osterberg said. “We heard that most people want to be notified by social network.”
For those who are not Internet or social network users, in April, the Internet giant Yahoo reported that Facebook has 1.1 billion active users around the world each month. The commissioners decided that no other means matched it for locally reporting on such emergencies as snow and flooding and their related utility and highway traffic problems.
Aside from its broad usership, the service is free of charge.
The commissioners authorized the “Pike County Emergency Management” page on Facebook and asked that Facebook users “like” the page, which would allow the county’s page to transmit official news in upcoming emergencies to their home pages. As of early this week, some 572 users have “liked” the new page.
“We listened to the criticism and we’re getting it underway,” Caridi said.
Mark Zuckerberg, then a 20-year-old student at Harvard University wrote the software for Facebook and started a small network in his college dorm in 2004. The network quickly expanded around the Ivy League, then to other colleges, and finally opened to all email users in 2006. Zuckerberg still runs the now public corporation, whose worth Forbes Magazine reported in February at $67.8 billion.
In other business on July 3, the commissioners reported that architectural design renderings for the county’s new courthouse are expected “shortly.”
They confirmed that a $200,000 down payment has been made from the county’s Scenic Rural Character Preservation funds, which will be combined with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) funding for the purchase of the former Rock Hill Boy Scout Camp in Milford Township. The purchase is expected to close in September.
They approved an amended contract between the county and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency, for housing of detainees at the county prison. Caridi said the amendment reflects only the end of a fiscal year and does not change Pike’s ongoing and profitable agreement to house ICE detainees.
They also awarded a contract, running from 2013 to 2015, for engineering services for the federal Community Development Block Grant program to McGoey, Hauser and Edsall.
The commissioners further approved a new agreement for employment and training and related administrative services with the multi-county Workforce Investment Agency administered through Carbon County.
No new EDA director yet
Following the meeting, Osterberg reported that ongoing efforts to recruit a new executive director for the Economic Development Agency (EDA)/Pike County Chamber of Commerce are continuing and that thus far, none of the applicants has “stood out.”
The incumbent, Michael J. Sullivan, left the position in May to return to work in his home county of Orange in New York.
As the commissioners’ delegate to the EDA, Osterberg said he has been working to keep up the momentum of new development efforts. Principal among these is the pending $2 million sale of the county’s 620-acre corporate park in Blooming Grove to gun manufacturer Kahr Arms, which would relocate its manufacturing and administrative functions there from New York State. Osterberg said the sale is subject to the company’s successful completion of due diligence work. Kahr is currently seeking approvals in Blooming Grove Township.