County lays off more than 20

Clarion County Commissioner Wayne Brosius reads a statement listing the Clarion County employees who have been laid off effective March 27. The lay-offs resulted from the order closing all Clarion County buildings to the public. For the first time the commissioners conducted the meeting from remote locations on social media.

CLARION - The Clarion County Board of Commissioners March 31 confirmed 23 county employees were laid off at the close of business March 27.

The commissioners said each of the county's elected row officers were asked to temporarily lay off the employees.

Seven employees were cut from the commissioners' office, and 13 were cut from the judge's oversight. A combined three employees were laid off in the register and recorder and prothonotary offices.

Sheriff Rex Munsee said he laid off one full-time deputy and has suspended the use of part-time deputies.

No staff levels were cut in the treasurer's office.

In addition, the district attorney's office is postponing filling a position.

Commissioner Wayne Brosius said the commissioners reviewed essential personnel and "where we needed people" prior to making the decision on who to lay off. The commissioners conferred with the various department heads and elected officials before announcing the layoffs.

Brosius said the furloughed employees would continue to receive insurance coverage.

"The county will pay 100 percent of the premium," said Brosius. The county had been paying 87.5 percent of the premium.

In a related matter, the commissioners authorized the county's accounting department to execute all required forms for the purpose of COVID-19 reimbursements from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

All Clarion County buildings have been closed to the public until further notice, and President Judge Sarah Seidle-Patton has ordered restrictions on proceedings in the county courts and some associated entities.

Disaster declaration extended

The commissioners have also extended the declaration of disaster emergency for the county until May 15.

In a prepared statement, commissioners Brosius, Ted Tharan and Ed Heasley cited the announcement of "at least one positive case of the COVID-19" virus in the county as the reason for the extension.

The declaration allows the county's public safety director to coordinate the activities of the emergency response to alleviate the potential effects of this disaster.

"All departments of Clarion County are doing their best to serve the needs of county residents in this difficult time," the statement said.

As of April 1, Gov. Tom Wolf hasn't issued a stay-at-home order for Clarion County. The commissioners urged residents "to be as diligent as possible on your own."

The statement said all county buildings continue to be closed to public access but county services are continuing with staff on-site or working from home.

People can check the county website at http://http://www.co.clarion.pa.us for more information on the best way to conduct business with county departments or contact the county by phone at (814) 226-4000 and dial 0 for a live operator.

"The only way to contain this disease is to take it seriously," the statement said.

County park closed

Clarion County Park in Paint Township will remain closed indefinitely.

The park had originally been scheduled to open on April 6 but concerns over the effects of COVID-19 virus forced the county commissioners to reconsider opening the park.

"We do not have the personnel to police the park," said Brosius. "We cannot enforce the limit on crowds."

Commissioner Ted Tharan said he did not want to place county employees in the position of having to play policeman.

"I don't want our employees getting in the middle of a confrontation," he said.

The park would have opened with only limited use such walking or dog walking. The county park offers three ball fields that are for baseball and softball use, two soccer fields, a tennis court, a volleyball court, a basketball court, horseshoe pit, and an archery range.

The county park has seven small pavilions, a medium pavilion, one large pavilion and a community center. A new restroom facility was opened in 2019.

The park will remain closed until further notice.