In search for financial assistance, Jacci West the Executive Director of the Wayne Pike Adult Literacy Program and Board President Annette Petry sought help from the Pike County Commissioners at the September 5 meeting. The women told the commissioners that the program is in trouble.
State funding for literacy programs ended in 2011. Although the program has been trying to receive assistance, the women said it's not working. Now, West said the women were seeking help from the commissioners because, "we don't know what else to do."
Petry acknowledged that times are difficult for many, but there are a large number of adults who need help and organizations continue to refer them to the program. The organizations, she said, are referring people to the program because of the people who are unable to take their General Educational Development (GED) tests since they cannot read properly. Those who need help, she said are, "the forgotten," because they are not school age and are not ready for college and so they are, "stuck in-between."
For 27 years, the program has helped adults and now, Petry said she is afraid next year the free help will no longer be available. As members of the community, she said when people are able to read, write and work, they are able to contribute to their own communities. She added, "we truly do not want to give up."
In 2012, West said the program served 155 adults and since January, 95 adults have sought help. There are 44 active volunteers and 28 of them tutor. Mostly working on an individual one-to-one basis and sometimes in small groups, the tutors help people with basic English language skills, GED and GED prep, citizenship, county prison literacy, computer based instruction and adults with learning disabilities. Two students have received help through SKYPE since transportation can be problematic. Over the last 18 months, 17 adults have passed the GED test because of the help they received from the program. Despite five fundraising events this year, West said, "we're stuck in a catch-22," because nobody wants to fund the program outside of Pike County and the program is too small to catch the attention of national foundations. Per year, the program costs around $70,000 and 30 percent of that are program costs, with 70 percent office salaries. All staff are part-time and the program is located in donated space. With no utility bills, West said the salaries are "well earned," because of the work everyone does.
Every year the Pike County Commissioners act as, "stewards," of federal monies which are given to municipalities in the county who are in need of financial assistance, said Commissioner Richard Caridi. Four municipalities in Pike County are eligible; Caridi said emergency services and municipal services take precedent. As an example, Caridi said if the Red Cross were to suggest a church to be an emergency shelter that would be an instance.
Page 2 of 2 - This year, the commissioners selected four places that will receive funding: two in Matamoras with one being for siding on a firehouse and another for an emergency generator in the evacuation center at the Evangelical Church. The other two are for a park in Milford along with a park in Shohola Township.
** Other matters:
• Under personnel, Marissa Rand has been hired as Fiscal Manager for the Prothonotary's Office for a 37.5 hour work week with benefits after 90 days.
• Caridi said due to Milford's historical character, the design of the new courthouse annex will have to fit in. In addition to providing additional court space and security, the old court house is in dire need of an upgrade. As a historic structure, he added that it will require, "a lot of tender loving care."
As for the rendition of the court house extension, Commissioner Matt Osterberg said there are still steps that need to be taken, but overall things are looking good. He added that it would be nice if the building could last 140 years like the present court house has. Within a year and a half, he said things should start to happen.
• Speaking for the Hawley Library, Tom Kennedy asked the commissioners to consider granting additional funds to the library. Currently the library receives $1,000 from the commissioners, but he said that the library is asking for a, "very substantial, sizable increase," because "everybody's funds are dried up." With the large number of people in Pike County using the library, Kennedy said it is more of a reason why the library needs additional funds.