Centre officials organize meeting for fire victims|
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
BELLEFONTE - At yesterday's meeting, the Centre County Commissioners heard an update on the Waupelani Heights fire that occurred on the Fourth of July and left about 40 people homeless.
The fire victims will be meeting with basic needs groups such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations on Monday to help them move forward. Some people lost their driver's licenses and passports in the fire in addition to other personal belongings, and someone will be there to help them complete the necessary paperwork to have those items replaced.
The organizations will also be seeking information on what kind of housing they need, for how many people and where they would like to live. Penn State will be involved as well since a number of those displaced are grad students.
Donations are being accepted at various places around the State College area including at Spikes games, the YMCA and adult services.
A number of people are staying with family and friends, some at the Days Inn and others in dorms on the Penn State campus.
The meetings will be from 9 a.m. to noon and 3-5 p.m. on Monday at the State College Borough building.
The commissioners also heard from Taylor Harris, a recent high school graduate whose senior project focused on foster children.
She recalled when her parents told her and her three brothers and sisters that they wanted to become foster parents. Harris said she was hesitant at first, wondering if her parents realized what they were doing.
Now, several foster kids later, she's glad they did become a foster family, building bridges and relationships.
"We have so much fun with the foster kids," she said.
She showed a video she made to promote being a foster family and Commissioner Chairman Steve Dershem asked for permission to put it on the county website, to which Harris happily agreed.
She said there are only 11 foster homes throughout Centre County at this time and 30 percent of all foster children are placed outside the county due to a lack of foster families in the county.
"Teens are difficult to raise," she said. "But they need a family and no one wants to take on that challenge."
She admitted that she initially had doubts. "But in the end, it was one of the best decisions my family has ever made," she said. "It was kind of a challenge, but it was worth it."
In other business, the commissioners:
• adopted six contracts for Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention.
• renewed three contracts for drug and alcohol services.
• approved an adult grant-in-aid application in the amount of $126,000 for improving adult services with the state, board of probation and parole through 2014.