Berks Commissioners give group replace at GRCA breakfast

READING, Pa. — Berks County Commissioners gave a group replace Friday throughout a breakfast hosted by the Better Studying Chamber Alliance.

The Alliance mentioned in a launch commissioners acquired individuals on top of things on numerous initiatives, providers and challenges the County has confronted within the final two years.

The occasion was held on the Santander Performing Arts Middle Friday morning and was attended by almost 200 enterprise leaders and group members.

Commissioners Christian Leinbach, Kevin Barnhardt and Michael Rivera addressed the big crowd on how grateful they have been to lastly be capable of collect in individual for the primary time in nearly two years.

Commissioners spoke about their initiatives and the way profitable they have been resulting from an ongoing partnership with the Alliance. These initiatives are geared toward supporting the agricultural group, financial growth work and the distribution of the COVID Hospitality Trade Restoration Program.

“The connection between the County of Berks and GRCA has by no means been stronger, and we recognize all of the work your management crew does,” Leinbach mentioned.

Barnhardt centered most of his time talking about latest developments with the County’s Workplace of Election Providers, together with the hiring of a brand new director, including extra employees positions and the implementation of digital pollbooks through the upcoming main elections, the GRCA mentioned. He additionally highlighted the County’s buy of the previous GAI Tronics facility in Mohnton to function a South Campus and offers the County about 110,000 sq. toes of area for election tools storage, County archives and different providers.

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“We’ve made these investments for the development of elections right here in Berks County,” Barnhardt mentioned.

Barnhardt additionally spoke in regards to the preliminary steps of the County’s correctional facility challenge, which restarted in January after a hiatus resulting from COVID-19. He pressured that the challenge isn’t about creating more room for cells, however for necessary providers and up to date assets to finest serve the group.

“This would be the primary monetary challenge this County has ever undertaken,” he mentioned. “We have to perceive the necessity for this and the method. When constructed appropriately, this facility will final us for not less than 50 to 70 years.” Commissioner Rivera shared about his first two years in workplace and the training alternative the COVID-19 pandemic supplied for him as a brand new Commissioner and the County total. “These previous few years there’s been a variety of adjustments that we’ve applied on the County that can have a longlasting constructive impression on the county and County funds,” he mentioned.

Rivera  talked in regards to the formation of the Financial savings and Efficiencies Crew, which meets month-to-month to debate methods to cut back prices and enhance operations.

“We’re always methods to save cash and be extra environment friendly in the best way we function,” he mentioned.

Leinbach additionally addressed the return of passenger rail service. He mentioned he’s cautiously optimistic about its return to the county within the subsequent 5 years. 

Following the formation of a Tri-County Committee in 2021 with Chester and Montgomery counties, all three counties are actually making ready to contemplate the formation of the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority in April.

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Leinbach mentioned creating this authority is a vital subsequent step within the course of as a result of it should enable for negotiations with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern and SEPTA and permit for the acceptance and expending of funds. He pressured that this authority could be created with a renewal clause in three years that will enable the counties to guage the method and decide whether it is nonetheless the very best path ahead.

“We’re in an thrilling place,” he mentioned. “However please perceive that it is a subsequent step, and we’re performing in a method that’s fiscally accountable.”

Leinbach highlighted that the Metropolis has additionally been concerned within the passenger rail initiative and that Mayor Eddie Moran is among the three authority members proposed for Berks. Whereas some could also be skeptical, Leinbach mentioned he’s conscious of builders who’re already wanting into buying actual property in downtown Studying primarily based on the prospect of passenger rail service.

“Nothing can remodel town of Studying greater than the restoration of passenger rail service,” he mentioned.