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Flood Damage Estimates, Reuniting Property Owners with Mineral Rights Considered by Clarion County Commissioners

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 @ 06:08 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

1D4A2624CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Flood damage estimates from the recent flooding of Leisure Run in New Bethlehem and other storm damage the same day in Ashland and Beaver Townships are estimated at three to four million dollars and county officials are awaiting additional estimates from some townships.

(Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography.)

Tuesday morning work session with Clarion County Commissioners Ted Thran, Wayne Brosius, and Ed Heasley touched on several items of interest, but no action was taken.

The next regular Commissioner meeting is set for Tuesday, August 27, at 10:00 a.m.

The flood damage estimate includes highways, buildings, bridges, and houses. Emergency officials are working with the Small Business Association for low-interest loans.

“It doesn’t look any PEMA (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency) money will be available,” said Tharan.  “Homeowners that did not have flood insurance are SOL. There’s nothing out there for homeowners.”

Commissioners also discussed efforts to reunite surface property owners with mineral rights. A bid on property in Licking Township was received from the Repository List.

“We have a $300 bid on a property in Licking Township from the repository list,” said Tharan. “C&K had the mineral rights, and I think the people own the surface property. Every time there is a piece of property in the repository, the true owners of the surface are contacted to see if they want to buy the minerals under their property before they sell it to someone else. A lot of people don’t know if they own the minerals or the coals under their farm field and they could be in repository and don’t know it.”

Treasurer Tom McConnell estimated there were $100,000.00 to $200,000.00 in back taxes.

“What happened back in the 90s a lot of these companies realized that when coal went down, instead of paying property taxes on all of those coal rights they had, they let them go for tax sale,” continued Tharan. “They then went into repository, and they didn’t have to pay the tax. The properties are still listed in their names, but they’re not allowed to buy them. They can send somebody else in to buy them later. Separate mineral rights are also taxed. “

“Nobody buys them, and they go from tax sale to sheriff sale and then they go to repository. It is mandatory that the system works that way. The coal rights under a 200-acre farm are sitting in a repository, and no one knows they are there.

“A couple of years ago it happened down in Richland Township, and they wanted to strip the limestone out of a farm.  What we want to try to do is hook back up the mineral rights from what is in repository with surface owners and give them an opportunity to buy them. Cost of the mineral rights would depend on what coal is worth, if you live near a high quality stream.  Mineral rights also include coal natural gas and oil. Minerals encompass everything underneath the surface. Gas, oil, coal, limestone, sandstone, and anything else that may possibly be there. Those properties generate zero tax money in repository. Oil and gas are not taxable.”

Other discussion included the following:

  • The Clarion Area Chamber of Business has requested used of various county facilities in connection with Autumn Leaf Festival, including Veterans Memorial Park, Courthouse Lawn, use of the basement power electric source for the Courthouse for the electric power box, and use of a water source for concessions. Approval is expected next Tuesday.
  • Approval was also requested for a contract on the behalf of Human Services with the Clarion Area Agency on Aging for home-delivered meals for Adult Services Consumers. The program is 100 percent grant-funded with three $3.96 for a hot or frozen meal, $3.87 and for an emergency meal, and $5.69 for a special meal. There is also a $5.71 for delivery of each meal.
  • Clarion River Cleanup Day will be Saturday, September 7, from 8:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. and a reception for volunteers will be held at 2:00 p.m. Registration will be held at the Pale Whale in Cook Forest. The event is sponsored by the Clarion County Conservation District, Trout Unlimited, Pale Whale, Back County Hunters and Anglers, and POWR(Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, Inc.).
  • Clarion County is planning to send some people in a medical marijuana in the workplace program to be held Sept. 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Clarion University’s Multi-Purpose Room in the Gemmell Student Complex.
  • Announced the repair of the PA Great Outdoors Caboose was completed. The caboose is located in Foxburg and is used as a tourist attraction, and various brochures are available. Many years ago, the same caboose was located in front of what is now Ramada Inn in Clarion.

 


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