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Schuylkill County News

Commissioners Admit Not Knowing How Much of the Money They’re Giving Away They Actually Have

Where’s all this donation money coming from?

In a report this week from the RepublicanHerald, Schuylkill County Commissioners Chairman Boots Hetherington said he and his colleagues have had “deep discussion and thought” recently.

That may be a first but it’s more likely a load of …

So, what is this deep thought the Commissioners had?

Apparently, the deep thought was to match the $100,000 they donated to Alvernia University last week with another $100,000 donation.

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This $100,000 donation – approved by Hetherington and Commissioner Gary Hess on Wednesday – is going to Penn State University. It, like the Alvernia donation, is apparently going to support nursing students.

Here’s the biggest problem with this donation, and there are several … apparently the Commissioners that voted in favor of these recent donation have no idea if there’s even money to give.

Where’s this money coming from exactly? This is the same County that just plugged up a $10.2 million budget shortfall, after all. Now they’re just handing out $100,000 bills on a weekly basis.

Schuylkill County Commissioners Approve $100,000 Donation to Penn State

The $200,000 in donations is apparently coming from the County government’s “contingency” fund. That’s a label the County puts on revenues it collects that doesn’t have a stated purpose in the coming budget year.

However you see it, the Commissioners have no idea how much of it they have.

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Sure, they might have some idea.

And if they were going to approve spending money they actually didn’t have, someone else at the Courthouse would have said something … right?

In the RepublicanHerald report, Boots apparently tells the reporter that he’s unaware of how much money’s in the contingency fund.

Hess admitted the same.

It really makes you wonder how the Commissioners could approve spending $100,000 if they’re not even sure how much money’s in the contingency fund.

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Deep Something

And it really makes you wonder, if in the last week, the Commissioners were in such “deep thought” … what were they thinking about? At no point, during those deep thoughts, did any of them think, “Maybe one of us should know, off-hand, how much money is in the contingency fund, from which we’re raiding.”

What it appears they were in deep thought about was how to package this unexpected six-figure to sell it to the public. And this is where the deep thought led … they’re creating a Frank J. Staudenmeier Memorial Scholarship fund for nursing students at Penn State Schuylkill.

Now, something like this, that gets endowed with $100,000 right off the bat and is honoring the late Commissioner who died in 2020, would normally get some type of formal announcement. At the very least, there would be a press release.

Instead, the Commissioners decided to release partial information about this scholarship fund in response to a reporter’s questions about why they were spending this money. The Chancellor at PSU-Schuylkill even “declined to comment” on this alleged scholarship to the newspaper.

What an honor!

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The RepublicanHerald reports the Alvernia donation last week was also in Staudenmeier’s honor. They, apparently, just forgot to mention that when making the donation.

(UPDATE/CORRECTION): Apparently, Boots did mention how the Alvernia donation was in honor of Staudenmeier publicly. He did so on Jan. 20 via his Facebook page that 49 likes and 104 followers.

All this shows is something was getting deep at the Courthouse in the last week but it wasn’t the thought.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Coalregion12

    January 29, 2023 at 9:48 am

    Someone should contact the Controllers office and ask if the disbursements have been requested for these scholarships and who made the requests? Also, which funds are being used for these scholarships. How about if the county ever funded scholarships before?

    • Canary Commenter

      January 29, 2023 at 10:23 am

      If we had any faith that they’d give us a straight answer, we’d be all over it.

      In re: this specific scholarship at PSU, it sounds like someone got upset that the Commissioners gave $100K to Alvernia so they dreamed up a way to give $100K to Penn State.

      Why think this way? There was no mention of Staudenmeier at last week’s meeting in connection with the Alvernia donation. It was a footnote mentioned the following week. And the PSU Chancellor refusing the comment on it? That speaks volumes.

      But again, it all comes down to being able to trust the person giving the answers. Nothing against the Controller but everyone up there has had ample opportunity to blow the whistle on corruption and no one has said a peep.

      • coalregion12

        January 29, 2023 at 2:01 pm

        you would think if it really was for a Staudenmeier Scholarship, his family would have been there as well.
        Another avenue to follow is to ask if there has ever been any history of creating scholarships before using county monies.
        Another question would be to ask is if the PSU Schuylkill Scholarship going to be sued only for Schuylkill County Residents or can PSU Schuylkill give it to out-of-county students as well.
        Thanks for all your work!

        • Canary Commenter

          January 29, 2023 at 6:56 pm

          In the RH article, they mention how it’s supposed to go to Schuylkill County residents but unsure on that. The link to that article is buried within our story. And it goes to their story on the Yahoo News site, so no paywall.

          And that’s the thing that’s really sounding shady, for lack of a better term, about this clearly hastily arranged scholarship. They never miss an opportunity to praise their own, especially in an election year. And remember, the reporter had to get this info out of them afterward. It wasn’t mentioned, to the best of our knowledge, in the public meeting. Very strange.

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