Sunday, January 23, 2011

MinSec's Approval Process In Hazleton Part 2

MinSec's location, Altamont Building, Downtown Hazleton

The last post on MinSec dealt with its application before the Zoning Hearing Board at its meeting of October 18,2007.

Continuing with the testimony offered at the hearing Attorney Giuliani, representing MinSec, called Edward Pane, President and Chief Executive Officer of Serento Gardens, to testify. During his testimony found on page 20 of the transcript Mr. Pane opined about MinSec's operation.

Basically, this is an extension of what we have benn doing. It is a highly complemetary relationship. We're really kind of in business (that) vertically integrates building into a place where there's an outpatient center, an inpatient center.

Mr. Jonathan Wasp, facility director of MinSec's Scranton operation , was called back to testify. He stated found on page 25:

You know, the licensure we have through the Department of Health in our Scranton location, which will also be the same license that we'll be pursuing here, makes us a non-hospital inpatient drug treatment program.

However, on page 23, Mr. Wasp offered this testimony on the percentage of serious incidents that could be expected as a result of the approval and establishing a resident population in the Altamont.

So yeah,, I would say the incidents are relatively low. And it really depends on the structure of the program. I would encourage you, I would encourage the community to become familiar with our handbook. It's public information. It's available through the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections website. See how our program runs...

Back to Attorney Giuliani's questioning found on page 29 to Mr. Pane.

Mr. Giuliani: I just want to ask Mr. Pane something because this is what he told me. The basic difference, Mr. Pane, between what MinSec wants to do and what you're doing is that they're inpatient and you're outpatient?

Mr. Pane: That's correct.

Mr. Giuliano: There's no other difference, right?

Mr. Pane: That's correct.

On page 31 of the testimony Attorney Giuliani makes this statement.

What I'm saying is if there's a question as to whether you have the authority to do-- I mean, it's already been given to add for a whole floor and the only--- that's my point, the only difference between what they're suggesting and what Ed is doing is that one is residential and the other is not.

Onto page 32.

Mr. Giuliani: I just want to repeat something. The people who are buying it are also the peoplw who are making-- who are talking to MinSec, which is important. Mr. Amiano is goint to sell it to him, and then I would imagine that if you're going to do anything else differently than what they're asking for the second, third -- or fourth and fifth floor, they'd have to come here to do that as a use.

Mr. Paletski, Vice Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board of Hazleton City asks a question found on page 39 and 40. Jonathan Wasp answers the question.

Mr. PALESTSKI: One question. I'm looking at the article from the Times Tribune here and it says, Man was part of minimal security prisoner form the MinSec housing center. Are these residents minimum security prisoners or have they released?

Mr. WASP: In the same way that you were misquoted in today's paper, so was he, apparently. I think people make the logical extension that MinSec is -- the first three letters are MIN, the first three letters of security, and they say must be a minimum security prison.

As I said, we take parole cases. We take self-paid patients. We take individuals who were referred to us by single county authorities in other locations, federal cases. So, no. I wouldn't say it's limited to prisoners, but we're taking somebody who simply can't afford it....

Let's take a look at a Standard Speaker article from February 12, 2010.

Questions persist about Hazleton halfway house
By Kelly Monitz (Staff Writer)

Members of the chamber's Downtown Committee recently met with MinSec's Jonathon Wasp, vice president of treatment services, and Doug Albertson, facility director, to learn more about the facility in the former Altamont Hotel, chamber President Donna Palermo said.

However, they were left with more questions than answers, she said.

"We thought it was a halfway house," she said. "Jonathon Wasp from MinSec stated that it was a minimum security prison. ...That is how they came by their name, MinSec.

"I think everyone is confused on what it really is," Palermo said.

The facility, which is contracted by the state Department of Corrections to provide community corrections services, has operated for about two years, expanding from two floors in the historic structure to five floors in the past year.

Back to the testimony.

Mr. PALETSKI: So some may be work release prisoners, some may be--

Mr. WASP: Well, we have some that are probation and parole--

and page 41

Mr. GIULIANI: And I suggest that this is a use that has already been used in that building.

Finally, the board convenes an executive session with is reconvened at 8:48 P.M. found on page 45.

Mr. SCHADDER: Next application is that of MinSec Companies, LLC, requesting a use variance for an operation of a residential skilled development transitional living treatment program to be located at 145 West Broad Street, a CZ Zone.

I'd like to make this contingent upon fire, health and safety codes as well as local, state, and federal licensing requirements. I'd like to make a motion to approve.

MinSec's handbook referred to in testimony is found here. From its Welcome:

Welcome to MinSec Hazelton Treatment Center

This facility, in many ways, will represent the hardest part of the correctional process for you.

One lingering question hangs like a blanket of clouds building before a thunderstorm casting gray and black shadows. Since the Department of Corrections labels MinSec as a Community Corrections Center is that the same thing as a "residential skilled development transitional living treatment program"? Does a CZ zone allow the placement of a community corrections center in it? Does Hazleton code have a licensing mechanism for a community corrections center or facility?

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