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ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners established a policy regarding the use of electronic signatures during its Wednesday night meeting.

The move was done "to modernize its processes and procedures to keep pace with the practices of business and organizations with which Lehigh County works with on a regular basis."

The approved ordinance, on its second and final reading, officially allows Lehigh County to use and accept an electronic signature, provided it complies with requirements established in the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 1999. Compliance means any signature "will have the same force and effect as the use of a manual signature using ink applied to paper," according to the bill.

In other news, commissioners granted public utilities right-of-way privileges to PPL Electric Utilities at 5854 Vera Cruz Road in Upper Milford Township.

"No farmland will be destroyed in the process," said Commissioner Percy Dougherty of the agreement.

Commissioners also approved on first vote the purchase of a 10th easement as part of the county's effort to improve the D&L Trail, located in the Borough of Catasauqua. This latest easement will actually increase the trail's width to 10 feet, which is a requirement from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, who issued a state grant for the project. If ultimately approved, the county would buy the easement from FV & SR Investment for $7,500.

The board also advanced a one-year agreement with Info-Matrix Corporation to continue making mandated changes to maintain compliance with the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Information Solution. The deal, which runs from July 1 of this year through June 30, 2022, will pay Info-Matrix $308,945.45.

In other business, commissioners approved on first reading an agreement with Rummel, Klepper & Kahl LLP to lease the fourth floor of Hamilton Financial Center, located at 640 W. Hamilton St. The company has leased the floor — roughly 4,000 square feet — for the last five years, and the contract advanced Wednesday night is for one additional year running through July 2, 2022. The company will pay the county $3,208 per month or $38,496 annually.

Finally, the board OK'd the county's commitment for the second program year under what is a three-year contract with Magellan Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania, which acts as the county's behavioral health managed care organization. Specifically, Magellan administers Lehigh County's HealthChoices Behavioral Health Program, which is required under an agreement the county has with Pennsylvania's Department of Health and Human Services.

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