Route 6 Organization Spotlighting Local Artisans

October 21st, 2014
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rt6artisansA session to connect local artisans with their peers and potential buyers for their work has been scheduled for 1-4 pm Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Coudersport Consistory. The “buyers market” is sponsored by the Pa. Route 6 Artisan Trail. There is no cost, but participants must register. For details, call 814-435-7706.

The Pa. Route 6 Alliance recently honored six artisans in the Pennsylvania Wilds region for excellence. Among honorees are Doug Firestone, Germania; Carl Lanius, Elaine Russell, Curt Weinhold and Tim Walck and Olga’s Gifts, all Coudersport. Recognized as effective public art were the courthouse square and Potter County Visitors Center mural, both in Coudersport, and the Civilian Conservation Corps statue at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.

A brochure with information on the Pa. Rt. 6 Artisan Trail is now available. It highlights local artisans as well as community art projects, including murals and statues. Copies are available at visitor centers across the Rt. 6 corridor or the website,

Expanded Cellphone Service Infrastructure Being Built

October 17th, 2014
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verizontowerVerizon Wireless marches forward with a project that will expand cellphone coverage to include almost 90 percent of Potter County, according to county officials.  More than two dozen tower sites have been approved so far and others are in the permitting process. Many are under construction. Company officials still can’t say when the broadened service will be available.

Each site will be a 200′ x 200′ plot upon which a lattice tower as well as a small pre-cast concrete equipment shed are built. Extensive engineering work has already gone into the selection process for each site to assure reliable service and maximum coverage. Most of the sites are being leased by Verizon from private landowners. The towers will be no more than 200 feet tall. Verizon said the extended construction period had been anticipated at the start of the multi-million dollar project. Steep terrain has been a big challenge at some of the tower sites. Additionally, access roads have to be built and, at some of the sites, forested areas need to be cleared.

Historical Society Wants To Know: ‘Who Are These People?’

October 13th, 2014
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oct18mysteryfamily1A collection of photographs at the Potter County Historical Society museum in Coudersport has been shrouded in mystery for a matter of decades. Today, the organization is turning to social media, its quarterly newsletter and other communications tools in an effort to shed some light on these archival pictures. They depict dozens of people — many of them either Potter County residents or people connected to local families — who remain unidentified after all these years. Certain clues are available. For instance, the group photograph here is a Coudersport family. The pensive girl with long, flowing hair is a total mystery.

oct18mysterygirlAt least a dozen portrait photographers offered their services at around the turn of the century. Galeton, Cross Fork, Hector, Oswayo, Austin, Coudersport, Roulette and Shinglehouse all advertised portrait photography in a gallery setting with full darkroom techniques available. A number of the studios were on the upper floors of buildings to take advantage of skylights and salon windows. Some pictures in the collection come from the E. H. Kimball studio that operated in Coudersport and Austin prior to 1911. Others are from Gallagher, Bliss and Lynde, among others.

Members of the public are encouraged to view a sampling of the photographs on the Potter County website, (click on “Who Are These People” on the site’s landing page). Those pictures and many others are on display at the Historical Society useum on North Main Street.

Potter County’s DUI Court System Reaches Milestone

October 12th, 2014
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specialtycourtThe first three defendants to successfully meet all requirements of Potter County’s new “specialty court” system formally completed the program in a ceremony attended by family members, court officers and invited guests. It’s part of a long-term commitment to a new style of dealing with lawbreakers who suffer from addiction and/or mental health disorders.

The three men completed requirements of the specialty courts’ first phase — a rigid, closely supervised DUI Court. Senior Judge John Leete presides over the court. Each was facing incarceration for a crime related to alcohol abuse. All three stayed sober, connected with family and community support resources, and took other steps to get their lives in order. They’ll remain subject to probationary supervision.

President Judge Stephen Minor presented a detailed overview, citing the positive impact the specialty court movement is already having on individual lives, public safety and the county’s bottom line for criminal justice expenses. “It’s definitely not for everybody,” Judge Minor emphasized. “It’s a very selective and very intensive program. Most of these men and women have been stuck in a revolving door between freedom and incarceration, and we’re hoping to stop that cycle.”

Specialty courts are growing across the country. Potter is the first county in northcentral Pennsylvania – and one of the few rural counties nationwide – to embark on that path. Judge Minor said national studies show that 80 percent of defendants with addiction or behavioral disorders who go through the traditional criminal justice system end up back in jail, compared to just over 20 percent of those whose cases are handled through specialty courts. In the first year the DUI Court has been in operation, there were 2,850 jail days avoided, Minor reported. Some of those were female inmates who would have been sent to Smethport, Lock Haven or another jail at a fee to the county of $60 or more per day. About a dozen offenders involved in the specialty courts so far have devoted 1,880 hours to community service.

It was launched with a $70,000 grant from PennDOT that covers many of the expenses of the special court over the first three years. A team of drug/alcohol treatment specialists, law enforcement officials and experts in related fields determines who is accepted. Defendants charged with violent crimes and certain other offenses aren’t eligible. Those selected must participate in the “12-step” sobriety program often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, undergo intensive counseling, work community service hours, meet with Judges Leete or Minor at least twice monthly, and make a concerted effort to find employment and expand their education. They also meet regularly with Laurie Harrier, who manages the compliance and counseling elements for the Potter County Probation Department. An ankle bracelet that detects any ingestion of alcohol must be worn and defendants undergo numerous substance abuse tests per month. Penalties are in place and strictly enforced for violation of any provision. Defendants are subject to having their cases referred back to the traditional court system.

Latest Shale Gas Roundup Newsletter Available

October 12th, 2014
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drillLatest edition of Shale Gas Roundup is now available. It’s the quarterly newsletter of the Potter County Natural Gas Task Force and features timely, locally relevant news about shale gas development and related topics, Among highlights of this edition:

  • Reports on significant Utica Shale developments affecting Potter County.
  • Updates on pipelines and shale gas tax policies.
  • Steps being taken to protect Potter County’s water resources.
  • Forecasts of shale gas-related jobs.

To access the Oct.-Dec. 2104 edition as well as all past editions, visit the website (newsletter icon is found on the cover page). Copies are also available at the Commissioners Office in the Gunzburger Building (first office on right inside Main Sreet entrance), or by contacting Dawn Swatsworth at 814-274-8290, extension 207.

‘Building Downtown’ Program Available On County Website

October 2nd, 2014
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campanaCoudersport Main Street Committee, in collaboration with the Coudersport Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and the Potter County Commissioners, invited Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana to present a program titled, “Building Downtown Williamsport.” A video from that program has been posted on the county website, available at (click on Links tab at the top).

An untraditional dynamic is taking place in Williamsport. Symbolic of this was the decision by a major retailer to relocate from the nearby Lycoming Mall to a downtown location. Mayor Campana spoke of family-friendly events, development plans and innovative programs to address blight, as well as crime and other social problems. This presentation was sought to encourage and inspire community members who are working to improve their towns.