Three County Boards To Meet At 11am Thursday, Oct. 22

October 20th, 2020 Comments off

Meetings of the Potter County Salary Board and the Potter County Retirement Board will be held on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the front conference room of the Gunzburger Building, 1 North Main Street, Coudersport. Salary Board members will consider changes in the compensation for the position of Director of Veterans Affairs. That meeting will begin at 11 am. It will be immediately followed by the regularly scheduled meeting of the Retirement Board. The regular business meeting of the Potter County Board of Commissioners will follow.

All three meetings are open to the public. All attendees must enter through the Main Street door. Face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks are required. Attendance by phone is also available. Dial 814-274-0844. When prompted, dial 114477#.

Surge In Coronavirus Cases Continues Across Region

October 19th, 2020 Comments off

Some 72 additional COVID-19 coronavirus cases were confirmed across the region between Saturday and Monday. Three more Potter County residents tested positively, increasing the case count to 41. The most recent victim is a Genesee Township resident. The three cases preceding that were Coudersport Borough residents. Over the past 48 hours, there have been 20 additional cases and two more deaths in Allegany County, N.Y.; 7 more cases and another death in Cattaraugus County, N.Y; 10 more cases in Tioga County, 6 more in McKean, 4 more in Clinton, 9 more in Elk, and 15 more in Lycoming County. Entering Monday, area numbers were as follows: Cattaraugus, 406 cases and 16 deaths; Allegany, 228 cases and 8 fatalities; Potter, 41 cases, 1 death; Tioga, 150 cases, 3 fatalities; McKean, 99 cases, 2 fatalities; Lycoming, 888 cases, 29 deaths; Cameron, 8 cases; Clinton, 241 cases, 6 fatalities; and Elk, 111 cases, 2 deaths. As of Monday, there have been 183,315 cases in Pennsylvania, an increase of 2,372 over the past 48 hours, with 8,500deaths. The State Health Department reports this breakdown of the patients statewide who have tested positive to date: 2 percent are ages 5-12; 4 percent are ages 13-18; 13 percent are ages 19-24; 36 percent are ages 25-49; 22 percent are ages 50-64, and 22 percent are ages 65 or older.

Three testing sites for the COVID-19 coronavirus remain available in Coudersport. In addition to the testing site at UPMC Cole for physician-referred patients, tests are also being administered at Buchanan Brothers Pharmacy (visit the website here or call 1-800-635-8611 to complete an eligibility assessment) and Rite Aid Pharmacy (visit the website here or call 814-274-0439).

Criminal Justice Panel Confirms Methamphetamine Epidemic

October 13th, 2020 Comments off

Judge John Leete

Methamphetamine addiction is taking a terrible toll in Potter County. The epidemic was confirmed by everyone from police officers and the district attorney, to treatment specialists and the judiciary during this month’s meeting of the Potter County Criminal Justice Advisory Board. Sgt. Michael Murray from the Pa. State Police barracks at Denton Hill confirmed that meth has surpassed heroin as the “drug of choice,” although the latter continues to ruin lives. He added that fentanyl, an extremely powerful opioid, is also being trafficked in the area. Enforcement is a major challenge, Sgt. Murray pointed out, because users are not only buying meth from dealers, but also creating their own supplies.

On a brighter note, Senior Retired Judge John Leete and Liz Haskin, a certified recovery support specialist, provided glimmers of hope as society comes to grips with the epidemic. Leete presides over the county’s treatment courts, which handle selected criminal cases involving offenders with drug and/or alcohol addiction. More than four dozen men and women have successfully completed the intensive probation supervision, treatment and support network regimen, he said. Seventeen offenders are currently under supervision. “It’s great to see people take back their lives,” Judge Leete said. “In fact, three new support groups have been formed locally by alumni of the treatment courts.”

Haskin discussed the impact that the treatment court regimen had on her own recovery, which she has carried into her professional life. “I am here to tell you that recovery is a reality,” she said. “Fortunately, Potter County’s criminal justice system, including District Attorney Andy Watson, has been supportive of people seeking recovery.”

Also at this month’s meeting, CJAB members:

  • adopted a sweeping Probation With Restrictive Conditions Plan following an explanation of its impact by President Judge Stephen Minor. It calls for a collaborative approach to reduce the number of offenders requiring incarceration.
  • heard a presentation from two Dickinson Center Inc. representatives on the new Forensic Long-Term Structured Residential Facility in Brookville. Potter and eight other counties have partnered with Dickinson to establish the facility – which will be referred to as DCI Restoration Center – for provision of in-patient mental health and related recovery services. Two openings are reserved for Potter County residents.
  • re-elected CJAB officers for 2021, with Judge Minor as chair, District Judge Kari McCleaft as vice chair, and Colleen Wilber from Potter County Human Services as administrator.
  • received a summary from Bryonna Swede, Potter County Human Services, on implementation of recommendations that emerged from last year’s Sequential Intercept Mapping workshop. SIM is a cross-system approach to behavioral health issues in criminal justice administration.
  • heard from Judge Minor that new policies related to risk assessments will take effect on July 1, 2021. Overarching goal is to effectively weigh risks related to whether an individual involved in the criminal justice system will re-offend.

Local Family Support Program Starting Oct. 20

October 11th, 2020 Comments off

Parents in Potter County have an opportunity to learn proven strategies to help children ages 10-14 navigate adolescence and lay the groundwork for a fulfilling life. Strengthening Families, a free seven-week support program, kicks off on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Potter County Human Services building in Roulette. Meetings will be held each Tuesday at 5:30 pm and will include a free family meal and child care. Through games, activities and discussions, both parents and children will be educated on measures that make families stronger and equip young people with stronger decision-making skills. For adults, the focus is on developmental changes for teens, tools for helping youths avoid risks that could include drug and alcohol use, setting age-appropriate limits, helping teens understand rules and consequences, problem-solving, and effective ways to show love and support. For children, the emphasis will be on decision-making, goal-setting, resisting peer pressure, coping with stress, and expressing empathy and appreciation to parents and caregivers. Attendees will receive a $10 has card each week. To learn more or register, call 814-642-9541.

Commissioners Focus On Job Creation, Blight Removal

October 11th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel are moving forward on two measures designed to create jobs and eliminate blight. Work has begun on a revised countywide ordinance to create tax incentives for construction or expansion of commercial properties. They could qualify for a temporary reduction of county real estate taxes. A 1977 state law, the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) Act, authorizes the tax incentive program to support job creation. The ordinance would apply only to the county portion of real estate taxes. However, school districts, boroughs and townships could also implement a LERTA. The commissioners are reviewing ordinances from across Pennsylvania and conferring with County Solicitor Tom Shaffer and Chief Assessor Jake Ostrom.

At the same time, the commissioners are researching a separate ordinance through which the county could establish a “blight removal fund.” Revenue would be derived from a small fee on each property transaction filed with the county recorder of deeds. Townships and boroughs could apply for the funds to help them address properties that have fallen into disrepair.

Public input is welcome as the board investigates each of the measures. Comments can be sent by email to pcexecsec@pottercountypa.net.

Help Now Available For Local Medicare Recipients

October 8th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County Human Services is once again offering free help for those who may qualify for Medicare during the annual “open enrollment” period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. PCHS has adapted this year’s counseling sessions to account for coronavirus pandemic health and safety provisions, according to Lisa Harris, who is coordinating the assistance for county residents. She welcomes calls at 814-544-7315 to offer assistance by phone or to schedule in-person appointments.

“Medicare is confusing, and every year brings changes,” Harris said. “Many people are uncertain which options make the most sense for their situation. We can help.” She recommends a five-point checklist for each person who is qualified to enroll for Medicare or change current benefit choices. “It’s all about meeting your own health care needs and your budget. You should confirm if your plan will continue next year; what you will pay in monthly premiums and annual deductibles; how much your co-pays will be for doctor visits; whether your doctor will continue to accept your plan, and which if any extra benefits will be covered.”

PCHS’s Area Agency on Aging is affiliated with the Pa. Dept. of Aging APPRISE Program, providing informed and unbiased counseling across the state.