SATURDAY Update: Pace Of New Cases, Deaths Rising

December 4th, 2021 Comments off

Two more Potter County residents died from COVID-related causes and 47 more were confirmed to be infected over the past 72 hours, according to the Pa. Dept. of Health (DOH). The pace of new cases and fatalities is rising. Since the pandemic began, there have been 2,371 known cases — more than one in seven county residents age 5 and older — and 65 lives lost. DOH said Potter County’s “active” case count is 198. That’s based on the number of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past two weeks and are considered highly contagious. Those are only the people who have been tested. According to DOH, for every case that is confirmed there are approximately four other victims whose infection has not been diagnosed.

Similar scenarios are playing out across the region. Four more Tioga County residents died from the coronavirus between Wednesday and Saturday, while 118 more tested positive. Tioga has had 5,677 cases and 154 deaths since the pandemic was declared. Also between Wednesday and Saturday, McKean County had 142 more cases and one more death. Totals in McKean are 5,965 cases and 106 fatalities. Clinton had 79 new cases and two deaths; Cameron, six cases; Allegany County, N.Y., 203 cases and one death; Elk, 66 cases and one death; Lycoming, 388 cases and eight deaths; and Cattaraugus County, N.Y., 354 cases and eight deaths.

Medical care providers are under unprecedented stress. Entering Saturday, UPMC Cole reported that it is treating 22 COVID patients. Three of them are occupying beds in the Intensive Care Unit. and two are connected to ventilators.

There has been a slight uptick in the pace of Potter County residents age 5 and older being vaccinated. Some 42 percent have now received at least one dose. That is roughly half of the statewide average. Some 1,046 residents have received a single dose and 5,427 have now been administered one or more booster shots. UPMC Cole offers the vaccine to eligible patients at its outpatient offices. To schedule an appointment for an adult, call 814-274-5460; for pediatric patients, call 814-274-9198. Buchanan Brothers Pharmacy in Coudersport administers the vaccine by appointment; call 814-274-8660. Rite Aid pharmacies continue to book appointments. To access the online reservation form, click here.

Md. Air National Guard Extends Public Comment Period

November 26th, 2021 Comments off

US Air Force photo by Sr. Airman Greg L. Davis

(UPDATE: A Maryland Air National Guard representative responded to the Potter County Commissioners this week. She informed the board that the ANG has agreed to extend the public comment period on its environmental assessment to Dec. 31. ANG has not committed to attending a local public forum.)

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel have invited representatives from the Maryland Air National Guard to attend a public forum to share details of the unit’s planned low-level military aircraft training flights over a wide swath of northcentral Pennsylvania and answer questions. The request is in response to input the commissioners have received from organizations and citizens who are concerned about the impact of the plan on tourism, the environment and the local way of life. Maryland ANG seeks authorization from the U.S. Defense Department to train A-10 “Warthog” pilots for up to 170 days a year, no longer than four hours per day, in low air space (100 feet from the ground and up) across most of Potter and Cameron counties, as well as smaller sections of McKean, Tioga, Clinton and Elk counties (see map below).

A public input period is now open on the Maryland ANG environmental assessment, which determined that the flights pose “no significant impact” on local citizens or the environment. A copy of the study is available at public libraries in Coudersport and Galeton; online at https://www.175wg.ang.af.mil/Duke-MOA-Low, (click on Duke MOA Low icon) or by contacting Kristi Kucharek, National Guard Bureau, 3501 Fetchet Avenue, Joint Base Andrews MD 20762-5157. Her email address is NGB.A4.A4A.NEPA.COMMENTS.Org@us.af.mil.

Military aircraft have trained in the region for many years, but at a higher altitude. Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages state forests and parks, has been studying the potential impacts for more than a year. DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said the flights could “drastically change the character of this region,” with the sound negatively affecting tourism, wildlife and outdoor recreation. DCNR has called on the Maryland ANG to maintain its current flight protocols and operations, or to consider alternative locations. The agency is also calling for an environmental impact study to be conducted, rather than the less detailed “environmental assessment” that was recently released for public comment.

 

 

New Assistant District Attorney Begins Service

November 4th, 2021 Comments off

Potter County has a new assistant district attorney. He is Edward V. Reeves, who has relocated to the county after operating a private legal practice for many years in southeastern Pennsylvania. Reeves succeeds McKean County resident Kord Kinney in the part-time position, working for District Attorney Andy Watson. The office is also staffed by County Detective Jacob Rothermel, Victim/Witness Services Coordinator Anita Mead and administrative personnel Emily Robinson, Sarah Chapell and Katrina Croke.

Reeves (left) earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State University. He was awarded his law degree by Temple University. He has been a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association since 1992.

“I am looking forward to having meaningful involvement in Potter County’s criminal justice system and working closely with District Attorney Watson,” Reeves said. He added that he has familiarized himself with the county’s system and recent reforms, such as pre-trial diversion and specialty courts in place for criminal cases involving offenders with addiction or mental health issues. “I have a lot of admiration for the way the criminal justice system operates here and I look forward to being a part of it,” Reeves said.

He became familiar with Potter County as a child and has frequently visited to enjoy the outdoor attractions, including the International Dark Sky Preserve at Cherry Springs State Park.

Banner At County Building Honors Local War Casualty

October 12th, 2021 Comments off

A banner at the front entrance of the F. W. Gunzburger County Office Building memorializes U.S. Army Specialist Mike Franklin, who lost his life in the Global War on Terrorism. It was originally hung in downtown Harrisburg, through a partnership of a local civic organization and the American Gold Star Mothers. The banner was donated to the county by SPC Franklin’s parents, Tina and Bill Franklin, when they moved to Arizona.

More than 16 years have passed since the Coudersport soldier lost his life when an improvised explosive device detonated near his screening area in Ramadi, Iraq. SPC Franklin, who was a month shy of his 23rd birthday, was not scheduled to be on duty during that shift on March 7, 2005. But he unselfishly agreed to stand in to help a friend. The checkpoint he was patrolling was established to trap guerrilla fighters through a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Similar operations were taking place in other towns in western Iraq, which was seeing heavy guerrilla fighting. A car had stalled and couldn’t be restarted. Just as Franklin and another soldier were about to begin searching the vehicle, the bomb was detonated by a remote-control device.

After her son’s death, Tina Franklin became involved with the work of Gold Star Mothers, an organization of those who have lost a son or daughter in battle. She has made multiple trips to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to visit injured service members. Tina and Bill Franklin suggest that those wishing to honor military personnel who have fallen in war consider service to others through community organizations, churches or government agencies.

Help Available For Renters Affected By Pandemic

September 21st, 2021 Comments off

Renters affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may be eligible for financial assistance. The commissioners have designated the county’s Human Services agency to administer a federal grant to help those who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay for rent and utilities. Applications can be downloaded from a website here. Once an application is complete, a Potter County Human Services case manager will be in touch to offer assistance. To be eligible, a renter household must have one or more individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  • Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  • Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

Full eligibility guidelines may be found here. Those seeking more information can contact Jim Kockler or Kara Amidon at 814-544-7315.

One In Seven Potter County Residents ‘Food Insecure’

September 21st, 2021 Comments off

Food banks across Potter County have all seen a surge in demand, much of it attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the county commissioners paused to honor those people who have kept the food pantry shelves stocked. In observance of Hunger Action Month, the board welcomed Ryan Prater (shown), community engagement associate with the Central Pa. Food Bank, to its Sept. 9 meeting. The commissioners also approved a proclamation to draw attention to the issues of hunger and food insecurity.

Prater thanked the staffers and volunteers who serve at the county’s food banks. He pointed out that about 14 percent of Potter County’s residents are “food insecure,” defined as lacking reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Central Pa. Food Bank is a conduit for government funds that provide food to agencies in 27 counties. Among its partners are area school districts.

Prater said his organization recently began offering Farm to Agency Resource Market (FARM) grants, connecting local farms directly to food banks so that they can expand their inventory of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and protein. He also called for public support of the federal government’s Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs, whose funding is in limbo during budget consolidation negotiations in Congress.