Latest edition of Shale Gas Roundup is now available. It’s the quarterly newsletter of the Potter County Natural Resource Center and features timely, locally relevant news about shale gas development and related topics. Among highlights of the 3rd Quarter 2015 edition:
- Utica Shale trail leads to Potter County with eye-opening numbers.
- Opening Pandora’s Box on maze of pipelines in Pennsylvania & across U.S.
- Workshops planned on land management/lease option issues.
- Local sourcewater protection advocates meet with DEP Secretary Quigley.
- Some companies poking into a third promising shale gas layer in region.
- Small gas/oil companies insist, ‘One size does NOT fit all.’
- Rig count in Appalachian Basin drops by half since 2012.
- Uncertainties persist as focus turns to handling shale gas waste products.
To access the latest edition as well as all past editions, visit the website pottercountypa.net (Shale Gas Roundup 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 Street entrance), or by contacting Dawn Wooster at 814-274-8290, extension 207.
Potter County Human Services (PCHS) offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for those who want to help local young people, ages 10 to 17. An active Mentoring Program welcomes new recruits for three different programs. Vocational mentoring provides career counseling and internships or co-op opportunities. School-based mentoring is geared toward outcomes such as greater social skills, improved academic performance and a stronger foundation on which to progress into adulthood. Referrals come from parents, teachers, or Human Services case managers assigned to a school district. PCHS also offers community-based mentoring services. Mentors are asked to spend just an hour or two each week making a difference in the life of a child. Program requirements are simple. Volunteers are asked to serve as role models for children and to spend time engaged in positive activities, talking about issues related to school, family or social situations, or just having fun in a spirit of friendship and support. Mentors must possess a driver’s license and be able to provide transportation. For more information, call 814-544-7315 or 1-800-800-2560.
Potter County Voter Registration/Elections Office is fully prepared to implement Pennsylvania’s new online voter registration system. The online application form can be found at votespa.com. The new site also allows currently registered voters to more easily make updates to their voter record, such as a change of name, address or party affiliation. Additionally, registered voters may use the new site to request assistance at the polling place. Potter County Director of Elections Sandy Lewis reports that she and other directors across the state worked with the Department of State to implement the online registration as a tool to improve accuracy, increase the integrity of the voting rolls, reduce time-consuming data entry and yield considerable cost savings.
When an applicant completes the online form, the information is forwarded directly to the county voter registration office for processing. Because the online voter registration site is directly linked to PennDOT’s Motor Voter system, if an applicant has a driver’s license or PennDOT ID card, the signature already on file with PennDOT can immediately be linked to the voter record. Applicants who do not have a driver’s license or PennDOT ID card will be able to print, sign and mail the completed online application to their county voter registration office. If they are not able to print the application, they may request that the Department of State mail them a signature card to complete and return to their county office.
More information about online voter registration is available at votespa.com.
A team of historic preservation specialists is bound for Potter County. The “Preservation Road Show” will visit Galeton and Austin on Wednesday, Sept. 16, followed by stops in Coudersport and Ulysses on Sept. 17. Specialists from the Pa. Historic and Museum Commission, Preservation Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center will be available to meet with owners of historic properties, as well as business and community leaders. They’ll share information on grant and loan programs, tax credits, technical assistance, and other assets that can be used to preserve historic structures, neighborhoods and business districts. Details will be announced.
A public meeting will be scheduled in the coming weeks to discuss the recommendations of a Pittsburgh firm that was hired to study Denton Hill State Park and assess issues such as refurbishing the ski area and expanding the park’s operations to an all-season schedule. Some of the preliminary findings by Mosher Studio and its contractors were shared during what the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DNCR) termed a “stakeholders meeting” this week at the park’s ski lodge. Among attendees were several DCNR officials, including David Kemmerer, director of the Bureau of State Parks. Here, Potter County Visitors Assn. executive director David Brooks (right) discusses the park’s future with two of the contractors conducting the study.
Following an initial presentation from the Mosher team, DCNR broke the gathering into three discussion roundtables where attendees could share input on: proposals for upgrades to the park facilities; economic/marketing analysis and potential; and activities that could be tied to expansion of the park’s operation to an all-season schedule.
Among the initial findings shared at the stakeholders meeting:
- DCNR will need to invest more than $12 million to refurbish or replace equipment to accommodate skiing to Denton Hill State Park. Snowmaking equipment, lodge repairs, lighting improvements and upgrading of lifts and other equipment are among the costlier items. These projects and others would likely take a minimum of three years.
- Statistics reported by the most recent concessionaire operating the ski area show that, from a skier turnout of 13,150 in 2007, the business declined each successive year to approximately 7,000 skiers for the 2013-14 season (the ski area was closed for 2014-15). There was a corresponding decrease in gross revenue, according to concessionaire’s figures. At the same time, fewer Americans — only about 3 percent of the population — are skiers.
- Other challenges include the opening and growth of more skiing facilities closer to population centers since Denton Hill Ski Area was created, and the availability of other attractions (competition for tourists) during the spring through fall seasons.
While those are sobering conclusions, there are other more promising factors that will enter into DCNR’s assessment of Denton Hill State Park, including the potential to link the facility to other attractions — Cherry Springs State Park and its Dark Sky Preserve, Lyman Run State Park, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, numerous recreation trails in the Susquehannock State Forest, for example — as part of a strategy to develop all-season tourist opportunities.
Details of the upcoming public meeting on the future of Denton Hill State Park will be announced in the coming weeks. DCNR plans to hold the meeting before the end of the year.
U. S. Senator Pat Toomey came to Potter County to express his appreciation to the many people who have been working to serve military veterans. He stopped at the new Potter County Veterans Center (former Penn State Extension building at Mapleview). Toomey was addressed, at left, by Dr. Felipe Diaz, chief of staff for the Bath (N.Y.) Medical Center. Diaz announced that Bath will be expanding the VA Medical Clinic in Potter County, bringing tele-medicine services. Among others who discussed their ongoing services to veterans were Ed Fisher, a founder of the Leek Hunting and Mountain Preserve in Oswayo; Pete Ryan and David Saulter, organizers of the annual God’s County Chapter/Trout Unlimited Project Healing Waters; representatives of the American Eagles and Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets motorcycle clubs; officers of veterans’ service organizations in Galeton, Coudersport and Ulysses; and other invited guests. Toomey said that in his many years as a congressman, and now a senator, he has not seen a county as dedicated to caring for its veterans as Potter. Some of those attending used the occasion to seek the senator’s support for measures to improve rural veterans’ access to quality health care, and to suggest that the unique combination of services and opportunities in Potter County could be the foundation for deeper involvement with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Discussions of those possibilities will continue between the Potter County Commissioners and Sen. Toomey’s staff. Toomey stopped at the Military Wall of Honor in the Coudersport Arboretum, where he praised the efforts of American Legion Post 192 in erecting and maintaining the wall. Shown from left are Commissioner Doug Morley, Post 192 Adjutant Ted Parsell, Senator Pat Toomey, Commissioner Paul Heimel, and Veterans Affairs Director Will Worthington.