TUESDAY Update: Virus Still Here; Clinic Sunday In Austin

June 8th, 2021 Comments off

Recent Pa. Dept. of Health (DOH) data send a cautionary note to Potter and surrounding counties: COVID-19 coronavirus is still with us and is claiming more lives. DOH reports that Potter County recorded seven more confirmed cases and another COVID-related death between Friday and Tuesday. There have now been 1,194 cases among county residents, 25 of whom have succumbed to the disease. Over the same time span there nine more cases and another death in Tioga County; five cases in McKean; 15 cases and a death in Allegany County, N.Y.; 10 cases in Clinton; 14 cases and two deaths in Lycoming; and four more cases with another death un in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. All of this comes at a time when few residents are being tested for the virus.

As of Tuesday, some 4,667 Potter County residents age 18 or older have received the COVID-19 vaccine, an increase of 123 since Friday. Some 3,572 have been fully immunized. Potter County’s combined full and partial vaccination rate — roughly 38 percent of the adult population — is far lower than the statewide figure of more than 71 percent. A free COVID-19 drive-through or walk-up clinic administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be held from 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday, June 13, at the Austin Firehall. No appointments are required. DOH has partnered with the Potter County Commissioners, Austin Volunteer Fire Department and Potter County Department of Emergency Services to bring the clinic to Potter County. Buchanan Brothers Pharmacy in Coudersport administers the vaccine by appointment; call 814-274-8660. UPMC Cole offers two options for residents to set up vaccination appointments. One is a telephone hotline, 814-274-5460. The other is an online resource, vaccine.upmc.com. Rite Aid pharmacies continue to book appointments. To access the online reservation form, click here. Requests for COVID-19 tests at three sites in Coudersport have been sporadic, at best. In addition to the testing available 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) and Rite Aid Pharmacy (visit the website here or call 814-274-0439).

Potter County Tourism/Recreation Work Group Moves Forward

May 29th, 2021 Comments off

Potter County Tourism & Recreation Work Group held its monthly meeting on May 24. The panel is part of the Revitalize Potter County campaign, a mission to reverse the population loss and rising median age in the county. For more information or to volunteer, contact Potter County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt at whunt@pottercountypa.net.

Members Attending: Curt Weinhold, Chris Nicholas, Ben Stone, Josh Roth, John Snyder, Lori Szymanik, Candace Hillyard and Chuck Dillon.

Guest: Nicole Faraguna (DCNR Policy/Planning Director)

County Attendees: Will Hunt, Ellen Russell, Paul Heimel, Nancy Grupp and Barry Hayman.

Denton Hill State Park Update: Ben Stone (Bureau of State Parks) reported that the state has set a new deadline of July 9 for proposals from prospective partners/concessionaires to develop and operate Denton Hill State Park as a four-season attraction. Both archery festivals have been relocated to Ski Sawmill Resort this year.

Visit Potter-Tioga Overview/Update: Ellen Russell (board member) said the agency is putting the finishing touches on a new visitors’ map of Potter County. Fourteen new members have joined VPT. Click-through numbers on the VPT website are rising, indicating increased interest in the two counties by prospective tourists.

Maryland Air Force National Guard Low-Level Training Flights: DCNR’s Nicole Faraguna (Policy/Planning) shared that plans now call for flights from Tuesdays through Saturdays, up to 170 days per year, for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. A draft “environmental assessment” and related public comment period are expected by late summer or early fall. DCNR and others are calling for a more detailed “environmental impact statement.”

Susquehannock State Forest: Chris Nicholas (district forester) reported that the ATV trail will reopen over the Memorial Day weekend. Interest in that hobby has continued to grow. DNCR has also seen an increase in camping permit requests and is expecting an increase in state forest visitors this summer and fall.

Northcentral Pa. ATV Pilot Project: Will Hunt reported that PennDOT and DCNR continue laying the groundwork for “connector routes” linking designated ATV trails. Work group members agreed that details of the pilot project, which includes new trails in Potter County, need to be better communicated to township/borough officials and the public. Four of our work group members have been involved in production of an instructional ATV video that will soon be prominently posted on websites and social media. Its emphasis is safety, courtesy and legal operation of the vehicles.

Dark Skies/Cherry Springs State Park: Ben Stone advised that DCNR’s improvement project at Cherry Springs State Park is now in the design stage. It includes new entrance/exit arrangements, expanded parking, an information hub, a pavilion for hosting programs, increased water supply and other improvements. The Galeton Rotary Club Woodsmen’s Show will return this summer. Members continued discussion of options for protecting the dark skies through public education and/or regulation of outdoor lighting to reduce light trespassing.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum: Josh Roth (administrator) said the phased reopening – 10 am to 4 pm Fridays through Sundays – has seen steadily increasing attendance. It appears that the Bark Peelers Convention will return this year, but no final decision has been reached.

Other Reports

  • Candace Hillyard (Pa. Rt. 6 Alliance executive director) said the major current emphasis is on promoting and accommodating bicyclists.
  • Steve Green (Eliot Ness Museum) submitted a log of museum visitors coming from several states. He has been referring them to several area businesses and attractions, developing a network of cross-promotion that enhances visitors’ experiences while supporting the local economy.
  • Paul Heimel (Commissioner) reported on a discussion with the Elk County Council on the Arts as part of the effort to resurrect the Potter County Arts Council and potentially incorporate that group with a Potter County Recreation and Events organization.

 NEXT MEETING: Monday, June 28, 11 am by Zoom or call-in

Commissioners’ Proclamation Honors U.S. Constitution

May 24th, 2021 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman recently issued a proclamation to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Constitutional Convention, which convened on May 25, 1787. The proclamation was disseminated to other Pennsylvania counties for their adoption in advance of the anniversary date. The board saw the occasion as an opportunity to pay tribute to those public servants who gathered in Philadelphia to craft the enduring document that forms the foundation of our freedom and self-governance. The commissioners also called upon the people of Potter County to educate themselves on the Constitution — including its 27 amendments adopted to protect Americans’ rights. They encouraged the citizens of Potter County to play an active role in their local government, whether by seeking public office, volunteering with community organizations, attending public meetings of local government agencies or exercising their right to vote. And lastly, in celebrating the opening of the Constitutional Convention, the three commissioners renewed their own commitment to support, obey and defend the Constitution. A copy of the proclamation is available at the commissioners’ business office; 814-274-8290, ext. 207; pcexecsec@pottercountypa.net

Potter County Clears Way For ‘NextGen 911’

May 23rd, 2021 Comments off

Potter County has signed on for improvements to its emergency communications network through migration to the long-awaited “NextGen 911.” Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman approved an agreement that paves the way for a system that will reduce response times and improve interagency communications. A 2015 state law calls for all 911 systems to be upgraded to a digital (internet protocol) system. NextGen 911 provides a faster, more resilient system that allows voice, photos, videos and text messages to flow from the public to the 911 network. It also improves dispatch center management of call overload, natural disasters, and transferring of 911 calls based on location tracking. To pave the way for NextGen 911, Potter County completed a $4 million systemwide upgrade in 2018-19. The project involved 14 communication towers with fiber-optic service, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure.

County Plays Major Role In $1M Grant For Galeton

May 13th, 2021 Comments off

Another major piece of funding puzzle fell into place for Galeton Borough in its years-long mission to upgrade the town’s sewage treatment plant.  Galeton was awarded $1 million from a federal grant program administered at the state level to address shortcomings at the 35-year-old facility. Potter County Community Development Director Ellen Russell and the SEDA Council of Governments, contracted for administrative support, worked together to advance Galeton’s grant application. The project aligned with the Potter County Comprehensive Plan 2020-29, which prioritizes infrastructure investments to support vital communities and retain/grow population.

Funds were awarded through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Sewage from 528 households and businesses is treated at the plant, as is a portion of stormwater runoff in the borough. A sludge holding tank that has failed during times of high water inflow will be replaced. The project will eliminate pollutants from entering Pine Creek.

Help Available For Renters Adversely Affected By COVID-19

May 8th, 2021 Comments off

Renters and those who are at risk of being homeless may be eligible for financial assistance to help compensate them for financial losses attributable to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic through recent federal programs. Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel have designated the county’s Human Services agency to administer a federal grant received to help those who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay for rent and utilities. Those who can demonstrate a loss of income due to the pandemic are encouraged to apply. 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.