SUNDAY Update: Potter Records 47 Cases In 72 Hours

September 19th, 2021 Comments off

Coronavirus case counts across the region are rising. Potter County has had a spike of 47 cases over the past 72 hours (Wednesday through Saturday; see chart above). Three COVID-19 patients are hospitalized at UPMC Cole’s special unit. There have now been 1,417 documented cases and 29 COVID-related deaths in Potter County. Pa. Of greater concern is the growing “active” case count in the county, which stands at 91. Those are cases in which the victim has contracted the disease over the past two weeks and is considered highly contagious. 

Pa. Dept. of Health (DOH) estimates that the number of people carrying the virus in a locale is likely four or more times higher than the reported cases. However, the department no longer releases information on “active” case counts per community. Testing is 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).

Meanwhile, between Wednesday and Saturday, there were 117 more cases and another COVID-related death in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., where the count now stands at 6,645 cases and 96 deaths. Lycoming County had 251 more cases with four more fatalities. Totals in Lycoming are 13,603 cases and 315 deaths. Tioga County reported 123 more cases (3,687 cases, 115 deaths); Allegany County, N.Y., 78 new cases (3,967 cases, 92 deaths); McKean, 58 cases (4,175 cases, 76 deaths); Cameron, 10 cases (374 cases, 10 deaths); Clinton, 82 cases (4,101 cases, 69 deaths); and Elk, 114 new cases and another fatality (3,400 cases, 46 deaths).

Potter County now has a vaccination rate of 42 percent (5,472) among residents age 18 and older. Statewide, 80 percent have been inoculated. 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.

Statewide, an average of 5,600 new cases are being diagnosed each day. Total cases in Pennsylvania since the pandemic began stood at 1,375,864 with 28,845 deaths as of Saturday. There has been a 250-percent increase in the number of children who have been infected since early August. In recent days, some 28 percent of all cases have been diagnosed in children.

County Residents Encouraged To Join ‘CodeRED’

September 18th, 2021 Comments off

Potter County Emergency Management Agency is encouraging residents to sign up for a notification system that provides important alerts and time-sensitive messages on tornadoes, floods, or other emergencies using phone calls, email, social media sites and text messaging. It’s a “reverse-911” system that can help people prepare for risks to public safety. Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel have renewed a contract with OnSolve, the company that provides the service, referred to as CodeRED.

“This system delivers critical information to thousands of individuals within minutes,” said Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator. “Alerts can be specific to streets, neighborhoods, or regions.” He discussed the service at a recent Potter County Commissioners meeting. Among attendees were, from left, Teresa Kisiel (obscured), Conservation District manager Jason Childs and Planning/GIS director Will Hunt.

All residents living in Potter County are encouraged to visit pottercountypa.net and click on the CodeRED logo to enroll their contact information. Dunn said no one should automatically assume he or she is in the emergency contact database. Additional information is also available at 274-8900, extension 501.

Conservation District Success Stories Celebrated

September 7th, 2021 Comments off

Roads are being improved, headwater streams protected, and coal mine pollution abated as a result of work that’s dutifully performed — with little or no fanfare — by county conservation districts. Last week, directors of these low-profile agencies whose impact stretches far and wide showcased some of their success stories in Potter and Cameron counties. About a dozen elected officials and other guests joined conservation district managers and technicians on a daylong field trip.

In Potter County, the group traveled to two project sites on Southwoods Road in Homer and Sylvania townships. Conservation District Manager Jason Childs (left) explained that over a period of four years, the Conservation District upgraded a 4.7-mile section of the road to reduce sediment loads flowing into the Southwoods Branch, and to keep the road passable for residents, seasonal property owners, tourists, school buses and emergency vehicles. Price tag was nearly $684,000. In Sylvania Township, an eroding 70-foot vertical bank had collapsed, reducing Southwoods Road to one lane threatening to close the road entirely. Some 264 tons of limestone and other materials were used to stabilize the bank and improve the stream and its habitat. Cost was $175,000.

One stop in Cameron County was at an acid mine drainage treatment project in Cameron County’s Sterling Run watershed. Deep coal mining in the late 1800s and early 1900s and surface mining that followed had badly fouled the headwaters, killing all aquatic life. Cameron County Conservation District has installed “passive treatment systems,” neutralizing aluminum and iron levels. Affected waters are now Class A Wild Trout Streams. Also in Cameron County, the group observed a streambank stabilization project along the Driftwood Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek. That 450-foot section had been severely eroded. A modified mudsill cribwall was installed to stabilize the bank and improve fish habitat. The Conservation District partnered with the Western Pa. Conservancy to plant a five-acre riparian buffer that includes trees, shrubs and live stakes.

 

SBA Offers Loans To Victims Of Aug. 18 Flooding

September 3rd, 2021 Comments off

Those living in Potter and Tioga counties who were severely impacted by the historic flooding on Aug. 18 may qualify for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBA will open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Knoxville Community Building, 301 East Main Street, on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Hours will be 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, Sept. 11. The final day of operation is Wednesday, Sept. 15. Residents, businesses and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other assets. Interest rates are as low as 2.855 percent for businesses, 2 percent for non-profit organizations, and 1.563 percent for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling 1-800-659-2955 or from the SBA website. Email inquiries should be sent to disasterloan@sba.org. Filing deadline is Nov. 1.

Uptick In People Buying Property, Moving To Potter Co.

August 31st, 2021 Comments off
Potter County Tourism & Recreation Work Group members had a full agenda for their August meeting. Among highlights was a report on trends in the local real estate market. Members attending were Colleen Hanson, Josh Roth, Chris Nicholas, Candace Hillyard, Steve Green and Curt Weinhold. County Attendees: Will Hunt, Ellen Russell, Paul Heimel, Barry Hayman. Guests attending: Nicole Faraguna (DCNR Policy/Planning Director); Brian Thompson (Trail’s End Realty). Here’s a summary of this month’s meeting:

Real Estate Trends in Potter County– Brian Thompson from Trail’s End Realty presented a summary of trends he has observed in Potter County. These reflect a heightened interest in both tourism and real estate acquisition in Potter County since early 2020. He said people from many states and foreign countries are “discovering” the region, causing increased demand for seasonal residences and permanent homes. One major factor is the ability of those in the workforce to telecommute, retaining their employment after relocating. The influx of new residents is gradually expanding the diversity of Potter County’s population.

Maryland Air Force National Guard Low-Level Training Flights– DCNR’s Nicole Faraguna reported on continuing research into the proposal. DCNR and others are still calling for a comprehensive environmental impact statement to be prepared prior to any decisions being reached on allowing the flights. There have also been calls for the Maryland ANG to be more transparent in its planning process. Nicole suggested that those who are concerned about the impact of the flights consider options for educating the public on their potential impact. She has available multiple background and informational documents. For details, send email to nfaraguna@pa.gov.

State Parks Update–  There were no bids from prospective partners/concessionaires to develop and operate Denton Hill State Park as a four-season attraction. Another solicitation will be scheduled by DCNR. Members held a general discussion on the long-term dormancy of what was once a major tourist attraction and agreed that there is a need for strong, concerted local advocacy for revitalization of Denton Hill State Park and implementation of the state’s “Denton Hill Adventure Center” concept.

State Forest Update– District Forester Chris Nicholas reported that the number of state forest visitors is down this year when compared to 2020, when there was a surge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forest use is still higher than it was in the years prior to 2020. Chris also discussed the pilot ATV trail connector project. One issue that has arisen is the lack of enforcement on township and PennDOT roads.

Visit Potter-Tioga Overview/Update– Colleen Hanson said that more visitors are making day trips to the region this year. Campgrounds have enjoyed a solid year so far, but some traditional lodging facilities have not. VPT has launched its fall advertising campaign, emphasizing family fun in the outdoors and the fall foliage viewing opportunities. The number of requests for information about the region continues to rise, indicating strong interest in the two counties by prospective tourists. A new visitors guide will be published in early October. VPT has grants available to members to assist with certain marketing/advertising activities. Colleen can be reached at colleen@visitpottertioga.com for details.

Potter County Planning/GIS Department– Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt reported that there is growing concern about lack of compliance by lodging facilities – Airbnbs and residential short-term rentals – with the “room tax” ordinance. Work group members are interested in hearing from county treasurers on steps they are taking to ensure compliance. Will noted that camps that are converted to short-term rentals might no longer qualify for building code exemptions. He also shared that DCNR and Penn State University are partnering on a study of the ATV trail connector project underway in Potter County and a section of western Tioga County. Also, Will presented an update on the Potter County Commissioners’ broadband expansion initiative.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum– Josh Roth (administrator) said attendance has been excellent since the museum’s reopening. A full-time educator position will be filled. Plans are coming together for the popular annual Antique/Collectible Show Oct. 9-10. The year’s one and only run of the museum’s steam-powered sawmill will take place on Oct. 9.

Commissioners Meet One-On-One With Sen. Casey

August 27th, 2021 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel hosted a one-on-one meeting with United States Senator Bob Casey this week. Casey was enroute from an engagement in Wellsboro to a gathering in Warren County, continuing an  outreach swing through northern Pennsylvania while the Senate is in recess.

He began the session by pointing out to the commissioners that rural counties will have opportunities to benefit from pending federal legislation that will provide funding for infrastructure projects in local townships and boroughs, including expansion of high-speed internet service to areas that have been left behind.

Other topics covered during the 90-minute session included federal support for criminal justice reform, including programs geared toward reducing jail populations and repeat offenders; public/private partnerships to support economic developments; issues affecting local agriculture and tourism; federal tax reform, and the senator’s “Five Freedoms for America’s Children” initiative.