Work Continues On Market Village Concept

June 17th, 2024 Comments off

Progress continues on a proposal to establish an open-air retail center and gathering place on a vacant lot in downtown Coudersport. It’s a project of the Revitalize Potter County Steering Committee, comprised of the county Planning/Community Development/GIS Department and the County Commissioners. Last week, committee members Will Hunt, Robert Rossman, Kal Logue, Pete DiBiase and Karielle Johnston traveled to a similar market village in Tionesta (see below) to meet with its organizers and tour the grounds. They were joined by Marc Wilkins, a community and economic development consultant assisting the county under the Economic Recovery Corps Fellowship Program. The site is a county-owned lot at the corner of East Second and North East streets. A $4,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team paid for the services of a landscape architect/engineer, who conducted a feasibility study and developed a conceptual design (above). Potter County later received a $41,400 state grant that can be used to help cover costs for construction of a plaza, pedestrian walkway and parking area; installation of utilities and interpretive signs; ADA access, landscaping, and other related site improvements.

Plans call for erection of multiple short-term rental spaces. Retail space would complement the Potter County Farmers Market, with occupants marketing agricultural goods, prepared food, locally crafted items or other products. The committee envisions the lot becoming a gathering place where live music and other entertainment or educational programs could be presented. Similar open-air markets could be developed in Galeton, Ulysses, Roulette and other Potter County towns. Community organizations, such as chambers of commerce, would be contacted to partner with the committee. Those holding festivals and other public attractions could offer previews, such as live music “teasers,” chainsaw carving demonstrations and other promotional activities, at the market. Visitors would be directed to businesses, attractions and events in the region.

Rentals would be available at low fees. The market village could serve as an incubator for new businesses. It would provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to “pilot” their business idea, without running the large risk associated with a storefront. Once the business proves to be successful, the hope is it would move into an empty storefront to help revitalize the business district.

During last week’s tour, the local delegation learned that developing a business plan is key factor in the early development. Long-term site maintenance must also be considered. During the group’s two-hour tour, upwards of 100 visitors were browsing the shops and relaxing on the grounds. The local team also learned how tenants at the Village Market partner with local merchants and community organizations to enhance the attractiveness and diversity of the community.

Two National Excellence Awards For Potter County

June 10th, 2024 Comments off

Potter County has been chosen for two national excellence awards by the National Assn. of Counties. Just six of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties were recognized for excellence. Potter was the lone county among them to receive two awards. They are in recognition of “No Veteran Left Behind,” based on the launch of a Veterans Transportation Program; and “Revitalize Potter County,” a series of strategies to address population loss and outmigration of young adults, starting with the launch of the Potter County Creative Council. Summaries of the county’s award-winning initiatives have been posted on the NACo website as follows:

No Veteran Left Behind: Potter County is sparsely populated and remotely situated. There is little to no access to public transportation. Availability of health care is also limited. Among the most underserved residents are our military veterans. There is no VA medical facility in the county. Many of our veterans are senior citizens with low incomes who lack the means to access quality health care. In 2022, a coalition of veterans’ advocates embarked on a lofty mission – a transportation service dedicated solely to taking veterans to medical appointments. This team effort was coordinated by the Potter County Department of Human Services (PCHS), with support from the Potter County Commissioners, Potter County Director of Veterans Services, American Legion/VFW posts, and community supporters. Widespread support, appreciation and respect for military veterans, coupled with the judicious and innovative use of state and county funding, have made the Potter County Veterans Medical Transportation Program a reality. It is funded annually as a line item in Potter County’s Human Services Block Grant provided by the state. Local veterans’ advocates, community organizations, businesses and individuals support the service through fundraisers and outreach activities. As a result, any eligible military veteran can access transportation for medical care.

Revitalize Potter County: Potter County has been gutted by population loss, youth outmigration, a struggling economy, and a rising median age (47.4 years) that now hovers nearly 10 years above the national average (38.1). At the same time, COVID and social factors have been prompting many young families to pursue a rural lifestyle. Many are seeking affordable housing, high-speed internet access, outdoor recreational opportunities, and vibrant communities. Potter County checks each of those boxes – with the exception of the latter. In 2022, a team of stakeholders spearheaded by the Potter County Board of Commissioners embarked on a strategic plan to revitalize the communities of Potter County with an intensive focus five core areas. Among them was developing arts and cultural activities. In 2023, this innovative mission bore fruit. An arts council that had been dormant for nearly a decade was revitalized. National and state arts/culture organizations provided support, while a broad cross-section of public officials, artisans, community leaders, volunteers, school administrators and other key stakeholders came aboard. “Revitalize Potter County” was off and running.

The awards will be presented during the NACo Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., on July 13.

New Arts Council Lands Nationally Known Trio

June 8th, 2024 Comments off

A new countywide arts and culture organization, the Potter County Creative Council (PC3), has contracted with the nationally known California Guitar Trio for a public concert at 7 pm on Saturday, June 22, at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Opening the show will be two accomplished local teen musicians, Ronan Bray and Lillian Vought, underscoring the nonprofit PC3’s mission to work with all of the school districts in Potter County. Admission is free. Donations will be accepted.

Major program support is provided by the Pa. Council on the Arts, underscoring the nonprofit PC3’s mission to work with all of the school districts in Potter County. PC3 is also supported by the Potter County Commissioners as a component of their award-winning “Revitalize Potter County” initiative. Its overarching mission is to reverse population losses and outmigration of young adults by making Potter County communities more vibrant and appealing. More information on the California Guitar Trio is available here.

County Applies For Housing Rehabilitation Funds

June 7th, 2024 Comments off

A public hearing was held on June 7 as part of the Potter County Commissioners’ application for a $500,000 grant through the HOMES program for housing rehabilitation. The county is contracting with the Emporium-based nonprofit Northern Tier Community Action Corp. to apply for the funds and, if successful, to administer the program in Potter County. It’s open to income-eligible persons who are age 62 or older and/or disabled. NTCAC officials estimate that as many as 10 homes in Potter County will be brought up to building code and related standards through the federal government program. Questions and comments are being fielded by NTCAC’s Shaun McAulay by phone ay 814-486-1161, ext. 213.

Openings Remain For Youth Leadership Training

June 5th, 2024 Comments off

Local governments and community organizations in Potter County have been struggling with not only declining numbers of volunteers, but also with the lack of leadership. Its impact can be seen everywhere from empty ballots on election day to “burnout” from the faithful few who pitch in to keep some civic groups from disbanding. Potter County Education Council has come up with a novel approach that focuses on developing the leaders of tomorrow in their teenage years. Recruiting continues for the Potter County Youth Leadership Program, open to those who will be entering grades 10 through 12 in the fall at Austin, Coudersport, Galeton, Northern Potter, Oswayo Valley and Port Allegany schools.

Participants will meet one day each month from September through March and emerge with a greater understanding of the county’s strengths and challenges, a broad knowledge of local career and volunteer opportunities, leadership skills and pointers on how to work effectively in a team setting. There is no fee. Applications are available at high school offices or at the Potter County Education Center at 5 Water Street in Coudersport. For more information, contact Janine Morley at jmorley@pcedcouncil.org or 814-274-4877.

Jail Board Meeting Postponed Due To Lack Of Quorum

June 5th, 2024 Comments off

The Potter County Jail Board public meeting originally scheduled for Friday, June 7, has been postponed due to lack of a quorum. Date and time of the next meeting will be announced. It will be held at the F.W. Gunzburger County Office Building auditorium. Telephone access will be available at 814-274-0844; PIN is #114477.

Board members are Commissioner Paul Heimel (chair), Sheriff Kevin Siska (vice chair), Commissioner Nancy Grupp, Judge Stephen Minor, District Attorney Andy Watson, and Commissioner Robert Rossman.

Those with questions or comments about the jail are reminded that they can submit them to the board through email sent to pcjailboard@pottercountypa.net.