Potter County Coronavirus Summary: TUESDAY P.M. Update

August 11th, 2020 Comments off

Four area counties recorded more COVID-19 coronavirus cases between Monday and Tuesday. Some seven more tests came back positive in Lycoming County. There were two more confirmed cases in Cattaraugus County, N.Y.,  and one more each in Clinton and Elk counties. Entering Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s case count stood at 120,281 (an increase of 828 since Monday), with 7,352 fatalities. Current area numbers are as follows: Cattaraugus, 168 cases, 6 deaths; Tioga, 38 cases, 3 fatalities; Potter, 20 cases; McKean, 34 cases, one death; Lycoming, 407 cases, 20 fatalities; Allegany, 84 cases, 2 deaths; Cameron, 7 cases; Clinton, 123 cases, 5 fatalities; and Elk, 50 cases, 2 deaths.

Assigned bus seats, mask breaks and no school lunch lines are all part of the joint guidelines for school reopening announced last week by the state Departments of Health and Education. Most recently, the departments recommended that fall sports seasons be cancelled. The Pa. Interscholastic Athletic Assn. is studying the issue and conferring with public health officials to determine whether to comply. In terms of the upcoming academic year, each school district is currently charged with adjusting to fit its own needs. Schools reopening — even under the state’s guidelines — is reliant upon people following social distancing guidance from the Department of Health, Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. A summary of the new guidelines and their impact can be found here. Locally, school administrators are developing state-mandated health and safety plans as they prepare for the 2020-21 school year. These plans cover three scenarios: resumption of in-person classes with health and safety provisions in place, a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction, or a remote learning system involving online learning and other alternatives.

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel are now accepting applications for grants to assist businesses and non-profit organizations adversely affected by the pandemic. Details can be found on the county website, pottercountypa.net (click on “Help for Small Businesses” in upper right corner). Owners of restaurants and bars, as well as others affected by Gov. Tom Wolf’s most recent round of public health and safety measures, continue to adapt to the new measures. A summary of them appears here. Further details on Governor Tom Wolf’s directive requiring that face protection be worn whenever anyone leaves home can be found here. Additionally, Gov. Wolf is recommending that domestic travelers returning from certain states with high numbers of COVID-19 cases quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania. Specifics can be found here.

Three testing sites for the COVID-19 coronavirus remain available in Coudersport. In addition to the testing site 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 to complete an eligibility assessment) and Rite Aid Pharmacy (visit the website here or call 814-274-0439).

Township Supervisors Assn. Cancels Annual Convention

August 10th, 2020 Comments off

Officers of the Potter County Association of Township Officials have reached the difficult decision to cancel the organization’s annual convention. In considering their options, the officers reviewed the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic emergency health and safety restrictions that have been mandated or recommended by the Pa. Dept. of Health and Governor Tom Wolf. In addition, they learned that the Pa. State Assn. of Township Supervisors would not be able to send a guest speaker to present the latest legislative developments and answer questions about township government issues and concerns. The officers encourage municipal officials in Potter County to avail themselves of the learning opportunities through the state association’s website (psats.org) or the PSATS site on the Facebook social media platform.

County Grant Program To Cushion Impact Of Pandemic

August 3rd, 2020 Comments off

A grant program to help businesses and non-profit organizations adversely affected by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic began accepting applications today. Potter County Commissioners are directing federal funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to cushion the blow of the ongoing public health crisis. Primary purpose of the program is to provide immediate relief so that small businesses and non-profit organizations can retain employees, continue operations, and remain sustainable. Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel recognize the need to inject the money into the local economy as quickly as possible.

“Because these are federal dollars that have been allotted to the county, we’ve been working hard to meet all of the administrative requirements,” said Commissioner Grupp, board chair. “It is our goal to make this process less cumbersome for the businesses and organizations who need the help now.”

Local applicants could qualify for up to $25,000. Funds can be used for payroll (preference will be given to those applicants that did not receive Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Funds); rent/mortgage payments; personal protective equipment or other COVID-19 related supplies; and operating expenses. An online submission process now in place to expedite the processing of applications will close at 4:30 pm Monday, Aug. 17. To access it, go to pottercountypa.net and click on “Help for Small Businesses” in the upper right corner. Written applications will also be accepted. For details, contact Potter County Community Development Director Ellen Russell at (814) 274-8290 extension 209. Questions about the program can also be directed to her by phone or by email at erussell@pottercountypa.net.

Detailed program eligibility requirements, including information about the application process, can be found here.

Open-Air ‘Market Village’ Envisioned For County Property

July 31st, 2020 Comments off

An open-air retail center would be established on the vacant lot across from the county jail under a plan unveiled at a recent meeting of the Potter County Board of Commissioners. County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt discussed a project being developed by the Revitalize Potter County Work Group to create a semi-permanent “village” with multiple short-term rental spaces at the corner of Second and North East Streets in Coudersport. A $4,500 grant has been approved by the Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team to retain the services of a landscape architect/engineer who will conduct a feasibility study and develop a conceptual design.

Hunt emphasized the retail space could complement the Potter County Farmers Market, with short-term occupants marketing agricultural products, prepared food, locally crafted items or other products. It would be modeled after the successful Tionesta Market Village in Forest County, shown in the accompanying photograph. The work group envisions the lot becoming a gathering place where live music and other entertainment or educational programs could be presented. The group is investigating the establishment of similar open-air markets in Galeton, Ulysses, Roulette and other Potter County communities. Community organizations, such as chambers of commerce, would be contacted to partner with the county.

Commissioners Seek Volunteers For Boards, Authorities

July 29th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman continue to seek volunteers willing to serve on any of several county authorities, commissions and advisory boards. In an effort to broaden diversity, geographic representation and background knowledge, the Board of Commissioners periodically issues call for volunteers. Goal is to build a roster of qualified individuals who have a willingness to serve. As vacancies arise or incumbents’ terms expire, the commissioners will rely on that these rosters to determine potential appointees for agencies such as:

Potter County Planning Commission. Administers subdivision and land use/development regulations; countywide comprehensive plan; regional advocacy on transportation funding priorities and other initiatives; GIS services; reliable resource/liaison for township and borough governments.

Potter County Redevelopment Authority. Economic development; support services for business and industry; administration of federal/state grants and loans for economic development.

Potter County Housing Authority. Administration of programs meeting needs for safe, healthy and affordable housing.

Potter County Human Services. Multiple advisory boards to guide administrators on meeting local social service needs.

Potter County Solid Waste Authority. Operation of transfer station/recycling center in Gold; administration of state-approved solid waste management/flow ordinance.

Potter County Hospital Authority. Public agency assisting UPMC Cole in acquisition of funds for capital improvements and implementation of long-term planning objectives.

Farmland Preservation Board. Responsible for purchase of development rights to preserve agricultural land.

Local Emergency Planning Committee. Coordinates activities of firefighters, emergency medical services, fire police and related responders; liaison with Potter County Department of Emergency Services for training, funding opportunities, drills/exercises to test preparedness.

Those wishing to be considered for appointment should contact Danielle Gietler, executive secretary to the Potter County Commissioners, at 814-274-8290, ext. 207 or pcexecsec@pottercountypa.net.

Rent, Mortgage Assistance Available For Virus-Affected

July 1st, 2020 Comments off

Some renters and homeowners who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic can apply for federal funds to help offset their losses. Potter County Human Services is administering the Pa. Housing Finance Agency program locally. Household income cannot exceed limits under the PHFA guidelines. More information is available at the website PHFA.org or from Jim Kockler at jkockler@pottercountyhumansvcs.org. Renters will be required to document at least a 30-percent reduction in annual income since March 1 related to COVID-19, or they must have become unemployed after March 1 and filed for unemployment compensation with the Pa. Dept. of Labor and Industry. Renters may receive assistance equal to 100 percent of their monthly rent, up to $750 a month, for a maximum of six months between March 1 and Nov. 30. Homeowners who became unemployed after March 1 or who suffered at least a 30-percent reduction in annual income due to the coronavirus may be eligible for help in making missed mortgage payments.