A work group comprised of the Potter County Commissioners, representatives of the Potter County Association of Township Officials and Potter County Planning Department convened this week to review applications for funding to support bridge repairs. The commissioners have invited townships and boroughs to apply for a share of the Pa. Act 13 Bridge Improvement Restricted Use Fund received by Potter County through a state fee on shale gas wells. Under Act 13, county commissioners have the authority to distribute the funds as they see fit, as long as they address at-risk bridges. Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel worked with Planning Director Charlotte Dietrich to develop a system whereby the money will be expended according to an evaluation/ranking framework to address the most critical needs, as reported by township supervisors and borough councils. Some other counties have expressed an interest in using the Potter County system as a model. Under Act 13, Potter County receives $40,000 annually in the Restricted Use Fund.
Area residents have an opportunity to earn college credits at reduced rates through a partnership worked out by the Potter County Education Council. Students can earn a two-year associate degree in business administration or interdisciplinary studies from Gannon University, or they can take individual classes without a degree requirement. The credits improve an individual’s employability and can be transferred to another college or university to be applied toward bachelors or masters degrees. Gannon classes are available in Coudersport, Port Allegany and nine other locations. Enrollment deadline for fall semester is Aug. 17, and classes start Aug. 24. For more information or to register, call 274-4877. Courses offered for fall semester include: First-Year Seminar; College Algebra; College Composition; Public Speaking; Business Technology I; Business and Professional Communication; Introduction to Sacred Scripture; and Principles of Accounting. Cost is $180 per credit. Eligible high school students can enroll for $33 per credit.
Also, a practical nursing program, provided by Penn College of Technology, is scheduled to begin in January 2016 at the Potter County Education Council in Coudersport and the Seneca Highlands Career and Technical Center in Port Allegany. The program will include classroom instruction in theory and nursing skills. An affiliation with Cole Memorial and Sweden Valley Manor allows for clinical experiences. Graduates find jobs in hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, private homes, physician offices, and other health-related offices. An hour-long information session on the classes will be held at 6 pm on Monday, Aug. 10, at the Education Council’s Coudersport office.
To register or learn more about these educational opportunities, call 274-4877.
Potter County has received a national excellence award for its services to military veterans, under the motto, “No Veteran Left Behind.” The honor was presented during the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C. Potter was the only Pennsylvania county to be recognized. Entrants for the NACo Achievement Awards must meet rigid standards demonstrating innovative thinking, excellence in administration, demonstrated positive impacts and other criteria. This year’s honors are a first for Potter County. An outline of Potter County’s “No Veteran Left Behind” initiative will now be circulated by NACo across the nation as a recommended model for county-based solutions.
In announcing the awards, NACo President Riki Hokama said, “We applaud Potter County for embracing innovative and more effective ways to serve constituents. The Achievement Awards recognize counties’ outstanding efforts to strengthen services and deliver results for residents across the country.”
Among the elements are
- a stronger partnership with the Bath (N.Y.) VA Medical Center for expanded services at the VA Clinic in Coudersport;
- an award-winning newsletter and related programs to honor veterans and inform them of available benefits and services;
- successful veterans recognition programs that included a sold-out Korean War Veterans Recognition Dinner and several bridge dedications honoring war casualties;
- services provided to individual veterans by Potter County Veterans Affairs Director Will Worthington;
- Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel’s advocacy for veterans and military families through leadership positions with both NACo and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
Among speakers at the NACo Annual Conference in Charlotte was U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who called on counties to partner with the VA and other federal agencies to help veterans who are try to transition back into their communities. Secretary Carter also met separately with members of NACo’s Veterans and Military Service Committee. Commissioner Heimel, who is the committee’s vice chairman, said the panel is now seeking a face-to-face meeting with U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald to support a platform that calls for:
–Bringing veterans access to more timely and more convenient (closer-by) health care through partnerships with non-VA medical providers.
–Reduced barriers to veterans’ civilian employment in both the public and private sectors through greater recognition of skills that are learned in military service.
–Federal funding to help support county-level veterans’ service officers.
–A crackdown on fraud that victimizes veterans, current service members and their families, or solicits on their behalf.
(Above, NACo President Riki Hokama, left, welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the national conference in Charlotte, N.C., where the focus was on community partnerships to help veterans.)
A U. S. Defense Department organization dedicated to linking civilian employers with members of the Guard and Reserve recently made an outreach visit to Potter County. Tommy A. Wingard (shown) of Curwensville, who is Northwestern Pa. representative for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, is eager to work with employers or meet with local military service organizations.
He can be reached by calling 814-236-1718 or sending email to email@example.com. A website detailing the services of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization can be found at esgr.mil.
Experts say nicotine is society’s most addictive drug and most people who go it alone in trying to discontinue using it are doomed to fail. Free help is available. Potter County has renewed its affiliation with Clinical Outcomes Group Inc. (COGI) for tobacco cessation programs. Participants are eligible for nicotine replacement therapies, including gum, lozenges or patches. All services and products are free. COGI serves those affected by alcohol, tobacco and abusive situations. In addition to holding workshops, the organization refers individuals to support groups and otherwise helps them through the process of quitting. For more information on COGI, see the website coginc.org; or call 1-800-264-1290.
Latest edition of the award-winning quarterly newsletter, Potter County Veterans News, is now available. The July-September 2015 edition and all past issues are available on the county website, pottercountypa.net, or by contacting Dawn Wooster, executive secretary for the Potter County Commissioners, at 814-274-8290, extension 207. Among stories in the current edition is the announcement that a bridge in west Coudersport has been named the Lt. William E. Daisley Jr. (shown) Memorial Bridge, with a schedule of ceremonies to be announced. Among other contents:
- Housing assistance available for Potter County veterans in need.
- Coudersport American Legion Post 192 protects Military Wall of Honor.
- Special traveler brings message of support for veterans to Potter County.
- County’s services for veterans earn national recognition.
- Memorial ceremony recalls World War II casualty PFC Roger P. Downey.