A community forum on drug abuse and related topics will be held at 7 pm Tuesday, April 22, at the Austin Firehall. Guest speaker will be Matt Siple, chief of police in Emporium Borough, who has conducted well-attended similar sessions in Cameron County. Community leaders, educators, parents and other concerned residents are welcome. Trends in drug abuse have been rapidly changing, but the one consistent factor is that problems are growing worse, area officials agree. Heroin has become widely available as a substitute for the higher-priced prescription drugs. Siple will share information on the latest trends in drug abuse across the region, with special attention focused on the cheap synthetic street drug marketed as “bath salts,” which has caused users to exhibit irrational behavior and suffer hallucinations.
A tour that demonstrates some of the issues and management strategies involved in state forest land will be held in Potter County on Sunday, May 4. Participants will meet at the Black Forest Conservation Assn. (BFCA) clubhouse on Jenkins Hill at 9 am. The tour will conclude at about 2 pm.
First stop will be at an actively managed private tract in Roulette Township. Next will be a 2,000-acre site managed by the Forestry Bureau to sustain woodcock and grouse. A third stop will focus on forest management policies, insect control, diversifying forest age classes and wildlife impacts. Participants will return to the BFCA clubhouse for informal discussions, along with a free lunch and brief tour of the grounds. The 265,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest in found primarily in Potter County, with smaller expanses in Clinton and McKean counties. The forest grows some of the most productive stands of black cherry trees in the world and is open to public use that includes camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting and limited ATV riding. The Forestry Bureau is sponsoring the tour with assistance from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, BFCA, North Central Forest Landowners Association and Pa. Game Commission. Transportation will be provided. To register or learn more, call 274-3600.
Latest edition of the Shale Gas Roundup is now available. A product of the Natural Gas Resource Center, the newsletter brings a local perspective to major developments that will affect the region for years to come. A downloadable version of the April/June 2014 edition is available on the website, pottercountypa.net (click on the Natural Gas tab to access this and all past editions). Copies can be printed directly from the website. They are also available as supplies last at the Commissioners Office in the Gunzburger Building. Contact Dawn Swatsworth at 814-274-8290, Ext. 207, to arrange for pickup. The April/June edition includes a new, more attractive layout style. Among the featured stories are:
- Gas Numbers Are Big (And It’s Just Getting Started)
- Appellate Court Backs Local Control Of Drilling
- New Company Eyes Utica Shale Bounty In Region
- Unraveling Mystery Of Local Public Water Supplies
- Regional Partnership Forms To Boost Local Gas Consumption
- Drilling Sand Station Returns To Emporium
- Next Round Of Impact Fee Revenue Coming In Late June
- Seeking Local Government Share Of State Forest Gas Royalties
- Who’s Drilling Shale Gas Wells In Potter County?
Meanwhile, a new online presentation from Penn State Extension illustrates equipment and practices used in shale-gas drilling and production — seismic testing, site preparation, well drilling, hydraulic fracturing, water storage, spill containment, pipelines, and compression. It also shows examples of materials used to protect wetlands and restore a well site. ”An Illustrated Guide to Shale Gas Drilling Equipment and Practices in Pennsylvania,” is available at http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/wildlife/marcellus-shale/illustrated-guide.
About 20 environmental science students at Oswayo Valley High School participated in a panel discussion about gas production and related issues, interacting with a panel of people who are well-versed on different aspects of the topic. Faculty member Bruce Kemp organized the discussion, which touched on environmental issues, economic/employment forecasts, regulatory standards, media responsibilities and many other topics. The students were well-prepared and posed some challenging questions. Shown from left are: front — Jim Maxson and Brice Benson, independent oil and gas producers, and Monica Thomas, local news reporter and columnist; back — Oswayo Valley biology teacher Bruce Kemp; Potter County Commissioner and County Commissioners Assn. of Pa. Natural Gas Task Force member Paul Heimel; and Mark Stephens, a geologist and water protection specialist with the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Resources.
Another study has confirmed that a high proportion of area children do not have access to quality pre-kindergarten programs. Research shows that many of them will be behind their peers in education, social skills and other essentials when they start school. Many will never get caught up. Starting the next generation in Potter and five other area counties on the right foot is the lofty mission of an Early Learning Investment Project (ELIP) that will soon be unveiled. Bob Esch, vice president of American Refining Group in Bradford, will be leading a kick-off event at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport from noon to 2:30 on Wednesday, April 30. To register or learn more, call the Potter County Education Council at 274-4877. Esch is also taking his mission to Cameron, McKean, Elk, Clearfield and Jefferson counties.
“Our biggest problem is the number of children who aren’t engaged in any type of early learning program,” said Esch. “We don’t have enough providers. Smaller communities and school districts just aren’t equipped to serve the number of children in need.” Almost two-thirds of the pre-kindergarteners in Potter County are not exposed to any formalized education and socialization programs. A limited amount of federal funding for ELIP has been approved for Pennsylvania. Support has also been solicited from the business community, as well as charitable foundations.
While early childhood education isn’t cheap, it’s considerably more cost-effective than trying to fix problems later on in a child’s life, according to Esch. He cites one study projecting a 100-to-1 return on each dollar invested in early childhood development. The value of programs such as Head Start, Pre-K Counts and Keystone STARS is well-documented. Participants are 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school and continue their education. Children without access to early education programs are more likely to quit school, more likely to become teen parents, more likely to commit crimes, and more likely to become dependent on alcohol or other drugs as well as social support services. ELIP partners hope to involve educators, non-profit organizations, family centers, health care providers, government agencies and the business community. Most importantly, parents will also be involved so that they are better-equipped to nurture their children. Esch said he is sold on the project’s value and will be persistent. “These children are everybody’s future, so we all have a stake in this.”
Dog license enforcement officers are canvassing neighborhoods throughout the region to check canines for 2014 tags. They’re empowered to levy fines as high as $300 and associated court costs for violations. Licenses are required for dogs that are at least three months old. Annual licenses cost $8.45, with a $2.00 discount for dogs that are spayed or neutered. Discounts of $2.00 per license are available for older adults and people with disabilities. Lifetime licenses are available for dogs that carry identifying microchips or tattoos. These must be purchased in-person at the County Treasurer’s Office. All license applications require owner contact details and information about the dog’s name, age, breed and color.
In Potter County, licenses are available through the county’s website, pottercountypa.net (click on Departments/Treasurer’s Office), or at the Treasurer’s Office in the Gunzburger Building. Applications printed from the county’s website (pottercountypa.net) should be filled out and mailed with payment to County Treasurer, 1 N. Main St. Suite 202, Coudersport PA 16915. There is a $2.00 fee for online orders, which are usually processed within one to two working days. There are benefits to using the online service. Police agencies and dog law enforcement officers have access to the system to facilitate return of lost dogs through license numbers. The site also offers a free service through which owners of lost pets can upload a picture and information.