National Accolades For Visit Potter-Tioga

December 11th, 2019 Comments off

Visit Potter-Tioga, official tourist promotion agency for the two counties, has been honored as “Marketer of the Year” by a respected rating organization. Colleen R. Hanson, executive director, reports that the award from the American Marketing Assn. was based on a travel marketing campaign deployed by VPT from a professional consulting firm, Beyond Spots and Dots.

“The agency’s themed ad campaigns, spread across print, cable, Google, Facebook and strategically placed billboards, has resulted in the excellent numbers we are seeing in our analytics,” Hanson reported. Another measure of success is an increase in tourist marketing revenue derived from the room tax that is collected from guests at lodging facilities across the two counties. “Things are going very well,” Hanson noted. “The ad campaigns are being well-received and it is translating into increased customers for our members.”

VPT has invested heavily in online and print advertising driving potential visitors to a vibrant website ( The website is now being tapped by 600,000 people annually. They’re looking for things to do, places to stay and eat, activities to enjoy and sites to see. VPT was launched in July 2017, formed from the former Tioga County Visitors Bureau (TCVB) and Potter County Visitors Association (PCVA). It’s a unified marketing and technical assistance agency geared toward one goal of importance to both counties – boosting the number of tourists who visit the region to support the local economy. Popular destinations such as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Cherry Springs International Dark Sky Preserve and many others are jointly marketed. Businesses that offer goods and services to visitors are also promoted.

Businesses, organizations and individuals interested in becoming involved can call 1-888-846-4228. Annual membership fees of $100 for non-profit organizations and $250 for businesses expose affiliates to a multi-phased marketing campaign. Among VPT’s most effective tools is its annual visitors’ guide, a full-size glossy magazine released each January with a press run in excess of 70,000. More than 40,000 of these guides are sent directly to those who contact VPT for information to plan their visits. Members qualify for a listing and a link on the Visit Potter-Tioga website. Additionally, members can confer with public relations professionals who can share advice on marketing, promotion, advertising, social media, etc. Many local businesses have seen increases in their revenues since the merger, attributing it to the additional marketing and benefits of their VPT membership.

County’s 2020 Operating Budget Poised For Approval

December 11th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover are poised to adopt a 2020 operating budget that will not raise taxes, despite an increase in forecasted expenses. At last week’s business meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution holding the real estate tax at 18.5 mills and eliminating the $5.00 per-capita tax that most counties levy. A mill is one-tenth of one percent, levied against a property’s assessed value. Because state law prohibits county governments from levying an income tax, property owners bear the heaviest tax burden. Next year’s budget calls for $10.9 million in expenses, up from this year’s $10.4 million. Cash reserves will cover the shortfall.

Last year, the commissioners approved a one-mill tax increase to help pay for state-mandated upgrades of the 911 emergency communications network. That project has an estimated price tag of $4 million. A low-interest loan is covering much of the cost. Since 2013, the board has waived its right to impose the per-capita tax of $5.00, citing high overhead in billing, collecting and processing delinquencies. The 2020 budget remains open for public review and comment. It’s scheduled for an adoption vote at the commissioners’ year-end meeting at 11 am on Dec. 19.

Surprise Retirement Party Help For County Trio

December 6th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County employees got one over on three veteran public officials who are retiring at the end of the year. Just after adjournment of Thursday’s business meeting of the Board of Commissioners, dozens of employees poured into the meeting room to bid farewell to (from left) Commissioner Doug Morley, Commissioner Susan Kefover, and Chief Clerk Kathleen Majot.

Morley and Kefover are completing a 12-year run on the board, while Majot has served in her capacity as the county government’s chief administrative officer since 2010.

Earlier this year, a retirement party was held for Gary Kelsey, who is retiring after 32 years of service as Potter County Register and Recorder.

Commissioners Renew Emergency Reverse-911 Contract

November 21st, 2019 Comments off

Two years ago, the Potter County Emergency Management Agency launched a new community notification system to provide important alerts and time-sensitive messages using phone calls, email, social media sites and text messaging. It’s a “reverse-911” concept that can help people prepare for imminent weather emergencies or other risks to public safety. This week, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover renewed a contract with OnSolve, the company that provides the service, referred to as CodeRED.

“This system can deliver critical information to thousands of individuals within minutes,” explained Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator.  “Alerts can be specific to streets, neighborhoods, or regions.” OnSolve provides the Potter County DES a database of residential and business telephone numbers. However, all residents living within Potter County limits are encouraged to visit and click on the CodeRED logo to enroll their contact information including cell phone numbers, text and email addresses. No one should automatically assume he or she is in the emergency contact database. Additional information is also available at 274-8900, extension 501.

‘New’ Leadership Training Class Launches In January

November 20th, 2019 Comments off

Another Leadership Potter County class will begin its yearlong journey in January. LPC supports the growth of future leaders with a focus on leadership skills and a greater awareness of local assets, opportunities and issues. After a 10-year run of training, organizers of this unique learning opportunity have revised the curriculum to create an even more engaging and relevant program that allows Potter County residents to learn about themselves, participate in collaborative experiences and engage in opportunities to become more civic-minded.

Every day we are presented with opportunities to have an impact on the communities where we live and work. Whether it’s coaching youth activities, serving on a non-profit board, or being part of an organization or committee, one of the most critical needs in the county is strong leadership. LPC 2020 will help participants expand their personal leadership skills, introduce them to key issues facing the region, and provide them with an understanding of future trends that may impact their community. Over the course of 12 months, LPC 2020 will cover topics such as local government, health care, education, culture, tourism, economic development, emergency services, and much more. Additionally, program participants benefit from meeting, networking and forming relationships. To receive the $50 early bird discount, apply by Dec. 6. Afterwards, tuition of $575. Many class members have traditionally be sponsored by their employers or others. For more information , call the Potter County Education Council at (814) 274-4877 or email

County Taps Social Media For Citizen Engagement

November 14th, 2019 Comments off

With a new countywide comprehensive plan nearing the launching pad, one county department is gearing up to make that vision of the 2020-29 decade become a reality. Ellen Russell, who joined the county as community development director in September, has harnessed the power of social media to begin sharing information and building support for the plan’s objectives. It calls for partnerships to create jobs, improve cultural attractions, support agriculture and tourism, and achieve many other objectives. An overriding mission is to reverse two troubling trends — outmigration by young people and a steady decrease in the county’s overall population.

Russell recently launched an online service through the Facebook social media platform as a common reference point for the campaign. She is working with the county commissioners on a long-term strategy — to be formalized in the comprehensive plan — with a goal of achieving some of the objectives by a target date of 2025. While less than a week old, the Facebook page has been growing. One post reached more than 2,000 people in less than 24 hours.

“Social media has become a huge part of our lives,” Russell said. “The idea was to capitalize on that and try to reach different citizens for their opinions, input and suggestions. We would like to see more public engagement and try to get residents more involved in their community. The ultimate goal is to meet mold our county’s future, and who best to help us lead and develop that path than those who will actually be affected?”

The Facebook page features information on community activities, best practices in rural community development, and other features. It will be complemented by additional content on the Community Development Department’s website at