Site Work For Wind Energy Project Being Monitored

December 10th, 2018 Comments off

Environmental issues with a major wind energy generation project plotted across 7,000 acres in Hector and Harrison townships were reviewed at Monday’s meeting of the Potter County Water Quality Work Group. Each of the 24 turbine sites requires about 10 acres of timber-clearing and road construction in sensitive environmental areas where high-quality tributaries and wetlands could be affected, chairman Jason Childs reported. He said the Potter County Conservation District, Pa. Fish and Boat Commission, and Pa. Dept of Environmental Protection have all been monitoring the site work. Canadian energy giant Trans-Alta hopes to have tower construction completed by the end of 2019. The project is centered in the Dodge Hollow/White Knoll area off Rt. 49. Turbines will be nearly 660 feet high, which will rank them among the tallest in the world. For comparison, the Statue of Liberty measures 305 feet from the ground to the top of its torch. Developers struck a land surface use deal with the property owner, a forestland investment subsidiary of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. Electricity will be fed into the grid through a First Energy line.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Darrell Davis from the Genesee Headwaters Watershed Assn. discussed a permeable pavement project that is being planned as an educational partnership at Northern Potter High School.
  • Danielle Rhea, the new regional water resources educator from Penn State Extension, introduced herself. Based in Jefferson County, she will serve a nine-county area. She previously was an agriculture conservationist in Allegheny County.
  • Charlie Tuttle, chair of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, reported on ongoing monitoring of public water sources across Potter County. She also said plans are being made to host a Pennsylvania Rural Water Association training session in Coudersport, with details to be announced.
  • Potter County Conservation District will be filling its dirt and gravel/low-volume road technician position later this month.
  • The annual Crops and Planting Clinic will be held Jan. 25 at the Tri-County Firehall in Ulysses.
  • Planning Director Will Hunt reported that there has been an outstanding response to an online survey for input on the Northcentral Pa. Tri-County Comprehensive Plan.

Small Business Help Available Locally Dec. 20

December 8th, 2018 Comments off

Small business owners and people who would like to go into business can get some practical advice from an expert source in Coudersport. For more than two decades, the Clarion University Small Business Development Center has provided counsel. Now, a specialist has scheduled office hours to complement other SBDC services. Aleshia Marshall, business outreach consultant, is available from 9 am to 3 pm on Thursday, Dec. 30, at the Potter County Education Center in Water Street in Coudersport. Other times are available by appointment. More information is available at 814-393-2060. Among the topics that will be covered in each appointment are financial analysis options, market research, business plan development, environmental compliance issues, marketing, management and others.

Blueprint To Stem Tide Of Region’s Population Losses

December 8th, 2018 Comments off

A regional plan to reverse some troubling trends in northcentral Pennsylvania was spelled out during a meeting attended by a host of public officials Friday at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. A prominent consulting firm, Fourth Estate, was contracted to produce a blueprint for “regional talent attraction and retention,” geared toward filling local jobs, retaining young adults and providing training and related educational opportunities. Focus of the study was on the counties of Potter, Cameron, McKean, Elk, Clearfield and Jefferson, where a demographic study has forecasted another five-percent decrease in population and the retirement of one-fourth of the current labor force over the next decade.

“The writing is on the wall,” the blueprint’s authors wrote. “The population is declining, the labor force is aging, and those trends will not be reversed by natural forces.” A series of action items was presented in the report, complete with recommendations on partners who should be engaged to implement the plan, ranging from county governments, economic development and agencies, industries, tourist promotion organizations, educational institutions, employment services, state agencies, retailers and other private-sector representatives.

Susie Snelick (above), executive director of Workforce Solutions for Northcentral Pa., shared the study’s action plan during Friday’s workshop and moderated the discussion. Each of the challenges identified in the blueprint has a series of goals to be pursued incrementally over the next decade. Among those participating was Jim Chorney (right), interim executive director of Northcentral Pa. Regional Planning and Development Commission. He emphasized the importance of expanded internet access and coordinated efforts between the private and public sectors. Northcentral has a working relationship with Workforce Solutions and the study’s other sponsor, a consortium of major employers incorporated as Manufacturing, Education and Employee Advancement Inc. Snelick said the report is a starting point for the formation of strategic partnerships to be developed for implementation.

Citizens Have Chance To Help Shape Region’s Future

December 5th, 2018 Comments off

Citizens have a rare opportunity to help plot the region’s future by sharing their views as part of the first-ever Northern Pennsylvania Tri-County Comprehensive Plan. A project of commissioners and planning boards from Potter, Cameron and McKean counties, the document will guide decision-makers across a broad spectrum of public policy areas for the 2020-29 decade. Its implications will be felt in everything from economic development, environmental conservation, transportation, employment, education, small business, community facilities and Aother areas.

Focus groups have been meeting, with the assistance of a professional planner, to provide the framework. Dozens of people from many walks of life and areas of interest have been engaged. Now it’s time for the public to be heard in identifying priorities, areas of need, and other issues of interest or concern.

All citizens are encouraged to complete the online community survey, open until Jan. 9, at surveymonkey.com/r/NorthernPA. Copies of the survey form are also available by contacting Joe Passmore at joseph.passmore@mbakerintl.com or 717-221-2061. Citizens will also be able to share their views during an open house on the comprehensive plan from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Jan. 23 at Port Allegany High School.

While the master document covers a three-county region, the plan will include sections that are exclusive to each particular county. The plan, funded in part through Northcentral Pa. Regional Planning and Development Commission, began in August and will be completed next summer. Further information is available at each county’s planning office.

Potter County Recertified By NWS As ‘StormReady’

November 27th, 2018 Comments off

When a weather disaster threatens, Potter County is “StormReady.” The National Weather Service (NWS) recently confirmed that the Potter County Emergency Management Agency has meet qualifications to be recertified, which signifies readiness to receive and disseminate severe weather alerts over a period of three years, through November 2021. According to Barbara M. Watson, NWS meteorologist-in-charge in State College, Potter County met all criteria, including:

  • establishing a ’round-the-clock warning point and Emergency Operations Center;
  • at least four separate ways to receive NWS warnings;
  • at least two ways to monitor hydrometeorological data;
  • two or more ways to disseminate warnings;
  • weather information receivers in public facilities;
  • public education and training;
  • a hazardous weather operations plan;
  • automated siren controllers;
  • community preparedness and administration,

Groundwork Continues For New 911 Communications System

November 23rd, 2018 Comments off

Groundwork continues to be laid for the new 911 emergency communications network that will service Potter County’s fire, ambulance, medical services and police agencies. At this week’s business meeting, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover approved a $960,000 installment payment toward the system, which carries an estimated price tag of $4 million. Consultant Mitch Smith, a former Pa. Emergency Management Agency employee who has been advising Potter County for more than 15 years, attended the meeting to share details on the rollout. Through 14 towers, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure, communications coverage will be enhanced and response times by emergency agencies will be shortened.

“Speed of response can be a life-or-death situation,” Smith explained. “The new system will be able to reach some sections of the county that have been underserved. It will also bring you new technology to replace equipment that has become obsolete.” Smith said he is working closely with Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator, and the two have reached out to emergency responders across Potter County to seek input on their communications needs and respond to concerns.

A $580,000 state grant has been obtained and the commissioners have arranged for a long-term loan to help cover the remaining costs. Potter’s County’s current system was installed in 2002. Comparable systems typically have had a 10- to 12-year lifespan. Smith said the upgraded system would have a life expectancy of approximately 15 years. Dispatching will continue to be provided from the Tioga County 911 Center, although the equipment is also compatible with other dispatch centers. (Picture: Mitch Smith from MPS Consulting discusses the new 911 emergency communications system with the Potter County Commissioners. Reporter Halie Kines from the Potter Leader-Enterprise is shown at right).