Archive for June, 2017

Annual Audit Report Posted On County Website

June 26th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County Auditors Michele Gledhill, Pauline Kleintop and Jeanette E. Stuckey have completed their review of county financial records and posted their 2016 audit report on the county website, (click on Departments/Auditors). Under the County Code of Pennsylvania, in each county where the office of controller has not been established, three county auditors are elected every four years to audit the fiscal affairs of the county. Certain state and federal government programs also require counties to retain the services of independent auditors with certified public accountant credentials for review of fiscal operations through a process known as a “single-county audit.” For more than a decade, Potter County has retained the services of Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC of Harrisburg.

Potter County Natural Gas Resource Center Revitalized

June 22nd, 2017 Comments off

Potter County is resurrecting the award-winning Natural Gas Resource Center (NGRC). It will be jointly administered by the county’s Planning and Community Development departments and supported by the Potter County Board of Commissioners. An advisory committee comprised of environmental, educational, energy industry and government representatives has been reassembled. Members are Will Hunt, Potter County Planning Director; Jason Childs, manager of the Potter County Conservation District and chairman of the Potter County Water Quality Work Group; Kim Rees, executive director of the Potter County Education Council; Bryan Phelps, police/emergency services; Commissioners Susan Kefover, Doug Morley and Paul Heimel; Jennifer Rossman, Potter County Community Development Director; Terry Cole, Pennsylvania CareerLink; Curt Weinhold, Potter County Planning Commission; and industry representatives Scott Blauvelt from JKLM Energy and Al Haney from Gas Field Specialists Inc. A seat on the committee is also being held open for the new water resources educator to be hired soon by Penn State Extension.

The NGRC leadership will confer with the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, Penn State University Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, and other resources. A new website, recently launched at, is being built  incrementally.

Potter County Education Council oversaw the NGRC for several years. It was recognized as a model by the County Commissioners Assn. of Pa. and the National Assn. of Counties. The center is designed as a one-stop shop for all kinds of information about the region’s gas industry. At its peak, NGRC had about 560 businesses and agencies signed on to be listed on the center’s website. Public education, as well as development of business liaisons, will remain high priorities. The advisory committee will be reviewing possible topics to be covered when NGRC resumes its public meetings about gas drilling issues, opportunities and concerns later this year.

24/7 Monitors Distributed To Public Water Systems

June 21st, 2017 Comments off

Kurt Logue (left) from Austin Borough was among water system operators receiving instructions as they picked up the 24/7 monitors at the Gunzburger Building.

Monitoring equipment will be installed on nearly every source of public drinking water in Potter County no later than mid-July. Triple Divide Watershed Coalition chair Charlie Tuttle and Campbell Scientific representative Steve Gunderson this week distributed the monitors to operators for installation on wells, springs and surface water sources supplying their water systems. Shinglehouse Borough is the only TDWC affiliate not participating. Sixteen monitors are being placed on the other 10 public water systems in the county. The monitors will capture and archive data on water temperature, flow, and contents to create a baseline and sound an early warning in the event of contamination. The state’s settlement with JKLM Energy for its 2015 environmental violation at a shale gas drilling site off North Hollow Road has yielded $100,000 for the monitoring systems.

On a related note, coalition members discussed the need to update each system’s certified Sourcewater Protection Zone Plan. Mark Stephens, geologist with the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) regional office in Williamsport, said most of the elements in the current plans will not change and updating them should not pose a stiff challenge. Assistance is available through the Potter County Planning/GIS Department and the Pa. Rural Water Assn. Stevens said that the plans will be taking on increased importance when DEP begins to incorporate Sourcewater Protection Zone Plans into the department’s permit review process and other maps/records maintained by the department.

Potter County Criminal Justice Reforms Seen As Model

June 17th, 2017 Comments off

Attorney Barbara Zemlock describes the “whole new world of county jail administration.”

Potter County was represented during a daylong workshop in State College on a series criminal justice reforms that have been spreading throughout the state and across the nation because of their demonstrated success. When the changes are implemented effectively, they have been shown to reduce costs, lower jail populations, enhance public safety, and create a positive ripple effect on families and communities. At the foundation of the reforms are new ways of dealing with criminal offenders who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs, as well as those with diagnosed mental illness. Approximately 70 percent of a typical county’s criminal court docket is comprised of offenders who meet one or more of those criteria.

Friday’s workshop was sponsored by the Pa. Comprehensive Behavioral Health/Criminal Justice Task Force. Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel is a member of the task force and was joined at the workshop by Colleen Wilber, director of drug and alcohol programs at Potter County Human Services; Angela Milford, deputy warden at the Potter County Jail; and Danielle Gietler, assistant administrator with the Potter County Probation Department. Heimel presented an overview of his role as the county’s liaison with national and state organizations dedicated to criminal justice reforms, as well as a researcher focused on best practices and networking with peers in multiple states. Wilber summarized the county’s early forays into innovative programs such as “specialty courts” for drug/alcohol addicts who meet criteria, and a pre-trial diversion program that can steer some offenders toward alternatives to prosecution and incarceration. She emphasized that reforms can only work when all elements of the criminal justice system work as a team. Wilber also pointed out the importance of seeking state, federal and/or foundation grants to cover the expenses.

Attendees heard a detailed and eye-opening report from attorney Barbara A. Zemlock from the County Commissioners Assn. of Pa. on “risk management,” and the greater scrutiny that county jails are facing as the result of recent court decisions and changes in state laws. She emphasized that county jail administrators who fail to meet the standards for medical care — including treatment for addiction and mental health issues — officer training, and disciplinary procedures can be found liable for the consequences. There are now precedents for multi-million dollar judgments against counties and/or third-party providers who fail to comply, Zemlock added. She urged jail wardens and solicitors to fully familiarize themselves with what she termed “a whole new world of county jail administration.”

Shale Gas ‘Impact Fee’ Allotments Announced

June 14th, 2017 Comments off

impact_feeLocal governments now know how much money they’ll get this year as a result of the “impact fee” on shale gas drilling. Potter County’s allotment is $226,437 — up by $36,000 from the 2016 and close to the amount received in 2015. The county will receive another $25,000 that can be used only for certain environmental and/or recreational projects. At the local level, top recipients are West Branch Township at $53,687; Sweden Township, $39,329; Eulalia Township, $31,570; and Clara Township, $26,743.

Other Potter County municipal allotments are: Abbott, $6,261; Allegany, $22,756; Austin, $3,702; Bingham, $8,292; Coudersport, $14,761; Galeton, $6,872; Genesee, $6,936; Harrison, $13,184; Hebron, $8,517; Hector, $9,254; Homer, $4,843; Keating, $17,171; Oswayo Borough, $582; Oswayo Township, $5,162; Pike, $3,369; Portage, $1,362; Roulette, $8,491; Sharon, $9,535; Shinglehouse, $3,162; Stewardson, $1,708; Summit, $22,846; Sylvania, $9,170; Ulysses Borough, $3,886, Ulysses Township, $14,970; and Wharton, $18,217.

Amount of each allocation is based on gas production that took place in 2016. Separate shale gas impact fee allotments will go to County Conservation Districts, Pa. Conservation Commission, PUC, DEP, Fish and Boat Commission, Emergency Management Agency, Dept. of Transportation and Office of State Fire Commissioner.

Under Act 13, 60 percent of the total fees collected go to counties and local governments and 40 percent to the state. The state’s portion is to be used for emergency response planning, training and other activities; water, storm water, and sewer system construction and repair; infrastructure maintenance and repair; as well as environmental initiatives. County and local governments can use the funds for preservation and reclamation of water supplies; improvements to local roads and bridges; construction and repair of water and sewer systems; delivery of social services; local tax reduction; housing; conservation districts; emergency preparedness and flood plain management.

The 60 percent of the fees not retained by the state are distributed as follows: 36 percent to county governments with wells subject to the fee; 37 percent for host municipalities with wells subject to the fee; and 27 percent for all local governments in counties with wells. Both the PUC and the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection have posted information about the Act 13 impact fee and related topics on their websites.

‘Cleaning Up Potter County’ Showing Results

June 6th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County is scoring some major wins in its concerted effort to eliminate unsafe, environmentally unsound and illegal dumpsites. A 2011 study that identified 56 dump sites in the county spread over 22 municipalities got the ball rolling. Funding fell into place three years later when the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company worked out an $800,000 settlement for environmental violations during the company’s construction of a pipeline in the region. Some of that money was reserved for remediating illegal dumpsites. Over the past two years, the Potter County Conservation District has partnered with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), Potter County Solid Waste Authority and DEP to clean 30 sites throughout the county. Some 2.8 tons of trash and close to 150 tires have been removed.

Among the sites addressed so far were dumping areas off Pinneo Road near Oswayo, along Pine Creek in Galeton and the Old Colesburg Road in Coudersport. Volunteers have come from the LEEK Hunting and Mountain Preserve, Upper Allegheny Watershed Association, Galeton VFW Post 6611, Galeton Area School and Potter County Probation, among others. Inmates from the Potter County Jail have also taken part. Four more Potter County sites could see work this year once teams of volunteers and/or community organizations are engaged. They’re located along Rt. 44 in Eulalia Township, Loucks Mill Road in Hector Township, Rowley Road in Bingham Township, and Burleson Avenue in Roulette Township. More than 20 other sites that have been identified still need to be addressed. To volunteer or report an illegal dumpsite, contact PEC at 570-718-6507.