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PSU Extension Restructuring Plan Taking Effect

June 14th, 2017 Comments off

From left, Tony Siliano, Don Tanner and Melissa Sankey.

Penn State Extension’s many services to farmers, forest land owners, families and others are under scrutiny as the organization undergoes a major restructuring brought on by belt-tightening and retirement incentives. Among the veteran employees who are calling it quits at the end of June is Don Tanner, director of what has been a five-county district. This week, Tanner introduced Potter County Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel to two administrators who will be responsible for the new nine-county PSU Extension Area 2. Counties of Cameron, McKean, Elk, Clearfield, Jefferson, Clarion, Warren and Elk are also in the new region. Tony Siliano has come aboard in the new position of business operations manager and will be based in Warren. He has a strong resume in business management and entrepreneurship. Melissa Sankey, whose background in in agribusiness, has been named client relations manager for Area 2 and will be based in Clearfield.

In response to an inquiry from the commissioners, Tanner confirmed that the university does plan to hire a new water resources educator/assistant to succeed another recent retiree, Jim Clark, who was active with several Potter County organizations, including the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, Water Quality Work Group and Natural Gas Resource Center. No decision has been made on another position that is currently unfilled — horticulture specialist.

Penn State Extension is housed at the Potter County Education Center on Water Street, sharing the offices there with the Potter County Education Council. While the majority of funding for Extension comes from the state, the Potter County Commissioners support the agency by providing the facility — complete with classrooms, a kitchen and videoconferencing technology — as well as an annual allotment.

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.