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Archive for October, 2017

Driving Tours Spotlight Potter County History

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

April22NewHistoryTourGuidePotter County Historical Society has released a new guide that offers six options for those who wish to explore the county’s roots. It’s designed as a tool to deepen local residents’ appreciation of their heritage and assist tourists who are looking for interesting adventures, according to society president David Castano. Copies of the 80-page booklet are available at the PCHS museum on North Main Street in Coudersport.

Six routes are laid out in the guide based on regions of Potter County. The booklet contains summaries of local industries, individuals and communities. Road maps with directions have been added to each section. Dozens of archival photos provide an important visual element to the engaging text. On the Northwestern Tour, drivers can see the site of a pallisaded Native American village dating back to the late Fifteenth Century. The Southeastern Tour recalls the rise and fall of the village of Cross Fork, which was teeming with a population of 2,500 or more residents plus twice that many itinerants during the lumber book of the early Twentieth Century. PCHS dedicated the booklet to the late Bob and Maxine Currin, each of whom was active with the society. They were known to take regular driving tours to explore Potter County history.

Latest Potter County Veterans News Now Available

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

Latest edition of the quarterly newsletter, Potter County Veterans News, is now available. Among the more timely stories in the Oct.-Dec. 2017 edition is the announcement of Potter County’s acceptance as a partner in the national Commemoration of the Vietnam War Initiative, a project of Congress and the Defense Department. Plans are being made to hold a local high-profile Vietnam Veterans Recognition Dinner and Memorial Service in 2018. Other stories focus on the recent ceremony to honor Korean War casualty William Sadewasser at the Ulysses Cemetery; a poignant account of a Galeton family’s reckoning with the loss of Navy sailor Anthony Bernard Caracciolo in the sinking of the USS Juneau; an American Legion/Boy Scouts flag retirement ceremony in Shinglehouse; updates on the Potter County Veterans Gravestone Restoration Project; special statewide honors for Coudersport American Legion Post 192; and reports on new scams that are targeting veterans and on proposals to expand the reach of VA health care through telemedicine. The Oct.-Dec. 2017 edition and all past issues of Potter County Veterans News are available on the county website, pottercountypa.net, or by contacting Dawn Wooster, executive secretary for the Potter County Commissioners, at 814-274- 8290, extension 207.

Results Of Local Groundwater Study Being Compiled

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

Dan Galeone (left) circulated some preliminary findings as the USGS compiles results. At right is Potter County Conservation District manager Jason Childs,

Preliminary results from a historic analysis of the groundwater in Potter County were shared with members of the Potter County Water Quality Work Group last week. Dan Galeone, hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said a full report won’t be released until next spring. USGS partnered with the Potter County Board of Commissioners to conduct the comprehensive study to provide data on the quality and constituents of the county’s groundwater. The information will be invaluable for public policy-makers, industries, regulatory agencies and others seeking to protect water when sites are chosen for certain types of development.

A state grant is covering the bulk of expenses for the study. Some 47 water wells in strategic locations were sampled. Data is being assembled and analyzed in a cumulative fashion, with the identity of individual well owners protected. Confidential findings from the analysis will be provided to each owner. Groundwater can contain a variety of suspended and dissolved substances such as bacteria, minerals and gases. These substances are often naturally occurring, but water quality can also be influenced by human activities.

Galeone said total coliform bacteria was found in 24 samples and e. coli bacteria in 10. These results are not unusual, he added, but they should be understood by well owners. They will be advised of water treatment options. Two of the wells were found to contain arsenic, which may or may not be naturally occurring. Testing was also conducted for dozens of metals, dissolved gases and nutrients. Once USGS has finished compiling and analyzing results, a complete report will be released. Local officials could opt for a public meeting to share the findings.

In other business at this week’s meeting:

  • Charlie Tuttle, chair of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, reported on the installation of 24/7 monitors on the supplies of nearly every public drinking water source in Potter County.
  • Water Quality Work Group Chairman Jason Childs discussed the successful installation of a “bottomless culvert” that will open 11 miles of Ludington Run in Genesee Township for fish migration. Childs credited Potter County Conservation District staffers Jared Dickerson, Alex Veto and Glenn Dunn II for their work, in partnership with Trout Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
  • Invasive plants continue to spread across many river corridors in Potter County. Upper Allegheny Watershed Association has been cutting and spraying Japanese knotweed infestations that are choking out native plants in the Sweden Valley area. Eradication work is also planned in the Genesee area. Kim Bohn, coordinator for the Sinnemahoning Invasive Plant Management Area, is working to adopt two other management areas in the Genesee and Allegheny watersheds to combat invasive plants.
  • Potter County Conservation District is supporting the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s ongoing clean-up of illegal dumping sites. Next work sessions are planned for Oct. 28 in the Loucks Mills and Rowley Road areas of Bingham Township, and for Oct. 31 off Burleson Avenue in Roulette.
  • Jared Dickerson reported on an ambitious plan to improve native trout habitat on a five-mile section of Slider’s Branch, a tributary of Kettle Creek, by installing large wood debris structures. Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources is also involved on the project.

More information on the Water Quality Work Group is available from Jason Childs at 814-320-4012.

Educator Delivers Crash Course On Local Shale Gas

October 19th, 2017 Comments off

Natural gas locked in shale formations two miles or deeper throughout much of Potter County is coveted by energy companies, but early signs suggest it is not the bounty that has been documented both east and southwest of the county. With that as his foundation, educator Dan Brockett of Penn State University presented a crash course on the topic to about 65 people attending this week’s Potter County Natural Gas Resource Center meeting at the Gunzburger Building.

Brockett, an affiliate of Penn State’s Shale Energy Education Team, has addressed regulators and policymakers across the U.S. and abroad. With just 40 minutes to share years of accumulated knowledge, he moved quickly between topics. Among the highlights of his presentation:

  • Economics, political trends and energy dynamics all point toward increased drilling for shale gas in Potter County. That makes it incumbent upon public officials to focus their efforts on risk reduction in the areas of environmental protection, public safety and community impacts.
  • There is an oversupply of gas in the Appalachian Basin, including Potter County. That glut has kept prices low, reducing companies’ incentives to drill for more. At the same time, low-priced gas could be an attractant for other industries to consider locating in Potter County.
  • While Potter County is already one of the biggest hubs for gas transmission and storage in the East, more pipelines are coming as the companies that have acquired rights and drilled for gas seek to move it to market.
  • Industry excitement was focused on Marcellus Shale as recently as five years ago, but companies found that the Marcellus gas in Potter County was marginal – at least while prices remain stagnant. However, companies that have been recently exploring the deeper Utica/Point Pleasant formations are pleased with the early results.
  • There have been roughly 110 shale gas wells completed in Potter County since hydrofracturing technology allowed companies to drill them beginning in 2008. While multiple factors make the industry unpredictable, signs point to hundreds, or even thousands, more wells being drilled in the coming years.
  • Negative community impacts that have been experienced in areas with intense shale gas development have included deteriorated roads, noise, traffic and business congestion, and water contamination. However, most of the impacts have been temporary. Early trends in Potter County suggest that there will not be a “gas rush,” but more likely a steady and long-lasting pattern of drilling and production as market conditions dictate.
  • Potential for water pollution ranks at the top of citizens’ concerns, as confirmed by questions raised at Tuesday’s meeting. Companies must be held accountable for following the laws. Issues of concern should be shared with state lawmakers and regulatory agencies.
  • A host of political issues related to shale gas drilling are unresolved in Harrisburg, ranging from a proposed severance tax and pipeline regulations, to the authority of local governments, setback requirements and royalties/landowners’ rights.

Connecting 55-Older People With Volunteer Opportunities

October 17th, 2017 Comments off

Senior Corps manager Steve Weeks (second from right) met with Commissioners (l. to r.) Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover.

Volunteering is a great way for many older Americans to stay engaged in their communities and make a difference. It opens the door to opportunities, meeting new people, and making new friends. One of the nation’s largest and most recognizable volunteer networks, the Senior Corps, is making a push for participants in Potter County. Also known as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Senior Corps provides the opportunity for people age 55 and older to share their time and talent in a wide variety of volunteer activities. Steve Weeks, director of RSVP for Potter, Tioga, Clinton, Lycoming and Northumberland counties, shared details with the Potter County Board of Commissioners last week.

“Many retirees and other people 55 and older are eager to serve and give back to their communities,” Weeks explained. “The problem we’re seeing, especially in this part of the state, is that they’re not sure where they might be needed or what they can do to help. Senior Corps bridges that gap, not only for the volunteer, but also for the agency or organization that needs the help.”

Schedules are flexible, Weeks pointed out. Volunteers can choose a location or community project, as well as the number of hours they wish to serve. They receive basic orientation and training, as well as full insurance coverage while serving. Senior Corps members have become a lifeline to many nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and other groups who depend on volunteers to help meet the increased demand for services. As community needs are identified, they respond quickly. Perhaps it’s providing food to hungry neighbors, training unemployed workers, offering support to struggling veterans and military families, or helping a child learn to read.

Weeks said he is establishing a Potter County advisory committee for outreach to potential Senior Corps members and organizations where these volunteers could serve. Terry Cole, director of Pennsylvania CareerLink, and Potter County Human Services executive director Jim Kockler have agreed to serve on the committee and other members are welcome. For more information on Senior Corps, contact Steve Weeks in Wellsboro at 570-765-3075.

TDWC Mission: Protecting Public Water Sources

October 6th, 2017 Comments off

An organization dedicated to protecting Potter County’s public drinking water continues to draw interest from other area counties as well as the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Triple Divide Watershed Coalition was formed in 2011, pulling together all nine public water systems in Potter County – a first for a Pennsylvania county. Among guests attending Wednesday’s TDWC meeting at the Gunzburger Building were, from left, DEP representatives Mark Stephens and Mark Accettulla, and Tioga County Planning Director Kerry Miller. An organization similar to TDWC has been formed in Tioga County. Two of TDWC’s most ambitious projects are being used as models for similar initiatives in Tioga. One is a partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey to chart and assess groundwater sources by testing dozens of private wells and springs. The second is the installation of 24/7 monitors on public drinking water sources to document flow, temperature and conductivity. This creates a database while alerting water system operators to any potential contamination or other aberration.

Mission of TDWC is “to protect public drinking water sources within the headwaters region of the Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna River systems from any degradation of source water quantity or quality.” This is accomplished by proactively evaluating susceptibility to contamination, working to minimize or eliminate potential threats, creating long-range protection strategies, supporting local planning and inter-governmental cooperation, encouraging public education initiatives, and any other activity to benefit present and future generations. Members are the community public water systems serving Austin Borough, Genesee Township, Ulysses Borough, Charles Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport Borough, Roulette Township, Galeton Borough, the Northern Tier Children’s Home and Shinglehouse Borough.