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Archive for January, 2018

Pa. Lumber Heritage Region Has Ambitious Agenda

January 30th, 2018 Comments off

Lumber Heritage Region executive director Holly Komonczi discusses the LHR's "wood on glass" collection with met with Downtown Indiana executive director David Janusek.Pennsylvania Lumber Heritage Region (LHR) is working under a new action plan that emphasizes historic preservation, tourism and economic development. Goal is to advance historical and cultural initiatives that showcase the timber industry’s rich tradition through education, conservation and promotion. One of twelve heritage areas in Pennsylvania, LHR encompasses the counties of Potter, Cameron, Elk, McKean, Tioga, Clinton, Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson, Warren, Lycoming and Forest, and portions of Cambria, Clarion and Indiana counties.

Director Holly Komonczi said a priority in 2018 is to provide guidance and support for tourist attractions while strengthening alliances with businesses, chambers of commerce, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, and a number of tourist promotion agencies. An updated website was completed last August. It allows visitors to plan vacation or day-trip itineraries, take a simulated trip down Sinnemahoning Creek, visit local museums and tour historic Civilian Conservation Corps camps. Other features include current events, industry job postings, and historical archives. Meanwhile, LHR has significantly increased its social media footprint.

LHR has scored numerous high-profile successes: acquiring and preserving high-quality glass negative photographs depicting pioneer lumber-related activities in Pennsylvania; acquisition of a rare, authentic railroad locomotive and a Model-T Ford for the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Potter County; lasting commemorations for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the region, and more.

Above, Lumber Heritage Region executive director Holly Komonczi discusses the LHR’s “wood on glass” collection with met with Downtown Indiana executive director David Janusek.

State Still Lags In Paying Share Of DA’s Salary

January 22nd, 2018 Comments off

scalesPotter County recently received a $12,000 check from the state government, covering another overdue installment of the state’s share of District Attorney’s Andy Watson’s salary. The state still owes Potter County more than $115,600 for the DA’s salary in 2017, as well as $116,544 for the current year.

Act 57 of 2005 obligates the state to pay the 65 percent of a full-time DA’s $179,300 salary. When those payments lag, the county covers the entire cost, a situation that does not sit well with the Potter County Board of Commissioners or their counterparts across the state. According to a spokesman for the Office of Attorney General, the Criminal Justice Enhancement Account does not have enough funds to reimburse the full amount. As the funds continue to accumulate in the account, the state will make a partial payment for the overdue 2017 reimbursement.

Latest Edition Of Shale Gas Roundup Now Available

January 22nd, 2018 Comments off

shaleexampleLatest edition of Shale Gas Roundup is now available. It’s the newsletter of the Potter County Natural Resource Center and features timely, locally relevant news about shale gas development and related topics.

To access the latest edition as well as all past editions, visit the website pottercountypa.net (Shale Gas Roundup newsletter icon is found on the cover page). Copies are also available at the Commissioners Office in the Gunzburger Building (first office on right inside Main Street entrance), or by contacting Dawn Wooster at 814-274-8290, extension 207.

Among highlights of the First Quarter 2018 edition:

  • Wastewater treatment plant proposed for Coudersport
  • Study examines shale gas impact on schools
  • Local small-scale electrical plant announced
  • Some counties forming gas/oil advocacy organization
  • Pa. gas production will increase in 2018
  • Potter County in ‘mid-range’ of state’s shale gas field

Attorney General Focuses On State’s Drug Epidemic

January 17th, 2018 Comments off

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro spent much of Tuesday in Potter County as part of his statewide travels to enlist local support in the fight against a growing drug epidemic that has spread into rural Pennsylvania. Shapiro pledged his office’s support for a multi-faceted approach to bring under control a surge in the abuse of opiods, a growing number of heroin overdoses, and a resurgence in the use of methamphetamine. “This has been and will continue to be a law enforcement issue, but it even more of a public health crisis,” he told invited guests from Potter County who included police officers, members of the criminal justice system, treatment specialists and the county commissioners.

To symbolize the bipartisan nature of the mission, Shapiro, a Democrat, was flanked by veteran House of Representatives members Matt Baker and Martin Causer, both Republicans. “We all have to work together,” he emphasized. “I’ve been encouraged by the leadership on this issue demonstrated by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.” He detailed a series of steps that the Attorney General’s office and partners statewide have taken to combat the drug epidemic, including regional law enforcement strike forces that target drug dealers. “That’s where the enforcement effort should be and it has been working,” Shapiro said. “Over the past year we have arrested an average of 4.4 drug dealers per day, and these aren’t your small-time neighborhood dealers.” When it comes to drug addicts, he called for additional government resources to provide treatment services and alternative criminal justice programs that steer habitual users toward rehabilitation.

Potter County has taken many strides in that direction, District Attorney Andy Watson and Senior Judge John Leete were quick to point out. They cited the county’s DUI and drug treatment courts, a pre-trial diversion program and a new protocol embraced by the law enforcement community that allows drug addicts to turn to police for help. Shown from left are Rep. Martin Causer, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Rep. Matt Baker, District Attorney Andy Watson, and Deb Rudy, district aide for State Senator Joe Scarnati.

Counties Unveil Priorities For Legislative Action

January 8th, 2018 Comments off

Potter County plays an active role with the County Commissioners Assn. of Pa. (CCAP), which recently completed selection of legislative priorities to be addressed in the new year through registered lobbyists and other advocacy activities. Members of the Potter County Board of Commissioners have seats on CCAP’s Courts & Corrections, Human Services, Assessment and Taxation, Veterans Services, and Economic Development committees, as well as its Natural Gas Task Force.

The counties’ priorities are led by a call for the General Assembly to address human services funding and system reform, highlighting the need to restore human services funding to historic levels in the face of increasing mandates and service demands, as well as the restoration of the 10-percent cut that the legislature made five years ago. Counties further call for a commitment of full state and federal funding for additional mandates and new program requirements imposed on counties, as well as better planning and integration of services. When mandates are not accompanied by adequate funding, the costs are unduly borne by county taxpayers.

Preventing substance abuse and drug overdose remains a priority. Counties continue to seek ways to effectively address the opioid epidemic through additional state resources, implementation of best practices and collaboration on a comprehensive response for those affected. Counties will also be seeking to maintain the shale gas impact fee and all current distributions under Act 13 of 2012, regardless of any potential discussion to place a severance tax on the natural gas industry for other purposes.

Another CCAP priority is to address the shortage of psychiatric, or forensic, beds in state hospitals for county inmates who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Prisons are not the place for many of these individuals, and there is a need to expand resources to allow more options for care and treatment outside the prison system. Counties further support, as priorities, additional federal and state resources to assure services are adequate for veterans, as well as resources to address growing voting system replacement needs. Finally, counties have emphasized the need to re-engage the General Assembly on the state-county partnership in service delivery. The priority includes re-examining county mandates currently in place and seeking a commitment by the state to work together with counties so that any new or expanded programs are property structured and funded.

More information about the counties’ priorities is available at www.pacounties.org by clicking on Priorities under the Government Relations tab.

Commissioners Seek Support from Senator Scarnati

January 7th, 2018 Comments off

Sheriff Glenn Drake and Chuck Dillon during a lighter moment at last week's meeting.Chuck Dillon (right), an aide to State Senator Joe Scarnati, attended last week’s meeting of the Potter County Board of Commissioners to seek input on state government issues and related matters. Funding for 911 emergency communications and for state-mandated programs provided by Potter County Human Services were among the priorities the board asked Dillon to share with the senator. The commissioners also asked Dillon to convey their appreciation for his support of higher payments-in-lieu-of-taxes for state-owned forest and park land, and his advocacy to include new curbs as part of PennDOT’s Rt. 6 reconstruction project through downtown Coudersport. Also at last week’s meeting, Potter County Sheriff Glenn Drake’s (left) restructuring of his staff got the green light. Changes in job descriptions and salaries will better reflect the duties and requirements of the positions. Drake detailed his deputy sheriffs’ job duties, training requirements and potentially dangerous assignments in support of his requests. When the restructuring is complete, the sheriff’s office will be staffed by Drake and Chief Deputy Larry Goodwin, as well as two full-time deputies and an administrative aide.