Archive

Archive for October, 2018

Comprehensive Plan Focus Groups Zero-In On Priorities

October 30th, 2018 Comments off

Potter, McKean and Cameron counties continue work on a joint “comprehensive plan,” the document that guides decision-making on topics as varied as land use planning, transportation, economic development, protection of natural resources, education, public safety, housing and quality of life. More than 30 citizens attended two focus group meetings on the Potter County section of the plan at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. In discussions moderated by Tracey Vernon (standing) from the consulting firm, Michael Baker International, they identified multiple issues of importance and/or concern and held a roundtable discussion on possible solutions and strategies.

The plan is mandated by the state and must be updated every 10 years. Each county covered by the Northern Pennsylvania Tri-County Comprehensive Plan will have a separate section that reflects local priorities. Commissioners from the three counties signed on to the project in an effort to save costs through shared resources. Total cost is $115,000, with $80,000 covered by federal funding and the remaining $34,500 shared equally among Cameron, Potter and McKean counties.

An initial report based on the consulting firm’s research was recently released. Profiles of the three counties were created to identify trends, assets, strengths, challenges and opportunities. Among the concerns are the impact of a declining population, combined with steady increases in median age. These pose major challenges that will impact the comprehensive planning process, in terms of needed services, changes in the job market, economics and other areas.

Input is being solicited from townships and boroughs, school districts, community organizations, businesses, education representatives and others. Planning Directors Will Hunt (Potter), Cliff Clark (Cameron) and Jeremy Morey (McKean) are the point people. Focus groups are currently meeting to provide input. Public meetings will be scheduled.

Potter County Education Council Welcomes New Director

October 24th, 2018 Comments off

A new executive director will begin service to the Potter County Education Council on Oct. 29, bringing with her extensive experience as a professional educator. Dr. Michele Moore has served for more than 26 years in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.  She has been working within Mansfield University for 17 years in various positions.

Dr. Moore has worked extensively with university, community and school collaboration services.  In addition to teaching, she has worked as a practicum supervisor with Penn State University, from 1997-2001; the NCATE coordinator for Mansfield University, from 2010-2012; and the assessment coordinator for the Education and Special Education Department of Mansfield University. from 2014-2017. She earned a master’s degree in elementary education with reading specialist certification from Mansfield University. In 2003, she earned her doctorate in special education from  Pennsylvania State University. Most recently, she has been a researcher for a pilot study titled, “Co-Teaching Triads: Redesigning Practice in Teacher Preparation at Mansfield University.”

Potter County Education Council delivers cost-effective educational services to the residents of Potter and McKean counties. Collaboration with area institutions of learning, businesses, and industries help the Education Council in creating opportunities for residents to achieve their educational, job and life goals.

Guide Available For Potter County Driving Tours

October 24th, 2018 Comments off

April22NewHistoryTourGuidePotter County Historical Society has published a 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.

Opportunities, Concerns Raised On Expanded ATV Riding

October 16th, 2018 Comments off

A meeting on the Northcentral Pa. ATV Initiative was held on Monday at the Gunzburger Building, hosted by the Potter County Planning Department. Among participants were representatives of the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), police, emergency services, conservation interests, ATV rider organizations, tourist promotion agencies and county government. Multiple representatives of a Clinton County-based organization attended to discuss the benefits of a strategic planning process to expand ATV riding opportunities.

For decades, riders of all-terrain vehicles have been pressuring state leaders to open up additional sections of publicly owned forest, park and game lands for their use. ATV partisans scored a major victory recently when the state legislature amended the Fiscal Code with an order that directs two state agencies to work together to expand the trail system in northcentral Pennsylvania. DCNR is now required to work with PennDOT to connect Clinton County to the New York State border through state forest land and highways by April 2024. This network will link several trails that are already developed in different regions between the counties. Those trails are Haneyville, Bloody Skillet, Snowshoe Rail Trail, Denton Hill and Whiskey Springs.

Proponents say the plan will expand riding opportunities for locals and tourists, boost the economy, and curtail illegal riding on state roads and forests. Opponents cite traffic safety concerns, enforcement issues, infrastructure maintenance responsibilities, conflicts with other users of public lands, and environmental impacts.

Assistant State Forester Jason Albright (above, left) framed many of the issues in addressing the group of about 40 attending Monday’s meeting. He pointed out that, despite legislative mandates to develop the trail system, the Bureau of Forestry remains committed to protecting water quality and environmental sustainability on state forest land. The bureau also recognizes the challenges that the legislative mandate presents in law enforcement, access for emergency services and potential conflicts with other state forest users.

Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt, who moderated the meeting, indicated that another session will be held in the coming months. He said the goal is to provide a forum for anyone with an interest or concern to be heard as the trail development moves forward. Those seeking more information or wishing to provide input can contact the Planning Department at 814-274-8254.

Commissioners Renew Reverse-911 ‘Code Red’ Contract

October 12th, 2018 Comments off

Earlier this year, the Potter County Emergency Management Agency launched a new community notification system to provide important alerts and time-sensitive messages using phone calls, email, social media sites and text messaging. It’s a “reverse-911” concept that can help people prepare for imminent weather emergencies or other risks to public safety. This week, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover renewed a contract with OnSolve, the company that provides the service, referred to as CodeRED.

“This system can deliver critical information to thousands of individuals within minutes,” explained Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator.  “Alerts can be specific to streets, neighborhoods, or regions.” OnSolve provides the Potter County DES a database of residential and business telephone numbers. However, all residents living within Potter County limits are encouraged to visit www.pottercountypa.net and click on the CodeRED logo to enroll their contact information including cell phone numbers, text and email addresses. No one should automatically assume he is in the emergency contact database. Additional information is also available at 274-8900, extension 501.

Potter County Gearing Up For 2020 Census

October 12th, 2018 Comments off

With the U.S. Census Bureau moving closer to launching its 2020 count, the agency is beginning to add staff all across the country. There will be part-time job opportunities in many rural areas to conduct fieldwork and door-to-door assessments once the census is underway. Anyone interested in potential employment as a manager, crew leader, clerk, census representative or field agent can find information as well as apply for positions online at census.gov. More information is also by calling toll-free 1-855-562-2020.

As the county’s population continues to fall, local officials say it is important that everyone complete the census survey when it is received. Census numbers have a direct effect on grants as well as government representation. Data are used to distribute more than 50 programs, including support for education, transportation, health and human services, housing, criminal justice, employment services, farming and environmental protection. For each uncounted citizen, a county loses about $10,000 in federal benefits during the decade.

“Our county’s population began falling from a modern-day high in 2002 and the mid-term census reports confirm additional declines,” said Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel, who has volunteered as a U.S. Census Partner. “The economic impact of an undercount in 2020 would hit us even harder. The best we can do is to try to cut our losses by getting everyone counted.”

At the same time, the county has seen its median age increase as young people move away and retirees move in. Northcentral Pennsylvania counties face major fiscal challenges in the coming years, including a burgeoning need for social services tied to the aging of the baby boomer population. Residents need to realize that there’s no ulterior motive or hidden agenda by the federal government, local officials point out. By law, the census is just a population count and demographic analysis.

The Potter County Planning Department works with township and borough officials to support an accurate result from the census. Planning staff has also drawn in the county Emergency Management and Assessment offices to identify new homes. Administrative assistant Debbie Ostrom, the Planning Department’s point person, recently completed a verification process for Potter County addresses. “Deb has done an excellent job,” said Planning Director Will Hunt. “It is all done electronically now, so it is much easier and less time-consuming than in past years, when they would use paper maps and spreadsheets.”

Questionnaires have been reduced from 10 pages to 10 questions. Forms will be mailed to area residents in early 2020, beginning a long process to assure an accurate count. That’s why having accurate street addresses is important. Those who did not receive a form still will be counted and can expect to receive an official visit from a census taker when non-response follow-ups begin in May 2020.