Archive

Archive for May, 2019

Commissioners, Local Govts. Partner For Bridge Funding

May 17th, 2019 Comments off

A work group comprised of the Potter County Commissioners, representatives of the Potter County Association of Township Officials and Potter County Planning Department will convene later this year to review requests for funding to support local bridge repairs. The application process is now open. Townships and boroughs must submit their requests no later than Sept. 26.

Each year, the commissioners invite local governments to apply for a share of the Pa. Act 13 Bridge Improvement Restricted Use Fund received by the county through a state fee on shale gas wells. Under Act 13, county commissioners have the authority to distribute the funds as they see fit, as long as they address at-risk bridges. Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel, together with the County Planning Department, developed a system whereby the money is expended according to an evaluation/ranking framework to address the most critical needs. Several other counties have since adopted the Potter County system as a model.

Under Act 13, Potter County receives $40,000 annually in the Restricted Use Fund. Details can be found on the county website, pottercountypa.net, under the Planning Department tab. More information is available from Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt at 814-274-8254, ext. 229.

‘Healing Waters’ Vets Arrive Tuesday; Flags Available

May 17th, 2019 Comments off

Disabled military veterans participating in this year’s Trout Unlimited Project Healing Waters will be passing through downtown Coudersport on Tuesday, May 21. County Commissioners Paul Heimel, Doug Morley and Susan Kefover invite members of the public to borrow an American flag from county offices and line the streets of town to greet these special guests. As in past years, they’ll be arriving southbound on Rts. 44/49 (North Main Street), coming from Shinglehouse and reaching Coudersport at approximately 2 pm. Those planning to greet them are advised to arrive early. Flags can be borrowed at the Main Street entrance of the Gunzburger Building or the Security Guard Station in the courthouse.

Project Healing Waters, now in its 12th year locally, is sponsored by the God’s Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers. Goal is to aid in the veterans’ physical and emotional recovery by introducing or rebuilding the skills of fly fishing and fly tying, and by supporting these skills as lifelong recreation. All activities, services and equipment are provided at no cost, including equipment that accommodates special needs. Participants will be coming to Potter County from VA hospitals and be headquartered at Moore’s Run Fish and Game Preserve.

Taking Rural Internet Service To The Next Step

May 16th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County Planning Commission hosted an informational session at the Gunzburger Building on the Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) high-speed internet project– and the options to expand internet service beyond Tri-County’s footprint. Aaron Young (shown), who recently joined the team as chief technology officer for the Tri-Co Connections subsidiary, explained that the build-out will start in Potter County and eventually extend to nearly 17,000 REC members in the cooperative’s seven-county service area. A $27 million loan will supplement federal and state grants to pay for the historic $77 million project, according to Bill Gerski (left), senior vice president for business development.

Construction is underway in Potter County for the first 100-mile phase, bringing fiber optic/broadband service to 723 residential, 626 seasonal, 98 small business, and 9 large business customers. Over the next five to six years, another 3,150 miles of fiber will be constructed. Tri-County REC itself will benefit in multiple ways, including remote monitoring of its electrical network, from substations to distribution lines and individual installations; smart meters, and other capabilities.

Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt explained that the county learned through extensive public surveying related to the new comprehensive plan that expansion of broadband service is a high priority in underserved areas. “We are now taking steps to identify gaps in broadband service in and around Potter County, and to help identify potential partners and funding sources that may be able to fill the gaps for rural broadband in areas not serviced by Tri-County,” Hunt added.

His office has compiled an assessment as follows:

Opportunities

  • Improve the quality of life for Potter County residents by closing the gap of the “digital divide.”
  • Ability to close the gaps and provide services to residents who currently do not have access to internet service of 25mb or greater speed;
  • Funds to be allocated by the state or federal governments to support the build-out in underserved areas.

Challenges

  • Identify the homes and businesses not serviced by existing internet service providers.
  • Identify potential providers to fill the service gaps.
  • Investigate partnerships and/or incentives to attract service providers.

Steps Forward

  • Create a planning committee to supervise a feasibility study for development of expanded broadband service.
  • Identify public and private partners to serve on, or advise, the committee.

‘Senior Corps’ Connects Volunteers With Opportunities

May 15th, 2019 Comments off

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 (right), director of RSVP for Potter, Tioga, Clinton, Lycoming and Northumberland counties, shared details with the Potter County Board of Commissioners (from left) Paul Heimel, Susan Kefover and Doug Morley 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. Upwards of 140 Potter County residents are now serving through the Senior Corps program. Among organizations that are benefitting is Potter County Habitat for Humanity.

As community needs are identified, Senior Corps responds 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. For more information on Senior Corps, contact Steve Weeks in Wellsboro at 570-765-3075.

National Excellence Award For Potter County

May 7th, 2019 Comments off

Committee members (from left) Paul Heimel, Dawn Wooster and Bill Simpson at a veterans’ gravestone restoration demonstration. Wooster and Simpson have left county service and been succeeded on the committee by Danielle Gietler and Michael Pepper.

Potter County was recently notified that it has received a National Excellence Award for the activities of its Veterans Services Committee in 2018. Committee members Paul Heimel, Bill Simpson, Dawn Wooster and Danielle Gietler were cited for pursuing multiple initiatives to serve and honor the county’s military veterans. Judges from the National Association of Counties chose Potter County under the theme, “Our Military Veterans: NEVER FORGET,” according to NACo Public Affairs Coordinator Lindsey Maggard. The award will be presented an NACO’s Annual Conference in July.

PROGRAM ABSTRACT:
Potter County set out to address the gaps in the safety net for the county’s military veterans, while deepening the community’s appreciation of its veterans. It was borne out of a realization that a high proportion of the county’s veterans were not receiving the benefits and services to which they are entitled. Additionally, members of the general populace had not been afforded convenient opportunities to express their appreciation to veterans.

Primary goals were:
• improved veterans’ health care, financial standing and living conditions;
• greater public support and understanding of veterans’ needs;
• restoration of hundreds of veterans’ gravestones;
• a more educated and actively engaged youth population;
• a boost to the economy of Potter County;
• generating support for state/federal policy changes that directly benefit veterans, military service personnel, and their respective families.