Archive

Archive for July, 2019

Vietnam Veterans Recognition Dinner Planned

July 31st, 2019 Comments off

Potter County Veterans Service Committee is planning a recognition dinner to honor Potter County’s veterans of the Vietnam War. It’s tentatively scheduled for 5 pm on Saturday, Oct. 26, preceded by a social hour at 4. Each veteran will receive a certificate and pin in recognition of his or her service.

The dinner is open to Potter County Vietnam War veterans and one guest. Please RSVP no later than Aug. 16 to Michael Pepper, Director of Veterans Affairs, at mpepper@pottercountypa.net, 814-274-8290, ext. 210; or Danielle Gietler, Executive Secretary, at pcexecsec@pottercountypa.net, 814-274-8290, ext. 207.

Regional College Expands Local Curriculum

July 30th, 2019 Comments off

Northern Pennsylvania Regional College NPRC has been certified by the state to provide educational programs in emergency medical services (EMS), water treatment, and wastewater management beginning this fall. Pa. Dept. of Health has certified the college’s 80-hour emergency medical responder course. Meanwhile, Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection has authorized NPRC to provide certificate programs and continuing education in water treatment and wastewater treatment. Still pending with the Pa. Dept. of Education is an application for certification that would allow NPRC to provide nurse aide training and competency evaluations. This addresses an urgent need for nurse aides in long-term care and other facilities.

At the same time, NPRC is expanding its “interactive television delivery model” to provide the training to various sites in the college’s service area. The model allows communities with smaller numbers of interested students to collectively receive the training. Northern Pennsylvania Regional College offers affordable and accessible post-secondary education options to Potter, Cameron, McKean, Elk, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango and Warren counties. In addition to associate degrees in business administration, criminal justice, early childhood education/early intervention, and interdisciplinary studies, NPRC offers workforce and professional training in industrial technology and commercial driver licensing. Customized training for businesses is also available. More information on NPRC is available online at regionalcollegepa.org.

Training For Team Approach To ‘Smart Justice’

July 27th, 2019 Comments off

Members of the criminal justice system and related agencies in Potter County recently attended an intensive two-day training session focused on proven strategies to improve outcomes for criminal offenders with mental health and/or addiction issues. Studies show that more than half of repeat offenders suffer from one or both of the disorders. Their access to services for mental illness, alcoholism or drug addiction is often limited. Reform measures implemented in many other counties have reduced the recidivism rate (i.e., those who repeatedly cycle through the system). The payoffs for counties that implement the reforms have included cost savings, enhanced public safety, fewer repeat offenders, restored lives and reunited families.

Progress does not come easily. It requires a strategic approach and buy-in from the criminal justice system, county commissioners, human services agencies, jail management and other partners. This week’s workshop focused on developing local solutions through the “Sequential Intercept Mapping” (SIQ) model. Experts guided local officials through an exercise that identifies communication barriers, clarifies roles, and allows each case to be handled effectively and efficiently. Human Services Administrator Jim Kockler arranged for Carol Speed (shown) nd Jennifer Johnson from the GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice to conduct the local training. The team will now analyze the county’s current system and prepare a set of recommendations to effectively implement SIQ locally.

County To Establish 2020 Census ‘Complete Count Committee’

July 11th, 2019 Comments off

Preliminary field work for the 2020 U.S. census in Potter County is well underway and temporary jobs are being filled. This week, county officials met with a regional census official to work on strategies geared toward assuring that every Potter County citizen is counted. Heather Conrad (right), a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, conferred with (from left) Planning Director Will Hunt and Commissioners Paul Heimel, Doug Morley and Susan Kefover. Conrad offered pointers on forming an effective Complete Count Committee, to be spearheaded by the Board of Commissioners and Director Hunt.

Census numbers have a direct impact on grants, as well as dozens of programs, public works projects and government representation. Data are used to distribute support for education, transportation, health and human services, housing, criminal justice, employment services, farming and environmental protection. According to the Census Bureau, for each uncounted citizen, a county would lose an estimated $20,000 in federal benefits during the decade.

Potter County got a jump-start on the 2020 census. The Planning Department has been working with township and borough officials to support an accurate result. Planning staff has also drawn in the county Emergency Management and Assessment offices to identify new homes and verify mailing addresses. Census questionnaires have been reduced from 10 pages to 10 questions. Forms will be mailed to area residents in early 2020. They can respond online or by phone. Census-takers’ non-response follow-ups will begin in May. At the same time, the U.S. Census Bureau is beginning to add staff. First in a series of local fairs was held recently at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. There will be part-time job opportunities to conduct field work and door-to-door assessments. 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.

More Than 2,500 People Heard On Comprehensive Plan

July 1st, 2019 Comments off

About 60 residents of Potter, Cameron and McKean counties took advantage of another chance to speak their minds about their communities’ future during the latest public hearing on the Northern Pennsylvania Tri-County Comprehensive Plan, held recently in Port Allegany. A project of commissioners and planning boards from the three counties, the plan will guide decision-makers across a broad spectrum of public policy areas for the 2020-29 decade. Its implications will be felt in everything from economic development, environmental conservation, transportation, employment, education, small business, community facilities and other areas. Brian Funkhouser (left) from the consulting firm Michael Baker International moderated the Port Allegany meeting. So far, roughly 2,500 people who have participated across the three counties have established the top issues for action as:

  • business attraction, workforce development and employment;
  • protection of clean air, water and natural places;
  • expansion of infrastructure (including public works and high-speed internet);
  • enhanced attractions for tourism and recreation;
  • strengthening downtown amenities and community services;
  • investing in expanded housing;
  • addressing gaps in health care and drug addiction services.

Other issues raised by a sizeable number of citizens include preserving agriculture (including the forest products industry), education, volunteerism and transportation. Focus groups have been meeting to provide the framework. Input is also being accepted by planning directors Will Hunt (Potter), Jeremy Morey (McKean) and Cliff Clark (Cameron).

Initial research cited multiple public policy challenges that will be posed by declining population, combined with steady increases in median age. Implications will be felt in terms of needed services, changes in the job market, economics and other areas. While the master document covers a three-county region, the plan will include sections that are exclusive to each county. The plan is mandated by the state and must be updated every 10 years. Total cost is $115,000, with $80,000 covered by federal funding and the remaining $35,000 shared equally among Cameron, Potter and McKean counties.

Hunt reports that the three-county steering committee will meet July 15 in Emporium to review the latest round of public input. A draft of the comprehensive plan will be posted in early fall for a 45-day public comment period, and an updated document will be presented to the three board of commissioners for recommended adoption before Thanksgiving.