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Archive for July, 2019

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.