Archive

Archive for September, 2019

Criminal Justice: Potter County Continues To ‘Step Up’

September 25th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County has “stepped up” its commitment to a national campaign to reduce the number of mentally ill men and women behind bars. Three years ago, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover approved the required resolution to make Potter County a partner in the Stepping Up Initiative, which was launched by the White House in response to major gaps in the criminal justice and penal systems. Through Stepping Up, the National Association of Counties, Council of State Governments Justice Center, National Sheriffs Association, and American Psychiatric Association are supporting public, private and non-profit partners who commit to the initiative.

Counties have been forced into the position of having to provide treatment in their jails. Prevalence rates of serious mental illnesses in jails are three to six times higher than for the general population. Almost three-quarters of adults with serious mental illnesses in jails also have co-occurring addiction disorders. Adults with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and, upon release, are at a higher risk of recidivism than people without these disorders. County jails spend two to three times more on adults with mental illnesses that require interventions compared to those without these treatment needs. Without the appropriate treatment and services, many people with mental illnesses continue to cycle through the criminal justice system, often resulting in tragic outcomes for these individuals and their families.

Since the resolution was passed, the Potter County Criminal Justice Advisory Board has adopted Stepping Up as a top priority. A planning team has been meeting to guide the process. Most recently, Commissioner Heimel and Human Services Administrator Jim Kockler participating in a statewide training and peer-sharing session in Harrisburg, sponsored by the new Pennsylvania Stepping Up Technical Assistance Center. They not only learned of effective reforms being implemented in other counties, but also shared the progress being made in Potter County. Among those elements:

  • development of a re-entry specialist position to work with jail inmates who are returning to society so that they are less likely to commit other crimes;
  • a multi-county partnership to establish a treatment facility for the mentally ill;
  • completion of a nationally heralded training session, Sequential Intercept Mapping, to help members of the county’s criminal justice system work as team to improve outcomes.
  • establishment of a DUI Treatment Court, Drug Treatment Court and a Pre-trial Diversion Program which helps people stay out of jail by offering alcohol/substance use disorder treatment and related services.

Above: Shown during a break in this week’s training session today in Harrisburg on opportunities for improving criminal justice outcomes for the mentally ill and/or addicted are, from left, Dr. Alison Martin, director of the Pennsylvania Stepping Up Technical Assistance Center; county human services administrators Jim Kockler (Potter) and Nancy Clemens (Tioga), and Commissioner Paul Heimel.

County Names ‘Complete Count Committee’ For Census

September 19th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County has established a formal “complete count committee” to partner with the U.S. Census Bureau and encourage participation in the 2020 Census. Committee members are Commissioner Paul Heimel, Human Services Administrator Jim Kockler, and Planning Department representatives Will Hunt and Deb Ostrom. As the county’s population continues to fall, local officials say it is important for everyone to complete the census survey when it is received. Census numbers have a direct impact on grants as well as government representation. Data are used to distribute funds for more than 50 programs, including education, transportation, health and human services, housing, criminal justice, employment services, agriculture, community infrastructure and environmental protection. For each uncounted citizen, a county will lose an estimated $20,000 in federal benefits during the decade.

The Potter County Planning Department has been working with township and borough officials to support an accurate result from the census. The county’s Emergency Management and Assessment offices are also involved in identifying new homes and verifying mailing addresses. Committee members report that there will be part-time job opportunities to conduct fieldwork and door-to-door assessments. Anyone interested in potential employment can find information as well as apply online at census.gov. More information is also available by calling toll-free 1-855-562-2020, Census questionnaires have been reduced from 10 pages to 10 questions. Forms will be mailed to area residents in early 2020. Census-takers’ non-response follow-ups begin in May 2020. In this photo, a copy of the resolution creating Potter County’s Complete Count Committee is presented to Census Bureau representative Heather Conrad (second from left) by Commissioners Susan Kefover, Paul Heimel and Doug Morley.

 

Voters Reminded Of Registration Deadline; New Machines

September 10th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County Director of Elections Sandy Lewis reminds residents that Oct. 7 is the final day to register, change party affiliation or report change of address for the Nov. 5 Municipal Election. More election information is available on the website, pottercountypa.net (click on Departments/Elections). Included on the website will be dates and times for demonstrations of the county’s new voting machines, which will be in use for the Nov. 5 election.

Federal and state funding will cover only a portion of the machines’ price tag, which is upwards of $400,000. After soliciting proposals from state-certified vendors, the Potter County Commissioners purchased the machines and related software and services from Election Systems and Software (ES&S). All Pennsylvania counties must have in place certified voting machines that electronically record each vote and generate a paper ballot as an added level of security. The new machines are expected to last for about ten years, if regulations and changing technology do not require them to be updated sooner.

Employee Picnic Proceeds Donated To LEEK Preserve

September 10th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County employees received a letter of appreciation from the LEEK Hunting and Mountain Preserve for the donation of proceeds from the recent employee picnic at Coudersport Area Recreation Park. “Your donation will be used to support our wounded and injured veterans in their recovery,” LEEK president Army Col. (Ret.) Edward J. Fisher said. “We could not perform our mission without such continued support and for that we are eternally grateful.” LEEK, located in Oswayo, is now in its 12th season of serving veterans. Its focus is on therapeutic recreation, provided through six programs for veterans and one for vets and their families. Fisher reports that LEEK has completed installation of a trap range and continues to implement its plan to build additional handicapped-accessible projects and other facilities. More information is available online at leekpreserve.org.

Tax Claim Bureau ‘Upset Sale’ Moves Three Properties

September 10th, 2019 Comments off

TCB personnel conducting the Upset Sale were, from left, Karin Karr, Jake Ostrom, Deanna Johnston and Linda Gambino.Just three properties were sold during Monday’s annual Potter County Tax Claim Bureau (TCB) “upset sale” at the Gunzburger Building. It’s a last-resort auction to sell those properties on which taxes for 2017 or earlier have not been paid. The resultant revenue is divided among the affected school district, municipality and county. A Vine Street property in Coudersport Borough was sold for $9,000 to Thomas Majot following bidding that started at $6,700. Two other parcels, one in Bingham Township and the other in Austin Borough, were sold for the minimal bid covering taxes, interest and costs. Fourteen properties that did not sell will be re-offered during the TCB’s Continuance Sale at 10 am Monday, Sept. 23, at the Gunzburger Building. TCB personnel conducting the Upset Sale were, from left, Karin Karr, Jake Ostrom, Deanna Johnston and Linda Gambino.

As of mid-August, more than 200 properties from across Potter County were slated to go to the auction block. TCB has implemented a series of changes to make things easier for those who have fallen behind on their taxes to redeem their properties. These include a monthly installment option and a credit card payment system. These changes have had positive results, according to TCB Director Deanna Johnston. “The number of delinquent properties has been tracking downward in recent years,” she said. “Selling someone’s property due to unpaid taxes is always a last resort and we work with anyone who has fallen behind to try to avoid that outcome.” Tax Claim Bureau personnel are located in Suite 111 of the Gunzburger Building, 1 North Main Street, Coudersport PA 16915; telephone (814) 274-0488, option 1.

Two Potter County Departments Create GIS Prototype

September 4th, 2019 Comments off

Two Potter County departments have teamed to create a new tool that streamlines environmental inspections for everything from the Clean Streams Law to road and bridge projects. It combines internet-based data entry and storage with geographic information systems (GIS) technology. This week, three Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials came to Coudersport for a demonstration of the mobile applications, which have impressed DEP and other agencies. They’re being viewed as best practices that can be emulated in other counties and perhaps at the statewide level. Will Hunt and Charlie Tuttle from the county’s Planning/GIS Department were joined by Jason Childs and Glenn Dunn II from the Potter County Conservation District in sharing information about the new tool with the DEP representatives. Dunn, who has been kept busy inspecting clear-cut forest tracts and road construction related to a major wind energy generation system in northeast Potter County, described how the application has reduced his burden in the field and improved data collection. Flanked by two of the DEP representatives in the photo above are, from left, Will Hunt, Glenn Dunn II and Jason Childs.