Archive for September, 2020

County Distributes Grants To Businesses, Non-Profit Agencies

September 29th, 2020 Comments off

Distribution of nearly $400,000 in financial assistance for small businesses and non-profit organizations reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began this week. Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel chose to offer the grant program using federal funds awarded to the county through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Community Development Director Ellen Russell, Chief Clerk Jessica Giebel and Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt assisted the commissioners with the distribution. After an exhaustive review of federal and state guidelines and restrictions on use of the funds, Russell said the team was able to achieve its primary goal. “All Potter County businesses that were deemed eligible based on criteria provided by the Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development received funds to help make them whole, up to the cap of $25,000,” she reported.

Primary purpose of the program was to provide immediate relief so that qualifying small businesses and non-profit organizations could retain employees, continue operations, and remain sustainable. The commissioners recognized the need to inject the money into the local economy as quickly as possible, so they fast-tracked the application process. Specifics on the grant program can be found on the county website,, clicking on “Help for Small Businesses” in the upper right corner.

(Above, Terry Gerhart from E&G Auto Plus and Battery Warehouse in Coudersport meets with Ellen Russell to process CARES Act grant paperwork.)

Local Responders Weigh In On County’s New 911 System

September 12th, 2020 Comments off

Emergency responders from across Potter County gathered at the Gunzburger Building this week to share their experiences with the county’s new emergency communications system and identify service gaps and other issues. Consultant Mitch Smith assured the local service providers that each of the issues that surfaced during Thursday’s meeting will be addressed as the system rollout continues. It’s a comprehensive project with a price tag of nearly $4 million, meant to ensure that calls dispatched from the 911 center are instantly received by responders.

Communications coverage is being enhanced and response times shortened. This is accomplished through 14 towers, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure that carries service into a geographic area with countless challenges posed by the hilly terrain and deep valleys.

“Speed of response can be a life-or-death situation,” Smith explained. “The new system reaches some sections of the county that have been underserved. It also brings you new technology to replace equipment that has become obsolete.”

The system has a life expectancy of 15 years. Rather than incurring a major up-front expense that would create an immediate burden on taxpayers, the county commissioners negotiated a low-interest loan from a local lending institution with a payback period of 10 years. The county also qualified for a $580,000 state grant. Smith is a former Pa. Emergency Management Agency staffer and long-time volunteer firefighter himself who has been advising Potter County for more than 15 years. He has been working closely with former commissioner Doug Morley, who was contracted through 2020 as part-time 911 project coordinator, and with the county’s emergency management coordinator, Glenn Dunn. Potter’s County’s most recent system upgrade was in 2002. Its life expectancy at the time was 10 to 12 years. Dispatching continues to be provided from the Tioga County 911 Center, although the new infrastructure in Potter County is also compatible with other dispatch centers.

Potter County VA Medical Clinic Reopens

September 4th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County’s VA Medical Clinic in Coudersport has reopened. Operating hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm on Mondays. Dr. Khawaja Siddique is providing tele-primary care services from the Northport (N.Y.) VA Medical Center to the Coudersport clinic. Nursing staff is onsite on Mondays to support the delivery of care and will be providing lab draws and vaccinations. In addition, on Fridays, starting Sept. 25, Dr. Siddique will be delivering care via video-to-home visits and telephone contacts. There will be no onsite presence at the Coudersport clinic on Fridays.