Archive for June, 2021

County Shifting To New System For Managing Jail

June 20th, 2021 Comments off

History was made on Thursday when Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel voted unanimously to adopt a new system of management for the county jail. Potter is one of just two counties in the state that still require their elected sheriff to serve in a dual role as jail warden. Under the plan was approved on Thursday, a seven-member “prison board” will be seated on or about Aug. 1 to assume responsibility for jail operations. Members include the sheriff, president judge, district attorney, treasurer and commissioners. That panel will hire and supervise a warden, who is responsible for day-to-day management — to include safety, security and orderly operation — while ensuring the county’s risk of civil litigation is minimized and the rights of the detainees/inmates are protected.

The sheriff-as-warden system harkens back to an era when operating a jail was geared toward punishment, confinement and removing menaces from society. That system was not designed to administer state-mandated services such as mental health/addiction treatment and other changes in the corrections field. At the same time, duties of a county sheriff have expanded in areas unrelated to operating a jail.

Commissioner Hayman pointed out that McKean will be soon be the only Pennsylvania county where the elected sheriff is also required to serve as jail warden. “These are two separate jobs and this action is no reflection on the current sheriff, Glenn Drake,” Hayman said. “History is leaning toward more accountability and having more public eyes on the operation of a county jail.”

Commissioner Heimel said the prison board model provides greater opportunities to address some of the factors that have landed people behind bars. “Providing mental health and addiction treatment, GED assistance, life skills, employability, housing assistance and other services in a jail setting have been proven to reduce the likelihood of a person ending up back in jail once he gets out. It can save the county a lot of money — the jail is the single highest expense to the taxpayers.”

“Those are our neighbors sitting in there and what kind of neighbor do you want?” Commissioner Grupp added. “Do you want a neighbor who is going to go back to the criminal activity that got them there in the first place?”

Investigation of the prison board option has been in the works for more than a year. The commissioners studied best practices from more than two dozen counties where prison boards operate and conducted other research prior to casting Thursday’s vote. (Source: Endeavor News.)

County, Local Governments To Receive ‘Impact Fee’ Checks

June 18th, 2021 Comments off

Pa. Public Utility Commission this week announced the 2021 Pa. Act 13 shale gas-drilling “impact fee” allotments to county and local governments. They are based on 2020 gas drilling and production reports from energy companies and state regulatory agencies. Potter County’s allotment is $207,015, down considerably from last year’s $317,600. Most of the township/borough payments will also be lower. Market factors and the lack of transmission infrastructure prompted firms to scale back operations beginning in 2019. There is still a glut of natural gas and prices remain low. Recently, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted another reduction in gas production this year, followed by at least a modest rebound in 2022.

Township and borough allotments this year will be as follows: Sweden Twp., $46,613; Ulysses Twp., $43,873; West Branch Twp., $32,609; Summit Twp., $25,079; Eulalia Twp., $21,891; Clara Twp., $17,446; Pleasant Valley Twp., $16,967; Coudersport, $13,517; Pike Twp., $13,107; Keating Twp., $12,197; Harrison Twp., $12,029; Wharton Twp., $11,902; Allegany Twp., $11,149; Sharon Twp., $8,737; Sylvania Twp., $8,554; Hector Twp., $8,475; Hebron Twp., $7,788; Roulette Twp., $7,772; Bingham Twp., $7,602; Genesee Twp., $6,382; Galeton, $6,256; Abbott Twp., $5,728; Oswayo Twp., $4,752; Homer Twp., $4,444; Ulysses Borough, $3,533; Austin, $3,381; Shinglehouse, $2,885; Stewardson Twp., $1,555; Portage Twp., $1,271; and Oswayo Borough, $529.

County and local governments can use the money for preservation and reclamation of water supplies; improvements to roads and bridges; construction and repair of water and sewer systems; delivery of social services; tax reduction; housing; conservation districts; emergency preparedness, public safety and flood plain management.


County Commits To Pollution Reduction; Survey Launched

June 13th, 2021 Comments off

Potter County is stepping up to do its part in the multi-state mission to reduce the volume of pollutants that enter headwater streams and ultimately foul the Chesapeake Bay. Leaders from Potter, Tioga and Bradford counties have joined forces to develop a plan that will take effect later this year. It not only calls for reduction of nitrogen and phosphorous “loading” of waterways, but also addresses sedimentation, overall water quality, flooding issues, and stream stabilization.

Potter County Conservation District staff and the county’s Planning/GIS Department are spearheading the work. The three counties have contracted with an engineering firm, Larson Design Group. A website that provides details on the Cleanwater Action Plan (CAP) includes a survey form and other avenues for public feedback and engagement. To access the site, click here. Plans call for the CAP to be completed in September and implemented over a five-year period.

“We are hoping for a high level of public participation in the development of this CAP,” said Potter County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt. “We are identifying area of significant nutrient impacts and are encouraging landowners to participate in the survey found on our website. It is a convenient way for them to provide feedback and share insights on local issues, as well as solutions and results. It only takes about five minutes to complete.”