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Archive for September, 2022

County Offers To Host Local ‘Warthog’ Public Meeting

September 16th, 2022 Comments off

Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman have once again called on the Maryland Air National Guard to hold a public meeting in Potter County on its plan to conduct frequent low-level military aircraft training flights over a wide swath of northcentral Pennsylvania.

The request comes in response to reports that the ANG will soon issue the results of its own study claiming the flights will have no significant impact on the quality of life, tourism or other measurements. A long list of public officials and organizations – including three congressmen and a U.S. senator – have called on the ANG to be more forthcoming. They are also asking that the organization prepare a more detailed Environmental Impact Study. Potter County would be the best site for a public meeting due to its central location and the fact that nearly the entire county lies in the training zone, the commissioners said.

Maryland ANG seeks authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to train A-10 “Warthog” pilots for up to 170 days a year, no longer than four hours per day as low as 100 feet from the ground across parts of six counties. An initial environmental assessment conducted by the ANG, which determined that the flights pose “no significant impact” on local citizens or the environment, is available at public libraries in Coudersport and Galeton.

Military aircraft have trained in the region for many years, but at a higher altitude. Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages state forests and parks, has been studying the potential impacts for more than a year. DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said the flights could “drastically change the character of this region,” with the sound negatively affecting tourism, wildlife and outdoor recreation. DCNR has called on the Maryland ANG to maintain its current flight protocols and operations, or to consider alternative locations.

(This image from Senior Master Sergeant Jim Foard from the Maryland Air National Guard shows two A-10 Warthog jets on a training mission. If the ANG has its way, pilots could train at low altitudes above most of Potter County and parts of Cameron, McKean, Tioga, Clinton and Elk counties for as many as 170 days a year.)

Commissioners Focus On Operational Improvements

September 8th, 2022 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel detailed a trio of Operational Improvement Initiatives that are in the works during today’s business meeting. Details are as follows:

The commissioners, with the concurrence of the Potter County Jail Board, have contracted with the Pennsylvania Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP) to conduct a comprehensive risk management review of the county jail. Its purpose is to study operations, facilities, policies and procedures to pinpoint areas that could be improved or updated; and to identify any issues which might increase the risk of litigation or other adverse outcomes at the jail. An expert in the field of county corrections, the laws that govern corrections, and recent court rulings that might affect jail operations has completed that review and her report is expected soon.

Also through PCoRP, the county is beginning an assessment of personnel policies and human resources (HR) policies at the jail, as well as other county offices and departments. Chief Clerk Jessica Giebel has been methodically reviewing county personnel policies in order to recommend updates or other changes to the commissioners. PCoRP consultants will assess the broader spectrum of issues. As with the risk management review of the jail, this assessment is also provided to the county at no charge, as a benefit of its PCoRP membership.

The commissioners are researching a third Operational Improvement Initiative. Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development offers a Strategic Management Planning Program to local and county governments. Its goal is to create short- and long-term financial plans and to review management practices. State funding would cover much of the cost, but there would be a county match. Potter County has not signed up for this type of service since 2009, and much as changed over the past 13 years. This remains in the discussion stages, but the commissioners believe it would be of great value in budgeting, financial planning and other areas of county operations.