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Archive for April, 2024

Next Jail Board Meeting Scheduled For June 7

April 30th, 2024 Comments off

The Potter County Jail Board public meeting originally scheduled for May 4 has been cancelled. The next meeting will be held at noon on Tuesday, June 7, at the F.W. Gunzburger County Office Building auditorium. Telephone access to the meetings is available at 814-274-0844; PIN is #114477.

Board members are Commissioner Paul Heimel (chair), Sheriff Kevin Siska (vice chair), Commissioner Nancy Grupp, Judge Stephen Minor, District Attorney Andy Watson, and Commissioner Robert Rossman.

Those with questions or comments about the jail are reminded that they can submit them to the board through email sent to pcjailboard@pottercountypa.net.

County Seeks Volunteers For Important Agencies

April 30th, 2024 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Robert Rossman continue to seek volunteers willing to serve on any of several county authorities, commissions and advisory boards. In an effort to broaden diversity, geographic representation and background knowledge, the Board of Commissioners periodically issues call for volunteers. Goal is to build a roster of qualified individuals who have a willingness to serve. As vacancies arise or incumbents’ terms expire, the commissioners will rely on that these rosters to determine potential appointees for agencies such as:

Potter County Planning Commission. Administers subdivision and land use/development regulations; countywide comprehensive planning; regional advocacy on transportation funding priorities and other initiatives; GIS services; reliable resource/liaison for township and borough governments.

Potter County Redevelopment Authority. Economic development; support services for business and industry; administration of federal/state grants and loans for economic development.

Potter County Housing Authority. Administration of programs meeting needs for safe, healthy and affordable housing.

Potter County Human Services. Multiple advisory boards to guide administrators on meeting local social service needs.

Potter County Solid Waste Authority. Operation of transfer station/recycling center in Gold; administration of state-approved solid waste management/flow ordinance.

Potter County Hospital Authority. Public agency assisting UPMC Cole in acquisition of funds for capital improvements and implementation of long-term planning objectives.

Farmland Preservation Board. Responsible for purchase of development rights to preserve agricultural land.

Local Emergency Planning Committee. Coordinates activities of firefighters, emergency medical services, fire police and related responders; liaison with Potter County Department of Emergency Services for training, funding opportunities, drills/exercises to test preparedness.

Those wishing to be considered for appointment should contact Paige Barroqueiro at 814-274-8290, ext. 209 or pbarroqueiro@pottercountypa.net.

County Reports Success In Reducing Repeat Offenders

April 25th, 2024 Comments off

Criminal justice reforms that have been implemented in Potter County are having a measurable impact in reducing crime and lowering jail populations. Details were shared during this month’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board meeting by Patrick Harris, a Potter County Human Services employee who provides re-entry services for criminal offenders. Harris reported that recidivism — a key measure of repeat offenders — has declined by five percent over the past 18 months. Additionally, inmate population at the Potter County Jail is down by approximately 33 percent from the levels of one year ago.

Harris and Judge Stephen Minor discussed the ongoing efforts to establish a state-certified Re-entry Coalition in Potter County, consisting of partners from the criminal justice system and various agencies teaming to provide those who are emerging from incarceration with the tools and services they need to succeed in society.

“For some people, the needs are many,” Harris said. “Some people are emerging with nothing. We’re putting together a team that will work together to make re-entry work in Potter County.” He added some of the most pressing needs are jobs that pay a livable wage, transportation and assistance in navigating social service programs. On a positive note, Harris added, the Women’s Residential Rehabilitation Center in Harrison Valley has reduced recidivism, as have the multiple “transformational living” temporary housing units established by the county.

Judge Minor noted that the Drug/Alcohol Treatment Court has also contributed to positive outcomes. With concurrence from the District Attorney and the Judge, some criminal offenders diagnosed with addiction can avoid incarceration by consenting to treatment and following other mandates. The judge said that two offenders recently “graduated” from Treatment Court, while two others — both females facing a third DUI charge that carried a prison sentence — had been accepted into the program.

County Seeks Grant For Gunzburger Building Project

April 18th, 2024 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Robert Rossman and Paul Heimel are working with Maintenance Director Joe Kurtz on a plan to deal with the deterioration of windows at the F.W. Gunzburger County Office Building. In anticipation of a project that could cost more than $1 million, involving nearly 250 windows as well as frames and entry systems, county leaders are seeking state and/or federal grants. One potential funding source being pursued is a Community Facilities grant involving federal funding administered by the Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development. Money would be used for materials, labor, site preparation, engineering and related services. New windows would preserve the historic building and ensure its continued use for county government operations, education, access to technology and health care, conferences, gymnasium recreation, community and government meetings and other functions. Two tenants, Penn State Extension and Dickinson Center Inc., would also benefit. In the long term, much of the project cost would be recovered through substantial reductions in energy costs.

The 57,000 square foot building has its roots in two separate schools that occupied the same lot in the early 1900s. What was once the Coudersport Elementary School (or “Grade School”) faced First Street. Charming reminders of that era can still be seen with the prominently marked “Boys” and “Girls” entrances on the north side of the Gunzburger Building. A separate Coudersport High School on the same block faced Main Street. A construction project in the early 1930s linked the two school buildings. Another addition on the West Street side in the late 1950s accommodated a cafeteria.

Most of the smaller communities it the time had their own schools, many of them of the one-room variety. Consolidation brought an increase in the number of students and space limitations. An annex in the “Sears Building,” between the Coudersport Theatre and the Main Street entrance of the school, temporarily solved the crunch, but a more permanent solution was needed. When the present-day Coudersport Area Junior-Senior High School was built in the early 1960s, the building became solely the Coudersport Elementary School. It served the community well, but physical modifications required to meet new regulations were too expensive for the school district to pursue. A new elementary school was built in 1987 and the former school was put up for sale.

Its deteriorating physical condition and the need to remove deadly asbestos in order to make the building fit for occupancy limited buyers’ interest. Finally, Adelphia Communications Corp. purchased the property. Major renovations followed, as the physical shortcomings were addressed and attractive furnishings and features added. Adelphia, which was experiencing rapid growth as a TV cable company, relocated several of its corporate operations to what was renamed the Rigas School Building. In 2002, Adelphia came under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. An interim management team took control and relocated most of Adelphia’s corporate functions to offices in suburban Denver. Eventually, Adelphia’s Coudersport assets were sold to Time Warner Cable.

It wasn’t long before that company pulled most of the remaining functions out of Potter County. As stressful as these developments were for the community, one bright spot was Time Warner’s willingness to donate the former Rigas School Building – an asset valued in the millions of dollars – to the people of Potter County. That transaction came at a time when the Potter County Board of Commissioners had been planning to address a severe space shortage at the county courthouse by constructing a new office complex at East Second and North East streets, across from the county jail and courthouse square. The F. W. Gunzburger County Office Building now serves the community in ways unimagined by those who engaged so many young minds in education for more than three-quarters of a century.

Potter County Veterans Discount Program Revived

April 5th, 2024 Comments off

Potter County’s award-winning Veterans Discount Program is being revived. Organizers report that they anticipate many more businesses and professional service providers signing up in the coming weeks to offer discounts. Started in 2016 by then-Veterans Services Director Will Worthington and Commissioner Paul Heimel, it became a model for many other county-operated discount programs in Pennsylvania and beyond. In 2019, Potter County’s initiative was honored with an Excellence Award by the National Assn. of Counties.

It’s now in the hands of the Potter County Veterans Services Committee, consisting of the county’s current veterans services director, Mike Pepper, and representatives of local veterans organizations. Shown below are the businesses that have signed up so far, with many more to come. Participating businesses are displaying a decal in their windows. Veterans can register and receive a discount card through their local service posts: Legion Post 192, Coudersport, 814-274-7460; VFW Post 7810, Austin, 814-647-8673; VFW Post 6611, Galeton, 814-435-2944; Legion Post 963, Ulysses, 814-848-7588; Legion Post 530, Shinglehouse, 814-203-4335; and LEEK Preserve, 410-322-4610.