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Roulette, Galeton Finalists For County’s Block Grant

August 18th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Susan Kefover, Doug Morley and Paul Heimel heard a report on public meetings held for input on how they should distribute a $175,000 federal grant during this week’s meeting. William Seigel, consultant from the SEDA-Council of Governments, and Community Development Director Jennifer Rossman said they have narrowed their list of projects to consider for this year’s Community Development Block Grant to two finalists. One is emergency sewage treatment plant repairs in the village of Roulette and the other is improvements to the wastewater treatment plant in Galeton Borough. Other proposals by boroughs or townships in the county do not meet all of the CDBG funding requirements. Each of the finalists has its own complexities. Seigel recommended, based on the limited grant funding available and other factors, that the commissioners not split the allotment between the two, but rather choose one or the other. More investigation and communication will take place with Roulette Township and Galeton Borough prior to Seigel and Rossman offering further advice or recommendations.

 

Crowded Agenda For Water Quality Work Group

August 18th, 2017 Comments off

Members of the Potter County Water Quality Work Group held their bimonthly meeting in the Gunzburger Building this week with a crowded agenda chock-full of developments involving water resources across the county. Bob Volkmar of Roulette presented a troubling report on water quality testing taking place this summer and fall on 10 tributaries of Oswayo Creek. Samples from Horse Run, Honeoye Creek, Raub Run and Oswayo Creek itself near the state border in Ceres, showed elevated levels of strontium, sodium, bromide and chloride. Volkmar, an officer with Trout Unlimited and the Upper Allegheny Watershed Assn., speculated that the contaminants could stem from oil or gas drilling that might date back several decades. Use of pesticides and other farming practices could be also be a cause, or there could be multiple legacy trash dumps across the region, Volkmar noted. He said the streams will continue to be tested to create an expanded database. In the meantime, Justin Boatwright, waterways conservation officer with the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission, said he would investigate the Raub Run area in McKean County in an effort to determine the source of extremely high chloride readings.

Volkmar, who is active with Trout Unlimited and the Upper Allegheny Watershed Association, said the Oswayo Creek headwaters study is part of the multi-year Pennsylvania 3 Rivers Quest water quality assessment project. Sampling is taking place in the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio river systems to create profiles of water chemistry, flow information, total dissolved solids and other parameters that measure the health of three river basins. An earlier 3 Rivers Quest study was conducted in the upper Allegheny River water basin and results showed consistently high water quality.

Also at this week’s meeting:

  • Members heard an update on the groundwater study being conducted across Potter County by the U.S. Geological Survey. A state grant is covering the bulk of expenses for the investigation that will provide data on the quality and constituents of the county’s groundwater, its movement patterns and other characteristics. The information will be invaluable for public policy-makers, industries, regulatory agencies and others seeking to protect water when sites are chosen for certain types of development. Testing of 47 water wells in strategic locations will soon be completed. USGS will analyze the results over the next several months. Data will be assembled and analyzed in a cumulative fashion, with the identity of individual well owners protected. Confidential findings from the analysis will be provided to each owner. Groundwater can contain a variety of suspended and dissolved substances such as bacteria, minerals and gases. These substances are often naturally occurring, but can also be influenced by activities occurring on the land surface.
  • Charlie Tuttle, chair of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition (TDWC), updated the work group on installation of 24/7 monitors on the supplies of nearly every public drinking water source in Potter County. Funding was obtained through the state’s settlement with JKLM Energy following a 2015 shale gas drilling infraction and pollution incident in Potter County.
  • Water Quality Work Group Chairman Jason Childs and Jared Dickerson, both from the Potter County Conservation District, discussed multiple habitat improvement, aquatic organism passage/stream connectivity, dirt and gravel road stabilization, and agricultural assistance projects the district is working on this year. Construction of a bottomless culvert on Gravel Lick Run, a tributary of Kettle Creek, is expected to greatly improve trout migration and improve the fishery. Total project cost is approximately $200,000. Trout Unlimited, Potter County Conservation District and the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission are providing funds. A similar project is slated for Ludington Run, a tributary to the Genesee River, in partnership with the Genesee Headwaters Watershed Assn.
  • Jared Dickerson updated members on ongoing efforts to battle the hemlock wooly adelgid, which is taking a toll on hemlock stands in the Pine Creek valley. The infestation is expected to have a major negative impact of fish and other wildlife. It will be the subject of a Pine Creek Headwaters Summit scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 23, in Asaph.
  • Potter County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt and Jason Childs reported on a series of meetings held with townships and borough officials to strengthen county/municipal partnerships. They’ve conferred with supervisors, council members and secretaries to assist them with ordinances, community planning, conservation projects and other municipal business.
  • Invasive plants continue to spread across many river corridors in Potter County. Upper Allegheny Watershed Association has been cutting and spraying Japanese knotweed infestations that are choking out native plants in the Sweden Valley area. Eradication work is also planned in the Genesee area. Nikki Ryan, coordinator for the Sinnemahoning Invasive Plant Management Area, is working to adopt two other management areas in the Genesee and Allegheny watersheds to combat invasive plants.
  • A National Science Foundation program to obtain input on regulations and land management issues is underway in Potter County. Jason Childs, Bob Volkmar, and Penn State Extension agronomy educator Nicole Carutis are spearheading the local engagement. Similar programs have been launched in Mifflin County, Pa., as well as agricultural communities in Arizona and Nebraska.
  • Potter County Conservation District is supporting the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s ongoing clean-up of illegal dumping sites. Next work session is planned for Oct. 31 off Burleson Avenue in Roulette.
  • Will Hunt reported that a study of the failing Galeton Borough dam on the West Branch of Pine Creek and options for repair or removal has been expanded. An Appalachian Regional Commission grant will pay for a more detailed analysis of recreational options, such as a boat launch, water course for canoes, kayaks or rafts, and trails to Lyman Run State Park and/or Watrous in Tioga County.
  • Conservation Districts in Potter and McKean counties are discussing development of additional canoe/kayak boat launch areas to boost the recreational appeal of the Allegheny River.

More information on the Water Quality Work Group is available from Jason Childs at 814-320-4012. Next public meeting is scheduled for 8 am Monday, Oct. 16, in the Gunzburger Building.

Happy 100th Birthday To Everett Saulter!

August 10th, 2017 Comments off

Friends presented Everett Saulter with a can that was used when he produced and sold maple syrup from his Hebron Township property.

A special man whose gift to the people of Potter County keeps on giving was honored on his 100th birthday recently at Sweden Valley Manor. More than 18 years have passed since Everett Saulter donated to the people of Potter County what is now known as Saulter Forest Preserve. Groups and families use the pavilion and grounds for reunions, meetings, picnics or casual nature walks. It is located off Rt. 44 between Coudersport and Coneville in Hebron Township. The 57-acre preserve includes trails with interpretive signs, indoor and outdoor gathering areas, and a rich diversity of trees and other vegetation preferred by deer, birds and other species.

A timber appraisal on the acreage came in at roughly $1 million and the land itself has considerable value. But Everett Saulter wasn’t interested in selling. The long-time Potter County resident wanted to leave a lasting gift that would accommodate recreation and social gatherings, and provide wildlife habitat and nature education. He accomplished all of that and more. For many years after he transferred the property, Everett would walk the woodlot and trail system to maintain it and guide visitors on a tour. He takes pride in the fact that more groups and families are using the preserve. Trees include native white pine, cherry, red oak, maple and other varieties of hardwoods. There is also a three-acre clearing on the southeastern side of the tract that protects headwaters of the South Branch of Oswayo Creek. The County Commissioners have assigned the county maintenance crew to care for the property and Potter County Conservation District continues its active involvement.

Properties Listed As Tax Claim Bureau Sale Draws Closer

August 10th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County Tax Claim Bureau (TCB) will be holding its annual “upset sale” at 10 am on Monday, Sept. 11, in the Gunzburger Building. It’s a last-resort auction to sell those properties on which taxes for 2015 or earlier have not been paid. At this point, about 180 properties from across Potter County are slated to go to the auction block. That number will drop significantly over the next several weeks. A list of properties subject to auction is posted on the website, pottercountypa.net (click on Departments/Tax Claim).

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 (owner-occupied properties only) and a credit card payment system. Those payments are accepted online only, through the Tax Claim Bureau website at pottercountypa.net. The credit card payment option is limited to overdue taxes (2016 and earlier). Last day to pay 2015 taxes by credit card is Aug. 31.

All of the 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.

Austin Boy Scouts Take Field Trip To County Offices

August 3rd, 2017 Comments off

Austin Boy Scouts (from left) Miles Moate, Noah Leightley, Ethan Gola and Christian Siebert joined Scoutmaster Thomas Hurd for a roundtable with Commissioner Paul Heimel and Community Development Director Jennifer Rossman at the Gunzburger Building.

Members of Austin Boy Scout Troop 524 received a crash course in county government, constitutional rights, volunteerism and related topics during a visit to the county seat. What started out as a merit badge assignment for troop member Miles Moate became a half-day give and take on topics raised by four scouts as they met with Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel and Community Development Director Jennifer Rossman. “Both of us were impressed with the sincere interest as well as the commitment to service that these boys demonstrated,” Heimel said. “I think they came away with a broader perspective on citizenship and serving others, and I came away with stronger faith in the next generation of leaders.”

Noah Leightley, Ethan Gola and Christian Siebert joined Moate for the roundtable, which began with an emotional program on the importance of volunteerism – and the potential consequences of an apathetic populace. The scouts learned about the importance of voting and being informed on public policy. They were encouraged to become involved with the local government and ask questions. They also discussed lessons that could be learned from 1911 Austin flood, caused by the fairlure of a poorly engineered and constructed dam. Scoutmaster Thomas Hurd discussed the storied history of Troop 524 and current activities.

Potter County Officials’ ‘Road Trips’ Continue

August 3rd, 2017 Comments off

Will Hunt

A series of regional meetings by representatives of the Potter County government to assist township and borough leaders will move on to Germania next week. Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt, Conservation District director Jason Childs and resource conservationist Glenn Dunn II set up a schedule of five sessions to meet individually with municipal officials. Goals are to strengthen their partnership with county agencies and apprise them of services and opportunities that are available through the Planning Department, Conservation District and other offices.

Hunt has been keeping Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel apprised of the issues that are being covered and any concerns that have been raised. He said that responses have been positive at the first two meetings, held in Hebron and Ulysses townships. Next session will be at the Germania Firehall on Aug. 9, followed by meetings in Austin Borough and Eulalia Township. More details are available at 274-8254.