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County Committed To Ensuring Accurate Census Results

December 13th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County officials are going the extra mile to assure an accurate count during the 2020 census, in recognition of the high stakes. To that end, Potter County Planning Department and 911 Emergency Services staff hosted a Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) workshop Wednesday at the Gunzburger Building. LUCA is a review of addresses to ensure the Census Bureau’s records match county records. An accurate census could equate to hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars coming to the county. For each uncounted citizen, a county and/or local government loses upwards of $10,000 in federal benefits during the decade. Census data are used to distribute more than 50 grant programs, including support for education, transportation, health and human services, housing, criminal justice, employment services, farming and environmental protection.

During the workshop, LUCA representative Robert Stabs shared details on clarifying and verifying addresses to determine residency. He urged county and township officials to work with Census Bureau representatives through appointment of an Accurate Count Committee and through public education. Those seeking more information on the LUCA process should call Robert Stabs, geography specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, at 215-717-1830. Above, Stabs discusses particulars while Coudersport Borough Manager Beverly Morris (left) and Charlie Tuttle from the Potter County Planning/GIS Department look on.

Busy Times For Water Quality Work Group

December 13th, 2017 Comments off

Heather McKeanMembers of the Potter County Water Quality Work Group covered a crowded agenda at this month’s meeting, continuing its mission to watch over the county’s water resources. It’s one of the few countywide organizations in Pennsylvania with that single focus. Heather McKean (left), who recently joined Penn State Extension as water quality/resources educator, attended Monday’s meeting at the Gunzburger Building as the newest group advisor. She has worked with several members in her previous position with the McKean County Conservation District. McKean has succeeded the retired Jim Clark, who was active with the Water Quality Work Group and a companion Potter County organization, the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition (TDWC).

Also at this month’s meeting, work group members were updated on the U.S. Geological Survey’s groundwater study across Potter County. Results will be analyzed and a public meeting scheduled sometime next year to share results. TDWC Chair Charlie Tuttle reported on the coalition’s ongoing water quality monitoring project. Most of the wells, springs or surface water sources supplying public drinking water supplies in Potter County are now being monitored and their data is being archived. Next TDWC meeting will be held at 10 am on Jan. 24 at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Members of a similar coalition in Tioga County will also attend.

Jason Childs, work group chair and manager of the Potter County Conservation District, discussed several grant opportunities for watershed protection, streambank stabilization, habitat restoration and related projects. Childs also announced that a Township Road Maintenance Class/Field Day for officials from Potter and Tioga counties will be held in Gaines on March 21. The Potter County Crops and Planting Clinic will be held Jan. 26 at the Tri-Town Firehall in Ulysses.

Members heard an update on plans to plant trees in areas of the upper Pine Creek watershed where the hemlock wooly adelgid is expected to cause hemlock tree mortality, adversely affecting water quality on the West Branch of Pine Creek. Work group members also paused to recall the work of the late Wilson T. “Ted” Bear with the First Fork Watershed Association and other conservation organizations.

Attending were Earl Brown, Bob Volkmar, Jason Childs, John McLaughlin, Charlie Tuttle, Heather McKean, Frank Weeks and Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover.

‘Homestead Exemption’ Can Reduce School Tax Bills

December 10th, 2017 Comments off

taxexemption-300x300Potter County homeowners who qualify for the “homestead exemption” receive a credit on their school taxes, reflecting a discount for owner-occupied homes. School districts are reimbursed from money the state receives from licensed gambling establishments.

Austin Area School District homeowners had a reduction of $330 in 2017. In Coudersport, the tax cut was $179. Tax credits in Galeton were $218; Oswayo Valley, $154, Northern Potter, $210; Port Allegany, $210; Keystone, $229.

Many homeowners in local school districts have not applied for the homestead exemption since the program was introduced. Those who may qualify and are not enrolled should will soon receive another notice/application by mail. They have until March 1, 2018, to apply for the reduction on their 2019-19 school tax bills.

An application form is available on the county website, pottercountypa.net (click on Departments and Assessment/Tax). In most cases, those who are already registered will not have to apply, but there may be exceptions in some school districts. To verify that you are registered, it is best to call the Assessment Office at 274-0517.

Future tax reductions will fluctuate, based on the amount of revenue the state derives from gambling operations. School tax bills are mailed out in July. Taxpayers will receive a two-percent discount if they pay their bill by Sept. 30. A penalty is applied to payments made after Nov. 30.

Driving Tours Spotlight Potter County History

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

April22NewHistoryTourGuidePotter County Historical Society has released a new guide that offers six options for those who wish to explore the county’s roots. It’s designed as a tool to deepen local residents’ appreciation of their heritage and assist tourists who are looking for interesting adventures, according to society president David Castano. Copies of the 80-page booklet are available at the PCHS museum on North Main Street in Coudersport.

Six routes are laid out in the guide based on regions of Potter County. The booklet contains summaries of local industries, individuals and communities. Road maps with directions have been added to each section. Dozens of archival photos provide an important visual element to the engaging text. On the Northwestern Tour, drivers can see the site of a pallisaded Native American village dating back to the late Fifteenth Century. The Southeastern Tour recalls the rise and fall of the village of Cross Fork, which was teeming with a population of 2,500 or more residents plus twice that many itinerants during the lumber book of the early Twentieth Century. PCHS dedicated the booklet to the late Bob and Maxine Currin, each of whom was active with the society. They were known to take regular driving tours to explore Potter County history.

Latest Potter County Veterans News Now Available

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

Latest edition of the quarterly newsletter, Potter County Veterans News, is now available. Among the more timely stories in the Oct.-Dec. 2017 edition is the announcement of Potter County’s acceptance as a partner in the national Commemoration of the Vietnam War Initiative, a project of Congress and the Defense Department. Plans are being made to hold a local high-profile Vietnam Veterans Recognition Dinner and Memorial Service in 2018. Other stories focus on the recent ceremony to honor Korean War casualty William Sadewasser at the Ulysses Cemetery; a poignant account of a Galeton family’s reckoning with the loss of Navy sailor Anthony Bernard Caracciolo in the sinking of the USS Juneau; an American Legion/Boy Scouts flag retirement ceremony in Shinglehouse; updates on the Potter County Veterans Gravestone Restoration Project; special statewide honors for Coudersport American Legion Post 192; and reports on new scams that are targeting veterans and on proposals to expand the reach of VA health care through telemedicine. The Oct.-Dec. 2017 edition and all past issues of Potter County Veterans News are available on the county website, pottercountypa.net, or by contacting Dawn Wooster, executive secretary for the Potter County Commissioners, at 814-274- 8290, extension 207.

Results Of Local Groundwater Study Being Compiled

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

Dan Galeone (left) circulated some preliminary findings as the USGS compiles results. At right is Potter County Conservation District manager Jason Childs,

Preliminary results from a historic analysis of the groundwater in Potter County were shared with members of the Potter County Water Quality Work Group last week. Dan Galeone, hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said a full report won’t be released until next spring. USGS partnered with the Potter County Board of Commissioners to conduct the comprehensive study to provide data on the quality and constituents of the county’s groundwater. 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.

A state grant is covering the bulk of expenses for the study. Some 47 water wells in strategic locations were sampled. Data is being 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 water quality can also be influenced by human activities.

Galeone said total coliform bacteria was found in 24 samples and e. coli bacteria in 10. These results are not unusual, he added, but they should be understood by well owners. They will be advised of water treatment options. Two of the wells were found to contain arsenic, which may or may not be naturally occurring. Testing was also conducted for dozens of metals, dissolved gases and nutrients. Once USGS has finished compiling and analyzing results, a complete report will be released. Local officials could opt for a public meeting to share the findings.

In other business at this week’s meeting:

  • Charlie Tuttle, chair of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, reported on the installation of 24/7 monitors on the supplies of nearly every public drinking water source in Potter County.
  • Water Quality Work Group Chairman Jason Childs discussed the successful installation of a “bottomless culvert” that will open 11 miles of Ludington Run in Genesee Township for fish migration. Childs credited Potter County Conservation District staffers Jared Dickerson, Alex Veto and Glenn Dunn II for their work, in partnership with Trout Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
  • 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. Kim Bohn, 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.
  • Potter County Conservation District is supporting the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s ongoing clean-up of illegal dumping sites. Next work sessions are planned for Oct. 28 in the Loucks Mills and Rowley Road areas of Bingham Township, and for Oct. 31 off Burleson Avenue in Roulette.
  • Jared Dickerson reported on an ambitious plan to improve native trout habitat on a five-mile section of Slider’s Branch, a tributary of Kettle Creek, by installing large wood debris structures. Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources is also involved on the project.

More information on the Water Quality Work Group is available from Jason Childs at 814-320-4012.