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Updates On County Operational Improvement Initiatives

February 22nd, 2024 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Robert Rossman and Paul Heimel have provided an update on their ongoing Operational Improvement Initiatives:

1– Information Technology Upgrade

Goals: Improve functionality and security.

  • Assess current technological resources – servers, computers, software.
  • Review security/risk – firewalls, employee education.
  • Document retention improvements – shared drives/backups.
  • Training/employee education – ongoing.
  • Continuing review of best practices.



2 — Risk Management at Potter County Jail

Goal: In partnership with the Potter County Jail Board, retain the Pa. Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP) to conduct a comprehensive risk management review of the county jail and develop a plan to implement recommendations.

  • Engage an expert to study operations, facilities, policies and procedures and pinpoint areas that might increase the risk of litigation or other adverse outcomes at the jail (completed)
  • Refer findings to the Jail Board to prepare recommendations for full board (completed)
  • Continuing review of best practices.

CURRENT STATUS:  Deputy Warden hired, as recommended. Implementation of other recommendations/best practices continuing.


3 — Grant Writing/Administration

Goal: To make Potter County more competitive in qualifying for federal, state and foundational grants; to coordinate pursuit of grants with county departments and agencies, local governments, community organizations, regional agencies and other stakeholders.

  • Develop a strategic plan that will incorporate specialized training, an assessment of internal resources, and the development of partnerships.
  • Pursue grants to support county government and countywide initiatives, with potential to expand to grant-writing assistance to boroughs, townships, businesses and nonprofits.
  • Affiliation with professional grant-writing organizations, Northcentral Pa. Regional Planning and Development Commission/Grant Assistance Division, and other resources.

CURRENT STATUS: In progress.


4 — Short- and Long-Term Financial/Operational Management Planning

Goal: Engage with the Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development to qualify for DCED’s Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP) and implement consultants’ recommendations.

  • Circulate Request for Proposals to list of qualified consultants (completed)
  • Create short- and long-term financial plans (budgeting, capital projects planning, overall efficiency and opportunities for improvements).
  • Review each department’s operations/staffing and needs.
  • Implement consultant’s plan and establish system to measure results/progress through scheduled periodic review.

CURRENT STATUS: DCED grant approved; four bid packages received from consultants currently under review. Best practices from other countywide STMP projects being evaluated.


5 — Update of Human Resources Policies

Goal: Engage a PCoRP risk management specialist to review county personnel policies and a broad spectrum of related issues.

CURRENT STATUS: Review has been completed and findings submitted by consultant. Being implemented by county administration.


6—Strategic Economic and Community Development/”Revitalize Potter County”

Goal: Coordination, communication and unified long-term planning to implement high-priority community/economic development strategies identified in the Potter County Comprehensive Plan 2020-2029 to address population loss and youth outmigration.

  • Fill Community Development Coordinator vacancy and combine County Community Development and Planning/GIS Departments for shared administrative resources and day-to-day coordination as directed by the Board of Commissioners (completed).
  • Application to Pa. Council on the Arts for a multi-year Creative Communities for Community and Economic Development Grant (approved; County Creative Council, PC3, incorporated.)
  • Application to Pa. Dept. of Economic and Community Development for Countywide Economic Revitalization Implementation Plan (application submitted).
  • Development of a Site Promotion Program for Business and Economic Growth (underway).
  • Outreach to Potter County Redevelopment Authority, townships/boroughs, community organizations, regional agencies, employers and other potential partners/stakeholders.
  • Engagement with Pa. Economic Development Assn. and other agencies dedicated to supporting agriculture/forest management, travel and tourism, manufacturing, retail and other economic drivers.



7—Improvement of 911 Emergency Communications System

Goals: Inspection of county 911 emergency communications towers/infrastructure to ensure reliable 24/7 coverage; assistance to local fire, ambulance, police and other public safety agencies; improved communications with local emergency service providers.

  • Contract with MCM Consulting Group Inc. to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the county’s emergency communications system and develop a technical plan for any recommended enhancements (completed; draft report prepared and being reviewed).
  • Inspect county’s public safety radio communications infrastructure (towers/supplemental power sources/other infrastructure) and review dispatching services (completed).
  • Review radios, repeaters and other equipment being used by local and regional emergency response agencies to ensure compatibility and functionality with the county’s infrastructure (completed).
  • Solicit input from fire, ambulance and police agencies on their needs (completed).
  • Review county staffing/support services (completed)
  • Assessment and implementation of consultant recommendations (pending).


County 911 System Review Nearing Completion

January 28th, 2024 Comments off

Last year, the Potter County Commissioners contracted with MCM Consulting Group Inc. to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the county’s emergency communications system and develop a technical plan for any recommended enhancements. MCM was also contracted to support local fire, ambulance and police agencies by reviewing their equipment to ensure functionality and compatibility with the county 911 infrastructure.

MCM representatives recently updated the commissioners and staffers of the Department of Emergency Services on the project. The company is putting the final touches on its findings after conducting a multi-phased assessment, including:

  • an inspection and analysis of county 911 towers and related technology;
  • a review of the equipment being used by local and regional emergency response agencies.
  • a survey of all emergency responders to determine potential areas of improvement, ranging from equipment functionality and efficiency to dispatching.
  • site inspections and interviews with emergency responders.
  • preparedness for the deployment of  “NextGen 911,” which provides a faster, more resilient system that allows voice, photos, videos and text messages to flow from the public to the 911 network. It also improves dispatch center management of call overload and transfer of 911 calls based on location tracking.

To pave the way for NextGen 911, Potter County completed a $4 million systemwide upgrade in 2018-19. The project involved 14 communication towers with fiber-optic service, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure. County GIS staffer Julie Logue has been building and maintaining a database of geographic information system addresses for each property in the county, which is necessary for a fully functional emergency dispatching system.

Volunteers Needed For Human Services Advisory Boards

January 6th, 2024 Comments off

Programs administered by Potter County Human Services (PCHS) affect hundreds of lives across the county. PCHS offers opportunities for public input on its many programs through dedicated advisory boards. Clients and their family members or caregivers, as well as community representatives, are encouraged to participate. All board meetings are open to the public. PCHS operates programs for victims of alcoholism and other drug abuse, older citizens, the mentally ill, children who are at risk, the intellectually disabled and those who are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged. Volunteer advisory board members are appointed by the Potter County Board of Commissioners. Anyone interested in being considered for appointment to any of the boards should contact the Commissioners Office at 274-8290, extension 207.

One group of volunteers holds quarterly meetings to provide input on the overall operations of PCHS. Directors of the county agency depend on the Potter County Human Services Advisory Board in determining program priorities and other policies and practices. This year’s meetings will be held at 2 pm Jan. 25, April 25, July 25 and Oct. 24 at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport.

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Advisory Board serves in a consulting role to PCHS in the delivery of prevention and treatment programs. The field has been changing dramatically in recent times with a growing methamphetamine epidemic, the abuse of prescription drugs, and heroin addiction. Alcohol and tobacco, among other drugs, also take a toll among county residents. AOTD meetings will be held at noon on the second Friday of each month. To participate, call PCHS at 814-544-7315 for further information.

An Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board offers input to administrators of programs and services for older county residents, ranging from senior centers and home-delivered meals to in-home care and assistance with Medicare. To participate, call PCHS at 814-544-7315.

County Renews CodeRED ‘Reverse-911’ Contract

November 23rd, 2023 Comments off

Potter County has signed up for another year of service from a notification system that provides the public with important alerts and time-sensitive messages on tornadoes, floods, or other emergencies. At last week’s business meeting, Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel renewed a contract with OnSolve, the company that provides the “CodeRED Reverse-911 System.”

CodeRED sends early warnings using phone calls, email, social media sites and text messaging. Residents of Potter County are encouraged to visit and click on the CodeRED logo to enroll their contact information. There is no fee. Additional information is also available at 274-8900, extension 501.

County Seeks Volunteers For Important Boards/Authorities

November 15th, 2023 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 Danielle Gietler, executive secretary to the Potter County Commissioners, at 814-274-8290, ext. 207 or

Arts/Culture Group Holds Brainstorming Session

August 19th, 2022 Comments off

Jay Dick, a senior director with Americans for the Arts (AFA), joined Thursday night’s session remotely. In the foreground are members of Potter County’s delegation attending an AFA training session in Denver, from left, Paul Heimel, Arthur Metzger and Tim Walck. Also speaking to the group was Sarah Merritt, representing the Pa. Council on the Arts.

Resurrection of the Potter County Arts Council was among the goals established during a brainstorming session Thursday evening at the Gunzburger Building. It was the first local gathering following Potter County’s selection as one of six locations in the nation for a yearlong pilot project to create a vibrant arts culture that can support community and economic development. The “Creative Counties Placemaking Challenge: Arts & Culture as an Economic Driver” initiative is a project of the Americans for the Arts (AFA). Potter County’s project involves the use of schools, libraries, artisans, local leaders, businesses, galleries/museums and volunteers.

About 25 invited guests participated in Thursday’s roundtable, representing businesses, libraries, schools, tourist marketing, historic preservation, county government, arts/culture centers and multiple forms of the arts — music, theater, fiber arts, artisan crafts and others. The group reviewed a draft strategic plan that was developed after Potter County’s delegation of Paul Heimel, Arthur Metzger and Tim Walck attended an AFA workshop in Denver. Among its elements:

Potter County’s overarching goals

  • to reverse population loss and rising median age;
  • to make Potter County more appealing to those who live here, those who are looking to relocate to a rural community, and those who left Potter County and might consider returning;
  • to use the arts as part of a broader strategy for community and economic development.

So what’s next?

  • Assembling a steering committee to draft and implement a work plan. Contact potential partners and advisors to apprise them of the mission.
  • Resurrect the Potter County Arts Council.
  • Survey local school students and young adults to learn more of their expectations or preferences to make local communities more appealing.
  • Investigate potential sources of funding and technical assistance/consulting.
  • Continue to collaborate with the Americans for the Arts and project partners to fully maximize Potter County’s engagement.
  • Continue research into best practices/successful rural models.
  • Develop communication tools to apprise and engage potential partners and volunteers.

Each of the other five national pilot projects is working on other strategies that could also benefit Potter County. These include:

  • Greenbriar County, W. Va., using the arts to promote rehabilitation, healing and recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
  • Puna Community, Hawaii, employing the arts to address poverty and strengthen a sense of community and appreciation for the local culture and environment.
  • LaCrosse County, Wisc., integrating the arts with other activities to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on rural communities.
  • Perry County, Ohio, using the arts to deepen appreciation for, and protection of, outdoor recreation and the environment.
  • Van Buren County, Mich., addressing mental illness and physical well-being with the arts, involving the court system, local governments and other partners.