New County Comprehensive Plan Sets Ambitious Goals

December 20th, 2019 Comments off

Public officials and community leaders now have an official blueprint to guide decision-making in the new decade, following yesterday’s adoption of the Potter County Comprehensive Plan by Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel. It’s the result of an 18-month process designed to set priorities for a broad spectrum of public policy areas. Its implications will be felt in everything from economic development and agriculture, to tourism and health care. An underlying theme is a critical need to address the county’s declining population, combined with steady increases in median age. Implications are being felt in terms of needed services, changes in the job market, economics and other areas. Approximately 1,000 Potter County residents weighed in with input on a series of identified priorities that are addressed in the plan, including:

  • business attraction, workforce development and employment;
  • infrastructure (including public works and high-speed internet);
  • attractions for tourism and recreation;
  • downtown amenities and community services;
  • gaps in health care and drug addiction services
  • agriculture (including the forest products industry);
  • education;
  • protection of air, water and natural places;
  • transportation.

Consultants from the Michael Baker International firm created a draft of the plan and posted it online for public input. Potter joined forces with McKean and Cameron counties to contract with the consultants, using a combination of state and county funding. The plan is now available under Planning/GIS Department on pottercountypa.net. The comprehensive plan is mandated by the state and must be updated every 10 years. Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt said that he will establish an online service to share ongoing details as the plan is implemented.

National Accolades For Visit Potter-Tioga

December 11th, 2019 Comments off

Visit Potter-Tioga, official tourist promotion agency for the two counties, has been honored as “Marketer of the Year” by a respected rating organization. Colleen R. Hanson, executive director, reports that the award from the American Marketing Assn. was based on a travel marketing campaign deployed by VPT from a professional consulting firm, Beyond Spots and Dots.

“The agency’s themed ad campaigns, spread across print, cable, Google, Facebook and strategically placed billboards, has resulted in the excellent numbers we are seeing in our analytics,” Hanson reported. Another measure of success is an increase in tourist marketing revenue derived from the room tax that is collected from guests at lodging facilities across the two counties. “Things are going very well,” Hanson noted. “The ad campaigns are being well-received and it is translating into increased customers for our members.”

VPT has invested heavily in online and print advertising driving potential visitors to a vibrant website (visitpottertioga.com). The website is now being tapped by 600,000 people annually. They’re looking for things to do, places to stay and eat, activities to enjoy and sites to see. VPT was launched in July 2017, formed from the former Tioga County Visitors Bureau (TCVB) and Potter County Visitors Association (PCVA). It’s a unified marketing and technical assistance agency geared toward one goal of importance to both counties – boosting the number of tourists who visit the region to support the local economy. Popular destinations such as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Cherry Springs International Dark Sky Preserve and many others are jointly marketed. Businesses that offer goods and services to visitors are also promoted.

Businesses, organizations and individuals interested in becoming involved can call 1-888-846-4228. Annual membership fees of $100 for non-profit organizations and $250 for businesses expose affiliates to a multi-phased marketing campaign. Among VPT’s most effective tools is its annual visitors’ guide, a full-size glossy magazine released each January with a press run in excess of 70,000. More than 40,000 of these guides are sent directly to those who contact VPT for information to plan their visits. Members qualify for a listing and a link on the Visit Potter-Tioga website. Additionally, members can confer with public relations professionals who can share advice on marketing, promotion, advertising, social media, etc. Many local businesses have seen increases in their revenues since the merger, attributing it to the additional marketing and benefits of their VPT membership.

Commissioners Renew Emergency Reverse-911 Contract

November 21st, 2019 Comments off

Two years ago, the Potter County Emergency Management Agency launched a new community notification system to provide important alerts and time-sensitive messages using phone calls, email, social media sites and text messaging. It’s a “reverse-911” concept that can help people prepare for imminent weather emergencies or other risks to public safety. This week, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover renewed a contract with OnSolve, the company that provides the service, referred to as CodeRED.

“This system can deliver critical information to thousands of individuals within minutes,” explained Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator.  “Alerts can be specific to streets, neighborhoods, or regions.” OnSolve provides the Potter County DES a database of residential and business telephone numbers. However, all residents living within Potter County limits are encouraged to visit www.pottercountypa.net and click on the CodeRED logo to enroll their contact information including cell phone numbers, text and email addresses. No one should automatically assume he or she is in the emergency contact database. Additional information is also available at 274-8900, extension 501.

County Taps Social Media For Citizen Engagement

November 14th, 2019 Comments off

With a new countywide comprehensive plan nearing the launching pad, one county department is gearing up to make that vision of the 2020-29 decade become a reality. Ellen Russell, who joined the county as community development director in September, has harnessed the power of social media to begin sharing information and building support for the plan’s objectives. It calls for partnerships to create jobs, improve cultural attractions, support agriculture and tourism, and achieve many other objectives. An overriding mission is to reverse two troubling trends — outmigration by young people and a steady decrease in the county’s overall population.

Russell recently launched an online service through the Facebook social media platform as a common reference point for the campaign. She is working with the county commissioners on a long-term strategy — to be formalized in the comprehensive plan — with a goal of achieving some of the objectives by a target date of 2025. While less than a week old, the Facebook page has been growing. One post reached more than 2,000 people in less than 24 hours.

“Social media has become a huge part of our lives,” Russell said. “The idea was to capitalize on that and try to reach different citizens for their opinions, input and suggestions. We would like to see more public engagement and try to get residents more involved in their community. The ultimate goal is to meet mold our county’s future, and who best to help us lead and develop that path than those who will actually be affected?”

The Facebook page features information on community activities, best practices in rural community development, and other features. It will be complemented by additional content on the Community Development Department’s website at pottercountypa.net.

Volunteers Sought For Key County Agencies

November 11th, 2019 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners are seeking 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 has been building a roster of individuals who have a willingness to volunteer.

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 plan; 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 pcexecsec@pottercountypa.net.

Two-County Tourist Promotion Agency Getting Results

November 7th, 2019 Comments off

Members of Visit Potter-Tioga, the official tourist promotion agency for the two counties, are seeing growing success from its marketing activities. VPT attributes this in part to nearly $500,000 worth of online and print advertising driving potential visitors to a vibrant website (visitpottertioga.com). The website is now being tapped by 600,000 people annually. They’re looking for things to do, places to stay and eat, activities to enjoy and sites to see.

VPT was launched in July 2017, formed from the former Tioga County Visitors Bureau (TCVB) and Potter County Visitors Association (PCVA). It’s a unified marketing and technical assistance agency geared toward one goal of importance to both counties – boosting the number of tourists who visit the region to support the local economy. Popular destinations such as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Cherry Springs International Dark Sky Preserve and many others are jointly marketed. Businesses that offer goods and services to visitors are also promoted.

These are critical times for the tourism industry, which still has as its foundation the opportunities for outdoor recreation that abound in both counties. With manufacturing and other major contributors to the economy struggling, many leaders view effective tourism marketing as a promising antidote. Businesses, organizations and individuals interested in becoming involved can call 1-888-846-4228. Annual membership fees of $100 for non-profit organizations and $250 for businesses expose affiliates to a multi-phased marketing campaign. Among VPT’s most effective tools is its annual visitors’ guide, a full-size glossy magazine released each January with a press run in excess of 70,000. More than 40,000 of these guides are sent directly to those who contact VPT for information to plan their visits. Members qualify for a listing and a link on the Visit Potter-Tioga website. Additionally, members can confer with public relations professionals who can share advice on marketing, promotion, advertising, social media, etc.

Many local businesses have seen increases in their revenues since the merger, attributing it to the additional marketing and benefits of their VPT membership. Through the partnership, they get exposure they couldn’t otherwise afford — professional advertising on cable TV, online ads with high search engine ratings and print ads in prestigious travel publications. Businesses and organizations who join by the end of November can qualify for a pro-rated membership rate and still be recognized in the 2020 Visitors Guide that will be distributed starting in January.