Helpful Information Provided To Prepare For Nov. 3 Election

October 5th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County Director of Elections Sandy Lewis has issued a reminder that sample ballots for the Nov. 3 general election have been posted on the county website, pottercountypa.net (go to Departments and select Elections/Voter Registration.) Absentee/vote-by-mail ballot applications continue to be accepted. These ballots must be inserted into the “secrecy envelope” that’s provided, and that envelope must then be inserted into the outer envelope. The outer envelope has a Voter Declaration on the back. This requires printed name, signature and address. “If either of those steps is not completed correctly, your ballot will not be counted,” Lewis said. To view a brief video detailing the vote-by-mail/absentee ballot process, click here. General information on voting by mail can be found in a brief video here. Completed ballots can be hand-delivered (by the voter himself/herself only) to the Elections Office at the Gunzburger Building or can be mailed. Postage is already paid. Director Lewis also advised that the website votespa.com contains a wealth of helpful information.

County Distributes Grants To Businesses, Non-Profit Agencies

September 29th, 2020 Comments off

Distribution of nearly $400,000 in financial assistance for small businesses and non-profit organizations reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began this week. Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel chose to offer the grant program using federal funds awarded to the county through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Community Development Director Ellen Russell, Chief Clerk Jessica Giebel and Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt assisted the commissioners with the distribution. After an exhaustive review of federal and state guidelines and restrictions on use of the funds, Russell said the team was able to achieve its primary goal. “All Potter County businesses that were deemed eligible based on criteria provided by the Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development received funds to help make them whole, up to the cap of $25,000,” she reported.

Primary purpose of the program was to provide immediate relief so that qualifying small businesses and non-profit organizations could retain employees, continue operations, and remain sustainable. The commissioners recognized the need to inject the money into the local economy as quickly as possible, so they fast-tracked the application process. Specifics on the grant program can be found on the county website, pottercountypa.net, clicking on “Help for Small Businesses” in the upper right corner.

(Above, Terry Gerhart from E&G Auto Plus and Battery Warehouse in Coudersport meets with Ellen Russell to process CARES Act grant paperwork.)

County Continues Information Technology Service Upgrades

September 18th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County leaders continue a systematic review and modernization of information technology services to keep up with the rapidly changing world of communications. Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel, along with Bill Solomon, director of technological services, have been assessing the county’s IT infrastructure to improve efficiencies, enhance security, create greater redundancy and adapt to changes brought on by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. A new position has been established in the IT department as part of the process. County officials have conferred with technology consultants from County Commissioners Assn. of Pa. as well as network security specialists for assistance. A growing volume of county business is being conducted online, which provides more convenient access to services for the public at the same time it increases demand on the county’s infrastructure.

Local Responders Weigh In On County’s New 911 System

September 12th, 2020 Comments off

Emergency responders from across Potter County gathered at the Gunzburger Building this week to share their experiences with the county’s new emergency communications system and identify service gaps and other issues. Consultant Mitch Smith assured the local service providers that each of the issues that surfaced during Thursday’s meeting will be addressed as the system rollout continues. It’s a comprehensive project with a price tag of nearly $4 million, meant to ensure that calls dispatched from the 911 center are instantly received by responders.

Communications coverage is being enhanced and response times shortened. This is accomplished through 14 towers, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure that carries service into a geographic area with countless challenges posed by the hilly terrain and deep valleys.

“Speed of response can be a life-or-death situation,” Smith explained. “The new system reaches some sections of the county that have been underserved. It also brings you new technology to replace equipment that has become obsolete.”

The system has a life expectancy of 15 years. Rather than incurring a major up-front expense that would create an immediate burden on taxpayers, the county commissioners negotiated a low-interest loan from a local lending institution with a payback period of 10 years. The county also qualified for a $580,000 state grant. Smith is a former Pa. Emergency Management Agency staffer and long-time volunteer firefighter himself who has been advising Potter County for more than 15 years. He has been working closely with former commissioner Doug Morley, who was contracted through 2020 as part-time 911 project coordinator, and with the county’s emergency management coordinator, Glenn Dunn. Potter’s County’s most recent system upgrade was in 2002. Its life expectancy at the time was 10 to 12 years. Dispatching continues to be provided from the Tioga County 911 Center, although the new infrastructure in Potter County is also compatible with other dispatch centers.

Potter County VA Medical Clinic Reopens

September 4th, 2020 Comments off

Potter County’s VA Medical Clinic in Coudersport has reopened. Operating hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm on Mondays. Dr. Khawaja Siddique is providing tele-primary care services from the Northport (N.Y.) VA Medical Center to the Coudersport clinic. Nursing staff is onsite on Mondays to support the delivery of care and will be providing lab draws and vaccinations. In addition, on Fridays, starting Sept. 25, Dr. Siddique will be delivering care via video-to-home visits and telephone contacts. There will be no onsite presence at the Coudersport clinic on Fridays.

Township Supervisors Assn. Cancels Annual Convention

August 10th, 2020 Comments off

Officers of the Potter County Association of Township Officials have reached the difficult decision to cancel the organization’s annual convention. In considering their options, the officers reviewed the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic emergency health and safety restrictions that have been mandated or recommended by the Pa. Dept. of Health and Governor Tom Wolf. In addition, they learned that the Pa. State Assn. of Township Supervisors would not be able to send a guest speaker to present the latest legislative developments and answer questions about township government issues and concerns. The officers encourage municipal officials in Potter County to avail themselves of the learning opportunities through the state association’s website (psats.org) or the PSATS site on the Facebook social media platform.