Potter County Criminal Justice Panel Sets Goals

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off

crimjusticeA new strategic plan was adopted during this month’s meeting of the Potter County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB). It’s a detailed document that identifies the issues, challenges, priorities and steps that will be taken as the many elements of the county’s criminal justice system work together to improve outcomes. CJAB officers are Judge Stephen Minor, chairman; Commissioner Paul Heimel, vice chairman; and Colleen Wilber, Potter County Human Services, secretary. Overall goals in the CJAB action plan for the new year include:

  • Implementation of a Pretrial Diversion Program for Potter County.
  • Continued partnership with the National Data-Driven Justice Initiative.
  • Expanded early education programs to identify and address the rise in juvenile anti-social behavior/mental health and criminal activity.
  • Transitional/half-way housing for offenders along with an increased focus on skills training and employment needs.
  • Training on understanding, cooperation and communication among all the criminal justice agencies and offices in the county.

To reduce the number of criminals who re-offend (recidivism), the board has identified the following gaps: need for more vocational training; enhancing and creating more youth services; lack of family support services; need for data collection; need for more correctional alternatives; lack of service system addressing behavioral health issues, lack of support from the community and funding.

To address these issues, the board has proposed: addressing the stigma; educating employers; developing a community center; an increase in Children & Youth Services involvement; community ownership; enhancing efforts to prepare inmates for re-entering society; providing education for offenders and their families; providing behavioral health treatment; enhancing mentoring programs; working with different age groups; and pursuing alternative sentencing options.

For alcohol and drug abuse-related crimes, the board has identified the following gaps: lack of education; lack of disposal of old medication; lack of drug-related education for licensed doctors; lack of communication between doctors and pharmacists; lack of doctor accountability; identity theft for acquisition of drugs; and a lack of general data.

To address these issues, the board has proposed the following strategies: pursuing goals of the National Data-Driven Justice Initiative; continuing Medication Take-Back Days and Collection Boxes; enhancing communication between the criminal justice system and the physical health/behavioral health fields; continuing doctor education; and increasing alcohol, tobacco and other drugs education through evidenced-based programs within the school districts.

For mental health-related crimes, the board has identified the following gaps: lack of training for personnel; a gap between Substance Abuse and Mental Health programs; lack of funding; lack of available treatment; and lack of county in-patient facilities.

To address these issues, the board has proposed: training for probation officers, jail personnel, and others; secure funding for alternatives; examine resources and how they are used in the system; examine the creation of a Mental Health Court, increasing co-occurring (mental health/drug abuse) options.

County Approves New Rules To Protect Drinking Water

January 16th, 2017 Comments off
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Charlie Tuttle (right) from the Potter County Planning/GIS Department is the new chair of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, succeeding John McLaughlin. They’re shown with a copy of the new TDWC Currents, the organization’s newsletter. Copies are available by calling 814-274-8254.

New regulations drafted to protect public drinking water sources have been implemented by Potter County officials, according to information reported at this month’s Triple Divide Watershed Coalition meeting. The rules incorporated in the Potter County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance require anyone who is planning a land development within a designated water recharge zone to notify system operators and gain their consent.

Also at this month’s meeting, Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt reported that he has conferred with the U.S. Geological Survey on the groundwater mapping project planned in Potter County later this year. Due to limited funding, USGS will scale down the number of water wells to be analyzed and adjusted its sampling matrix. There now will be about 50 wells tested to create a profile of the county’s groundwater resources. Sampling should begin this summer.

TDWC members also reviewed proposals from companies interested in providing 24/7 monitors on the 16 wells, springs and surface sources used by public water suppliers in Potter County. Campbell Scientific was selected from among three bidders, pending a meeting with company representatives to clarify specifics.

In other business, TDWC:

  • elected Charlie Tuttle of the Potter County Planning/GIS as chair, succeeding John McLaughlin.
  • introduced the new newsletter, TDWC Currents, designed to keep members up to date in developments with the coalition and related topics.
  • welcomed Mark Accettulla, sanitarian with the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection. Accettulla’s region consists of Potter and Tioga counties.
  • reviewed a water system contact spreadsheet created by Jim Clark, water specialist/educator with Penn State Extension.
  • heard from McLaughlin and Hunt that a mapping project to inventory public water system infrastructure is expected to begin this summer.

Attending were John McLaughlin, Jim Clark, Will Hunt, Charlie Tuttle, Mark Accettulla, Darrell Davis and Dale Steadman (Genesee Water), Commissioners Doug Morley and Paul Heimel, Gareth Gockley (Coudersport Water), Tony Adami (Galeton Water), Danielle Roslevich from Pa. Rural Water Assn., Tina Bennett (Gaines Township Water), Bev Morris (Coudersport Borough), Jason Childs and Jared Dickerson from Potter County Conservation District, and Fern Burdick (Northern Tier Children’s Home).

Korean War Display Donated To Historical Society

December 30th, 2016 Comments off

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A memorial display depicting the eight Potter County men who lost their lives in the Korean War has been donated to the Potter County Historical Society for display at its museum in Coudersport. Bill Simpson (left) and Dawn Wooster from the county’s Veterans Service Committee presented the items to PCHS president David Castano. Among the donations are photographs depicting the eight local war casualties (from left):  John Goery, Edward W. Duston, Lewis A. Guilds, Paul M. Brown, Robert I. Roberts, Gerald Lattin, Fred J. VanWhy, and Donald Johnson (not shown). Also in the display are several artifacts collected by the committee for Potter County’s Korean War Veterans Recognition Dinner and Memorial Service at American Legion Post 192. County officials worked with the U.S. Defense Department and other partners to hold the event in recognition of the Korean peace treaty’s 60th anniversary. It was used as a model for other counties across the nation holding similar Korean War veterans’ recognition events.

Latest Shale Gas Roundup Newsletter Available

December 27th, 2016 Comments off

shaleexampleLatest edition of Shale Gas Roundup is now available. It’s the newsletter of the Potter County Natural Resource Center and features timely, locally relevant news about shale gas development and related topics. To access the latest edition as well as all past editions, visit the website pottercountypa.net (Shale Gas Roundup newsletter icon is found on the cover page). Copies are also available at the Commissioners Office in the Gunzburger Building (first office on right inside Main Street entrance), or by contacting Dawn Wooster at 814-274-8290, extension 207.

Among highlights of the December 2016 edition:

  • JKLM activity highlights 2016 developments
  • Seneca Resources looks to resume drilling
  • Groundwater study moving forward
  • Wastewater treatment plant proposed
  • Local bridge project funded through Act 13 revenue
  • More drilling expected on state forest land
  • New state regulations held up in court
  • Industry analysts say more pipelines coming

Taking Clean Water Mission To DEP/Harrisburg

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
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Among attendees at a water protection meeting in the Rachel Carson State Office Building were (from left): Dr. Jennifer Whisner, Bloomsburg University; John Stefanko, DEP Deputy Secretary; Brian Heiser, State College Water Authority; Paul Heimel, Potter County Commissioner; and DEP representatives Marcus Kohl and Mark Stephens, from the Williamsport Regional Office.

Protection of public water supplies was the mission of a regional delegation that traveled to Harrisburg this week to make their case before the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection. DEP Deputy Secretary John Stefanko hosted the meeting with a delegation that included Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel, representing the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition; Carl Cox, chairman of the Tioga County Sourcewater Protection Coalition; Dr. Jennifer Whisner, professor at Bloomsburg University; Brian Heiser, representing the State College Water Authority; and Eric Moore, chairman of the Northcentral Pa. Sourcewater Protection Alliance. Stefanko pledged to share the messages with DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell and other decision-makers in the agency.

The group called on DEP to support studies to identify the sources, contents/quality, and movement of groundwater. With gas and oil industry leaders forecasting a frenzy of shale gas-drilling in future years, these studies would establish baseline data and pinpoint areas of special concern. U.S. Geological Survey is providing funding and technical assistance for the studies, one of which is scheduled to get underway in Potter County next year. Dozens of water wells across the county will be evaluated to create the database.

On a related note, the local representatives urged DEP to take into account the proximity of public drinking water sources when reviewing permit applications for drilling and other and disturbances. Many public water suppliers, including all 11 in Potter County, have approved sourcewater protection plans that would provide the relevant information to DEP permitting personnel. Other issues aired included the importance of public education provided by the Water Resources Education Network (WREN), and the bureaucratic challenges that local governments are facing due to conflicting regulations of DEP and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

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County Awards CDBG Funds To Shinglehouse Borough

December 9th, 2016 Comments off

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Shinglehouse Borough is the winner in a competitive process to land more than $175,000 in federal funds that the Potter County Commissioners award annually to public works projects. A proposal to allot the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) revenue to support a major wastewater treatment plant upgrade in Shinglehouse was ratified this week by the commissioners after a final public hearing. Several other requests were received from across the county. Among them were wastewater treatment projects in Galeton and Roulette, water line replacement on Seventh Street in Coudersport, and handicapped accessibility accommodations at the Coudersport Borough swimming pool. None of those qualified for final consideration, based on CDBG regulations, but each of them remains in the queue for funding in 2017 or beyond.

Potter County Redevelopment Authority staff and the regional SEDA-Council of Governments are assisting the commissioners in administering the CDBG program. SEDA-COG’s Bill Seigel (left) attended this week’s meeting to conduct the final public hearing and verify for the commissioners that all of the administrative requirements had been met. Also attending were Shinglehouse Borough Council president Barry Church (right) and Redevelopment Authority member Phil Vaughn (center).

Shinglehouse has committed about $225,000 to match the county’s allotment. The borough is also seeking a separate federal grant to help cover construction, engineering and associated costs. A recent survey found that 69 percent of Shinglehouse residents fall within the government’s definition of low- or moderate-income, a figure that meets one of the many criteria to qualify for federal funds. A similar scenario unfolded when the commissioners allotted the 2015 CDBG funds. Genesee Township committed to provide local funding and was awarded a separate federal grant to make possible major water system upgrades that are now underway.