Dump Cleanups To Resume; Volunteers Welcome

September 28th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County Conservation District is entering the third year of a successful campaign to rid the county of several unsanitary and unsightly illegal dumps, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC). Cleanup efforts will resume in late October after a summer hiatus. Families, individuals, youth groups, businesses and students are invited to join in as volunteers. Gloves, bags, safety gear and lunch will be provided. Volunteers are welcome from 10 to noon on Saturday, Oct. 28, at a site along Loucks Mill Road in Hector Township. Crews will also be cleaning a site in Bingham Township along Rowley Road and a nearby stream from noon to 2 pm that day. Two other illegal dumpsites are scheduled for cleanup on Monday, Oct. 30. PEC is partnering with local municipalities and the Potter County Probation Department Community Service Office to address these sites. In addition, volunteers will tackle a dump along a stream near Burelson Avenue in Roulette Township between 9 am and 2 pm on Tuesday, Oct. 31. For details, call PEC at 570-592-7876 or the Conservation District at 814-274-8411.

Roots of the cleanup date back to 2014, when Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company was ordered to pay an $800,000 settlement for environmental violations that occurred during construction of a pipeline in the region. Some of the money was reserved for remediating illegal dumpsites. Potter County Conservation District engaged the services of the PEC, Pa. Dept. of Environmental Resources, local townships and boroughs, and Potter County Solid Waste Authority to launch the cleanup. One 2013 study identified 56 illegal dumps in Potter County spread out over 22 townships and boroughs filled with tires, furniture, electronics, vehicle parts, household waste and other rubbish. During the past two years, more than 30 sites have been cleaned throughout the county. More than three tons of trash and hundreds of tires have been removed.

Heroin Epidemic Documented In Latest Report

September 28th, 2017 Comments off

Some eye-opening statistics on the local drug epidemic were shared during a presentation to Potter County Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover. Colleen Wilber, director of drug and alcohol services for the county, confirmed that abuse of opiods – including heroin – has eclipsed alcohol in referrals to her agency. She hastened to add that alcohol abuse remains a serious problem. There has been a significant increase in heroin overdoses in Potter County, some of them fatal, Wilber said.

She pointed out that a larger proportion of clients than ever, some 89 percent, are being referred by the criminal justice system for addiction assessment and treatment. Other are through self-reporting or being referred by Children and Youth Services. While opioid use and abuse is pervasive, she added, her office has noticed an increase in the diagnosis of methamphetamine as a primary drug of choice, as well as a consistent rate of chronic marijuana use. Wilber detailed a series of steps her agency and the court system have been taking to address addiction issues, ranging from treatment courts and evidenced-based school programs, to prescription take-back boxes and making more effective use of data collection and analysis.

PILT Eagle Lands: Potter County Gets $650,000 More

September 27th, 2017 Comments off

School Distrcit PILTMunicipality PILT

The 67-percent increase of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for state forest and park lands approved by the state legislature after an intensive lobbying campaign has borne fruit. Checks were mailed out this week by the Treasury Department. Bottom line: another $650,000 annually coming to Potter County, divided between school districts, local governments and the county. The increase applies to lands owned by the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources – increasing their total annual PILT amount from $3.60 to $6.00 per acre. Of that, $2.00 has been sent to the municipality, school district and county where the land is located. The $3.60 figure remains in place for property owned by the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission and Pa. Game Commission.

These higher payments will provide significant tax relief to some of Pennsylvania’s most stressed communities, particularly those in rural areas, according to the Pa. State Land Tax Fairness Coalition, which issued this statement: “We express our appreciation to supportive Senate and House members, Governor Wolf, and the many other people — too numerous to mention — who pulled together to make this mission a success. We believe that, in the final analysis, dedicated elected officials who became aware of our plight over the past two-plus years pulled together in a bipartisan manner to advance this PILT increase because they recognized that it was the right thing to do. ” Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel chaired the coalition. Other leaders were Commissioners Pete Smeltz (Clinton), Phil Jones (Cameron) and Tony Mussare (Lycoming).

Potter County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt, who also served on the committee, has prepared maps and charts showing the increased revenue each taxing body will receive each year. Shown at left is the school district map (click on image twice to make it larger). Austin Area School District is nnow receiving $269,000 annually under the new formula, a $127,600 increase from the previous PILT. Galeton Area School District is getting $122,226 annually, up from the previous $73,335. Coudersport Area School District is receiving a $38,000 annual increase, while Northern Potter gets another $18,000. The county government has received a $216,420 increase from the previous annual payments. A breakdown of municipal payments can be found in the map at right (click on image twice).

Courthouse Television Program Now On County Website

September 20th, 2017 Comments off

David Castano details the Statue of Justice history for Pennsylvania Cable Network.

A 30-minute program about Potter County history and interesting features for visitors that aired recently on the Pennsylvania Cable Network can now be viewed in its entirety on the county’s website, pottercountypa.net. A production crew from PCN spent two days in Coudersport earlier this summer filming local scenes and conducting interviews as part of PCN’s Historic Courthouses series. Major focus is on the Potter County Courthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, Historical Society President David Castano and Commissioner Paul Heimel, as hosts, made sure the program spotlighted stories and attractions that would be of interest to tourists. Filming took place in and around the courthouse, as well as nearby sections of Coudersport with interesting architecture or historical significance. The crew also filmed at the Potter County Historical Society Museum and the F.W. Gunzburger County Office Building.

“The producers were very interested in Potter County’s connections to crimefighter Eliot Ness, the infamous thieves known as the Brinks Gang, famous musician Ole Bull, and other local story lines,” Commissioner Heimel said. Castano, who was the narrator and tour guide, shared colorful stories about local history, including the public execution of wife-killer Joshua Jones – whose skull is on display at the museum – and the background on the establishment of the town square and construction of the 156-year-old courthouse. Among local familiar faces appearing in the program are Judge Stephen Minor, Tillie Masolotte, Ed Thompson, Alex Fish and Kim Schaar.

“We were pleased to hear from the crew that this was one of the most interesting shows PCN has worked on since the courthouse series began several years ago,” Heimel pointed out. “One of them said the biggest challenge was assessing the volume of material they collected to determine what would make the cut for a half-hour program.”

Business Owners Hear Details On Facade Grants

September 20th, 2017 Comments off

Businesses in several Potter County communities may be eligible for funding to help pay for cosmetic improvements under a grant being administered by the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance and the Pennsylvania Wilds organization. Maximum grant is $5,000 and must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the property owner. Included in the “regional façade improvement program” are Galeton, Coudersport, Austin and Ulysses boroughs, as well as the townships of Roulette, Eulalia, Sweden, Ulysses and Pike. Latest in a series of public meetings about the program was held on Wednesday at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. Shown from left are presenters Gwen Auman, project coordinator; Terri Dennison, Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance executive director; and Ta Enos, Pennsylvania Wilds Center executive director.

“To attract visitors and most other kinds of investment, communities need to appear welcoming,” said Enos. “This program helps communities achieve that.” Eligible types of restoration activities include design assistance, paint, signs and repair or replacement of awnings. More information is available from the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance office in Galeton, telephone 814-435-7706.

Local Water Operators Oppose Per-Capita Fee

September 20th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County’s Triple Divide Watershed Assn. has taken a position against proposed changes in state law that would result in a higher per-capita fee being paid by customers of public water systems. The proposal, contained in proposed changes to Pa. Chapter 109, is currently open for public input. A copy of the TDWC letter follows:

“Living in northern rural Pennsylvania certainly has its perks. However, our small municipalities struggle when it comes to providing government-mandated services. The Chapter 109 Proposed Regulatory Updates would have a negative financial impact on our municipal authorities. We service many seasonal customers in Potter County. It can certainly be difficult to keep our rates at a practical cost for our customers, whether they are full-time or part-time. We understand that DEP has a shortage of sanitarians and other water inspection personnel. We agree that the protection of all water resources in Pennsylvania is vital. Townships, boroughs and other affiliates of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition believe that the fees currently being charged should not be increased. We believe the legislature has short-funded DEP and local governments (and their ratepayers) should not be compelled to cover the difference. The proposed fee schedule would cause an unfair hardship for smaller municipalities, even as it would be less burdensome to the larger service providers. If an increase in fee is the only solution, we believe that those in the rural areas should not be compelled to pay a higher fee per-customer than those in more populous areas.”

Triple Divide Watershed Coalition members are Austin Borough, Coudersport Borough Authority, Cole Memorial Hospital, Galeton Borough Authority, Genesee Township Water Authority, Northern Tier Children’s Home, Roulette Township, Shinglehouse Borough and Ulysses Borough.