Paul Lilja of the Black Forest Conservation Association of Coudersport was honored at the Nov. 4 county commissioners’ meeting for his contributions to the area’s youth.
Lilja was presented with the Inspiring Youth Award from the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center). Normally, awardees are recognized at a region-wide annual dinner, but it was canceled this year due to the pandemic.
“He has made significant contributions, helped communities grow and promoted economic development,” said Julie Iaquinto, EVP of Finance with PA Wilds, who presented Lilja with the award at the meeting.
According to a press release from the PA Wilds Center, Lilja received the award for organizing the Black Forest Junior Conservation School for more than 40 years. During the week-long summer camp, students are exposed to an array of outdoor skills and conservation lessons.
“I can attest with five rambunctious boys in our house who all went through the junior conservation school, each came out as better young men with a knowledge and appreciation of the outdoors,” said County Commissioner Paul Heimel.
911 dispatch concerns
Commissioners heard from Bryan Phelps, chief of the Coudersport Fire Department, about his concerns regarding the county 911 center dispatch system.
“Approximately 30 years ago, we signed on to the 911 dispatch program. We’ve had issues with them over the years and I want to address issues with the 911 center,” said Phelps. “When you’re signing a five-year million-dollar contract and we’re unhappy with it, that’s an issue.”
Phelps said local fire chiefs aren’t happy with the 911 center, largely due to lack of communication and inconsistency. For example, he said information sent for the CAD system doesn’t get entered and that he’s received calls asking for certain information, only to be asked the same thing by another dispatcher.
“We’re paying for a service that I really believe, they take the call, tell us where it is and then they can be quiet. They don’t interact with the fire chiefs. They’re calling township supervisors for downed trees,” he said. “I understand they’re only paid $13.50 an hour. But I have volunteers who are expected to be better than they are for nothing.”
Heimel suggested setting up a meeting with local fire chiefs and commissioners to talk about these issues, adding that a similar meeting several years ago was very productive.
Also at the meeting, commissioners:
- Signed a resolution to match funding for the Area Transportation Authority’s services to the county, something done every year. Heimel said the county’s match for the program subsidized by the federal government is $38,320.
- Heard that the state Department of Economic and Community Development approved a budget modification for the county’s Community Development Block Grant funding. Ellen Russell, director of community development, said at a previous meeting the funding had to be re-budgeted after no applications were received for the Small Business Support Grant Program tied to CBDG. The funding is now slated to go to the Galeton Borough Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades and the Ulysses Borough’s water improvement project.
- Approved a sub-recipient agreement with the Galeton Borough Authority for CDBG funds.
- Renewed agreements with KOS Inc. for maintenance of copiers at the Potter County Jail and domestic relations office at $342 per year per location, and at the voter registration office at .0085 cents per copy.
- Approved the hire of Eric Hoadley as temporary aging case worker for Potter County Human Services.
- Approved training requests from Kiara Perkins and Kayla Wright, both with PCHS’s mental health division.
- Announced they will hold a public listening session at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, in the Gunzburger Building auditorium. Heimel said the agenda is restricted to only public comment “so people can talk about whatever they want” related to the operations of county government. The commissioners’ next regular business meeting is 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 18.