Impact Fee is life-changing

As a county commissioner, it is my job to focus on the well-being of all who call Tioga County home. Supporting our employers and economic development projects that create jobs and support our community is an effort that reaps dividends.

The boom in natural gas and its benefits are evident on our back roads and main streets. The industry fills the state coffers by paying Pennsylvania’s exorbitant corporate net income taxes and additional taxes paid by those who work in the industry or for the oil and gas concerns.

Funds collected from the Impact Fee, or Act 13, has contributed significant benefits to rural communities. For instance, they allow local police and volunteer fire departments, ambulance and EMTs and many social service providers to continue providing critical support to local residents. These funds have helped replace aging infrastructure and update emergency equipment. Impact fees have also been earmarked for county capital improvement projects.

Communities in all 67 counties are counting on natural gas’ continued success. We need the jobs it provides, the affordable gas it creates, the emissions it saves compared to coal-fired power generation and the tax contributions it already makes to the state. Rumblings by the administration and others to impose even more taxes on the industry are worrisome.

Taxing our way out of the COVID-19-induced budget deficit won’t solve the state’s economic woes. Additional taxes could lead to fewer jobs. Pennsylvania’s economic comeback depends on the natural gas industry’s ability to thrive. State government would do well to let it develop under the guidelines that have been implemented under multiple administrations.

Erick Coolidge

Tioga County Commissioner

Chair of CCAP Oil & Gas Task Force

(11 years)

Wellsboro resident

Disputes columnist’s cougar reports

I was amused by Kerry Gyekis’ opinion column in the Dec. 24 Gazette, “U.S cougar sighting and belief systems.” Gyekis states in the column, “There was and still is no cougar population east of the Mississippi.”

I know many people who have seen cougars here in Pennsylvania. If there are no cougars in Pennsylvania, why does the Pennsylvania Game Commission say it is illegal to shoot one? Would that same PGC warning apply to elephants in my hay field?

Actually, there are many mountain lions in Pennsylvania in captivity and the owners need to obtain a PGC permit to maintain their cougars. When I asked PGC for the total number of permitted cougars, PGC required me to file a Freedom of Information Request and did provide me partial cougar information. PGC did not advise me how often they do a head count to ensure all cats are still in captivity and would not tell me how many cats have escaped and are thus at large in Pennsylvania. So seeing a cougar in Pennsylvania is entirely possible.

Ron Benjamin


Greeting card collection for St. Jude’s

Once again, greeting cards will be collected for St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, where homeless, abandoned and abused children live. These kids repurpose the cards, each one signing their names on the back. They are paid for each card, giving them a sense of accomplishment. St. Jude’s then sells the “new” cards as their biggest fundraiser (

Cards will be collected at the Wellsboro and Middlebury Center post offices and state Rep. Clint Owlett’s office on Main Street, Wellsboro, until Feb. 12. Please deliver only the fronts of cards. Christmas, birthday (but no relative or age reference), thank you, get well, Easter, anniversary, sympathy, Thanksgiving and general cards are welcome. Please do not donate Mother’s, Father’s Day, Hallmark, American Greetings nor Disney (copyright restrictions).

As always, thank you for your support. Over these past years, we have sent more than 100,000 cards and, as importantly, have kept approximately 225,000 cards out of the landfills since the heavy stock and glitter cannot be recycled. We’re very grateful to Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority for their years of paying for the shipping.

Gretchen Forbes

Middlebury Center

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