2009-06-20 / News

Ed. Council asks county to help them stay afloat

With state funding for rural education councils still absent from the state budget, the Potter County Education Council has appealed to the County Commissioners for assistance.

During Thursday's meeting, Commissioner Doug Morley said Helene Nawrocki, executive director, has inquired whether county space is available for some Education Council operations. The council operates offices in Coudersport, Galeton and Port Allegany.

"The whole focus is to retain staff to the level they can," Morley explained. "The work doesn't go away just because the money does." It's hoped that any available county space can be utilized by the council at a lesser cost, so that staff cuts can be avoided.

While funding for the state's 10 rural education councils stands at zero in Gov. Rendell's proposed budget, Morley said it's anticipated that some funding will be restored before final passage of the spending plan.

A non-profit agency, the Potter County Education Council connects local residents with educational resources. It offers college-accredited courses, skills training, seminars and workshops, career and financial aid counseling. The agency works closely with local businesses and industries to build the local economic base by providing skilled and qualified employees.

Nawrocki is among the Education Council representatives who have traveled to Harrisburg for hearings before the House Education Committee in an effort to have funding restored.

"We'll meet with her as soon as we can," Morley said Thursday.

In other matters, Commissioner Paul Heimel took issue with money to be expended on continuing legal training for District Attorney Dawn Fink, who will leave office in January. At the previous meeting, the board unanimously approved Fink's attendance at the 2009 Annual Summer Meeting in Champion, at a cost of approximately $1,500 for meals, mileage and lodging. There was some confusion Thursday about whether staffer Renee Dalton would also be attending; it was determined that the request pertained only to Fink.

"I already approved the expenditure but I regret doing so without first asking Dawn to reconsider, as we are trying to avoid raising taxes for 2010 and this would have been an opportunity to save $1,500 or more. Every drop in the bucket counts," Heimel remarked. He suggested that the District Attorney may have been able to obtain at least elements of that education through less expensive means, such as materials from the state association and other materials.

Commissioner Susan Kefover disagreed, maintaining that the training would provide Fink with "up to date information and knowledge" that could prevent the county from incurring greater costs in the future as a result of appeals or errors.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners approved an agreement with Dan Bollhorst for lease of a van on an as-needed basis for the Trailblazers program, from June 15-August 15, at a rate of 60 cents per mile and a damage deposit of $200.

Also authorized was an agreement between Potter County and the Elk County Haz Mat Team to enter into a contract to provide primary response within the county, pending certification by the Pa. Emergency Management Agency.

Nutrition, Inc./PCN was awarded the contract for food services including congregate, home delivered and emergency meals for eligible senior citizens. The one-year contract reflects a cost of $4.98 per meal. The company had offered a three-year contract but according to Morley the county was unable to approve the additional two years at this time due to regulatory issues.

Amanda Hershey was unanimously approved as summer assistant for the Planning Office, at an hourly rate of $8.20, through Aug. 31. The position is partially funded through a PHEAA grant.

The commissioners were notified that Jayne James, Julie Dubots and Ruth Reeves have been hired by the County Treasurer as temporary full-time processors for antlerless deer applications, at an hourly rate of $7.25 effective July 13. The seasonal position lasts approximately five to seven weeks.

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