COUDERSPORT — Potter County commissioners have received enough support to proceed with the merger of the county’s tourism promotion agency with Tioga County’s.
Commissioner Doug Morley stated during Thursday’s commissioners meeting that they have received resolutions in support of the merger from 63 percent of municipalities within the county. Support was required from at least 50 percent of townships and boroughs.
The county’s tourism promotion will now be handled through a joint agency to represent both Potter and Tioga counties.
“I’m very excited. I believe it’s going to be a good venture. The partnership brings more to us than we could have on our own,” said Morley.
A new advertisement aimed at showcasing the partnership between the two counties is located inside the front cover of the new “Happy Traveler” Pennsylvania tourism guide, and features a photo of Potter County’s Cherry Springs State Park and its famous dark skies opposite a photo of the Pine Creek Gorge in Tioga County with the motto “Infinite skies by night; boundless activities by day.” The ad currently features the logos of the two counties’ individual tourism agencies. A moniker for the joint agency has not yet been announced.
Morley stated that the Potter County Visitors Association will continue to function as an event-promotion organization and will continue to oversee several local events, including the God’s Country Marathon and Austin Dam Show.
On May 8, a workshop to celebrate the new promotion agency, including a membership drive and meet-and-greet, will be held at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum for Potter County business owners and organization heads to join the new venture and speak with staff. The agency will officially take over as of July 1. Potter County operations will be handled from the lumber museum.
In related business, commissioners reported that they plan to place public notices in local newspapers for an increase in the county’s room tax from the current 3 percent to 5 percent. The move was permitted at the state level last year to increase the revenue coming into county governments. All county tourism revenue comes from the room tax surcharge.
Commissioner Paul Heimel said he recently spoke with commissioners from several counties where the change has already been made, and he was told there has been no indication that the increase has deterred visitors. Commissioner Susan Kefover stated she heard similar reports from county officials at a recent downtown center meeting. The 2 percent increase will add only $1 or $2 to a night’s stay in most local accommodations.
A service agreement was approved with Northern Tier Children’s Home Residential Services Inc., to take over responsibility for day-to-day operations at the Potter County Women’s Recovery Center in Harrison Valley. Grants to pay for certain aspects of the facility will still go through county human services. The county also approved a service agreement with the residential services agency to house women in the facility as an alternative to incarceration at a cost of $70 per day.
“This is an opportunity for women to be given the same services the county has provided,” stated Morley. “These are the same costs we’d incur at a jail, but this is a better program.”
A proclamation was approved to acknowledge National Library Week as April 9 through 15. A number of programs are scheduled for libraries within the county, including summer reading programs for children and adults. Last year, about 150 people participated in the program. Libraries are increasingly having an expanded role within the community, with many locations providing additional services to low-income individuals including internet access, training opportunities and online courses. Those locations often also serve as community centers, especially in rural areas.
The next meeting of the Potter County Commissioners will be held at 11 a.m. on April 27 at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport.