COUDERSPORT — Potter County Commissioners approved a loan proposal from a local bank that will be used to complete several million dollars in upgrades to the county’s 911 system.
Four proposals were received for the county to borrow $3.8 million for necessary infrastructure upgrades that will bring the county’s 911 system into the 21st century and allow components to communicate with each other and those in other systems and other counties.
Commissioners chose the proposal from Juniata Valley Bank (JVB) at an interest rate of 3.69 percent with a $500 origination fee. The loan includes a one-year advance, followed by nine years of payments through a 10-year fixed rate loan.
The JVB proposal included the lowest interest rate of the four entries, plus had a one-year deferment to allow payments to be included in future-years’ budgets.
“These funds will bring our system to where we have connectivity,” stated Commissioner Doug Morley. “Other changes are going to be needed to go along with this, but this will certainly improve our situation.”
Commissioners and emergency services personnel have struggled in recent years to find funding to repair equipment that is well beyond its end-of-life for functionality. Many of the current systems are analog, and they are unable to work with newer systems that are digital. Several trouble spots have been identified throughout the county, and their impact will be lessened following these upgrades.
Commissioners heard a presentation from Tom and Diane Guilfoy, members of the Headwaters Amateur Radio Club. Club members recently participated in a weather emergency exercise alongside county emergency management personnel, and members provide emergency backup communication capabilities for potential emergencies.
“HAM radio plays a major part at any disaster going on,” stated Tom Guilfoy. “When land lines, cell phones and other communications are out, amateur radio operators can step in with their equipment.”
Potter County’s Headwaters Amateur Radio Club is provided space on the tower and a small office in the Gunzburger Building courtesy of the county in order to preserve this backup mode of communication.
Recently, the group held an amateur radio operator field day, and over the course of 24 hours, members were able to make contact with 38 different states plus Puerto Rico and Canada.
“A lot of the other communication systems are at a disadvantage here, but we have good signal here because of the elevation,” Guilfoy stated. “We can get on top of a mountain here and make reliable contact with people all over the country and beyond.”
The club has three UHF, three VHF and two digital repeaters on towers across the county. Guilfoy said that is good coverage for such a low-population county, and that, though the club is short on membership currently, it would allow for amateur radio operators from other areas to come in and assist.
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“Our network numbers are down right now. We have lower attendance — a lot of people have moved or gotten older. But, we have the repeaters and the infrastructure we need to do it. We wouldn’t be able to help without that,” said Guilfoy.
Commissioners thanked the Headwaters club members for providing a much-needed emergency backup service that most in the community do not know is even available. More information on the Headwaters Amateur Radio Club is available on the group’s website or Facebook page.
The purchase of two Physio Control Lifepak 1000 AED (Automated External Defibrillator) units was approved at a cost of $2,514 each, following a request by the Department of Emergency Services (DES). The addition of those two units brings the county’s total to four, with one each located at the Gunzburger Building, Potter County Courthouse, DES building, and the Potter County Human Services (PCHS) building. Act 13 funding will be utilized for the purchase.
Reappointments were made to the PCHS Advisory Board, with terms to run through July of 2021. Sherry Harmon, Linda Swift, Susan Valentine and Denise Minderler will all remain on the board.
Jackie Murray and Norman Weeks have resigned from the PCHS Advisory Board, effective July 31. Commissioners thanked them for their service to the community.
An agreement renewal was approved with John Rotello for maintenance of the 911 standby generator at Potter County PSAP (911 call center), at a cost of $7,800 per year, to run through June 30, 2019.
A proposal was approved with Davis-Ulmer for the five-year internal examination of the piping and sprinkler systems in county buildings, at a cost of $1,185, to comply with regulations.
Treasurer Krista Miller hired Alyson Thompson and Hannah Taylor for the processing of antlerless deer applications. Work will commence on July 9 and last approximately 4-6 weeks at a rate of $7.25 per hour.
Sherry Hoffman resigned from her position as deputy administrator I of the Area Agency on Aging through PCHS. Hoffman’s resignation will be effective in October when she leaves to take her new position. Commissioners thanked Hoffman for her service.
Kay Bohn resigned as full-time secretary/clerk from the Potter County Sheriff Department, effective July 20.
One application for 2018 Liquid Fuels Funds was received from Stewardson Township in the amount of $685.47.
The next meeting of the Potter County Commissioners will be held at 11 a.m. July 19 at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport.