County Clinton Celebrates 2021 Achievements and Looks Forward | News, Sports, Jobs
LOCK HAVEN – And just like that, the people of Clinton County have been through another year.
One day in 2022, L’Express looks back on 2021 and highlights the main points of our annual review. See B1 for a timeline of the main titles in each issue of L’Express throughout the year.
For Clinton County, its residents and government officials have faced multiple challenges brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Miles Kessinger, chairman of the council of commissioners, noted that 2021 and 2020 were unprecedented years.
“The past two years are unlike anything anyone has experienced before” he said. “It presented challenges that I think no one could have dreamed of.”
“Despite the challenges it has been, the county has been able to accomplish a lot”, said Commissioner Angela Harding.
These accomplishments include a KAP study to provide cleaner water to county residents and a multimodal strategy that identified transportation priorities.
A multimodal transportation strategy committee will be formed in 2022 to work with the county recreation advisory committee to also identify recreational transportation opportunities, she said.
Partnerships similar to this were common in 2021, Harding added.
“A lot of people teamed up and came together despite these challenges” she said.
“We were able to establish COVID-19 test sites”, said Commissioner Jeff Snyder.
The County, County, and University of Lock Haven Emergency Services Department are teaming up to host a COVID-19 test site in November, December and January 2022. The test site, which is free, is operated by the State Department of Health and AMI Expeditionary Health Care at LHU’s East Campus Gymnasium.
Previously, a car-only test site had taken place at the Castanea Township picnic grounds near Piper Airport in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought new funding opportunities for the county to offer assistance.
“The biggest highlight of this year is CARES funding and government donations,” Kessinger, said.
From the CARES Act funding to the emergency rental assistance program, the commissioners were able to distribute thousands of dollars in funding to residents, businesses and nonprofits in 2021. And with the remaining funds of the American Rescue Plan Act, it hasn’t dried up just yet.
Harding explained that part of ARPA’s funding will go towards a two-year resettlement incentive program. This program, similar to those in other counties and states across the country, would help bring new or existing employees to the county to live there.
“We want our taxes to stay affordable and one of the ways to do that is to get more people to move here.” said Harding.
Avoiding a tax hike is a goal Kessinger said he hopes to achieve in 2022.
“Stay the course in the hope of continuing to avoid a tax increase” Kessinger said. “It’s a challenge because the funds we rely on are harder to come by… and the costs are going up. “
Even with COVID-19 continuing to emerge, Harding said she was very proud of the county employees.
“Through our policies and communications, the three of us, with the help of others, have been able to minimize COVID in county buildings and with county staff.” said Harding.
“The County Jail and Susqueview Nursing have done a fantastic job reducing the numbers,” Kessinger added.
Even the county’s Children and Youth Services, which are on the ground to visit homes and interact with the public, have taken precautions to reduce the chances of contracting the virus.
“We cannot deny that COVID has affected almost every aspect of our life”, said Harding. “But having stamina and trying to do positive things is important.”
And while COVID-19 continued to affect almost every aspect of 2021, several major projects may have taken place throughout the year. Some have been completed, nearing completion, or even just starting out. And all are examples of growth in Clinton County.
The county is close to completing the Bald Eagle Valley Trail. This project, in gestation for many years, was to be completed in 2021, but was postponed to 2022.
“It’s going to be over, hopefully this coming year” Kessinger said.
Contractors are currently working to make the old railway bridge that crosses the Susquehanna River in Wayne Township safe for walkers and cyclists. Once this is completed, they will move on to the BEVT connection to the Pine Creek Rail Trail in Lycoming County.
Work on the Chestnut Grove / Robbie Gould Youth Sports Complex in Castanea Township continued to advance, following its inauguration at the end of 2020. Those traveling along Route 220 may note the area where six tennis courts are located. lighted baseball / softball and a football field will be placed has been cleared of brush and the ground has become flat.
In other recreational news, Snyder said the recreation advisory committee, which he chairs, is continuing work on the state’s ATV pilot program, supporting the rehabilitation of the Mill Hall community pool and mapping the hiking trails in the county. Harding noted that the multimodal transportation strategy will play a role in creating maps for local hiking and biking trails.
And Susquehannock Heights, located on the border of Flemington and the town of Lock Haven, opened in February of this year. The three-story senior apartment complex consists of 32 individual living units designed to accommodate people aged 62 or older.
“It was huge” Snyder noted.
At Mill Hall, the Peale Avenue bridge was rehabilitated in 2021 and there was only sealant left to place on the roadway. Kessinger noted that the latter piece also does not affect the use of the pavement.
Although enthusiastic about the achievements made in 2021, the commissioners are already looking towards 2022.
Several major projects and improvements will take place over the coming year, including updating the County Assessment Office software.
Kessinger said this project, being completed by entrepreneur Vision Project, will make it easier for residents to research deeds, property lines and valued values without leaving their homes.
“This is a major transfer of this information, but it is long overdue”, Snyder said. ARPA funding helped hire the contractor to complete the work.
And the county treasurer’s office is also expected to see improvements, Harding said.
The county is looking to set up a credit payment in the office so residents can pay their taxes and other bills online and “Modernize the way we do business”, she said.
In the city of Lock Haven, several events may have taken place that have been postponed to 2020.
Downtown Lock Haven Inc. and the city have teamed up to sue the pedestrian mall that has seen Main Street closed several weekends in the summer. Street closures brought family and friends downtown and provided a safe and fun outdoor environment for them to enjoy the great food and music provided by the Lock Haven Summer Concert Series.
The LH JAMS Music and Art Festival was in full swing. A variety of live bands took to the Elks Stage and Grove Street Stage throughout the full-day event in August. Concert-goers could browse the various stalls set up by local artists, grab a chair and listen to music from bands such as York Street Hustle, and dine al fresco at local restaurants.
The business district also continued to grow with the addition of stores such as Blonde Boutique, Darling and Dapper Children’s Boutique, NASA570 and more. And companies like Momoyo Otsu and It Is What It Is have expanded their stores to meet the volume of customers they’ve seen over the past year.
After Thanksgiving, shoppers flocked in droves to take advantage of DLH’s Small Business Saturdays. The event, which kicked off in 2020, gave shoppers several weekends to search for bargains and enjoy fun activities – including the Haven Hollywood Holidays Parade – while searching for the best gift for a loved one before Christmas.