Commissioners Corner: January 2019 | Public Transit Within The County

We’ve found that citizens’ knowledge about Sullivan County’s public transportation system varies.  This article will get interested people up to date on Sullivan County’s transit system, plus update you about our efforts to improve and maintain services.  Currently the emphasis is on maintaining all services due to a recent change in state legislation.   

Sullivan County partners with neighboring Bradford and Tioga Counties in a transit authority, known as BeST.  The acronym BeST reflects the initials of all three counties, Sullivan being the S of course.  The operational management of the system is accomplished by River Valley Transit (RVT) of Williamsport, under the governance of a nine person Board (three people from each county).  BeST provides both “fixed route” and “shared ride” services in all three counties.  Before we go further it is important to understand the difference between these two services in Sullivan County. 

A fixed route is a bus or van that travels a predetermined route according to a published bus schedule.  To ride the bus you board where the bus stops.  This type of service has historically been limited in our county.  Current fixed route service exists Monday - Friday from Dushore to Towanda and back several times.  Additionally, there is a Friday only route which travels from Dushore to the Lycoming Mall area, including the Muncy YMCA upon request. 

Expanding fixed route services has been a priority for us and we are on the cusp of achieving that.  RVT has developed proposed expanded routes South from Dushore, through Mildred to Laporte, five days a week.  This potential expansion is possible because of RVT’s prudent management and the transit system’s solvent financial position.  Ironically, a proposed change to how shared ride services are provided statewide may threaten BeST’s finances and the expansion.  

Shared ride services entail a smaller vehicle, traveling to random destinations, but requires the rider to make reservations 24 hours in advance.  The van comes to you versus you going to a bus stop.  Any citizen can utilize this service but it is more expensive than a fixed route.  However, these vans provide critical transportation services for Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Seniors, and those on Medical Assistance (MA).  Persons riding under these programs pay little or no cost because their transportation is paid by various external funding sources.  A recent change in state law regarding how MA transportation will be delivered has us in defensive mode, along with other counties and transit providers across the state.

In June of 2018, as part of the state budget, the Department of Human Services (DHS) was instructed to create a “Broker” System for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP).  What is a broker system and how does it differ from what BeST does now?  This is a complicated answer, but here is a simplified version for easy understanding. 

A Broker is an entity (not BeST) which would have a call center located somewhere within the middle region of Pennsylvania.  This middle region would contain 27 counties, of which Sullivan, Bradford, and Tioga are included.  MA riders would call this Broker to arrange transportation.  The Broker would be responsible for coordinating MATP transportation (not Seniors or PWD) within the region.  Currently BeST does this task for all three groups of consumers within our tri-county area.

A transition from our current local control and delivery to a Broker concerns us.  The Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association (PPTA), a transit lobbying organization, estimates a shift to a Broker model will cost Pennsylvania an additional $31.5 million.  This would outweigh the benefit of $15 million more in federal funding our law makers were told would be available should Pennsylvania use a Broker system.

More importantly, we’re concerned that removing MATP ridership and funding from our existing shared ride vans will diminish BeST’s ability to serve our most vulnerable citizens.  Furthermore, this transition could seriously undermine public transportation in rural communities, shared ride and fixed route alike.

The Commissioners have actively communicated our concerns to our state and federal representatives.  Furthermore, the Commissioners and RVT will continue to monitor the situation, work with our neighboring counties, and attempt to shape this issue to our citizens’ benefit.

Deadline Alert for SBA Disaster Assistance in Pennsylvania for Flooding

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) encourages businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters to apply for a disaster loan for physical damage before the Feb. 11 deadline. Anyone in the declared counties in Pennsylvania with damages caused by flooding on Aug. 10-15, 2018 should apply for the SBA disaster loan assistance.

The declaration covers Bradford, Columbia, Delaware, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Susquehanna counties and the adjacent counties of Berks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montgomery, Montour, Perry, Philadelphia, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming in Pennsylvania; New Castle in Delaware; Gloucester in New Jersey; and Broome, Chemung and Tioga in New York.

Businesses and nonprofits can apply up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Loans for working capital, known as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, are available even if the business did not suffer any physical damage. Homeowners can apply up to $200,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate. Homeowners and renters can apply up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property including automobiles.

Interest rates are as low as 3.675 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations, and 2 percent for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s circumstances.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Additional details on the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an e mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is Feb. 11, 2019. The deadline for economic injury applications is Sept. 11, 2019.


Disaster Field Operations Center East
Release Date: Jan. 15, 2019
Contact: Michael Lampton (404) 331-0333 Michael.Lampton@sba.gov
Release Number: 19-255 PA 15836/15837

Governor Wolf Announces Aid Available in 26 Counties Following Record-Shattering Summer Rains

Governor Wolf Announces Aid Available in 26 Counties Following Record-Shattering Summer Rains
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2018 -
View Online

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved his request to declare a disaster in Bradford, Columbia, Delaware, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Susquehanna counties after significant flood damage to homes and businesses was sustained from severe storms between Aug. 10 – 15, 2018.

“Despite the devastating impact of these storms and the hard work of county and state emergency management personnel to document the damage and make the case for providing aid through the Individual Assistance program, the federal government determined that the scope of the damage didn’t warrant such aid,” said Governor Wolf. “In lieu of funding from that program, my office immediately sought support through the SBA. Low-interest loan programs like these have proven to be important financial lifelines for families recovering from catastrophic weather events.”

Homeowners, renters and businesses impacted by the storms in Bradford, Columbia, Delaware, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Susquehanna, as well as neighboring counties Berks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montgomery, Montour, Perry, Philadelphia, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans through the SBA Disaster Loan Programs.

Low-interest loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. SBA regulations permit loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to restore damaged or destroyed buildings, inventory, equipment and assets. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial qualifications.

The SBA will establish a Disaster Loan Outreach Centers (DLOC) to assist anyone who wishes to apply for a loan. Applicants from any eligible county may report to any DLOC location in order to get help. The DLOCs will be open at the following locations and times: 

Bradford County:

Fairfield Inn By Marriott
1248 Gold Mile Road
Towanda, PA 18848

Columbia County:

Benton Borough Building
590 Everett Street
Benton, PA 17814

Delaware County:

Delaware County Emergency Services Building
360 North Middletown Road
Media, PA 19063

Northumberland County:

Warrior Run Area Fire Department Headquarters
1125 Main Street
Watsontown, PA 17777

Schuylkill County:

Port Carbon Borough Municipal Building
301 First Street P.O. Box 71
Port Carbon, PA 17965

Susquehanna County:

Susquehanna County Department of Public Safety County Office Building
81 Public Avenue
Montrose, PA 18801

Opening:         Thursday, December 13: 11 a.m.
Days:               Friday, Monday – Wednesday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
                        Saturday, December 15: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Closed:            Sunday, December 16
Closing:           Thursday, December 20: 4 p.m.

SBA customer service representatives will be on hand at the disaster loan outreach center to issue loan applications, answer questions about the disaster loan program, explain the application process and help individuals to complete their applications.

Individuals and businesses unable to visit the centers in person may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or by e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Feb. 11, 2019.  The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is Sept. 11, 2019.

MEDIA CONTACT:   J.J. Abbott, Governor’s Office, 717-783-1116
Ruth Miller (PEMA) – ruthmiller@pa.gov

Commonwealth Receives Federal Aid for Severe Storms in August

Commonwealth Receives Federal Aid for Severe Storms in August (View Online)

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the federal government has granted his request for Public Assistance to reimburse state agencies, county and municipal governments and other eligible private non-profits for costs associated with severe storms that brought heavy rainfall and severe flash flooding to parts of Pennsylvania from August 10 to 15, 2018.

“Historic rainfall this summer created a financial disaster for many communities across the state,” Governor Wolf said. “We hope that our request for Individual Assistance, which was submitted at the same time, is also granted.”

Public Assistance was awarded to the following counties: Bradford, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lycoming, Montour, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming. The governor’s request for Individual Assistance, which would make a variety of programs available to citizens to meet their recovery needs, is still under review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Through the Public Assistance program, applicants can be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the costs incurred on eligible expenses, such as but not limited to: costs associated with paying overtime, repairs to damaged infrastructure, equipment rentals and materials.

Over the coming weeks, staff from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will hold meetings with applicants to thoroughly review all application documentation before forwarding it to FEMA. The process is expected to take several weeks, and all reimbursements are handled electronically.

In order to request Public Assistance, the commonwealth overall must meet a threshold of $19,053,569. Estimated costs associated with this incident period total nearly $62.8 million. The governor signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, which is a required step in order to request federal aid, for this storm on August 17.

MEDIA CONTACT:             J.J. Abbott, 717-783-1116
                                           Ruth Miller (PEMA), ruthmiller@pa.gov

Take The Broadband Speed Test

Help The Center for Rural Pennsylvania and research partners at Penn State University map broadband access throughout Pennsylvania by taking the broadband speed test!

The test is part of the Center-sponsored research, Broadband Availability and Access in Rural Pennsylvania, and the results will help Penn State Researchers, led by Professor Sascha Meinrath, to measure actual internet speeds in PA.

The test also provides participants with information about their broadband connection.

Thank you for your help.

Baked Pasta Supper Event For Sullivan County Flood Victims

Zion Lutheran Church will be hosting a baked pasta supper event to benefit Sullivan County flooding victims.

The event is planned for Friday, November 2, 2018 from 4:00PM-6:00PM at Zion Lutheran Church at 116 Carpenter Street, Dushore PA, 18614.

Items that will be served include:

  • Baked Ziti

  • Sausage & Peppers

  • Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

  • Mac & Cheese

  • Tossed Salad

  • Green Beans

  • Assorted Desserts

  • Italian Bread

Free Will Offering**Takes Out Available**

Now Hiring: 2020 Census Jobs - Apply Online!

Are you up for the challenge?

1534000072647.jpg

Recruiting Assistant Positions

  • State of Pennsylvania - $15.00 - $23.00

  • Excellent Pay

  • Flexible Hours

  • Paid Training

  • Temporary Positions

Help us get the word out about 2020 Census jobs. Call on local organizations to request assistance in providing information about jobs to the people they serve. Answer questions from the public about jobs, qualifications, and how to apply. Conduct formal and informal presentations about 2020 Census jobs.

Apply Online Today!

2020census.gov/jobs

1-855-JOB-2020
(1-855-562-2020)

Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339 TTY / ASCII
www.gsa.gov/fedrelay

The Federal Relay Service (FedRelay) provides telecommunications services to allow individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, and/or have speech disabilities to conduct official business with and within the federal government.

The U.S. Census Bureau is an Equal Opportunity Employer