News & Press

Commissioners Mike Pipe & Mark Higgins believe in the freedom of the press. The media helps our democracy function in an open and transparent way. We salute the members of the press and appreciate the coverage they provide of the great work happening in Centre County Government.

 

“Human services block grant will aid Centre County”

Lockhaven.com - August 15, 2019

“ A human services block grant plan is going to make a big difference in Centre County.

At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, human services coordinator Natalie Corman talked in-depth about the 2019-2020 human services block grant plan. The plan outlines services and spending for providers in the mental health, intellectual disabilities, drug and alcohol and adult services programs.”

“Commissioner Mark Higgins commended Corman and her staff for their efforts with the block grant.

“Thanks to everyone in your departments for working hard together to spend the $6 million as effectively as possible,” he said.

Commissioner Michael Pipe said that the benefits of the block grant are immeasurable.

“This is the eighth block grant plan you’ve put together. It feels like it’s flown by,” Pipe said. “But the countless lives that have been effected by it … that’s what the services are all about.”

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“Centre County Commissioners approve grant for new 24/7 walk in mental health facility”

Wjactv.com - August 14, 2019

“Centre County has taken another step forward in dealing with mental health issues -- approving a new walk-in mental health facility. Organizers say it's expected to open later this year.

County officials tell 6 News this is essentially a new added service. They aren't shifting their focus or defunding anything else but now they're going to put a quarter of a million dollars to providing 24/7 mental health services, in Centre County.

"It's never too late to be providing more mental health services to folks here in Centre County," Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said.”

“Commissioner Pipe tells 6 News they've been working on this for the past four years. And now they will have crisis services for those who would prefer to walk in a center instead of someone coming to them.

"They’re going to find an office space where they can utilize and then the services can begin later this year," Pipe said.

Pipe says the prices for the service depends on a person's health insurance, but officials say they'll do what they can to help anyone who visits.

"To do it in such a way that it doesn't affect a person's ability to access those services," Pipe said.”

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“Centre County moves forward with new walk-in mental health facility”

Centredaily.com - August 13, 2019

“The Centre County Office of Human Services expects to serve more than 15,000 residents next year as it enhances its services and adds a new resource to its mental health office ⁠— a 24/7 walk-in center for crisis assessment.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved a $694,981 contract with Center for Community Resources, a licensed crisis provider stationed in Butler County. The center will provide 24-hour service for individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis.” 

““It does allow us to have another avenue for individuals to come into the mental health system, and to receive services, begin their journey or continue their journey of recovery,” Commissioner Michael Pipe said in June.”

““The countless lives that have been impacted ... at the end of the day that’s what these services are all about,” Pipe said.”

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“Give it up for PA’s park and recreation professionals”

Keystoneedge.com - August 12, 2019

“On July 19, 2019 Pennsylvania celebrated its first ever Park and Recreation Professionals Day. To mark the occasion, events were held across the state, including at Orchard Park in State College where Centre Region Parks & Recreation acknowledged the hard work of its employees

Michael Pipe, Centre County Commissioner, spoke at the gathering, emphasizing that park and recreation is about much more than just the physical spaces.

“We’re hearing from our citizens more and more that they want areas and spaces where they can relax with family…and find peace, quiet and enjoyment,” he says. “The enjoyment level of parks is phenomenal, but really it’s all about community impact and community improvement.” 

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“Centre County infrastructure targeted with ‘fee for local use’”

Lockhaven.com - August 1, 2019

“When a $5 “fee for local use” was tacked on to vehicle registrations in Centre County in 2017, many questioned where those funds would go.

At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, Mike Bloom, assistant director of planning and community development, gave an annual report about the fee — and exactly where those funds are going.

According to Bloom, the fee for local use has aided a large number of infrastructure improvement projects in Centre County, which received much-needed funding.” 

“Commissioner Michael Pipe said that he was pleased with the report.

“It was very thorough, very clearly done, explaining where the money is going and how much we have left,” Pipe said.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that the board has been very transparent about where the fee for local use funds are going.

“I want to remind everyone that 100 percent of the fee for local use funding goes to road projects. There’s no overhead, there’s no administration, no one is raking anything off,” Higgins said.

Higgins pointed out that the fee for local use funding has leveraged $2 million in state funding.” 

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“County Plans to Add Sprinkler System to Courthouse”

Statecollege.com - July 31, 2019

“With a renovation project already underway, now looks like the right time to add a sprinkler system to the historic Centre County Courthouse, according to county officials.

The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract amendment with architect Weber Murphy Fox that will add design of a sprinkler system and new fire alarm system for the courthouse. The original design contract was for $47,500, and the addition for Weber Murphy Fox to hire a sub-consultant to design the system will add $25,100.” 

“"If we can actually add the sprinkler system to the courthouse while we’re already moving things around and renovating and bringing ceilings down this may be the best time to do it," Commissioner Mark Higgins said.” 

“"The courthouse is a priceless entity here in Centre County," Commissioner Michael Pipe said. "There of course are constraints we have in terms of our capital budget but this is such a well worth it necessity and has been advocated for awhile. The stars are aligning so we have the opportunity to do it.”

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“Sprinkler system added to courthouse renovation project”

Lockhaven.com - July 31, 2019

“ An item that was not originally on the Centre County commissioners’ meeting agenda took center stage on Tuesday morning.

Late in the meeting, the commissioners heard from Centre County Deputy Administrator Bob Jacobs, who talked about a need at the Centre County courthouse. As the courthouse undergoes renovations, there is a serious need for sprinklers and fire alarms at the historic facility, he said.” 

“Commissioner Mark Higgins said that he’s in favor of protecting the courthouse.

“I know we’ve been talking about this for a little while. If we can actually add the sprinkler system to the courthouse while we’re moving things around and renovating … this may be the best time to do it,” Higgins said.” 

“Chair Michael Pipe said that the work needs to be done.

“The courthouse is a priceless entity here in Centre County. Of course, there are restraints as far as our capital budget. But this is a necessity. The stars are aligning and we have an opportunity to do it,” Pipe said.”

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“Geisinger to spend $24 million to update and add health care facilities in Centre County”

Centredaily.com - July 23, 2019

“Geisinger Authority plans to invest $1 billion to improve its facilities across its entire region, which includes eight Pennsylvania counties and one in New Jersey. In Centre County, Geisinger estimates allocating $24 million to update, renovate and possibly build new locations in Bellefonte, State Colle ge and Port Matilda.

The Centre County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the finance plan after a public hearing Tuesday, with the hope that Geisinger will invest in ways that benefit residents’ health, safety and welfare.” 

“Commissioner Mark Higgins said he hopes Geisinger will find a way to build a Fresh Food Farmacy in Centre County where local food can be purchased and given to patients. Commissioner Steve Dershem said he is happy the company has decided to support health care in the area and thinks Geisinger’s investments will pay for themselves in the future.

“I think it’s a testament to the increasing scope of medical and health care costs in our region and the need for those but also the population growth in our region,” board Chairman Michael Pipe said.” 

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“Geisinger Plans New Investments in Centre County”

Statecollege.com - July 23, 2019

“Geisinger's plan for new bond financing will mean millions of dollars in new investments in its health care facilities in Centre County.

The health system plans to proceed with up to $1 billion in Series 2019 bond financing for debt refinancing, renovations and new construction at its locations in eight Pennsylvania counties and one New Jersey county. New spending across the system is projected to be $200 million. An estimated $24 million is designated for Centre County.” 

“"[There is] a lot of innovation going on within Geisinger so we’re happy to be a part of that," added Commissioner Michael Pipe.” 

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“Beech Creek-Blanchard Fire Company turns 80”

Lockhaven.com - July 17, 2019

“The Centre County commissioners got a history lesson about the Beech Creek-Blanchard Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday morning.

The commissioners’ Proclamation No. 19 of 2019 recognized the 80th anniversary of the fire department.” 

“We can’t say it enough — the service you provide to the community, the time you take from your families, your livelihood, is much appreciated. The reason why this company continues to survive and move forward are because of individuals like you. The torch is being passed to the next generation. We truly appreciate all you do,” said commissioner Michael Pipe.” 

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“How $1.37 million in state funds will expand Centre County’s affordable housing options”

Centredaily.com - July 15, 2019

“Centre County received $1.37 million to increase affordable housing options through Pennsylvania’s Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement fund, an initiative State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said will give residents “a place they can call home.”” 

“Commissioner Michael Pipe said reduced housing helps individuals gain employment, stay employed and afford other resources, adding that “even $100 or $200 can make all the difference.” 

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“Bellefonte-to-Milesburg Trail Study Complete, County to Decide What’s Next”

Statecollege.com - June 20, 2019

“The final report about the Bellefonte to Milesburg trail feasibility study has been accepted by county commissioners, and now the county must decide if and how to move forward.

The trail study, led over the past two years by consultant Pashek + MTR, looked at the feasibility for the proposed approximate 2.5 miles of multi-purpose trail that would follow along Spring Creek and the historic alignment of the Bald Eagle and Spring Creek Canal.” 

“Board of Commissioners Chair Michael Pipe said that breaking it into sections while engaging the public might be the best way to get the project done.

“Personally, if we can break this into chunks and be mindful about it and say that in 10 years we want to achieve this and we just want to work on it slowly but surely and engage the community... I don’t know if that is a feasible thing, but I think it is the only way to do it. How do you eat an elephant? One chunk at a time,” Pipe said.

Pipe added that the recently increased hotel occupancy tax that's used for efforts to encourage tourism in the county could be a potential way to fund the project.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that three other potential trails in the area are not moving forward because they are not feasible. But this project has been determined as feasible, so there is hope.

“I know three other trail projects that are not going to move forward because there are property owners whose response to the concept is ‘over my dead body,’" Higgins said. "And that is what is so great about this project is that we have now proven that it is technically feasible. You can engineer it. You can pave it. You can build it. There are only seven property owners, and certainly we want to work very closely and carefully with those property owners, but at this point none of them are saying ‘over my dead body.’

“I know people in Bellefonte were initially a little resistant to the whole waterfront project. Everybody loves it now. It is so wonderful down there. I think, in a way, this would be something like a river walk for Bellefonte, for Spring and Boggs townships and Milesburg. And after it is built, say 10 years from now, people will say it is wonderful. This is amazing. We are now going to push on for Lock Haven and Milesburg and State College, because Spring Creek Canyon is gorgeous, but maybe not that accessible. This is almost as nice and very easily accessible.”” 

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“County to Host Community Conversation on Mental Health Services”

Statecollege.com - June 17, 2019

“An upcoming forum hosted by the Centre County Board of Commissioners will offer a look at local mental health services and provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions and offer suggestions.

The community conversation about mental health services in Centre County will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 27, on the third floor of the Courthouse Annex, 106 E. High St., Bellefonte.

Commissioner Michael Pipe said staff from the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the county's Office of Mental Health will give presentations about laws, regulations and policies governing mental health services in Pennsylvania and how they are implemented locally. County staff also will explain the services available in Centre County and how they are delivered.

That will be followed by an opportunity for residents to ask questions, voice concerns and participate in a discussion about mental health services.

"We’re looking forward to hearing suggestions from the community about how we can improve and enhance our mental health system here in Centre County," Pipe said at least week's commissioners meeting. "It’s an ongoing conversation about the kind of service needs we have, the kind of delivery system we have. So we want to have that dialogue."” 

“Pipe said the focus of the June 27 conversation is public mental health services, how they work and how they can be improved, but not specifically about  law enforcement policies.

"If there are conversations about law enforcement we’ll certainly touch upon how our mental health system interacts with law enforcement," he said. "In terms of specific law enforcement policies and procedures... we can’t prescribe certain policies and procedures to law enforcement, but we can work with them if it’s a mental health facet of that. We’re not going to be talking specifically about law enforcement, but if there are questions or concerns, we’ll partner with law enforcement to answer those questions to the best of our ability."” 

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“The Place to Be”

PAbusinesscentral.com - June 17, 2019

“Centre County has a wealth of cultural, athletic, historical and recreational activities and attractions. Bringing in visitors to enjoy all Centre County has to offer received a major boost on June 6th, when the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau (CPCVB) and the Centre County Commissioners announced the recipients of the 2019-20 Tourism Grants. CPCVB Executive Director Fritz Smith welcomed the large and impressive crowd, which included representatives from all the grant recipients, local businessmen, CPCVB staff and elected officials, including all three county commissioners, to the CPCVB Tourism Center on Park Avenue for the official announcement. ” 

“Following Smith’s opening remarks, Centre County Commission Chairman Michael Pipe spoke of the many organizations that showcase the incredible variety of activities and events that make Centre County a destination point, and the importance of getting the message out. “Tourism grants help sustain the mission of these organizations and further increase awareness of the events that help drive our local economy.” Commissioner Mark Higgins, who is also a member of the CPCVB board, noted that the Tourism Grant Committee received record funding requests this year. “Fortunately, we were able to provide a record level of funding for groups that are organizing events and creating projects that attract tourists.” 

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“Centre County Commissioners Split on Support for Wolf's Restore Pennsylvania Plan”

Statecollege.com - June 13, 2019

“Centre County commissioners are moving forward with a resolution voicing support for Gov. Tom Wolf's sweeping infrastructure plan, Restore Pennsylvania, but not without dissent.

On Tuesday commissioners voted along party lines to put the resolution on next week's consent agenda, with Democrats Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins voting in favor and Republican Steve Dershem against.” 

“ Pennsylvania does have an impact fee for natural gas companies, and that money is distributed to counties each year for a variety of projects. But Pipe said it is "a very small amount in terms of what other states charge." The impact fee would remain in place and its disbursements to counties unchanged.

"Every other state in the United States that has significant natural gas does charge a severance tax of one kind or another," added Higgins. "We’re the only state that does not."

Pipe said the county is not pledging any money to the initiative but that if passed it would receive Restore PA funds that could be used for many projects.

"This would be a phenomenal way for us to invest millions of dollars into many of these projects we see across the county," Pipe said.

Dershem suggested the resolution is "lobbying for a tax increase."

Pipe responded that they are lobbying for funding for infrastructure projects.

"I’m specifically lobbying for the fact that we need the funding to do these projects," Pipe said. "One of the things specifically this would go toward is high-speed internet access and broadband deployment and development within the state which I think are critical.

"So if you’re not in favor of broadband, that’s fine."

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“‘flip the switch’ | Burkholder’s Market installs solar carport to power grocery store”

Lockhaven.com - June 12, 2019

“Burkholder’s Country Market celebrated going solar with a “Flip the Switch”ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 8.

Owner Russ Burkholder, accompanied by Sun Directed’s CEO Michael Shadow and Project Manager Tim McGee, along with Centre County Commissioners Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe, cut the ribbon to mark the occasion.” 

“ Centre County Commissioners Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins praised the move to solar. Commissioner Pipe said, “I’m so excited about the new carport. We lived in Millheim for four years before we moved to Boalsburg, so I’m a huge fan of Burkholder’s and so thrilled that they went solar.”

Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said, “This is a great idea. Utility-scale solar arrays make great financial sense for local businesses. We should have more of these in Centre County.”"

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“Centre County Commissioners announce upcoming mental health forum”

WearecentralPA.com - June 12, 2019

“Nearly three months ago, Osaze Ssagie, an autistic man in State College, was shot and killed by police during a mental health check.

The community is looking for answers and trying to make sure a situation like this doesn't happen again.


That's why Centre County Commissioners announced Tuesday they will host a mental health forum to talk to the community about state mental health policies and how they're being implemented in Centre County.
 

"We are going to describe the service delivery system that exists here in Centre County, some of the flexibility and community focus that we've tried to achieve," Michael Pipe, Centre County Commissioner, said.

The Centre County office of mental health and the state department of human services will give presentations, and answer questions about mental health laws .
Commissioners say they also want to hear suggestions on how mental health protocol can be improved in Centre County.” 

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“Emergency Responder Scholarship winners announced”

Lockhaven.com - June 11, 2019

“The Centre County Commissioners recently announced two recipients of the 2019 Emergency Responder Scholarship. Jonathan Paladina and Johnathan Packer are volunteers who will study at South Hills School of Business and Technology and CPI this fall.”

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“Visitors Bureau Awards Record Total for Tourism Grants”

Statecollege.com - June 6, 2019

“Organizations countywide will receive a combined record total in tourism grant funding for initiatives such as fairs, festivals, farmers markets, historical sites and athletic events that attract visitors to the region.

A total of $725,500 in tourism grants has been awarded for 2019-20 to 46 organizations for 50 projects, the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau and Centre County Commissioners announced Thursday at a gathering in the Visitor Center on Park Avenue.”

“Commissioner Mark Higgins said the opportunities to support a wide variety of initiatives will only continue to grow along with the increased hotel tax revenue.

"This is going to allow for more support for the Grange Fair, for the Arts Festival, for 4thFest," Higgins said. "And this creates new resources for new programs like the Central Pennsylvania Theater and Dance Festival and the Rivet makerspace at Discovery Space, additional investments in the Bellefonte St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and many others."

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“$725K in Centre County tourism grants to be used for farmers markets, festivals and more”

Centredaily.com - June 6, 2019

“Forty-six Centre County nonprofits and private businesses will receive $725,500 in tourism grants for 2019-2020 from the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau — among them, seven new grant recipients.

Those first-time grant recipients received a total of $74,000 and included the Boalsburg Farmers Market, Centre County Pomona Grange No. 13, Happy Valley Music Fest under Lucky Dog Management, PA Parks and Forest/Friends of Rothrock, the Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation, Pine Grove Mills Farmers Market and Tussey Mountain Ski Corporation.” 

“This year’s grant total is the largest it’s ever been, said Centre County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Pipe. “It’s truly about community and engaging this community in the ability to market itself and to promote tourism and recreation in Centre County,” he told a crowd of grant recipients, media and CPCVB members. “The investment we’re making today is historic. ... Next year we’re going to be breaking that record with close to $1 million.” ”

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“Centre County celebrates 25 years of 911”

Lockhaven.com - June 6, 2019

“On Tuesday, the Centre County commissioners adopted Proclamation 17 of 2019, which recognized the 25th anniversary of Centre County 911 Emergency Communications. June 1 marked 25 years of 911 service in the county.

Established in 1994, the Centre County Emergency Communications Center serves residents and businesses from a renovated facility in the Willowbank Building. It uses the latest state-of-the-art radio, telephone, map and computer-aided dispatch systems.” 

“While commissioner Michael Pipe said that he enjoyed looking back at the past 25 years, he’s excited to see where the next quarter-century takes the county.

“It’s going to be very remarkable to see where we land when we talk about live action, live feeds coming from incidents … the future is going to be very interesting for 911,” Pipe said. “I think the thing that we know in Centre County is all the work that has gone into the last quarter-century prepares us for the future and puts us in a very good position.”

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“County Commissioners OK Tax Assistance Program for Redeveloping Older State College Buildings”

Statecollege.com - June 5, 2019

“Centre County commissioners agreed on Tuesday to include county taxes in an abatement program aimed at revitalizing historic properties in downtown State College.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) ordinance, following a request from the borough, which in May approved a LERTA ordinance for local taxes on improvements to designated properties.” 

“ Commissioner Mark Higgins said the program is limited to 25 downtown core properties and that in the long-run will increase tax revenue while revitalizing aging buildings.

"In the short run, it’s really not costing the county, the school district or the borough any tax revenue," Higgins said. "Over the longer term it actually will increase property tax revenue from those renovated historic structures.”

“"We’ll be very excited to see some of the projects in those areas revitalized and invested in," Commissioner Michael Pipe said. "Even though there is an abatement and the schedule is over 10 years, it will bring in more revenue at the end of that decade.""

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“Parking lot expansion project completed at Centre Crest”

Lockhaven.com - June 5, 2019

“At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, it was announced that the expansion of the parking lot at Centre Crest was recently completed by Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. The completion of the project adds 70 additional spaces behind the facility.” 

“Commissioner Michael Pipe said that the project was a win-win for all involved.

“It helps them out until they leave. Then once we need to utilize the facility for the next purpose, it will really be an asset to the facility,” Pipe said.”

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“Centre County Correctional Facility Plans to Add Full-Body Scanner”

Statecollege.com - June 5, 2019

“The Centre County Correctional Facility is planning to add a full-body scanner as a measure to enhance inmate and staff safety.

County commissioners on Tuesday voted to add to next week's consent agenda a contract with Nuctech US for the purchase of the system. The contract totals $113,000 and includes $95,000 for the scanner, a two-year warranty, insurance, installation, commissioning, training and technical support. An additional three-year warranty will be added for $6,000 per year.” 

“Commissioner Mark Higgins noted that the machine uses low radiation, and Irwin said that 400 scans is the equivalent of one medical X-ray. Still, he said, a limit is placed on the number of times an inmate can be scanned and once that limit has been reached, the system notifies the operator and other security checks will be used. "

“Commissioner Michael Pipe said the plans for a full-body scanner have been discussed at several Prison Board meetings and that he recognizes its importance for the safety of staff, inmates and visitors.

"It’s something we don’t want to have to do," Pipe said. "However with the enhanced methods and enhanced drugs that are out there, and weapons, we want to make sure we have an absolutely safe facility."

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“Centre County commissioners move forward with an initiative to improve jail safety”

Centredailytimes.com - June 4, 2019

“Following a series of illnesses throughout Pennsylvania state prisons last year, Centre County Correctional Facility could soon implement a full body scanner that officials say would be used to keep staff, visitors and inmates safe.

In order to enhance the safety and security of the Centre County Correctional Facility, the Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with the agreement to purchase a full body scanner to next week’s consent agenda.” 

“The machine will only be used on inmates, but Irwin said its function will ensure the safety of all correctional facility visitors. Chairman Michael Pipe said procuring this machine is necessary in order to ensure an “absolutely safe facility.””

““This definitely sounds like it will increase safety for inmates, staff and visitors at the Centre County Correctional Facility,” Higgins said, before the motion was approved.”

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“centre county commissioners honor advisory board”

Lockhaven.com - May 29, 2019

“At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, the commissioners recognized the criminal justice advisory board for providing 20 years of service to the citizens of Centre County with Proclamation No. 16 of 2019 ” 

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“Commissioners Approve Solar Array Project for Centre County Correctional Facility”

StateCollege.com - May 29, 2019

“Centre County commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve a $1.67 million contract for the construction, operation, maintenance and repair of a new solar panel array to power the county correctional facility.

Chair Michael Pipe and Vice-Chair Mark Higgins voted in favor, with Commissioner Steve Dershem voting against.” 

“"Our correctional facility is going to be in existence for decades to come, many, many years. Everyone agrees we’re going to have it, it’s still going to be there," Pipe said. "What at least I’m seeing, what many of us are seeing, is there’s an opportunity to say we’re going to have the facility for 25 years, 40 years into the future, so let’s choose to go into an investment strategy that over time will basically pay for itself and bring some money back into the county."

Construction of the array will be completed at the end of this year. It is expected to produce 1.7 million kilowatt hours annually and on an average day offset 100 percent of the building's energy usage.

Higgins said that last year the jail spent $111,000 on electricity and that the solar array will provide about $106,000 of that. The approximately $5,000 that will be incurred is due to timing issues, he said. Excess power is sold back at retail rates and credits can be banked to be used on days when the array does not generate enough energy.

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“Centre County commissioners approve $1.6 million solar panel project for jail”

Centredaily.com - May 28, 2019

“Centre County commissioners voted Tuesday 2-1 to install a 1,196 kilowatt solar array on the county jail at a cost of $1.6 million. Commissioner Steven Dershem voted against the motion, citing concerns with cost.

The agreement commissioners approved covers a period of 25 years. The $1.6 million cost includes an advance contract service payment of $600,000, annual service payments of $101,000 for years 1 through 5 and an early termination fee of $567,411 in year six to purchase the solar photovoltaic electric generation system, according to the county.” 

“The solar array should completely power the jail, said Commissioner Mark Higgins, but because of timing issues the county will have to pay about $5,000 a year toward energy costs out of the over $100,000 in energy the facility typically uses annually. Because the solar array will be located next to the facility, state regulations say excess power must be sold back at retail rates, which the county will bank and can pull from on cloudy days where not enough solar energy is generated, he said.

Commissioners have talked about putting in a solar array on the county jail for about two years, said Chairman Michael Pipe, and there appears to be strong public support from various citizen groups and individuals in Centre County, according to the varied public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Pipe said his decision to go forward with the solar array installation is based on the long-term financial health of the county.

“There’s an opportunity to say we’re going to have the (correctional) facility for the next 25, 40 years ... let’s choose to go into an investment strategy that over time is basically going to pay for itself and actually bring in some money back into the county,” he said.”

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“Centre County commissioners honor EMS, fire personnel”

Lockhaven.com - May 24, 2019

“Throughout Centre County, emergency medical service providers and fire companies continue to struggle with funding and staffing.

At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioner’s meeting, the commissioners proclaimed this week Emergency Medical Services week in the county. The theme was “EMS Strong: Beyond the Call.”” 

“Thank you for all the work you do for Centre County,” said commissioner Michael Pipe. “Volunteerism is so important for our community.”

“I’m a member at Centre LifeLink and I believe that several of the other services in the county sell memberships. That’s another way that you can support our local emergency responders,”said commissioner Mark Higgins.”

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“County Poised to Move Forward with Solar Array Project at Correctional Facility”

StateCollege.com - May 23, 2019

“Centre County appears likely to move ahead with a solar panel array to provide the electricity for the county correctional facility.

Commissioners voted 2-1 to add to next week's consent agenda the contract with Solar Renewable Energy LLC, of Mechnicasburg, for construction of the 1.2 megawatt array and a power service agreement. Commissioner Steve Dershem voted no.” 

“Board chair Michael Pipe said he understood Dershem's perspective, but that there are guarantees on savings and that with the potential closure of nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania, analysts expect electricity prices to increase.

"I’m very supportive of this," Pipe said. "I think this is an opportunity for Centre County to beat many other municipalities and entities to the punch when it comes to being leaders in renewable energy. With SREC prices increasing dramatically I think it would be advantageous for us to get that additional inflow of cash that would come in for the project."

Pipe also noted that local municipalities and entities have already recognized the value in implementing solar energy, including panel arrays installed by Penn State near Mount Nittany Medical Center and by the University Area Joint Authority. Centre Region municipalities also have moved toward an intergovernmental purchase agreement for solar power.

"My hope would be people sitting around this table, or wherever meetings for Board of Commissioners take place 40 years from now, would be looking at a spreadsheet and saying ‘We thank the commissioners in 2019 for their foresight and vision on this,’" Pipe said.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that from a business perspective, it makes sense to spend $1.6 million now on the solar array.

"I’m very much in favor of spending $1.6 million today to save conservatively $4.8 million and possibly, if we take what’s happening today and project it into the future, close to $7 million," he said.”

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“Local EMS Providers Recognized for Hard Work Amid Growing Challenges”

StateCollege.com - May 23, 2019

“Emergency medical service providers, like their firefighting counterparts, continue to face a years-long struggle to secure sufficient funding and staffing.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Centre County commissioners discussed those challenges with several local emergency responders and honored them for their service to the community by proclaiming May 19-25 as Emergency Medical Services Week with the theme of "EMS Strong: Beyond the Call."” 

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“Centre Commissioners move forward with solar panel plan”

Lockhaven.com - May 22, 2019

“For several months, there’s been talk of a solar panel array at the Centre County Correctional Facility. At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners meeting, the county took one step closer to a plan that makes solar a cost-effective energy source for the prison. ” 

“Commissioners Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe — both Democrats — voted yes to the plan. Steve Dershem, the lone Republican, voted against it. ”

“Pipe believes the plan will put the county in a good position for the future.

“I’m very supportive of this. This is an opportunity for Centre County to beat any other municipalities and entities to the punch when it comes to being leaders in renewable energy,”Pipe said. “We are seeing a tidal wave of movement into renewable energy. I think this is a good investment.”

Higgins said that the plan to employ renewable energy makes fiscal sense.

“In my opinion, if you can invest $1.6 million on proven technology that at this point is powering entire countries and you can sell your electric generation credits for $50 and lock it in for five years … we can save $4.8 million. In my world, if I can spend $1.6 million today and be cashflow positive by year seven, I’m all for it,” Higgins said.

However, despite the arguments of Pipe and Higgins, Dershem stood his ground and refused to make the vote unanimous.”









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“Centre County Primary Election Goes Smoothly With New Voting Machines”

Radio.wpsu.org - May 22, 2019

“ Centre County voters who cast a ballot Tuesday were using one of the new systems approved by the state. The county was one of nine in Pennsylvania to to use a new system in the primary, and the switch appeared to go smoothly. ” 

“Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Michael Pipe said the transition from the old system to the new one appeared to be “seamless.”

One of the reasons might be that, unlike some counties, Centre County already had been using a similar system with paper ballots.

“It’s not an analog to digital. It’s already paper to paper. We’re good to go,” Pipe said.

The state is requiring counties to switch to one of the new systems that include paper trails by the 2020 primary. Pipe said the county decided to make the change in a primary before the presidential election.

“It’s going to really set us up well for future elections,” Pipe said.”









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“search is on for district court space in centre county”

Lockhaven.com - May 8, 2019

“On Tuesday, the Centre County commissioners approved a request for proposals for leasing and buildout of office space for magisterial district court No. 49-1-01 and magisterial district court No. 49-3-05. The offices are located in State College borough. ” 

“The timetable gives the county time to get the best price, said commissioner Michael Pipe.

“We just want to keep folks honest,” Pipe said. “We’ve had to long-term leases that have been great … but we just want to see what other options are out there,” he said.”

“I’m hoping the timing is good,” said commissioner Mark Higgins. “There’s been a lot of new office space on the market in downtown State College with even more to come. I’m hoping there’s a lot of interest. We’re a very steady customer. We’ve been here for 219 years.” "

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“LOT OF SPEAKERS AT POMONA GRANGE BANQUET”

Lockhaven.com - May 1, 2019

“Candidates and politicians were then allowed to speak but were given no more than a two-minute time frame. Virtually all those who spoke were candidates including the three Centre County commissioners: Steve Dershem, Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe, who are all up for election this year. Each of the current commissioners talked about what they have accomplished and what they see needs to occur in the future.” 

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“CENTRE COUNTY HONORS CORRECTIONS EMPLOYEES, MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS”

Lockhaven.com - May 1, 2019

“The Centre County commissioners made a pair of proclamations at Tuesday’s weekly meeting.

“Commissioner Mark Higgins noted that outside of Penn State, corrections is one of the largest employers in the county.

“Between the county facility, the two state facilities and the private facility that’s just outside of our borders in Clearfield County … outside of Penn State, corrections employees are one of our largest job descriptions for Centre County residents,” Higgins said.

Commissioner Michael Pipe commended all of the employees for their efforts.

“There are many folks who work in partnership at the correctional facility. The largest office that we have in county government is the correctional facility,” Pipe said. “It is a big part of who we are and it is a big part of what we do … we thank you for all that you do in Centre County.”

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“EVENT RECAP: SENSOR NETWORKS INC. SHOWCASES RENOVATIONS”

Pabusinesscentral.Com - April 30, 2019

“Sensor Networks Inc. (SNI) is getting closer to moving into the company’s new location on Walker Drive in State College, Pennsylvania. The company announced plans for the expansion in November 2018 and held a hard hat ceremony last week to showcase renovations at the local technology company’s new, larger facility.

SNI designs, manufacturers, sells and installs Internet of Things-based corrosion monitoring solutions for the oil and gas industry. SNI is also a GE Aviation preferred provider for on-wing engine Ultrasonic Test inspection kits; and provides custom phased-array ultrasonic transducer technology to NASA’s Langley Research Center for advanced composite-materials research in aerospace applications.

““There has been a need and emphasis on retaining and expanding the current companies here, and [it] will be a priority going into the future. We’ve now seen success [with] Morgan Industries, with KCF, and now with Sensor Networks. So if we keep on that trajectory there’s going to be a lot more local companies…that will be expanding…” added Michael Pipe, chairman, Centre County Board of Commissioners.”

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“new hvac system coming to holt memorial library”

StateCollege.Com - April 23, 2019

“With good timing, considering that April 14 to 20 was declared Centre County Library Week, county commissioners announced a request for proposals for the replacement of the existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Holt Memorial Library in Philipsburg.

“All agreed that it was a fitting way to celebrate Centre County Library Week. A week earlier, April 7 to 13, was National Library Week. Board chairman Michael Pipe said it was important to recognize the partnership the county has with the library.

“What better way to (celebrate) than with the (Request For Proposal) for the HVAC system in Holt Memorial Library? But we also want to recognize the partnership that Centre County government has with the library system. In our budget we have a half million dollar contribution that we have for the libraries and it is such an important thing for us to invest in to help provide the services. We look forward to the future partnership and helping people learn, from young kids, to senior citizens and the whole gamut, to have a place to educate themselves and learn in Centre County,” said Pipe.”

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“Broadband Service to Connect Internet Users in Penns Valley”

StateCollege.Com - April 18, 2019

“In a move that will provide needed broadband internet access to parts of Penns Valley, Centre County will enter into a contract with Centre WISP Venture Company LLC to lease the use of space on the Centre Hall 911 tower.

“This is going to greatly benefit the residents of the eastern two-thirds of Penns Valley. They will potentially be able to get functional high speed internet service,” said county Commissioner Mark Higgins. He added the cost of the lease will be a benefit to the county government as well and will offset some costs on the tower.”

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“more than an inconvenience, pa’s broadband crisis affects education, medicine, and more”

Centredaily.Com - April 10, 2019

“About 6% of the state’s population — around 800,000 people — is reported to experience these shortfalls, according to the Federal Communications Commission. But the number is likely much greater due to imprecise reporting by providers under government standards, technology policy expert and Penn State professor Sascha Meinrath said. He put the true number of Pennsylvanians without broadband at probably closer to 11 million, or a “supermajority” of the state’s population.

““It really comes down to a quality-of-life issue,” said county commissioners Chairman Michael Pipe. “We don’t have a mandate or regulation from the state or feds to do broadband — it’s not a core mission of ours — but quality of life is.” In late November, the county put out a request for proposals for companies to install equipment on three county-owned 911 communications towers that would provide broadband to underserved areas in the county — one on Centre Hall Mountain, one in Woodward in Haines Township and the other on a tower behind the Willowbank building in Bellefonte.

“We thought that that was a good way that we are not taking on too many liabilities but we are utilizing our current infrastructure to be able to provide some higher-speed internet but still allowing the private sector to bid on the project in an open way and then also carry their mission out — which is to provide internet,” Pipe said.”

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“Centre County Memorials to be part of ‘Tour of Honor’”

Lockhaven.com - April 3, 2019

“BELLEFONTE — The Soldiers and Sailors War Memorial and Andrew Gregg Curtin Monument in Bellefonte may be getting some visitors in the coming days, weeks and months.

At Tuesday’s Centre County Commissioners’ meeting, it was revealed that the memorial has been selected as part of the “Tour of Honor,” which is an event that benefits Veterans Charities. The “Tour of Honor” is advertised as a “season-long, self-directed ride to memorials around the continental United States.” The memorials in front of the Centre County courthouse are just one of seven sites selected in Pennsylvania.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that it could help boost tourism to Centre County, especially the Bellefonte area.

“Definitely make sure we get the word out on this,” Higgins said.

Commissioner Michael Pipe said that being selected is a win-win for everyone involved.

“This is exciting … not only for Bellefonte, but especially for our veterans,” Pipe said.”

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“CENTRE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS FORMALLY ACCEPT MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING”

Lockhaven.com - March 22, 2019

“Centre County took a big step toward repairing a pair of bridges on Thursday afternoon, officially accepting $2,070,000 in grant funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Multimodal Transportation Fund.

The Centre County Commissioners put ink to paper to accept the grant funding. Those funds, coupled with $500,000 in Act 13 “At Risk Local Bridge” funding, $400,000 in County Fee for Local Use funding and $30,000 in local match funding means there is roughly $3 million available to repair a pair of Centre County bridges in dire need of repair.

“At the start of 2017, Centre County had 13 structurally deficient bridges – with a span of 20 feet or longer – that were unfunded,” said commissioner Michael Pipe. “That will go to five. Over the last two years, we’ve identified and allocated funding for eight unfunded bridges and we are looking forward to eventually reducing that number to zero.

Along with fellow commissioners Mark Higgins and Steve Dershem, the commissioners put pen to paper to formally accept the grant.

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“centre county 4-h honored by commissioners”

Lockhaven.Com - March 22, 2019

“4-H is a national program that helps young people develop knowledge and skills to become capable, caring and contributing citizens,” Pflugfelder said. “Members belong to one or more clubs that focus on specific project areas. The clubs are led by screened adult volunteers. Our county has livestock clubs that focus on one or more species and community clubs that include other projects like arts, crafts, cooking, photography and robotics.”

“The commissioners had high praise for the students involved in 4-H.

“I know I interface with 4-H through community service projects and I believe there are a couple of (members) here who are going to be exhibiting and selling at Grange Fair … it’s great to see young people being very involved in community service projects,” said commissioner Mark Higgins.”

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“COUNTY TO INVEST IN LOCAL TECH COMPANY’S EXPANSION”

Statecollege.Com - March 21, 2019

“Centre County is planning a $40,000 investment to help retain and expand a local technology company.

Sensor Networks Inc., currently located on Technology Drive in Boalsburg, announced in November that it intends to move to a new, larger facility in the Centre Region and more than double its number of employees from 48 to at least 100 in the next three years.

“Commissioner Michael Pipe said the money will come from contingency funds allocated in the county budget.

“Commissioner Mark Higgins said that support from local governments to recruit and retain businesses is becoming more common nationwide as communities look to bring in and hold on to good-paying jobs. That was key to bringing in Morgan and retaining KCF, companies that Higgins said in the past might have looked to California or Texas.

"Now with Sensor Networks we have a company that, I believe they’re only five years old, but they’re growing like crazy," Higgins said. "We’re talking dozens of jobs that will pay family-sustaining wages well above county averages, and the type of company that in the past would have been poached by another municipality or county throughout the country. So glad to see we have these entrepreneurial firms creating jobs in Centre County that pay well and now as various governmental entities we’re working together to ensure they stay here."""

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“centre county commissioners approve business contribution”

Lockhaven.Com - March 20, 2019

“The Centre County Commissioners are doing their part to keep growing businesses in Centre County.

On Tuesday, the commissioners unanimously approved a $40,000 contribution to Sensor Networks, Inc. The request came from Jennifer Myers, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County. Myers talked about the CBICC’s relationship with Sensor Networks, Inc.

“Commissioner Michael Pipe said that Centre County has partnered with other businesses in the past.

“In terms of recent history, this would be the third time this has occurred,” Pipe said. “First was with the Morgan Industries project out in College Township and the second one was with KCF, staying and locating in State College borough.”

The contribution to Morgan Industries was approximately $16,000 and with KCF, it was $50,000, according to Pipe.

As for the $40,000? That will come out of contingency funds in the county budget.

“There’s actually a line item in the budget for contingencies. That’s where we are allocating out of,” Pipe explained.

According to commissioner Mark Higgins, a contribution like this is not out of the ordinary.

“This type of support is quite common at the municipality and county level nowadays. We’re trying to retain high-growth, entrepreneurial companies … there’s something like 20,000 economic development groups in the United States and all of them would love a KCF Technologies, a Morgan Industries or a Sensor Networks. We want to keep them here. The amount we are investing is substantially lower than it would be other parts of the country,”Higgins said.”

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“Centre County commissioners move forward with an initiative to improve jail safety”

Centredailytimes.com - June 4, 2019

“ Following a series of illnesses throughout Pennsylvania state prisons last year, Centre County Correctional Facility could soon implement a full body scanner that officials say would be used to keep staff, visitors and inmates safe.

In order to enhance the safety and security of the Centre County Correctional Facility, the Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with the agreement to purchase a full body scanner to next week’s consent agenda.”

“The machine will only be used on inmates, but Irwin said its function will ensure the safety of all correctional facility visitors. Chairman Michael Pipe said procuring this machine is necessary in order to ensure an “absolutely safe facility.”

““This definitely sounds like it will increase safety for inmates, staff and visitors at the Centre County Correctional Facility,” Higgins said, before the motion was approved.”

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“County to Invest in Local Tech Company's Expansion”

StateCollege.Com - March 21, 2019

“Centre County is planning a $40,000 investment to help retain and expand a local technology company.

Sensor Networks Inc., currently located on Technology Drive in Boalsburg, announced in Novemberthat it intends to move to a new, larger facility in the Centre Region and more than double its number of employees from 48 to at least 100 in the next three years.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that support from local governments to recruit and retain businesses is becoming more common nationwide as communities look to bring in and hold on to good-paying jobs. That was key to bringing in Morgan and retaining KCF, companies that Higgins said in the past might have looked to California or Texas.

"Now with Sensor Networks we have a company that, I believe they’re only five years old, but they’re growing like crazy," Higgins said. "We’re talking dozens of jobs that will pay family-sustaining wages well above county averages, and the type of company that in the past would have been poached by another municipality or county throughout the country. So glad to see we have these entrepreneurial firms creating jobs in Centre County that pay well and now as various governmental entities we’re working together to ensure they stay here."”

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“Centre County to Seek Funds for Addressing Opioid Crisis”

StateCollege.com - March 7, 2019

“Centre County will apply for federal funds for expanding efforts to battle the opioid epidemic locally…

…The money would be used to support and expand the work of the Centre County Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative...

…Commissioner Michael Pipe said the achievements of the HOPE Initiative to date also should put the county in good position to receive the funds.

‘I think in terms of the progress the HOPE Initiative has made it’s been phenomenal,’ Pipe said. ‘The fact that there’s only eight, it’s not as if it’s a mini-grant and everybody’s going to get a little bit. This is truly competitive so I think the fact we’re above and beyond where other counties are at in our response, I think it will position us well for this.’

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that through the efforts of the HOPE Initiative and the Criminal Justice Advisory Board, ‘we’ve drastically shortened the time from the crisis to having them in treatment, but it’s still not quite a warm handoff. So it would be nice if for a lot of citizens we could actually begin treating them the day of or the day after the crisis.’”

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“CENTRE COUNTY TO SEEK FUNDS FOR ADDRESSING THE OPIOID CRISIS”

Statecollege.Com - March 7, 2019

“Centre County will apply for federal funds for expanding efforts to battle the opioid epidemic locally.

Karri Hull, director of criminal justice planning, asked the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to approve a grant application for up to $150,000 in Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP) funds being made available through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.”

“Dershem added that HOPE recently updated its strategic plan with input from TAC. Commissioner Michael Pipe said the achievements of the HOPE Initiative to date also should put the county in good position to receive the funds.

"I think in terms of the progress the HOPE Initiative has made it’s been phenomenal," Pipe said. "The fact that there’s only eight, it’s not as if it’s a mini-grant and everybody’s going to get a little bit. This is truly competitive so I think the fact we’re above and beyond where other counties are at in our response, I think it will position us well for this."

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that through the efforts of the HOPE Initiative and the Criminal Justice Advisory Board, "we’ve drastically shortened the time from the crisis to having them in treatment, but it’s still not quite a warm handoff. So  it would be nice if for a lot of citizens we could actually begin treating them the day of or the day after the crisis."”

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“centre county learns the ropes with new voting machines”

Lockhaven.Com - March 7, 2019

“Centre County’s 200 voting machines were recently delivered to the Willowbank Building, unpacked and set up.

Now, training begins.

“Right next door, there’s a training going on for our staff,” commissioner Michael Pipe said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Basically, last week and this week, a full-blown training of the machines.”

Representatives from Election Systems and Software (ES&S) are on hand to facilitate the training.

“(Our staff) will be able to walk out of there knowing where every screw and key is,” Pipe said with a laugh. “They’re going to have a really intimate view of the machines.”

Pipe said that all the machines have been unpacked and assembled.

“I think the whole room has been unpacked and ready to be deployed in a few weeks,” Pipe said.

“Pipe said that he’s unsure of how much of the $75 million Centre County will receive.

“On the table is $75 million over five years. I think anybody – from the county’s perspective – would be that we’d like to have that all in one year, but we’ll be patient and see. If they meet in the middle, we’ll go from there. But we certainly advocate for the full $75 million,” Pipe said.

Pipe said the governor’s office has been mum when it comes to how – and when – the $75 million will be distributed.

“We always operate under the assumption that if there is nothing coming out of Harrisburg about the budget that it’s good news. It means that negotiations are happening and being effective,” he said.”

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“We‘re Going to See Some Amazing Things Happen.” Officials Discuss Plans for Hotel Tax Revenue

StateCollege.com - March 4, 2019

“Fritz Smith, CPCVB executive director, said at a press conference on Monday at the Visitor Center that nearly all of the new funds generated by the tax increase will be used directly for attracting more visitors to the region through a variety of sales and marketing initiatives, including expanding the grant program.”

"We need to develop more large festivals and events to draw more tourists to the county and also further improve our quality of life," Higgins said. "I know we have wonderful people here that just need some additional tools and financial support that the tourism grant program will assist them in helping their dreams come true."

"The innovative approach we’re going to be taking with these additional funds is going to be special to watch," added Commissioner Michael Pipe.”

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“Expanding rural broadband access”

WTAJ - March 1, 2019

 

“Correctional Facility Solar Array Project Takes Another Step Forward”

StateCollege.com - February 28, 2019

“Plans to construct a solar panel array at the Centre County Correctional Facility moved forward on Tuesday with the selection of a vendor for the potential design and build of the project.

Commissioners authorized county personnel to negotiate with Solar Renewable Energy LLC, of Mechanicsburg, to determine if a feasible contract can be reached. The company was one of three to submit proposals…

Solar Renewable Energy has recently developed solar panel arrays near Mount Nittany Medical Center and at the University Area Joint Authority water treatment plant.

‘There’s a benefit to bringing them on because they’ve already worked with the permitting entities and local folks in the area so they know the lay of the land,’ said Commissioner Michael Pipe…

‘With solar, you’re fixing your costs. Who knows what coal, oil, natural gas are going to cost 10 years from now, but we’re going to know to the penny what that solar array is going to cost us 10 years from now,’ Commissioner Mark Higgins said in November.

State and federal solar energy tax credits and incentives also would be available.”

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“Centre Co. Commissioners say new paid parental leave policy could provide long-term savings”

WTAJ-TV - February 28, 2019

 

“Centre County: the first in Central PA to offer paid parental leave to employees”

WTAJ-TV - February 28, 2019

 

“CENTRE COUNTY GOVERNMENT APPROVES PAID TIME OFF POLICY FOR NEW PARENTS”

Radio.wpsu.org - February 25, 2019

“Centre County Commissioners approved the policy change on Tuesday allowing employees to get paid time off when having, adopting or fostering children. The policy takes effect immediately.

“Under the new rule, an employee of Centre County government will get six weeks paid time off after having a baby, adopting one or becoming a foster parent.

More than 450 Centre County employees will be eligible. Pipe said they’ve crunched the numbers and in the past, the cost comes out to about $80,000 a year for an average of 12 employees taking time off for a new child. Pipe said that adds up to a fraction of the total budget — about one-tenth of 1 percent of the total county budget or about 1/4 of 1 percent of the cost of salaries.

“It allows us to support families at a minimal cost for the county," Pipe said. "And we hope that it’s going to retain and actually attract more folks to come to work for Centre County government.””

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“County Continues Work on Partnership to Expand Broadband Access to Rural Areas”

StateCollege.com - February 28, 2019

“Centre County commissioners this week approved entering contract negotiations for a project that aims to use 911 towers to expand broadband internet service to underserved rural areas…

Commissioner Mark Higgins noted that rural broadband is one of six priorities this year for the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. Pipe, meanwhile, said officials outside of Centre County are interested in the project.

‘The state stakeholders who are interested in broadband, from our representatives to our senator all the way to the governor’s office, have interest in this and are watching very closely to see what kind of customer buy-in occurs,’ Pipe said.”

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“Centre County: the first in Central PA to offer paid parental leave to employees”

WTAJ - February 28, 2019

 

“Centre County commissioners push family leave policy to consent agenda”

Lock Haven Express - February 22, 2019

“Family first.

At this week’s Centre County Commissioners’ meeting, the commissioners moved a trio of policies regarding leave of absence, public communications and office closings to next week’s consent agenda. And while they were all significant in their own right, the leave of absence policy stood out.

If the measure passes on Tuesday, Centre County will become the first county government in central Pennsylvania to offer paid parental leave to its employees.”

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“Commissioners Higgins, Pipe to Seek Re-election”

StateCollege.com - February 11, 2019

“Centre County Commissioners Mark Higgins and Michael Pipe jointly announced on Monday their campaign to seek re-election this year.

Pipe, who currently serves as chair of the Board of Commissioners, is seeking a third term, while Higgins is running for a second. Both are Democrats.”

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“A ‘clearinghouse’ for local food is coming to Centre County. Here’s how it works”

Centre Daily Times - February 9, 2019

“Producers of food are plentiful in Centre County. In fact, Centre County holds more than 1,100 farms, which sold over $91.5 million in agricultural products, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

But only 1 percent of food produced in the county is actually consumed here, according to Commissioner Mark Higgins, proponent of a cheese factory in Centre County.”

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“New voting machines to be ready for May elections”

Centre County Gazette - February 7, 2019

“The election staff will be trained and ready to go by Election Day, but the equipment is not that different to operate than the old equipment. The commissioners said voters should be able to navigate Election Day without much difficulty…

Commissioner Mark Higgins said Centre was one of the only counties in the state to hold two public town hall meetings concerning the voting machines, and the county received encouraging feedback.”

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“Centre approves purchase of new voting machines”

The Express - February 7, 2019

“After looking at several different options, the Centre County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of new countywide voting machines at a cost of $1.2 million…

According to Pipe, the change is a win-win for voters, officials and poll workers.

‘This allows us to stay paper-based with our ballots,’ Pipe said. ‘It improves the ADA accessibility with these new machines and gives us some safeguarding improvements we may not have had with our current machines but just adds another layer of safeguarding and security.’ ”

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“Centre County to spend $1.2 million to buy new voting machines

Centre Daily Times - February 5, 2019

“New voting machines costing $1.2 million will be hitting Centre County in the next couple of months, after county Commissioners approved the purchase at their meeting Tuesday.”

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“Centre Co. purchases new election equipment”

WTAJ - February 5, 2019

 

“Centre County Moves Forward with Purchase of New Voting Machines”

StateCollege.com - February 5, 2019

“Centre County's Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the purchase of new countywide voting systems for $1.2 million…

Commissioner Mark Higgins noted that ES&S also came in with the most affordable option. He added that for counties that were not using a paper ballot system, the change may have a learning curve. But in Centre County, voters and election workers shouldn't have an issue.

‘For your average citizen, it’s not going to seem any different at all,’ he said. ‘It’s still a paper ballot. You’re still filling in bubbles. For our elections workers, it is the same vendor.’ ”

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“Centre County Commissioners honor SpringBoard Startup Challenge winners”

The Express - January 24, 2019

“It was a big day for Centre County entrepreneurs on Tuesday at the Centre County Commissioners meeting… ‘We wanted to honor our local entrepreneurs,’ Higgins said. ‘They’re going to help create a lot of jobs.’ ”

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“Centre Commissioners donate $500,000 to new health care facility”

The Express - January 12, 2019

“Centre County Commissioners presented a check for $500,000 to Centre Care on Friday as a donation to the nonprofit’s effort to build the county’s newest state-of-the-art health center.

Centre Care, the nonprofit that currently operates Centre Crest in Bellefonte, plans to open a new 240-bed nursing facility on the Benner Pike in 2020.

‘The Board of Commissioners is honored to assist in the future growth of Centre Crest. The transition to a new, modernized facility will serve the residents of Centre County for generations to come. The $500,000 county contribution is presented in memory of all those who have and will need care from the Centre Crest team,’ Commissioner Michael Pipe said.”

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“Centre County focusing on improving quality of life”

The Express - January 1, 2019

“According to chair Michael Pipe, there’s a lot on the horizon for Centre County.

‘In 2019, I’m looking forward to continuing to improve the quality of life in Centre County. The county will be ocusing on many projects including upgrading our voting machines, renovating our historic courthouse, improving our energy infrastructure throughout our county buildings, enhancing 9-1-1 and public safety in our communities, and finding innovative ways to help invest and grow our small businesses,’ Pipe said. ‘The future success of these programs and initiatives is made possible through teamwork and partnerships. That’s why I’m especially looking forward to being a part of the ongoing commitment to collaboration in Centre County government.’

The upgrade of voting machines will be done soon. In December, the commissioners hosted a Town Hall meeting where residents could get an up close and personal look at the machines. It gave them a chance to “kick the tires” and ask questions.

‘This is a long term commitment,’ commissioner Mark Higgins said during the Town Hall meeting. ‘This equipment usually lasts 15 to 20 years because you only use it two days a year.’ ”

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“Centre County commissioners adopt budget”

The Express - December 28, 2018

“Commissioner Mark Higgins applauded the efforts of everyone who helped put the budget together.

‘A lot of effort went into it. A number of department heads started on it back in July,’ Higgins said. ‘Here we are at the end of December, finally approving everything … no property tax increase from Centre County Government for the ninth year in a row.” …

Commissioner Michael Pipe said that Centre County continues to serve its residents well.

‘Not only is there no tax increase, but no services are being decreased. In many cases, we are increasing services. That should be noted as well. We are not cutting anywhere,’ Pipe said.”

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“COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HOPE STATE PICKS UP BILL FOR NEW VOTING MACHINES”

Radio.wpsu.org - December 20, 2019

“As Pennsylvania pushes ahead with plans for new voting machines that produce a paper trail, some counties are concerned about the costs.

The board of the SEDA-Council of Governments, a development agency that serves 11 counties in central Pennsylvania, recently came out against the state’s mandate that all counties get new paper-trail voting machines by 2020.

“Centre County voted against the SEDA-COG resolution. Commissioner Mark Higgins said the voters and poll workers he’s spoken with want systems that have a paper trail.

But, he understands where the other commissioners are coming from.

“Unfunded mandates as a commissioner — it’s not fun," Higgins said. "It’s somebody else saying, ‘Hey, here’s a good thing. You guys pay for it.’”

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“Centre County lets residents, poll workers check out new voting machines”

The Express - December 11, 2018

“A crowd of approximately 100 Centre County residents turned out on Monday night for a Town Hall meeting to discuss new voting machines.

The Centre County Commissioners … hosted the event, which was held at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology…

‘It’s good to see engaged people. We’re seeing many people who work those 16-hour days on Election Day,’ Pipe said. ‘We have poll workers here and people who are just interested in the election process. They want to see what happens with their vote, they care about voting and they want to see what the future holds.’ …

Commissioner Mark Higgins was thrilled with the turnout. He was happy to see Centre County residents “kicking the tires” on the new machines.

‘Great turnout,’ Higgins said. ‘I want to compliment our citizens and especially our election workers. We definitely wanted them to test the equipment, ask a lot of questions and give us some feedback.’ ”

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“No tax increase in proposed 2019 Centre County budget”

The Express - December 5, 2018

"Good news, Centre County residents: The tentative 2019 budget features no tax increase. …

‘It’s the ninth consecutive year without a property tax increase and that doesn’t just happen,’ Pipe said. ‘It happens through diligence and hard work of every single team member here in Centre County.’ ”

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“New voting machines are coming to Centre County. How will they be different?”

Centre Daily Times - November 30, 2018

“As part of a swift timetable for all Pennsylvania counties to have new voting machines with verifiable paper trails, the Department of State hosted a voting machine expo in Centre County Thursday night for residents, poll workers and commissioners to test and give commentary on new voting machines…

‘We’re looking forward to receiving feedback from the citizens, and most especially, from our election workers. Because they’re the ones that show up at 6 in the morning and are often working until 10 at night,’ Higgins said. ‘So if we could receive some slight productivity improvements with the new (voting) equipment, that would be great, but our focus is gonna be, paper based, audit-able, very transparent, voter-verifiable ballots, and the ability to rerun elections for months into the future.’ ”

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“Centre County honors veterans in Sunday ceremony”

The Express - November 12, 2018

“Chilly temperatures didn’t deter hundreds of Centre County residents, political leaders and, of course, veterans from turning out and packing the lawn at the Centre County Courthouse on Veterans Day for a pair of special ceremonies…

Following the traditional Veterans Day ceremony, the Centre County commissioners … helped re-dedicate the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and Andrew Gregg Curtin Monument that have stood in front of the courthouse since 1916.

The approximately $120,000 project was helped along by a $49,475 Keystone Historic Preservation grant from the state, while the remaining cost was covered by Centre County government.”

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“How secure is casting your vote in Centre County?”

Centre Daily Times - November 5, 2018

“ ‘There are many different checks and balances that occur’ on Election Day, said Centre County Commissioner Chairman Michael Pipe.”

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“Checks and Balances Keeps Voting in Centre County Secure”

Centre Daily Times - November 5, 2018

 

“New Grant to Repair Centre Co. Bridges”

WTAJ - October 18, 2018

 

“State, county and local officials discuss repairs of ‘challenging’ bridges”

Centre Daily Times - October 18, 2018

“State, county and local government officials came together Thursday to discuss the uses of a $1.365 million Pennsylvania Department of Transportation grant that will fix three structurally deficient bridges in Centre County.”

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“Centre County’s Board of Commissioners having press conference”

The Express - October 18, 2018

“Centre County’s Board of Commissioners are hosting a press conference at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18 to accept a $1,365,000 state grant to fund bridge repairs. Included in the Local Bridge Bundle Project are the Fox Gap Road Bridge in Miles Township, Lower Coleville Road Bridge in Spring Township, and the Front Street Bridge in Curtin Township.”

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“Final hearing Wednesday on Centre, Bellefonte CDBG funds”

The Express - September 21, 2018

“Centre County’s list of projects under consideration for grant funding include: construction of a new potable water storage tank in Unionville Borough ($272,552), with approximately $59,910 earmarked for grant administration.”

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“Storage building approved for the Centre County Safety Center”

The Express - September 19, 2018

“Giving the final nod to a state grant-contract, the Centre County Board of Commissioners also approved agreements with two vendors for construction of an equipment storage building at the Centre County Public Safety Training Center…

A member of the Centre County Public Safety Training Center advisory committee, Higgins said it is the first substantial construction in years at the Training Center, which offers training for firefighters and emergency responders throughout a 12-county region.”

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“Energy-Saving Projects Move Forward for the County”

StateCollege.com - September 10, 2018

“The Centre County Commissioners have agreed to proceed with a $4.7 million project that will update some of the county's older buildings with energy-saving improvements, with plans to cut energy costs and save the county money in the long run.” …

‘This will be the single largest investments into the Centre County energy infrastructure in quite some time, and it is going to serve not only us today, but well into the future,’ said Chairman Commissioner Mike Pipe.

Added Commissioner Mark Higgins, “Between choosing the new electric supplier and these 11 projects, we have the potential to save the citizens of Centre County several million dollars over a 20-year period in energy costs.”

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“Centre proclaims National Recovery Month”

The Express - September 5, 2018

“Acknowledging not only addiction’s pervasiveness in Pennsylvania but the need for treatment and the potential for recovery, the Centre County Board of Commissioners voted to proclaim September 2018 as “National Recovery Month” at its meeting on Tuesday…

‘It’s a major issue for Centre County,’ said board vice-chair Mark Higgins. ‘I attended many events over this weekend and talked with many people who have addiction in their families. We have to get control over it.’ ”

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“Centre eyes solar energy for savings”

The Express - August 2, 2018

“The Centre County commissioners remain in support of a solar component in the county’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Act program.

The program, a partnership between the county and McClure Co., Inc. offers an energy audit identifying 12 projects that, as estimated, could save the county $5.6 million in energy costs over time.”

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“FEDERAL FUNDING MEANS I-80/I-99 INTERCHANGE PROJECT FINALLY HAPPENING”

Radio.wpsu.org - August 1, 2018

“Politicians, business leaders and Centre County officials came together Tuesday to celebrate a $35 million federal transportation grant that will go toward the Interstate 80 and 99 interchange project.

“’PennDOT expects to put the first part of the project — the new local interchange — out for bid in spring 2020. Construction will take an estimated two years. The second part of the project will be a high-speed interchange. The project has a total pricetag of $185 million.”

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“Could a new cheese factory help Centre County’s struggling dairy farms?”

Centre Daily Times - July 18, 2018

“Centre County has many amenities — more than 1,000 farms, University Park Airport, two busy interstates, a highly skilled workforce and the capability to process large amounts of sewage — that are attractive to dairy processors, Higgins said.

However, those companies aren’t currently jumping at the opportunity to expand. Higgins said state and county officials are in the process of courting potential processors, but that could take a year or two and then another year and a half to have a factory up and running.

‘This is a priority and we need to keep pushing on it because we have dairy farmers going bankrupt… And we need to give them hope and we need to be proactive in assisting them,’ Higgins said.”

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“A Hub for Innovation”

Pennsylvania Business Central - June 29, 2018

“ ‘If you go to one of the major meccas for entrepreneurship with a million dollars, that million dollars isn’t going to last you long,’ Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said. ‘If you have a million dollars in places like Pittsburgh, or even better, State College, you can make it last years. We’ve got a high quality of life, we’re fairly affordable compared to almost all competition and our location is sort of in the center of everything but also in the middle of nowhere.’ ”

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“Centre to extend tax benefits for Philipsburg firm”

The Express - June 27, 2018

“A manufacturer within the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Park is looking to expand and provide more employment opportunities in the Centre region.

During their Tuesday meeting, the Centre County Board of Commissioners discussed a resolution that would provide tax benefits to Advanced Powder Products, Inc., or APP, which will be breaking ground soon on an approximately $5 million expansion.”

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“Centre eyes pedestrian safety improvements”

The Express - June 20, 2018

“The Centre County Commissioners are looking to help increase pedestrian safety in State College…

[T]he county will be submitting a liquid fuels application to PennDOT in the amount of $30,000 for pedestrian safety improvements at West College Avenue and Corl Street… The county’s liquid fuels fund is used to supports its municipalities’ construction, reconstruction and maintenance and repair of transportation infrastructure.

‘It’s a great application and we look forward to approval,’ said Commissioner Mike Pipe.”

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“Centre supports grant application to enhance Holt Library”

The Express - June 13, 2018

“During the Tuesday meeting of the Centre County Commissioners, a resolution was made in support of the application for the Keystone Grant for the Philipsburg-based Holt Memorial Library. The funding will go toward a more energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system”.

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“Bellefonte borough switches to LED lights to save money and environment”

WJAC- June 13, 2018

“ ‘It’s a significant advantage to the led street lighting, it last 2-4 times longer than traditional lights,’ Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said. ‘You’re going to save a lot of money on replacing the bulbs and having people out on very high extension ladders or cherry pickers replacing those bulbs…they’ll also save about $14,000 in energy cost alone.’ …

‘Energy efficiency is becoming more and more cost effective, which is tremendous. It’s a win for everybody,’ Higgins said.”

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“Centre supports $615,000 Hess Farm conservation project”

The Express - May 30, 2018

“The Centre County Commissioners are on board with ClearWater Conservancy’s conservation easement acquisition of the Hess Farm in State College.

During their Tuesday meeting, the commissioners approved writing a letter of support to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for a request of $250,000, the maximum available amount, in funding from the Greenways, Trails and Recreation grant program.”

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“Chamber of Commerce to celebrate 80 years”

The Express - May 2, 2018

“Eighty years of helping the growth of small and big businesses, along with nonprofits, is quite a big benchmark, one that the Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce (BIACC) is proud to celebrate this month.

At their Tuesday, May 1 meeting, the Centre County Board of Commissioners recognized this achievement with a special proclamation, proclaiming the week of May 6 through May 12 as Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce Week…

‘Bellefonte’s a wonderful place and the Chamber is a big part of that,’ Higgins said.”

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“Scholarships available for EMS volunteers in Centre”

The Express - April 26, 2018

“Centre County government is offering scholarships to encourage new emergency responder volunteers.

The scholarships may be used for any certificate or degree program offered by Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI) or South Hills School of Business and Technology.”

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“Centre makes plans for $382K in CDBG funds”

The Express - April 25 2018

“The Centre County Commissioners have approved a contract totaling $382,213 for community development projects in the boroughs of Bellefonte and Millheim.

These two projects, handicap barrier removal in Bellefonte’s Masullo and Governors parks and water transmission main replacement in the north side of Millheim, will be funded through a 2017 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).”

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“Centre supports $300,000 grant for wildlife center”

The Express - April 11, 2018

“With the help of grant money, the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation may soon have a $1.8-million recreation project underway.

‘We have got beautiful natural resources here in Centre County, a lot of state parks; it’s a wonderful place to recreate and this would just augment that,’ Commissioner Mike Pipe said. ‘This will be a really nice thing for our community.’ ”

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“Centre eyes lease agreement with wildlife foundation”

The Express - April 4, 2018

“A $1.8 million trails project may be on the horizon for Centre County.

At the Tuesday morning meeting of the Centre County Board of Commissioners, a 25-year lease agreement with the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation was discussed…

Over the years, the wildlife foundation has been involved in a number of similar ADA and wildlife projects, including one in Berks County, Commissioner Mike Pipe said.

‘They’ve done some of these ADA and wildlife projects and have seen great results, so they are trying to replicate that here. It’s a great investment that they’re making in the area and if we can get towards a finale on this and assist them, it would be great,’ Pipe said.”

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“Centre supports $1.95 million at-risk bridge bundle project”

The Express - March 14, 2018

“At Tuesday’s meeting, the Centre County Commissioners vocalized their support for a bridge bundle project that the county is re-seeking funding to save these three bridges.”

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“Centre approves bonds to help Mount Nittany”

The Express - February 7, 2018

“During the Tuesday morning meeting, the Centre County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to have the Centre County Hospital Authority issue tax-exempt bonds, the proceeds of which will not exceed $80 million, to assist Mount Nittany Medical Center. This, in conjunction with a combination of taxable bonds, will provide funds to refinance a portion of the authority’s hospital revenue bonds and approximately $32 million worth of capital projects that will take place at Mount Nittany’s area medical facilities.”

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“Ready, Set, Bellefonte!”

State College Magazine - February 1, 2018

“ ‘When cyclists go on vacation, they spend the second most of any type of active sport vacationer,’ says Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins. Golfers spend the most but typically stay at resorts, where their spending is concentrated. ‘Cyclists are going to stay at a B&B, they’re going to go to State Burger Co. or The Blonde Bistro for lunch, they’re going to go to a brewpub for dinner.’ ”

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“‘At-risk’ bridges getting attention in Centre County”

The Express - January 24, 2018

“On Tuesday, the Centre County commissioners considered increasing county funding for the Township Route 810 Gum Stump Road Bridge, which will be replaced thanks to Act 13 Local At-Risk Bridge funding.

The increase will receive final approval at next Tuesday’s meeting.

The funding increase will be from $25,000 to $84,250, which will cover 25 percent of the project”.

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“Centre County drug court is up and running”

Centre Daily Times - January 11, 2018

“After about two years of preparation, Centre County officials announced on Thursday that the drug court program is officially operating…

In October, Center County received a federal grant of $400,000 to start the drug court, and according to Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe, the county will assess the taxpayer savings as the program progresses.”

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“Commissioners discuss adoption of resolution for redistricting reform”

The Express - January 10, 2018

“ ‘It’s a great opportunity to reduce some of the divisiveness we have within congress, within the general assembly and Harrisburg, and allow for some more compromise and dialogue to occur,’ said Commissioner Mike Pipe…

Commissioner Mark Higgins said the reelection rate for a lot of elected officials in gerrymandered districts is about 97 percent.

‘In my opinion, if you have a competitive district, you’re going to serve your constituents better, so I think we need a resolution and we need some changes in the state,’ he said.”

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“Centre grant aims to combat violence”

The Express - January 3, 2018

“Centre County’s efforts to combat domestic and sexual violence continues to grow, with continued grant funding in the new year…

‘I really want to thank PCCD for increasing the amount,’ said Commissioner Mike Pipe. ‘There were some decreases in the initial funding and a lot of victim advocates across the state had advocated for additional funding.’ ”

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“Centre adopts budget with no tax increase”

The Express - December 20, 2017

“Centre will see county property taxes remain the same for the eighth year in a row.”

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“Centre adopts proposed budget with no tax increase”

The Express - November 29, 2017

“Centre County remains committed to preventing a tax increase, with a new budget calling for no increase for the eighth consecutive year…

‘It’s a huge credit to the department management and staff in Centre County government,’ said Commissioner Mark Higgins. ‘I know of a broad variety of other counties that had significantly larger deficits than Centre County is projecting, and in actuality, I think for the last two years we projected small deficits. Then, as the budget year went on, we ended up with a very small surplus.’ ” …

‘A lot of hard work has gone into this, a lot of effort, and it truly represents our commitment to continue these services to the people of Centre County,’ said Commissioner Mike Pipe.”

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“Proposed 2018 Centre County budget doesn’t raise real estate taxes”

Centre Daily Times - November 28, 2017

“Centre County won’t increase its real estate tax for the eighth consecutive year.”

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“Centre gets $750,000 for sewer project”

The Express - November 15, 2017

“Wastewater issues in the village of Potters Mills will become a thing of the past… [T]he county was awarded $959,000 last week to help with a project that will create a public sewer system to alleviate water contamination in Potters Mills…

It is the biggest competitive grant the county has ever applied for [and] may be the biggest competitive grant the state has awarded.

‘That’s going to benefit the citizens of Potters Mills, especially those on a fixed income, because we will be able to reduce their monthly fees for the new system,’ Commissioner Mark Higgins said.

The project is shovel ready…and work is expected to begin next summer.”

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“Centre officials hear findings of space utilization study”

The Express - November 9, 2017

“ ‘We’ve already had the District Attorney’s Office moved over to the Temple Court building, and we want to be very cognizant and thoughtful about the next moves that occur within the courthouse, annex and Temple Court building,’ said Commissioner Mike Pipe.”

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“Potters Mills sewer project nets $750,000 grant”

Centre Daily Times - November 3, 2017

“About seven years ago, Potter Township identified that some of the sewer systems in the Potters Mills area were malfunctioning. Now, they finally have the funding to fix the problems.

The township has been awarded a $750,000 grant to help fund the construction of a public sewer system in Potters Mills…

The funding comes through the state Community Development Block Grant program, which Centre County applied for on the township’s behalf.”

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“Centre seeks naloxone grant, plans to digitize court records”

The Express - November 1, 2017

“Centre County is ramping up its efforts to stop opioid overdoses… ‘As we have expanded the program, it has saved additional lives in the last couple months,’ said Commissioner Mark Higgins…

In other business, county court records dating back to 1800 will soon be digitized… According to Debra Immel, county prothonotary and clerk of courts, [the vendor] will digitize 366 docket books which contain civil and criminal cases that have gone through court. The docket books date from 1800 to 1994.

‘This project is a benefit by improving public access, while preserving our books,’ Immel said.”

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“Centre to host economic town hall meeting”

The Express - October 24, 2017

“The Centre County commissioners will host a town hall meeting this week to talk about economic data and future opportunities.

The Penn State Extension, Center for Economic and Community Development and the Penn State Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education have compiled key economic data that can create opportunity for more jobs and investment, commissioners believe.”

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“Officials support $185M in Centre road projects”

The Express - October 18, 2017

“Centre County is hoping to make the I-99 and I-80 interchanges safer.

During the Tuesday meeting of the Centre County Board of Commissioners [were] asked for a letter of support to apply for grant funding for projects that will connect the two interstates, which the commissioners unanimously approved. The projects are estimated to cost $185,450,000.”

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“Centre officials discuss successful flood repairs”

The Express - October 11, 2017

“It has been less than a year since last October’s severe storm flooded parts of Centre County, and now, 10 affected landowners’ properties have been repaired.”

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“Work completed on 3 sites damaged by last year’s flooding”

Centre Daily Times - October 10, 2017

“The Centre County commissioners were updated Tuesday on watershed work in response to erosion and flooding caused by heavy rains in 2016…

The county was awarded $187,800 in grant funding, he said, and more than 30 sites were evaluated by the conservation service and the state Department of Environmental Protection. In the end, he said, three sites owned by 10 separate landowners were deemed eligible for work…

[Staff] thanked the commissioners for sponsoring the project, saying the county made it easier for work to get done by coming to the commissioners for the agreement instead of needing to go to the individual municipalities.”

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“Centre drug court receives $400,000 grant”

The Express - October 4, 2017

“ ‘If we implement this correctly, we can help upwards of maybe a dozen to two dozen people at the same time,’ said Commissioner Mark Higgins. ‘Move them out of the correctional facility and integrate them into the community much more quickly, which helps a dozen to two dozen families every couple of years and reduces expenses at the correctional facility.’ ”

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“Centre to pursue CDBG funds for sewage treatment”

The Express - September 27, 2017

“The Centre County Board of Commissioners has authorized Potter Township to apply for the biggest competitive grant the county has ever applied for.

During their Tuesday, Sept. 26 meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the township moving forward with the application to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for $1 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to help with a project to resolve wastewater issues in the village of Potters Mills.”

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“Officials plan for new surveillance at Centre prison”

The Express - September 20, 2017

“A video surveillance replacement project will be taking place at the Centre County Correctional Facility.”

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“Parking lot expansion to benefit Centre”

The Express - September 13, 2017

“Only initial plans for the county repurposing of the facility will take place over the next few years, which will include gathering information and ideas from the community, Commissioner Mark Higgins said. The top priority is to help the facility with its move, and the future plans of the facility will be discussed further under the term of a new board of commissioners.”

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“Officials OK tax benefits for Centre business park lots”

The Express - September 6, 2017

“ ‘There’s a lot going on in Philipsburg, thanks in part to the MVEDP and the downtown improvement district,’ said Commissioner Mark Higgins. ‘At this point, we have three business incubators in Philipsburg.’ ”

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“Centre moves forward with office space study”

The Express - August 16, 2017

“The county is moving forward with a space feasibility study of its courthouse, courthouse annex and Temple Court buildings.”

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“Centre looks at $7M of road improvements”

The Express - July 26, 2017

“Over the next five years in Centre County, at least $7 million could be invested into local infrastructure projects and at least 105 additional jobs could be created and/or retained.”

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“5-year infrastructure plan estimates county could create 100 jobs by 2022”

Centre Daily Times - July 25, 2017

“The Centre County board of commissioners is considering implementing a five-year transportation infrastructure funding plan that could create jobs and address backlogged construction projects…

Commissioner Mark Higgins said the construction projects generated by the increase in revenue will stimulate the economy and create jobs.”

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“Centre looks toward $1.7 million bridge projects”

The Express - July 12, 2017

“Centre County is hoping to receive funding to repair three large-scale structurally-deficient bridges, projects that will accumulatively cost $1.7 million.”

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“Centre officials approve submission of grant to aid re-entry program”

The Express - June 21, 2017

“ ‘This is really a model, after the HOPE initiative has done an excellent job,’ Commissioner Mike Pipe said. ‘They got a website up and this is almost sort of copying that and just changing some of the names and individuals associated with it. It’s been a great asset to the HOPE coalition.’

“The website created by the HOPE (Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education) initiative has really helped get the word out in the county, especially in terms of education, events, and how to help out, Pipe added.

“ ‘The reentry coalition has been doing a wonderful job,’ Commissioner Mark Higgins said. ‘I know the number of county inmates in our facilities has been on a relatively steady decrease ever since that group started working. That’s more grandparents taking care of grandchildren, more parents taking care of their kids, more young adults helping to contribute to their family and assisting everyone in the county.’

“The Centre County Reentry Coalition was formed in 2014 with the mission to identify new ways and programs that would successfully return incarcerated individuals to the community.”

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“Centre County thanks senior volunteers”

The Express - June 16, 2017

“The Centre County Commissioners recently adopted a proclamation recognizing the valuable contribution made by the more than 800 volunteers of RSVP. A plaque was presented with the words ‘Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Lifetime Achievement Awards, Centre County Board of Commissioners.’

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“Centre OKs bid for repair of flood-damaged properties”

The Express - June 14, 2017

“The bids have been made and Centre County is ready to move forward with repair of five properties that were significantly damaged by last October’s flooding…

The five properties are broken into three projects based on the three areas in the county that were approved for funding from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program”.

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“Bellefonte historical monument to be repaired and preserved”

Centre Daily Times - May 23, 2017

“The Centre County board of commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract to restore and preserve the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and Curtin Monument located in front of the courthouse…

Last year, the county was awarded a Keystone Historic Preservation Construction grant of almost $50,000 through the state Historical and Museum Commission…

‘This is a several months process,’ board Chairman Michael Pipe said. ‘But the end result is really going to help preserve something that is a gem to downtown Bellefonte.’ ”

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“Centre officials pass resolution opposing state funding cuts”

The Express - May 17, 2017

“The state has proposed $782,460 in funding cuts to key services in Centre County, and the commissioners are not happy.

During the Tuesday, May 16 meeting of the Centre County Board of Commissioners, a resolution was unanimously approved to oppose these cuts, which arise from PA State House Bill 218, the Pennsylvania House budget. They sent a letter to local legislators that stresses the importance of funding these services.

‘We have the responsibility of making sure that our legislators understand the effects of some of the votes they are putting out in Harrisburg,’ Pipe said.”

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“Commissioners want to save police barracks”

The Express - May 3, 2017

“The Centre County Board of Commissioners have put their full support behind saving the Philipsburg State Police barracks.

At the May 5 meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved sending a drafted letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, a letter which asks the governor to reconsider his decision to close it…

‘It pinpoints the tens of thousands of citizens who currently receive state police protection and talks about Centre County being the fourth largest county in the state,’ said Commissioner Mark Higgins. ‘I don’t know if it mentions it, but the county population is the second fastest growing in the state as well.’ ”

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“April proclaimed awareness, prevention month in Centre County”

Centre Daily Times - April 10, 2017

“With blue ribbons tied to nearby trees and blue pinwheels blowing in the breeze, officials declared April as both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month in Centre County.”

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“Town hall discusses additional transportation funding in Centre”

The Express - April 10, 2017

“Centre County has the potential to bring in an additional $602,685 annually for transportation projects throughout the county…

Based on a survey the commissioners sent to all county municipalities, 12 of the 19 responding municipalities are in favor of the additional fee and have said that it would be very helpful in projects that they need completed in their jurisdictions.”

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“Start-up giving voice to the voiceless in Centre County”

The Express - March 14, 2017

“Those who cannot speak can have their voice heard through biomedical speech devices, and one project in Centre County is making the option more affordable.

Project Vive, pronounced “vee-vay,” which is Spanish for “to live,” is one of the first startup businesses to graduate from Happy Valley LaunchBox and was created by a recent Penn State and Happy Valley LaunchBox graduate, Mary Elizabeth McCulloch, of Milesburg…

According to Commissioner Mark Higgins, Project Vive is the type of startup business that the county would like to see flourish in one of its business incubators, such as the upcoming Bellefonte SpringBoard incubator.”

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“Historic grant could help Centre courthouse”

The Express - March 1, 2017

“Centre County is hoping for a $100,000 grant to fix retaining walls at the courthouse…

The county commissioners have authorized the planning department to go for a Keystone Historic Preservation Construction grant to rehabilitate the deteriorating concrete-parged retaining walls that surround the left and right sides of the courthouse.”

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“Centre considers grant to help fund drug court”

The Express - January 25, 2017

“Centre County is looking into a national grant that could help fund a drug court that it plans to start this October…

The Bureau of Justice Assistance grant, if awarded, would provide a maximum of $400,000 over a period of 36 months. Arbogast said that the grant could be used to fund court operations and services, participant supervision, case management, and treatment services.

“The big reason why we are doing a drug court is because it works,” said Commissioner Mike Pipe. “It’s shown it works; it has effectiveness.”

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“Centre projects hopeful to receive state assistance”

The Express - January 18, 2017

“At least six Centre County redevelopment projects, from economic development projects to new facilities that will benefit the local community, are hoping to be included in the state capital budget this year…

Examples of uses for the county and Moshannon Valley economic development projects include assistance with entrepreneurship and expansion of a current employer, explained Commissioner Mark Higgins.

‘I’m glad to see the planning department working on this type of thing so we can help create more jobs in Centre County,’ Higgins said.”

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CDT 2016 Year in Review: County Government

Centre Daily Times - December 30, 2016

The competence and resolve of the officials was placed front and center in October when the county experienced historic flooding in Milesburg and Howard.

County commissioners Pipe, Higgins and Dershem declared a disaster emergency on Oct. 21, and oversaw the recovery efforts, which included applying for financial relief from government agencies, such as Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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“Centre OKs budget, Money for housing”

The Express - December 21, 2016

“Centre County homeowners will not see a tax increase to their county real estate taxes next year.”

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“Centre considers funding sustainable home project”

The Express - December 15 2016

“The State College Community Land Trust wants to make affordable, sustainable homes a reality for homeowners in Centre County…

Recent data shows that low- and middle- class families use about 17 to 19 percent of their income for energy costs. [Chair of GreenBuild and State College Community Land Trust volunteer, Peg] Hambrick said that the GreenBuild homes will ensure that homeowners only use about two percent of their income on energy.”

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“Centre talks federal flood assistance”

The Express - December 8, 2016

“Centre County will receive federal public assistance to help several areas damaged by the October flash flooding…

[T]he federal disaster declaration that President Barack Obama signed will open federal funding for 75 percent reimbursement to local municipalities, which will assist with public infrastructure damage. The state may then reimburse part of the remaining 25 percent, up to 23 percent, for the affected municipalities.

The funding will cover flood damages to Park Forest Middle School in State College, along with damage to roadways, bridges, culverts, railways, and other transportation-related public infrastructure”.

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“Federal disaster funding announced for October flooding”

Centre Daily Times - December 2, 2016

“The federal reimbursement will cover up to 75 percent of county costs, according to the release. Eligible expenses include ‘costs associated with paying overtime, repairs to damaged public infrastructure, equipment rentals, materials, search and rescue operations, and opening and operating shelters.’ ”

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“Work continues to help flood victims in Centre County”

The Express - November 16, 2016

“A lot is being done to help the 408 households and businesses that have reported damages from the recent flooding in the Bald Eagle area.

At their Tuesday morning meeting, the Centre County Board of Commissioners heard a flood update from Faith Ryan, director of Centre County Adult Services, and Jeff Wharran, director of Centre County Emergency Management Agency.”

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“Centre County praised for response to flooding”

Centre Daily Times - October 25, 2016

“The impact of last week’s disastrous flooding in Centre County is far-reaching, but so is the community’s support of those in need.

Both the flooding and how people can receive help were topics of discussion at Tuesday’s Centre County Board of Commissioners meeting.

‘Phenomenal,’ ‘fantastic’ and ‘incredible’ were words used to describe the response.”

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“It may be the ‘worst case of flooding’ in more than a decade”

Centre Daily Times - October 21, 2016

“Centre County Commissioners Mike Pipe, Mark Higgins and Steve Dershem have declared a disaster emergency in Centre County.

More than 100 Milesburg and Howard residents were rescued and evacuated due to flooding early Friday morning. Bald Eagle Area High School is being used as a shelter by the American Red Cross for those evacuated.”

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“Centre supports Philipsburg for facade grant”

The Express - October 12, 2016

“The commissioners unanimously approved a motion to sign a letter of support for the request of the grant [that] would be used to rehabilitate buildings in need of help, which includes repointing bricks, masonry work and fixing other structural issues with buildings.”…

“Commissioner Mark Higgins pointed out that there are currently two groups that are looking to move into Philipsburg, and each of those groups would bring half a dozen to a dozen additional jobs to the area. In addition, the Philipsburg Business Incubator recently gained its first tenant.

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“Centre County declares October Domestic Violence Awareness Month”

The Express - September 28, 2016

“During their Tuesday morning meeting, the Centre County Commissioners proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the county and approved the 2017 STOP Violence Against Women continuation grant application. The grant, which is between the county and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, comes to a total of $145,000, with $125,000 federal funding, $10,000 in funding from State College Borough and $10,000 in county funding.”

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“Centre applies for housing assistance grant”

The Express - September 7, 2016

“At Tuesday’s meeting, Centre County Commissioners approved a grant application that would provide housing assistance for the local homeless population.

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant would provide rental assistance, security deposit and case management support to homeless individuals and families for up to 12 months.”…

“The county aims to help 26 individuals, including children in the first year.”

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“Commissioner seeks replacement for closing bank”

Centre Daily Times - August 30, 2016

“County Commissioner Mark Higgins sent out a plea to area banks Tuesday — Snow Shoe needs your help.

‘I have a lot of admiration for the people of Snow Shoe,’ Higgins said. ‘They’re fighters.’

The residents of the Snow Shoe area banded together to save the Mountaintop Area Medical Center and the Mountaintop Area Pool, he said. They now face the challenge of losing their only bank.

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“Centre declares suicide awareness month”

The Express - August 19, 2016

“For the fourth consecutive year, Jana Marie Foundation and the Centre County Board of Commissioners are working together to proclaim September as Suicide Prevention Month and Sept. 10, as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day.”

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“Centre Commissioners: Buy from local farmers”

The Express - July 27, 2016

“The week of July 31 through August 6 has officially been declared “Local Foods Week” in Centre County.”

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“Centre officials support town hall meetings on opioid crisis”

The Express - July 6, 2016

“The Centre County Commissioners announced their support for a series of town hall meetings focused on the growing heroin and opioid crisis in the area.”

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“Centre trail grant application gets the green light”

The Express - June 29, 2016

“The Centre County commissioners announced Tuesday the necessary pledges have been made to complete the grant application for a proposed greenway trail connecting Bellefonte to Milesburg.”

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“Centre supports grant application for recreation”

The Express - June 22, 2016

“A proposed pathway that would connect Bellefonte to Milesburg is closer to becoming a reality as the final stages of the grant application are underway.

The Centre County Commissioners approved a resolution for the Greenways Trails and Recreation Program Grant (GTRP) in the amount of $80,750”…

“Commissioner Mark Higgins said after the borough signed its letter of commitment, 20 letters were sent out asking local businesses to pledge the remaining $4,250 needed for the grant application. As of Tuesday morning he said they already received four letters of support with donations totaling about $3,000.”

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“Commissioners Set Sights on Business Incubator”

Centre County Gazette - June 13, 2016

“When Mark Higgins took office as a Centre County commissioner in January, he vowed to assist the small business community in Centre County. He immediately went to work in an attempt to bring small business incubators to both Philipsburg Borough and the Borough of Bellefonte.

A few weeks ago, the Philipsburg project became a reality when leading county business officials visited Dixon.com on Front Street for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening of the facility, which will help small businesses and new business ventures with the necessary resources and infrastructure to get on their feet.

On Tuesday, Centre County learned that progress is being made on the second of these incubators as county officials begin to look at suitable spots for such a project.”

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“Centre takes next steps for natural gas co-op”

The Express - June 9, 2016

“The next phase of the proposed natural gas cooperative began Tuesday, as the Centre County commissioners were the first of three partners who approved articles of incorporation for the initiative.”…

“Pipe said this coop will also help lead the way to finding grant funds for such projects.

The involved counties hope to be able to finance the creation of pipelines in rural areas through this agreement.”

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“Philipsburg Celebrates Opening of Business Incubator”

WTAJ - May 16, 2016

 

“Centre officials declare ‘Sexual Assault’ month”

The Express - March 30, 2016

“[T]he commissioners unanimously voted to declare April 2016 as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” in Centre County.

Dawn McKee, STOP grant coordinator at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, was present at the meeting and thanked the commissioners for the county’s continued support for victims of domestic and sexual violence.”

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“Commissioners urge state government to restore human services funding”

Centre Daily Times - March 1, 2016

“All 67 counties of the commonwealth are being asked by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania to adopt and publicize this resolution, Chairman Michael Pipe said, saying commissioners across the state are trying to be as proactive as possible to make sure another impasse doesn’t happen again.

‘It’s very difficult to provide social services when you’re either not receiving funding or it’s coming in at random times,’ Vice Chairman Mark Higgins said. ‘They’re cutting 10 percent here and there, and they’re doing the rebalancing, which means they’re skipping a full three months of payments.’ ”

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“Additional funds sought for Centre Region senior center”

Centre Daily Times - January 26, 2016

“In order to finish the revisions, Woodhead asked that the forum increase the budget by an additional $10,000 per year over the next 10 years to cover the expenses. He said he would also be approaching the county Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to request a county increase of $6,250 per year as well…

County Commissioner Michael Pipe, who was in attendance, commented that the increase in seniors validated the need to increase funds, and would be advocating to increase the county contributions.

‘The staff (at the center), the dedication they show, is truly remarkable for the seniors there,’ he said.”

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Pipe re-elected; Higgins Elected

Centre Daily Times - November 4, 2015

After monthslong debates over economic development and government transparency, the Centre County Board of Commissioners flipped to a Democratic majority Tuesday night with the election of Democrats Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins…

“I’ve done this kind of stuff for 32 years, walking into places that need the outside perspective, who need somebody that’s willing to work hard and approach it with a blank slate,” Higgins said. “It’s just that now I’m going to do it at a little bigger scale than usual.”

With two incumbents being re-elected, Pipe said he is looking forward to Higgins’ fresh perspective.

“I am excited that Mark is going to be joining me on the Board of Commissioners,” Pipe said.

“I’m excited about the new energy he’s going to bring in and to look at better ways that we can create jobs and opportunities for Centre County.”

The newly elected commissioners will be put immediately to the test if the state budget does not pass soon. Without aid from the state, commissioners will eventually have to decide where to cut costs.

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