New goals, challenges in the new year

Rails to Trails on the fast track in Clinton County

PHOTO PROVIDED Rails-to-trails in Castanea area

LOCK HAVEN — With a new year approaching, the Clinton County Commissioners are also facing new goals and new challenges heading into 2019.

Commissioner Paul Conklin is helping to establish a project called Chestnut Grove which will turn land at the interchange fields in Castanea Township into a recreational complex.

The commissioners also expect the Rails to Trails project to “crank up pretty good,” according to Commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz, with an Open House anticipated with a ribbon cutting of Phase II and “a lot of progress on Phase III mid to late in the year.”

Phase II of the project covers a distance of four and a half miles, from the Castanea Train Station to the Wayne Township Community Park.

Once past the Stabley Road intersection in Wayne Township, the trail – instead of continuing to follow the rail bed, a portion of which is owned by Wayne Township Landfill – would detour alongside the back end of the Wayne Township Visitors Center, park and fire company, before connecting to McKinney Road and Spook Hollow Road, already being used as a biking/walking path. This represents Phase III of the project.

The goal is for the trail to begin at Chestnut Park, also located in Castanea Township, adjacent to Bald Eagle Creek, off Creek Road – providing easy access to Lock Haven.

“We are really hoping to acquire grants to complete the Rails to Trails to the McElhattan part of the trail, and would like to at least start work on Phase Three by the end of the year at least,” Smeltz said.

“A major goal of the new year,” according to Commissioner Jeff Snyder, would be to address the “revolving door of employees at the county prison” as they work with the Clinton County Correctional Facility and its warden Angela Hoover exploring ideas to improve worker retention with their correctional officers.

In corrections, high employee turnover is a facet of the profession. Some studies point to role problems, stressful work interactions, work overload and poor social status as the causes. Other factors can include low pay and health and safety risks.

In many cases, correctional officers are hired at the county prison where they receive mandatory training, only to move into higher paying positions at the state and federal level.

“We continue to wrap up our renovation projects,” Smeltz said. “The Piper building will have an open house event at the end of February. The courthouse, when it is done, we will have an open house there as well.”

After a year of renovations, most county operations have moved to the Piper Building, 2 Piper Way, Lock Haven, last May, which is located at the far end of town adjacent to the Piper Aviation Museum.

The county purchased the building for $975,000, an expense covered under the $2.3 million bond commissioners took out to pay for various capital projects, including the Clinton County Courthouse renovations.

“In past years it always seems like we have had some kind of building project. This will be a good year to focus on efficiency within our county government. We will focus on being as efficient as possible without the need for more people, and we have ample space here to do that,” Smeltz finished.

“We have had HR address some policies and job descriptions to be more effective in how we serve the public going into 2019. We hope to be the best operating machine that county government can be,” Snyder added.