HCBI Partners Report at Meeting

By Candy E. Price

Daily News Staff Writer

During Monday’s Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) board of directors meeting, a number of topics were discussed.
HCBI executive director Amy Wise told the board work is ongoing on the agency’s strategic plan.
She also updated the board on a Blueprint Communities update, explaining a public meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Bricktown Events Center in Mount Union. Wise added the group is collecting data for a benchmark and said mapping work is continuing.
Wise also told the board work on compiling data from the community strengths workshop is also ongoing.
In partner organization reports, Keith Black from the office of state Rep. Rich Irvin said his office is “continuing to operate as normal” even without a state budget.
“We had the largest-ever senior driving class last week,” Black reported.
During the Huntingdon County Commissioners report, R. Dean Fluke also addressed the state budget impasse.
“It’s my opinion that this year and even next year, the county budget is going to be either reduced some or changed in some ways,” he said. “The effect on this year will be we’re going to be out of money, next year we’re going to have more money.
“I can remember a couple years ago where we had income marked down for one year that should have been the previous and that year makes your books look good. This year, it’s a down year,” Fluke continued. “I don’t think we ought to add expense to the budget because, for instance, a lot of the department heads ... want the county to borrow money and they want us to pay the interest on that.”
Fluke went on to saying paying loan interest is going to turn out to be a large expense.
“I think we can come out all right, but it’s going to take more management than we’ve ever seen before the longer it goes,” he said. “The longer it goes, every day, it’s going to be adding more of a cost to the county.”
Commissioner Jeff Thomas also talked about the budget and thanked Wise and Andy Patterson from the Huntingdon County Conservation District for their work on the Riverview Business Center ditch.
Commissioner Gary O’Korn gave an update on the improvements to the county’s 911 system and also discussed the state budget.
Matt Price, representing the Huntingdon County Visitor’s Bureau, said the agency is working on its visitors guide and had also joined the Mid-Atlantic Travel Public Relations Organization.
“It’s an association of people that promotes travel in mid-Atlantic states and travel writers,” he said.
Price added the state is moving forward with a new branding campaign.
For Huntingdon County CareerLink, Helen Pyzowski also discussed the on-the-job training program.
“Even though we have been challenged by the budget impasse, we are still moving forward with serving the needs of the community; it’s been very challenging,” she said.
Laura Hicks, adult education coordinator at the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center, said the school is “starting to focus on growth in our programs and trying to make contacts with businesses.”
She added she is “seeking to broaden” the HCCTC’s Occupational Advisory Committee.
“I think there are a lot of key players missing in our community to get the feedback from business and industry,” she said.
Hicks also discussed the target plans for the HCCTC and she and superintendent of schools David Christopher gave an update on the building project.
“All four districts have passed the bond requirement, now we’ll be working with theHuntingdon General Authority,” Christopher said.” USDA seems to think that is the best way for us to apply for a loan.”
He said the HCCTC is responsible for paying back the loan, but if it were to become insolvent, the liability would fall to the school districts. He added USDA feels the districts should pass the bond, given their taxing authority.
Christopher also said the project is on a “pretty aggressive schedule,” if the funding comes through.
In a report from Huntingdon County United Way, executive director Kathy Armillei said her agency is “concerned with the budget impasse.”
“It doesn’t impact us directly, but it does impact our agencies,” she said.
Armillei also said work on the annual giving campaign is ongoing.
Candy can be reached at cprice@huntingdondailynews.com.