Local organizations receive PA Wilds awards

More than a dozen entities, including individuals and organizations throughout the Pennsylvania Wilds region have received awards for their contributions to sustainable tourism development.

Three of them have ties to northcentral Pennsylvania.

The Clinton County Arts Council and several of its partners moved a run-down 19th-century train station four miles down the road and rehabilitated it into a modern gallery that now is an integral part of the PA Wilds Artisan Trail.

For their its, the organization won the 2013 Champion of the PA Wilds “Great Places Award.” The Station Gallery now attracts more than 150 visitors for each new show opening.

STEP Inc. and the Clinton County commissioners were recognized with the “Great Design Award” for rehabilitation of homes along Route 120. In 2008, STEP and the Clinton County commissioners used the PA Wilds Design Guide to upgrade 25 homes along the Clinton County Scenic Byway at Route 120.

The program enabled income-eligible homes to be fixed up, which addressed local issues and complemented the region’s tourism and revitalization strategies.

STEP secured $500,000 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s HOME Program, as well as local and federal funds for a budget of $693,050.

Tioga County planner Jim Weaver was recognized as the “Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team Member of the Year” for his work to adapt and adjust to new opportunities and challenges brought forth from unconventional gas development in the region. He spearheaded the formation of the Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team’s Oil & Gas Committee, which aims to provide a forum for planning team members and its stakeholders on issues related to the development of gas and oil and mitigate anticipated impacts in the Pennsylvania Wilds region.

Under his leadership, the committee has compiled and published a Marcellus Shale Resource Guide and is working with industry leaders and design professionals to compile a set of voluntary design standards related to oil and gas development to be included in the Pennsylvania Wilds Design Guide.

All Champion of the PA Wilds award winners will be recognized with a wooden plaque and citations from state and federal legislators May 2 at an awards ceremony at the Red Fern in St. Marys.