Tioga commissioners announce manure management enforcement

WELLSBORO – Tioga County Commissioners met in Wellsboro on Monday to discuss community issues, including increased federal pressure on farmers to develop and comply with agricultural erosion and sedimentation plans.

“If you do that plan, even if it’s not completely up to their specifications, it will keep you out of trouble,” Erica Tomlinson, Tioga County Soil Conservation District manager, said.

The conservation district hired interns to make house calls to every farm in Tioga County and hope to complete the visits by June 30.

“Our interns will knock on doors and if the landowner isn’t there, leave informational packets. If they are there, they’ll briefly go over the expectations and offer the district services as far as technical providers,” Tomlinson said.

The regulations aren’t necessarily new – they’re mostly from the 60s – but they’re being enforced now, Tomlinson said.

“The plan looks worse than it really is,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson emphasized that the visits are friendly and not meant to invoke a negative response.

“We’re hoping to reach parts of the county we haven’t historically worked with,” she said.

Other agenda items included the abolishing of the office of jury commissioner, approved by a unanimous vote.

“The court appreciates the fine work of our jury commissioners but our existing jury selection system is self-sufficient. The elimination of the office is a fiscally responsible decision on behalf of the commissioners,” county President Judge Robert E. Dalton Jr. said in a press release read by Commissioner Mark L. Hamilton.

The computerized system that will replace the office of jury commissioner compiles names created from a master list of available jurors, eliminates duplicates and generates a random number draw.

“Jury commissioners were really valuable in their day – they assured there was not tampering or political motives in the selection of jurors. But over the years technology has really obviated the need for their existance,” said Nancy Clemens, court administrator.

Clemens added that the elimination of the jury commissioner position is a cost saving to the county and that automating the selection of jurors reduces potential inconvenience.

The current jury commissioner, Hattie Simmons, will remain in her position until her term expires Dec. 31.

Other agenda items of interest include a reminder to the public from Chairman Mark Hamilton to take advantage of the National Association of Counties Discount Prescription Program, which offers discounts of up to 38 percent on certain medications.

“These cards are free for the taking and available at the courthouse,” Hamilton said.

The county commissioners approved all county aid applications and personnel recommendations.

Commissioners also honored Linda Stager, Department of Human Services assistant administrator, and Dayton Mitstifer, Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority board member, for 40 years of service each.

The next commissioners meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 28 in Gaines Township.