LH City Council organizes for 2017

LOCK HAVEN —  Lock Haven City Council started the new year Monday by re-electing Stephen L. Stevenson as its vice president. Stevenson was the only nominee for the post, and there were no dissenting votes.

Council members will represent council on the same boards, commissions and committees as they did in 2016.

They are:

• Mayor Bill Baney —  City Redevelopment Authority, Lock Haven City Authority and Cable TV Advisory Committee.

• Jonathan Bravard —  Central Clinton County Council of Governments, Central Clinton County Water Filtration Authority and Clinton County Sewer Authority.

• Douglas T. Byerly —  Clinton County Solid Waste Authority (Recycling), Code Enforcement Board of Appeals and Review and Cable TV Advisory Committee.

• Richard L. Conklin —  Clinton County Economic Partnership and Historic District Advisory Committee.

• Ted Forbes —  council alternate representative on the Lock Haven University Community Advisory Board, Central Clinton County COG and Downtown Lock Haven Inc.; and a non-voting member of the Ross Library Board of Trustees.

• Stevenson —  City Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, Lock Haven Area Flood Protection Authority, Downtown Lock Haven Inc. and the LHU Community Advisory Board.

• Sara Stringfellow —  Airport Advisory Committee and Environmental Advisory Committee, and the alternate representative to the Central Clinton County Water Filtration Authority and Clinton County Sewer Authority.

Byerly did not attend the organizational meeting Monday.

The schedule of meetings will remain roughly the same, with most meetings set for 7 p.m. in City Hall the first and third Mondays of the month.

In keeping with this schedule, the next council meeting will be Jan. 16. The other dates are Feb. 6 and 27, March 6 and 20, April 3 and 17, May 1 and 15, June 5 and 19, July 3 and 17, Aug. 7 and 21, Sept. 11 and 25, Oct. 2 and 16, Nov. 6, 20 and 27, and Dec. 4, 11 and 18. The extra meetings at the end of the year allow time for budget planning.

Council also heard that the state Department of Transportation supports the proposed trial period of bus service inside Lock Haven and from Lock Haven to Jersey Shore and Williamsport. The Department of Transportation will pick up 85 percent of the cost of the trial, Forbes reported, with River Valley Transit, the bus provider, picking up an additional 3 percent. This leaves 12 percent for municipalities, the university, local businesses and other partners who support bus service.

Forbes and Stevenson attended a recent Public Transit Committee meeting and learned that PennDOT has asked for more feasibility studies and reviews. This means the trial period will not begin in February as originally hoped and is probably delayed until July or August.

However, Stevenson reported, the trial will continue much longer than the proposed four months. PennDOT is willing to extend it to three years, he said.

Even though the trial period is expected to change, the city has budgeted enough for 2017 to pay its share, he said.

Delaying the trial will give more time to promote the bus service and recruit more partners.

“It looks encouraging, very encouraging,” Forbes said.

Downtown Lock Haven Inc., a nonprofit agency that boosts and markets the shopping district, has volunteered its office as a spot for bus schedules and maps, he reported.

Forbes recommends the first month of the trial be free for everyone interested, which would encourage more people to try riding the bus.

Stevenson said River Valley plans to schedule practice runs and City Council could request a special one so that council members could take a ride together.

River Valley plans to provide a phone app to inform potential riders when the next bus will arrive at their stop, and also to survey bus riders on whether their bus was on time and whether they felt safe on the bus.

The company also has a practice of providing buses for firefighters battling a blaze in extreme weather and for other emergencies, such as loss of heat in a nursing home.