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Friday, June 30, 2017

Bill Perarski: Day 296, Living life on my terms

Bill Perarski:
Day 296, Living life on my terms.
Yesterday I gave a brief mention of service groups in the area that are always seeking new members. One of the groups I mentioned was the Lions Club. I thought today I should highlight some of their efforts in more detail. 

I think everyone in the area has been at a checkout corner somewhere and there was a little display of Lions Mints. You could drop in your change and take a little package of mints, not a huge moneymaker by any means, but I think the Lions will tell you that every bit helps. 

In several places in town, the Lions have drop off boxes to collect eye glasses that are no longer used or wanted. They send the glasses off to be refurbished and give them to people who may need them, but can’t necessarily afford them. 

In fact, helping people with their vision needs is a favorite philanthropy of our local Lions Club. They help people get to appointments as well as help with paying the fees and buying the glasses for those in need. Taking it a step further; Lions club volunteers work with local hospitals to help with the transport of eyes and tissues for transplant patients. 

I was an active Lion some years ago and I remember vividly getting a call about a set of eyes at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital that had to be taken to Soldiers and Sailors in Wellsboro. Since I didn’t have to work the next day, I told them that I would do the transport. I picked up a very well wrapped and secured package at the hospital and handed it off in Wellsboro so someone could receive the gift of vision. Maybe that sounds a little weird, but it was really kind of cool. 

However, over the past 20+ years, the Local Lions Club has become more-well known as the “home of the recyclers.” 

Their beginning as recyclers was modest as I remember helping Steve Erway set up apple bins beside his Beer Distributer for people to drop off recyclables. We would go out regularly and sort out the cans and bottles. As the recycling movement began to take better hold, a large shed was built in town to house operations. Once that town lot was sold, the Lions moved the recycling center to an area near the Borough’s Maintenance Building in the Industrial Park where it is still today. 

Now I may not be very old, but I remember when there were days when every village had its own "town dump." The one near me was out Dingman Run and it was a scourge on the landscape. People I knew would go up to shoot rats with .22-caliber rifles for sport. Half the time part of the dump was burning and it stank to high heaven. 

Galeton's town dump was off Rt. 6 just west of town right along the banks of the West Branch of Pine Creek. No liners and no regulations or measures taken to protect groundwater or prevent runoff of toxins into creeks. It was in the late 1970s when the state finally passed laws requiring more environmentally responsible disposal of waste in "sanitary landfills." These days, landfills have thick plastic liners to limit infiltration of the leachate into water resources and recycling removes a volume of material from the waste stream. Lions Club plays a very important role in this capacity.

After a little research, I found an article where Potter County is scoring some major wins in its concerted effort to eliminate unsafe, environmentally unsound and illegal dumpsites. A 2011 study identified 56 dump sites in the county spread over 22 municipalities. Funding fell into place three years later when the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company worked out an $800,000 settlement for environmental violations during the company’s construction of a pipeline in the region. 

Some of that money was reserved for remediating illegal dumpsites. Over the past two years, the Potter County Conservation District has partnered with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), Potter County Solid Waste Authority and DEP to clean 30 sites throughout the county. Some 2.8 tons of trash and close to 150 tires have been removed.

Among the sites addressed so far were dumping areas off Pinneo Road near Oswayo, along Pine Creek in Galeton and the Old Colesburg Road in Coudersport. Volunteers have come from the LEEK Hunting and Mountain Preserve, Upper Allegheny Watershed Association, Galeton VFW Post 6611, Galeton Area School and Potter County Probation, among others. Inmates from the Potter County Jail have also taken part. 

Four more Potter County sites could see work this year once teams of volunteers and/or community organizations are engaged. They’re located along Rt. 44 in Eulalia Township, Loucks Mill Road in Hector Township, Rowley Road in Bingham Township, and Burleson Avenue in Roulette Township. More than 20 other sites that have been identified still need to be addressed. To volunteer or report an illegal dumpsite, contact PEC at 570-718-6507.

Cleaning our roadways and recycling as much refuse as possible will help insure that we have clean land, air, and streams for years to come. Something that is very important to an area that is trying to model itself into a natural tourist destination.
Today I am dedicating my progress to the Coudersport Area Lions Club. I should mention that this year is the 100th anniversary of Lions Club International and they are working on plans to celebrate that milestone. Anyone who is interested in becoming a Lion could speak with their current President Cathy Flook or stop by and speak with Steve Erway at Northwest Savings Bank. The club will be sponsoring the Strawberry Festival in Coudersport next week and members will be around to answer any questions.

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