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Working Together to Address Natural Gas Issues: Summary of the Task Force Forum in Sayre, PA

Posted: May 16, 2010

The Bradford County Natural Gas Advisory Board sponsored a meeting that brought together county leaders to exchange and share ideas about organizing County Task Forces. Participants discussed ways of organizing a task force, how to make them effective, and specific projects they have worked on.
picture from www.unisdr.org

picture from www.unisdr.org

On March 30, 2010 the Bradford County Natural Gas Advisory Board hosted a meeting at the Sayre Best Western for several task force groups. It was the first meeting of its kind that brought county level leaders together to exchange and share ideas. About 100 people attended.

Task force leaders from around the region had the opportunity to present a summary of their experiences and the activities of their groups. Presentations were given by task force representatives from Bradford County (PA), Tioga County (NY), and Lycoming County (PA). Bradford County presented information about the gas drilling operations in Bradford County and how the committee worked. Smith stated “We have a good committee but we learned a lot of things at the meeting on how to improve what we have.” TING (Tioga Investigates Natural Gas) was formed in 2009 and was initiated by the county Ag Resources office. Representatives described their mission to address public sector impacts and opportunities of natural gas drilling in Tioga County, and spoke about how they identified and prioritized projects to address potential impacts of drilling. Lycoming County, the first Task Force in Pennsylvania, also presented a summary of their activities.

Kathy Brasier, assistant professor of Rural Sociology at Penn State University, spoke about the role that a county task force can have, the importance of setting goals for the task force, the purpose of the task force and the ability to judge the effectiveness of the task force. She informed the group of ways to improve existing task forces and how important it is to organize and establish priorities. Mark Madden said “Everyone involved had a chance to take something useful from the forum. We identified several areas where fact sheets could help guide land-owners, task force members and/or other stakeholders in this process.” In addition, a moderated question-and-answer session provided the opportunity for attendees to ask questions of any of the day’s speakers. Many of those questions came from individuals who are working with task forces and similar community groups forming in other parts of the state.

The meeting was planned by members of the Bradford County Natural Gas Advisory Committee, Mark Madden, Mike Lovegreen, Mark Smith and Stacee Bellows. It was the hope of the committee to share information and learn from each others’ experiences. Originators of this event were happy with the number of people who attended and appreciated the exchange of information between the task force groups. Mike Lovegreen said ”I was very happy with the outcome of the meeting, and have received several emails from people who attended who felt it was very informative and well done.” Attendees at the event felt it was important to hold this sort of meeting on a regular basis.

This report is adapted from “County Level Natural Gas Forum Held in Sayre,” printed in the April edition of the Bradford County newsletter, and written by Michelle Shedden of the Bradford County Commissioner’s Office.