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North Campus Hosts Rural Development Meetings; Selected for PicTel Facility

The Pennsylvania Rural Development Council as selected Pennsylvania College of Technology’s North Campus as its Northcentral Pennsylvania host site for quarterly meetings to be held during 1997-98. Quarterly Council meetings are held in the videoconferencing (“PicTel”) facility at the North Campus. PicTel allows two-way live audio and visual communication with other locations, enabling speakers and participants to be seen and heard.

The fall council meeting was recently held, linking nearly 180 participants at sites in Harrisburg, St. Marys, Titusville, Youngwood and the North Campus in Wellsboro. Those in attendance heard presentations from Debra Kriete, of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and Nicholas Giordano, with the Office for Information Technology, who provided updates on the Telecommunications Act and its importance in the Ridge administration’s telecommunications strategy. The Telecommunications Act provides for universal service to rural areas, as well as financial assistance to schools, libraries and rural health-care facilities. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is developing guidelines necessary to implement the federal universal service program.

Conference participants also had an opportunity to hear John Brenner, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fire Services Institute, report on the growing concern over the decline in the number of rural volunteer and emergency personnel; this statistic is worrisome because demand for emergency services continues to increase. The final speaker was Deputy Secretary of Transportation Robert Wunderling who outlined PennDOT’s plans to improve the transportation infrastructure of rural Pennsylvania, the vision for a more fully integrated transportation system, and pending federal transportation legislation.

Participants at each site had the opportunity to ask questions, offer comments and discuss potential solutions to problem areas identified. The meeting concluded with an open forum, catered lunch and the opportunity to network with others on a regional basis.

The Pennsylvania Rural Development Council is a collaborative, nonpartisan, nonpolitical partnership working to expand economic opportunities for rural communities and their residents. Membership in the state Rural Development Council and its working committees is open to individuals and organizations committed to this goal. The next full council meeting is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 19, at the North Campus. Although Rural Development Council meetings are free and open to the public, pre-registration is required and space is limited.

For more information on the Rural Development Council, contact Dr. Ted Nichols, assistant dean of Penn College’s North Campus, at (570) 724-7703, or Jody Bruckner at the Rural Development Council in Harrisburg at (717) 787-1954.

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