Feel Goodery Foods- New Local Food Business

Have you heard of these guys?  No?  Then you’re missing out.  Feel Goodery Foods is a new local food business that sells freshly prepared meals based on seasonal ingredients.  A little bit of assembly on your part, heat it up, and eat it up, yum (that’s northwestern PA speak for bon appetit!).  Melanie Rosenberger and Laura Zaino , the proprietors, are coming up with some very tasty offerings including: soups, flatbreads, barbecue, and more.  You can order on-line and then pick-up at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Port Matilda, PA (directions).  For more information about this cool new business or to see the latest menu, visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

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Penn State Student Farm Harvest Festival (Sept. 7th)

The Penn State Student Farm is hosting a harvest festival on Thursday Sept. 7th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Student Farm (near the intersection of Fox Hollow and Big Hollow Rds).  Food, music, and tours.  Check it out.  For more information, visit their event page. Please RSVP with the Student Farm if you plan on attending.

(Editorial note:  If you think Penn State should support more activities and initiatives around local food and community resilience, then vote with your feet and go to the harvest festival.)

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Crickfest is tomorrow (Sept. 3)

The 15th Annual CrickFest sponsored by Penns Valley Conservation Association takes place tomorrow, September 3rd, from 11 am – 6 pm.  This event takes place at Coburn Park in Coburn, PA (click here for directions).  There will be local food, live music, educational workshops, and lots of family-friendly activities.  For more information, visit the PVCA website or check it out on Facebook.  Don’t miss this opportunity to build and race zucchini boats or learn how to eat stinging nettles.21192926_1618344358189565_8991977723423860317_n

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Water and Farmland Protection Update

TOLL BROTHERS IDENTIFIES ALTERNATIVE SITES

NVWC Press Release

Nittany Valley Water Coalition (NVWC) held a follow-up meeting with Charles Elliott of Toll Brothers developers on Wednesday, August 16 to discuss Toll Brothers’ recent review of alternative State College sites for student housing.

On August 2, NVWC presented Toll Brothers with detailed information about PSU lands suitable for building closer to campus.

NVWC has been leading a community effort to pressure Penn State, the current landowner, and Toll Brothers to relocate a planned development on Whitehall Road to a site that does not risk local water safety. The current 44 acre site is located uphill from the Thomas-Harter wells.

Elliott and his team have now ranked several PSU properties with respect to zoning and infrastructure and identified several as viable alternatives if township officials and PSU officials will facilitate a “land swap” and any needed approvals. The top ranked site is located on West College Avenue in front of the Blue Course golf property. Elliott stated that while further corporate economic and structural viability assessments are needed, the alternative site was attractive for its proximity to campus and downtown amenities.

Concerned citizens have occupied the Whitehall Road site continuously for 75 days and will continue community efforts to stop the Whitehall development.

Incoming PSU students and their families will be informed of the issue with a water and flyer distribution on Saturday, August 19.

Meanwhile, a citizen appeal is pending in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

For additional information, contact Terry Melton, terrymelton321@gmail.com, 814-883-8154, or visit nittanyvalleywatercoalition.org

KEY MEETING AT WATER AUTHORITY – 4 p.m. TODAY

From Save State College’s Water Supply

Come ask the SCBWA board today – Thursday, August 17, 4 p.m. at 1201 East Branch Road – why they said in their July 31 public statement that the Tolls have a no blasting policy for their development plan.

That is incorrect.

There IS BLASTING permitted in the development plan for our watershed.

Why would the board issue a public statement with such a massive oversight?

The Water Authority missed this but the citizens did not.

Blasting is THE MAJOR THREAT during construction phase.

We can’t get sloppy now.

While seeming quite promising for a land swap, the negotiations may still fall through.

Come to the water authority board meeting. Let them know we’re watching even when they aren’t.

AUGUST 19 – PSU MOVE-IN DAY ACTION

From NVWC Organizer David Hughes

This weekend on Saturday August 19, between 10:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. we will be handing out water and information for parents and new students/current students.

We had a great day August 16 and made significant progress with Toll Brothers.

But we really need to keep the pressure on PSU and this weekend is a great opportunity to share information.

Please do join if you can and let me know if you will so we can organize. We will have some students join from the Young Dems.

To volunteer – contact David Hughes at davidpeterhughes@gmail.com

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Water and Farmland Protection Update

Water and Farmland Protection Fight Updates

There’s been quite a lot of activity this summer around the proposed luxury student housing development atop Penn State-owned land upslope and proximal to the State College Borough Water Authority Harter-Thomas wells.

Readers interested in catching up can visit the Nittany Valley Water Coalition Facebook page, the Save State College Water Supply Facebook page, the NVWC website, and/or the following Change.org petition updates:

Prioritizing Public Infrastructure Spending

The bigger picture is the need for a regional watershed management plan that addresses sourcewater protection, sewage treatment and discharge, stormwater discharge, and business models for regional public water/sewer, that include Penn State University as a full participant, not exempt (as it is now) from many of the regulations and agreements currently binding other public entities such as the State College Borough Water Authority, the University Area Joint Authority, and the municipal governments of the Centre Region.

One piece of that bigger picture that’s playing out this summer is Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum review of a Beneficial Reuse Special Study under Act 537 (the state law governing sewage systems).

The special study – proposing to extend the existing beneficial reuse system to Mountainview Country Club and Tussey Mountain Ski Area – was presented to the General Forum at the June meeting, starting a 60-day public comment period that will conclude on August 26.

6.26.17 UAJA Draft Special Study Re Beneficial Reuse

I submitted a public comment, emphasizing my preference that public funds be expended on three higher community priorities before being spent to extend the beneficial reuse program, as follows:

  1. to establish strong regional sourcewater protection protocols that hold Penn State to the same standards as other local public entities;
  2. to establish a clear regional watershed management plan that holds Penn State to the same standards as other local public entities; and
  3. to analyze current (failing) business models so as develop new business models for public water and sewer systems that do not depend on constant population growth and constant intensification of land use.

7.29.17 KW Public Comment Re Beneficial Reuse Special Study

Readers interested in submitting public comment can email to Senior Planner Mark Boeckel – mboeckel@crcog.net.

Volumetric Billing

Meanwhile, for the last 13 years or so, Tom Songer II and other local developers have been asking UAJA’s board to revise the rate structure to a volumetric billing system.

This summer, the group launched a petition urging the COG General Forum to direct the UAJA to revise the rate structure (details available at the petition site).

Songer writes:

“…for more than 13 years my associates and I have tried unsuccessfully to get UAJA to bill all customers for sewer service based on water meter readings in the same manner that State College Borough has used for more than 40 years.

At this time, we are asking you to consider signing our online petition which can be found at: www.UAJAPetition.com

The purpose of the Petition is to try to get the Centre Region COG to mandate in the update to the ACT 537 Regional Sewer Plan that UAJA should bill all customers for sewer service based on water meter readings which will incentivize customers to conserve water and generate less sewage which will make our water and sewer systems more sustainable while lowering our carbon footprint…”

The issue will be discussed at the COG Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, August 22 at 12:15 PM and at the COG General Forum meeting at 7 PM on Monday, August 28, 2017 at the COG Building at 2643 Gateway Drive

Meanwhile, over in Ferguson Township…

Reporting on the Monday, August 7 supervisors meeting, Laura Dinnini wrote that “nearing midnight” Dininni responded to a report filed by Steve Jackson (the Ferguson Township liaison to the State College Borough Water Authority) on the topic of explosive blasting of the bedrock at the Penn State/Toll Brothers development site.

Dininni highlighted the contradiction between a recent SCBWA public statement that blasting had been eliminated from the construction plan, and the fact that in the approved land development plan, blasting is permitted. Although Dininni did not get support from her supervisor colleagues to submit a public letter to the SCBWA board highlighting the contradiction, Supervisor Peter Buckland agreed to reach out to SCBWA board members and executives privately to seek clarification.

SCBWA’s next public meeting is August 17 at 4 p.m. at 1201 West Branch Road.

Dininni also reported that she introduced a discussion about Penn State representation within the Centre Region Council of Governments structure.

Corporate Penn State, although not a municipality, has appointed (not elected) voting and non-voting members on several key committees, including the Centre Region Planning Commission, the COG Transportation and Land Use Committee, and the COG Parks Capital Committee.

Dininni’s supervisor colleagues supported her, voting to include the issue as an official Ferguson Township municipal comment on the 2018 COG Program Plan, and therefore subject to public discussion at the August 28 General Forum meeting.

In two other positive steps, Dininni introduced discussion on Penn State’s private ownership of Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (soon to be seeking significant public taxpayer funding) and on the need for the Centre Region Planning Agency to conduct annual assessments of the value of corporate Penn State’s tax-exempt landholdings within the region’s municipalities, to be used for future negotiations of the “fee-in-lieu” agreements.

Both of those measures also received support from Dininni’s colleagues.

For reference, according to State College Finance Department information, the assessed value of Penn State’s property within the Borough in 2015 was about $262.9 million.

If the property were taxable, the resulting 2015 real estate tax payment to the Borough would have been approximately $3.8 million.

However, because corporate Penn State is currently classified as a public nonprofit organization for tax purposes, the property is tax-exempt.

Instead, the University and the surrounding municipalities negotiate an annual “fee-in-lieu” of taxes. For State College, Penn State’s annual contribution to public coffers is about $600,000, giving the university a $3.2 million per year tax break. Negotiations are currently scheduled for every 20 years, with the next negotiation round not scheduled until roughly 2026.

Sometime I hope to find time to make a spreadsheet of the many, many ways the Janus of corporate Penn State – with its annual operating budget of about $5.7 billion – gains financially from its circumstance-dependent “public” and “private” statuses, internalizing profits and externalizing costs and hiding all the shell-gaming of revenue and expenses from the public thanks to the University’s exemption from the Right to Know Law.

The point being: the public subsidizes Penn State far beyond the $318 million in direct state appropriations anticipated for 2017-2018, with none of the oversight power that should accompany public funding for public institutions.

2016 PSU IRS Filings

PSU Audit KW Markup

The exploitation of public resources for private University gain is not unique to Penn State, of course. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an excellent report on the trend, When Universities Swallow Cities. It’s behind a pay wall, but worth a read if you can get hold of a copy.

Public patience is wearing thin.

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PCO FarmFest 2017

It’s that time of year again.  Pennsylvania Certified Organic will be hosting FarmFest 2017 this Friday and Saturday, July 28 – 29 at the Grange Fair Grounds in Centre Hall, PA.  This is a great event that includes local food and craft vendors, educational programming, family activities, and live entertainment.  FarmFest is free (It’s so much fun that it shouldn’t be, but it is).  It runs from 9:30 am – 10:30 pm on Friday and 9 am – 8 pm on Saturday.  For more details and a schedule of activities, visit: farmfest.paorganic.org.

 

A few highlights to whet your appetite:

  • Expert talks on beekeeping, home brewing, hydroponics, vermicomposting, and more.

 

  • Tom Beddard, PCO’s founding president, will present “20 Years of Organic Farming: Reflecting on the Past to Create Our Future.”

 

  • Handcrafted, local and organic foods make up the Food Court.

 

  • Wool Village with items for sale and  demonstrations each day.

 

  • Family Arena with face-painting, farm animals, hayrides, games, and more.

 

  • Homemade & Homegrown Market with maple products, organic produce, hand-crafted jewelry, and other locally produced goods.
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Bailiwick News – June 13, 2017 and Daily Updates from the Occupation

6.13.17 Bailiwick News – The battle for the Slab Cabin Run watershed and the political and ecological future of the Centre Region.  Part 10B and the final installment of a 10-part series on water and farmland protection in the Slab Cabin watershed.

Links to daily updates, posted at Nittany Valley Water Coalition’s website.

 

 

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