BROOKVILLE – Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin visited Jefferson County last week to tour several projects in the county.
Secretary Davin met with local officials at Jefferson Place before touring the Jefferson County Industrial Park in Pine Creek Township. Nine Star, based in Brockway, hopes to attract industrial and commercial customers to the area. The site is a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (KOEZ). The development is a 166 acre tract of land along State Route 28 in the township at the Hazen exit of I-80 at Route 28.
The water and sewer are completely finished and Phase II is awaiting approval from the Army Corps of Engineers on a small wetland issue.
Following the visit to the industrial park, the secretary visited Brookville’s Town Square, a private development that utilized grant money from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Town Square is being developed by Historic Brookville, Inc.
The secretary and his party went across the street to the Marlin Opera House in the McCabe Block. Historic Brookville is spearheading a drive to restore the 19th century opera house in cooperation with building owner Kathy McCabe.
The group boarded an ATA bus from a short hop to the former Days Inn property on Brookville’s Allegheny Boulevard. The hotel has been closed for several years and the 13 acre site is being viewed as a possible site for development. Jefferson County Director of Community Development Lashinsky said the building would need to be razed as it is in need of repair. The Brookville Borough Council recently placed a barrier across the access road to the hotel to prevent vandalism.
The party toured ORing CNG to discuss plans for the Sunnyside Energy Park which will be located in Ringgold. The park will be an LG plant with a waste water plant. ORing is owned by Robert Beatty, Jr.
The final stop was a happy one to the Blackbird Distillery. Owners Dave and Jennifer Black have discussed expanding the distillery to accommodate tourists and to enter into the local markets according to Lashinsky.
Prior to departing on the tour Secretary Davin heard from Frank Roberts of the Punxsutawney Regional Development Council. Roberts said that group was in contact with the owner of the Pantall Hotel in Punxsutawney.
He said the PRDC hopes to have control of the site soon. Once his group has site control they can begin to plan on renovating the structure.
Roberts said a complete overhaul would cost an estimated $5 million.
“This is the kind of project we want to do,” said Davin.
Roberts also told the secretary about two other development sites known as the Rikers Yard location. The first is a 70 acre site next to the B&O Railroad which Roberts said is not shovel ready. A second nine acre site has water available but not sewage.
Roberts also mentioned a private, four acre project that is being developed as an amusement park.
Pat Fleckenstein, director of the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce, presented the Punxsutawney Area Virtual Incubator.
The incubator is an effort to help fledgling businesses or entrepreneurs find specialized information that could help them develop their business.
David said this was the first time he had heard of a virtual incubator and said it was a “great project.”
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Smith, a member of the Jefferson County Development Council, said the county has a diversified industry base that remains consistent whatever the national trend. “It has a stabilizing effect,” said Smith.
Lashinsky also presented a power point presentation that included information on the Sykesville Town Square which replaced a blighted building and on Reynoldvsille’s designation as a “blue print community.”
The host for the tour was the Jefferson County Development Council. Attending the meeting with the secretary were Sam Smith, Jefferson County Commissioners Jeff Pisarcik, Herb Bullers and Jack Matson, Frank Roberts, Pat Fleckenstein, Nine Star Capital General Manager Paula Foradora, Brookville Borough Manager Dana Shick, Brookville Borough Councilman Steve Hoak and Brookville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jamie Barger.