BEAVER FALLS — Beaver County Commissioners, in 2022, will focus on matters such as broadband, economic development and navigating through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
That was the message that was brought forward by the commissioners in their annual "State of the County" event held last Friday at Geneva College.
The annual event, which was organized by the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce, allows for the commissioners to update residents on what happened in the county in 2021, and what they have in store in 2022.
Chamber President and Executive Director Helen Kissick said 161 people, including more than 60 online, registered for the event.
Kissick said the event is a way for residents to ask questions to the commissioners about important and pertinent topics in the county.
Tracy Lawless of K&L Gates was the mediator of the event.
Questions and topics discussed
Kissick said with the pandemic ongoing with no end in sight, residents asked about testing and vaccines, to which the commissioners spoke about the different testing and vaccination centers located in the county.
Another topic of discussion was the long-term improvement to the different school districts in the county.
The commissioners stated they will continue to work closely with the Quality Education Council to help with the long-term goals and improvements of the districts.
The Quality Education Council is part of the Beaver County Partnership and is comprised of educational leaders from schools across the county. The council is divided into three committees, namely the K-12 Education, Bridges and Pathways College Partnership and the post-Secondary Workforce Development committees.
Kissick another big topic of discussion was regarding American Rescue Plan funding, and whether the county will hold a public forum regarding how they plan to use their allocation.
The commissioners reaffirmed that the county received approximately $46 million in 2021, with an additional $46 million this year, and that they plan to spend close to $20 million of that funding to help expand broadband to unserved communities, and around $17 million in allocations to local municipalities/authorities for water, sewer and stormwater projects.
When asked, the commissioners stated they are in full support of the planned Beaver Valley Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BHIVE) in Beaver Falls, which will be used for working stations, digital maker spaces, education opportunities and offices for small business and/or businesses starting out.
They also said they will continue to work with organizations like the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development to further expand economic development in the county, and to look for affordable areas to purchase for industrial development.
Kissick said the commissioners also stated they were in favor of the work regarding a proposed trail project near the Black's Run Bridge, but were unsure of the county acquiring the bridge due to liability concerns.
Great to start chamber's 50th year
Kissick said she and the commissioners have received a lot of positive feedback from the event, stating those who attended appreciated being able to speak with the elected governing body in a free-flowing way.
Commissioners Chairman Daniel Camp III said he appreciates the state of the county events due to them giving him the opportunity to directly speak and communicate with residents.
Commissioner Jack Manning said the event went over really well and he was surprised how quickly it went, stating they could have continued talking for another hour.
Kissick said this was just the start of the chamber's 50th anniversary, which will officially be in July, with more events to be held throughout the year.
Nicholas Vercilla is a staff reporter for the Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Beaver County Commissioners present 2022 state of the county