LEWISTOWN - The Planning Advisory Committee met Monday to discuss updates to the Mifflin County Comprehensive Plan.
The comprehensive plan was originally adopted in 2000 as a way to guide community development to serve the changing needs of its citizens. The entire project is valued at $143,224 according to the committee website.
Monday's meeting focused discussion on water, education and housing in the county.
Brent Miller, of Menno Township, said most people in rural areas of the county are operating their own wells and on-lot sewage operations. As agricultural facilities and development operations progress around them, those locations become the most underserved with protection, he said.
Craig Bubb, of the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Lewistown, noted that the potential for water contamination is a concern in several areas in Mifflin County.
"Even if you don't have a problem now, how do you keep it that way?" Miller asked.
Robert Postal, of the Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation, suggested requiring people to connect, as well as encouraging collaboration between municipalities to combine services.
"What we have now is multiple units of government with their own sewer plants," William Gomes, of the Mifflin County Planning and Development Department, said.
Michelle Brummer, project manager, said that it would be difficult to require cooperation but the comprehensive plan could include criteria for applicants to consider that would encourage collaboration.
The plan also focuses on education, which is a growing concern among area residents as enrollment declines and operating costs rise in the school district, according to a report by the committee.
Jim Tunall, of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau, said the skill sets that the county offers through the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center should be revisited. There will always be a need for qualified individuals in technical fields, he said.
A number of committee members shared his concerns in improving the quality and relevance of the programs offered at the center. James Estep, superintendent of the Mifflin County School District, said there are already plans in place to upgrade the courses being offered. Although the demand between technical fields may shift with time, it will always be a valuable investment into the county, he said.
The future of housing in the area was also discussed at the meeting. Making the area an attractive place for the younger generation brings in more wage earners, which are important in supporting the community, John McCullough, of Derry Township, said.
"You need a quality of place, especially for younger families," Postal said.
He gave the example of younger workers who often drive 30 to 60 minutes to get to work. They're looking at the quality of the area, not the geographical location, he said.
Other committee members agreed, but noted that there are a number of area residents who prefer the rural setting of Mifflin County and travel to Centre County for work.
The planning committee will take a brief hiatus over the summer, but discussion will continue at meetings in the fall.
For more information about the comprehensive plan, visit mifflincompplan.com.