LEWISTOWN - An ambitious project stretching some 320 miles between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg was a topic of discussion at Thursday's workshop meeting of the Mifflin County Commissioners.
Representatives from Allegheny Ridge Corporation of Altoona were on hand to seek the county's support of an ongoing project, the Mainway Canal Greenway, an economic development activity utilizing recreation areas, trailways and waterways as a method of attracting new business across the state.
Jane Sheffield, Allegheny Ridge executive director, and Carl King, project coordinator, were in Lewistown as part of an effort to gain the support of the 12 counties affected by the canal project.
"We're here to seek the county's endorsement of our management action plan update," King explained.
The project is part of the ongoing Pennsylvania Heritage Areas program, which, King said, was established in 1989 as one of the state's key initiatives for promoting tourism. The program is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
King said some of the program's benefits are already being reaped locally.
"We have worked with your local DCNR office to establish the Juniata River Water Trails," King said. "There is one access now at Victory Park and we're trying to get one in the McVeytown area as well."
The group also worked with local officials during the establishment of the Canal Park located just off U.S. 22/322 in Juniata County, King noted.
County support is critical, Sheffield said, for possible future funding of greenway-related projects through the state DCNR office.
"The benefit of an alliance is that with local projects that fall in line with Greenway development, we could lobby for and lend support as part of the mega Greenway effort," Sheffield said.
King said the plan updates the original 1992 document which was heavily focused on conservation and promotion of the industrial heritage of the area and how to promote it. Investments in recent years have included creation and expansion of a recreational trail system, improvements to current venues, and economic development in the region's historic communities.
Now, King said the entity's focus has changed to actively develop the Mainline Canal Greenway as it runs between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The update takes into account the region's changed conditions and the chance to build upon past successes and opportunities, King added.
In other business Thursday, Commissioner Mark Sunderland announced the following agenda items for the board's next business meeting, Thursday, Oct. 4:
Acceptance of the Medical Assistance Transportation Program grant agreement which runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
Purchase of service agreement for use, if needed by Children & Youth, with Family Care Services Inc. of Chambersburg.
An application for 2012 Liquid Fuels funding by Oliver Township in the amount of $12,742.68.
Professional Engineering Services agreement between the Borough of Juniata Terrace and Uni-Tee Consulting Engineers for a sewer project being funded through Community Development Block Grant money.
Acceptance of the Mifflin County Offender Re-Entry Planning Grant in the amount of $13,673.