Susquehanna County board members of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) met at the County Courthouse in Montrose on Nov. 18. Participants of the think-tank gathering included (above, from left) EMHR board president Alice Deutsch, Clifford Historical Society president Sandy Wilmot, county commissioner Alan Hall, EMHR Executive Director Annette Schultz, Susquehanna County board member Bobbi Jo Turner, Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau director Jean Ruhf, Greenways Coordinator David Buck, and Michelle Kowalewski of the Penn State Cooperative Extension.
By Rick Hiduk
The third of four meetings planned by the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) to provide a forum for discussion on heritage development on a county-by-county level was held in Montrose on Nov. 18. Susquehanna County board members Alice Deutsch and Bobbi Jo Turner and County Commissioner Alan Hall met with EMHR director Annette Schultz and green way coordinator David Buck, as well as Jean Ruhf of the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, Sandy Wilmot of the Clifford Township Historical Society, and Michelle Kowalewski of the Penn State Cooperative Extension to identify issues that are specific to Susquehanna County and to generate potential initiatives that could be included in EMHR’s 10-year strategic plan.
Schultz stressed that heritage development involves activities that identify, protect, enhance and promote the historic, recreational, natural, cultural and scenic resources of a region or corridor and stimulate community sustainability and economic development through heritage, outdoor recreation and eco-tourism.
Heritage initiatives involve the collection, conservation, interpretation and dissemination of the history and culture of places and the use of historic buildings, natural and recreational resources, cultural artifacts, and stories to enhance quality of life and attract appropriate tourism and industry.
The community benefits of heritage development include environmental restoration, an enhanced sense of community pride, retention of young people, recruitment of light industry, economic development derived from tourism, expansion of recreational opportunities, and other quality of life improvements that foster optimism, sense of community, and a renewed sense of common purpose.
Schultz’s one-hour meeting format was welcomed by participants who indicated that it helped them to stay focused on primary objectives while touching on a number of concerns.
Similar meetings have been held recently in Towanda for Bradford County members and in Dushore for Sullivan County members. Wyoming County members are slated to meet in Tunkhannock in early December.