Gorrity seeks another sixth term

After 20 years in office, Blair County Commissoner Donna Gorrity wants to continue serving and has announced that she will seek her sixth term in office on the Democratic ticket.
“I just love this position,” said Gorrity. “It’s a position where I believe I can help the community. I believe in public service. I still have a great deal of enthusiasm for this job and believe that my knowledge and expertise that I have built up at this time can be helpful to people.”
The lone democrat on the Blair County Board of Commissioners, Gorrity has made an impact in her 20 years and she says the completion of Interstate 99 will greatly help the county.
“I think that I-99 is one additional tool that we will have in our economic development tool kit,” said Gorrity. “I think the ability to have transportation enhanced into and out of the area will probably be very helpful. With every positive there is a negative side. I do believe that I-99 will help from an economic development standpoint to have a four-lane limited access highway through the entire area.”
Gorrity was asked about the Logan Town Centre project that is being debated in Logan Township.
“I think overall there is a positive impact from a project like that,” said Gorrity. “It will bring a lot of jobs at all levels of employment to the area. It will bring additional shopping opportunities and people from outside the area to use the centre. I think it is a positive benefit. Certainly the neighborhoods that will be impacted will have to have some abatement to minimize that impact as much as possible, but overall I think it is a good project.”
In her five terms as commissioner, Gorrity has championed the human services causes for the county.
“I think that our human services agencies and there are numerous agencies that do something related to the field are working together a little bit better and have the tools to work together through some of the iniatives that I have been involved with,” said Gorrity. “The Human Services Coordination office at the county, the Communities that Care project, the creation of our family resource center and we have worked with some of the school districts in the county to create a a mini-family center to work with pre-school age parents. This will help get kids more ready for school.
“There is certainly more to do,” said Gorrity. “A lot of the programs that I have helped bring in are getting rolling like the Nurse-Family Partnership program. We worked with Huntingdon County and the Home Nursing Agency to write an application with our support and guidence to the state and got funded to allow nurses to work with first time pregnant moms to some degree with others in the households to work with the mom and learn proper parenting techniques.
“Help her take care of her own health and the health of her child. The nurses will work with the mom until the child is two so the parents can learn a lot during that time. Hopefully those kids, and research has shown, that kids are exposed to that type of guidence or the parents are exposed to that guidence in the early formative years are much healthier, more stable and less prone to drug and alcohol involvement. Less prone to juvinile delinquency and more prone to school success.”
During Gorrity’s five terms, Blair County Ballpark was built, the Blair County Court House has been renovated, there have been expansion projects at the Blair County Airport and the Blair County Jail and there is still more to be done.
“The juvinile detention home is the building project that remains that needs attention,” said Gorrity. “What we are using as a juvenile detention facility is an old house that is far from an ideal situation that we need to have in a secure enviornment while awaiting their hearings.”
Gorrity said there is the possibility of another democrat joining the ticket, but has not felt like an outsider being the lone democrat on the board.
Gorrity would like to see more schools do what the Tyrone School District has done in its agreement with Pyramid Healthcare.
“Some of these troubled kids may not be appropriate to be in a mainstream school for a period of time, but the vast majority of them will go back to their same homes, their same schools, but we need to help them be better when they are removed,” she said. “We need to teach them new coping skills, better appreciation of why they should be in school, why they should complete school and how to better interact with their friends families and so forth.”
Blair County hasn’t seen a tax increase in years, but Gorrity will not put out the “no tax increase pledge.”
“The budget is extremely tight and we have been pursuing where we can various grants to fund programs,” said Gorrity. “We are getting some money from the state for the prison expansion project. We are trying to maximize those opportunities. A lot of those grants have match or time constraints. So it takes a great deal of juggling and creativity to make it work.
“I doubt that we are going to be able to withstand a no tax increase enviornment for much longer.” she continued. “One thing that I believe that needs done is a reassessment. That is very controversial and it isn’t likely to happen unless we get sued to do it.”
Gorrity will be on the Democratic party ticket in the May primary.