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Gority hopes to continue serving citizens of Blair County as commissioner

With nearly 20 years in office, Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority is seeking her sixth term in office.
?I think we need people with experience and knowledge to do the job,? said Gority. ?I still have the energy to do the job, I still enjoy meeting and serving a wide variety of people and it is a challenge I still enjoy.?
In her almost 20 years as a county commissioner, Gority has viewed many changes in Blair County.
?We have become a much more diversified economy than we had 20 years ago,? said Gorrity. ?We have great amenities such as Blair County Ball Park, and the Blair County Convention Center. We have two great amusement parks that have grown in the past 20 years in DelGrosso Park and Lakemont Park. The highway changes have been drastic and for the good of the county.?
One of the achievements over the past 20 years Gority is most proud of is in the human services that are provided by the county.
?We have a strong network of human service organizations to meet the needs of residents in Blair County,? said Gority. ?We are able to help victims of crime, be it adult or juvenile, domestic violence or rape. The places to turn for victims weren?t in place 20 years ago like they are now.?
Economic development is a hot button issue for this year and Gority is proud of the recent development and can see growth in the future.
?ABCD (Altoona Blair County Development) Corporation had done a terrific job in promoting the county,? said Gority. ?We are seeing a lot of growth from within. The Sheetz Distribution Center and the Smith Transport expansion in Snyder Township are just two of the projects in recent years. ABCD continues to market outside the county as well. We are looking for a use for the Norfolk Southern Car Shop in Hollidaysburg. To spur economic growth, you have to use the tools available. You have KOEZ?s and LERTA that are available. If some of the plans Governor Rendell has proposed are acted on, they will help support growth and development. Blair County is working on a comprehensive plan to guide the growth of out county. This way we can develop along the I-99 and old route 220 corridors.?
The Daily Herald asked Gority about the possibility of a KOEZ for the former Westvaco plant in Tyrone, Gority said, ?I haven?t really been exposed to the information concerning the Westvaco property in Tyrone. I will be supportive of the plan as long as it meets the criteria.?
Where Gority agrees with some of Governor Rendell?s plan on economic growth, she disagrees with the lack of funding for drug and alcohol treatment in this year?s budget.
?We could see horrific problems if the treatment dollars are not restored into the budget,? said Gority. ?There is a need for drug and alcohol treatment. We have a horrible heroin problem in our county and it will add to other problems if we are unable to get these people into treatment. More crimes will be committed, there will be more child abuse and there will be more domestic violence. The attorney general?s office has provided great support through the drug task force. We have started prevention programs, but they will take years for them to develop and show results. We are in deep trouble in the short term. The county doesn?t have an extra million dollars lying around to provide the treatment that is needed. Our prisons will be even be more overcrowded. The expenses to fight the crimes of repeat offenders will cost more than the treatment.?
Property tax reassessment is something that Gority is in favor of.
?We are assessing on a 1958 value of the homes in our county,? said Gority. ?It would cost about $2 million to assess the properties in the county depending on how much we can do internally and how much we would have to contract out. The cost of an assessment could be paid for by a bond issue that would spread the cost out for a number of years.
?It is our constitutional duty to tax in a fair and equitable manner,? said Gority. ?Nobody can stand in a court of law and say that we are doing that using 1958 values. The way the system is right now, it seems like the people who least can afford are paying more than they can and the people who most can afford it are paying less. I believe that we as commissioners should have the option of what form of taxation we use. If we put a piggy back onto the sales tax, income tax and have a property tax, it would spread out the taxes proportionally. The people would be able to pay based on their ability. I support a reassessment of the properties in Blair County.?
As she looks down the road, Gority sees a better future for the county.
?I hope to see a good employment picture in the next few years,? said Gority. ?I hope to continue to see improved educational facilities and a stronger net of social services. My goal is to keep Blair County as a very good place to live and raise their families.?
Gority will be on the democratic ticket for Blair County Commissioner in the May primary.