County Commissioner meetings began today

Sometimes getting a message across to decision makers in Harrisburg is an uphill battle.  Today, county leaders from across Pennsylvania worked together to change that.

More than 500 state leaders gather at the Convention Center this week.  County Executives and Commissioners talk about their concerns, ranging from the drug epidemic to the state budget.

Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper has this issue at the top of her mind -- the opioid epidemic.  "Whether you're in the urban core or you're out in our most rural areas this drug epidemic has hit across the board," said Dahlkemper.  

The leaders from all 67 Pennsylvania counties gather in Erie to weigh in on those concerns that hit each region the most.  They say if they work together, they can make an impact down in the state capital. 

Washington County Commissioner, Harlan Shober Jr., says, "When decisions are made in Harrisburg, we need to be at the table. We may have differing views but if you do it with professionalism and you work together, they know. They can't say they don't know."

Even though Pennsylvania does cover a wide range of communities, county leaders say coming together to find solutions can be very effective in the long run.

Erick Coolidge, Tioga County Commissioner says, "When you think in terms of a state budget and all the personalities involved and the regions incorporated -- it's also important to receive the commentary from the areas where those dollars are invested." 

The part time dairy farmer and full time county commissioner says that's part of the problem when talking state budget.  Concerns he has in Tioga...a rural area...are vastly different than those counties in urban areas. 
 
Dahlkemper explains, "With a state budget that sometimes is uncertain and a federal budget that is uncertain at this point, and depending on that funding coming through to us is always a concern, so how do we navigate through all of that?"  The County Executive also says there's a great advantage to holding the conference in Erie.  She says it's a good opportunity to not only share ideas, but to also show off some of the area's best assets.

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