The French Creek Council of Governments was originally established in February of 2001 bringing representatives from the City of Meadville, Vernon Township and West Mead Township together in hopes of being able to develop a closer relationship that would benefit all Meadville area residents. Within a short period of time, the Crawford Central School District and other townships including East Mead, Woodcock and Cambridge soon joined. In 2010, the Crawford County Commissioners, Sadsbury Township joined in 2012 and in 2013, Greenwood Township joined. Union Township and Pine Township became members in 2019 with Hayfield Township joining in 2020 and rounding out the lot of voting members to 18 entities.
Beginning in 2007, the French Creek COG opened up to allow for non-voting members to join at a reduced rate. These members include the Crawford County Solid Waste Authority, Meadville Area Water Authority, Meadville Area Sewer Authority, Meadville Area Recreation Authority and the Meadville Redevelopment Authority of Meadville. Due to updating the COG Bylaws in 2011, these non-voting members became known as full fledged voting members. Many of these entities find the networking between themselves and the local governments crucial and advantageous to their success as well as being able to obtain support for their grant applications and funding for the benefit of the entire community.
Projects and Events
One of the main goals early on was the development of an SEO Administration Program and an On-Lot Sewage Management Program. There has been much discussion over the years regarding this, but currently there is not a COG run sewage program in place. With more rural development and alternative septic systems becoming commonplace, this could be an option to be revisited in the future.
In late 2003, the French Creek COG received a $21,000 grant from DCNR to allow for consulting services and planning of a Greenway Trail to be developed along French Creek and its tributary, Mill Run. This trail system would allow bicyclists or pedestrians the ability to travel from Conneaut Lake to Tamarack Lake. These plans are topics of discussion by DCNR, DEP and various entities located in Crawford County.
One of the most successful events that has occurred because of the COG, has been the Joint Bidding of Paving and Road Projects in the local area. For the last thirteen years, various entities have joined together to go out to bid on various road work. Every year more entities become involved to save money in advertising, time in preparing bid documents as well as hoping to receive lower bid prices due to economy of scale pricing. The first year saw 3 entities involved. The next year there were 6 entities involved. There were 10 entities involved in 2007 including a City, a Boro and 8 Townships. In 2008, 7 entities were able to take advantage of cost savings during the extraordinarily difficult times with oil and fuel prices escalating almost daily. In 2009 and 2010, 8 entities were involved and due to economies of scale and the state of the economy, prices received were significantly lower and some municipalities were able to contract out more roadwork than originally planned. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 there were 7 entities involved. In 2014, 6 entities were involved, in 2015, there were 7 entities and in 2016, 3 entities. 7 entities were involved in 2017.
The COG established a subcommittee to investigate a regional GIS program. The members viewed this as a useful and necessary tool for use in the future. Because of this opportunity, the Crawford County Commissioners voted to join the COG and with their help, it was the hope of those involved to be able to work toward establishing a countywide GIS system. In 2012, this become a reality, with the establishment of a Countywide GIS information being made available on the Crawford County website.
In 2007, many Crawford County residents benefited from the county’s first ever Tire Recycling Event. The day was staffed entirely by volunteers from COG member Supervisors, Council members and employees to State Representative Brad Roae. With a grant from PA DEP totaling over $1,500, the event removed 1,633 tires from over 30 different municipalities, boros and cities located throughout the county. The COG held its 2nd Tire Recycling Event in 2009 in which 1,322 tires were removed from the local area and recycled into recycled rubber mulch and
rubber products. This event was also able to be held due to grant funding from PA DEP and the Crawford Heritage Foundation. In addition to the numerous COG volunteers, many Allegheny College and Cochranton Key Club students provided valuable assistance with the event. In 2011, a 3rd Tire Recycling Event was held, once again benefiting the residents of Crawford County as well as the environment. In 2015, we held our 4th Tire Recycling Event which brought together numerous sponsors, local businesses and various individual and municipal representatives who tirelessly volunteered their time and resources to remove 1,260 tires from the area as well as helping the French Creek Conservancy dispose of tires they pulled from the areas and tributaries surrounding French Creek. In 2017, our 5th Tire Recycling Event was held where 1,288 tires were collected. In 2019, we held our 6th Tire Recycling Event where we collected over 1,800 tires.
In search of a new home for their equipment in 2008, the Crawford County SCUBA and HazMat Teams looked to the French Creek COG for any assistance the members could provide. By being able to promote their county involvement and explain their plight, they were successful in locating property and were able to complete the construction of a new facility.
In 2008 and 2009, there was much talk about multi municipal planning and working together to implement various zoning, building code enforcement, water and sewer upgrades especially between the City of Meadville, Vernon Township, Sadsbury Township and Conneaut Lake. In 2012, this become a reality as final approval was considered by Pennsylvania DEP so that implementation could begin. It is efforts like these that make the state officials and their funding departments take notice of such intergovernmental cooperation efforts.
Current undertakings include various members who have volunteered to serve on subcommittees such as the Gas and Energy Committee to determine the needs and wants of the local community and to poise the COG for greater impact and efficiency in operations. In 2013, a website was established for the COG so basic information could be available to all on the web as well as delegates could obtain meeting packets at any time so as to keep the cost of operation at a minimum as most work is done by volunteers. In 2016, an updated website was established using Proud City available at proudcity.com as they work specifically with governmental entities.
Throughout the years, the French Creek COG has been very supportive of numerous efforts by various municipalities, authorities and other entities that have sought public funding for projects including the construction of a biomass facility to be used by the Crawford Central School District, Crawford County Career and Technical Center and the Meadville Area Recreation Complex, a new roof and dasher boards for the Meadville Area Recreation Complex, jet rodder machine for the Meadville Area Sewer Authority, Roche Park improvements for Vernon Township and the Crawford County Office of Emergency Services’ desire to become involved with the Law Enforcement Mobile Data Project. Numerous representatives from COG members have served on the Meadville Area Water Authority Source Water committee. Many road department employees and secretaries have actively participated in various roundtable meetings to share ideas and solutions for common problems faced by all municipalities. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, the COG joined the joint COGCare initiative to provide savings on health insurance for Vernon, East Mead and West Mead Townships.
The French Creek Council of Governments is always looking for projects or joint efforts that will benefit the Meadville area or make a difference in the lives of our residents. We have a very diverse membership and have found the face-to-face interactions invaluable. The COG has brought various entities to the table that did not routinely interact with one another and we are thankful for these opportunities.