Commissioner Deb Baughman Gets Things Done!
Deb Tackles the Tough Jobs
- Manages the County Broadband Initiative
- Our rural county is a challenge for broadband deployment. Our low population density and difficult topography does not provide enough profit for private companies to invest. Therefore, public-private partnerships are required to get the job done
- In 2020, the commissioners used the COVID slow-down to create a master plan and positioning ourselves to access grant funding when it was available. The first funding available was through CARES ACT funding and state-of-the-art equipment was installed on four existing towers giving broadband access to 4110 buildings
- In 2021, the Broadband Initiative was kicked-off with three phases of development. Phase One is complete with state-of-the art broadband equipment placed on twenty-one existing towers throughout the county giving broadband access to another 13,104 buildings.
- Phase Two is underway with the construction of nine new towers in unserved parts of the county. When complete an additional 11,557 buildings will have access to high speed broadband through line of sight. Each tower constructed will also have the capacity to hold equipment for cellular carriers.
- In total, 28,771 buildings now have line of sight access to high speed broadband through our partner Crowsnest Broadband.
- Repeaters are now being installed in small communities like Friend’s Cove. A repeater with line of sight to a tower can be mounted on a silo or barn and relayed to local addresses, giving homes without line of sight broadband coverage.
- A fiber deployment plan is in the works for Phase Three.
BRING DEB BACK TO FINISH THE JOB: BROADBAND FOR ALL OF BEDFORD COUNTY!
Other tough challenges waiting to be tackled include more cellular coverage, affordable and modern housing and water & sewer.
Deb is all in for tackling those challenges with our local and regional coalition.
Quality of life is the #2 reason why businesses re-locate to a new area. A top focus for Deb is this issue. Incremental progress toward modern amenities and meaningful, family-sustaining jobs
Furthers outdoor recreational development
Each year, the commissioners designate Act 13 funding to all our county trails. Working with municipalities, agencies, and development organizations, we are creating a county plan to further expand and connect our parks, trails, lakes, and river to position ourselves for grant dollars. Our beautiful natural assets certainly contribute to quality of life in Bedford County.
Lobbies elected officials at all levels on the county’s behalf
Fostering relationships with municipalities and elected officials at the State and Federal level pays off for the county when there is a concern or funding is needed. Deb regularly speaks with officials to cut through the red tape and get the help the county needs.
Serves on state, regional, and local boards and committees to build coalitions
- Bedford County Development Association
- Bedford County Educational Foundation
- Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission
- Bedford County Airport Authority
- Somerset-Bedford Developmental and Behavioral Health Services
- South Central Counties Solid Waste Agency
- Huntingdon, Fulton, Bedford Area Agency on Aging
- County Commissioners Assn of PA Economic Development Committee
- County Commissioners Assn of PA Election Reforms Committee
Seeks improved mental health and addiction services
As commissioner, Deb will have input into how the opioid settlement funds are spent. Bedford County will receive funds each year. We are working with treatment specialists to determine the most impactful way to spend that money.
Collaborates to strengthen emergency services
Deb works closely with the County’s Emergency Management Agency Director to understand issues and services the county provides. She is lobbying for more state funding for 911 and local EMS organizations.
Always available to help residents in need
Deb Promotes Progress in County Government
Cleaned up the jail with a leadership and operations overhaul
“During my first year as commissioner, it became clear there were numerous and serious problems at the correctional facility. A bold move was made to bring in the PA Department of Corrections to oversee an extensive assessment, resulting in a major personnel and operations overhaul. With changes implemented by the new warden and his administrative team under board oversight, I am proud of the efforts that led to the correctional facility receiving a DOC inspection report of 100% compliance in 2022. Under current leadership, programs aimed at reducing recidivism have been implemented, and by prioritizing recruitment and training for correctional officers, the BCCF maintains nearly full staffing- no easy feat in this employment environment.”
Deb serves as prison board chairperson.
Increased safety in the courthouse
Bedford County was the only county in the state without dedicated courthouse security screening. In today’s climate, it is important to bring safety up to Dept. of Homeland Security standards. Deb is supporting a secure entrance, surveillance, and the new security department. Everyone deserves to not only feel safe, but BE safe.
Ensures integrity and security with the election process
Deb Baughman also served as chairperson of the County Election Board until her re-elections bid this year. Major changes were implemented by the state beginning with the 2020 Presidential election year. On top of the implementation of mail-in voting, was the need to conduct safe elections during the COVID pandemic. “Overseeing 40 precincts to ensure the accuracy and integrity of every county election is a sacred duty, and one that must be administered to the highest standards.”
Implemented employee work-life balance and increased wages
This has helped with recruitment and retention. Each year of her first term, Deb approved raising wages and improving working conditions. In addition, a program to help with student loan costs was implemented. Flexible scheduling has also benefitted employees. A large line item in the budget, salaries and benefits reflect the heavy emphasis on service to the public.
Improved county financial position and bond rating
During Baughman’s current term, progress was made in stabilizing the county’s financial position. “Bills are being paid on time without the need for a tax anticipation note. There is an adequate fund balance and outdated accounting practices have been brought into compliance. These factors have contributed to a rising high quality bond rating from “B” to “A”. This has been done with maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in the state.”
Rectified years of deferred maintenance and necessary upgrades
In spite of the pandemic and inflation, to better serve the public and give value to the taxpayer, projects were prioritized during the current term to include: rectifying years of deferred maintenance and necessary upgrades to county-owned buildings; finding cost savings by improving systems and energy use.
Approved grant-writer/facilitator position
Knowing that obtaining grants leverages county funds and expands opportunities, the 2023 county budget provides for hiring a part-time grant writer. Baughman believes, “No potential grant funding should be left on the table. A grant writer’s salary will be a small portion of the funding received. We need a person whose sole responsibility is to have eyes on available grants and the knowledge to follow the process through. With the current funding streams, this should benefit the county greatly.”