MARC History


Montour County is the smallest county in Pennsylvania.  It is a rural area, rich in iron and agricultural heritage, but in no way living in the past.

Routinely ranked in the top ten counties in Pennsylvania to live, work and play, located on the North Branch Susquehanna River and nestled in the rolling hills of the Appalachian mountains, Montour County offers an exceptional quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

 

• Come to work with our top-notch health care employers.

• Come to play at any of our recreational facilities and enjoy everything from hiking, biking, fishing and hunting to just plain goofing off.

• Come enjoy our rural setting, low crime, traditional small town Mill Street shopping area and other small community benefits.

MARC HISTORY

The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) is a group of mostly volunteers, committed to providing the best possible recreation facilities for the people of Montour County and the area serviced by the Danville Area School District (DASD). We are people who live and work here and recognize the many resources the area has to offer. We are interested in helping to create a great place to live, work and raise a family. We hold monthly meetings on the second Monday of each month (except no meetings in July) at 7:00pm in the Montour Preserve Environmental Education Center (700 Preserve Rd, Danville, PA 17821) –  that are open to anyone and we are always looking for new ideas and perspectives.

MARC grew out of the Montour County Recreation Authority (MCRA).  MCRA was originally created as a funding mechanism for the Danville Area Community Center (DACC) over 20 years ago. Long after that original purpose was accomplished, it was re-formed to pursue ideas and dollars to improve recreation fields, programs, and facilities in Montour County and the Danville Area School District. For many years, Danville Borough dollars funded most of the recreation in our area – not all, but most. This inequitable funding of community facilities and programs was finally posed as a question, “Why aren’t all municipalities participating in funding recreation?” And, “Why do we build things and never provide for maintaining them?”

In 2002, a change in organizational structure was proposed which would move the responsibility for recreation from an appointed authority to a commission which would be composed of representatives of every participating municipality. These recommendations followed statewide trends in recreation and, more importantly, recreation funding. DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) has moved toward a system of rewarding regional partnerships with grant opportunities.

In 2003, MCRA assembled a team of volunteers to travel around the state to observe other communities to learn how they ran their organizations. DCNR provided a list of successful, sustained programs that were similar in size to our region for this study. The team found the common thread among successful organizations was partnerships and wide-based community support.

Because MCRA was a volunteer group with a small budget, it could not launch a full-scale public relations campaign. All it could hope to do was present its findings in a logical, thoughtful, and respectful way. To that end, MCRA began the education process by speaking with public officials. Every idea for funding the commission and creating a commission was an idea – a model, a framework. The actual commission, its funding, and the scope of responsibilities would be decided by the representatives of the voluntarily participating municipalities.  A large group meeting on March 10, 2004, followed the small group discussions. After the meeting, some municipalities decided to join with MCRA in the creation of MARC.  Others took more of a ‘wait and see’ approach.  MARC began to operate as a Commission upon the signing of an Intergovernmental Agreement of Cooperation by our partner municipalities and the DASD on May 18th, 2005.  Today, MARC is composed of Montour County, Danville Area School District, Danville Borough, Riverside Borough and Washingtonville Borough.

Dave Decoteau served as MARC’s first Director, serving from MARC’s founding in 2005 until October, 2010.  Dave then stepped down to open the Riverside Adventure Company in Riverside, PA, though he continues to remain actively involved in MARC’s operations as a park/trail stewardship volunteer.  Bob Stoudt, formerly MARC’s Deputy Director, was promoted to Director in October, 2010 and continues to serve in that capacity today.  Jon Beam joined MARC’s staff as Assistant Director in January, 2015.  Dennis Piatt, MARC’s Maintenance Technician, joined the organization in February, 2016.

 

MARC TODAY

MARC’s mission is ‘to make and promote Montour County, PA as a healthy place to live, work and play’.  MARC’s stated goals are to:

1. (BUILD AND MAINTAIN) Improve the quality and quantity of outdoor recreational opportunities in and around Montour County, PA
2. (PARTNER) Collaborate with volunteers and public and private partners to create, maintain and promote an interconnected network of trails, parks, natural areas and other green spaces
3. (PROMOTE) Promote the economic, natural and cultural resources of our community
4. (FUND) Create an endowed funding source for the long-term operations of the Montour Area Recreation Commission and the stewardship of Montour County’s outdoor recreational resources
5. (ASSIST) Serve as a clearinghouse for information, technical and planning assistance related to outdoor recreation in and around Montour County

MARC has three part-time employees (Robert Stoudt, Director; Jon Beam, Assistant Director; Dennis Piatt, Maintenance Technician).  MARC’s operations are overseen by an unpaid Commission of elected municipal and county officials and volunteers.

MARC is funded by annual contributions from Montour County’s Commissioners’ Tourism Fund and Act 13 (Marcellus Shale Impact Fee) grant funds, donations and through revenue generated by the races of the River Towns Race Series.

 

CURRENT MARC PROJECTS

MARC is currently directing or has recently completed the following projects in the Montour County region:

  • Construction of the new concrete skatepark at the Hess Recreation Area near Danville, PA
  • Reconstruction of the access road leading into the Hess Recreation Area
  • Maintenance and improvements to the hiking/biking trail network and athletic fields within the Hess Recreation Area
  • Development of the Danville Riverfront and Open Space Master Plan
  • Planning, permitting and construction of the North Branch Canal Trail from Danville, PA to Catawissa, PA and, one day, beyond
  • Habitat improvement and restoration work in Mahoning Creek
  • Organizing and directing the River Towns Race Series
  • Scheduling and maintenance of the sports fields at the new PPL East Branch Recreation Area in Madison Township, Columbia County
  • Construction of the 11+ mile-long Hopewell Park/Danville Borough Farm mountain bike trail network
  • Maintenance and operation of the Montour Preserve

 

ABOUT THE RIVER TOWNS RACE SERIES

MARC annually organizes a series of races (eleven in 2016) in and around Montour County designed to offer local residents and visitors an exciting and challenging variety of healthy outdoor recreational opportunities, ranging from entry-level 5K races such as the Robbins Run, held at Hess Field, to much more intense events such as the Montour 24 Endurance Runs.  Major sponsors of the 2016 River Towns Race Series include the Montour County Commissioners’ Tourism Fund and the Geisinger Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Program.

To learn more about the River Towns Race Series, please visit http://www.RiverTownRace.com.