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Fresh faces on Tioga County's Board of Commissioners

Left to right: Marc Rice, 38, Sam VanLoon, 41, and Shane Nickerson, 50.
Tioga County Commissioners Office
Left to right: Marc Rice, 38, Sam VanLoon, 41, and Shane Nickerson, 50.

Tioga County’s Board of Commissioners features all newcomers with diverse backgrounds.

Commissioner Marc Rice worked in the commissioners office for 18 years.

“The last board of commissioners did some really great things for our community," Rice said. "One thing that they taught me, and it was kind of their mantra, was to work together.”

Rice, 38, grew up on a family farm near Wellsboro. He started in 2009 as county risk manager, and then became assistant chief clerk for the commissioners. He also has his real estate license.

Shane Nickerson, 50, was mayor of Blossburg for ten years and owns a roofing company. He is the first democrat in 12 years elected to serve as commissioner of Tioga County.

“We didn’t have a minority party,” he said. “A democrat would get beat on a write-in... I’m really grateful to be successful in that.”

The top vote-getter, Sam Vanloon, 41, is chairman of the board, and lives in Mansfield. He spent the last 23 years in the Army National Guard, where he was an army tank operator, and will retire in May.

“A lot of my friends don’t know who the commissioners are,” VanLoon said. “We have these great programs for businesses, for people going through addiction, for single families, a lot of stuff isn’t advertised well. And the last commissioners, they weren’t really on Facebook.”

The Tioga County Commissioners see importance in keeping the community connected, like informing business owners about the resources Develop Tioga can offer. All three agree that the economy in a rural community needs extra support.

“Those same issues with transportation, with geography, with infrastructure, those same barriers really hold us back,” he said. “We have to think about growing the economy from the bottom up. We have to really promote entrepreneurship, we have to keep people here.”

Infrastructure improvements are key, as well. The commissioners are excited about the acid mine water treatment plant that will soon clean up the Tioga River in Blossburg.

“The water flows from Blossburg north through Mansfield,” VanLoon said. “So the whole county will see the benefit of that project.”

“And one of the biggest drivers in Tioga County is tourism,” Rice added. “You clean up the waterways in Blossburg, and after two years, aquatic life comes back, and then there’s fish in the streams, and you’re going to have folks fishing, and the community will enjoy the outdoor recreational assets, as well.”

Nickerson is 33 years sober, and is passionate about helping addicts reconnect to society.

“I think that the whole attitude towards drug addiction, alcoholism, has really shifted. For a long time, I think society thought that somehow we'd be able to punish addiction out of people,” he said. “I think that reconnecting addicts to society is important. And that's part of the reason why I'm so open about, you know, my past.”

The commissioners also hope to see Route 15 become part of the I-99 corridor.

“Currently, the county actually pays for lighting along [Route] 15 in Tioga County, all the exit lights and the on-ramps and off-ramps,” Rice said. “Once that becomes an interstate, you know, the county will no longer have to do that. So we are advocating for that change.”

Haley joined the WVIA news team in 2023 as a reporter and host. She grew up in Scranton and studied Broadcast Journalism at Marywood University. Haley has experience reporting in Northeast Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. She enjoys reporting on Pennsylvania history and culture, and video storytelling.

You can email Haley at haleyobrien@wvia.org