In this Update:
Grants awarded to 25th District Communities
This past week, the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) awarded more than $4.2 million in Local Share Account (LSA) grants that I was happy to help secure for 25th District communities.
The projects, and the funding they received, are:
The Local Share Account funding was created by the PA Race Horse Development and Gaming Act (Act 71 of 2004), which provides for the distribution of gaming revenues through the CFA to support projects in the public interest within Pennsylvania.
State College Area Connector Study PEL Public Comment Period Ends March 19
Just a reminder that if you have thoughts about the State College Area Connector Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study, the public comment period ends on March 19. If you have ideas you think might help make the project better or lessen the impact on local residents, I encourage you to submit them.
The PEL study evaluated transportation improvements in southern Centre County in a 70 square mile initial study area. The draft PEL is available on the project site at www.penndot.pa.gov\SCAC.
All comments should be submitted electronically to Dean Ball, PE at Deball@pa.gov. Comments must be received by the end of the day, March 19.
University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Named a Top Military-friendly University
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has again been named by Viqtory Media as a military-friendly university, but this time around they’re one of the top ten schools in the category of small public institutions.
Pitt-Bradford has been recognized as a military-friendly school for 13 consecutive years by Viqtory Media. Eighty-one small public universities throughout the nation received a military-friendly designation.
To achieve its Top 10 status this year, Pitt-Bradford was recognized for embracing military students and their families and dedicating resources to ensure their success. Pitt-Bradford is the only small public university in Pennsylvania to achieve Top 10 status.
The 2023-24 survey included more than 1,800 schools with 665 earning special awards for going above the standard set by Viqtory Media. The 2023-24 list can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com. You can read more about this in a story published by the Olean Times Herald.
On behalf of my fellow veterans and myself: Thank you to the team at Pitt-Bradford for your continued support of our veterans!
Clinton County Announces $75,000 in Tourism/Recreation Grant Awards
The Clinton County Economic Partnership’s Tourist Promotion Agency, in collaboration with the Clinton County Commissioners and County Planning Department, recently announced the award of $75,000 in grants through the Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant program.
The Clinton County Economic Partnership’s Tourist Promotion Agency, in collaboration with the Clinton
County Commissioners and County Planning Department, recently announced the award of $75,000 in grants through the Clinton County Tourism/Recreation Grant program.
Twenty-five area nonprofits, municipalities and businesses will receive grant funds to carry out events and initiatives designed to promote, develop and expand local tourist and recreational assets and attract visitors to Clinton County.
The Tourism/Recreation Grant program allows the county to solicit proposals and support local events and projects based on funds generated through the county’s hotel tax. In general, the grant funds are intended for use as promotional funds and start-up money for activities that: promote or enhance tourism and recreational opportunities within the county, promote increased overnight visitor stays in the county and benefit Clinton County as well as the broader geographic region known as the PA Wilds.
A complete list of grant recipients can be found here.
Applications Now Being Accepted for Grants to Inspire Interest in Hunting and Fishing
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is again seeking applicants for grants to support education programs that promote new and renewed interest in fishing and boating in Pennsylvania through the recruitment of new participants, retention of existing participants, and reactivation of former participants – collectively known as “R3.”
The R3 grants aim to connect Pennsylvanians with the fun of commonwealth waterways by teaching fishing and boating skills and providing quality locations where these activities can be enjoyed.
Organizations are encouraged to engage groups under-represented in the fishing or boating population to learn the benefits of these activities, including community, wellness, and taking advantage of the outdoors.
Last year, $201,837 in R3 grants were awarded to support 13 education projects in nine counties.
The R3 grants will reimburse qualifying organizations up to $25,000 for eligible expenses for the period of July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. The grants require a minimum of 25% match of total project costs. The deadline for submission of R3 grant applications is April 14. At this time, applications for multi-year grants are not being accepted.
More information about the grant program, including the application, can be found on the here.
Talking About Black Bears
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Emily Carrollo, a wildlife biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the commission’s black bear program specialist, making her responsible for managing the state’s black bear population. Her job includes coordinating with government and non-government agencies for research projects, working with regional coordinators and managers to uphold management plan objectives, and updating the current management plan with current objectives and research.
You can watch my interview with Emily by clicking the link above.
It’s Maple Weekend in Potter and Tioga Counties!
Looking for something sweet to do this weekend? Check out the annual Maple Weekend Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19, at nearly two dozen different maple producers in Potter and Tioga counties.
You’ll find a variety of opportunities at each location to learn more about the process of collecting sap and making maple syrup and other products, as well as the chance to sample or purchase a wide range of products, including syrup and maple candy, and more unique maple products such as salad dressing, barbecue sauce, jellies, homemade cookies, maple milkshakes and cotton candy.
The Pennsylvania Hardwoods “Wood Mobile” will be at Patterson Farm (See map above) for the weekend. It is a travelling classroom that can inform everyone of the products produced from our forests. Some will surprise you.
Click here for details about this educational – and very tasty! – event.
Aerial Tree Trimming in Centre County March through December 2023
FirstEnergy has announced that starting March 15, weather permitting, Aerial Solutions Inc. will be conducting, by helicopter, aerial saw operations in Centre County that are expected to continue through December 2023. The purpose is to clear away trees and other vegetation from electric transmission lines.
The helicopter has a saw consisting of multiple 24-inch rotary blades powered by a motor suspended on a vertical boom beneath it. As the helicopter flies slowly along the right-of-way, the aerial saw cuts and trims trees and other vegetation.
The helicopter will travel from substation to substation within the county, trimming the transmission corridor. So, if you see a bright yellow helicopter with a long chainsaw hanging out trimming trees, it is likely Aerial Solutions.
The pilot and/or company can be contacted directly for any questions or confirm specific location on a given day by contacting 910-625-1904 (by phone) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Budget Hearings Begin March 20
Three weeks of budget hearings held by the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin next week with appearances by the Department of Revenue, Independent Fiscal Office, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Treasurer, Department of Environmental Protection, Auditor General and Office of Attorney General.
The hearings will be used to review Gov. Josh Shapiro’s spending plan and ask administration officials about the need for any proposed expenses. From there, members of the legislature will take the information and the needs of our constituents and begin to design a budget that more appropriately reflects the needs of taxpayers can be developed before the constitutional deadline of June 30.
Livestreams of the hearings and daily recaps will be available here, and I will share updates on this important process each week.
Examining Government Cloud-Based Cybersecurity
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee brought together information technology experts this week for a public hearing about securing cloud-based data held by state and local governments.
With cloud storage, digital data is stored on servers in off-site locations. The servers are maintained by a third-party provider responsible for hosting, managing and securing data. This data includes personally identifiable information such as tax records, unemployment claims, social security numbers, driver’s licenses and more.
Testifiers said the threat to cybersecurity is constant. Pennsylvania’s acting Chief Information Security Officer Christopher Dressler testified that, in a recent month, there were approximately 38 billion unauthorized attempts to connect to the state network. He said cloud computing presents cybersecurity benefits for the commonwealth, such as intrusion prevention, malware protection, identity and access controls and encryption. View video and written testimony from the hearing here.
Strengthening Guardianship Laws, Preventing Elder Abuse
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Aging and Youth Committee on strengthening guardianship laws and preventing elder abuse in Pennsylvania.
When an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a professional or family guardian may be appointed to become responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf, including financial, medical and personal matters.
Deeming someone incapacitated is an involved process; necessarily so since it would be taking away many rights of an individual. It should only be used in rare instances because, as history has shown, there are people who would do it in order to take advantage of the one deemed incapacitated. But when one is truly incapable of making life choices we need to ensure there is someone who will make the best choices for the individual.
During the hearing, testimony was given by professionals in the elder and disability law fields to provide input on the flaws in Pennsylvania’s guardianship process. Guardianship issues discussed included the lengthy time to receive mandatory legal counsel and costs, necessary training of guardians, abuse, rights to counsel and more.
PennDOT Invites Public Feedback on Transportation
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to submit their feedback using this transportation survey or by emailing comments to RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov. Public feedback and survey results will help identify needs and prioritize transportation projects across the state.
PennDOT will also host an online public forum on Wednesday, April 12, from 6:30-8 p.m. Pennsylvanians can ask transportation-related questions to PennDOT leadership and members of the State Transportation Commission during the forum.
The feedback provided will be used to inform Pennsylvania’s 12-Year Program, which is updated every two years. It is the first step in the state’s transportation program planning process and helps to evaluate the system’s performance and opportunities for progress. Learn more about how transportation projects are planned and funded.
Beware of the Secret Shopper Scam
In a current scam, Pennsylvanians are getting text messages, emails and letters inviting them to participate in a research project as a secret shopper without the need for an interview.
A recruiter typically sends a check worth more than the items you buy, so you get to keep the rest as a bonus. They instruct you to deposit the check right away, buy gift cards and provide the scammer with the number and pin on the gift cards. Unfortunately, the check they send is fraudulent and will take a few days to clear. In the meantime, you’ve made the purchases out of your account and sent them off to the scammer.
Read more about the warning signs of this scam. Consumers with any questions or feel they have been victimized by this scam or any similar scams may submit a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting the website here, emailing email@example.com or calling 1-800-441-2555.
“Coolest Thing Made in PA” March Madness Contest
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry has launched its first-ever “Coolest Thing Made in PA” contest to kick off March Madness.
The contest, which is being offered via Twitter, asks participants to vote for their favorite Pennsylvania companies in a head-to-head matchup in honor of the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament.
Companies on the list include such things as Mrs. T’s Perogies, Crayola crayons and Aurora self-driving cars.
The tournament dates are as follow: March 14 through March 17 (first round); March 21 through March 24 (second round); March 28 through March 29 (third round); March 30 through March 31 (fourth round); and April 3 (championship).
You can access the brackets each day at Pennsylvania Chamber (@PAChamber) / Twitter.
The winner gets free tickets to next year’s PA Economic Forecast and Business Leadership Summit where they will be honored.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
What began as a religious holiday for the Irish is now celebrated on March 17 annually by people all across the world.
Saint Patrick, who lived in the fifth century, was credited with bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland.
“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.” – Irish blessing
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