In this Update:
Senate Republicans Continue Statewide Hearings on Rising Crime
Local police chiefs, prosecutors, addiction recovery experts and others met with the Senate Majority Policy Committee in Lancaster this week as part of Senate Republican public hearings on rising crime in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has the highest violent crime rate of any state in the Northeast, according to FBI data. Between 2019 and 2020, no other state reported a greater year-over-year increase in violence. Driven by spikes in aggravated assault and homicide, Pennsylvania’s violent crime rate climbed 27.1% from 2019 to 2020.
Chief David Steffen of the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department told the committee that the national media’s consistent coverage of emotional, high-profile and statistically rare cases of officer-involved shootings portrayed as the norm has created a foundation of mistrust in law enforcement.
Columbia Borough Police Chief Jack Brommer said recruiting new officers to the force has become increasingly difficult, particularly as anti-police rhetoric rises.
According to Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams, Lancaster County is a hotspot for human trafficking, an insidious crime that contributes to other types of community lawlessness.
A top priority for Senate Republicans is to ensure Pennsylvanians feel safe in the towns, cities and communities they call home. These hearings will help legislators better understand the trends in crime from law enforcement and key stakeholders, and better align the Commonwealth’s economic goals with community objectives throughout the state.
The next hearing on crime and public safety will be announced in the near future.
Tioga County Projects Receive $2 Million in State Funding
Two Tioga County projects aimed at boosting recreation and economic development have each received $1 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding.
The Tioga County commissioners received one of the grants to support construction of the Marsh Creek Greenway Patterson Trailhead facility and supporting parking areas.
Tyoga Container received the other grant for the third and final phase of its construction of a 100,000-square-foot distribution center. The funding will be used to run a conveyor system from the current manufacturing facility directly to the newly constructed distribution center.
RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act. They must have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.
Clinton County Planning Office Gets $1 million Grant to Continue the Bald Eagle Valley Trail
A $1 million in federal grant through the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside Program has been awarded to the Clinton County Planning Office to continue the Bald Eagle Valley Trail.
The money for Phase 5 of the project will be used to construct a ramp to carry the trail off the former railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River, build 3,200 feet of new trail surface on an abandoned Pine Creek Township road, install sharrows (shared lane markings used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles) and add share-the-road signage on approximately three miles of River Road.
The TA Set-Aside program provides funding for projects and activities defined as transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, and environmental mitigation, trails that serve a transportation purpose, and safe routes to school projects.
The planning office has indicated it could take approximately one year for engineering design, permitting and right-of-way acquisition. The hope is to begin construction sometime in 2024.
Clinton County Bridge Named in Honor of WWII Veteran
Earlier this week, I had the privilege to attend a bridge dedication ceremony to honor the late Tech Corporal Lee R. Phillips, who, after being drafted in 1944 during World War II, served in the 3rd Army, Company A, 787TH Battalion where he drove tanks under the command of U.S. Gen. George S. Patton.
Phillips fought in the Battle of the Bulge and following that his tank company performed mop up operations across Europe until Nazi Germany surrendered in May 1945. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal and AME Medal with one Bronze Service Star.
After being discharged from the service on Dec. 27, 1945, Phillips returned to his native Clinton County where he worked at Casslebury Motor Co. and later purchased Kline and Co., an auto parts and equipment company. He was active in his community, being a part and supporting several local organizations including the Shriners, Kiwanis, Clinton County United Way and the Clinton County Community Foundation. Phillips and his wife created the Lee and Maddie Phillips Memorial Fund through the Clinton County Community Foundation which consisted of $3.8 million.
Lee passed away at the age of 94 on April 7, 2020.
The now-named Tech Corporal Lee R. Phillips Memorial Bridge carries State Route 1010 over Chatham Run in Pine Creek Township.
Lock Haven Express Celebrates 140th Anniversary
Earlier this week I was able to present a state Senate citation congratulating the Lock Haven Express on their 140th anniversary.
“The Express” was founded as a community newspaper on March 1, 1882 by brothers W. A. and Frank Kinsloe, with the original publication known as “The Evening Express.” It was renamed the “Lock Haven Express” in 1904. The paper has merged and bought other publications through out the years, becoming what it is today: a daily newspaper serving all of Clinton County as well as parts of Centre and Lycoming counties.
This great newspaper has cultivated a reputation for providing high-quality services and top-notch reporting, and become a leader in the community and a model worthy of emulation.
Central Mountain High School Wrestler Recognized for Winning State Championship
This past week I was able to present Central Mountain High School freshman wrestler Dalton Perry with a state Senate citation recognizing him for his 2021-2022 PIAA State Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championship at the 126-pound weight class.
Dalton’s 6-3 win in Hershey in March capped off an incredible season for the Renovo, Clinton County, native as he recorded 41 wins and only 2 losses. He is to be commended for his hard work and dedication.
Congratulations to Dalton and best wishes for every future success and happiness.
30-Day Public Comment Period for Transportation Plans Now Open
The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission (NCPRPDC) and the Rural Transportation Planning Committee have issued a notice of a public review and comment period for the Draft Fiscal Year 2023-2026 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), Air Quality Conformity Analysis (AQCA) Report and related Documents.
The official 30-day public comment period began on May 1, 2022. It will end on May 31, 2022.
The TIP lists all transportation projects that during the next four years intend to use federal funds, along with non-federally funded projects, that are regionally significant. The draft air quality document for (Clearfield County only) demonstrates transportation conformity to federal air quality standards.
A public meeting in the NCPRPDC Building (located at 49 Ridgmont Drive, Ridgway, PA 15853) will be held on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. regarding the Draft TIP, AQCA Report and related documents. A virtual option is available for participants and access information can be obtained by contacting NCPRPDC at (814) 773-3162 or visiting our website. If you require special assistance to attend or participate in this meeting or need additional information, please contact Amy Kessler at (814) 773-3162 five days prior to the meeting event so that special assistance can be accommodated.
Deadline to Request a Primary Election Mail-in Ballot is May 10
If you plan to vote using an absentee or mail-in ballot in the upcoming primary election, your completed application must be received by your county board of elections office by Tuesday, May 10, at 5 p.m.
You can apply for, complete and return mail ballots in person in one visit. County election officials will verify voter eligibility, then provide a ballot, which you can immediately complete and return. To vote by mail-in or absentee ballot, voters must supply proper identification.
The deadline to return your voted absentee or mail-in ballot is 8 p.m. on Election Day, May 17.
Less Than a Year to Go Before Federal Enforcement of REAL ID Begins
The one-year countdown has begun for the federal enforcement of REAL ID for commercial domestic air travel and other federal purposes.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation advises Pennsylvania residents who want REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards and have not yet gotten one to gather the needed documents now to ensure they have plenty of time to get their REAL ID before the federal enforcement date.
REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding a domestic flight or entering a federal building that requires federally acceptable ID for entry. A federally acceptable form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a valid U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used for these purposes on and after May 3, 2023.
There is no requirement that any resident obtain a REAL ID; PennDOT continues to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs. More information, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found on the state REAL ID website.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Extended to May 20
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended to May 20, allowing additional households to apply for help.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by the state that provides assistance for home heating bills. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
While we focus on our physical wellbeing, the food we eat, exercise, and getting regular check-ups for vision and dental care, a growing body of evidence has demonstrated the need to take care of our mental health.
If you or someone you know needs assistance in this crucial area, the state has an online mental health resources page that can be a good starting point. Topics include finding help and treatment, preventing suicide and more.
Happy Mother’s Day
To mothers, grandmothers and everyone who serves in that role, I wish you a happy Mother’s Day in which all the love you give is returned to you in full.
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