In this Update:
Gov. Wolf’s Costly Bridge Tolling Plan Halted
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania this week granted a preliminary injunction stopping Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll nine major bridges across the state – including the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges in Clarion County and the I-80 North Fork Bridges Project in Jefferson County – until further court action occurs.
The bridge tolling initiative would cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year and was moved through the process without legislative input nor approval. The Commonwealth Court sided with a county and several municipalities that challenged the bridge tolling plan as unconstitutional.
It’s clear from everything I’ve heard from you in the 25th Senatorial District that the tolling plan needs to be terminated, which is why the General Assembly continues to work on various efforts to end the tolling plan as well as make needed reforms to the state’s transportation systems and provide alternative transportation revenue sources.
I am convinced that not only is PennDOT’s bridge tolling effort a misuse of the state’s Public-Private Partnerships (P3) law, it was not well thought out nor does it address the significant disparity between the amount of money western Pennsylvania already sends to PennDOT in gas taxes versus the amount of money that we get back to our region.
We have heard concerns about how the tolling will be implemented and what impact that could have on our communities as well as those who serve them, including our already underfunded emergency services providers.
For over 50 years I’ve seen the impact on the Borough of Brookville whenever there is an accident on I-80. Truck traffic diverted through Brookville’s Main Street and back out to I-80 between the Brookville and Hazen exits has a devastating impact on the businesses downtown. If they place these tolls, drivers will seek to avoid the tolls, with that having a daily impact on Brookville, as well as the other communities along I-80 where bridges are to be tolled, that none can afford.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for Polk Township’s Wes and Alan Memorial Park
Back on May 6, On Friday, Polk Township, Jefferson County, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Wes and Alan Memorial Park.
While I was unable to attend the event, a member of my staff, Penny Pifer, was on hand to help celebrate what will be a multifunctional area that will be a great asset for the local community.
Polk Township received a grant for the park from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development through its Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program.
The plan for the park includes a playground, picnic pavilion and eventually a Versa Court.
State Rep. Brian Smith (R-66) and Jefferson County Commissioners Scott North and Herb Bullers took part in the groundbreaking.
Safe Roads Grant Money Available
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the application process is now open for communities of all sizes to apply for $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 funding to help them ensure safe streets and roads for all and address the national roadway safety crisis.
The new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary grant program provides dedicated funding to support regional, local, and tribal plans, projects and strategies that will prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. This comes at a time when, according to federal transportation officials, traffic fatalities are at the highest level they have been in over a decade.
I encourage any municipality that has intersections and road conditions which have contributed to accidents to examine the requirements and to apply. This money is dedicated to such situations and can allow municipal governments to get some help with these situations and possibly help keep regular maintenance money available to prevent future issues. If the municipality is applying, I also encourage letting my office and the office of the local state representative know so that we may provide letters of support.
Eldred WWII War Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary, Dedicated British Cap Badge Display
On May 11, the Eldred WWII War Museum held its 25th (plus one) Anniversary and British Cap Badge Display dedication.
Though I was unable to attend, Zack Ankeny, my district director, had the opportunity to congratulate them and say a few words on my behalf.
The British Cap Badge collection was donated to the museum by Craig Felker, executive director of the Society for Military History.
Though delayed a year by COVID, the Eldred World War II Museum’s 25th Anniversary couldn’t come at a better time to help us remember all the contributions and sacrifices made during a time of war.
The museum’s 25th Anniversary theme of “Women and Canada at War” serves as a reminder that World War II touched everyone everywhere.
With the state of the world today, as concerns grow daily about the potential expansion of the current hostilities in Eastern Europe, the stories related to us by this museum about the last time a major conflict was fought in Europe are invaluable to all of us.
As most know, our history is under attack, and we must fight to preserve it at any cost so that we can teach the kids of tomorrow what happened yesterday. If we, don’t I fear history is doomed to repeat.
A week prior to the museum’s anniversary event, I had the honor of visiting the museum as part of the dedication ceremony for the Sgt. Neil K. Dorrion Memorial Bridge.
I encourage you to take the time to visit the Eldred WWII War Museum located in McKean County. You will be blessed to learn about the story of each museum piece and the person behind them who fought during WWII.
Help Available for Historical Records Care
Area historical societies, libraries and other records repositories can apply now for state grants to improve the preservation of historically valuable records.
The Historical & Archival Records Care grant program provides funding assistance for surveying, inventorying, preserving, arranging and describing historical records significant to Pennsylvania, as well as for records reformatting and equipment.
The competitive grant program is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the official history agency of Pennsylvania. The application deadline is Aug. 1.
Tips for Cars and Motorcycles Sharing the Road
As warmer weather brings more motorcycles to our roadways, it’s a good time to consider some safety tips for sharing the road:
There were 3,578 crashes involving motorcycles on Pennsylvania roadways in 2021, resulting in 226 fatalities, an increase in both from 2020. For more information on motorcycle safety, visit the PennDOT website.
Watching the Development of the Capital’s Young Peregrine Falcons
Pennsylvanians are tracking the development of young peregrine falcons nesting on a ledge of the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.
The live Falcon Cam provides a window into the lives of the falcon nestlings and adult birds. The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 1999 and the Pennsylvania Threatened List in 2021 but remains federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the state Game and Wildlife Code. Eighty-three falcons have hatched in Harrisburg since reproduction began in 2000.
The birds are banded and tracked throughout North America by biologists and birdwatchers.
Falcons born on the ledge at the Rachel Carson building have been tracked to Florida and Canada. The next phase should start around May 22, as these falcons attempt their first flights.
Lowering Your Risk of Skin Cancer
With more than five million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer. Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable.
Reducing your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can lower your chances of getting skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get skin cancer, but people with certain characteristics are at greater risk, such as a lighter natural skin color, certain types and a large number of moles, a family history of skin cancer and more.
You can learn about ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer here.
Honoring the Work of EMS Personnel
This week, we celebrate the men and women who serve our community during the worst or most challenging moments, and who ensure their patients receive high-quality, compassionate and lifesaving care.
Members of EMS teams, whether career or volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their skills. We owe them our gratitude for their time and dedication.
New Mobile Broadband Sites in McKean and Tioga Counties
AT&T has added new cell sites in the 25th Senatorial District to enhance the mobile broadband coverage in the area and help give first responders on FirstNet® and residents faster, more reliable wireless service.
According to AT&T, there is a new site in McKean County along State Route 59 that will enhance AT&T coverage in the Backus/Ormsby area. A new site in western Tioga County will enhance AT&T coverage along State Route 6 in the Manhattan/Gaines/Rexford area.
Both sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum – a nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet – as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is public safety’s VIP lane, so that in an emergency, this band can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers.
P-EBT Benefits Available to Eligible PA Families for 2021-22 School Year
Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) plan for the 2021-2022 school year has been approved by the federal government.
According to the state Department of Human Services, eligible families will begin to receive these P-EBT benefits in mid-to-late June.
P-EBT is designed to help eligible families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at a reduced price through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in child care or school settings that closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School children who received free or reduced-price school meals are eligible for these 2021-2022 school year benefits if their school was closed or had reduced hours for a period of at least five consecutive days due to COVID-19 and if the student was absent from the classroom due to COVID-19.
For more information about P-EBT, CLICK HERE.
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