Senator Cris Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • PA Military Finance Event on Oct. 13: Making $ense of Finance
  • Gov. Wolf Vetoes Legislation That Would Keep Violent Inmates in Jail Longer
  • First PA Statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Conference
  • Combatting Human Trafficking
  • Celebrating PA Route 6 Alliance Accomplishments and “Do 6” Awards
  • Grants for Small Water, Sewer and Storm Water Infrastructure Projects Available
  • Honoring Jody Thomas on Her Retirement from Bradford-Tioga Head Start, Inc.
  • FEMA Non-Disaster Grants Application Periods Now Open
  • Medicare Open Enrollment begins Oct. 15, Free Insurance Counseling Available
  • Program Providing Help with Water, Sewer Bills Ends Oct. 28
  • Conservation and Natural Resources Grants Available
  • Breast Cancer Screening Saves Lives 

PA Military Finance Event on Oct. 13: Making $ense of Finance

Register here for this FREE event for veterans and their families, including lunch and parking.

Gov. Wolf Vetoes Legislation That Would Keep Violent Inmates in Jail Longer

I am extremely disappointed that Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed legislation supported by Republicans and Democrats that would tighten the parole process for violent offenders.

House Bill 146, or Markie’s Law, was named after Markie Mason, an 8-year-old Lawrence County boy who was brutally stabbed to death by a man who was paroled at the end of his minimum sentence for homicide, even after being convicted of committing two separate assaults of other inmates while in prison.

The bill would have postponed consideration of a violent inmate’s parole an additional two years following the inmate’s minimum release date for each conviction of a violent offense while incarcerated. This was a rational, responsible response to a horrific crime and Gov. Wolf’s veto is indefensible.

First PA Statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Conference

Upper Picture: Front Row (left to right) – Kim R. Smith, Shared Hope International Ambassador, Iowa and Nebraska Regional Coordinator, Internet Safety Expert (Kansas); Pastor Jo Lembo, Shared Hope International, Director of Faith Initiatives and National Outreach, Keynote Speaker (Arizona); Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good, Founder and CEO of The Foundation United, Closing speaker (Florida); Jordan Pine, Founder and CEO of Greenlight Operation (Pennsylvania); Pastor Nick Lembo, State Coordinator for Just Men Arizona (Arizona). Back Row (left to right) – Jeremy Widenhofer, The Asservo Project (Pennsylvania); Joe Sweeney, Founder and CEO of The Asservo Project (Pennsylvania); Sen. Cris Dush; Doug Lengenfelder, Field Representative for Sen. Dush; Pastor Jim Gay, Pastor Greater Johnstown Christian Fellowship (Pennsylvania). Lower Picture: Sen. Dush presents Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good a Senatorial Thank You for participating in the Oct. 4, 2022, Anti-Human Trafficking Conference at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown.

Sen. Wayne Langerholc and I opened up the first Pennsylvania statewide Anti-Human Trafficking conference on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, at the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown. 

I opened the event by laying out my strategic plan for a coordinated fight against Human Trafficking, which includes three major areas of:

  • Communicating the societal problems of Human Trafficking while Educating the public on how to recognize and combat what is the second largest business in the world;
  • Rescuing men, women and children from the clutches of this life-destroying evil; and
  • Providing the help to recover those whose lives have been destroyed by traffickers (saving a soul).

My model includes the need for financial support in order to properly fight traffickers and help victims. I’m currently working toward a coherent legislative approach to achieve these goals.

The conference included international speakers from across the United States who provided not only eye-opening examples of trafficking in our own back yard, but ways to recognize trafficking and how to report it when you believe it is happening. 

This ground-breaking conference is the beginning of an outreach program designed to work with everyone from district attorneys and first responders to clergy and private citizens.

Look for conferences and discussions coming to a neighborhood near you.

The next Human Trafficking educational opportunity will be at the Punxy Community Center at 220 N Jefferson Street, Punxsutawney, PA 15767.  The Asservo Project CEO, Joe Sweeney will be discussing Trafficking 101 and taking questions from 6:00PM to 8:00PM on Monday night, October 10, 2022.

Combatting Human Trafficking

Celebrating PA Route 6 Alliance Accomplishments and “Do 6” Awards

State Rep. Clint Owlett with the staff of Highland Chocolates (left to right) Kelly Irwin, Irene Morgan, and Erin Roupp, and PA Route 6 Board President Kevin Abrams and Deb Rudy, field rep for state Sen. Cris Dush.

Late last month, my office had the honor of participating in the PA Route 6 Alliance’s 2022 Annual Meeting & “Do 6” Awards presentation.

Held this year in Mansfield, Tioga County, at the Corey Creek Golf Club, the Alliance talked about their goals and accomplishments across the Route 6 corridor, including tourism promotion and marketing, bicycle tourism and Bike Friendly Business Program, state byway designation efforts, the PA Route 6 Artisan Trail, PA Route 6 Public Art & Mural Trail, and PA Route 6 Façade Programs.

They also presented their “Do6” Awards for 2022 in the categories of Heritage Partnership, Heritage Tourism, Heritage Leadership, Artisan of the Year, Heritage Community of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement. In addition to the award, each recipient received special recognition from one or more state legislators in the form of a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Pennsylvania Senate.

Deb Rudy, a field representative for my office, helped to present the 2022 Artisan of the Year Award to Highland Chocolates of Wellsboro, Tioga County. The award is presented to an Artisan Trail member that exemplifies the goals of the PA Route 6 Artisan Trail program with special attention to regional thinking and cooperation while promoting the arts along the corridor. Highland Chocolates is a non-profit chocolate factory and retail store that provides vocational training and employment for adults with disabilities. Highland Chocolates has worked hard to grow their facilities into a larger attraction for visitors and local residents which positively impacts tourism and the local economy.

Grants for Small Water, Sewer and Storm Water Infrastructure Projects Available

As part of the 2022-23 state budget, the General Assembly appropriated $105.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the PA Small Water and Sewer Program, which is now accepting grant funding applications.

The program seeks to assist with the construction, improvement, expansion, rehabilitation or repair of a water supply system, sanitary sewer system or storm water system.

Municipalities and municipal authorities are eligible to apply for funding for projects which have a total cost of not less than $30,000 and not more than $500,000. An eligible applicant must provide matching funds of not less than 15% of the total eligible project cost. The cash match may come from any other funding source including PENNVEST.

Applications will be accepted from Oct. 1, 2022, through Dec. 21, 2022. All applications and required supplemental information must be received by Dec. 21, 2022. 

More information about the grant program can be found here.

Honoring Jody Thomas on Her Retirement from Bradford-Tioga Head Start, Inc.

From Left to Right – Jody Thomas presented the citation by Deb Rudy, Sen. Cris Dush’s field representative.

Jody Thomas was recently presented with a Pennsylvania Senate citation to honor her 2022 retirement from Bradford-Tioga Head Start, Inc. after 28 years of dedicated service.

A graduate of Mansfield University, Jody began her tenure with Bradford-Tioga Head Start, Inc. in 1994 as assistant director and was promoted to program director in 2004. After the organization became a stand-alone entity, she accepted the position of executive director, the position from which she is retiring.

Instrumental in developing hiring and orientation practices and coordinating training and professional development, Jody led Bradford-Tioga Head Start, Inc. in establishing its own infrastructure for fiscal, human resources, payroll, information technology, safety, purchasing and governance.

Throughout her career, she strove to adhere to the highest standards of service and rightly earned the respect and admiration of her many friends and colleagues.

I thank Jody for her years of loyal service and extraordinary commitment to Bradford-Tioga Head Start, Inc., and offer her my best wishes for continued success in the years to come.

FEMA Non-Disaster Grants Application Periods Now Open 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 2022 Non-Disaster Grants’ application periods opened on Sept. 30, 2022. 

Those grants include the Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) competitive grant and the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant.

Only the Commonwealth can apply for the BRIC, on behalf of sub-applicants that are local governments or other eligible organizations; individuals cannot apply directly for the program. As for the FMA, only homes, businesses and municipalities insured by the Nation Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and in good standing with the NFIP are eligible for mitigation in this program, though applications must come from local governments or other eligible organizations; individuals cannot apply directly for the program.

Information for both grants can be found on the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) grants website.

All complete 2022 Non-Disaster Grant applications are due by close of business on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. 

Medicare Open Enrollment begins Oct. 15, Free Insurance Counseling Available

The annual open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.

Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight (PA MEDI) provides free and objective information about Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplement plans to help Medicare beneficiaries compare plans and determine what best meets their needs. This work is done with the help of nearly 650 volunteers across the commonwealth.

You can learn more about PA MEDI counseling or becoming a volunteer on the Department of Aging’s website or by calling the PA MEDI Helpline at 1-800-783-7067, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Older adults can also call your Area Agency on Aging.

Program Providing Help with Water, Sewer Bills Ends Oct. 28

Pennsylvanians who may need help with water bills or wastewater service costs have until Oct. 28 to apply for assistance.

The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program provides assistance for families who have past-due water bills, had their water service terminated or received a notice indicating their service will be terminated in the next 60 days. LIHWAP is a temporary federal assistance program. Households can receive grants for both drinking water service and sewer service. Grants are issued directly to water service providers, and families must meet income requirements.

Applications for LIHWAP, as well as other public assistance programs, can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.usCounty Assistance Offices are available for in-person support if clients cannot access online services or need assistance or information that is not on the COMPASS website or the myCOMPASS PA mobile app.

Conservation and Natural Resources Grants Available

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recreation and conservation grants program is accepting applications from municipal entities and non-profit organizations for a special fall funding round through Oct. 27.

Because of its unique funding source, the supplemental fall funding round has some differences from typical DCNR grant rounds. The primary difference is that for municipalities with populations under 5,000 people, the match requirement is 20% of the grant amount with no cap on project size.

DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation offers a Frequently Asked Questions document, and more information about the fall round will also be published through the BRC e-newsletter.

Breast Cancer Screening Saves Lives  

An important message for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that screening for signs can greatly improve survival rates.

In recent years, the General Assembly enacted laws to provide a new screening and reporting system for patients determined to have dense breasts, which can disguise cancer and delay its detection. It also expanded MRI coverage for patients and implemented a driver license check-off for breast cancer research funding.

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