Senator Cris Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Elk County Purple Heart Commemoration Ceremony
  • PennDOT District 2 Employees Celebrated as Workplace Heroes
  • Public-Private Partnership (P3) Proposals Now Being Accepted
  • Voter Registration Deadline is Oct. 24
  • Protecting Yourself from Cybercriminals
  • Families Can Begin Applying Now for 2023-24 College Aid
  • Schools have Until Friday to Apply for Farm-to-School Grants
  • Statewide Litter Clean-up Efforts Underway

Elk County Purple Heart Commemoration Ceremony

10/8/22 - Elk County Purple Heart Commemoration Ceremony

Last weekend, I was honored to participate in a Purple Heart Commemoration Ceremony held by Elk County Veterans Affairs to recognize, thank and honor Elk County U.S. military veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

There are many of us who have served here in the states, many of us who have gone into the theater of operations in war, there are many who didn’t come back and then there are those – and we had many representatives of them at the ceremony – who left a part of themselves on the field of battle but still managed to return.

For the people who have raised their hand and signed that check that could actually include their very lives, the Purple Heart is the symbol of the sacrifice of those who came so very close to actually having that check cashed in full, those who have been out there and in harm’s way.

We have to ask ourselves in a time like this, why did we do it? Why did we raise our hands, why did we volunteer to go over? Why did we take on these types of missions?

Do we fight for a king? No.

What we do fight for is an ideal that’s enshrined in our federal and state constitutions. That’s why when we give our oaths of allegiance, it is to the Constitution of the United States, to defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It’s that ideal that has provided the type of country and the type of opportunities that you can experience in no other place in this world.

For those have raised their hands and gone into that field of battle, or have volunteered to go even if they weren’t able to go, that is worthy of extra consideration; but for those who have left a piece of themselves on the field of battle – including the emotional scars brought back from the battlefield – services such as the Elk County one are important to allow all of us to take the time and recognize and realize what others have sacrificed. They offer an opportunity to reflect on and gain a better understanding of not only what it is we fought for and fight for, but what those who fought and fight endured and continue to endure for us.

PennDOT District 2 Employees Celebrated as Workplace Heroes

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently recognized eight District 2 employees as Workplace Heroes.

The acknowledgement occurred during Clinton County’s Fall Safety Day event in Lock Haven. PennDOT District 2 serves Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, and Potter counties, some of which are part of the 25th Senatorial District.

The men – flagger Matt Graw, foreman Jason McCauley and crew members Rob Rockwell, Ryan Hollobaugh, John Lambert, John Green, John Packer and Willie Nelen – were part of a road crew that on Aug. 29 helped save the life of an injured logger.

Upon hearing cries for help in a wooded section near Renovo, the crew conducted a coordinated search and rescue to eventually find and free an injured logger. Without their quick action, the logger could have been trapped for hours without aid.

Too often our road crews go unnoticed for their contributions, taken for granted as the people we see along the road as we drive to our destinations. We should all be thankful for and proud of the quick action these men took that resulted in a life being saved.

Public-Private Partnership (P3) Proposals Now Being Accepted

Please don’t skip over this thinking its just about roads and bridges.

The PennDOT Office of Public-Private Partnerships (P3) is now accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through Oct. 31. The submission period applies to PennDOT-owned projects and infrastructure.

During this period, the private sector can submit proposals offering innovative ways to deliver transportation projects across a variety of modes including roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports. Proposals can also include more efficient models to manage existing transportation-related services and programs.

In our region we have counties that now do not have a single mile of active rail.  We do have airports available and inactive rail beds as well as active rail lines that can have transload facilities incorporated into them and increase job opportunities and improve the movement of goods through the Commonwealth.  I know there are people in this district who have the ability to see opportunity for our region’s growth and I hope they participate in this opportunity.

The private sector may also submit applications for non-PennDOT-owned assets directly to the P3 board during this time.

Instructions on how to submit a project and information on the unsolicited proposal review process can be found on the state’s P3 website, www.P3.pa.gov

Voter Registration Deadline is Oct. 24

Monday, Oct. 24 is the last day to register for the Nov. 8 general election.

You can submit your application:

If you are on active duty in the military, or you are a hospitalized or bedridden veteran, you can register at any time. See www.fvap.gov for more information.

We have had many people who have died to give The People the ability to securely make their choice known as to who they want to govern.  If you meet the criteria to be a qualified elector, as one who has offered myself to risk that sacrifice and who has had family and friends do likewise, please, make their sacrifices worth it.

Polls are open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The last day to request a mail-in or absentee ballot is Nov. 1. If you have any questions, you can call 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).

Protecting Yourself from Cybercriminals

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a good time to brush up on the tips for staying one step ahead of criminals intent on stealing your personal information and committing other online crimes.

There are four easy ways to protect yourself online: 

  • Think Before You Click: If a link looks a little off, think before you click. It could be an attempt to get sensitive information or install malware. Hover your mouse pointer over the link without clicking and watch for the address to pop up.  If it is not the right address definitely avoid clicking.  If it still looks sketchy use a phone number you know to call the sender to verify it came from them.
  • Update Your Software: If you see a verified software update notification, act promptly and turn on automatic updates.
  • Use Strong Passwords: Use passwords that are long, unique and randomly generated. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. A passwords manager will encrypt passwords, securing them for you. Remember:  The longer and more complex the password the opportunities for bad actors to break it become exponentially more difficult.
  • Enable Multi-Factor Authentication: You need more than a password to protect your online accounts, and enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked.

You can find more detailed information on these and other cybersecurity issues in this Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency public toolkit.

Families Can Begin Applying Now for 2023-24 College Aid

PA college students have left millions of dollars in aid on the table by not completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Families can get a head start on the 2023-24 FAFSA now. Don’t think it’s too early.

The FAFSA is an application required to apply for federal student aid such as federal grants, work-study and loans to help pay for college. To apply and qualify for a Pennsylvania state grant, learners must have their FAFSA on file as well.

The high school class of 2021 left behind an estimated $3.75 billion in Pell grants nationwide by not completing the FAFSA – dollars that students do not have to repay. The General Assembly approved a $220 million increase in funding for higher education institutions in the 2022-23 state budget.

Schools Have Until Friday to Apply for Farm-to-School Grants

Schools have until 5 p.m. Friday to apply for Farm-to-School Grants aimed at improving access to healthy, local foods and increasing hands-on learning experiences for children.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bill Farm-to-School Grant Program strengthens the connection between families and local producers of fresh, healthy food, increases access to markets for local farms, and exposes children early to agriculture, agriculture careers and healthy food choices.

Any school district, school, charter school, private school, or center with prekindergarten, kindergarten, elementary, or middle school classes through eighth grade that participates in a Federal Child Nutrition Program is eligible to apply.

Projects should identify local farmers to supply fresh, in-season products to support educational programming, or cultivated their own school gardens.

Statewide Litter Clean-up Efforts Underway

The annual Pick Up Pennsylvania fall campaign is underway and runs through Nov. 30. Individuals, families, neighbors, students, civic organizations and local governments are invited to participate in this anti-litter effort. The efforts of these organizations allow the beauty of North-Central Pennsylvania to truly shine as visitors travel through and can also inspire our young people who have moved to areas that don’t maintain their communities as well to return home.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spends nearly $14 million a year cleaning up litter along state roadways. This money could be better spent on maintaining and improving our transportation network.

Residents can use this Events Calendar to join Pick Up Pennsylvania cleanup events in their community. Those who’d like to register their own local cleanup event can do so at Organize an Event. Registered events are provided with free trash bags and gloves.

During the 2021 Pick Up Pennsylvania fall campaign, nearly 14,000 volunteers canvassed their communities to remove 745,380 pounds of trash and 99,200 pounds of tires from lands, waterways and coastal regions.

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