Senator Fontana is flanked by Senator Ferlo, on the left, and Senator Boscola and Senator Blake to the right, who were all sworn in today by Supreme Court Justice Max Baer.
Today, I am proud to be joined by my family, friends and staff, many of whom made the trip to Harrisburg to attend swearing-in ceremonies as I take the Oath of Office for my second full term in the State Senate. I thank all of you for your faith in me and pledge to continue working with officials at all levels of government in a regional manner that benefits all of our communities – and our region. As I noted on New Year’s Day, securing funding for projects, addressing local issues and promoting our region requires officials to put aside their own interests, to recognize the importance of our cooperation to the communities we represent, and to make good on our promises to work together with you for a better community. I also commit to continuing to listen and be responsive to the residents of my district, regardless of the forum or means. I will remain consistent, prompt, honest and provide as much information as possible. As always, I look forward to working together with you.
Farewell, Senator O’Pake
Yesterday, I attended the funeral mass for one of my colleagues, Senator Michael A. O’Pake who passed away on December 27th of complications from open heart surgery earlier in the month. The Senator was the longest serving member in the current General Assembly. Elected to the House in 1968 and to the Senate in 1972, he was the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and was recently re-elected Senate Democratic Whip for the 2011-2012 legislative term.
As the first chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, Senator O’Pake wrote Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law to curb abuse. He fought for legislation creating the Department of Aging with Offices of Aging in all 67 counties, and worked to help senior citizens get property tax rebates, rent rebates and prescription-drug assistance. He also led legislative efforts on juvenile justice reform that removed youthful offenders from adult prisons and was a leading advocate of the state’s landmark Children’s Health Insurance Program.
To promote volunteerism and civic involvement, Senator O’Pake authored the law that created PennSERVE, a permanent office of citizen service in state government and helped to provide financial and other assistance for economic development and educational opportunity throughout the region. Senator O’Pake’s most recent legislation in the 2009-2010 General Assembly was signed into law by Governor Rendell last month, establishing the Missing Endangered Person Advisory System for encouraging public involvement when Alzheimer’s victims and other vulnerable persons are missing and need to be found.
Just this past November, Senator O’Pake was quoted as saying, “I hope tonight and tomorrow, when we all look back, we can answer this question in the affirmative: Has my life made a difference for good in the lives of others?” I can answer that question for him. Yes, Senator O’Pake. Your life made a difference for good in the lives of others – and you will be missed.
Staying in Touch
A report recently released by the National Constitution Center takes a look at the civic activity of Pennsylvanians. The 2010 Pennsylvania Civic Health Index shows that only 11% of residents had connected or visited a public official. My number one priority is assisting you, the constituent, and making sure your needs are addressed. As a reminder, I hope that you will consider reaching out to me if you have a question, comment or problem, or if you have a suggestion on how I can better communicate with you.
This e-news is one of the ways I keep you updated with what is going on in Harrisburg and in the community. But there are many other ways I am committed to staying connected with you, including letters, e-mails, meetings, audio, visual and text updates on my website, community news articles, press releases, Twitter feeds, MyGov365.com and Comcast Newsmakers.
If you haven’t already, please stop by one of my district offices, even if it’s just to say hello. I have an efficient, friendly and helpful staff that can assist you with a variety of issues, whether it’s dealing with state government, obtaining publications, or helping to cut through bureaucratic red tape. I also try to connect folks with valuable information and services, whether through FontanaFest or SBDC Outreach Days for small business owners as highlighted in this e-news.
As always, if there is something I can do for you, please contact me. I am always open to suggestions on how I can better serve you.
Final Week for Food Drive
This is the last week for my district office Food Drive benefiting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. You can drop off non-perishable food items at my Brookline and Kennedy District Offices until the end of the day Friday, January 7. We especially need cereal, canned tuna and salmon, fruit and vegetable juice, canned beans and vegetables, peanut butter, canned fruit, toilet paper, laundry detergent and diapers (click here to view a flier). Every item helps, so join me in the Campaign to End Hunger.
2011 SBDC Outreach Schedule
Continuing my partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center (SBDC), I am pleased to announce the schedule for this year’s SBDC Outreach Days. This partnership allows small business owners to get assistance at my Kennedy Township Office on a monthly basis. Each date falls on a Tuesday:
Client Services Liaison John Dobransky will be available in the Kennedy Office (Kenmawr Plaza) on the dates listed above between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Although not required, appointments are encouraged - to schedule one, contact John at 412-624-2290. The service provides small business owners with the education, information and tools they need to build their business as well as for those considering starting their own business.
Small businesses are an essential piece of our economy and will lead our recovery. I encourage you to take advantage of this resource. Consultations are one-on-one, free and confidential.
Community News and Information
Finding news and information specific to your town can be difficult, but new community Patch websites are starting to fill that void. Did you hear about the new café coming to Dormont, view 2010 census results for Baldwin Township, or read about the newly adopted 2011 budget for Scott Township? Check out the community Patch websites for Dormont-Brookline, Baldwin-Whitehall, and Chartiers Valley to read those articles and more.
A Patch is a new way to find out about what’s going on near you. They provide local coverage for individual towns and communities. It’s a relatively new concept that is still taking shape across the country. A Patch allows for local input and participation, which I think is a great idea because it fosters new ideas and keeps people connected with their neighbors. You may even see special announcements from my office posted to a Patch.
Three Steelers were announced to the Pro Bowl on December 28th including James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Maurkice Pouncey. But can you name the Steelers player with the most Pro Bowl appearances? That would be “Mean” Joe Greene who was selected to the roster 10 times in 11 seasons. His first selection came in 1970, and his last in 1980. Greene retired following the 1981 season and is a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana