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The Capitol Rotunda was filled with beautiful music when members of the River City Brass Band visited Harrisburg and put on an hour long concert. Selections including “The Entertainer,” “12th Street Rag” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” had members of the House, Senate, Administration and visitors alike tapping their toes. Scottish born Music Director, James Gourlay, assured listeners that his accent was pure North Side! (That’s him in the center, playing the tuba.) From left to right are Mark Custer (cornet), Jason Allison (French Horn), James Gourlay (Tuba), Randy Bibri (Trombone) and Lou Casini (Cornet).

CapitiolWorking Together

For many years, I have spoken about what can be accomplished when individual egos, partisan interests and private issues are put aside for the greater good. While individuals will always have their own interests and concerns, the ability to compromise and work together to reach a common and collective goal is progressive and laudable. I hope that I, as one of your elected officials, have shown that same commitment. The ability to work together benefits all of our communities, our region and our Commonwealth. As elected officials, we should all make good on our promises to work together with you for a better community.

One of my biggest frustrations in the General Assembly is that, far too often, we do not work together. That applies to the administration too. As a case in point, the Governor made several proposals related to community and economic development programs in the Commonwealth as part of his budget address in March. Throughout Secretary Walker’s confirmation process and the subsequent budget hearings, we were assured that the proposal and the process through which they developed the legislation would be open and that we would be part of that process. I did not make that request because I wanted to put more work on my plate, but because as Democratic Chairman of the Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, I have the opportunity to talk with businesses, developers, economic development professionals who have valid thoughts and concerns about the programs that are under discussion. As part of the process, I have the ability to give those thoughts and concerns voice.

Senate ChamberI look forward to having the opportunity to work together with this administration so that we can improve upon the vision we all have for the future of this Commonwealth. Being open to working with others will allow our Commonwealth to accomplish great things. I am hopeful that we can all come to the table, putting aside our individual egos, partisan interest and private issues to pass a budget that addresses the health, safety and welfare of our residents and continues to build upon those programs and efforts that work.

We have heard a lot about ways to make the Commonwealth better – and more competitive. I am reminded of this quote from an unknown source that speaks to that opportunity: “If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative.”

IGA Market on Broadway Job Fair

IGAThis past Thursday, the IGA Market on Broadway hosted its first job fair where 131 applicants stopped by to submit resumes and applications for the positions available when the store opens this fall. Didn’t make it to the job fair? You can still apply. Simply stop by the store (1616 Broadway Avenue) and ask for Gino to get an application.

And Speaking of Jobs…

If you’re looking for a job, take a stroll or a spin past my Brookline Office (932 Brookline Boulevard) to see the postings of Employment & Training Opportunities available in the region. While the windows are updated on an ongoing basis, please feel free to also stop in the office to ask about other opportunities that may not yet be posted.

Free Motorcycle Safety Courses Offered

Motorcyclists can enhance their driving skills through the 2011 Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, with courses being offered at several locations in Allegheny County. The program has courses available for new and experienced riders through October. You can view a full schedule on the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program website. You may also call 1-800-845-9533.

The 15-hour Basic Rider Course (BRC) features a mix of in-class instruction and practical riding experience. Experienced riders that have completed the BRC can take the six-hour Basic Rider Course 2, which allows skilled riders to refresh their safety knowledge and improve their on-road skills. PennDOT is also offering a new course this year, a 3-Wheeled Motorcycle Basic Rider Course (3WBRC), in select counties (Butler, Lehigh and York). All courses, including the new 3WBRC, are free to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner’s permit or motorcycle license. Those with a learner’s permit who successfully complete a course will be issued a motorcycle license.

Community Champion Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the Pittsburgh Pirates third annual Community Champion Awards. The Pirates will be giving an award to six individuals who are “champions” of their community and have shown a commitment to creating a better and/or a diverse community within our region. If you know someone who has gone above and beyond to impact and change the lives of others, you should consider nominating them for an award. Self-nominations are also encouraged. Nominations are being accepted until July 1st.

Award winners will be recognized publicly during Heritage Weekend in a special pregame, on-field ceremony (July 22nd). They will also receive complimentary game tickets and a commemorative display award. A panel of judges comprised of community leaders, civic leaders, Pirates employees, and members of the academic community will select the winners. For more information on how to nominate yourself or someone else, contact Chaz Kellem by email at chaz.kellem@pirates.com or by phone at 412-325-4731.

SummerFood Program

SummerFood Program SummerFood Program The school year may be coming to an end but there are still ways your child can remain active this summer. The SummerFood program is now open at more than 100 locations in communities throughout Allegheny County, including McKees Rocks, South Oakland, Carnegie, Coraopolis, Dormont, and many more. The weekday program is open to all youth age 18 and under. As part of the program, children will be served a free nutritious breakfast and lunch and can participate in recreational activities. Parents can search for a SummerFood location near home or work on the Allegheny County Department of Human Services website. You may also call 1-800-851-3838 for more information. A site supervisor and staff will be on hand to ensure the well-being of children.

The program runs through August 19th. Agencies interested in participating as a SummerFood site should call 412-350-2798. The program is made possible through a grant from the PA Department of Education, Division of Food and Nutrition.

Around the District

This past week began in Harrisburg and meetings on the budget and budget-related items continue. On Tuesday, I met with representatives of PA Nanomaterials, Dollar Energy, United Cerebral Palsy, the PA Beer Alliance and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. The Senate Democrats also held a press conference to talk about our budget priorities and proposals as the budget talks in the Senate begin in earnest.

In session on Tuesday, the Senate acted on legislation addressing the federal health insurance exchanges (SB 3), family day care homes (SB 227) and vocational agricultural education (SB 389).

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Law & Justice Committee met to amend and approve legislation (HB 148) making various changes to the Liquor Law. The committee also addressed legislation that would allow for the confiscation of false IDs by alcohol licensees. During session, the Senate acted on bills that address texting and talking while driving and junior drivers (SB 314), the licensure of mobility vehicle dealers (SB 366) and to protect juveniles in the court system (SB 815, SB 816, SB 817 and SB 818) that came about as a result of the Cash for Kids scandal.

On Thursday, there was another substantial step in the progress on the IGA Market on Broadway when the store held an all-day job fair. Prospective employees were encouraged to bring their resumes and complete applications that the management will then review to determine what employees they should hire to fill their needs. With continued support from Mayor Ravenstahl and the URA, this project continues to move forward. The operator of the Market is continuing to make purchases for the store and improvements to the building as he moves toward the target opening date.

On Thursday, I also had the opportunity to talk with housing advocates about their concerns with the budget. Friday morning, I was proud to attend a press conference for the West Penn Allegheny Health System where officials announced an exciting partnership with the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia that will allow them to establish a four-year medical school in Pittsburgh.

Fontana Fact

Did you know that the columns and girders of the U.S. Steel Tower are filled with water and anti-freeze? The water is used to resist fire and the antifreeze is used to prevent the expansion of frozen water. The famous skyscraper, which extends 64 floors above ground, was the first building to use liquid-fireproofed columns.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana