On April 9th, Senator Fontana and Representative Kotik presented a check from the Department of Environmental Protection's Safe Water Grant Program at the Kennedy Township Board of Commissioners meeting. The Safe Water grant was used to extend water service in Kennedy Township. Appearing the in the photo from left to right: Mel Weinstein, Kennedy Twp. Tax Collector; Anita Kulik, Kennedy Twp. Commissioner; Representative Kotik; Vincent DePascale, Kennedy Twp. Board of Commissioners Vice President; Anthony Mollica, Kennedy Twp. Board of Commissioners President; Senator Fontana; and Mitch Galiyas, Kennedy Twp. Commissioner.
Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 fiscal year is quickly coming to a close. After many months of analyzing the Governor’s proposed cuts to next year’s state budget, the Senate Democrats have offered our budget priorities and solutions to restore lost funding and revenue from the Governor’s budget plan.
To move forward, I believe we must focus on growing our economy. By investing in our economy, we invest in our future. The Commonwealth can take a first step by funding our transportation infrastructure. All Pennsylvanians use our transportation system in one form or another. Whether you travel our roads on a bus, burn coal to heat your house that traveled through our state by train, or buy a product at the grocery store that arrived through one of our state’s ports, it is essential we continue to invest in our state’s transportation network.
Last summer the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission recommended a $2.7 billion plan to rebuild our crumbling transportation infrastructure system. However, the General Assembly has not been presented any proposal that would enact any of these recommendations. For that reason, the Senate Democrats are calling upon the state to employ Grant Application Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) Bonds, which would fund a $1 billion short-term transportation plan.
GARVEE bonds allow governmental entities to fund highway and transit projects by issuing debt backed by future federal highway funds. In other words, GARVEEs would enable Pennsylvania to accelerate construction timelines and spread the cost of the need over its useful life rather than just the construction period. These bonds would not impact the state’s General Fund because state funds cannot be used for payment of debt service, due to constitutional limitations.
GARVEE bonds would not only help ease Pennsylvania’s transportation crisis, but also aid our economy’s growth by creating jobs for thousands across the state and spurring the production of local materials needed for transportation projects. With the warmer weather approaching and construction season under way, it is imperative that the Commonwealth issues these bonds so they can be utilized to their fullest.
At least 35 other states have authorized GARVEE bonds and my hope is that, with some pressure, Pennsylvania can join in and start reaping some of the benefits. Although this is not a long-term solution, our state must look for alternative ways to alleviate the transportation crisis while we work to develop a more comprehensive funding package.
New Law for Motorists, Bicyclists
Warmer weather has arrived which means an increase of bicyclists will be seen on the roads. Due to the lack of bike lanes, a new law has been passed which seeks to protect both bicyclists and motorists throughout Pennsylvania. Act 3, which was signed into law by the Governor in February, establishes a four-foot minimum passing distance for motor vehicles when passing bicycles and permits vehicles to pass bicyclists in a marked No-Passing Zone as long as it is safe to do so. The legislation also prohibits motor vehicles from making sudden turns in front of a cyclist who is traveling in the same direction. The legislation further defines rules that cyclists must follow including that an individual riding a bike must operate on the far right side of the road when traveling at less than the prevailing speed and cannot impede the normal flow of traffic.
PA Turnpike Commission Eliminates Paper Job Applications
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is now requiring all applicants for employment complete a new online application. Paper applications will no longer be accepted although applications for summer employment in 2012 will still follow the paper process. Anyone with a current paper application on file with the PTC will receive notification via postcard that they must now complete an online application by July 2nd to keep any previous applications current.
Applicants can register and apply for employment by visiting www.PaTurnpike.com and clicking on the employment box. Once registered, applicants can input demographic, education and work history data. Resumes, scanned copies of licenses and other documents such as training certificates can also be uploaded to an applicant’s profile. You must have a valid email address to submit applications for employment. Applicants with questions can call the Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-331-3414.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has instituted a pilot program taking place in seven state parks beginning this spring. In response to countless requests, DCNR will now allow pet owners to bring dogs to designated cabins and camping cottages. For more information on the program or to view a list of which state parks are offering the program please visit DRNR's Pets in Parks website.
Did You Know…
Did you know a study conducted by Penn State University showed visitors to
Pennsylvania’s state parks generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in
nearby communities and support 13,000 related jobs?
Free Computer Skills Training
The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and Pittsburgh Connects, in partnership with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) - East Liberty branch is offering free training skills sessions throughout the month of April. The training sessions are being held at the CLP-East Liberty branch at 130 S. Whitfield Street. Employment specialists will present the following free workshops. To register for one of these workshops, email your name and phone number to EastLibertyTrainings@gmail.com or call 412-254-4007.
April 13th – Resume Writing
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
April 24th – Microsoft Power Point Basics
Noon – 1:30 p.m.
April 17th – Microsoft Excel Basics
Noon – 1:30 p.m.
April 27th – Live Debt Free & Build Wealth
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Free Tax Preparation
Family Resources of Pennsylvania, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in East Liberty and the Hill District will be open until the last day of the regular tax season, April 17th. Families with a household income of $40,000 or less in 2011 or individuals with an income of $20,000 or less in 2011 can visit one of the locations and receive assistance on tax returns. You must make an appointment by calling 412-363-1702, ext. 3 (tax program). The East Liberty location is at 100 Sheridan Square, Pittsburgh, 15206 and is open Tuesday – Friday, 2 – 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Hill District has two locations, the Wadsworth Hall Community Center at 480 Oak Hill Drive, Pittsburgh, 15213, open Tuesdays 3 – 8 p.m. and the First Source Center at 1860 Center Avenue, #103, Pittsburgh, 15219, open Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Iron & Steel Community Day at Carnegie Library
On April 14th, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), main branch, will be hosting a celebration of Pittsburgh’s iron and steel heritage. Iron and Steel Community Day is scheduled from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and will showcase the library’s new digital collection featuring more than 500,000 pages of historic materials dating as far back as the 1800’s, that documents the iron and steel industry in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. The event will include author visits and book talks, activities for children, genealogy, demonstrations and displays, a screening of the River Ran Red documentary, story sharing and much more. You can access the collection of materials at www.carnegielibrary.org/ironsteel. For more information please call 412-622-3114.
Infant & Child CPR Class
The Green Tree Public Library in partnership with the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is presenting a CPR class that focuses on the emergency needs of children and infants on April 14th. The class is from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Green Tree Public Library, located at 10 W. Manilla Street in Green Tree. Registration must be done in-person at the library before April 11th. A class fee of $30 is required upon registration.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has developed the infant and child CPR course for parents and other adults who want to ensure the safety of their children. As part of the AHA's Family & Friends series, this non-certification course teaches adults how to perform life-saving CPR, which can double a victim’s chance of survival. This class is open to all parents, grandparents and other adult caregivers who are interested in learning CPR that focuses on the needs of small children.
Summer Dreamers Academy
Students enrolled at Pittsburgh Public Schools, grades K-8, are encouraged to apply for the Summer Dreamers Academy, a premier free summer camp. All campers will participate in two fun and interesting academic classes to practice their reading and math skills, and select up to two activities to explore over the 25 days of camp. Each camper will receive his or her own individualized schedule and participate in two morning blocks and two afternoon blocks each day. Transportation will be provided for campers living more than 1.5 miles from their assigned camp site and all campers will receive breakfast, lunch, and a snack.
This year’s Summer Dreamers Academy will run from July 16th – August 17th, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Enrollment forms were mailed to K-8 Pittsburgh Public School students in late March. Additional enrollment forms can be obtained by calling the parent hotline at 412-622-7920, visiting your school office, or on the Summer Dreamers Academy website. Enrollment forms must be received by May 18th.
Kindergarten...Here I Come!
The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is hosting their 8th Annual Kindergarten...Here I Come! on April 20th. The event runs from 4 – 7 p.m. at the Children’s Museum at Allegheny Square on the North Side. Children entering kindergarten this fall and their families are invited to participate in activities that prepare and excite them for this significant milestone. Attendees will have the chance to meet with local educators and community neighbors, hear stories, view a real school bus, receive a free vision screening, and receive valuable information on children’s health and after-school childcare and child development. The event is free to every child attending and one adult and registration is not required. For more information please visit www.kindergartenhereicome.org or call 412-322-5058, ext. 213.
Allegheny County Searching for Lifeguards
The Allegheny County Parks Department is currently accepting applications for summer lifeguards at the County’s three wave pools. The pools are located in Boyce, South and Settlers Cabin Park, as well as the North Park swimming facility. To be eligible for employment, individuals must possess current Lifeguard Training certifications in First Aid and CPR for adults, children and infants. Potential employees must be available to work for the entire swimming session (Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend) which includes flexible hours, weekends and holidays. All applicants must complete the Lifeguard Employment Application which can be found at http://www.alleghenycounty.us/Parks/guard/index.aspx. Applicants must also pass a timed aquatics test. Returning veterans in good standing and applicants 18 years or older will be given first preference. For more information please contact the County Park’s Recreation Office at 412-350-2478 or visit www.alleghenycounty.us.
On this date 167 years ago, nearly one third of the city of Pittsburgh was destroyed by a fire. The fire, later named the Great Fire of Pittsburgh, destroyed approximately 1,200 buildings and displaced 2,000 families.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana