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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Senator Fontana spoke at a ceremony on Memorial Day at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum as they rededicated the Cornerstone and 2012 Time Capsule.

 

Senator Fontana spoke at a ceremony on Memorial Day at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum as they rededicated the Cornerstone and 2012 Time Capsule. Pictured with the Time Capsule from left to right are: Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravensthal, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Soldiers & Sailors President & CEO John McCabe, Soldiers & Sailors President Emeritus Ron Gancas, Senator Fontana, and Congressman Mike Doyle. Other featured speakers not pictured were Lieutenant General William Pagonis, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Executive Director Louise Sturgess.

 

Distressed Schools

Last week legislation was passed out of the Senate Education Committee that “addresses” distressed schools in Pennsylvania. House Bill 1307 (HB 1307) was amended to instruct the Secretary of Education to place a distressed school district in financial recovery status.

The Secretary would appoint a Chief Recovery Officer (CRO) to oversee the school district during the post-recovery transition period. The appointed CRO would have the authority to void contracts and collective bargaining agreements while imposing new employment terms to all school employees. The legislation also establishes a loan program for distressed school districts but, remarkably, does not appropriate dedicated funding for such a program.

What this legislation does not do is provide financial support to distressed schools. The drastic reduction in basic education funding imposed by the Administration in last year’s budget has resulted in a growing number of distressed schools and has forced school districts to cut teachers, counselors and other essential staff, reduce the number of textbooks that can be purchased, eliminate arts and music programs and other extracurricular activities while class sizes grow.

I have received countless emails and phone calls in the last week on this legislation and I share many of the concerns I continue to hear from my constituents. Unless we provide adequate funding and give school districts the resources they need, the list of distressed school districts across the Commonwealth will continue to grow.

It is important to remember that the biggest losers in all this are the students. We owe it to our children to find solutions that enable them to get the best education possible. This legislation further compromises students in distressed schools as it does not address the biggest need which is adequate funding and support.

Update on Voter ID law

VoterId Voter ID Help! In March, the Governor signed House Bill 934 (HB 934) into law, Act 18 of 2012, which requires all voters to show a valid form of identification in order to vote. The new law will be in effect for this November’s general election. In the April 3rd edition of my News & Views, I explained what is needed to obtain a valid ID if you don’t currently have one and listed the forms of identification that will be accepted in order to vote.

To obtain a valid ID you need to visit a PennDOT Driver License Center with the following:

  1. PennDOT Oath/Affirmation Voter ID form
  2. PennDOT DL-54A form ($13.50 fee will be waived with the Oath/Affirmation form)
  3. Social Security card
  4. Two proofs of residency, such as a lease agreement, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records, bank statements, and/or credit card bills, and room assignment paperwork for college students
  5. One of the following: Birth Certificate with a raised seal, valid U.S. Passport, Certificate of U.S. Citizenship, or Certificate of Naturalization

Last week the PA Department of State announced a new measure that would eliminate the need to purchase a duplicate birth certificate with a raised seal for individuals born in Pennsylvania who are applying for an identification card to vote and do not possess their birth certificate. Once you have items 1-4 listed above, take the completed information to a PennDOT Drivers License Center. That information will be forwarded to the PA Department of Health, which maintains birth records, and once it is verified that your birth record is on file, you will be notified by mail when to pick up the photo ID card for voting purposes. The process is expected to take about 10 days.

If you purchased a copy of your birth certificate in order to obtain a voter ID after March 14, 2012, you can apply for a refund by visiting the Department of Health's Pittsburgh office at 411 7th Avenue.

The process for individuals without a photo ID to obtain one can be confusing and burdensome. If you need any assistance in obtaining the necessary forms to apply for a voter ID or have any questions about the new law, please contact one of my district offices and my staff will gladly assist you. As this new law is being implemented, I will continue to alert my constituents to any changes that may occur to the process.

Castle Shannon Honors Hometown Heroes

Castle Shannon
Senator Fontana addresses the crowd at the unveiling of the Castle Shannon Military Banner Program on Saturday, May 26th. Castle Shannon is honoring its hometown heroes by hanging banners throughout the borough in recognition of military veterans.

On May 26th I was privileged to participate in a ceremony in Castle Shannon that honored our nation’s veterans with the unveiling of the Military Banner Program. The Military Banner Program is an initiative that is being organized by the Castle Shannon Revitalization Corporation (CSRC) and HTM Designs. This initiative celebrates the brave men and women who are currently serving in the armed forces and those who have served by displaying their name, photograph, service branch, conflict, rank and company on a 24” X 36” vinyl banner. The banners will be displayed through Veterans Day throughout the borough.

I commend Michael Warhold, President of CSRC, Harry Munson, HTM Designs, and everyone in Castle Shannon for their hard work, dedication and commitment to seeing the Military Banner Program through. This program is a unique way to honor and celebrate Castle Shannon’s Hometown Heroes and serves as a daily reminder of the sacrifices these brave men and women make for the freedom we enjoy today.

If you are interested in a banner for a friend or loved one or would like additional information on the program, please visit www.CSRevitalization.com.

SBDC Outreach Day

SBDCThe next Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Outreach Day will be on Thursday, May 31st. This is a free service that allows entrepreneurs to get help starting a small business or improving an existing business. SBDC Client Services Liaison John Dobransky will once again be at my Kennedy Office (Kenmawr Plaza) to provide assistance between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You may schedule an appointment with John by calling 412-624-2290. Appointments are not required but are encouraged. New and returning clients are welcome.

 

NHL Draft Coming to Pittsburgh

Pittsuburg PensThe 2012 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft is coming to Pittsburgh and 5,000 free general admission tickets are available. On June 5th at 10 a.m., individuals can log onto www.pittsburghpenguins.com/draft to order tickets. Customers are limited to four tickets per order. There are 1,500 tickets available for the first round of the draft, which is scheduled for June 22nd at 6:45 p.m. and 3,500 tickets available for rounds 2-7, which is scheduled for June 23rd at 10 a.m.

The NHL Entry Draft takes place each year in June with the league rotating the site each year. Representatives and scouts from all 30 teams, media from around North America, top prospects and their families, vendors, and other personnel will descend upon Pittsburgh during the week of the draft. For more information on the draft and events taking place in Pittsburgh during draft week, please visit www.pittsburghpenguins.com or www.nhl.com.

Did You Know…

Did you know the NHL Entry Draft was held in Pittsburgh only once before? In 1997, Pittsburgh hosted the draft, which was held at the Civic Arena.

Hines Ward and Wayne Fontana

Senator Fontana congratulates former Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward who was honored last week by the Governor and the General Assembly for his remarkable football career and his volunteer work in the community.

Market Square Farmers Market

Market Square Farmers’ Market The Market Square Farmers' Market opened on May 17th and will continue every Thursday through November 8th. The Farmers' Market, in its 8th season, features 25 participating vendors on its busiest day, making it the largest Market in downtown Pittsburgh. Attendees can enjoy fresh baked pastries, pies, hot foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, beef, dairy products, fresh flower arrangements and more. The Farmers' Market is open every Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. From noon – 2 p.m., some of the region’s most talented acoustic performers will be entertaining the lunchtime crowds as part of the free Thursday Lunchtime Concert Series. For more information on the Farmers' Market, including a list of vendors, and a list of performers, please visit www.DowntownPittsburgh.com.

TRAFArts Festival Begins June 1st!

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is hosting the 2012 Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 1st – June 10th in downtown Pittsburgh. The Three Rivers Arts Festival, the region’s largest multidisciplinary showcase of visual and performing arts, takes place in Point State Park, Gateway Center, and throughout the Cultural District. The Artists Market is open from noon – 8 p.m. daily and features over 300 artists selling original, handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces of art including jewelry, paintings, woodworking and photography. Once again this year, the Arts Festival will feature music, theater, and dance performances and a wide variety of food vendors. For more information on the 2012 Three Rivers Arts Festival, including maps, artist listings, and performance schedules, please visit www.3riversartsfest.org.

Wild Urban Adventure Hike

The Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) is hosting a “Wild Urban Adventure” Hike at Emerald View Park on June 3rd. The 10-mile hike and tour will begin at 9 a.m. Whether you have never visited the park on Mt. Washington or use it every day, you are welcome to attend this hike and tour and see how the trail system is progressing. For more information and to register, please contact Ilyssa at imanspeizer@mwcdc.org or 412-481-3220, ext. 204.

Market SquareFontana Fact

In 1784, the grandchildren of William Penn gave the land at Market Square to the city of Pittsburgh. In the mid 1790’s, the first Allegheny County Courthouse was built in Market Square and was used until 1841. Today Market Square features 19 indoor and outdoor dining establishments and features a large open area with tables and chairs, retailers and housing units.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

 
SBDC Pens Three Rivers Arts Festival