Senator Fontana speaks at a June 1st "Wall-Busting Ceremony" to celebrate the beginning of construction that will transform a former storage warehouse into the Shanahan Apartments in Uptown. Pictured with Senator Fontana is Larry Swanson, ACTION-Housing's Executive Director.
Protecting Young Athletes
Every year, sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for approximately 7,000 deaths in young people nationwide. This leading killer happens when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops working properly due to abnormal irregular heart rhythms. Symptoms include fainting, shortness of breath, chest pains, dizziness and a racing heart beat. Cardiac arrest can be reversed with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and/or a defibrillation but getting to the victim quickly is vital. Cardiac arrest should not be confused with a heart attack which is caused by blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. However, a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.
On May 30th, Gov. Corbett signed into law the “Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act,” also known as Act 59 of 2012 (originally House Bill 1610). This new law makes Pennsylvania the first state in the country to enact legislation that will protect student athletes from the potentially fatal condition.
Sports and physical exercise are promoted throughout school districts statewide. The message that is often sent to kids during these activities is that they need to play through pain and fatigue in order to become the best. However, sudden cardiac arrest usually occurs with exercising in young adults and children. Act 59 will ensure that individuals who are involved in school sports are properly educated about the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and appropriate measures take place. Physical activities should not have to be what essentially triggers death.
Specifically, under this new law, coaches, parents and students will be required to take online training, available at the Pennsylvania Department of Health's website, about the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest prior to participating in a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) activity. Act 59 defines an athletic activity as interscholastic athletics; club-sponsored sports, including cheerleading and other sports activities that are school-affiliated; non-competitive cheerleading that is sponsored by or associated with a school entity; and all practices, interschool practices and scrimmages for all of these activities.
A school may also hold an informational meeting prior to the start of each athletic season to brief students, parents, coaches and other school officials about sudden cardiac arrest. Prior to participation in a sport, every athlete must sign annually and return to their school an acknowledgement of receipt and review of the sudden cardiac arrest symptoms information sheet. Coaches will also complete a sudden cardiac arrest training course offered by a provider approved by the Department of Health each year and not be eligible to coach until completion of the training.
The new law also requires that a student athlete who exhibits any signs or symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest while participating in an athletic event, as determined by a game official, coach, certified athletic trainer, licensed physician or other official, must be removed from playing in the activity. If the student athlete has a history of these symptoms at any time prior to or following an athletic activity, the student cannot return to participation. An athlete removed from playing may only participate in an athletic activity once they are evaluated and cleared for return in writing by a licensed physician or certified registered nurse.
The law will take effect in 60 days which is around the start of practice for many high school football teams.
I voted in favor of this legislation because I feel that this act will raise awareness about the warning signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. This bill will also help ensure that the appropriate steps are taken in hopes that it will reduce the number of individuals who may become a victim to this condition and possibly prevent families from losing a loved one way too soon.
Child Protection Task Force
In late 2011, the General Assembly passed Senate Resolution 250 (SR 250) and House Resolution 522 (HR 522) that creates a Task Force on Child Protection. The Task Force members are assigned to thoroughly review state laws and procedures governing child protections and the reporting of child abuse. In particular, the Task Force will:
- Examine and analyze the practice, processes and procedures relating to the response to child abuse
- Review and analyze law, procedures, practices and rules relating to the reporting of child abuse
- Hold public hearings, accept and review written comments from individuals and organizations
- Submit reports which will include recommendations to improve the reporting of child abuse; implement any necessary changes in state laws and practices, policies and procedures relating to child abuse; and train appropriate individuals in the reporting of child abuse.
The 11-member task force is comprised of individuals from the legal, medical, judicial, child welfare services and advocacy arenas. The final report by the Task Force is due by November 30th.
On May 31st, a hearing was held by the Task Force at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. I was honored to have several individuals and organizations testify on the need for my legislation, Senate Bill 549 (SB 549). As mentioned in the November 15th edition of my News & Views, my legislation would amend the Child Protective Services Law to address suspected abuse by school employees. I first introduced a version of this bill in September of 2005, shortly after I was elected. However, no version of the bill has been passed yet by the full Senate. Currently, SB 549 is sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The May hearing was very informative and had some compelling testimony. I hope in the future the General Assembly looks at the findings and recommendations of the Task Force and enacts new laws to protect those who need it the most. Each year that passes, I get more calls from parents whose children have been abused and understand they have no other recourse. We must, as a society, ensure that we are doing all we can to protect children from abuse.
To see testimony from the hearings that have been held throughout the year, please go to: http://www.childprotection.state.pa.us/news.cfm.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Deadline Extended
Have you filed for the Property Tax & Rent Rebate Program yet? The deadline has been extended until December 31st. If you are a Pennsylvanian age 65 and older, a person with a disability 18 and older, or a widow or widower age 50 and older, you may be eligible. Income limits are $35,000 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can increase rebates to $975. You can stop by any one of my district offices to get a claim form (PA-1000), receive help in completing your application, and check the status of your claim.
Rebates will be sent out beginning July 1st. Eligible residents who submit their application after June 30th will receive their claim after it is processed. You may also check the status of claims online by visiting the PA Department of Revenue website or call 1-888-PATAXES. The program is supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
PHEAA Work-Study Program
As Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Board of Directors, I want to encourage businesses to consider participating in the PA State Work-Study Program. The State Work-Study Program provides college students with an opportunity to gain career-related work experience and earn funds to pay for their postsecondary education. This program is an effective way for businesses to increase productivity while providing significant assistance to Pennsylvania’s college students. The PHEAA-administered State Work-Study Program is funded by the Commonwealth.
Participating employers realize cost-savings in hiring students since the program reimburses between 30 and 40 percent of the students’ eligible earnings, depending on an organization’s for-profit or nonprofit status. Businesses can benefit from an expanded workforce, allowing them to increase productivity and accomplish work that otherwise may not be possible. Additionally, since many work-study employees are offered full-time employment after graduation, the Program can help lower the cost of job training for employers.
In the Program, students may work up to 40 hours per week. Generally, any job that in some way relates to the student’s major or minor course of study is eligible for work-study funding. Awards can be up to $3,600 during the school year and up to an additional $3,600 during the summer term, of which PHEAA will reimburse the employer up to $1,440 during each period. These are the maximum amounts of reimbursement which an employer may submit to PHEAA. However, employers may choose to pay students more than the fixed award reimbursement amount.
The deadline for both student and employer applications is June 30th to participate in the summer term program. For the academic year and the fall term, the deadline is October 1st. For the spring term, the deadline is January 31st.
Interested employers can visit the Work-Study Employers page on PHEAA's website for more information and online applications. Employers with specific questions should contact PHEAA State Grant and special Programs at 1-800-692-7392.
For information on the higher education financial aid process, schedules for upcoming financial aid nights and FAFSA Completion Sessions, reminders of financial aid deadlines, and video clips offering tips and information pertaining to planning for higher education, join PHEAA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pheaa.aid.
New Apartments Coming to Uptown
|Senator Fontana, center, busts the wall to
signify the beginning of construction for the
Last week I attended a “Wall-Busting Ceremony” in Pittsburgh’s uptown neighborhood to celebrate the start of construction on the Shanahan Apartments Project. This project will transform a former storage warehouse at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Miltenberger Street into a 43-unit affordable apartment complex. The one and two bedroom apartments will house low-income residents and individuals who are blind, deaf, and hard of hearing and will include a community room, laundry and storage facilities, a lounge, management office, and interior parking for cars and bicycles.
I was proud to work with ACTION-Housing and assist their efforts to secure a low income housing tax credit award for the project. These apartments will provide much-needed living space in the neighborhood and will stimulate revitalization efforts and job creation in Uptown. Congratulations to ACTION-Housing and thank you to all the partners in the community that worked to get this project moving forward. I look forward to seeing the construction progress over the next several months.
Senator Fontana answers questions from residents of the Mazza Pavilion in Brookline
on May 30th.
On May 30th I had the opportunity to visit with residents of the newly renovated Frank H. Mazza Pavilion in Brookline. The Mazza Pavilion was re-dedicated on December 13th and began welcoming back residents after a three year project that restored living units and constructed a private outdoor courtyard and a communal space in the main lobby area. It was great to see some familiar faces in the building while meeting some new residents to the Brookline neighborhood. Thank you to the staff at Mazza for welcoming me and providing the opportunity to hear directly from, and speak with, my constituents.
Did You Know…
Did you know Brookline is the second largest neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh, with over 23,000 residents?
Stay Safe on Amusement Rides
As summer approaches, families will begin enjoying the many amusement parks and fairs the Commonwealth has to offer. This week is Amusement Ride Safety Week and the PA Department of Agriculture is reminding everyone to be safe on amusement rides. The Department's Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards registers more than 8,700 amusement rides and certifies and trains the state’s nearly 1,300 industry inspectors. The Department has inspected and registered amusement rides under the Amusement Ride Safety Act since 1984 and regularly participates in education and outreach seminars that include classes and hands-on demonstrations for ride operators and inspectors.
Amusement rides are a staple of Pennsylvania’s 108 county and community fairs. For a complete listing of the state’s fairs you may view the 2012 Pennsylvania Fair Guide online at www.agriculture.state.pa.us. For more information about ride safety or the Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards call 717-787-6772 or visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “Amusement Rides.”
The Department has offered the following safety tips to riders:
- Look for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania registration plate on the ride and the public notice sign verifying it has been inspected according to PA Amusement Ride Safety Act standards.
- Before getting in line for the ride, check and follow boarding restrictions, including those for medical concerns, height and weight.
- Listen carefully to all instructions as operators are trained to keep riders safe.
- Make sure ride operators are alert. Never board a ride if the operator appears to be inattentive.
- Keep your arms, hands, feet, and legs inside the ride at all times and always remain on the ride until it comes to a complete stop.
- Use shoulder harnesses, seat belts, lap bars or chains appropriately.
- Stop riding before you get tired. Tired riders are more likely to be injured than alert riders.
- Stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water can increase your risk of injury or illness on some rides.
- Take an active role in determining whether a ride is appropriate for a child. Instruct your child on acceptable ride behavior before boarding and always supervise your child on a ride. Ask the operator to stop the ride if you see that your child shows any signs of distress.
Taste of Beechview
On June 9th, the 1st Annual Taste of Beechview will be held at the corner of Broadway and Hampshire Avenues. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. This outdoor food festival is being hosted by the Crested Duck Charcuterie and will feature food samples for purchase from Crested Duck Charcuterie, BREW on Broadway Coffee House, IGA Market on Broadway, Casa Rasta, SLICE on Broadway, Lundari’s, and other local restaurants and farmers. If you are interested in volunteering your time at this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pretty Up Beechview will be hosting a clean-up on June 8th from 6 – 8 p.m. to spruce up the neighborhood in anticipation of Taste of Beechview on June 9th. Plans include litter clean up on Broadway Avenue and the grooming of the garden at the Port Authority parking lot across from the Alpine and ESB Bank. Volunteers will be gathering at 6 p.m. at the BREW on Broadway. For more information, please email email@example.com.
Carnegie Police Camp Cadet Program
The Carnegie Police Department is accepting applications for their annual Camp Cadet Program which will be held July 9th – 13th at the Carnegie Borough Building. Camp Cadet is a weeklong program that exposes children ages 9-12 to the vast world of law enforcement. Sergeant Caulene Lee, a 21-year veteran of the Carnegie Police Department is coordinating the program. Attendees will be instructed on the basics of police patrolling, fingerprinting, crime scene investigations, conflict resolution, first aid, and much more while participating in daily fitness training.
Class size is limited and applications will be accepted as they are received, with priority given to residents of Carnegie Borough and the Borough of Pennsbury Village. The deadline to register is June 8th. For more information on the program please contact Sergeant Lee at 412-276-4245, ext. 1311 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob O’Connor Summer Tennis Classic
Tennis enthusiasts are invited to register for the 6th Annual Bob O’Connor Summer Tennis Classic which is scheduled for June 16th – 24th at the Schenley Park Tennis Center and the Stanton Avenue Courts in Highland Park. The tournament, which honors the outstanding community spirit demonstrated by the late Mayor Bob O’Connor, is open to players ages 16 and over. Men’s and Women’s A open singles and A open doubles are sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). There are also B and C divisions for men and women, doubles, and mixed doubles events.
The deadline to register is June 12th. For more information on the Bob O’Connor Summer Tennis Classic, please visit the city of Pittsburgh website. You may also download a registration form here.
Congratulations to the Montour girls’ softball team on winning the WPIAL Class AAA girls’ softball championship. Montour defeated Elizabeth Forward in the championship game, 7-0, on May 31st. The Spartans have a record of 17-5 this season and advance to the PIAA state tournament. Congratulations again on winning the WPIAL championship and best of luck in the state playoffs!
With 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization. There are 18 Lions Clubs in the Pittsburgh area. As a proud member, I know first-hand the outstanding services Lions Clubs provide to their local communities. Lions Clubs International recently welcomed one of its newest members, and a name known to many, Dr. Mehmet C. Oz.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana