Captain Sean M. Ruane Memorial Highway
Senator Fontana is pictured here with Marcia and Michael Ruane and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald moments after the Captain Sean M. Ruane Memorial Highway sign was unveiled on October 4th.
On Saturday, October 4th, in a ceremony at the Kennedy Township Municipal Building, a new sign marking the Captain Sean M. Ruane Memorial Highway was unveiled. Captain Ruane, a Kennedy Township native, who bravely served the United States Air Force in tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was stationed with his wife and son in England where he was killed in a tragic accident in January. Act 103 of 2014 was signed into law in July and included legislation I authored that officially designated a portion of State Route 51 in Kennedy Township as the Captain Sean M. Ruane Memorial Highway. In the very near future, two signs will be erected on Route 51 in Kennedy Township, prominently displaying the designation.
I was honored to be joined at the ceremony by Captain Ruane’s parents, Marcia and Michael Ruane, and the many family members, friends and members of the community who attended. I appreciate the elected officials in attendance including: Congressman Mike Doyle; State Representative Nick Kotik; County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein; County Councilman Michael Finnerty; Kennedy Township Tax Collector/Commissioner Mel Weinstein; Kennedy Township Commissioner Anita Kulik; and Kennedy Township Solicitor Joseph Kulik.
Captain Sean Ruane was the very definition of a great American hero who truly lived up to the Air Force Rescue motto of “That Others May Live.” It is my hope that this memorial serves as a lasting reminder of Sean’s service, for his love of the community he resided in, and his love of country.
Preventative Heroin Overdose Law
Act 139, which was signed into law recently, is regarded as a life-saving measure by making an antidote more available to police and the public to reverse heroin overdoses in Pennsylvania. In addition, the Act offers immunity from criminal prosecution to those who help overdose victims. With a heroin epidemic sweeping across the country and affecting thousands of individuals and families, Pennsylvania will now join at least 17 other states in making necessary changes in the law to help reduce the number of victims to this dangerous way of life.
Opioids are commonly prescribed prescription drug painkillers, such as oxycodone, that are highly addictive even when taken as prescribed. Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of heroin users began their addiction with prescription opioids.
In an overdose, heroin and opioid painkillers, stop a person’s breathing. Naloxone, a drug commonly referred to by the brand name Narcan, binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, reversing the effect of heroin and restores normal breathing.
Currently, Pennsylvania law only allows paramedics and doctors to administer Naloxone. The new law will now allow physicians to prescribe Naloxone to friends and relatives of addicts as well as police and firefighters so they are able to administer the antidote in an emergency situation. This is particularly important because the first responder to an overdose is often a parent or friend.
The preventative antidote has been used by medical professionals for more than 30 years. Act 139 does not specify the drug delivery method but it is usually administered as a nasal spray or injection. Furthermore, the anti-overdose antidote is inexpensive, costing around $20 per dose, non-addictive, and needs no special storage.
Too many times police have found that even the threat of jail is a deterrent for drug users to report someone else’s overdose. Act 139 includes language that will provide legal protection for witnesses, or Good Samaritans, seeking medical help at the scene of an overdose. In particular, immunity from prosecution could apply to those who report in good faith a drug overdose event to a law enforcement officer, the 911 system, a campus security officer or emergency services personnel. However, that immunity would not apply to the investigation, arrest, charging or prosecution of a person for the delivery or distribution of a controlled substance, drug-induced homicide or any other crime.
Furthermore, in May, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs led a Heroin and Other Opiodis Workgroup along with other state agencies with the goal to improve Pennsylvania’s response to heroin overdoses. The workgroup identified five categories containing a total of 13 recommendations that have recently been approved that will now provide effective solutions to this growing epidemic.
Act 139 is not a mandate and it will be up to police and fire departments to determine if they would like their personnel to have and administer the antidote. The law will take effect in 60 days.
I voted in favor of Act 139 because I understand how addiction and overdoses can ruin people’s lives and tear families apart. Steps need to be taken now to try and prevent unnecessary heroin deaths and passage of this law will give law enforcement and families the tools they need, while at the same time not punishing those who seek help for victims.
As In observance of the Columbus Day holiday, all Senate offices will be closed on Monday, October 13th. My offices will re-open on Tuesday, October 14th as scheduled.
Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic
Thank you to everyone who attended last week’s Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline. Over 100 seniors received flu vaccinations and more than that visited with the many organizations in attendance. Thank you to American HealthCare Group for providing the vaccinations and thank you to the Church of the Resurrection for allowing us to use your space. I also appreciate the participation of the following organizations and am grateful for the resources they shared with all who attended:
Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services
Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy
Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped
PA Office of Attorney General
PA Office of Consumer Advocate
Primary Care Health Services
Point State Park Recognized
Senator Fontana spoke at a press conference on October 1st at Point State Park for the announcement of the Park being designated as one of the Great Public Spaces in America.
Last week, it was announced that Point State Park was identified as one of 10 Great Public Spaces in 2014 by the American Planning Association and their Great Places in America program. I was honored to participate in the announcement at Point State Park on October 1st with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Riverlife, and the American Planning Association (APA).
APA identifies 30 locations for the Great Places of America designation annually. Each year, 10 Great Streets, 10 Great Neighborhoods, and 10 Great Public Spaces are selected through a complex nomination and application process. The winning locations demonstrate exemplary level of character, quality and foresight in planning.
This is a national distinction that reflects on our government’s and community’s desire to foster recreational and social interaction in downtown Pittsburgh. The re-emergence of Point State Park is a big reason why downtown continues to grow as a residential neighborhood. The Park is a regional asset and must-see for tourists, but it also is a destination place for residents.
The Park went through a complete overhaul that began in 2007 and was completed in 2013. The successful re-launch of Point State Park is a result of people working together including our state government, DCNR, the city of Pittsburgh, Heinz History Center, Allegheny Conference, Riverlife and all the various groups that utilize this Park.
Congratulations to all stakeholders for their vision and ability to work together to make Point State Park a Great Public Space and the jewel of downtown Pittsburgh!
Did You Know…
Did you know that over two acres to the north and south of the Great Lawn at Point State Park are planted with 54,000 native plants that represent the plants that would have been on the site in the mid-18th century?
Small Business Advantage Grants
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting applications for Small Business Advantage Grants. These grants finance pollution prevention and energy efficiency projects and provide funding to projects that include auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks, HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, solvent recovery systems, and waste recycling systems. Applicants must be a for-profit corporation, Limited Liability Corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity with 100 or fewer full-time employees.
Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $9,500 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution-prevention equipment or procedures. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis and applications will be accepted until fiscal year 2014-15 funds are exhausted or April 15, 2015, whichever occurs first.
Anyone interested in applying can visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the “Small Business Advantage Grant” button. For further assistance, please contact the Small Business Ombudsman’s Office at 717-772-5160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environmental Education Grants
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now accepting applications for the 2015 Environmental Education Grants. Schools, colleges and universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and businesses are all invited to apply. These grants are used to provide funding to develop programs and projects that support environmental education about issues including: watersheds; air quality; brownfields; energy; environmental literacy; and environmental education certification. Eligible projects include but are not limited to: teacher professional development; curriculum integration; outdoor learning resources such as trails, shelters, streamside plantings and educational programming; transportation to field study sites; water chemistry testing equipment; and educational events. The maximum grant award is $3,000.
Anyone interested in applying can visit www.dep.state.pa.us, call DEP’s Environmental Education Information Center at 717-772-1828 or email email@example.com. The deadline to apply is December 19th.
EITC Program Supports Local Schools
Senator Fontana participated in a check presentation ceremony hosted by the Bridge Educational Foundation at St. Benedict the Moor School in the Hill District on October 1st. From contributions through the EITC program made by CSX Transportation and RBC Capital Markets, the Bridge Educational Foundation donated $25,000 to St. Benedict the Moor School and Training Wheels Preschool in Manchester. Pictured with students at the conclusion of the ceremony is: Sitting (L to R) – Cheryl Walker, Training Wheels Preschool; Debbie Snyder, CSX Transportation; Rebecca Jenkins, EITC scholarship parent; Monique Thompkins, EITC scholarship parent; Standing (L to R) – Donna Roberts, Vice Principal – St. Benedict the Moor School; Heather Hilterman, Principal – St. Benedict the Moor School; Dr. Curtiss Porter, Chief Education & Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer - City of Pittsburgh; Fr. Rich Zelik, Pastor – St. Benedict the Moor Church; Henry Sallusti, RBC Capital Markets; Senator Fontana; Jennifer Kessler, Bridge Educational Foundation; and Representative Jake Wheatley.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I want women to be aware of the resources offered by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC). This organization is a statewide, nonprofit organization that creates the hope of a brighter tomorrow by providing action and information to women with breast cancer today.
In addition to legislative advocacy and educational programming, the PBCC helps direct low and moderate income women who are uninsured to get free treatment through the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program. The PBCC also offers support groups, raises needed funds for research, and much more. Visit them online at www.pabreastcancer.org to learn more about the organization and how they can help. If you are in need of treatment, I also encourage you to call the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Healthy Woman Program at 1-800-215-7494.
Open Your Heart to a Senior
The United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior program is in need of volunteers. This program partners with at least 16 nonprofit organizations around Allegheny County to provide volunteer services to seniors that will help them remain independent and stay safe in their homes. Volunteers are currently needed in all neighborhoods of the county. Volunteers deliver meals, take seniors to appointments or the grocery store, help at senior centers, and much more. Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering, please call 412-307-0071, email Allegheny@openyourhearttoasenior.org or visit www.oyhs.org.
Pittsburgh is known as a city with a significant amount of “firsts.” Next Monday, October 13th marks the 43rd anniversary of another “first.” On that date in 1971, the first World Series game to ever have started at night was played at Three Rivers Stadium between the Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. An estimated 64 million people watched on television in primetime as the Pirates defeated the Orioles 4-3 to even the best-of-seven World Series at two games apiece. The Pirates won the series in seven games.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
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1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216