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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Castle Shannon Mayor Donald Baumgarten & Senator Wayne Fontana

Last night, Castle Shannon Mayor Donald Baumgarten was honored by the Borough on recently being named 2014 Mayor of the Year in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania State Mayors’ Association (PSMA). Senator Fontana attended and presented Mayor Baumgarten with a Senate Citation, recognizing this honor and the Mayor’s 45 years of service to Castle Shannon Borough.

 

Ready to Succeed Scholarship

PHEAA PHEAA For the first time this school year, a Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program will be available for college students attending private and public schools in Pennsylvania.  The state has allocated $5 million in the budget for the merit-based scholarship, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) will be administering the program.  

To qualify, students must have completed at least one academic year - defined as having earned at least 24 semester credits - have at least a 3.25 GPA and family income cannot exceed $110,000.  Students who receive needs-based scholarships are eligible as well. A full-time student can receive up to $2,000 and part-time students can get up to $1,000.  The minimum award is $500.  The scholarship can be used toward tuition, books, living expenses, fees or supplies.

PHEAA will forward the colleges and universities a roster of students who qualify for the grants based on income, and it will be up to the schools to certify a student’s academic eligibility.  Colleges are able to start nominating students now and applications will need to be submitted by September 15th.  The state will notify students between mid-October and November if they have received an award. 

There is no limit for how many students a school can nominate and awards will be given out on a first come, first served basis.  In Pennsylvania, with nearly 700,000 college students, PHEAA estimates tens of thousands of students will qualify for these grants, but expects about 3,600 students will actually receive an award based on the low state allocation for this program. 

Students should be doing everything possible to lower their college debt and I am pleased the Commonwealth has introduced another resource for those looking to continue their education after high school.  Oftentimes, middle income students do not qualify for state grants because there are other students in more financially desperate situations.  The Ready to Succeed Scholarships offer these middle income students a new opportunity for financial freedom.

To learn more about if you are eligible for one of these scholarships or how to apply, please contact your college or university’s Financial Aid Office.    

Did You Know…

Did you know that more than seven in 10 college students across the country receive some type of financial aid?

529 College Savings

529 529 The Pennsylvania Treasury Department wants to make families aware that opening and contributing to a Pennsylvania 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) account by August 31st will allow them to take advantage of last school year’s lower prices.  Credit rates will increase on September 1st to correspond with tuition increases set by colleges and universities.  In order to take advantage of lower credit rates, contributions to a PA 529 GSP sent by mail must be postmarked by August 31st and online contributions must be made by 11:59 p.m. on August 31st at www.PA529.com.

The PA 529 GSP is designed to help savings grow to meet the future cost of education.  The plan lets an account owner save for tomorrow’s college expenses at today’s plan rates, without worrying about the ups and downs of the stock market.  To learn more about the PA 529 GSP or to open an account, please visit www.PA529.com or call 1-800-440-4000.

To encourage more families to save for college in a tax-advantaged way, the PA 529 GSP is also offering free enrollment for all new accounts opened before September 30th, a $50 savings.  Simply enter the code “SAVE2DAY” when promoted.  Additionally, families who register at www.PA529.com will have a chance to win $529 towards their college savings account.

Pennsylvania also offers a second 529 plan, the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which features low fees and more than a dozen conservative and aggressive investment options from The Vanguard Group.  There is no enrollment fee for the PA 529 IP.  Contributions to PA 529 plans are deductable from Pennsylvania income taxes, grow tax free, and when used for qualified educational expenses, are federal and state tax exempt.

Labor DayOffices Closed

All Senate offices will be closed on Monday, September 1st in observance of Labor Day.  My offices will re-open on Tuesday, September 2nd as scheduled.

Flu/Pneumonia Shots & Senior Clinic – September 30th

FluI am hosting my annual Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic on Tuesday, September 30th from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Quinn Hall at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline.  American HealthCare Group will be providing the free vaccinations to any senior with the Medicare Part B health insurance card.  Make sure to bring your card with you.

There will also be several organizations from around the region in attendance providing seniors with important information on available services and resources including Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging, AARP, Carnegie Library, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate to name a few.  I will continue to update you with additional information on the Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic throughout the month of September.

Preventing Identity Theft & Fraud

I am pleased to be attending an event being hosted by Representative Dan Miller on the subject of identity theft on August 29th in Dormont.  I encourage anyone with questions or concerns on this topic to attend and listen to a presentation offered by the Office of the Attorney General on how to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud and how to best keep your personal information safe.  This presentation will begin at 10:15 a.m. at the Hillsdale Community Resource Center, located at 1444 Hillsdale Avenue in Dormont.  For more information, please contact Rep. Miller’s office at 412-343-3870.

School Bus Safety

busMany children in the area are back to school and yellow school buses transporting students from home to school are back on the roads.  If you are driving in areas with a high concentration of students waiting for the bus, please slow down and be careful.  I encourage parents and students to visit Just Drive PA to view tips offered by PennDOT for kids to stay safe while riding the bus.  I also would like to remind motorists of the state’s School Buss Stopping Law and that anyone convicted of violating the School Bus Stopping Law can face penalties including a $250 fine, five points on your driving record, and a 60-day license suspension.

  • Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended

  • Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus, or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped

  • Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safely

  • If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails, or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping

  • Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety

Table Games Revenue Rises

Revenue from table games play at Pennsylvania casinos was over $61 million during July according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, representing a nearly 2 percent increase in revenue compared to July of 2013.  Approximately $8.8 million in tax revenue was generated from table games this July.  Locally, the Rivers Casino reported nearly $5.7 million in gross revenue in table games during July, an increase of over 6.5 percent compared to July of 2013.  To read the entire report, please visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.

Mentored Youth Fishing Day

Mentored Mentored Youth Fishing Day The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has added another Mentored Youth Fishing Day, scheduled for Labor Day, Monday, September 1st on 17 panfish enhancement lakes around the Commonwealth.  The first Mentored Youth Fishing Day took place on May 10th.  The panfish enhancement lakes were chosen for the second Mentored Youth Fishing Day because these waters are managed to increase the number and size of fish. 

To encourage participation, the PFBC has also reduced the price of a one-day adult resident and one-day adult non-resident license to just $1 on Labor Day.  A normal adult resident license costs $11.70 and a one day non-resident license is $26.70.

To participate in the program, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and be accompanied by a youth.  Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit or a voluntary youth fishing license.  Both are available at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 900 licensing agents across Pennsylvania.  For more information on the upcoming Mentored Youth Fishing Day and for a listing of panfish enhancement lakes, please visit www.fish.state.pa.us/MentoredYouth.htm.

Citizen’s Police Academy

The City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is accepting applications for the Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA), which begins on Tuesday, September 9th.  Twice a year the Police Bureau sponsors an opportunity to members of the community to become closely acquainted with the roles and responsibilities of the Police Bureau in a setting that offers a sample of police training to each participant.  Instructors are law enforcement professionals who teach both veterans and recruit police officers.

CPA participants receive three hours of training one evening each week and are exposed to the operations of the Police Bureau.  Participants are taught the basics of criminal law, search and seizure, patrol tactics, firearms, processing of a crime scene, and how police canines are used.

Class size is limited to 30 participants and all interested individuals must give permission for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to conduct a background check.  For more information on the CPA please contact Sergeant Eric Kroll at 412-665-3600 or eric.kroll@pittsburghpa.gov.  Applications must be received by mail or hand delivered by September 3rd to:

            Pittsburgh Police Training Academy
            1395 Washington Boulevard
            Pittsburgh, PA  15206

Fontana Fact

Little League World SeriesOne of Pennsylvania’s most popular summer events, the Little League World Series, wrapped up over the weekend in Williamsport, about a four hour drive from Pittsburgh.  This was the 68th annual Little League World Series, however, Little League is actually celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.  In the late 1930’s, Williamsport resident Carol E. Stotz devised the first rules and field dimensions for his planned boys’ baseball program and in 1939, three teams played the first season of Little League in a vacant lot near the outfield fence of present day Bowman Field in Williamsport.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

  Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plz.
524 Pine Hollow Rd
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418