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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Eight Local Transportation Projects Receive Funding

Last week I was pleased to announce that eight transportation projects in the 42nd Senatorial District will be receiving more than $3.7 million in state grant funds.  This funding will help local planners make our transportation system more modern, efficient, and attractive.  These projects include:

  • $500,000 to the Associated Master Plumbers of Allegheny County for the Sheraden Community Pedestrian Safety Project in the Sheraden neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh.  Funds will be used for a streetscape and pedestrian safety project.
  • $350,000 to the Northside Leadership Conference for the Northside Transportation Improvement Project.  Funds will be used to establish a streetscape along Guckert Way.
  • cross walk$200,000 to Duquesne University for the Duquesne University/Forbes Avenue Sidewalk and Light Pole Upgrade.  Funds will be used for the final phase of the university’s Forbes Avenue pedestrian improvement project.
  • $200,000 to Bike Share Pittsburgh for Phase II of the Pittsburgh Health Ride Project.  This funding will be used to add 25 new bike stations throughout Pittsburgh.
  • $232,077 to Crow Hill Development for the Heinz Buildings Redevelopment Transportation Improvements.  Funding will be used for roadway infrastructure upgrades to support the overall redevelopment of three properties.
  • $750,000 to the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation for Phase I of the Chartiers Avenue Gateway Streetscape Improvements.  This funding will be used for streetscape improvements in the McKees Rocks Business District along Chartiers Avenue.
  • $1 million to the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh to help reconstruct a portion of Smallman Street in the Strip District.
  • $492,616 to the City of Pittsburgh for the Mon Wharf Switchback.  Funding here will be used for hiker-biker trail improvements at the Monongahela Wharf Switchback.

Funding for these projects come from the Multimodal Transportation Fund and were approved on Dec. 6 by the state Commonwealth Financing Authority.  The fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable transportation system is available.  Funds may be used for the development, rehabilitation and enhancement of transportation assets, streetscape, lighting, sidewalk enhancement, pedestrian safety, connectivity of transportation assets and transit-oriented development.  Moving forward, I will continue working with local government leaders and community advocates to obtain additional state resources for local projects.

Patient Medical Marijuana Survey

med marijuananIn April 2016, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 16 which legalizes medical marijuana for eligible individuals.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health has been tasked with coming up with the regulations and it has been estimated that it will take between 18 months and two years before patients can seek medical marijuana.

As the Department of Health continues to develop the regulations on this matter, they are looking for patients or a family member that is interested in becoming a caregiver of that patient in Pennsylvania who have one of the 17 qualifying conditions in Act 16 to complete this survey.  

The Department of Health recognizes that every patient has unique needs and the commonwealth wants to make sure it engages patients and their caregivers in meaningful dialogue as the Department moves forward with their patient-centered program.  Please know that all of the information will remain confidential and that it is important to fill out the entire survey and give the Department additional comments at the end as well. 

There is also a Survey for those planning to apply for grower/processor and dispensary permits which can be accessed by clicking here.

Heroin & Opiate Awareness Event

TownhallHeroin and opioid-related overdoses are the leading causes of accidental deaths, killing more Pennsylvanians than traffic accidents.  Right here in Allegheny County there were 422 accidental overdoses in 2015 alone.  This epidemic crosses all social, geographic and political lines, killing seven Pennsylvanians each day.

I have joined Representative Dan Deasy in hosting Community Awareness Town Hall meetings to discuss ways to combat this epidemic.  The first meeting took place last week in Crafton with the next meeting scheduled for tomorrow evening in Beechview at the St. Catherine Siena Church, located at 1810 Belasco Avenue.  The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Presentations will be made by a panel of experts and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.  Expert panelists will include representatives from:  Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office; Allegheny County District Attorney’s office; Allegheny County Sheriff’s office; Gateway Rehabilitation; local District Magistrates; local law enforcement; Allegheny County Department of Human Services; and more.

Attendees can also bring unwanted or unused prescription medication to this event and the medication will be collected and safely disposed of by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office as part of their Project D.U.M.P. initiative.

LIHEAP

LIHEAP LIHEAP I want to remind everyone that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  The program helps low income families pay their heating bills.  You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website.  You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website.  Completed paper applications should be returned to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.

Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.  The income limits for this season are as follows:

Household Size Income Limit
1 $17,820
2 $24,030
3 $30,240
4 $36,450
5 $42,660
6 $48,870
7 $55,095
8 $61,335
9 $67,575
10 $73,815

After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive.  Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account.  Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat.  For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

studentsI want to again remind students and families that the U.S. Department of Education has made the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available online earlier this year.  The FAFSA became available on October 1 which gives students and their families more time to consider where to go to college and how to pay for it. The FAFSA is a tool that colleges and universities use to determine how much financial aid to offer students and whether those students are eligible for federal grants, student loans and other types of federal and state aid.  

Not only is completing the FAFSA required to be considered for federal student aid, such as the Pell Grant or federal student loans, it’s also used to determine eligibility for many kinds of scholarships and grants, including the Pennsylvania State Grant Program.

PHEAA PHEAA As the Vice Chairman of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Board of Directors, I can’t stress enough the importance of not procrastinating as you could risk losing out to others who realize that some financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.  

For information on the higher education financial aid process, schedules for upcoming FAFSA Completion Sessions, reminders of financial aid deadlines, and information pertaining to planning for higher education, students can visit www.PHEAA.org.  A student can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.

Reminder - Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

Property Taxes I want to remind everyone that the deadline to file for a rebate through the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is December 31.  Applications are available at www.revenue.pa.gov or at my district offices and my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities age 18 and over.  Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate.  Keep in mind half of Social Security income is excluded.  Some applicants who previously received rebates may continue to qualify despite Social Security cost-of-living adjustments that may have pushed their income past eligibility limits.

If you have already filed an application, have not received your rebate yet and wish to check on its status, please click here or visit www.revenue.pa.gov and click on the tab “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” on the home page.

Governorís Awards for Environmental Excellence

DEP Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting applications for the 2017 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.  Individuals and organizations are invited to apply for the 2017 award for projects completed between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016.  The award is open to all individuals, whether a project leader or participant, and to all non-profits, businesses, farms, government agencies, and educational institutions.  Individuals may also nominate someone they know.

Projects are evaluated on the basis of nine criteria:  degree of environmental protection; public service; pollution prevention; climate change; sustainability; partnership; economic impact; innovative technology; and environmental education and outreach.  A protect does not need to meet all criteria to merit an award.

The application deadline is January 3, 2017 at 5 p.m.  Applications must be emailed to RA-EPgovenviroawards@pa.gov.  Complete project guidelines and applications can be found by clicking here or by visiting www.dep.pa.gov.

Did You Know…

Did you know that since the inception of the environmental education grant program, the DEP has awarded more than $10 million in grants to support the environmental education efforts throughout Pennsylvania?

New Port Authority Fare Policy

Beginning January 1, the Port Authority will begin a new fare policy, eliminating its two-zone fare system and installing a single-zone system in which riders will pay $2.50 with a ConnectCard.  The Port Authority has made these changes after hearing from nearly 8,000 riders over the past 18 months who are seeking a transit system that is more accessible and affordable.

Starting January 1, riders paying with cash will pay $2.75.  Transfers for riders paying with a ConnectCard will remain $1.  There will be no transfers for riders paying with cash; riders paying with cash will need to pay an additional $2.75 for their connecting trip.

The Port Authority is eliminating the downtown free bus zone.  All riders on routes will pay their fare as they board the bus.  With the exception of those who require special accommodations, riders will exit from the back doors.

To read more about these changes please visit http://simple.portauthority.org/.

First Night Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Pittsburgh Cultural Trust The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is once again producing First Night Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve.  This year’s celebration marks the 23rd anniversary of First Night Pittsburgh and the 14th as a production of the Cultural Trust.  As the largest single-day celebration in the region, First Night offers more than 100 events at indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District.  This family-friendly event provides the city the opportunity to ring in the New Year with a bang while celebrating Pittsburgh’s many rich cultural assets.

First Night First Night Pittsburgh First Night Pittsburgh kicks off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 with a children’s fireworks show and concludes with the countdown to midnight, and the raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball at midnight, with tons of fun in between.  This year, The Nigel Hall Band will perform as the headline act during First Night. 

To view the many activities taking place during First Night and for a full schedule of events, shows and entertainment and information on how to purchase all-access buttons please visit www.firstnightpgh.org.

Fontana Fact

Yesterday marked the 229th anniversary of Pennsylvania becoming the second state to ratify the Constitution by a vote of 46-23.  Delaware was the first colony to ratify, doing so Dec. 7, 1787, five days prior to Pennsylvania.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
By Appointment
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library | Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
By Appointment
Making it Simple