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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana participated in a Disability & Mental Health Summit hosted by Rep. Dan Miller on March 15.

Senator Fontana participated in a Disability & Mental Health Summit hosted by Rep. Dan Miller on March 15. The three-day Summit closed with a legislative panel discussion centered around state policies and legislative initiatives that would increase independence and opportunities for everyone.

Elimination of Pardon Fees

formAs of Monday, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons is no longer charging application fees for pardons.  Last week, the Chairman of the Board, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman announced that the board voted and unanimously approved to eliminate the fees.  This step will remove a major financial barrier for so many who have already paid for a past mistake.  

In the commonwealth, anyone convicted of a summary, misdemeanor or felony crime is eligible for clemency in the form of a pardon or commutation.  The difference is that a pardon is total forgiveness, and a commutation is a reduction in the punishment handed down.  Up until last week, there were several fees associated with the process to request a pardon.  They included $8 to download the application online or to receive a copy in the mail.  Then an individual had to pay $20 for a criminal history record and another $10 for a driving record.  Once the application was complete, the Board of Pardons collected a $25 processing fee making the grand total $63.  

Once an application is submitted, the Board of Pardons reviews the information and victim testimony to select which cases are forwarded to the Governor for a pardon or clemency.  In general, applications submitted are generally older violations of lesser-graded crimes.  The board then submits all recommendations to the governor, who may grant or reject a request for clemency.  If a request for clemency is denied, the applicant must wait one year before filing again.  The board does not explain why it rejects requests.  It takes about three years from the time an application is filed until a hearing is held before the Board.  Applicants may still be incarcerated when they apply. 

Thousands of people per year pay the $8 to download the application, but most of them do not continue through the rest of the process.  For example, in 2017, more than 3,400 people downloaded the application, but only 564 completed it and paid the final $25 processing fee.  Many have expressed one of the biggest obstacles in the way for these individuals were the fees. 

As many people know, a criminal conviction in Pennsylvania is more than just a stigma.  It can prevent one from achieving employment, being able to join the military or hold public office, obtain housing, travel abroad, securing a credit card or even serve on a jury.  Additionally, many residents who have committed these crimes are already economically disadvantaged so fees provided a real challenge.  By eliminating the pardon fees, we give Pennsylvanians one more opportunity to demonstrate that they have changed and to become productive citizens again. 

Upcoming Job Fair

Job FairOn Thursday, March 28, with Rep. Dan Deasy and in partnership with PA Career Link and Building Bridges for Business, we will be hosting a Job Fair for any interested job seekers.  The Job Fair is being held in the Social Hall at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, located at 1810 Belasco Avenue in Beechview from 4 – 7 p.m.

The Job Fair will feature local companies looking to fill positions now.  There will also be representatives in attendance to talk about apprenticeships and other technical training programs to help individuals gain information on acquiring new skills to become gainfully employed.

If you are looking for work or are interested in potential apprenticeships or other technical training, please consider attending this Job Fair.  If you have family or friends who may be interested, please share this information with them.

Free On-Demand Lead Line Replacements

PWSAThe Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA), as part of the settlement of an enforcement action by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has established a free lead line replacement program available to homeowners and tenants who meet certain income requirements. Under the program, PWSA must use $1.8 million for private lead line replacements before November 2021. The funding is expected to replace 200 privately-owned lead lines throughout PWSA’s drinking water service territory. If there is also a publicly-owned lead line serving the property, PWSA will replace it at no additional cost. Once approved, customers meeting the income requirements can have their lead line replaced in a matter of one or two months.

PWSA has partnered with Dollar Energy Fund, Inc. to administer the program. They are currently soliciting interest from customers already enrolled in PWSA’s other income assistance programs. However, many households not eligible for utility discounts and government assistance programs are eligible for free lead line replacement.

To participate, please contact the Dollar Energy Fund at 1-866-762-2348 and let them know you are interested in the Lead Service Line Replacement Project. Tenants can also qualify for this program with the homeowner’s permission to do work on their property. Dollar Energy representatives will ask for verification of your income. This will help them determine if you fall within the income guidelines. If you qualify, PWSA will review your service line material record to determine if you may have a lead line. PWSA may also visit your home to inspect for lead. If lead is found, they will set up a time to come to your property and replace the line. PWSA uses a trenchless method for over 95% of lead line replacements, which means there will be little to no disruption to your yard. A licensed plumber will then complete a final inspection of the work.

To learn more about this program, please visit www.pgh2o.com.

Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania

Great American Cleanup Join Pennsylvanians across the state – and Americans across the nation – for the Great American Cleanup.  You can participate in the Great American Cleanup of PA by cleaning up litter and trash along our roadsides, streams, beaches, parks, forests and neighborhoods. Additional events include holding recycling events for hard-to-dispose of items like tires and appliances, creating or enhancing green areas by planting plants, bulbs, and trees, removing or painting over graffiti that devalues your neighborhood, and other activities that help beautify your community.

Each year during the Great American Cleanup of PA, which is from March 1 – May 31, registered events can get free cleanup supplies such as bags, gloves and vests donated by PennDOT, the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Keep America Beautiful.  Additionally, during the Pick It Up PA Days, which is from April 13 – May 6, sponsored by Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association, and participating landfills, registered events have access to reduced or free disposal. Community and civic associations, schools and youth groups, families and friends, business employees, hunting and fishing clubs, conservation organizations, sports teams, and others can organize their members and participate in the Great American Cleanup of PA.

Anyone wishing to participate can learn more by clicking here or visiting  https://gacofpa.org/organize-an-event/ to get started.

Did You Know…

Did you know that there were 5,362 events statewide last year as part of the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania with more than 108,000 Pennsylvanians volunteering? More than 1.1 million pounds of materials were recycled, and more than 6.6 million pounds of trash were disposed.

Youth Arts Apprenticeship

Contemporary Craft, located in the Strip District, is hosting a Youth Arts Apprenticeship in 2019. The program consists of two five-day art workshops this summer. Students ages 13-16 will learn hands-on techniques used in the art fields and will work with experienced artists and Contemporary Craft’s partners, Phipps Conservatory and Ton Pottery, to create one-of-a-kind artworks. Each five-day workshop is being offered for free through a completive scholarship application process.

Contemporary CraftThe first workshop, Art and Nature, is scheduled for July 29-August 2, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Phipps Conservancy.  Students will delve into topics of sustainability and urban wildlife at the Conservatory and then try paper making, collage, book arts, and block printing with the guidance of experienced artists.

The second workshop, Fire and Form: Ceramics, is scheduled for August 5-9, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Ton Pottery in Millvale. Students will work with clay, learn wheel-throwing, hand-building, and surface decoration techniques from multiple ceramic artists at Ton Pottery.

Interested students and their parents can apply by clicking here or visiting http://bit.ly/2019-youth-apprenticeship.  Applications must be completed no later than April 15 and awardees will be notified by May 5.  For more information on Contemporary Craft’s Youth Arts Apprenticeship, please email Jhenny Adams at thestudio@contemporarycraft.org or call 412-261-7003.

Ohio Valley Hospital’s Diabetes Day

Ohio Valley HospitalOhio Valley Hospital is hosting their 11th annual Diabetes Day, located in the School of Nursing Auditorium at the hospital on 25 Heckel Road in Kennedy Township this Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  The event will provide attendees the ABC’s of Free Testing: A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Cooking demonstrations and expert lectures will also be featured, and guests can receive free samples and visit with vendors.  Free parking will be provided.  For more information please call 412-771-6205.

Toast of the Rox

Toast of the RoxThe Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary Club is hosting their annual Toast of the Rox, Sunday, March 31 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. The community French toast breakfast will be held at the Kenendy Township Fire Hall, located at 1769 Pine Hollow Road. A ticket includes one all-you-can-eat breakfast.  There will also be a cash bar. 

Tickets can be purchased at Nationwide Insurance in Kenmawr Plaza in Kennedy Township.  More information is available by calling 412-771-6781.  All proceeds benefit the Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary community charity organizations.

Fontana Fact

Tomorrow at 5:58 p.m. marks the beginning of Spring with the vernal equinox. The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night). The March full Moon will also occur tomorrow, March 20, marking the first time since March 20, 1981 that the full Moon and the vernal equinox coincided on the same date.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
1039 Brookline Boulevard
Suite 2
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
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
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – First Tuesday of each month or by appointment