As Vice-Chair of PHEAA, Senator Fontana spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony on November 14th
marking the official opening of the new PHEAA Customer Service Center in Green Tree. The new facility will eventually employ 150 full-time workers. Pictured above are: Green Tree Mayor C.F. Hammer; Green Tree Council President Mark Sampogna; Representative Dan Deasy; PHEAA Board Member Timothy Thyreen;
Representative Dan Miller; Senator Matt Smith; Senator Jim Brewster; Senator Tim Solobay;
Senator Fontana; and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
PHEAA Call Center Opens in Green Tree
As the Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), I was pleased to announce in June the opening of a new PHEAA Customer Service Center in Green Tree. Last week the facility, located at 11 Parkway Center officially opened its doors. When fully staffed, this new facility will employ 150 full-time customer service representatives. These are sustainable jobs with access to employment benefits. These jobs are a significant achievement that will have long-term benefits for families and our economy.
The collective message I hear every day from constituents is the need for jobs. One of our most important roles as elected officials is connecting our constituents with the opportunities for good, family-sustaining jobs and I am proud to have worked with PHEAA in bringing a job creator to Allegheny County.
In order to provide opportunities for employment and to fully staff this new Customer Service Center, PHEAA will continue to hold job recruitment events in the area. The next PHEAA recruitment event is scheduled for December 11th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Allegheny County Career Link Center downtown location, located on the 22nd Floor at 425 6th Avenue. If you’re interested in working at this new facility, I encourage you to attend this recruitment event. You can also visit www.pheaa.org/jobs to learn more about available positions.
PHEAA’s customer service representatives are among the most highly-trained in the student aid industry. The first group of Parkway Center-based customer service representatives began training in September. PHEAA expects to train an average of 42 new employees every eight weeks until it reaches the facility’s 150-person capacity. Employees receive a paid eight-week training program prior to working directly with student loan borrowers to help them manage their student loan debt successfully.
PHEAA is a self-sufficient state agency – free of administrative support from the Commonwealth, which has saved taxpayers billions of dollars over the years. PHEAA’s combined student loan servicing operations help more than 12 million borrowers manage their student loan debt in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. PHEAA uses its business earnings to support its public service mission and to pay its operating costs, including the operation of this new facility and the administration of the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, and other state-funded student aid programs. Additionally, PHEAA contributed $75 million of its earnings to supplement the State Grant Program, $10 million to fund additional grants through a Distance Education Pilot Program, and $5 million to fund the Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP) in the 2013-14 academic year.
I am appreciative of the long-term investment PHEAA is making in our community and am excited this new Customer Service Center is operating in Green Tree. This facility is a win for PHEAA, for the residents of Green Tree and Allegheny County, and for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Town Hall Meeting
I want to remind everyone of the Town Hall Meeting scheduled for this Thursday, November 21st to discuss Highmark’s acquisition of West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS). The town hall meeting is being hosted jointly with myself and Senator Jim Ferlo and Senator Jay Costa. The meeting is being held at the Teamsters Temple, located at 4701 Butler Street in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood and will run from 6 – 8 p.m.
Representatives from both Highmark and WPAHS will be present to update attendees on the progress being made towards the creation of the Allegheny Health Network and will allow everyone to better understand the conditions of approval set forth by the PA Insurance Department on Highmark’s acquisition of WPAHS.
The process in obtaining approval from the Insurance Department of the partnership between Highmark and WPAHS has faced many hurdles and has taken many twists and turns. Throughout this process, I have repeatedly expressed my support of this partnership and continue to remain optimistic that it will result in a more accessible, thriving health care market for all of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Patients and consumers deserve high quality choices in satisfying their health care needs and this partnership provides increased choice. As a whole, heath care is a major economic driver in our region and has attracted individuals and families to our region who in turn have invested back into our communities. A strong Allegheny Health Network only enhances the economic outlook for the region and directly impacts employees, consumers, and the many related industries associated with health care.
Please join us on November 21st to learn more about this partnership and what these officials are doing to ensure the Allegheny Health Network is successful in providing a high quality option for consumers.
Violence Not the Answer
I was saddened to hear of the horrific event that took place near Brashear High School last week involving the shooting of three young students after they had left school for the day. We all must continue to preach, teach, and influence our young people to embrace the fact that violence is not the answer to any problem, especially gun violence. I commend the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County response teams for their quick actions to ensure the safety of the community and for their quick arrest of the suspected perpetrator. I also commend the school’s administration and teachers for their actions to keep the students remaining in the school safe and calm after the crime had taken place near the Brashear campus. I extend my best wishes for a full recovery to the victims. I also extend my best wishes to all students and their families, that they are able to receive a quality education and enjoy attending school without the threat of violence.
LIHEAP Program is Open
I want to remind constituents that this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now open and the PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW) is accepting applications. 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 DPW’s LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to one of the Allegheny County Assistance Offices.
Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits this season are as follows:
AAfter your application is reviewed, 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 are credited to your account. For more information, or if you have questions about the program, please call the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) offers free assistance to homeowners who live in fear of foreclosure. The Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Initiative helps interested homeowners save their homes by offering expert housing counselors to review homeowners' situations and help identify potential options. If you’re a homeowner and have a mortgage in default or in danger of default, you may contact the Advantage Credit Counseling Service at 1-888-511-2227 or NeighborWorks of Western Pennsylvania at 412-281-9773 to schedule a free foreclosure counseling session. More information on this program is available at www.phfa.org.
PennDOT Public Meeting
Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are hosting a Noise Abatement Public Meeting on November 20th. The meeting will identify the proposed height, length and location of the noise barrier wall under consideration near the Carnegie exit and I-79 interchange along Route 376. The project team will be available to provide more information, gather feedback and answer questions. The meeting is being held at Carlynton High School, located at 435 Kings Highway, from 5:30 - 7 p.m
Preventing Home Fires
As we begin preparing for cold weather and people begin spending more time in their homes, the PA Insurance Department is suggesting ways for residents to prevent home fires.
- Portable, electric space heaters need three feet of clear space in all directions and should be kept away from draperies, furniture, bedspreads, people and pets
- Central heating equipment should be professionally inspected and serviced each heating season
- Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned annually if logs are burned in a fireplace
- If you have to leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the burner
- For smokers, make sure cigarettes are doused with water before they are thrown away to ensure they are completely extinguished
- Replace electrical cords that have become frayed or cracked
- Do not overload circuits
- Test your smoke alarm to make sure the battery works. Batteries should be replaced once a year and new smoke alarms should be installed every ten years.
Did You Know…
Did you know that deaths from fires and burns are the third-leading cause of fatal homes injuries?
Football Officials Raising Funds for Students
The Greater Pittsburgh Football Officials Association is hosting a fundraiser to support the Harry Quinn-Ralph Schorr Memorial Scholarship this Saturday, November 23rd at the Kennedy Township Fire Hall, located at 1796 Pine Hollow Road. Doors open at 6 p.m. The Scholarship is a way for local football officials to give back to the students and schools they service. Over the last ten years, nearly $35,000 in scholarships has been awarded to many schools throughout the area. For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please contact GPFOA Board Member Joe Kulik at 412-787-5422.
Brookline Business Feature
This week’s featured Brookline business is Cuts and Styles, located at 748 Brookline Boulevard. Cuts and Styles has been on the Boulevard since 1999 and is owned by Linda Mierzwa. They offer a variety of services for both women and men including hair coloring and highlights, styling and haircuts. They also provide body and facial waxing and ear coning as well as the selling of retail products. Refreshments are available to all patrons. Hours are generally 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Friday and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday although additional hours are available by request. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about Cuts and Styles, please call Linda at 412-969-4630. Please remember to support local merchants during the Brookline Boulevard Streetscape Project and remember:
Brookline is Open for Business!
As a sign that winter is fast approaching, the fountain at Point State Park was turned off on November 1st in order for the fountain’s winterization process to begin. The fountain will be turned back on sometime during the spring months of 2014 depending on the weather. The fountain holds about 800,000 gallons of water and its main water column can reach 150 feet. More than three million people visit the 36-acre Point State Park each year.
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
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216