Summit Hill, April 29, 2017 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) commemorated the start of the Phillip Ginder Field Rehabilitation Project during a groundbreaking ceremony this morning in Summit Hill, Carbon County.
Phase I and II of the project received $80,000 in grants from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (“DCNR”) Community Conservation Partnerships Program. The project’s remaining budget has been matched with funds provided by Summit Hill Borough and private donations. The renovations include a volleyball court, two horseshoe pits, and a bocce alley as well as new perimeter fencing to increase security. After the project is completed, Ginder Field will be safe and accessible pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities (“ADA”) Act.
The Summit Hill Recreation Commission (“SHRC”) was the driving force behind this project as well as other renovations in the community, including a planned third phase of the Ginder Field Rehabilitation Project. The SHRC is dedicated to providing Summit Hill youth with a variety of safe recreational venues to play and exercise.
“Recreational opportunities are the lifeblood of a strong community,” said Senator Yudichak. “Just like the memory of its namesake—Phillip Ginder, who first discovered anthracite coal in 1791—so too will this park outlast us all and remain the pride of the community for generations.”
“The Borough of Summit Hill and the Summit Hill Recreation Commission is beyond grateful for the support we have received on both the state and local level for this project, “said SHRC President Jodi McAndrew. “With this funding we will be able to provide a safe and updated recreational hub for the residents and the visitors of Summit Hill and the Panther Valley region.”
Eventually, the Ginder Field Recreation area will serve over 12,000 residents in the Panther Valley region.
Harrisburg, April 25, 2017— Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Resolution 33 (SR 33)—which would create a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem—was approved unanimously today by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. SR 33 now goes to a vote of the full Senate.
The resolution calls for the Senate to establish a task force on lead exposure comprised of the chairs of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee and two members appointed by the Senate President pro tempore and the Minority Leader.
It also calls for the Joint State Government Commission to convene an advisory committee, which will include the Secretaries of Health, Environmental Protection, and Labor and Industry as well as the chair of the Public Utility Commission. The Physician General and two medical professionals with expertise in pediatric care and lead poisoning will also be appointed to the advisory committee. Representatives of municipal water authorities, rural water companies, water utilities incorporated in Pennsylvania, urban and rural school districts, a local health official, and the executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania will assist with a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania law and public policy on lead abatement and exposure.
Within 18-months, the Joint State Government Commission must submit a report to the Senate detailing recommendations to amend existing laws or regulations or enact new legislation that will reduce the risk of lead contamination in Pennsylvania. The report must assess the age of housing and infrastructure, lead exposure threats, and identify the prevalence of lead in structures where children spend significant time.
“The Senate Lead Task Force will marshal the resources of medical professionals, industry leaders, and cabinet officials to provide the Senate with expert recommendations so that we can act quickly and efficiently to reduce the risk of lead exposure in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Yudichak. “It is inexcusable for any Pennsylvanian to fear that their health or their family’s health could be jeopardized because of ineffective lead polices or sufficient lead abatement programs.”
Op-Ed by State Senator John Yudichak
Since its creation in 1999, Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 80,000 acres of threatened open space, and restored hundreds of miles of streams and waterways.
Statewide, the program has also protected more than 78,000 acres of farmland, restored more than 1,600 acres of abandoned mine land, and helped reduce flooding and water pollution through 400 watershed protection projects and more than 100 drinking and wastewater treatment improvements.
In Carbon and Luzerne Counties, the Growing Greener program has enhanced our communities through a vast range of investments from improving water quality in our watersheds, reclaiming acres of abandoned mine land and expanding tourist and recreational opportunities. In Carbon County, the historic Delaware and Lehigh Trail is a central part of the heritage tourism industry in northeastern Pennsylvania. In Luzerne County, non-profit organizations like the Earth Conservancy, have partnered with Pennsylvania to transform thousands of acres of mine-scarred land into new recreational and economic opportunities.
Continued investments in improving our environment are critical to our quality of life in northeastern Pennsylvania, and set the stage to invest in both community and economic development. Growing Greener must continue to deliver strategic and common-sense aid within our communities to support beautification, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth.
Yet, despite the program’s proven track record of success, the need remains greater than ever. Local communities will soon be tackling significant stormwater infrastructure upgrades, with little availability of state aid. Thousands of miles of streams and rivers are impaired, thousands of acres of abandoned mine land remain untouched, and miles of trails require upgrades.
Working with a broad coalition of environmental and economic development groups, I am supporting bipartisan legislation, to be introduced by State Senator Tom Killion, that provides renewed investment in our Growing Greener program.
We can keep Pennsylvania growing greener by investing in a time-tested and result-producing program, like Growing Greener, that will allow us to continue protecting our natural resources, boost economic growth in local communities, and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
Nanticoke, April 21, 2017 – State Senator John T. Yudichak (Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) awarded two grants—one each in Carbon and Luzerne counties— through the Environmental Education Grant Program. In total, DEP awarded $6,000 in grants.
The Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that five percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by DEP be set aside for environmental education. Since the inception of the environmental education grant program, DEP has awarded more than $10 million in grants to support environmental education efforts throughout Pennsylvania.
“Environmental literacy is crucial if we have any hope of preserving the natural beauty of Pennsylvania, curbing pollution of our streams and rivers, and protecting wildlife,” said Senator Yudichak. “These education grants will raise awareness and help train both children and adults in vital environmental conservation efforts.”
In Luzerne County, the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (“EPCAMR”) will receive $3,000 in funding for the Plains-Solomon Township Abandoned Mine Drainage Education Project.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to get students outside of the classroom and out in the environment in their own backyard to have them actively take part in the water quality monitoring of the abandoned mine drainage at the Plainsville Borehole site,” said Robert Hughes, Executive Director of EPCAMR. “These students will be asked to think critically about water pollution and its impacts on the environment, wildlife, the fishery, and the surrounding communities.”
In Carbon County, the Schuylkill Headwaters Association will receive $3,000 in funding to help complete the Legacy Anthracite Coal Mining Awareness and Remediation Tour.
“The tour will help people understand our coal mining heritage because you need to experience it in order to properly understand our past,” said President of Schuylkill Headwaters William Reichert. “We want to show our residents what a coal mine actually looks like and the treatment measures and treatment systems we have installed to help with the abatement of acid mine drainage.”
Newport Township, April 12, 2017 — Newport Township broke ground today on its Public Works Co-Op facility that will house a variety of maintenance equipment and other vehicles that will also be shared by the Lower South Valley Council of Governments (“COG”), which includes Newport, Hanover, and Plymouth Townships as well as Ashley Borough, Sugar Notch Borough and the City of Nanticoke.
The facility will be completed and operational later this year. It was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Local Share Assessment (“LSA”).
“Newport Township’s public works facility will be state-of-the-art,” said Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). “Today, we mark the beginning of a new opportunity to foster municipal cooperation and improve public works services to all residents served by the Lower South Valley Council of Governments.”
In 2016, the Lower South Valley COG purchased more than $500,000 of maintenance equipment including a roller and paver with an LSA grant. Since its inception, the Lower South Valley COG has secured almost $1 million in LSA grants.
“Building a public works facility is not a glamorous investment, but it is a critical upgrade to our Public Works Department,” said Newport Township Manager Peter Wanchisen. “The Co-Op Public Works facility will extend the useful life of this equipment so that it can be used by all communities in the Lower South Valley COG for years to come.”
“This is a great example of the importance of the Local Share Assessment program, because it is difficult to find grant programs that will allow communities to purchase maintenance equipment and construct public works facilities that they sorely need,” said Representative Gerald Mullery (D-Newport Township).
“The Lower South Valley COG continues to build momentum,” said Sam Guesto, Chairman of the Lower South Valley COG and Hanover Township Manager. “With strong member participation, we can provide high-quality services to thousands of residents that would rival some of the larger communities in northeastern Pennsylvania such as Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre.”
JIM THORPE, April 5, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) participated in a groundbreaking ceremony today for a new pedestrian bridge along the Delaware & Lehigh (“D&L”) National Heritage Corridor Trail that will connect Jim Thorpe to the Weissport section of Carbon County.
The project will cost an estimated $3.3 million including $2 million from the Transportation Alternative Program and a $1 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration which is administered by PennDOT. The pedestrian bridge, that will span the Lehigh River, is expected to be completed by November of 2017.
“Northeastern Pennsylvania’s scenic mountains, forests, and rivers will now have greater connectivity to the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor that attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors to our region each year,” said Senator Yudichak.
The D&L trail extends nearly uninterrupted from Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County to Easton in Northampton County. In the last few years, several projects have been completed or commenced to unify the trail including the Middleburg Road Crossing Project— which upgraded the Black Diamond section of the trail—as well as the Carbon and Lehigh Valley Connectivity Projects.
“The Jim Thorpe pedestrian bridge is one of the most significant projects in the trail’s history,” said Senator Yudichak. “The bridge will connect the D&L trail to historic downtown Jim Thorpe and greatly enhance the growing tourism economy in Carbon County.”
Senator Yudichak also noted that the D&L trail generates nearly $240 million for the local economy, helps attract more than 25.6 million people to the Pocono Mountains region every year, and supports 3,323 jobs.
“This is the kind of good stuff that happens when people work together. The long awaited Carbon County pedestrian bridge will connect the northern section of the D&L Trail to the Lehigh Valley and beyond,” said D&L National Heritage Corridor Executive Director Elissa Garofalo. “It wouldn’t be possible without support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through PennDOT, DCNR and the State Legislature.”