Senator Yudichak and Representatives Mullery and Toohil Announce Over $11 Million Dollars in Funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority

Jim Thorpe, January 31, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon), State Representative Gerald Mullery (D – Luzerne), and State Representative Tarah Toohil (R – Luzerne) announced today that the Greater Hazleton Joint Sewer Authority (GHJSA) will receive $11.4 million dollars in funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). A PENNVEST grant of $8.986 million was secured for the project, while $2.425 million will come from a low interest loan. The project is expected to create 20 new construction jobs in the region.

The $11.4 million dollars in funding will help the GHJSA complete its Sewage Sludge Incinerator Project. The purpose of the project is to provide a long-term disposal method for the authority’s sewage sludge, which is a by-product of wastewater treatment. The incinerator will provide a greater than 90 percent reduction of waste material currently being sent to landfills for disposal.

“With the state’s investment, the Greater Hazleton Joint Sewer Authority will now be able to make the necessary infrastructure improvements to its plant,” said Senator Yudichak. “The continued support of infrastructure projects like this one is important to advancing economic development in our region and delivering quality services to our residents.”

It is expected that several businesses will be able to expand their operations and hire additional employees. A total of over 300 jobs will be created and retained through this project with over $28 million invested locally.

“This vital state funding will help to create a more efficient disposal method for the Greater Hazleton Joint Sewer Authority’s sewage sludge, which is key to the wastewater treatment process” said Representative Mullery. “The funding will also aid the GHJSA in completing this project, while minimizing the financial impact on its customers.”

“We are extremely pleased that the Sewer Authority has been awarded these monies which will allow them to continue much needed improvements and forward-thinking changes,” said Representative Toohil. “The Sewer Authority is making advancements that are environmentally friendly and help reduce the high amount of waste material that currently needs to be disposed of in a more costly manner to landfills.”

“This funding from PENNVEST will help us to complete this crucial project and allows us to re-work the projections on a pending rate increase resulting in a lower increase for our 19,500 customers,” said Christopher Carsia, GHJSA Director of Operations. “On behalf of our Board of Directors, I personally want to thank our local legislators for helping us to secure this funding.”

PENNVEST was founded on March 1, 1988 and services the communities and citizens of Pennsylvania by funding sewer, storm water and drinking water projects.

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Heffley and Yudichak Announce Over $285,000 in Grants to Emergency Responders in Carbon County

HARRISBURG – January 30, 2018 – Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today announced that over $285,000 in funding has been awarded to 25 fire and emergency services organizations in Carbon County.

The funding is part of an ongoing grant program created by the Legislature and administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of the State Fire Commissioner. Fire and emergency services organizations use the funds for construction or renovation of a fire or ambulance company facility, purchase or repair of equipment, training, or reduction of existing debt.

“I applaud our local fire and emergency services companies that took advantage of this great program,” said Heffley. “These volunteers provide life-saving efforts across our communities, and I am pleased to see state resources returning to Carbon County for investment in fire and emergency service companies.”

“The state’s investment in our emergency personnel and volunteer fire companies is vital to the safety of our communities and its residents,” said Yudichak. “The risks that these men and women take on a daily basis do not go unnoticed, and this funding will help our local organizations provide their emergency personnel and volunteer fire companies with the necessary resources.”

For legislative updates, please visit www.RepHeffley.com and www.SenatorYudichak.com.

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Senator Yudichak Legislation on Performance Review of Environmental Permitting Programs Approved by Senate Committee

Harrisburg, January 30, 2018 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Resolution 226 was approved unanimously by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today. 

The resolution requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to conduct a comprehensive performance evaluation of two of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) largest, most widely used permitting programs.  Specifically, LBFC must study the Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control and Water Obstruction and Encroachment programs and to submit a report containing an analysis and recommendations to the Senate within one year.

“Democrats and Republicans, as well as business leaders and environmental groups, can all agree that DEP’s permitting must improve if we are to continue creating jobs and protecting the environment,” said State Senator John Yudichak.  “With DEP staffing levels at historic lows and turnaround times frustratingly long, Senate Resolution 226 will provide us the necessary baseline data to improve the efficiency of DEP’s environmental permitting process.”

Senate Resolution 226 is supported by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, UGI, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and PennFuture.

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Senate Committee Approves Bipartisan Legislation on Prison Closings

HARRISBURG – January 29, 2018  – Today, the Senate State Government Committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation reforming possible state prison closures in Pennsylvania.

On January 6, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections publicly announced the closures of two of five selected state correctional institutions located across the state. A final decision for closures was set for January 26, 2017, leaving only twenty days to gather feedback from parties directly affected by these closings, including the institutions’ workforce, local governments and elected officials.

Senate Bill 748 establishes the Public Safety Facilities Act which ensures there is adequate notice and consideration of any proposed state correctional institution closures, as well as other structures that employ law enforcement staff. The bill requires specific notification requirements and the development of comprehensive strategies to minimize undue stress on employees and local communities. The bill is modeled after a law passed in New York regarding a similar debate.

The prime sponsor of the bill, Senator David G. Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), mentioned his disappointment and concern when SCI Frackville was on the list of potential closures. “When we heard the department’s announcement, our county delegation, state representatives, and senators in the area joined together to make the bipartisan case that closing this institution was not only unjustifiable, but it would have an adverse effect both financially and on the public safety of the community and its residents,” Argall said.

Argall also noted that many local residents reached out to them to voice their concerns about the negative impact the closure would personally have on them. A petition which urged the governor and Secretary Wetzel to keep the facility opened was signed by 5,670 local residents.

Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), both co-sponsors of Senate Bill 748, also fought to save correctional facilities in their areas that faced the potential threat of closing. SCI Retreat is located in Senator Yudichak’s district and SCI Waymart is located in Senator Baker’s district.

While all three state correctional facilities remain open, future prison closures across the state remain possible. Argall believes that with the committee’s passage of Senate Bill 748, the process for prison closures can be better streamlined. “Senate Bill 748 allows local residents to be a part of the decision-making process and helps local officials, as well as the Department of Corrections, to comprehensively identify the potential impact that closing a state correctional facility would have on our communities.”

Senator Yudichak praised the committee’s passage of this important initiative. “Empowering citizens to have their voices heard in Harrisburg is always a good idea, and Senate Bill 748 simply ensures the voice of local citizens is heard before a state prison is closed in their community,” said Yudichak.

Senator Baker noted the importance of creating open dialogue between state facilities and local communities. “Wherever state facilities are located, an immensely important economic relationship is developed with local communities. If the necessity arises for changing that relationship, it should result from an open and extensive discussion with the affected communities,” stated Baker. “There is not a set of circumstances to justify using state facilities as political or budgetary leverage. This measure establishes a thoughtful and deliberative process.”

Other co-sponsors of Senate Bill 748 are: Senator John Blake (D-22); Senator Jay Costa (D-43); Senator Kim Ward (R-39); Senator John Rafferty (R-44); Senator John Gordner (R-27); Senator Wayne Fontana (D-42); and Senator Michele Brooks (R-50).

The bill will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

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Senator Yudichak Hosts Press Conference to Commemorate the One Year Anniversary of Governor Wolf Announcing Three Northeastern Pennsylvania Prisons Would Remain Open

Nanticoke, January 25, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) hosted a press conference today at Morris Family Restaurant commemorating the one-year anniversary of Governor Tom Wolf announcing that three northeastern Pennsylvania prisons (SCI-Retreat, SCI- Frackville, and SCI-Waymart) would remain open.

“Last January, northeastern Pennsylvania was blindsided by the announcement that SCI-Retreat, SCI-Waymart, and SCI-Frackville faced possible closure and the loss of over 1,500 family sustaining jobs,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

“I am proud of how northeastern Pennsylvania stood strong in the face of adversity, and I thank Governor Wolf for listening to the people of northeastern Pennsylvania who fought to save their prisons and their communities,” added Senator Yudichak.

On January 6, 2017, the Department of Corrections (DOC) announced that they would close two prisons from a short list of five and that a decision on which prisons to close would come on January 26. Ultimately, only one prison, SCI-Pittsburgh, was selected to close by the DOC.

After the announcement, a group of bipartisan legislators worked with community leaders to introduce legislation (SB 748/HB 1606) which establishes a clear process before facilities may be closed. While that legislation remains in committee, a similar provision was successfully added to budget-related legislation to require DOC to hold at least one public hearing at least 30 days prior to a closure in Fiscal Year 2017-2018.

“A closure of SCI-Retreat, SCI-Frackville, and SCI-Waymart would have had a devastating economic impact to northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119). “I was proud of how we all came together with one voice to protect our jobs and our communities from any closures, and I echo Senator Yudichak’s statement that we need to pass legislation that will help alleviate the stresses that are caused when an announcement is made to close a state police barracks or state correctional institution,” added Representative Gerald Mullery.

At today’s press conference, Voices of J.O.E. President Don Williams, whose son was killed in the line of duty as a correctional officer at U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan in 2013, and Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis expressed serious reservations about overcrowding at other facilities and the impact of closures on the safety of correctional officers.

Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri and Paul Czapracki, Newport Township President of the Board of Commissioners also attended the hearing as did Dr. Ronald Grevera, Superintendent of the Greater Nanticoke Area School District. In Luzerne County and Newport Township, a closure of SCI-Retreat alone may have amounted to a $57.3 million hit to the economy. The Greater Nanticoke Area School District similarly estimated the impact of proposed closure on the school district at $1.6 million in lost revenue.

The press conference also featured Mark Truszkowski of PSCOA and Katy Scott, a spouse of an SCI-Retreat employee, who conveyed the devastating impact of the proposed closures on employees and their families.

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Media Advisory: Sen. Yudichak to Host a Press Conference on the Fight for Family Sustaining Jobs

January 24, 2017 – Senator Yudichak will host “The Fight for Family Sustaining Jobs” press conference with Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119) to recognize the work of community leaders and PA DOC employees who rallied to save three northeastern Pennsylvania prisons (SCI- Retreat, SCI-Frackville, SCI-Waymart) from closure. They will also thank Governor Tom Wolf for listening to the voices in our community who fought to keep over 1,000 family sustaining jobs in NEPA, and report on the progress of legislation requiring at least one public hearing before a state prison can be closed.

WHO:  State Senator John Yudichak (D-14), Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119), Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri, Voices of Joe Founder Don Williams, and others impacted by last year’s proposed prison closures.

WHAT: Senator Yudichak will host The Fight for Family Sustaining Jobs” press conference with Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119) to recognize the work of community leaders and PA DOC employees who rallied to save three northeastern Pennsylvania prisons (SCI- Retreat, SCI-Frackville, SCI-Waymart) from closure. They will also thank Governor Tom Wolf for listening to the voices in our community who fought to keep over 1,000 family sustaining jobs in NEPA, and report on the progress of legislation requiring at least one public hearing before a state prison can be closed.

WHERE:    Morris Family Restaurant | 72 East Poplar Street | West Nanticoke, PA 18634
                       There is parking in the back of the building.

WHEN:        Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.

Senator Yudichak and Representative Heffley Announce Over $700,000 in Funding for the Commonwealth Financing Authority

Jim Thorpe, January 23, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced today that nine Carbon County projects will receive $797,458 in funding through the Monroe County Local Share Account from the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“The funding announced today will help our local communities complete important infrastructure and safety projects throughout Carbon County,” said Senator Yudichak. “The state’s investment in these projects ensures continued development and progress for the region and most importantly an enhanced quality of life for each resident in Carbon County.”

“These worthwhile projects assist Carbon County fire companies, first responders and local governments,” said Heffley. “I am pleased to work alongside Sen. Yudichak to ensure these state funds are awarded to worthy development initiatives that will improve our communities.”

The following projects in Carbon County were approved for funding:

  • Carbon County will receive $200,000 in funding for Phase 1B in the construction process of the Carbon County Emergency and Operations Center. Phase 1B is the construction of a fire tower, which will be utilized by Carbon County fire departments for training purposes.
  • The Borough of Beaver Meadows will receive $167,500 on behalf of the Carbon County Council of Governments. The funding will be used to purchase an Elgin Whirlwind Street Sweeper. The street sweeper will be shared between all member municipalities in the CCCOG.
  • The Borough of Nesquehoning will receive $166,053 in funding on behalf of the Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1. The funding will be used to complete a renovation project on the Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1 firehouse.
  • Franklin Township will receive $150,000 in funding on behalf of the Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company. The funding will be used to complete a renovation project on the Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company’s firehouse.
  • The Borough of Lansford will receive $35,000 in funding to help with the reconstruction of the Lansford Pool.
  • Banks Township will receive $34,300 in funding on behalf of the Tresckow Fire Department. The funding will be used to make ADA and HVAC renovations to the Tresckow Fire Department’s social hall, which hosts the community’s major events and meetings.
  • The Carbon County Chamber and Economic Development Corp. will receive $21,618 in funding on behalf of the Lehighton Area Library. The funding will help complete an abatement and renovation project.
  • Penn Forest Township will receive $20,000 in funding on behalf of the Penn Forest Township Fire Company No. 1. The funding will be used to help purchase and install a new electric sign outside its facility.
  • The Carbon County Chamber and Economic Development Corp. will receive $2,987 in funding on behalf of the Carbon County Community Foundation.

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Senator Yudichak and Representative Mullery Announce Exit 2 Opening of the South Valley Parkway

Nanticoke, January 22, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119) announced the opening of Exit 2 of the South Valley Parkway today.

“The opening of Exit 2 of the South Valley Parkway represents a significant milestone for this historic infrastructure investment,” said Senator Yudichak. “The communities that represent the South Valley are already reaping the economic development and job creation benefits that are associated with the South Valley Parkway. National developers like NorthPoint Development and local companies like Colours, Inc. have invested millions of dollars in the footprint of the South Valley Parkway, creating thousands of jobs in the process,” added Senator Yudichak

The $83.7 million South Valley Parkway is a 3.6-mile roadway that will connect the people and commerce of Wilkes-Barre, Hanover, Nanticoke and Newport Township. PennDOT broke ground on the South Valley Parkway in January 2016.

“As we open Exit 2 of the South Valley Parkway, we are ahead of schedule on this project and we remain on budget. We anticipate that 70 percent of the project will open over two years ahead of schedule,” said James May, District Press Officer for PennDOT.

In 2016, Northpoint Development, a privately held development firm and the largest private landlord in the US, with over $3.2 billion in assets managed, purchased 172 acres of reclaimed land along the South Valley Parkway from the Earth Conservancy. Over 2 million square feet of prime logistics space has been erected on this site and Chewy.com, an online pet retailer is the first tenant of the site.

“One of the reasons NorthPoint Development chose to invest over $100 million in the South Valley was due to the construction of the Parkway and the access it provides to the I-81 corridor. Companies like Chewy.com and other industry leaders are lining up to leverage the access that the Parkway and corridor offers to markets up and down the East Coast,” said Brent Miles, Vice President of Economic Development, NorthPoint Development.

When finished, the South Valley Parkway will include a complete reconstruction of the Route 29 Exit 2 interchange which will ease congestion issues on Middle Road and provide better access to the region’s largest higher education institute, the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC).  

“The South Valley Parkway will divert traffic from Middle Road and provide a safer, more livable space for homeowners in the villages of Askam and lower Askam and a safer commute for students and staff at LCCC. Providing a better traffic flow will result in a long-term investment and will create opportunities for development in our region,” said State Representative Gerald Mullery.

The South Valley Parkway is expected to be open it its entirety in 2019.

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Senator Yudichak Celebrates the Grand Opening of the Hanover Township Fire Headquarters

HANOVER TOWNSHIP, January 20, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) joined state, local, and federal officials at the grand opening of the $3 million Hanover Township Fire Headquarters today.

“Today’s opening of the new fire headquarters represents municipal cooperation at its finest,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “The Hanover Township Fire Department, led by Chief Temarantz, and the Hanover Township Board of Commissioners have always had a shared vision to think regionally and deliver quality local services,” added Senator John Yudichak.

Hanover Township is considered a single fire district with five stations. In 2012, the district bought the former Square H Lumber Yard on the Sans Souci Parkway to consolidate stations. With the opening of the new headquarters, stations at Lee Park, Breslau, Hanover Green and Preston will all be incorporated into the new Sans Souci headquarters. The Newport station will remain open.

“As we officially open the fire headquarters today, we not only celebrate the past histories of these stations, but also look to the future — a future that has been made possible because of years of hard work and dedication from many people to see this project through,” said Hanover Township Fire Chief Joe Temarantz.

In 2013, Hanover Township received a $1 million Local Share Account (LSA) grant that was secured with the assistance of Senator Yudichak, Representative Gerald Mullery, and Representative Eddie Day Pashinski for the headquarters. The township also secured a $2 million construction loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cover the remainder of the cost of the building.

“The decision to consolidate these fire stations into one fire headquarters was in the best interest for our township and area residents. The new facility not only allows the Hanover Township Fire Department to respond to calls in a more efficient manner, but it also provides state of the art facilities for our brave men and women who are answering those calls,” said Russell P. Davis, Chairman of the Hanover Township Board of Commissioners.

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Senator Yudichak’s Statement on Northpoint Development securing Adidas and Patagonia as tenants at the Hanover Ridge Trade Center

Harrisburg, January 11, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement today in response to the news that Northpoint Development has secured Adidas and Patagonia as new tenants at the Hanover Ridge Trade Center:

“The announcement that Adidas and Patagonia will complete the build out of the Hanover Ridge Trade Center culminates one of Pennsylvania’s biggest economic success stories from reclaiming abandoned mine lands to the creation of 3,000 new jobs,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

“Northpoint Development should be applauded for their private investment of $200 million and for their partnership with local governments in the South Valley and Luzerne County in securing three nationally recognized corporations to the Hanover Ridge Trade Center. Private investment leveraged with smart public investments like the $84 million South Valley Parkway is a proven driver of economic development. Northpoint Development’s blueprint for economic success should be replicated as we continue our work to create jobs in northeastern Pennsylvania,” said State Senator John Yudicak.

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