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Sen. Yudichak Reports

Pennsylvania Report: The State Budget

PA Report

Major Funding Announced For Luzerne County SHINE

Senator Yudichak remarks on the Funding Announcement for the Luzerne County SHINE Program :: August 24, 2015
PA Report - SHINE Program

In August Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th), and I joined Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy, and officials from the leading philanthropic organizations in Luzerne County to announce more than $1 Million dollars in funding for the Luzerne County SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) afters-chool program.  Dozens of students, parents and community leaders were also part of the announcement at the Heights Murray Elementary School in Wilkes-Barre.

The announcement included grants of $831,454 from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (Luzerne County LSA), $50,000 from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, $160,000 ($80,000 a year for 2 years) from the United Way of Wyoming Valley, and $10,000 ($5,000 a year for 2 years) from the Greater Hazleton United Way.

We cannot expect our schools or our children to achieve and our communities to improve if we don’t provide the necessary resources.  Luzerne County SHINE is the resource that can make a difference in outcomes of our schools, in the lives of our children and in the future of our region.

PA Report - SHINE Program

Luzerne County SHINE begins this Fall in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Hazleton Area, Hanover Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts. The program will reach 500 students in the first year; 800 students in the second year; and over 1,000 students in the third year of operation. The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum.  Relying heavily on a STEAM core, SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation.

Luzerne County SHINE is the latest program under Operation Gang Up, a bipartisan initiative Congressman Lou Barletta and I founded in 2011 to address gang activity in our region. Operation Gang UP has produced PA’s first anti-gang law, the nation’s first Attorney General Mobile Street Crime Unit and now Luzerne County SHINE.

Nanticoke Exits Act 47 Distressed Status

Senator Yudichak shakes hands with DCED Secretary Dennis Davin after the announcement of Nanticoke coming out of Act 47 distressed status.

Nanticoke is the first city in the history of PA to come out of Act 47 distressed status.  I was with Secretary Dennis Davin of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) when he visited city hall to mark the historic accomplishment.

DCED and the Pennsylvania Economy League were fierce advocates for Nanticoke's recovery providing the necessary professional guidance and resources to get the City on solid fiscal ground.

I want to acknowledge the local political leaders in Nanticoke who made some very tough, tough decisions in tackling a $2.4 million budget deficit that was spinning the city into a financial crisis.

It would be impressive enough if the city was able to erase a $2.4 million deficit and exit Act 47, but while the City was working through its financial recovery plan it has also been attracting investors to the City.  In the past decade, the City has seen a $30 million investment in its downtown with projects like the LCCC Culinary Arts Institute, the LCCC Health Science Center, Geisinger Health System, Commonwealth Health, Allied Services, Tommy Boys, Coffee's Coffee and Weis Markets.

Freeland Water Project Protects & Retains 400 Local Jobs

Citterio USA CorporationI recently met with members of the Freeland Municipal Authority today to discuss a $2.4 million investment in the authority’s water infrastructure that will support two significant economic development projects in the region.

The project includes the installation of a new potable water well and construction of a new 125,000 gallon water storage tank. The Authority needed to improve their infrastructure to accommodate a plant expansion at Citterio USA. The internationally known manufacturer of Italian-style specialty foods is the borough’s largest employer and has been in Freeland for forty years. The firm currently employs 350 people and expects to add as many as 25 employees when the expansion is complete.

New $40 million PA Turnpike Route 903 ‘E-ZPass-Only’ Interchange in Carbon County Provides Enhanced Safety and Access for Region.

I joined PA Turnpike Commission Chief Executive Officer Mark Compton, Former Speaker of the House Keith McCall and other elected and local officials as we recently celebrated the opening of  the new E-ZPass Only Interchange connecting the Northeastern Extension (Interstate 476) with State Route 903 in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County.

Ribbon CuttingThe new Exit 87 is located between the Turnpike’s Mahoning Valley (Exit 74) and Pocono (Exit 95) interchanges. Designated as the Jim Thorpe/Lake Harmony exit, it allows E-ZPass customers to get on and off the Northeastern Extension in either direction. The $40 million facility was funded exclusively by PA Turnpike toll revenues.

The 20-mile distance between the Mahoning Valley and Pocono exits is the longest on the Northeastern Extension without an interchange and among the longest on the entire 550-mile PA Turnpike system.

From the start, the Route 903 Interchange project has been a unified effort requiring cooperation with officials on township, county and state levels; these officials have been instrumental in the development of the project since its inception, advocating the interchange because of its value to residents.

Ongoing growth in the region’s residential and tourism sectors also factored into the need for enhanced accessibility brought about by such a new connection.

This new interchange is a major infrastructure improvement for our region. It represents an opportunity for economic development in Carbon County and the rest of the Poconos.   Tourism is a major regional industry, and now our popular destinations are more accessible to more visitors.

Governor Signs Bill For Moon Lake Transfer to DCNR

Governor Signs Bill For Moon Lake Transfer to DCNRI joined Governor Tom Wolf as he signed Senate Bill 699 into law completing the transfer of Moon Lake Park from Luzerne County to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

The action by the governor completes a process started last December when Luzerne County and DCNR began discussions of a transfer.  This is the beginning of a brighter future for Moon Lake and a major step forward to needed improvements to the park to increase its value for area families. Under DCNR’s management, Moon Lake Park will be the recreational jewel for the citizens of northeastern Pennsylvania that it once was.  

The Plymouth Township Park was purchased by Luzerne County in 1968, the same year federal and state funds had became available through Project 70. The bill releases the park from the restrictions of the state’s Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act.

Former DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti and current Secretary Cindy Dunn were instrumental in putting together the Commonwealth’s plan to assume ownership of Moon Lake Park.

Carbon County Mine Fire Update

A meeting will be scheduled this fall to update area residents on the progress of fighting the Jeanesville mine fire.  The meeting date will be announced after the final plan to battle the fire is completed.

At that meeting there will be a detailed plan to suppress, contain and ultimately extinguish the fire, and at the same time, try to mitigate the smell. We understand the resident’s  complaints, and their concern, and the unknown — how big is the fire, how fast is it spreading. We believe we will have those answers at that fall meeting and we’ll have a plan of action to extinguish the fire.

I recently met with officials of the state Department of Environmental Protection, George Roskos, operator of Hazleton Shaft, Congressman Lou Barletta, R-11, and other area elected officials at the mine site.

We are fortunate that Hazleton Shaft has been very cooperative with DEP and the federal authorities, in making sure that we address it.  I am happy with the coordination between the various state and federal agencies.  Special thanks to Banks Township officials for their help and cooperation.

Clean up of Nanticoke Mine Site Creates Economic Opportunity

Sen. Yudichak I was pleased to be part of an announcement of $400,000 in grants awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the Earth Conservancy.  The funds will be used to clean up mine scarred lands in an area known as Bliss Bank for reuse and redevelopment and prevent acid mine drainage going into local water ways.   The site of a onetime strip mine may one day be an industrial park or housing development.

Bliss Bank is located near the $50 million South Valley Parkway project that is expected to go out for bid later this year.  The highway will connect Route 29 and Interstate 81 with Kosciuszko Street, near Luzerne County Community College.

This funding supports Earth Conservancy’s plans for improving the quality of life of Luzerne County area residents by reclaiming areas for housing, commercial development and open space and at the same time protecting public health and the environment.

Creating economic opportunity while cleaning up the environment is the best use of tax dollars,  Pennsylvania has invested more than $22 million in the Earth Conservancy's reclamation work and  $975,000 in the Bliss Bank Project just in the past two years.  As a proud partner with the Earth Conservancy we appreciate the $400,000 investment being made by EPA and the millions it has invested in helping the Earth Conservancy fulfill its mission of environmental stewardship.

DEP Grant to Help Alleviate Newport Township Flooding Concerns

Home and property owners near Reservoir Creek in Newport Township, Luzerne County, will benefit from a new abandoned mine reclamation project I recently announced after the Department of Environmental Protection awarded a $988,000 contract to Brdaric Excavating Inc., Luzerne, for the St. Vladimir Vicinity abandoned mine reclamation project.

Residents in the Reservoir Creek area have suffered damaged and lost property because of past mining activities that re-routed the creek closer to their homes and businesses.  This much needed project, when completed will alleviate long standing flooding issues for the property owners.

Brdaric Excavating will move the South Branch of the creek from the north side of West Kirmar Avenue to the south side, which is the creek’s original bed. This will also lessen the possibility of bridge damage should there be a flood, and it will help to keep West Kirmar Avenue open when heavy rain falls.

Sen. Yudichak's Community Corner

State Senator John Yudichak recently honored 90-year old Leo Latona of Plains Township with a citation from the Pennsylvania Senate commemorating his ninetieth birthday. Senator Yudichak along with the Carbon County Commissioners recently announced a $50,000 LSA grant that will help pay for safety renovations to the Jim Thorpe Visitor’s Center.
State Senator John Yudichak recently honored 90-year old
Leo Latona of Plains Township with a citation from the Pennsylvania Senate commemorating his ninetieth birthday.
Senator Yudichak along with the Carbon County Commissioners recently announced a $50,000 LSA grant that will help pay for safety renovations to the Jim Thorpe Visitor’s Center.
Newport Township Municipal Building Dedication. Carbon County Senior Fair
Senator Yudichak addresses the crowd at the Newport Township Municipal Building Dedication. Sen. Yudichak helped to secure $500,000 for the project in LSA grants. Senator Yudichak talks with a senior at this year’s
Carbon County Senior Expo. Over 1,200 seniors attended
the event this year.
Senator Yudichak talks to seniors at the grand opening of the Rose Tucker Active Adult Center in Nanticoke. Walk of Honor Ceremony
Senator Yudichak talks to seniors at the grand opening of the Rose Tucker Active Adult Center in Nanticoke. Senator Yudichak talks to the crowd at the Luzerne County Community College Walk of Honor 9/11 Ceremony.

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PA Report - State Budget PA Report - SHINE Program