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Sen. Yudichak Reports

Yudichak Comments on Property Tax Elimination Bill

Earlier this week, the Senate voted 25 to 24 against legislation that would have eliminated property taxes in Pennsylvania.

Senator Yudichak floor remarks on Property Tax Elimination
Senator Yudichak floor remarks on Property Tax Elimination

Sen. John Yudichak, who co-authored the legislation to eliminate school property taxes, made the following statement:

“I applaud Senator Argall and Senator Schwank who exercised exemplary bi-partisan leadership on the complex issue of property tax elimination and were the primary forces behind Senate Bill 76.

“Although imperfect, Senate Bill 76 would have begun the necessary work to end Pennsylvania’s reliance on an antiquated property tax system that overburdens our senior citizens, underfunds our schools and restrains economic growth.

“If you want to compete in a 21st century economy you need to invest in a 21st century educational system, and you cannot fund 21st century schools with an archaic 19th century property tax system that fails to adequately fund public education.

“Although the vote to advance property tax elimination failed tonight in the Senate, I fully intend to continue the fight to lift the burden of this unfair tax on the homeowners of Pennsylvania.”

Reading Event Highlights Holiday Book Drive to Benefit SHINE Students

 
Senator Yudichak reads to students from the Luzerne County Shine program at Barnes and Noble at the Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township
Senator Yudichak reads to students from the Luzerne County Shine program at Barnes and Noble at the Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township

Wilkes-Barre Township, November 24th, 2015 – Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th) and State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) read to students from the SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) program this evening at the Barnes and Noble store in the Arena Hub Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Township. The event highlighted the Barnes and Noble Holiday Book Drive. The SHINE program has been selected as the recipient of books collected for the drive through January 1, 2016.

“Reading is a fundamental part of the education of any young person, and we’re thrilled to be part of this book drive to help SHINE and the students of Luzerne County. A child who learns to enjoy reading at a young age will be a reader for life. That’s what this is all about,” said Congressman Barletta.

“The selection of SHINE as this year’s recipient is the just the latest way the community is getting involved and supporting the program. The book drive makes it convenient for everyone to support SHINE while shopping this holiday season,” added Senator Yudichak.

The Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive provides an opportunity for customers to donate books through locally designated non-profit organizations. Last year, Barnes & Noble customers and booksellers provided more than 1.5 million books to over 2,000 local charitable organizations that provide services to children across the country.

“The Holiday Book Drive is a favorite program of both booksellers and customers,” said Donna Wench, Community Business Development Manager for Barnes & Noble. “Customers often purchase and donate a personal childhood favorite as a way to pass on a holiday tradition to a child in their local community. We’re very pleased and excited to partner with SHINE this year.”
Congressman Barletta and Senator Yudichak have worked to establish the SHINE after-school program in Luzerne County to improve academic achievement, increase school attendance and engage families in education. The SHINE program focuses on project based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics activities for students kindergarten through eighth grade. SHINE opened earlier this month and is expected to reach 500 students this school year.

Customers who are not purchasing an item for donation to the Book Drive can still help by participating in SHINE’s Book Fair, running simultaneously with the Book Drive. At the Arena Hub Plaza store, customers can mention SHINE at checkout, and the organization will receive up to 25% of the sale at no additional cost to the customer. Customers shopping online at www.bn.com, or at a Barnes& Noble store other than the Arena Hub Plaza location should use Book fair ID#11718418 in order for SHINE to receive credit for the sale.

Carbon County Mine Fire Update

Contract Update

Carbon County Mine FireHarrisburg, November 24, 2015 – The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded Hazleton Shaft Company a $9.35 Million contract to extinguish the Jeanesville Mine Fire in Banks Township, Carbon County.

Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement:

“The awarding of the contract to extinguish the Jeanesville mine fire follows an extensive assessment by DEP and the formulation of a comprehensive plan to attack the fire,” said Senator John Yudichak. “We will continue to work closely with DEP and Banks Township officials to monitor the progress of the work and keep the residents living near the fire informed.”

Funds for the project are from the Federal Abandoned Mine Land Grant Program and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The money comes from fees paid by active coal mine operators on each ton of coal mined.

Project Update

Officials from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) briefed Banks Township residents November 5th on their plan to deal with the mine fire that is burning in Jeansville.

At the one-hour session in the Tresckow Fire Company social hall, officials said a 20-acre east-west trench — about 190 feet long, varying in depth from 50 to 200 feet, and at least 100 feet wide — will be dug under a federal contract, next to the portion of the fire burning in abandoned coal spoils.

A north-south trench will be excavated by Hazleton Shaft Corp, which is mining and has been helping to extinguish the fire on the northern end of the site.

Mike Korb, a BAMR environmental program specialist, said the east-west trench is being dug for two reasons — to contain the fire to its present location, and to help extinguish it and prevent it from spreading.

Approximately 200 acres will be cleared. The trees removed will be chopped up by the contractor and taken off-site.

A pre-bid conference with prospective contractors to dig the east-west trench has been held. The work is slated to begin later this month and last about two years.

View the full DEP briefing »

SHINE Program Opens in Luzerne County

GirlCongressman Barletta and I have worked to establish the SHINE after-school program in Luzerne County to improve academic achievement, increase school attendance and engage families in education. The SHINE program focuses on project based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics activities for students kindergarten through eighth grade.

The SHINE program opened at the State Street Elementary School in Larksville and the West Side Career and Technology Center in Pringle in early November.  Additional centers will open in December.

Mary T. Kolessar of Shavertown has been named director of the SHINE After School Program of Luzerne County at Wilkes University. 

In her new position, Mrs. Kolessar will be responsible for overseeing the Luzerne County SHINE Program at 7 educational/technical centers in northeast Pennsylvania. She will provide ongoing program development, assessment, public relations and administration of SHINE programs in Luzerne County, and act as a liaison with Luzerne County schools, community, organizations, and business and industry.

Mary Kolessar has an exceptional record of accomplishment while serving in leadership positions in both education and business.  She has the skills and the passion to lead Luzerne County SHINE as we work to provide positive pathways for our children to succeed.

Prior to joining the SHINE program, Mrs. Kolessar was a member of the faculty and held administrative positions at Wyoming Seminary since 2003. Most recently she was a mathematics teacher in the Upper School. From 2008 to 2011, she was dean of the middle school, where she supervised the middle school program and recruited, mentored and evaluated faculty. Earlier, Kolessar was a middle school mathematics teacher and math department chair at Wyoming Seminary. She also served as associate director of admissions.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from King’s College and a master’s degree in education from Misericordia University.

SHINE is fortunate to have the following financial partners: United Way of Wyoming Valley,  United Way of Greater Hazleton, the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, and the Commonwealth Financing Authority – Luzerne County Local Share Account.

School districts participating in the first year of the program include Wilkes-Barre Area, Nanticoke Area, Hanover Area, Hazleton Area and Wyoming Valley West. SHINE is expected to reach 500 students this school year.

Luzerne County Senior Expo

 
Senator John Yudichak talks with seniors at the 2015 Luzerne County Senior Fair. Approximately 1,000 seniors attended the event.
Senator John Yudichak talks with seniors at the
2015 Luzerne County Senior Fair.
Approximately 1,000 seniors attended the event.

It was my pleasure to talk with many of the attendees at the 2015 Luzerne County Senior Expo in October at the 109th Field Artillery Armory. Since 2011 Senator Lisa Baker and I have joined together to offer this important community event.

The Senior Expo featured vendors from local, county and state agencies to answer questions and provide useful information about their programs and services to seniors

Attendees were offered information related to government services, Social Security, health care and insurance, legal issues and fraud protection, senior financial issues and exercise and nutrition tips.

Many times seniors are unaware of the many helpful programs and services available to them. Our annual Senior Citizens Expo has grown each year and brings many of those services together in one convenient location.

This year was our largest expo to date with more than 100 vendors and included health care students from area colleges.  A special thanks to our student volunteers from Wyoming Valley West High School who provided additional assistance.

LIHEAP Program

LIHEAP LIHEAP The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 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. Applications are available in my district offices and at the DHS LIHEAP website.

Completed paper applications should be returned to your county assistance office.

Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits for this season are as follows:

Household Size Income Limit
1 $17,655
2 $23,895
3 $30,135
4 $36,375
5 $42,615
6 $48,855
7 $55,095
8 $61,335
9 $67,575
10 $73,815
For each additional person add $6,240

After your application is received 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 will be credited to your heating account. Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline 1-866-857-7095.

Free Flu Shots Available in Luzerne and Carbon counties

Sen. Yudichak The state Department of Health (DOH) is launching its “Stopping the Flu starts with YOU” campaign, which urges Pennsylvanians to protect themselves and their loved ones against the seasonal flu by getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures.

The DOH will be holding flu shot clinics in both Carbon and Luzerne counties in December.

Doctors are anticipating yet another severe flu season, so it’s important to get vaccinated. The Department of Health is giving people all across the commonwealth the opportunity to receive the flu shot free of charge.

Shots will be administered in Luzerne County on December 8 from 9 a.m. to noon and then again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Luzerne County State Health Center at 665 Carey Avenue, Suite 2 in Wilkes-Barre.

In Carbon County shots will be available on on December 10th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Carbon County State Health Center at 281 North 12th Street, lower level, Suite A in Lehighton.

Around the 14th District

   
 Senator Yudichak discussed a number of important issues at the 2015 Greater Wilkes-Barre Legislative Breakfast. Senator Yudichak recently spoke to students at a "Politics and the Media" class at Kings College.
Senator Yudichak discussed a number of important issues at the 2015 Greater Wilkes-Barre Legislative Breakfast. Senator Yudichak recently spoke to students at a "Politics and the Media" class at Kings College.
   
Senator Yudichak was proud to serve as the Keynote Speaker of the Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet. Senator Yudichak, the family of Corrections Officer Eric J. Williams and other local legislators dedicated a bridge at Lily Lake in memory of Officer Williams..
Senator Yudichak was proud to serve as the Keynote Speaker of the Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet. Senator Yudichak, the family of Corrections Officer Eric J. Williams and other local legislators dedicated a bridge at Lily Lake in memory of Officer Williams.
 
Carbon and Schuylkill Counties SHINE students from Panther Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Mahanoy Area elementary schools showcased their skills during the 16th annual National Lights-on Celebration, held at Jim Thorpe Area High School.
Carbon and Schuylkill Counties SHINE students from Panther Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Mahanoy Area elementary schools showcased their skills during the 16th annual National Lights-on Celebration, held at Jim Thorpe Area High School.
Expo

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