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Sen. Yudichak Reports

Yudichak Unveils Board of Trustee Reform Bill for Penn State University

CApitolState Sen. John T. Yudichak unveiled comprehensive reform legislation that would fundamentally alter the governing structure at Penn State University to make its Board of Trustees more inclusive, engaged and accountable.

“The Pennsylvania State University Commonwealth Act (Senate Bill 800) is a structural reform plan that would reaffirm the legal status of Penn State as a state-related university,” Yudichak said. “Under the current leadership of the Board of Trustees, the University has walked further and further away from its historic partnership with Pennsylvania acting more like a private institution than one of the Commonwealth’s state-related universities.”

Yudichak said the trustee reform legislation was crafted to have the Penn State board be    similar to the governing configuration employed at Pennsylvania’s three other state-related universities Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln.

“We are aligning the governing structure at Penn State with other state-related universities to establish a more uniform standard for university governance that moves the Penn State board away from our insulated, opaque system of governance that hampered its operations and divided the Penn State community over the past several years,” Yudichak said.

The Pennsylvania State University Commonwealth Act (Senate Bill 800) is a bi-partisan effort sponsored by 30 members of the state senate that would set the voting membership of the Penn State Board of Trustees at 36 members and make the Governor, the Secretary of Education and Secretary of Agriculture non-voting, ex-officio members of the Board.

Under Senate Bill 800, the board of trustees would consist of 14 Commonwealth Trustees (six appointed by the Governor, four appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate and four by the Speaker of the House); 10 at-large trustees appointed by a trustee selection committee and 12 alumni elected trustees.

“The current majority of the Board of Trustees has used the rhetoric of board reform as blunt tool to exclude open, deliberative debate on the board and failed to responsibly engage the Commonwealth in it’s discussions,” Yudichak said. “Any trustee reform effort must pivot on openness, accountability and respect for the nearly 160 year partnership between the Commonwealth and Penn State University.

DCEDCarbon County LSA Grants Announced

State Senator John Yudichak and Representative Doyle Hefley announced that 13 Carbon County projects will receive $848,000 in state grants through the Monroe County Local Share Account (LSA).

“Investments in community development, economic development, and our public safety infrastructure improve the quality of life for every Carbon County resident,” said Senator Yudichak.

Senator Yudichak and Representative Doyle Heffley worked together to secure funding for local communities.

“I am pleased that the state is investing in the development of Carbon County and our regional economy with these critical grant dollars,” Heffley said. “This funding will support a variety of community improvement projects that will enhance our infrastructure, public safety and overall quality of life.”

Bowmanstown Borough will receive funding for two projects. Funds will be used to construct a second access road to the Meadowcrest subdivision region of the borough and also for the purchase of a brush fire truck.

“We are ecstatic to receive this much needed funding,” said Bowmanstown Borough Treasurer and Assistant Secretary Tara Takerer. “This will improve the safety for the residents that live within the Meadowcrest community by giving first responders a second access road that will improve their response time. It will also give our residents a more direct route to the major highways in the area and direct access to downtown, which would keep the small local proprietorships in business.”

Summit Hill Borough will receive funding to make building improvements to the Summit Hill Heritage Center, which houses the borough’s food pantry and hosts many different community events.

“It’s great that we’re receiving this money to help get the building in better shape,” said Summit Hill Borough Council President Michael Kokinda. “The Heritage Center hosts a lot of important events and is the driving force behind the cultural aspect of our community.”

Beaver Meadows Borough has obtained funds for two projects as well. The funding will be used to replace its deteriorating sewage main, which is hampering the community from further development. Funds will also be used for the purchase of a SUV police cruiser.

“The Borough is truly grateful to have received these grants and appreciate all of the hard work of everyone involved,” said Beaver Meadows Borough Council President Anthony Rusnock. “The Broad Street sewer replacement project will help reduce ground water infiltration into our sanitary sewer system and the new cruiser will greatly improve the safety of our residents and officers.”

The following projects in Carbon County in the 14th Senatorial District were approved for funding:

  • Bowmanstown Borough will receive $215,000 to provide a second access road for emergency vehicles between the Meadowcrest subdivision and the rest of the borough.
  • Summit Hill Borough will receive $100,000 at the request of the Summit Hill Heritage Center. The funding will help with building improvements and repairs in order to bring the building up to code.
  • Beaver Meadows Borough will receive $78,000 to replace the current deteriorating sewer main, which will also allow for further development of the borough.
  • Bowmanstown Borough will receive $78,000 on behalf of the Bowmanstown Fire Department to replace its outdated brush truck.
  • Lansford Borough will receive $58,000 at the request of the American Fire Co. No. 1. The funding will be used for the purchase of a generator and exhaust removal system that will enhance safety within the building.
  • Blue Mountain Health System will receive $50,000 at the request of the Carbon County Redevelopment Authority for the purchase and installation of a new diesel powered generator to ensure patient safety during a power outage.
  • Carbon County will receive $50,000 to replace outdated electrical panels and fire alarm equipment at the Carbon County Railroad Station/Visitor’s Center.
  • Kidder Township will receive $50,000 at the request of the Albrightsville Fire Company. The funding will upgrade the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment.
  • Weatherly Borough will receive $43,000 for the purchase of a police vehicle that will assist in the continued safety of the community.
  • Beaver Meadows Borough will receive $38,000 for the purchase of a SUV police cruiser that will assist in the continued safety of the community.
  • Banks Township will receive $37,000 for a snow removal truck that will help with community safety.
  • Jim Thorpe Borough will receive $36,000 for the purchase of a police cruiser that will assist in the continued safety of the community.
  • Packer Township will receive $15,000 to make improvements to their community park, including the purchase of playground and picnic equipment.

Wilkes University graduates more than 650

WilkesMore than 650 students were awarded degrees at Wilkes University’s 68th spring commencement ceremony recently.

The new graduates say they are prepared to face the challenges of the future.

State Sen. John Yudichak addressed the students earning graduate degrees in a morning ceremony. They represented more than half of the graduate total.

Yudichak said he was “truly honored and inspired” to be asked to speak. He praised the university and its students for their continuing efforts to provide opportunities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“These are the innovators of the future,” he said. “They are transforming lives not only in the City of Wilkes-Barre but all over northeast Pennsylvania,” he added.

He pointed to the Wilkes Enterprise Center, which recently opened in the city, as an example of a program run by students that is drawing “top information technology companies” to the area. He also lauded the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, which awarded its 1,000th degree on Saturday.

University President Patrick Leahy spoke to the undergraduate degree recipients in an afternoon ceremony. He led an honorary degree ceremony for Seymour Holtzman, an alumnus of the class of 1957.

An international milestone was reached this year, according to Vicki Mayk, the university’s director of public relations. Simone Davies from the Bahamas graduated following in her mother’s footsteps. Italia Wells Davies also came to Wilkes University from the Bahamas, earning her degree in 1980. They are the first international mother/daughter graduates, Mayk said.

Davies was one of the 20 international students to graduate on Saturday. Students from Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom were also there.

Yudichak emphasized one of the challenges faced locally is the fact that a large percentage of the graduating class tends to leave to pursue their careers elsewhere.

The university is working toward “reversing the pipeline of talent back to northeast Pennsylvania,” he said.

Adjutant
Sen. Yudichak introduces Major James Joseph as Pennsylvania's new Adjutant General of the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Yudichak Lauds Senate Confirmation of Major General James Joseph

State Senator John Yudichak praised unanimous Senate confirmation of Hazleton native, Major General James Joseph, as Pennsylvania’s new Adjutant General.

“I was proud to introduce Major General Joseph at his confirmation hearing — and pleased with the unanimous senate vote.

“Major General Joseph is uniquely qualified to serve as the 52nd Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. His extensive military experience, leadership record and varied administrative ability to lead and inspire will serve Pennsylvania well.

“He will be a strong advocate for active and retired military personnel as well as the many military installations and resources available in our state. Major General Joseph has served our country, state and community with pride, honor and distinction. He will be a great adjutant general.”

Senate Approves Transfer of Moon Lake Park to DCNR

DCNRState Senator John Yudichak praised Senate passage of SB 699 to transfer Moon Lake Park from Luzerne County to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

“Under the management of DCNR, the natural resources and passive recreational assets of Moon Lake Park will be preserved and enhanced to the great benefit of every citizen who cherishes the conservation of Pennsylvania’s pristine forest lands, said Yudichak.

The Senate passage of the bill is another step in a process that started in January when DCNR signed an agreement with Luzerne County for the transfer and announced $1 million in improvements at Moon Lake. The state investment includes a new boat ramp, new trails and trail heads.

In a bipartisan effort, Yudichak worked with senators Lisa Baker, John Blake and John Gordner and DCNR on the bill that releases the park from the restrictions of the state’s Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act. The Plymouth Township Park was purchased by Luzerne County in 1968, the same year federal and state funds had became available through Project 70.

“As a lifelong resident of Plymouth Township, I was a frequent visitor to Moon Lake Park and enjoyed all that the park has to offer. Now thanks to our partners and the solid improvement plan – many of those same opportunities will be available once again,” said Yudichak.

“I must acknowledge the work of former DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti, acting Secretary Cindy Dunn and a friend of the Senate, Pat Solano, who put all the necessary pieces together to make DCNR’s acquisition of Moon Lake Park possible,” said Yudichak.

Yudichak thanked Luzerne County Solicitor Dave Pedri, County Manager Robert Lawton and the majority members of the Luzerne County Council for their work with lawmakers to develop the plan for Moon Lake. Pedri and Lawton were in the Senate Gallery for the vote.

SB 699 now goes to the House for consideration.

Senator Yudichak Announces Afterschool Caucus

Afterschool
Sen. Yudichak speaks at a rally in support of afterschool programs in May 2015.

State Sen. John T. Yudichak announced the formation of a bi-partisan Afterschool Caucus during a rally by the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) at the state Capitol.

“I am a passionate supporter of quality afterschool programs in PA. I’ve seen first-hand with the SHINE (Schools & Homes in Education) program in Carbon and Schuylkill County schools, the absolute transformational impact afterschool programs can have on the life of a young child,” said Yudichak.

Yudichak will co-chair the bicameral bipartisan caucus with Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Representative Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) and Representative Mindy Fee (R-Lancaster) whose purpose will be to provide education, policy development, research and briefings on issues confronting and relating to the commonwealth’s afterschool infrastructure.

“I am proud to champion the SHINE program and hope to replicate it in Luzerne County beginning this fall. It has a decade of successful outcomes and has proven its value with a 96 percent promotion rate, a 92 percent attendance improvement, and an 86 percent increase in family participation,” added Yudichak.

“PA afterschool programs are the right tool at the right time to help families set a pathway of opportunity for the children of PA. A positive pathway that will keep them safe, inspire them to learn and empower their families to transform PA communities one school and one child at a time, “said Yudichak.

The announcement was made before nearly 200 advocates including students, parents, educators, program providers, community leaders, policy makers, business and faith-based leaders as part of the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Advocacy Day.

Hazleton Chief of Police, Frank DeAndrea and Jim Thorpe Area School District Superintendent, Brian Gasper also participated in the rally.

Carbon County Mine Fire: The Latest

DEPSenator Yudichak attended a public meeting with DEP and area residents to gather information and develop an action plan for the mine fire. WNEP reported on this meeting, and you can read their story here.

DEP will begin drilling work at the mine fire in Carbon County which will involve more air monitoring.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP)Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) has announced that work will begin next weekto determine the extent and intensity of the Jeansville Mine fire; located on both active and abandoned mine lands in Banks Township, Carbon County and Hazle Township, Luzerne County. A plan is also in place to do additional air monitoring in areas around the fire.

The work involves drilling 53 boreholes at the site to help determine the extent of the fire and provide ongoing monitoring. BAMR received a Declaration of Emergency from the federal Office of Surface Mining. The emergency declaration was needed to work on portions of the observed fire area and surrounding areas that are also a protected long eared bat habitat.

“This work will give us a clearer picture of the extent of the fire and help to determine the most effective next steps,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations, John Stefanko.

Representatives from BAMR, the Pottsville District Mining Office, and DEP’s Air Quality Program met with residents on May 20 to discuss plans for exploration of the fire and for air monitoring at the site. Previously conducted air monitoring did not show indications of any dangerous levels of gases in the neighborhoods around the fire.

“When DEP representatives met with residents, one of their chief concerns was overnight air monitoring,” said Director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office, Mike Bedrin. “Additional air monitoring will determine if any dangerous levels of gases are present.”

The property is owned by Pagnotti Enterprises of Wilkes-Barre. Hazleton Shaft Corporation, currently leasing the portion of the property that is actively being mined, has been extinguishing the fire within the permitted area since 2012.

DEP awarded the emergency drilling contract to Minichi Enterprises, Inc. of Dupont, Luzerne County; the company was the lowest bidder at $1,211,530.

The project is being funded by Pennsylvania’s federal abandoned mine land grant, which is subsidized by the coal industry via fees paid on each ton of coal mined. In 2015 Pennsylvania received $44 million from the federal program to support DEP’s abandoned mine land and acid mine drainage reclamation programs.

Sen. Yudichak's Community Corner

Report

VIDEO: April 2015 Pennsylvania Report: State Budget and Community Colleges

Dailey

VIDEO: Senator Yudichak honors Carbon County native Sargeant Major Daniel Dailey for achieving the highest rank in the US Army

Truck

State Representative Gerald Mullery and Senator Yudichak met with Newport Township officials to see the latest addition to the township recycling program.

YMCA

Senator Yudichak enjoyed reading to Ms. Cardell's class of young students at the Wyoming Valley United Way.

Expo
Groundbreaking
Senator Yudichak was a part of the groundbreaking for the Wilkes University Gateway Project.
Breakfast
Senator Yudichak addressed the Hazleton business community at the Hazleton Chamber of Commerce's Red Carpet Breakfast.
Citation

Senator Yudichak honored Elizabeth Height of Nanticoke with a citation from the PA Senate. Mrs. Height retired earlier this year after spending the past 30 years teaching and guiding children at the Little Stars Nursery School.

Memorial

Senator Yudichak speaks at Hazleton Police Department Police Memorial Day Ceremony

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