Senator Yudichak Recognizes James Cundro as Semi-Finalist in Talk To Your State Senator Video Competition

Hazle Township, April 30, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) visited Maple Manor Elementary/Middle School today to recognize James Cundro, an eighth grader at the school who is a semi-finalist in the Talk to Your State Senator Statewide video competition.

The video competition is sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania with support from the members of the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania. The competition is intended to get students involved in legislative efforts to fight heroin and opioid abuse. The goal of the video is to prevent further addiction; therefore, the video entry was supposed to address the issue of preventing teens from starting drugs. Grand prize winners will be announced May 2, 2018.

“It’s always great to see our youth become actively involved in important causes and the video James produced has a message that resonates with us all – living a healthy balanced life doesn’t leave room for drugs,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“We are thrilled that James is a semi-finalist in this competition. He is an exceptional student and is a positive role model for all the students in Maple Manor Elementary/Middle School,” said Jeanne Conahan, Principal at Maple Manor Elementary/Middle School.

His video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL5o62920gg

 

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PA Army National Guard Center in West Pittston to Become PA Fish and Boat Commission’s New Regional Office, Say Kaufer, Yudichak

LUZERNE, PA – April 24, 2018 – Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and Sen. John Yudichak (D-14) are pleased to hear that the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) new Regional Office will soon be located in the former PA Army National Guard Center, located at 1308 Susquehanna Ave. in West Pittston Borough.

“I am pleased that this local building and property will be repurposed and put to good use, as well as provide a good resource for local anglers and boaters,” said Kaufer.

“It’s a win for West Pittston and a win for the PA Fish and Boat Commission,” said Yudichak. “By repurposing the vacant Armory, the Fish and Boat Commission will have a more accessible regional office and add to the continued economic recovery of West Pittston.”

The Commonwealth owns the approximately 3-acre parcel of land that was used until 2016 by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) as an Army National Guard Center. The DMVA decided to close the center, and the DMVA and the Department of General Services have been actively seeking to dispose of the property. The Fish and Boat Commission was offered the opportunity to acquire and redevelop the property as a regional office.

“I am pleased this project will finally move forward,” PFBC Commissioner for the Seventh District Norman R. Gavlick said. “Having a location on the Susquehanna River will give the PFBC greater access and oversight to one of the largest waterways in the Commonwealth.”

“This is fantastic news for the borough,” West Pittston Borough Mayor Thomas Blaskiewicz said. “It fulfills so many dreams and hopes for the residents of West Pittston, especially the victims of flooding in 2011 who have fought so hard to rebuild their homes and our community.”

“We are thrilled that the PFBC is coming to West Pittston,” West Pittston Borough Council President Ellen Quinn said. “We look forward to the rebirth of the vacant Armory building and to working with the PFBC to ensure a smooth transition.”
The property will be renovated with $1.2 million in capital budget funds released by the governor. The PFBC expects to relocate its Sweet Valley office to the new building in late 2021.

Senator Yudichak Announces the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority Receives 2018 Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence

Harrisburg, PA – April 11, 2018 – Senator John Yudichak (D – Carbon/Luzerne) announced today that the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority (WVSA) and its Executive Director Jim Tomaine has received one of the 2018 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence in the category of Building Community Partnerships.

The WVSA has been providing wastewater treatment services for Luzerne County since 1962 and is currently spearheading the WVSA Regional Stormwater Management Project. The project is designed to create opportunities for streamlined regulations, economies of scale, strategic partnerships, and a more affordable cost for property owners who benefit from the WVSA stormwater services.

More than 30 municipalities, which are serviced by the WVSA will be collaborating on this venture, where the overall goal is to reduce stormwater pollution to the Susquehanna River and to continue to adhere to the Commonwealth’s commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement. Tomaine is directly in charge of the project, which is expected to save the region $57 million over the next five years and $247 million over the next two decades.

“The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority’s determination to create a better quality of life for our northeastern Pennsylvania residents is the reason why it has received this prestigious award,” said Senator Yudichak. “The WVSA Regional Stormwater Management Project represents the most comprehensive environmental project in northeastern Pennsylvania in the last 40 years and it couldn’t have been done without the unwavering leadership of Jim Tomaine.”

“Today’s recognition is the result of thirty-plus municipalities collaborating with our state and local leaders in order to make northeastern Pennsylvania a healthier place to live,” said Sam Guesto, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the WVSA. “Our project will help to continue to protect and preserve both the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay, while saving the region millions of dollars.”

Each year, one week in April is designated by the PA Legislature as “Local Government Week.” During this week, the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services has made a tradition of hosting a Local Government Day celebration, featuring the presentation of the Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence to recognize local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Funding for Abandoned Mine Land projects in Carbon County

Jim Thorpe, April 6, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that one project in Carbon County will receive $3 million in funding for environmental cleanup and revitalization of abandoned mine lands from the Department of Environmental Protection. Senator Yudichak worked with State Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) to secure this funding.

“The environmental leadership exhibited by the communities and organizations throughout northeastern Pennsylvania should be commended for their steadfast approach to revitalizing the region by reclaiming mine scarred lands for community and economic growth,” said Senator John Yudichak.

The Borough of Weatherly received $3 million in funding for acid mine drainage treatment and trout stream restoration as well as construction of the Black Creek Trail. The funding will help with the installation of an active treatment system that will restore eight miles of wild trout stream and help with the construction of a trail between the Borough of Weatherly and the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

“This is great news for Weatherly, because this funding makes both an environmental and economic impact on our community,” said Harold Pudliner, Weatherly Borough Manager. “With the restoration of this stream and the construction of the Black Creek Trail it will make Weatherly a destination for both tourists and new businesses.”

Project funding comes from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) 2017 AML Pilot Program, which specifically targets abandoned mine cleanup projects that are linked to local community and economic development goals.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Funding for Abandoned Mine Land projects in Luzerne County

Nanticoke, April 6, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that four projects in Luzerne County will receive over $7.8 million in funding for environmental cleanup and revitalization of abandoned mine lands from the Department of Environmental Protection. Senator Yudichak worked with State Senator John Gordner and State Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski, Gerald Mullery, Tarah Toohil, and Aaron Kaufer to secure this funding.

“The environmental leadership exhibited by the communities and organizations throughout northeastern Pennsylvania should be commended for their steadfast approach to revitalizing the region by reclaiming mine scarred lands for community and economic growth,” said Senator John Yudichak.

The Earth Conservancy will receive $2.5 million in funding for the construction and completion of Bliss Bank 3 Business Park, located in Hanover and Newport Townships. The project consists of remediation of 55 acres of mined land, including 1,200 feet of dangerous mine highwalls, which will allow the completion of the 220-acre Bliss Bank business park. With active recruitment of nationwide companies underway, about 1,000 full-time jobs are anticipated.

“Receiving this award is crucial to the overall goal of reclaiming mine land and turning it into economic growth opportunities for our region,” said Mike Dziak, Director of Communications for the Earth Conservancy. “Part of this project is constructing a roadway that will connect Bliss Bank 3 to the South Valley Parkway, which is already drawing interest from businesses that can come in here and create jobs.”

In Luzerne County, the following projects will also receive funding:

  • Hazle Township will receive $2 million – CAN DO North Park Drive Business Park, Hazle Township: Almost 130 acres of mine land will be regraded to pre-mining conditions to be developed into seven developable parcels in the CAN DO Industrial Park.
  • Hazle Township will receive $1 million – Hollars Hill South AML site and Cranberry Creek Gateway Project, Hazle Township: About 150 acres of mine spoil, industrial/residential waste, and hazardous structures will be reclaimed for a community ballfield complex and to allow development of the planned residential, retail, and commercial development called Cranberry Creek Gateway.
  • The Borough of Swoyersville will receive $2.3 million – Swoyersville refuse pile/community athletic complex, Swoyersville Borough: In the first phase of the Swoyersville culm bank reclamation, approximately 15 acres of the 55-acre coal refuse pile will be removed and remediated, with over 2 million cubic yards of refuse anticipated to be usable for electricity cogeneration facilities. Floodplain restoration will improve water quality in the Abrahams Creek Watershed and reduce flooding. Seven acres of the reclaimed property will be transferred to Swoyersville Borough for development of a new community athletic complex that will allow multiple teams to play, drawing more people to the borough.

Project funding comes from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) 2017 AML Pilot Program, which specifically targets abandoned mine cleanup projects that are linked to local community and economic development goals.

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Senator Yudichak to Host Free Veterans Assistance Hours in Nanticoke District Office

Nanticoke, April 5, 2018 – State Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) will host free veterans assistance hours on Tuesday April 24, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at his Nanticoke District Office located at 164 South Market Street, Nanticoke PA 18634. Appointments are necessary.

To make an appointment with the American Legion Service Officer, please call Senator Yudichak’s Nanticoke Office at 570-740-2434.

Veterans and their families can discuss: Compensation, Pension, Death Benefits, Education and Health Care. Veterans do not need to be a member of the American Legion to receive services.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Apprenticeship Grants

Harrisburg, April 3, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Hershey Company, the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, and the Lehigh Carbon Community College have received funding to support pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The Hershey Company’s Hazleton Plant is receiving a $70,000 Pre-Apprenticeship/Apprenticeship Grant and a $45,495 Capacity Building Grant. The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce is receiving a $42,280 Capacity Building Grant. Additionally, the Lehigh Carbon Community College is receiving an $80,000 Pre-Apprenticeship/Apprenticeship Grant.

“The Hershey Company, the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, and Lehigh Carbon Community College recognize the true impact pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs have on strengthening our workforce and driving economic growth in northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Senator John Yudichak.      

“We are honored to be selected by Governor Wolf for these important apprenticeship grants at our Hershey plant in Hazleton. We will use the grants to cover on-site and vocational training costs as we develop our unique program,” said Stephen Knight, Hazleton plant manager. “Apprenticeships are an important way for aspiring workers to get the experience needed to work in today’s sophisticated and complex manufacturing environment where the required skill-set is dramatically different from even 10 years ago.”

“We are very excited to learn our Chamber will be receiving one of Governor Wolf’s Capacity Building Grants. The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce has been working diligently with the community to better connect our students with our employers. This grant will enable us to develop programs which will create a direct link between employers who are looking for skilled, productive employees and job seekers who are looking for stable careers to earn good wages,” said Michelle Mikitish, Executive Vice President of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce.

The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce’s first Registered Apprenticeship program will be for a team management apprentice. The program will prepare participants to take on the responsibility of managing the day-to-day activities of a group of employees. Learning objectives will include, but not be limited to, effective team leadership and communication, development of performance goals, standards and feedback, conflict resolution, effective discipline, and delegation. Their goal is to implement this program with 2-4 employers and 10-15 apprentices by September 2018.

The Pre-Apprenticeship/Apprenticeship Grant supports pre-apprenticeship programs that have an active relationship with apprenticeship programs registered in Pennsylvania; or apprenticeship programs that are already registered in Pennsylvania. The Capacity Building Grant supports businesses, industry associations, chambers of commerce, training providers, career and technical centers, and intermediaries interested in sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry awards these grants through Local Workforce Development Boards.

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Senator Yudichak and Representative Kaufer Announce PennDOT ARLE Grant for Edwardsville Borough

Nanticoke, February 26, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) announced today that Edwardsville Borough has received an Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for 2018.

Edwardsville Borough will receive $86,107 to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of Route 1107 (Main Street) and Zerby Avenue by installing new traffic signal supports, upgrading pedestrian features, and upgrading controller and vehicle detection system equipment. The intersection is an assigned crosswalk for Wyoming Valley West School District, West Side Career and Technical Center, and Good Shepard Academy students and a designated stop for the Luzerne County Transportation Authority.

“The residents of Edwardsville will benefit greatly from these upgrades which will improve public safety while also managing traffic flow in an area that sees high levels of vehicle and pedestrian traffic,” said Senator John Yudichak.

Fines from red light violations at 30 intersections in Philadelphia supply the grant funding for the ARLE program. This program aims to improve safety at signalized intersections by providing automated enforcement at locations where data shows that red-light running has been an issue.

“I am pleased that Edwardsville’s application has been chosen for this important funding,” Representative Kaufer said. “This project will truly improve the accessibility and public safety on Edwardsville’s Main Street. When it comes to ensuring public safety, it’s not acceptable to rely on failing and antiquated traffic controls, and that is what this grant aims to resolve.”

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Senator Yudichak Announces 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Outreach Schedule

Nanticoke, February 21, 2018 — State Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) hosted residents at the Rose Tucker Senior Center today in Nanticoke for an outreach event to help local seniors apply for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

PTRR1“Property taxes are especially burdensome for our seniors, and we want to ensure that every senior eligible for the program is able to secure the property tax relief they deserve. To make the application process easier, my offices will be holding these events to assist seniors in completing their applications in an efficient manner,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

In 2017, Senator Yudichak’s outreach efforts helped Luzerne and Carbon County senior citizens apply for over $550,000 in property tax and rent rebates. In the same year, Luzerne County had a total of 19,032 applicants that received over $9.2 million in rebates through the program. In Carbon County, there were 3,811 applicants that received over $1.8 million in rebates through the program.

The Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities ages 18 and older. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate. The maximum standard rebate is $650 and the program is funded through state lottery and gaming revenues.

2018 Rebate Outreach Schedule:

PTRR3Please note: the events at the apartment buildings are for residents only and NOT open to public.

Anyone who needs assistance with filing their application for the program can visit Senator Yudichak’ s Nanticoke and Jim Thorpe district offices any Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and our West Pittston Office Monday, Tuesday & Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

February 21st Rose Tucker Senior Center, Nanticoke 10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

February 22ndPlains Manor, Plains 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

February 27th – Garden Village Apartments, West Pittston 9 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

February 28th – Temple Apartments, Edwardsville 9 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

March 1stLuzerne Towers, Luzerne 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

March 6th – Ken Pollock Apartments, Glen Lyon 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

March 7th – Lee Park Senior Center, Hanover Township 9.a.m.- 11:30 a.m.

March 8thInfantino Towers, Pittston 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

March 8thExeter Apartments, Exeter 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

March 13th – Swoyersville Apartments, Swoyersville 10 a.m.- 11:30 p.m.

March 14thLincoln Heights Apartments, Pittston 10 a.m. – noon

March 14th– St. John Apartments, Wilkes-Barre 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

March 15thCharles T. Adams Senior Center, Wilkes-Barre 9 a.m. – noon                                                                                                                                                       

Any updates or changes to the outreach schedule due to weather or any other unforeseen circumstances will be posted on www.senatoryudichak.com

The deadline to apply for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is June 30.

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Media Advisory: Senator Yudichak Announces 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Outreach Event

Nanticoke — February 20, 2018 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) will host an outreach event to help local seniors apply for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. 

The Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities ages 18 and older. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate.

WHO:  Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) will host an outreach event to help local seniors apply for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

WHAT:  The Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities ages 18 and older. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:  Rose Tucker Senior Center* | Community Room – 1st floor | 145 E. Green Street | Nanticoke, PA 18634

* Please note: The events at the apartment buildings are for residents only and NOT open to public. Anyone who needs assistance with filing their application for the program can visit Senator Yudichak’ s Nanticoke and Jim Thorpe district offices any Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and our West Pittston Office Monday, Tuesday & Friday 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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Senator Yudichak and Senator Baker Host Roundtable on Lead Exposure and Lead Testing

Wilkes-Barre, February 13, 2018 — Senator John Yudichak (D-14) and Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), joined by members of the Senate Lead Task Force, hosted a roundtable on lead exposure, lead testing, and lead abatement policies in Pennsylvania.

The roundtable featured Luzerne County Head Start, Maternal and Family Health Services, Early Intervention Services for Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, and St. Luke’s Hospital – Miners Campus.

Last October, the Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 33 — a measure authored by Senator Yudichak that created a statewide Senate Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee under the direction of the Joint State Government Commission.

 

Representing organizations that provide direct health and educational services to thousands of children in northeastern Pennsylvania, the roundtable participants added valuable input on newly proposed legislation by Senator Yudichak and Senator Baker that would require universal lead testing for children and expectant mothers.

“Universal lead testing is an effective and essential tool in preventing lead exposure in Pennsylvania children,” said Senator John Yudichak. “With over seventy percent of homes in Luzerne County being built prior to the 1978 federal ban on lead paint, it is imperative that universal lead testing become a primary prevention strategy for lead exposure in Pennsylvania.”

Currently, federal law requires children covered by Medical Assistance and the Affordable Care Act to be tested.

“Head Start screens all children who go through our program for lead exposure. It’s a national regulation that we follow and we know that even very low levels of lead exposure can have lasting negative effects on children,” said Lynn Biga, Executive Director of Luzerne County Head Start.

Lead exposure can cause long-term neurological and physical impairments, and children in at least 20 Pennsylvania cities, including Wilkes-Barre have tested positive for elevated lead levels.

“Although a lot of work has been done to determine and document the serious health effects of lead exposure, it too often remains a hidden threat. The effects are especially devastating in the development of children. There is much to be done in terms of alerting people to the dangers, identifying sources of lead contamination, and paying for removing and eliminating the risks,” said Senator Lisa Baker.

The roundtable was also attended by staff of the Joint State Government Commission, who are conducting research for a comprehensive report required from the Senate Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Over $800,000 in Multimodal Funding for Luzerne County Projects

Nanticoke, February 8, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that two projects in Luzerne County will receive over $800,000 in grant funding through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Hazle Township will receive $558,435 in funding for improvements to Old Airport Road. The project will include full width milling and overlay of the road, as well as constructing a new bike lane and drainage improvements near the Hazleton Regional Airport. The new bike lane is a continuation of the existing bike lane, which begins at nearby Hazle Township Community Park.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund will receive $301,774 for the Plains Township East Carey Street Streetscape Project. The project seeks to improve safety and provide access to the businesses in this area through sidewalk and curb replacement.

“Public infrastructure projects, like the ones funded today, make an immediate impact on enhancing the quality of life in our communities, and they set the stage for further economic growth in Luzerne County,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“The improvements made to Old Airport Road and the expansion of the bike lane will have a positive impact to our community. I thank Senator Yudichak, Representative Mullery, and Representative Toohil for helping to secure these funds for Hazle Township,” said Jim Montone, Chairman of the Hazle Township Board of Supervisors.

“As we continue to revitalize Plains Township, these funds are essential for making safety enhancements to East Carey Street so that we may continue to attract businesses and provide our residents and visitors with a beautiful walkable downtown area,” said Plains Township Board of Commissioners Chairman Gerald Yozwiak.

In addition to working with local municipal leaders, State Senator Yudichak worked with leaders of Luzerne County’s legislative delegation including — Rep. Mike Carroll, Rep. Gerald Mullery, and Rep. Tarah Toohil to secure funding for these regional projects.

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

Harrisburg, February 6, 2018 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Resolution 226 was adopted by the Senate 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 submit a report containing an analysis and recommendations to the Senate within one year.

Each year, DEP receives and reviews more than 30,000 environmental permit applications, and many stakeholders and regulated communities have expressed concerns about resources, inconsistencies, and delays in permit processes.

“Independently evaluated baseline data is the critical element that is currently missing and we must add it to the conversation about environmental permitting reform.  The report required by SR 226 will provide an analysis of statewide permitting programs to help us identify needed improvements that balance and safeguard environmental protection with economic development and job creation activities,” said Senator Yudichak.  

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

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Senator Yudichak Issues Statement on Governor Wolf Budget Proposal

Harrisburg, February 6, 2018 — Senator John Yudichak (D- Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement on the Governor’s proposed 2018-19 state budget:

“As budget discussions commence, I plan to work to ensure that investments in education and economic development programs are at the forefront. 

“Established northeastern Pennsylvania programs to improve educational opportunities, like the SHINE afterschool programs are a perfect match to the Governors’ PA Smart proposal. Both the Carbon/Schuylkill and Luzerne County SHINE programs have garnered national attention and have a documented record of improving academic performance and family participation.

 

“A responsible budget must adequately fund the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and other agencies that support economic activity and growth. Environmental permits are required for nearly every energy, construction, environmental remediation, or economic development project in Pennsylvania. In the past 15 years, DEP has suffered from substantial funding reductions, and I commend the Governor’s effort to add $2.5 million to help the department increase its staff complement.

“We must also continue to support infrastructure and development investments which create jobs. In northeastern Pennsylvania, the construction of the South Valley Parkway has attracted national developers, like Northpoint Development, and nationally acclaimed businesses like Chewy.com, Patagonia, and Adidas, creating thousands of jobs for the residents of northeastern Pennsylvania.

“I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to pass a responsible budget that supports our citizens and revitalizes our economy.”

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Penn State Hazleton Receives Three-Year $150,000 Funding Grant from Invent Penn State Program

Harrisburg, February 5, 2018 – Penn State University President Eric J. Barron announced today that the Invent Penn State program has awarded Penn State Hazleton a three-year $150,000 grant through its Commonwealth Campus Seed Funding Program.

The funding will inject $50,000 per year for three years into the THInc program (The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative), which is a network of sites and services in southern Luzerne County. Penn State Hazleton plays the crucial role of education provider within the THInc network.

The funding will also be used for the operations of the THInc program’s downtown Hazleton incubator, which will be a new center for entrepreneurship and innovation education within the community. The incubator will be located at 13-15 West Broad Street in the heart of the newly rebranded Arts and Innovation District in downtown Hazleton.

Greater Hazleton’s CAN DO and CAN BE, which is the region’s primary economic development organization, and the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress (DHAP), will collaborate with Penn State University to create a program that offers premier entrepreneurial support services, which will fuel longstanding economic development throughout the region.

“Combining quality education from Penn State University with innovation and entrepreneurship creates a formula that will drive economic growth in the Greater Hazleton region,” said Senator Yudichak (D-Luzerne). “Penn State University’s investment will provide the necessary resources for our important collaborators to provide a workspace for the residents of the Greater Hazleton to start, grow, and expand a business.”

“The investment of Penn State in our downtown urban community is highly laudable and greatly appreciated,” said Representative Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne). “Our economy in northeastern Pennsylvania needs every bit of stimulation and growth available to it. As we know, small business start-ups become job creators. We are hopeful that by supporting entrepreneurs with training, expertise and a location in which to grow, we will be fostering small ideas into the ‘next big thing.'”

Invent Penn State was launched in 2015 by Penn State President Eric Barron and is a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success.

“We are very pleased to have our seed grant application for THInc awarded by the University and we are excited about the potential for downtown Hazleton, the community, and our students,” said Dr. Gary M. Lawler, Chancellor for Penn State University Hazleton Campus. “This is a true collaboration with multiple partners beyond Penn State Hazleton including; the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, CAN DO, CAN BE, and the Society of Hispanic Business Professionals.”

“The Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress has been working closely with Penn State Hazleton for the past three years to help expand their educational programs and establish an innovation hub in downtown Hazleton’s new Arts & Innovation District,” said Krista Schneider, Executive Director for DHAP. “This includes acquiring a building to house a small business incubator, and since then we have raised $450,000 in state grants, tax credits, and private donations from six local banks, to renovate the property for Penn State’s entrepreneurial programs.”

“The THInc program is going to have a tremendous impact on the development of entrepreneurship in Greater Hazleton.” said Jocelyn Sterenchock, CAN DO coordinator of entrepreneurial services. “We look forward to partnering with Penn State Hazleton, the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress and the numerous other community partners involved to use our combined resources to foster a spirit of innovation throughout the area.”

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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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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’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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Senator Yudichak Announces $1.5 Million in State Grant Funding for Wilkes University and King’s College

Harrisburg, December 22, 2017 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that over $1.5 million in state grant funding has been awarded to Wilkes University and King’s College. 

Wilkes University will receive $1 million to upgrade their pharmacy facilities to allow Wilkes University the ability to deliver a 21st century educational experience for their pharmacy program. Renovations will be made to the Stark Learning Center, including new classrooms, new observation rooms, lab renovations, and a new pharmacy call center.

King’s College will receive $500,000 for renovations to the former Spring Brook Water Supply Company. The building will be used to house their Civil and Mechanical Engineering programs. Renovations will include six laboratories, four large multi-use classrooms, student study areas, and faculty offices.

“Wilkes University and King’s College have been great partners in the renaissance of downtown Wilkes-Barre, advancing a public-private partnership concept that is strengthening their educational institutions and helping set the stage for job growth in northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Senator John Yudichak.

In addition to the projects funded for Wilkes University and King’s College, the Waterfront Management Group, LLC received $500,000 for a mixed use complete rehabilitation of a warehouse creating 27 market rate apartments, a food court, retail space, and a business incubator in Pittston City.

“The Luzerne County legislative delegation, both Democrat and Republican, continue to work together to fight for public funding that leverages private sector investments in our communities and in regional economic growth,” said Senator Yudichak.

The grants are administered through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) administered by Governor Tom Wolf’s Office of the Budget. Senator Lisa Baker, Senator John Blake, Senator John Gordner, Representative Karen Boback, Representative Tarah Toohil, Representative Gerald Mullery, Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, Representative Mike Carroll, and Representative Aaron Kaufer also assisted with securing funding for these projects in Luzerne County.

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