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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Senator Yudichak and Representative Heffley Announce State Grant Funding for the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center

Harrisburg, December 22, 2017 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced today that the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center has received $250,000 in state grant funding.

The funds will be used to complete site preparation and construction associated with the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center in the Borough of Nesquehoning. This includes construction of the fireman’s training building, observation tower, and law enforcement training center.

“The Carbon County Commissioners have worked tirelessly to secure funding for the construction of the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center. It is imperative that our first responders have a top-notch facility as they work to protect the residents of Carbon County, and the funding awarded today will certainly assist with those efforts,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“Improving public safety is a top priority of mine, and I am glad to see that funds have been secured for the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center. Giving our first responders the resources they need for training will benefit every single community in Carbon County and make Carbon County a safer place to live,” said Representative Heffley.

The grants are administered through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) administered by Governor Tom Wolf’s Office of the Budget.

 

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Senator Yudichak and Representative Heffley Announce Growing Greener Grant for The Carbon County Conservation District

Jim Thorpe, December 7, 2017 —  State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced today that the Carbon County Conservation District has received a $215,000 Growing Greener grant from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The grant will go toward the Carbon County Conservation District’s ongoing stream stabilization efforts along the Nesquehoning Creek.

“I have long been a supporter of the Growing Greener program, and this project by the Carbon County Conservation District is the perfect example of how state programs enable local environmental and economic revitalization,” said Senator Yudichak. “Since 1999, Growing Greener has delivered needed resources to local, on-the-ground organizations that are working to improve the quality of life in northeastern Pennsylvania.”

“I want to thank Governor Wolf for approving this Growing Greener grant and to Senator Yudichak and Representative Heffley for their continued support of the Carbon County Conservation District. We are excited to continue our hard work to stabilize the Nesquehoning Creek watershed,” said Chris Storm, District Manager of the Carbon County Conservation District.

“These funds will be used to restore vital natural resources after years of industrial activity,” said Representative Heffley. “We must continue to be stewards of our watersheds to ensure future generations can enjoy our pristine wildlife.”

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Senator Yudichak Highlights DCNR Grants for Summit Hill Borough and Wildlands Conservancy, Inc.

Jim Thorpe, December 6, 2017 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the following grants have been awarded in Carbon County through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnerships Program:

  • Summit Hill Borough has received $58,600 which will go toward the rehabilitation and further development of Ginder Field. Work will include construction of a pedestrian walkway; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing and lighting; ADA access; landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
  • Wildlands Conservancy, Inc. has received a $328,750 payment toward the acquisition of approximately 492 acres along the Kittatinny Ridge in East Penn Township, for open space protection and passive recreation.

“Tourism is the number one industry in Carbon County, and we are grateful DCNR continues to be a significant partner in keeping it number one with resources like the Community Conservation Partnerships Program,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“The rehabilitation of Ginder Field and the acquisition of land by the Wildlands Conservancy will bolster the county’s tourism efforts and create further economic development opportunities for all of Carbon County,” added Senator Yudichak.

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Senator Yudichak Highlights Importance of DCNR Grants for Luzerne County

 Nanticoke, December 6, 2017 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that over $1.3 million in grant funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has been awarded in Luzerne County: 

  • Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc. has received $84,000 for the design for the development of approximately 4.7 miles of the D&L Trail in Laurel Run Borough, Fairview Township, and Hanover Township in Luzerne County from the Mountain Top Trailhead in Fairview Township to East Northampton Street in Laurel Run Borough.
  • Greater Hazleton Area Civic Partnership has received $500,000 for the development of the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails in Foster Township. Work will include the construction of approximately 3.5 miles of trail from the Foster and Hazle townships line to Eckley Back Road and a bridge; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.
  • Hazleton City has received a grant in the amount of $200,000 for further development of Center City Park, Hazleton City. Work will include construction of a pedestrian plaza, parking area and pedestrian walkway; installation of lighting and signage; ADA access; landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.

Hazleton City will also receive a grant in the amount of $47,500 which will go toward preparing a comprehensive Recreation, Park and Open Space Plan for Hazleton City.

  • North Branch Land Trust will receive a $500,416 payment toward the acquisition of approximately 389 acres in Bear Creek Township, Luzerne County for an addition to the Pinchot State Forest and open space protection.

“Luzerne County is blessed with unique opportunities for residents and tourists to enjoy the great outdoors — from a growing trail system to the tranquility of the Pinchot State Forest. The Community Conservation Partnerships Program is a vital resource for our communities as they work tirelessly to improve and expand recreational amenities for residents and visitors to Luzerne County,” added State Senator John Yudichak.

 

 

 

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Senator Yudichak Hosts Healthcare Enrollment Session

Nanticoke, December 5, 2017 —  State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) joined the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus in hosting a healthcare enrollment session at the Luzerne County Community College’s (LCCC’s) Education Conference Center in Nanticoke.

The enrollment period for Pennsylvanians looking to secure healthcare coverage has been shortened this year to just a 45-day window of opportunity which closes on December 15, 2017.

 

During the healthcare enrollment session at LCCC, constituents met with certified enrollment specialists and representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance who assisted them in securing the most appropriate health insurance plan to fit their family’s needs.

“Every Pennsylvania family deserves the personal security that comes with having health insurance that provides for preventative care, like cancer screenings, and coverage that prohibits discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

“Increased access to affordable healthcare results in more Pennsylvania families living healthier and more productive lives that, in turn, helps grow the Pennsylvania economy exponentially,” added Senator John Yudichak.

Consumers can enroll in a new health insurance plan by visiting Healthcare.gov or by finding more information at healthcareforpa.com.

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Senator Yudichak, Representative Pashinski and Mayor Tony George Announce Disaster Recovery Funding for Solomon Creek

Wilkes-Barre, PA — November 28, 2017 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne County) and City of Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George announced today that the City of Wilkes-Barre will receive over $2.3 million in funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED)’s CDBG-Disaster Recovery Fund. The announcement will boost total state funding for the complete reconstruction of the Solomon Creek flood control system to $4.6 million. An additional $4 million in city funds have been made available through debt refinancing, bringing the total overall state and local financial commitment to the project to more than $8.6 million. 

“The residents of the Solomon Creek section of Wilkes-Barre have long been promised comprehensive restoration of the flood protection system, and today’s announcement of $2.3 million in DCED Disaster Recover Funds brings us one giant step closer to its delivery and implementation,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “Homeowners and business owners have endured three floods in the last decade, and they watched helplessly last year as a forty-foot section of the flood wall collapsed at their feet,” noted Senator Yudichak. “In the past year, state and city officials have aggressively collaborated to develop a Solomon Creek flood control restoration plan that has secured more than $8.6 million to invest in flood protection. We greatly appreciate the work of DCED Secretary Dennis Davin and the Wolf Administration for recognizing the critical public safety importance of the Solomon Creek project and for their continued efforts to work with us to obtain additional funding to fully execute our plan,” added Senator Yudichak.

“The Solomon Creek retaining walls provide flood protection for over 700 homes and businesses in the South Wilkes-Barre area,” Representative Pashinski said. “These walls were built in the 1930s and have sustained considerable wear and tear over time. The recent high waters damaged portions of this system and now need immediate attention. Working cooperatively with Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Tony George, State Senator John Yudichak, Senator Bob Casey and Congressman Matt Cartwright we have all devoted great efforts to acquire sufficient dollars to complete the renovation of the areas in distress. I’m pleased to announce that we have been granted $2.3 million toward this multi-million-dollar project,” said Representative Pashinski.

“I am grateful to Governor Wolf, Senator Yudichak, and Representative Pashinski and their respective staffs for their commitment and diligence to the residents of Wilkes-Barre. The lives and livelihood of many citizens depend on the fortitude of the Solomon Creek wall. The city would not have been able to repair the retaining walls without the leadership of our legislators, as we were in dire need of financial assistance. The wall has been in disrepair since 1998. Twenty years later, it is finally beginning to be restored thanks to our partners in Harrisburg,” said Mayor Tony George.

In 2011, the Solomon Creek retaining wall was severely damaged by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and in November 2016, a 40-foot section of the retaining wall collapsed into the creek. With today’s announcement, the City of Wilkes-Barre has received $4.6 million in state funds for Solomon Creek. 

The $4.6 million in improvements to the Solomon Creek flood protection system will include reconstruction of retaining walls and improvements of pumping stations from Waller Street to Regent Street in Wilkes-Barre.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Safe Schools Grants for Carbon County

Harrisburg, November 17, 2017 — Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that two school districts in Carbon County have received Safe Schools Grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

Weatherly Area School District has been awarded a Safe Schools Equipment Grant in the amount of $20,000. The goals of these grants are to assist school districts in reducing unnecessary student disciplinary actions and to assist school districts in obtaining resources and training necessary to create a physical environment that fosters the safety and well-being of students and staff.

Lehighton Area School District has been awarded a Safe Schools School Police/Resource Officer Grant in the amount of $59,994. The grants are for two years and are intended to be used for the training and compensation of school resource officers and school police officers.

Also, the Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit has been awarded the Year 2 allocation of their 2016-17 Safe Schools School Police/Resource Officer Grant in the amount of $20,000.

“Our students and staff deserve to come to school every day and have a positive and safe learning environment. These grants will equip our school districts and intermediate unit with the essential resources they need to help keep students and staff safe,” said Senator John Yudichak.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Safe Schools Grants for Luzerne County

 Harrisburg, November 17, 2017— Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the following school districts in Luzerne County have received Safe Schools Grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE):

  • Wilkes-Barre Area School District has received a Safe Schools Equipment Grant in the amount of $18,609. Additionally, they have received a Safe Schools Police/Resource Officer Grant in the amount of $40,000.
  • Greater Nanticoke Area School District has received a Safe Schools Equipment Grant in the amount of $19,300.
  • Pittston Area School District has received a Safe Schools Equipment Grant in the amount of $19,990.

“Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about a horrific act of violence happening in schools across the nation. PDE’s Office for Safe Schools has become a leader in fostering a safe learning environment for our students. These grants will give our school districts more resources to help keep violence out of our schools,” said Senator John Yudichak.

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Senator Yudichak and Representative Heffley announce $350,000 in CFA Funding for Lehighton Borough

Harrisburg, November 14, 2017— State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced today that Lehighton Borough will receive $350,000 in funding from the Commonwealth Financing Authority for improvements to Upper Park.

Under the Act 13 Grant Program, the Lehighton Borough will receive $150,000 for improvements to the Upper Park Amphitheater. The Lehighton Borough will also receive $200,000 from the Multimodal Transportation Funds for streetscape and pedestrian improvements to the streets around Upper Park.

“The funds secured will provide much needed improvements to Upper Park, including adding ADA-accessible seating and correcting stormwater drainage issues at the amphitheater. By investing in the enhancement of this community asset, we are preserving and expanding opportunities for families to enjoy countless hours of entertainment in a beautiful setting,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“These projects have been in the works for years, and I am so pleased to see the improvements to Lehighton’s Upper Park and amphitheater come to fruition. This facility in downtown Lehighton has provided a fantastic venue for community entertainment and events. The funding for these park enhancements comes from the impact fee on natural gas development as well as the multimodal fund,” said Representative Doyle Heffley.

 

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Senator Yudichak Announces Multimodal Transportation Grants and Act 13 Grants for Luzerne County

Harrisburg, November 14, 2017— State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that eight projects in Luzerne County will receive more than $3.3 million in state funding through the Multimodal Transportation Fund and the Act 13 Grant program.

Under the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund program, the Earth Conservancy will receive $2 million in state funding.

The grant will be used to fund the construction of access roads from the South Valley Parkway (SVP) to two key properties of reclaimed Earth Conservancy land. The access roads will open up close to 400 acres of land for additional economic development and will further leverage the $83 million infrastructure investment made in the communities of Hanover Township, Nanticoke City, Newport Township, Ashley, Sugar Notch, and Warrior Run.

“The Earth Conservancy has done a tremendous job reclaiming mine-scarred lands and returning those lands back to constructive use as community-building economic development and conservation projects,” said State Senator John Yudichak.  “Strategic public investments in infrastructure like the South Valley Parkway and its access points has already leveraged over $100 million in private investment, from companies like Northpoint, that will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in the South Valley and along the I-81 corridor,” added Senator Yudichak. 

Mike Dziak, President and CEO of Earth Conservancy, extended his thanks to Senator Yudichak, Representative Mullery and the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) after the announcement of the award.  “Senator Yudichak, Representative Mullery, the CFA, and DCED have been strong supporters of Earth Conservancy since its beginnings. We appreciate how they see the importance of our work, and back our efforts to bring environmental and economic revitalization to the communities we serve,” Dziak said.

State Representative Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) worked closely with Senator Yudichak to secure the funds for the Earth Conservancy. “The Earth Conservancy has been the leader in improving mine scarred lands and turning them into economic development opportunities across the region. I was pleased to work with Senator Yudichak to secure this funding for these access roads which will bring new investments for the region,” said Representative Gerald Mullery.  

Also under the Multimodal Transportation Fund program, Wilkes University will receive $503,288 for pedestrian safety and streetscape improvements along Northampton Street located in Edwardsville Borough. Area State Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) and Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) worked closely with Senator Yudichak to secure funds for Wilkes University.

Additionally, Wyoming Borough will receive $167,995 for intersection improvements at Eighth Street and Susquehanna Avenue. Area State Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) worked with Senator Yudichak to secure funds for Wyoming Borough.

Under the Act 13 Grant program, funding for the following projects were announced: 

The City of Wilkes-Barre will receive $299,999 to replace a section of the retaining wall along Solomon Creek. They will also receive $75,000 for Weissman Park Improvements. Area State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) worked with Senator Yudichak to secure these funds.

West Pittston Borough will receive $25,000 for Phase II improvements at Baltimore Avenue Park. Area State Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) worked with Senator Yudichak to secure these funds.

Larksville Borough will receive $155,355 for improvements at Romanoskey Park improvements. Area State Representative Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) worked with Senator Yudichak to secure these funds. 

Hazle Township will receive $165,000 for improvements at Hazle Township Community Park. Area State Representative Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) worked with Senator Yudichak to secure these funds.

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Senator Yudichak Statement on Proposed Changes Being Considered by the Penn State Board of Trustees

Harrisburg, November 9, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement today on proposed changes to the Pennsylvania State University charter and bylaws that could prevent Penn State Board of Trustees members from recovering legal fees when they initiate legal action against the University:

“I echo the concerns of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale regarding the potential changes being made the Penn State Board of Trustees this week. At a time where the Board of Trustees should be discussing ways to implement the recommendations made by the Auditor General to improve transparency, they are instead considering changes that would further erode transparency,” said Senator John Yudichak. “I continue to advocate for improvements to the structure of the Board of Trustees, including a reduction in the size of membership which I believe would enhance the accountability and transparency of the Board,” Senator Yudichak added.

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Senator Yudichak, Representative Pashinski, and Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George’s Statements on Berkshire Hathaway Guard Acquiring Wilkes-Barre Center Building

Wilkes-Barre, November 1, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne County), and City of Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George released the following statements in response to the news that Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance Company will be acquiring the Wilkes-Barre Center property to solidify their national headquarters in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

“The investment of $11.3 million by Berkshire Hathaway Guard and its creation and retention of more than seven hundred jobs represents the biggest economic victory for downtown Wilkes-Barre in decades,” said Senator John Yudichak. “Under the leadership of Sy Foguel, CEO, and Carl Witkowski, COO, Berkshire Hathaway Guard has grown its business by over $1 billion dollars and doubled its workforce in the past five years,” Senator Yudichak added.  “Securing a national headquarters of a growing community-minded company, like GUARD, signifies that Wilkes-Barre and all of northeastern Pennsylvania is quickly becoming the best place to do business and create family sustaining jobs.”

“Guard Insurance has been a stellar corporate citizen since it was founded, which has continued under Berkshire Hathaway’s ownership,” said Representative Pashinski. “Keeping a national and growing enterprise—such as GUARD—in downtown Wilkes-Barre speaks volumes about the private sector’s faith in Wilkes-Barre City and northeastern Pennsylvania. A special thank you goes out to Governor Wolf for his strong support and also to the good work of Mayor Anthony George,” Representative Pashinski added.

“We are thrilled that Berkshire Hathaway Guard has chosen to continue to invest in the city of Wilkes-Barre and expand its national headquarters here. We were pleased to work with Sy Foguel and Carl Witkowski of Berkshire Hathaway Guard, Governor Wolf and the Governor’s Action Team, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Diamond City Partnership, Senator Yudichak, and Representative Pashinski on one of the largest economic development projects in the city’s history,” said City of Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George.

The Governor’s Action Team (GAT), working under the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) identified $855,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and the City of Wilkes-Barre applied and was awarded a $1 million Local Share Assessment (LSA) grant on behalf of GUARD’s downtown headquarters project.

After renovations, the project will eclipse $10 million. The project is expected to create 285 new jobs over the next three years while retaining the 441 positions already based in Wilkes-Barre.

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Senator Yudichak Hosts Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation

PITTSTON, October 30, 2017– The state Senate Environmental Resources & Energy (ERE) Committee held a public hearing today in Pittston on lead exposure and mitigation in Pennsylvania. Testifiers at the hearing offered a regional perspective on lead policy in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as an overview of services that state agencies provide currently to address lead exposure. 

“Lead exposure can lead to long-term health consequences, especially for children and older adults. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, efforts to mitigate lead exposure like the city of Wilkes-Barre doing biannual testing of its public water system and Pittston leading county-wide efforts to address aging infrastructure through a new municipal land bank authority are laudable,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

“However, we can do more and we should do more. Today’s committee hearing, along with the work of the Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee will help us establish policies to protect children and vulnerable populations from lead poisoning,” added Senator Yudichak.

Earlier this year, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak (SR 33) which creates a Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee that will work with the Joint State Government Commission to study the extent of lead contamination in Pennsylvania and provide recommendations on changes to laws and policies. The Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee is expected to hold its first organizational meeting in December.  

Testifiers at today’s hearing included representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Health, City of Pittston, City of Wilkes-Barre, SGS, Pediatric Associates of Kingston, and Pennsylvania American Water.

The state Senate ERE Committee is chaired by Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and John Yudichak (D-14).

 

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Media Advisory: Senator Yudichak to Host Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation

PITTSTON, October 27, 2017 − State Senator John Yudichak (D-14) will host a public hearing on lead exposure and mitigation in Pittston with the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The hearing will be held on Monday, October 30, 2017 beginning at 11:00 AM at the John P. Cosgrove Center, Pittston Memorial Library, 47 Broad Street in Pittston, PA.

To watch the hearing online, visit http://www.senatoryudichak.com/live.

The hearing is being held in Pittston to gain a regional perspective from Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is chaired by Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and Senator Yudichak.

Those expected to offer testimony during the hearing include Lisa Daniels, Acting Deputy Secretary for Water Programs, Department of Environmental Protection; Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Department of Health; Jennifer Berrier, Director, Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety; Michael Lombardo, Vice Chair, Pittston Redevelopment Authority; Henry Radulski, Health Director for the City of Wilkes-Barre; Cherie Gudz, Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety, SGS; and David Kaufman, Vice President, Engineering, Pennsylvania American Water.

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Democratic Senators to Gov. Wolf and General Assembly: Make Rebuilding Manufacturing a Priority

Senator John Yudichak

Senator Vincent Hughes

Senator Jim Brewster

Op-ed by state Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland)

October 23, 2017 − National Manufacturing Day is the first Friday in October.  While noting the importance of manufacturing on this one day is important, the focus on rebuilding our manufacturing base should be a priority for the governor and the General Assembly each day. 

That is why we’ve joined together to sponsor a comprehensive package of legislation that is designed to address the needs of manufacturers, our workers and the communities where they live, work and raise their families. 

Our legislation seeks to better coordinate policy through the creation of a “Chief Manufacturing Officer;” infuse new dollars into targeted vocational and technical training; expand the Manufacturing Tax Credit and earmark credits to help build manufacturing in distressed communities while aiding disadvantaged, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.

There is no doubt that manufacturing is a critically important part of our economy. Large employers who drive local economies and small mom-and-pop entrepreneurs are all key aspects.  According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of our gross state product, employs nearly 10 percent of our workers — over 565,000 — and accounts for $33 billion in annual exports. 

The value of manufacturing is even more pronounced in rural areas.  A recent study by the Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center indicates that manufacturing represents almost 15 percent of non-urban jobs, with average compensation more than 20 percent above the regional worker wage level. 

To ensure that manufacturing remains a viable and valuable force in our state economy, policymakers need to stay up with trends and accommodate changes in the market.   If we fail to work collaboratively, we will face losing more jobs and business opportunities.   According to the state Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2001 Pennsylvania has lost 264,000 jobs in manufacturing and 5,400 establishments. 

There are a great many challenges that manufacturers face.  A recent study of national manufacturing by Ball State University indicated that manufacturing employment has been affected by three distinct factors: productivity, trade and domestic demand. 

Our workers and our manufacturing establishments have become more innovative, use more technology based systems and require fewer workers per location.  Yet, even with these well-entrenched changes now altering the manufacturing landscape, there is still room for lawmakers to aid large and small manufacturing businesses. 

Senate Bill 923 would create a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office to provide advice on economic policy and be a singular voice for manufacturers at the highest level.  The measure also establishes a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help develop manufacturing strategy. 

Another bill (Senate Bill 924) would direct up to $5 million to a grant program for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases.   The legislation would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment.  This investment would help schools acquire the equipment necessary to produce a skilled workforce that can be employed in state-of-the-art manufacturing operations. 

The third legislative piece in the package would maximize the Manufacturing Tax Credit.  Senate Bill 925 would increase the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million, expand the credit to include job training costs, and allow small manufacturers to apply jointly for the credit.  A $2.5 million piece of the tax credit would be reserved for businesses located in distressed communities in addition to disadvantaged, minority, women and veterans owned businesses. 

Our legislative work is designed to follow up on a detailed report authored earlier this decade by the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council.  In this sweeping analysis of manufacturing, the blue-ribbon panel recommended several actions that could aid manufacturing.

Specifically, the study reported that 82 percent of manufacturers had a serious gap in worker skill level and 74 percent indicated that the skill-gap hampered the ability to expand.  Meanwhile, 78 percent of manufacturers were negatively impacted by a lack of access to capital. 

Moreover, the report emphasizes the need for a single point of contact in state government to connect manufacturers to solutions.  The report also recommends focusing attention on information sharing to enhance productivity. 

Policy proposals to address each of these needs are key parts of our legislative plan. 

The series of legislative measures that we’ve offered will address the critical needs of manufacturers.  In this month when Manufacturing Day is recognized, it is time for the General Assembly and the governor to focus on policies to rebuild our communities and make our workforce a priority.

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City of Hazleton to Provide Police Coverage to Banks Township

Hazleton, October 23, 2017 —  Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat today announced a municipal agreement between Banks Township and the city of Hazleton for the Hazleton Police Department to provide police coverage to Banks Township.

“Today’s announcement shows that the spirit of collaboration and cooperation is alive and well in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Communities cannot tackle all their challenges alone and it is imperative we all work together,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“When neighboring communities work together to help each other out, it doesn’t just benefit those communities, it benefits the whole region. We are pleased to help our neighbors in Banks Township out with police coverage and look forward to working with them in their community,” said Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat.

“The Banks Township Supervisors are extremely grateful to Mayor Cusat and Chief Speziale for this unique opportunity. We have been trying to secure police coverage for many years,” said Banks Township Supervisor Joe Clark. “The Pennsylvania State Police have done a tremendous job covering the township, but this opportunity will afford the residents of Banks Township a constant presence. Hopefully, it will be a win-win situation for everyone,” Clark added.

The Hazleton Police Department will cover all of Banks Township, which is 2.2 square miles with a population of 1,250 people. 

 

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Senator Yudichak Lauds Passage of Administrative Code

HARRISBURG, October 19, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) lauded passage of House Bill 118, an omnibus Administrative Code bill that will now go to Governor Wolf for his signature.

House Bill 118 includes language that requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to hold at least one public hearing prior to the closure of any state correctional institution in Fiscal Year 2017-18.

“I am pleased that language which reforms the prison closure process for the next fiscal year was included in the Administrative Code. While this is a good first step, I will continue to push for passage of SB 748, a comprehensive reform package that establishes a formal process prior to the closure of any public safety facilities owned or leased by the Pennsylvania State Police or the DOC,” Senator Yudichak said. “I want to ensure that no community, family or law enforcement personnel will ever have to endure the stress that was caused earlier this year when DOC announced the imminent closure of two of five state correctional institutions,” added Senator Yudichak.

Also included in HB 118 were two important environmental measures that Senator Yudichak co-sponsored this session that support recycling programs and renewable energy.

HB 118 provides a permanent funding mechanism for municipal recycling grants, which were stalled earlier this year based on uncertainty of future funding. “By providing a permanent funding mechanism, we are not only supporting our local government recycling collection programs, we are also fueling our local economies by aiding markets for waste industry employers and our manufacturing sector, which frequently relies on recyclable materials,” said Senator Yudichak.

The bill also encourages growth of Pennsylvania’s solar energy industry by ensuring that electric systems purchase solar renewable energy credits from in-state sources. “We are making significant progress in our clean energy sector with nearly 70,000 jobs statewide. Renewables are filling energy needs throughout the state, including in Carbon County, which boasts the state’s largest solar park that will ultimately produce enough electricity to fuel 3,000 homes,” said Senator Yudichak.

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Area Lawmakers Host Luzerne County Senior Expo

 

Kingston, October 12, 2017 − Senator John Yudichak (D-14), Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-120), and Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119) hosted the 2017 Luzerne County Senior Expo at the Kingston Armory today.  

Nearly 1,000 seniors attended the event which featured local, state and federal agencies, and other local organizations that provide vital services to area seniors. In addition, attendees were treated to free health screenings and flu shots.

“Every year I look forward to welcoming our area seniors to the Senior Expo. Whether they are here to learn about programs that can assist and protect them, or they are here to get health screenings or their flu shot, we’re glad we can help them out,” said Senator Yudichak.

“There are so many great programs available to help our seniors,” Senator Baker said. “People were lined up before the doors even opened. They told us they appreciate the chance to gather information all under one roof.”

It is great that our seniors have this opportunity today to connect with organizations that stand ready to help them,” said Representative Kaufer. “It’s great to see so much support for our seniors in Luzerne County.”

Many of the area seniors attending the Expo brought non-perishable food items that were distributed to the local food bank. 

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Hughes, Yudichak, Brewster Sponsor Three-Pronged Manufacturing Initiative

Package Designed to Spur Job Creation

Harrisburg – October 11, 2017 – A new legislative initiative designed to spur manufacturing and job creation should be a priority for Senate consideration, according to Sens. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and James R. Brewster (D-Allegheny), the prime sponsors of the plan. 

“The new legislative proposals are designed to refocus efforts toward both building up and bolstering the existing manufacturing base and creating new jobs,” said Hughes, who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Yudichak’s bill (Senate Bill 923) will create a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office to provide advice on economic policy.  The measure also establishes a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help develop manufacturing strategy. 

“Our manufacturing sector has been, and will continue to be, the steel in Pennsylvania’s economic spine,” Yudichak said, “but, we can do even better if we coordinate policy and bring new ideas forward. 

“Communities across Pennsylvania, big and small, have been impacted by economic shifts which affect our manufacturing sector.”

According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, manufacturing accounts for more than 12 percent of the state’s gross state product.  More than 516,000 Pennsylvanians are employed in manufacturing. 

The senators said that more manufacturing companies need access to additional state financial resources to gain a competitive advantage and keep up with changing technology and job training needs.  To assist manufacturers, Brewster will introduce a bill to fully develop access to the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund. 

Brewster’s proposal (Senate Bill 924) would direct up to $5 million to a grant program for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases.  

“An important aspect of improving our manufacturing sector, building our job base and retooling manufacturing to serve economic needs for years to come is through enhanced vocational training,” Brewster said.  “This is an important initiative that will open more doors to more workers.”

A second element of his legislation would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment. 

Another important feature of the package is a measure authored by Hughes to maximize the Manufacturing Tax Credit.  The Philadelphia lawmaker’s bill (Senate Bill 925) would increase the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million, expand the credit to include job training costs, and allow small manufactures to apply jointly for the credit.  A $2.5 million piece of the tax credit would be reserved for businesses located in distressed communities in addition to disadvantaged, minority, women and veterans owned businesses. 

“Businesses who are engaged in manufacturing should be able to use tax provisions to generate new business opportunities and jobs,” Hughes said.  “The initiative is unique in that it permits small operations to come together in applying for the credit and includes job training costs.

“Our small manufacturers play an incredibly important role in our economy.  Too often our policy focus is on attracting large businesses when we could also be finding new ways to help small operations grow and prosper.”

The Center for Manufacturing Research reports that Pennsylvania manufacturers employ nearly 10 percent (9.6 percent) of the state’s workforce.  Pennsylvania exported more than $33 billion in manufactured goods in 2016.

Hughes noted that “given the need to build a diverse and strong job base, lawmakers should explore every avenue that is available to secure new manufacturing jobs.   The initiative is aimed squarely at helping business create jobs.”

“It is clear, our economic recovery is gaining steam, but it remains uneven,” Yudichak said.  “There are many sectors that are growing but others need new tools to get traction in today’s international marketplace.”

Brewster noted worker’s wages grow when job skills are enhanced and that is the result of additional job training. 

Building the manufacturing sector generates family-sustaining jobs, reinforces a strong middle class, improves wages and helps strengthen neighborhoods and communities, Hughes notes. 

“This fall, I am hopeful that legislative energy can be aimed at aiding the manufacturing sector so that jobs can be generated,” he said.

Hughes said that he expected the legislative package would be introduced within the next two weeks.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Grant for Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

NANTICOKE, September 13, 2017 − Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) has received a $390,000 federal grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

With the funding, EPCAMR will continue to be able to provide support to watershed groups and municipalities in their pursuit of protecting watersheds impacted by abandoned mine drainage (AMD) in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This includes being able to do a monthly water quality assessment of discharges in the Northern Anthracite Coal Field to plan for AMD remediation and quarterly borehole monitoring with a plan for abatement of AMD including high and low precipitation events.

“For over twenty years, EPCAMR has led reclamation efforts of abandoned mine lands as well as restored and remediated watersheds impacted by abandoned mine drainage in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The grant allows EPCAMR to continue to revitalize Northeastern Pennsylvania by removing the environmental scars left behind by the coal industry,” said Senator Yudichak. “

“Through education and engagement, EPCAMR can advance environmental justice and set the stage for commercial and residential development to take root in communities across the region,” said Robert Hughes, Executive Director of EPCAMR. “We appreciate the support of DEP, along with Senator Yudichak and our congressional delegation in helping EPCAMR to carry on with our vital initiatives and support our coalfield partners throughout Pennsylvania.”

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Senator Yudichak Issues Statement on PA Attorney General Narcotics Investigation

WILKES-BARRE, August 11, 2017 − Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) commended the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement officials as Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrest of 14 people on charges stemming from a $1 million heroin and crack cocaine ring operating in Wilkes-Barre.

“Operation Outfoxed” was a collaborative effort among multiple local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies including the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Safe Streets Task Force, Edwardsville Police, Kingston Police, Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, Luzerne County detectives, Luzerne County Drug Task Force, Luzerne Police, Luzerne County Sheriffs’ Office, Pennsylvania State Police, Plains Township Police and Wilkes-Barre Police.

Luzerne County continues to be at the forefront of the war against drugs and the intensifying opioid crisis gripping Pennsylvania and the country. In 2016, 140 people died because of an overdose, which was up from 95 deaths in the previous year. So far in 2017, 77 people have overdosed and another 10 deaths remain under investigation by the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office.

“We must keep up the pressure on the drug networks that peddle poison on our streets and curb the sale of illegal narcotics that often leads to violence in our neighborhoods,” said Senator Yudichak. “These joint operations demonstrate that every level of law enforcement is working together and no resources will be spared as we combat this threat to our way of life in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

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Senator Yudichak and Representative Toohil Issue Joint Statement on City of Hazleton Financial Distress Filing

NANTICOKE, August 9, 2017 − Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement regarding Mayor Jeff Cusat’s request to place the City of Hazleton in Pennsylvania’s Act 47 Program for financially distressed communities.

“No community wants to join the fraternity of distressed cities, but sometimes it is the only responsible decision that elected leaders can make,” said Senator Yudichak. “Northeastern Pennsylvania will never fully thrive economically until Hazleton and other major cities are strong and stable once again.”

“My office will coordinate closely with the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), Mayor Jeff Cusat, and Hazleton’s City Council to ensure that the city emerges from Act 47 as quickly as possible and better positioned than when it entered,” he said. “With assistance from Harrisburg, I have the utmost confidence we can work together to execute a financial recovery plan that benefits all residents of the City of Hazleton.”   

Representative Tarah Toohil also pledged her support to the City of Hazleton as they begin to navigate the Act 47 program.

“Entering the Act 47 program is the start of financial recovery for the City of Hazleton,” said Rep. Toohil. “We have overcome difficult challenges before and my office will utilize every resource of state government to help our city restructure its finances, meet its obligations to vendors and employees, and continue to provide public services to the people of Hazleton.” she said.

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