Senator John Yudichak Opposes Premature Prison Closure Plan

NANTICOKE – January 6, 2017 − Senator John T. Yudichak, (D-Luzerne/Carbon), strongly condemned a proposal made today by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to close two state correctional facilities and displace over one thousand state workers.

Five state prisons are under consideration for closure, including three in northeastern Pennsylvania – SCI-Retreat in Luzerne County, SCI-Waymart in Wayne County and SCI-Frackville in Schuylkill County.

“With an unemployment rate of 6.3% in Luzerne County that continues to climb higher than both the state and national average, what sense does it make to add to the economic distress of northeastern Pennsylvania by closing state prisons,” said Senator John Yudichak.

The State Correctional Institute at Retreat is the largest employer in Newport Township with four hundred employees.  In addition to devastating job losses, Newport Township would also lose significant tax revenue that would further exacerbate the community’s challenging financial condition.

“The proposal to close SCI-Retreat demonstrates a short-sighted fiscal policy that will unfairly punish hard working state employees and deal a devastating blow to the taxpayers of Newport Township and Luzerne County,” said Senator Yudichak.

Senator Yudichak will work closely with colleagues in both parties, including Senators David Argall and Lisa Baker as well as Representative Gerald Mullery, to avert a premature, ill-advised closure of SCI-Retreat, SCI-Frackville, and SCI-Waymart.

Senator Argall, Senator Baker and Senator Yudichak recently voted for legislation that would have required public hearings before the closure of any state facility.  The measure was advanced to ensure transparency in the process and to give a voice to the taxpayers and workers who could be negatively impacted by a closure of a state facility. The legislation passed the Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives. Work has already begun among area legislators and PSCOA, the union representing corrections officers and other prison employees, to call on the Department of Corrections to delay any decision on the closure of state prisons until a formal, public hearing can be held.

“Significant economic decisions are being made without legislative or public input thrusting us into a situation where within twenty days a thousand workers will have their lives turned upside down and the economy of northeastern Pennsylvania will take a major hit,” said Senator Yudichak.

“No prison worker should have to choose between uprooting their family and finding a new job,” said Rep. Mullery. “I will not support any plan that balances the state budget on the backs of the workers of northeastern Pennsylvania.”

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Yudichak Announces Recreation Grants for Luzerne and Carbon Counties

NANTICOKE, December 13, 2016: State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that more than $2.5 million in Community Conservation Partnership Program grants were awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to communities in the 14th Senatorial district.

Funding for the DCNR grants come from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Key 93), the Environmental Stewardship Fund and several federal funding sources.

“Investing in the conservation and recreational assets of the communities of Luzerne and Carbon counties is a sound investment that improves the quality of life throughout northeastern Pennsylvania,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

The following grants were awarded in Luzerne County:

  • Hazleton City: $115,000 for the rehabilitation and further development of Altmiller Park.
  • Jenkins Township: $100,000 for the development of Riverfront Park.
  • Larksville Borough: $40,000 for the rehabilitation and further development of Washington Street Park.
  • Nanticoke City: $250,000 for the further development of Lower Broadway Recreation Complex.
  • North Branch Land Trust: $498,000 for the development of the D&L Trail in Plains and Wilkes-Barre Townships and Laurel Run Borough.
  • North Branch Land Trust: $1,000,000 toward the acquisition of approximately 822 acres on Penobscot Mountain in Slocum and Newport Townships.
  • Pittston City: $260,000 for the rehabilitation and further development of Sullivan Park.

The following grants were awarded in Carbon County:

  • East Penn Township: $30,000 for further development of the East Penn boating facility at Riverview Park.
  • Lehighton Borough: $200,000 for rehabilitation and further development of Baer Memorial Park.
  • Lehighton Borough: $40,000 to prepare a master site development plan and a Recreation Center feasibility study for the approximately 4-acre Grove Park.
  • Summit Hill Borough: $40,000 for further development of Ginder Field.

Senator Yudichak worked to secure the funding for local communities with area state representatives Mike Carroll, Doyle Heffley, Gerald Mullery, Eddie Day Pashinski, and Tarah Toohil.

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Yudichak Announces Luzerne County Multimodal Transportation Funds

NANTICOKE, December 6, 2016 – State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that six projects in Luzerne County will receive close to $2 million in state funding through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.

“As a supporter of the legislation that created the Multimodal Transportation Fund, I am pleased to announce funding has been secured for projects that will enhance local infrastructure and create new jobs in Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke, Ashley, Bear Creek and Jenkins Township,” said Senator John Yudichak. “Local communities often have limited resources to invest in major transportation projects, so securing these state dollars is essential to improving the quality of life and setting the stage for economic growth in Luzerne County,” added Senator Yudichak.

The local projects include:

  • Market Square Redevelopment: $430,000 for Market Square Properties Development, LLC for roadway and sidewalk work in the city of Wilkes-Barre as part of the Market Street Redevelopment project.
  • George Avenue Streetscape: $600,000 to complete a pedestrian safety streetscape on George Avenue in the city of Wilkes-Barre. The project will help the city transform the smaller business districts that are not located in the immediate downtown business district.

State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) worked closely with Senator Yudichak to secure funds for the Market Square Redevelopment and George Avenue Streetscape.

“As part of the revitalization of the downtown area, these projects will continue the beautification and transformation of the city of Wilkes-Barre. The changes to Market Street Square will leverage private investment and enhance the whole appearance of the block, and the George Avenue Streetscape project will improve the small business district by connecting the city to our neighborhoods,” said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne).

“As Mayor of Wilkes-Barre, I am extremely grateful to Senator Yudichak and Representative Pashinski for the funding that they secured for investment in Wilkes-Barre. The projects will improve both downtown Wilkes-Barre and George Avenue, which is the main thoroughfare of the Parsons neighborhood. It is vital that we invest in both our downtown commercial district as well as our neighborhood business districts to create prosperity in the entire city,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George.

The City of Nanticoke also received $463,742 for intersection improvements at Broadway and East Main Street. The project will create a safer intersection for both motorists and pedestrians and will provide multimodal access to the city through multiple parking facilities and spacious lighted sidewalks. State Representative Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) worked with Senator Yudichak to secure these funds.

“I am pleased that these funds have been secured to further enhance the ongoing streetscape project in the city of Nanticoke.  These intersection improvements are essential for the safety of our community as we continue to revitalize the downtown area,” said Representative Gerald Mullery.

Upon hearing today’s announcement, Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiatrowski issued the following statement: “On behalf of the City of Nanticoke, I would like to thank Senator Yudichak and Rep. Mullery for supporting the revitalization of our downtown and driving critical state funding to these efforts.”

Other local projects that received funding include:

  • Ashely Borough Infrastructure Improvements: $100,000 to assist with infrastructure repairs throughout Ashley Borough.
  • Old East End Boulevard Road Reconstruction: $100,000 for the reconstruction of Old East End and Pittston Boulevards located in Bear Creek Township.
  • River Road and Market Street Intersection Improvements: $82,000 to widen the roadway at the intersection of River Road and Market Street in Jenkins Township.

 

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Yudichak and Heffley Announce Multimodal Transportation Funding for Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center Project

NANTICOKE, December 6, 2016 – Carbon County will receive $272,304 in state funding for improvements to the access road that will lead to the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center, State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced today.

Along with the widening of the access road, the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training project includes construction of a fire training facility, a two story multi-use building with classrooms and meeting areas, emergency equipment garages, and a storm water facility that will recycle water, which will be made available for fire training.

“The Multimodal Transportation Fund is a critical resource for local communities to invest in a safe, modern infrastructure system,” said Sen. John Yudichak. “Improvements to the public access road are essential to the construction of the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center, that once completed, will be a valued asset for the first responders of Carbon County.”

“We need to ensure our local responders have the best training and equipment possible, and that begins with the new Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center in Nesquehoning, said Rep. Heffley. “I look forward to the completion of this project which will improve public safety throughout Carbon County.”

“Carbon County would like to thank the commonwealth and our local state legislators for awarding us this important funding,” said Chairman of the Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein. “The access road upgrades for the Emergency Training Center is a vital part of the project. Securing this funding will help us move forward in creating a training hub for our first responders, which will improve the safety in each and every community.”

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Yudichak and Heffley Announce $1 Million in State Grant Funding for the Borough of Weatherly

JIM THORPE, November 23, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced today that the Borough of Weatherly will receive $1 million in state grant funding.

The funding will be used to revitalize the downtown commercial section of the Borough. The borough has obtained easements to create a bike/hiking trail to the Lehigh Gorge State Park and the trail head will be in the downtown section of the borough. The relocation of the Borough offices and Magistrate Building will open parking and commercial sales to the downtown business district.

“Congratulations to the leaders of Weatherly Borough who have fought hard to advance economic and community development opportunities for the residents of Weatherly. With this funding, residents and visitors will see a transformed downtown that they will be able to enjoy for years to come,” said Senator Yudichak.

“This is a significant project that will improve public safety in Weatherly Borough, and I would like to congratulate borough officials for all their hard work. The Weatherly Borough Downtown Revitalization Project is a wonderful investment in the community and I am pleased to see state funding for this project,” said Representative Heffley.

“The Borough of Weatherly is extremely excited about their economic future with the award of the RACP grant for the redevelopment of our downtown. We would like to thank Governor Wolf for awarding the borough this grant as well as Senator John Yudichak and State Representative Doyle Heffley for their continued support and efforts in helping us to secure this great opportunity to move our community forward,” said Weatherly Borough Manager Harold Pudliner.

The grant is administered through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) administered by Gov. Tom Wolf’s Office of Budget; and can be used for acquisition and construction of economic development projects in a number of categories including cultural, civic, recreation and historical. 

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Yudichak Announces $2.5 million in State Grant Funding for Hazleton Altamont Redevelopment Project

HAZLETON, November 23, 2016: State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that Hazleton Partners will receive $2.5 million in state grant funding for the Historic Altamont Redevelopment project.

“I am pleased to help secure this funding which will continue the revitalization of downtown Hazleton. The redevelopment of the Altamont by the Hazleton Partners will bring new opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy,” said Senator Yudichak.

Area State Representative Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) worked closely with Yudichak to secure the funds for the project which will include 8,755 square feet of new, ground floor retail space; 17,510 square feet (floors 2 & 3) of new class A office space; and 41,200 square feet of new, market rate residential space on floors 4-8.

The grant is administered through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) administered by Gov. Tom Wolf’s Office of Budget; and can be used for acquisition and construction of economic development projects in a number of categories including cultural, civic, recreation and historical.

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Yudichak Applauds New State Program to Improve Access to Low-Cost Natural Gas

Harrisburg – November 1, 2016 – A new state program designed to provide funding for infrastructure access to low-cost natural gas is now open and applications for the program are being accepted by businesses, manufacturers, municipalities and economic development organizations, school districts, and hospitals, state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) said today.

The Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE) offers up to $24 million to expand the availability of natural gas.  Grants of up to $1 million can be used for pipeline construction, acquisition, right-of-way, land clearing and other costs. The grants must be matched by at least 50 percent of total project costs. The first set of grants are expected to be approved next year.

“The Pipeline Investment Program was created by the General Assembly in order to enable even more residents to benefit from Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.  It has the potential to further reduce energy costs for homes and businesses,” Yudichak said.

“Pennsylvania is blessed by ample energy resources including natural gas,” Yudichak said.  “Saving money on energy helps businesses and families balance their budgets.  It’s essential that we do more to make accessibility to low cost energy more available so costs can be reduced,” Yudichak added.

The Pipeline Investment Program is being operated through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).  More information about the PIPE program is available at dced.pa.gov.

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Senator Yudichak and Rep. Mullery Participate in Newport Township Press Conference

Nanticoke, November 1, 2016 –  State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) joined Newport Township officials and the Earth Conservancy today to announce new efforts aimed at stopping the illegal dumping and vandalism on Earth Conservancy lands and other key swaths of land in the Lower South Valley.

Through funding from the Earth Conservancy and a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Keystone Communities Grant Program, Newport Township has purchased an ATV that will be used to actively patrol the problem areas and prosecute anyone caught dumping or damaging property. Additionally, the Newport Township Police Department has acquired a new police SUV with the help of a USDA grant. The vehicle will be an additional tool for the increased enforcement effort.

“I applaud Newport Township and the Earth Conservancy for their efforts to combat this problem,” said Yudichak. “With the addition of these vehicles and a community that is vigilant to this issue, I am confident that we will be better equipped to patrol these remote areas.”

“The ability to access remote areas of our township will provide a boost to law enforcement efforts as they work to keep the community safe,” said Newport Township Council President Paul Czapracki. “We also want to make sure that our neighboring communities in the Lower South Valley are well protected and these vehicles will assist with that.”

“Our officers need the proper tools to protect and serve our communities. Today, we’ve made their job a little easier and our neighborhoods safer,” said Mullery. “With much of its lands consisting of uninhabited and undeveloped areas, patrolling Newport Township can be a challenge. The acquisitions of the ATV and SUV will greatly assist our police department in preventing illegal dumping and providing all other emergency operations.”

“We’re glad we were able to team with Newport Township to take action on this issue,” said Mike Dziak, President and CEO of Earth Conservancy. “We know firsthand the damage that illegal dumping, trespassing, and vandalism do to these hard-to-reach sites.  An off-road vehicle was key to the Newport Township Police being able to access these areas.”

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Yudichak and Pashinski Announce $215,000 DCED Greenways, Recreation, and Trails Grant for Coal Street Redevelopment Authority

HARRISBURG, October 24, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) announced that the Coal Street Redevelopment Authority will receive $215,000 in state funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development Act 13 Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program.

The Coal Street Redevelopment Authority will receive this funding to expand the Coal Street Ice Rink to add a second ice rink. The ice rink is utilized by residents and by the area’s local ice hockey teams, including the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Wilkes University’s newly formed Men’s and Women’s hockey teams.

“The Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program is designed to fund projects that invests in regional recreation assets. The expansion of Coal Street Park in Wilkes-Barre will improve access to unique recreational amenities that improve the quality of life in Luzerne County and enhance a growing athletic partnership between the Coal Street Redevelopment Authority and Wilkes University,” said Senator Yudichak.

“With increased participation in hockey in Luzerne County, the expansion of the Coal Street Ice Rink is vital in providing area teams with a first class facility to showcase the burgeoning talent in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Eddie Day Pashinksi.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George added, “As mayor, I am very excited to learn that Wilkes-Barre has been awarded this grant which will help fund improvements and expansion of the Coal Street Ice Rink. I am thankful to Sen. Yudichak and Rep. Pashinski for their diligence in acquiring this grant.” 

The project is funded by the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP).

Act 13 of 2012 established the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects.

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Yudichak Announces DCED Greenways, Recreation, and Trails Grants

HARRISBURG, October 24, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today announced that seven projects in Luzerne County will receive over $600,000 in state funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development Act 13 Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program. The grants were approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“The significant funding approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority invests in the people of Luzerne County by expanding access to the many regional recreational amenities of northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Senator John Yudichak.

Area state representatives Mike Carroll, Tarah Toohil, Aaron Kaufer, Gerald Mullery, and Eddie Day Pashinski worked closely with Senator Yudichak to secure the funds.

The Luzerne County projects approved for funding are:

  1. The City of Hazleton will receive $115,000 for Phase II development of the new Center City Park.
  2. The Coal Street Redevelopment Authority will receive $215,000 for an expansion of the Coal Street Ice Rink to add a second ice rink.
  3. Fairview Township will receive $43,592 to install a playground at Memorial Park.
  4. The West Pittston Borough will receive $56,661 to construct the Baltimore Avenue Park.
  5. The City of Hazleton will receive $102,135 for improvements to Altmiller Park.
  6. Jenkins Township will receive $65,709 for improvements to facilities in Spadi Park.
  7. Larksville Borough will receive $21,250 for the completion of a comprehensive recreational plan.

These projects are funded by the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP).

Act 13 of 2012 established the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects.

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Statement from Senator Yudichak on RACP Grant Funding Announcement for Innovation Squared

Wilkes-Barre, October 14, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement after joining Governor Tom Wolf and other state and local officials to announce a $2 million state grant for the Innovation Squared project in downtown Wilkes-Barre:

[frame align=”right”]innovationsquared[/frame]“The Wilkes-Barre Innovation Squared project is a collaboration of government, private sector and our institutions of higher education,” Yudichak said.

“We are all working together to leverage the necessary investment that will foster an environment that will not only create new jobs but breed new companies, new technologies and new products that will transform the Pennsylvania economy.”

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

Also taking part in the announcement was Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121st), Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George and Joseph Boylan, vice president Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.

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Yudichak Comments on New Shale Drilling Regulations

HARRISBURG, October 7, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy, today provided the following statement in response to the state’s new regulations on gas drilling:

“The new regulations for unconventional oil and gas drilling strike a fair balance between industry and environmental concerns by further protecting Pennsylvania’s natural resources and adding clarity for those who engage in exploration and drilling practices.

“I voted for this rulemaking when it came before the Environmental Quality Board, and I’m extremely satisfied with the outcome of the regulatory process.  It was thorough, transparent and welcomed input from industry representatives, environmental advocates and citizens.

“Now, as we move forward, it is imperative that regulators make every effort to assist our industry partners as they work to comply, expand their operations, hire more workers and strengthen Pennsylvania’s energy portfolio.”

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Senator Yudichak Comments on Act 13 Decision

Nanticoke, September 29, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement on yesterday’s state Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of Act 13 of 2012, regarding oil and gas drilling.

“I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to strike down many of the provisions from Act 13 that usurped too much responsibility from local governments and prohibited health care professionals from having access the pertinent information related to chemicals used in the drilling process.

“The General Assembly, with the passage of Act 13, squandered an important opportunity to enact a responsible natural gas development policy that should include a modest severance tax and sensible environmental protections that enable the natural gas industry to grow in Pennsylvania while vigorously protecting our residents’ rights to clean air and water.

“With this ruling, it is my hope that the legislature will come together to take the necessary action to craft a more balanced law that supports the growth and success of the gas industry without compromising health and safety.”

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Committee Approves Yudichak Bill that Protects Emergency Responders on State Game Lands

Harrisburg, September 26, 2016 – The state Senate Committee on Labor and Industry today unanimously approved Sen. John Yudichak’s (D-Luzerne/Carbon) legislation that would provide state coverage of workers’ compensation benefits to municipal first responders who suffer injuries while providing help during emergencies on state game lands.

“I’m pleased by today’s unanimous, bipartisan vote,” Yudichak said. “No municipality should be footing the bill when one of their emergency responders are injured while volunteering their efforts on any state property.”

Under the Yudichak bill (Senate Bill 1363), the state workers’ compensation insurance would cover volunteer firefighters, volunteer ambulance corps personnel and volunteer rescue squad members who suffer injuries while providing assistance on state game lands.

The lawmaker said the legislation was prompted by several emergency incidents at the Glen Onoko Trail state game lands located in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County. It’s estimated that there have been between 10-20 incidents where first responders have been injured while making rescues.

Even though the volunteers were responding to emergencies on state game lands, their local municipal insurance plans were saddled with covering their injuries.

“This is about fairness,” Yudichak said. “The system shouldn’t penalize municipalities when their first responders help out – and the system certainly shouldn’t discourage or deter any first responder from taking action during emergencies on state game lands.”

Mark Nalesnik, director for the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, added, “Our volunteers are on state game lands all the time for search and rescue missions. It makes sense that state coverage be provided when these first responders suffer injuries while serving the public.”

Nalesnik pointed out that it is contradictory that injuries on some state property are covered, but denied on others. For example, he said first responders are covered when they respond to emergencies on property managed by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), but not on state game lands.

Over the past five years, Yudichak said DCNR – which manages 2.2 million acres of state forest land — has paid a total of 17 new injury claims from volunteer first responders that would have otherwise been cover by municipal workers’ compensation policies. He said there are 1.5 million acres of state game lands in Pennsylvania managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

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Vietnam Veterans Recognized in Walk of Honor Ceremony

Nanticoke, September 24, 2016 State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) joined other state and local officials this morning at a special ceremony to honor more than sixty veterans of the Vietnam War and commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the War.

The ceremony, which was held in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs recognized each veteran and presented them with a Vietnam Veteran Lapel pin.

A 50th anniversary commemorative plaque honoring local veterans of the Vietnam War was also unveiled on the Luzerne County Community College Walk of Honor in Nanticoke.

 

“We stand here today to participate in a long overdue national ceremony to pay tribute to Vietnam Veterans who served their nation with honor and distinction,” said Senator Yudichak. “Like many veterans, they do not seek recognition or accolades, but the veterans of the Vietnam War most certainly deserve it.”

In 2008, an act of Congress, the National Defense Authorization Act empowered the Department of Defense to facilitate commemorative programs across America to honor and thank the more than 9 million veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam War between 1955 and 1975.

In Luzerne County, more than 11,000 men and women served in Vietnam.  The Luzerne County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Monument lists 83 servicemen and women who were killed during the war and 6 servicemen listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.

Steve Biernacki, a decorated Vietnam Veteran from Ashley, who earned (2) Bronze Stars, (2) Army Commendation Medals, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnam Service Medal was one of the veterans recognized during the ceremony.

“I have never heard Steve dwell on his accomplishments…he served his country and he performed his duty,” said Senator Yudichak.  “It’s that simple. Steve’s thoughts, and his heart, remains not with the medals he has earned, but with his brothers in arms.  Those who served with him …and the millions more who have answered the call of their nation in a time of war.”

Thomas Leary, President of Luzerne County Community College, and James Spagnola, Director of the Luzerne County Veterans Affairs Office also offered remarks.

State Representatives Gerald Mullery (D-119th), Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121st), Aaron Kaufer (R-120th) and Nicholas Gilliland, CSM, PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs also participated in the ceremony.

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Senator Yudichak Issues Statement on 9/11 Anniversary

Nanticoke, September 11, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today issued the following the statement on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack:

“On the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks that took thousands of innocent American lives and tried to destroy the very values that make us Americans, I am moved by the resilience of the American people who have refused to allow their lives to be diminished by terrorism and who have worked to make us a safer and stronger nation.”

“Locally, through the efforts of surviving families like Phyllis Carlo, who lost her son Firefighter Michael Carlo as he battled the blaze at the World Trade Center, we have built the Luzerne County Community College Walk of Honor to remember and memorialize the heroism of that fateful day and to ensure the families and the first responders of September 11, 2001 are never forgotten.”

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Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program: A Flood Recovery Success Story

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West Pittston, September 9, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak joined state lawmakers, local officials and Wyoming Valley residents to mark the 5th anniversary of the 2011 flood recovery efforts that began in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Lee on communities from West Pittston to Shickshinny.

“From the depths of that devastation and the despair of that moment, I am proud of how the Wyoming Valley rallied and how local leaders pulled together to get this region back on its feet,” said State Senator Yudichak.

The flooding in the fall of 2011 left forty-six businesses and one hundred eighty-four homes completely destroyed in Luzerne County, while another eight hundred homes and business suffered major damages.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency disaster proclamation and directed FEMA and its state counterpart, PEMA, to get assistance to home owners in the path of the flood. While homeowners were soon getting some flood mitigation assistance, small business owners impacted by the flood found that few if any federal or state programs would help them rebuild.

“Working with Commonwealth Finance Agency, the entire Luzerne County State Delegation and with both Chambers of Commerce in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre – we developed the Luzerne County Small Business Loan program to assist flood impacted business with quick access to a new $4 million loan program that offered loans of $100,000 per business at a 1% interested rate,” said Yudichak.

The Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program, administer by the MetroAction organization, aided twenty-two businesses with $1.6 million in assistance that helped them rebuild and preserve over two hundred family sustaining jobs.

Recognizing the value of a job creating investment tool in Luzerne County, a county that struggles with higher than state average unemployment, the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program is now a permanent resources for our economic development partners to foster entrepreneurship and spur the creation of family owned small businesses. In the past two years, the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program has invested an additional $1.7 million in thirty-three businesses that have created or retained over two hundred jobs in Luzerne County.

“The credit for the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program’s early success goes to business owners, like Mike LaNunziata of Crest Cleaners, who demonstrated that not hell or high water is going to keep them from rebuilding their businesses and the communities they call home,” said Yudichak.

President of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and Secretary of MetroAction added, “As we mark the five-year anniversary of the devastating floods of September 2011, MetroAction celebrates the success of the Luzerne County Flood Recovery Program. Nearly $3.5 million worth of capital has been deployed to small businesses in our region. Not only did the loan fund assist businesses with rebuilding after the disaster, in many cases the fund has allowed businesses to expand and thrive.”

Joining Yudichak and Durkin at the ceremony were: Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, (D-121st), Joseph Boylan, Vice President, Economic Development, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, and Mike La Nunziata, owner of Crest Quality Cleaners in West Pittston.

Luzerne County businesses can apply at: http://www.metroaction.org/small-business-loans/

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Yudichak Veterans’ Bill Becomes Law

Exempts nonprofit vet organizations from realty transfer tax

Wilkes-Barre, August 17, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak’s legislation exempting nonprofit veterans’ organizations from the realty transfer tax has been signed into law.

Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) succeeded in adding the language from his veterans’ bill (Senate Bill 421) into the state’s tax code legislation (Act 84), which was enacted by Gov. Tom Wolf.

“As our veterans organizations face membership fluctuations, we must work to ensure they are not penalized for merging or transferring property,” Yudichak said.

“I will continue to work on legislation that provides our veterans with the appropriate benefits, support and the respect they deserve.”

Yudichak credited veterans’ organizations for playing an active leadership role in communities throughout the state. Ranging from charitable work to social and civic activities, Yudichak said the organizations are important to both their membership and community.

A similar tax exemption already exists for volunteer fire and emergency service organizations.

Yudichak also pointed to two other measures in the budget package that benefitted veterans.  They include:

  • a veteran job creation tax credit that will allow businesses to claim $2,500 for every veteran they hire; and
  • the Neighborhood Assistance Program was expanded to provide more affordable housing opportunities for veterans.

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Yudichak Comments on DBI Sale to Sterling Partners

Hazleton, August 5, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following the statement on the sale of Hazleton based DBI Services to Sterling Partners of Chicago.

“I welcome Sterling Partners to northeastern Pennsylvania, and I look forward to working with their management team as they build upon the impressive growth and success of DBI Services.”

“After speaking with Sterling Partners executive team, it is clear to me that the company wants to use their expertise and considerable financial resources to expand growth opportunities in northeastern Pennsylvania by investing in DBI’s world class employees, creating new jobs and continuing its commitment to Greater Hazleton.”

“Neal and Paul DeAngelo built an indelible business legacy and created a family entrepreneurial culture in Hazleton that they have now ensured will endure through their strategic alliance with Sterling Partners.”

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Yudichak Lauds Business Investment Bill in Budget Package

Wilkes-Barre, July 15, 2016 – Calling it a good way to boost the state’s economic growth, State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today praised an item in the new budget that makes state grant and loan dollars available for shovel-ready business expansion projects.

The measure, which was amended in the state’s fiscal code, funds the state’s “Business in Our Sites” (BIOS) program, which invests state dollars in shovel-ready sites to spur economic development. Yudichak said lawmakers were able to re-capitalize the program by transferring $75 million from the state’s “First Industries” and “Building PA” programs.

“The Business in Our Sites program will allow us to make significant new investments in efforts to grow businesses and create jobs,” said Senator Yudichak. “As I work with business leaders from throughout our region on innovative ways to diversify and build our economy, it is helpful when we have additional state resources available to strengthen our efforts.”

“CAN DO has successfully used the BIOS program for the development of several projects including the Humboldt Industrial Park North and Humboldt Station,” said W. Kevin O’Donnell, President of the industrial and economic development corporation serving Greater Hazleton.  “As a direct result, millions of dollars of private investment was made and thousands of jobs created in Greater Hazleton.”

“In this fast paced, competitive business environment, the need for developed and shovel ready sites is greater than ever,” said Joseph Boylan, Vice President for Economic Development at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.  “The BIOS program is a vital resource to attract companies and drive economic development in our region.”

Administered by the state’s Commonwealth Financing Agency, Business in our Sites grant awards are limited to 40 percent of the financing awarded, up to $4 million. The program provides grant and loan investments to current and emerging businesses interested in locating, expanding and developing business sites in Pennsylvania. Up to a third of the program’s money can be used to provide grants.

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PA Budget Includes Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit to Help Create Jobs and Restore Mine Lands

Harrisburg, July 15, 2016 – The recently enacted Pennsylvania state budget includes the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit Program to assist companies who create jobs and help restore mine scarred land.

For the first time in Pennsylvania history, the coal refuse electric generation industry will be eligible for a tax credit of $4 per ton of coal refuse. In the 2016-17 state budget, $7.5 million in tax credits will be available and that number will rise to $10 million in 2017-18. No company will be eligible for more than 22.2 percent of credits available in any year.

“The Coal Refuse and Reclamation Tax Credit will have a profound impact on Pennsylvania’s economy and environment,” said Senator John Yudichak (D – Carbon/Luzerne). “Coal refuse generation plants, like Panther Creek Energy in Nesquehoning, can leverage these tax credits with private sector funds to create more jobs, reclaim more land and produce more affordable electricity.”

Presently, the coal refuse electric generation and reclamation industry employs 3,800 Pennsylvania residents and the generation plants combined create 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy. The industry has removed approximately 200 million tons of refuse coal from mine scarred land in Pennsylvania.

“Panther Creek Energy and the coal refuse remediation industry are greatly appreciative of the General Assembly’s passage and the Governor’s signing of the Coal Refuse Energy Tax Credit legislation,” said Sean Lane, a representative from Olympus Power LLC, owner of Panther Creek Energy. “This signifies a deepening of the Commonwealth’s commitment to support an industry that cleans up the coal refuse piles in the anthracite and bituminous regions of our state. The program is also evidence of the continuation of our partnership with Pennsylvania as we address the environmental, human health and safety hazards posed by the refuse piles littering the Commonwealth.”

Luzerne County Legislative Delegation Announces $400,000 for SHINE After School Program

Harrisburg, July 13, 2016 – The Luzerne County Legislative Delegation today announced that the new state budget invests $400,000 in state funding in the SHINE After School Program of Luzerne County at Wilkes University.

Luzerne County SHINE is an evidence based, data driven program dedicated to improving academic performance, empowering families and developing a 21st century workforce. Luzerne County SHINE is modeled off of the successful SHINE program in Carbon and Schuylkill counties. SHINE After School Program of Luzerne County at Wilkes University was spearheaded by State Senator John Yudichak and Congressman Lou Barletta who have worked together to secure $3 million in federal, state and private funding to support the Luzerne County SHINE program.

“I appreciate the support of my legislative colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, who see the value of the SHINE after school program in our local school districts and who understand that an investment in our children is an investment in a better Luzerne County,” said state Senator John Yudichak.

The county’s legislative delegation includes: Senators John Yudichak, John Gordner, Lisa Baker and John Blake; and Representatives Aaron Kaufer,Gerald Mullery, Eddie Day Pashinski, Tarah Toohil, Michael Carroll and Karen Boback.

“I am thrilled that the Luzerne County Shine program is receiving $400,000 in state funding. We are truly grateful to the Luzerne County Legislative Delegation for all their collective efforts in securing this funding for the children of Luzerne County. This program is making a difference and will continue to make a difference in our schools. These additional funds will allow the program to grow and have greater impact on our students and their communities,” said Tony Grieco, executive director of the Luzerne Intermediate Unit.

Luzerne County SHINE currently operates educational centers in five school districts including: Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Nanticoke, Wyoming Valley West and Hanover.

Wilkes University serves as the educational host for SHINE of Luzerne County and provides administrative and educational support services for the program.

“I am so grateful to the legislature for seeing the value that the SHINE after school program brings to the children of our region. This investment in our children’s future will allow us to continue the work we have only just begun. This commitment to the program will allow us to provide academic enrichment for our children, allowing them to build a stronger academic foundation, and preparing them for the careers of the future,” said Carol Nicholas, director, SHINE of Luzerne County at Wilkes University.

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Bridge Opening Completes Coal Creek Flash Flood Recovery

Plymouth Township, July 5, 2016  − State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) was joined by federal, state and local officials this morning to cut the ribbon to open the Coal Street Bridge in Plymouth Township. The bridge was destroyed in a serious flash flood in July, 2011 that caused more than $1 Million in damage to the Coal Creek watershed. A temporary bridge was installed a few months after the flood, until a new bridge was designed and built.

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“The formal opening of the bridge marks the completion of a remarkable recovery on Coal Street and is a symbol of the tireless work, coordination and cooperation between citizens and officials at all levels of government,” said Senator Yudichak.“The disaster of 2011 could have broken the spirit of many communities, but here in Plymouth Township and Plymouth Borough it was a rallying cry.”

“I would like to thank the Plymouth Township supervisors for their leadership, dedication, and commitment to completion of this project,” said Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119th).

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“This is a great example of how state and local governments can work together on improving infrastructure.”

“Plymouth Township is grateful for everyone who contributed in any way to make this day possible and help in the construction of the bridge,” said Gail Conrad, Chairperson, Plymouth Township Board of Supervisors. “The tremendous cooperation from everyone – federal, state, and local officials, in addition to all the agencies – says it all. Special thanks to our neighbors in Plymouth Borough. It shows again good things happen when everyone pulls together – no one can do things alone.”

Representatives for Governor Tom Wolf, Congressman Lou Barletta, Senator Bob Casey and Pat Toomey were joined by Luzerne County officials, and Plymouth Borough officials at the ribbon cutting ceremony.