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.

Yudichak and Heffley announce Carbon County Multimodal Transportation Funds

 

JIM THORPE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today announced that two Carbon County projects will receive over $700,000 in state funding through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

“Passage of Act 89 created critical transportation dollars that fund not only large scale statewide job creation and economic development projects, but also important projects like the completion of Lime Street in Bowmanstown,” said Yudichak.

“These projects will enhance public safety by shortening EMS response times and provide our first responders the opportunity to obtain required hours of training without traveling hours to other parts of the state. Our infrastructure is in desperate need of an update and I’m pleased to see these projects are receiving funds to be completed,” said Heffley.

The larger of the two local projects is receiving $494,636 in funding for the completion and connection of Lime Street, located in Bowmanstown Borough. Lime Street would connect the lower portion of Bowmanstown with the Meadowcrest subdivision, which is located on the east end of the borough.

The subdivision contains approximately 100 homes with another 25 lots available for new home sites. The subdivision currently has just one access road. The completion of this project would most importantly offer a direct access road for emergency personnel to travel in case of an emergency and cut response time by 15-20 minutes to this area of the borough.

Yudichak and Heffley Announce $20,000 DCED Greenways, Recreation, and Trails grant for the Borough of Weatherly

JIM THORPE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today announced that the Borough of Weatherly will receive $20,000 in state funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development Act 13 Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program.

“The Greenways, Recreation, and Trails program is designed to fund projects that will develop, rehabilitate, and improve our local parks, trails, and recreation areas,” said Yudichak. “Tourism is a valuable economical asset to the residents of Carbon County and is an important job creator in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

“The Rails to Trails project is a wonderful resource for our area. It is great to see fitness, recreation and tourism come together to provide opportunities for family fun,” said Heffley. “It is important that we continue to expand our trail system to ensure that all Carbon County communities can access this wonderful resource.”

Weatherly will receive this funding to help complete a trail feasibility study. The borough plans to develop a five mile hiking/biking trail between the borough and the Lehigh Gorge State Park. The trail would create economic opportunities not only for the borough and its residents, but also for surrounding communities.

 

 

Yudichak and Heffley announce over $500,000 in Monroe County Local Share Account grants for Carbon County

JIM THORPE, July 1, 2016 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Hefley (R – Carbon) today announced that six Carbon County projects will receive $528,000 in state funding through the Monroe County Local Share Account.

“The Commonwealth’s investment in these vital projects will help local communities better protect and serve the residents of Carbon County” said Yudichak.

“I am pleased to see this money returning to Carbon County to supplement projects throughout the district to improve public safety, assist our volunteers and enhance our communities. I’m happy to work together with Sen. Yudichak to secure these funds for several much-needed projects in our area,” said Heffley.

Carbon County will receive $200,000 to help with the construction of the Carbon County Emergency Operations and Training Center. The site will be a two building facility that will provide county first responders with live fire training sites, a drill tower, and classrooms where responders can receive instruction and training. The facility will also bring together all emergency personnel from Carbon County’s 23 municipalities and allow them to train together, which in turn will make them more efficient in any emergency situation.

The Carbon County Council of Governments will receive $100,000 to help with the purchase of an asphalt zipper as well as the purchase and construction of a pole building. The asphalt zipper will allow the CCCOG municipalities to save on paving project costs by enabling them to complete this work in house. The purchase and construction of the pole building will allow not only for the housing of shared equipment like the asphalt zipper, but will also allow for additional efficiencies and economies of scale associated with cooperative purchases and services.

The Borough of Nesquehoning will receive $160,000 for the Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1 building/property renovation project. The project will include excavating the existing embankment on the south side of the property as well as building a retaining wall. This will correct the drainage problem that produces water laying on State Route 209. In addition a 36’ X 60’ garage bay will be added to the existing fire house to adequately store the Hose Company’s equipment and vehicles.

Kidder Township will receive $20,000 to help with the purchase of a 2016 Ford Utility Police Interceptor. Kidder Township is a resort community, which includes the I-476 and I-80 corridor, which deals with numerous vacationers. The addition of this unmarked patrol vehicle will assist patrolmen by allowing them to monitor highways for traffic law offenders and conduct undercover surveillance on the growing drug epidemic in Carbon County.

Lower Towamensing Township will receive $30,000 to help with the purchase of a roadside boom mower. The township is replacing their current mower, which is no longer able to cut overgrown vegetation on its 29.25 miles of roads. The new piece of equipment will be able to reach 24 feet to cut and clear vegetation along guide rails and steep banks.

Beaver Meadows Borough will receive $18,000 to construct a bathroom and storage facility at the Alfred J. Mitcho Playground.

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Yudichak Announces Act 13 Grants

NANTICOKE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today announced that six Luzerne County projects in the 14th Senatorial District will receive nearly $700,000 in state grants from two different programs under Act 13.

“The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created by the General Assembly under Act 13 of 2012 to ensure that all communities throughout Pennsylvania benefit from natural gas drilling,” said Senator Yudichak. “Investing in community recreational areas, parks, and educational facilities contributes to the vitality of Luzerne County, helping our region remain a beautiful place to live, work and play.”

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

The Luzerne County projects approved for funding are:

The City of Pittston will receive $250,000 for a new gateway to the Riverfront Park at the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Water Street.

 

King’s College will receive $130,000 to help with the construction of a multi-purpose track and field complex that when completed will also be available for public use.

The Huber Breaker Preservation Society in Ashley will receive $100,000 to help with the conversion of three acres of abandoned mine lands, once part of the Huber Breaker Colliery,

into a memorial park.

The Plymouth Borough Recreation Board will receive $75,000 to update the John Mergo Community Park.

Newport Township will receive $40,072 for construction of a walking trail around Wanamie Park.

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.

The Earth Conservancy will receive $85,000 to upgrade the Askam Borehole Mine Drainage Treatment System project in Hanover Township.

This project is funded by the Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment Program (AMDATP).   The Marcellus Legacy Fund also allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for abandoned mine drainage, abatement, and treatment.

 

 

Yudichak Announces Luzerne County Multimodal Transportation Funds

NANTICOKE, July 1, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today announced that six Luzerne County projects in the 14th

Senatorial District will receive more than $3.9 million in state funding through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

“As a longtime advocate for responsible infrastructure investments and a backer of Act 89 of 2013, which created the Multimodal Transportation Fund, I am pleased to announce this approval of state funding. These projects will improve our local transportation network, business districts, and neighborhoods,” said Senator Yudichak.

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

The Luzerne County projects approved for funding are:

Hazle Township will receive $1,000,000 for the extension of Hazle Township Boulevard.

The project will extend the boulevard and complete the construction of a link from State Route 309 to State Route 93.

City of Pittston Streetscape project will receive $560,000 for the continuation of a project on South Main Street. Proposed improvements include ADA compliant sidewalks, improved crosswalks and lighting to improve pedestrian and traffic safety.

Plains Township Main Streetscape project will receive $323,600 to improve the area along Main Street.The project will include installation of new sidewalks, curbing, handicap ramps, and period style lighting from West Carey Street to Henry Street.

Hanover Township will receive $550,000 for a road resurfacing project for several streets in the township. The work will also rehabilitate storm water drainage and ADA accessible curb ramps.

City of Nanticoke will receive $673,000 for a streetscape project that will improve traffic flow and traffic safety in the downtown corridor along East Main Street.

West Pittston Borough will receive $150,658 to help fund a cooperative road improvement project with Exeter and Wyoming Boroughs.

Wilkes University will receive $650,000 to help fund pedestrian safety improvements near the Henry Student Center at the corner of River and South Streets.

Senator Yudichak, Rep. Pashinski, & Rep. Carrroll Announce Growing Greener Grant for Earth Conservancy Project

Nanticoke, June 21, 2016 – State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121st) and Representative Mike Carroll (D-118th) today announced a $50,000 Growing Greener grant for the Earth Conservancy to reclaim the Laurel Run Corporation surface mine in Plains and Wilkes-Barre Townships.

An important part of the project includes the elimination of unsafe highwalls that were left from previous mining activity. Approximately six acres of mine-scarred land that had been strip mined in the past will also be reclaimed with new vegetation and mitigate a potential source of acid mine drainage. Work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“This grant not only adds another parcel to the long list of sites that the Earth Conservancy has successfully reclaimed, it also improves public safety,” said Senator Yudichak.

“Highwalls are particularly dangerous. This project addresses a lengthy highwall, which at some points rise to about 30 feet, as the severe slope of the material makes them prone to collapse,” said Michael Dziak, President/CEO of the Earth Conservancy. “This is why they are a priority in the abandoned mine land reclamation program, and why we are pleased to partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on this project.”

“The cooperative effort among the state lawmakers was vital in the effort to secure this grant. My thanks to Senator Yudichak for his leadership and Representative Carroll for his assistance,” said Representative Pashinski.

“The safety and environmental benefits of the cleanup are clear and very important to the residents of the area near the abandoned mine,” said Representative Carroll.

The Growing Greener Grant Program is an investment of state funds that address Pennsylvania’s environmental concerns. The program encourages partnerships between counties, municipalities, county conservation districts, watershed organizations and other organizations to restore and protect the environment.

Sen. Yudichak Credits Penn State for Wilkes-Barre Investment

Harrisburg, June 20, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak released the following statement after Penn State University announced that they will double the number of the entrepreneurship centers across the state under the University’s “Invent Penn State” grant program:

“The $50,000 ‘Invent Penn State’ grant awarded to our Wilkes-Barre T.H.I.N.K. Center has helped fuel Wilkes-Barre’s ongoing economic resurgence. I appreciate the University’s interest and willingness to invest its grant funds and other resources into unique regional collaborations that link classrooms to boardrooms.

By leveraging cutting edge academic planning with our region’s business and workforce strengths, I am confident Wilkes-Barre will emerge stronger, more diversified and poised for a brighter economic future.

I am excited by Penn State University’s strategic investment in our 21st century economy as it comes at a critical time in our economic future and it will pay dividends for years to come.”

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Sen. Yudichak Congratulates Cosgrove on Commonwealth Court Nomination

Harrisburg, June 13, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak today provided the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s nomination of Luzerne County attorney Joseph Cosgrove to the state Commonwealth Court:

“I applaud Governor Wolf, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Democrat Leader Jay Costa for forging a bipartisan compromise that will bring a talented jurist, like Joe Cosgrove, to the Commonwealth Court.

“Attorney Joe Cosgrove is at his core a man of social justice imbued with a judicial temperament and a scholarly knowledge of the law.

“Joe Cosgrove’s experience on the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County and his work as legal counsel for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts makes him uniquely qualified to be an exceptional judge on the Commonwealth Court.”

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Yudichak to Host Telephone Town Hall on June 7

Harrisburg – June 3, 2016 – State Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) will be hosting a live telephone town hall on Tuesday June 7 at 6:05 p.m.

“The telephone town hall is an excellent way for taxpayers to express their opinions and share thoughts,” Yudichak said. “The format is interactive and conducive to the discussion of a wide range of state and local issues.”

Yudichak said that citizens will be called and asked if they want to join in the discussion. If residents want to participate they simply need to stay on the line to listen or ask questions, Yudichak said.

“The telephone town halls are an excellent outreach tool that opens lines of communication,” Yudichak said. “Citizens are able to ask specific questions, call attention to local problems or issues and request constituent services.”

Yudichak said that residents also have the option to sign up for the call on his website www.senatoryudichak.com in addition to submitting questions prior to Tuesday’s call.

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State Sen. John T. Yudichak: I Want to Clear the Air on My Environmental Record

Op-ed by State Senator John Yudichak

Recently, a few groups have challenged my record on the environment.  They have raised concerns about two issues – the Clean Power Plan and the new Chapter 78 oil and gas well site regulations.

First, to be clear, I support the goals of the Clean Power Plan.  And, as the public record reflects, I have never voted to diminish the plan.  Currently, I am working with the Wolf administration to ensure this federal climate change initiative is responsibly carried out with little impact on Pennsylvania jobs.

The Clean Power Plan, advanced by the Environmental Protection Agency, was halted by the United States Supreme Court, and as a result, state action on the plan has stalled until the case is resolved.

Second, check the record, as a member of the Environmental Quality Board I supported Governor Wolf’s newly proposed Chapter 78 regulations that will provide the most comprehensive oversight of the oil and gas industry ever implemented in Pennsylvania history.

Some groups, however, believe you cannot be pro-environment and pro-job creation.  On that point, we will have to agree to disagree.

I have the great honor of representing Luzerne and Carbon Counties in the state Senate.  It is a region with a rich heritage of both energy production and a passion for the conservation of our pristine natural resources.  The citizens of northeastern Pennsylvania have proven you can do both.

It is my responsibility, as a public servant, to reflect my constituents who want legislators to work with one another to achieve that important balance between economic development and environmental protection.

My environmental record over the years has been one of consistent support for policies that promote environmental reclamation and conservation without losing sight of the number one priority for most Pennsylvanians – jobs.

Working with groups, like the Earth Conservancy, we have secured more than $40 million to reclaim thousands of acres of mine scarred lands and miles of polluted streams.  On many of those reclaimed sites new industries have grown and created jobs.  Companies, like CVS Caremark located in Hanover Township, have helped us transform our environmentally challenged sites by investing in our economic landscape with the creation of six hundred new jobs in the growing pharmaceutical industry.

Moreover, in the past two decades, I have supported new laws to promote a proper balance between environmental protection and economic development: Growing Greener, H2O PA, the Alternative Fuels Incentive Act, the Alternatives Energy Portfolio Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act, and the Alternative Energy Investment Act.

Collectively, my support of these landmark legislative achievements have made Pennsylvania a leader in renewable energy development, new energy jobs and the advancement of environmental protection.

In Carbon County, we have worked with Con Edison to develop PA Solar Park – Pennsylvania’s largest solar park.  PA Solar Park will ultimately produce enough electricity to fuel three thousand homes and effectively reduce the CO2 emissions of 22,971 barrels of oil.

In Greater Hazleton, we are working with an energy company, the Atlantic Carbon Group, that has invested over $16 million in our region and created nearly one hundred new jobs.  Atlantic Carbon Group is employing 21st century mining techniques to harvest our plentiful anthracite coal resources to support steel manufacturing, water purification and the manufacturing of silicon.

Investing in environmental protection and supporting the development of our energy infrastructure should not be mutually exclusive enterprises.  Building new natural gas plants, modernizing our natural gas infrastructure, while we continue to press for the development of alternative energy sources demonstrates that we can create jobs and protect the environment.

Building consensus, forging common sense solutions and working with Republicans and Democrats may not be popular in some political circles, but it is exactly how I try to best represent the good people of northeastern Pennsylvania.

We can fight climate change.  We can improve our air and water.  We can be responsible stewards of PENN’s woods, and still develop Pennsylvania’s diverse energy resources to create jobs and opportunities all across this great Commonwealth.

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Sen. Yudichak Comments on Resignation of State’s DEP Secretary

Harrisburg, May 20, 2016– State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) provided the following statement in response to today’s resignation of John Quigley, who served as secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP):

“Governor Wolf made a quick and appropriate decision in accepting the resignation of DEP Secretary John Quigley.

Secretary Quigley demonstrated poor judgment and a clear inability to work with legislators to advance the Governor’s environmental agenda.

I’m looking forward to working with interim Secretary Patrick McDonnell and the Republican and Democratic members of the General Assembly to put this matter behind us and move forward on the important matters before the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee like the Clean Power Plan and Chapter 78 regulations governing the oil and gas industry.”

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Carbon/Schuylkill & Luzerne Counties SHINE Programs Selected to Join National STEM Learning Initiative

Announcement made at US News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference

Baltimore, MD, May 19, 2016 – The STEM Funders Network (SFN) announced today that the Carbon/Schuylkill and Luzerne County SHINE programs have been selected as one of the 10 STEM Learning Ecosystems to join the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, a national initiative, initially developed in 2015-16 beginning with 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems communities across the United States.

Led by the STEM Funders Network, the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative is built on over a decade of National Academy and related research focused on how to cultivate successful STEM collaborations. The selected sites from across the United States have committed to collaborate and share their work towards this common vision.

“These communities have the potential of reaching millions of young people both in and out-of-school with innovative STEM learning opportunities,” said SFN co-chairs Gerald Solomon, executive Director, Samueli Foundation, and Ron Ottinger, Director of STEM Next. “It is an initiative to design the kind of infrastructure that ensures STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ and is a top priority for communities supporting youth to develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in a global workforce.”

“We have already seen the success stories that SHINE has helped produce here in our region of Pennsylvania, and it is very exciting to be able to share our own experiences with others. Working with other leaders in STEM education can only strengthen SHINE and provide even better opportunities and brighter futures for our kids,” said Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th).

“SHINE is quickly earning a national reputation for its STEM based after-school curriculum,” said State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). “Joining the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative will add value to the quality of education of every SHINE student, and contribute to the growing body of data that demonstrates the importance of investing in STEM based after-school programs.”

“The SHINE program at Lehigh Carbon Community College serves students who may not have access to this kind of STEM curriculum otherwise,” said Lehigh Carbon County Community College President Dr. Ann D. Bieber. “Developing knowledge in STEM is one of our key goals, as we work to give children the skills to succeed in the workplace, which for them may seem so far into the future. We understand the importance of instilling capabilities in students early, and are honored that the LCCC SHINE program was recognized nationally for this work. SHINE is a great example of the kind of impact we can have when we work together.”

“Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE program is extremely proud to be part of this grassroots STEM community movement, and we look forward to working with all of our partners to expand opportunities in STEM education to area youth,” Rachel Strucko, Director of the Lehigh Carbon Community College Carbon and Schuylkill SHINE program.

“SHINE’s involvement in the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative will allow Wilkes University to share its expertise in STEM education in support of this new opportunity for children in our community,” said Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, president of Wilkes University.

“We are thrilled that the Carbon/Schuylkill/Luzerne County Ecosystem and our network of community partners will be the vehicle for exposing thousands of children to STEM education,” said Jeanne Miller, Interim Director, SHINE of Luzerne County at Wilkes University.

The initiative is focused on bringing all in and out of school learning platforms together, from PreK through higher education including the voice of workforce, to ensure that ALL people have equal access and opportunity to succeed in the STEM fields.

The 10 communities will join the initial cohort of the national STEM Community of Practice, having demonstrated cross-sector collaborations that deliver rigorous, effective preK-16 instruction in STEM learning in schools and beyond the classroom – in afterschool and summer programs, science centers, libraries, at home and other places both virtual and physical— that spark young people’s engagement, develops their knowledge, strengthens their persistence and nurtures their sense of identity and belonging in the STEM disciplines, leading to building a vibrant and competitive STEM workforce. As these STEM Ecosystems evolve, a student will be able to connect what they learn in and out of school with real-world learning opportunities, leading to STEM-related careers and opportunities.

Learn more about the initiative at stemecosystems.org.

About the STEM Funders Network: The STEM Funders Network brings together grant makers working in STEM to learn from one another, leverage their collective resources and collaborate on high-impact projects they could not undertake alone. The vision of the STEM Funders Network is that all U.S. students should have equal opportunity to engage in high-quality STEM learning experiences that will enhance their ability to succeed in a STEM career or other chosen path.

About SHINE:

SHINE in Carbon and Schuylkill counties is administered by Lehigh Carbon Community College and provides academic support for students from seven school districts. The comprehensive 42-week after school/summer program includes kindergarten home visits, 1st – 4th grade STEM Centers, 5th – 8th grade STEM Career Academies, and high school career awareness/mentoring opportunities.

SHINE of Luzerne County is a three-year pilot program based on the Carbon/Schuylkill model. The program is operating in five area school districts. Wilkes University is the educational host. It is an innovative and data driven after-school program that improves academic performance, increases school attendance, reduces juvenile crime and breaks the cycle of poverty in NEPA – all by empowering families through education.

The two SHINE programs currently provide services to more than 1,000 students.

Senator Yudichak and Rep. Toohil Announce $500,000 Grant for Downtown Hazleton Arts Center

Hazleton, May 16, 2016– State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and Representative Tarah Toohil (R-116th) have announced The Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress has been awarded a $500,000 Keystone Communities Grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development. The City of Hazleton sponsored the application on behalf of the Alliance, which administers the city’s Keystone Main Street program.

ArtistRenderingHazletonArtsCenter

“The Keystone Communities grant is the latest in a series of strategic investments in the Broad Street Corridor in Downtown Hazleton,” said Senator Yudichak. “The state funding will help transform the former Security Bank building

into the new City Arts Center and create additional development opportunities downtown.”

The Keystone Communities program assists communities in achieving revitalization. The program designates and funds communities that are implementing Main Street programs by supporting physical improvements.

The grant matches a Luzerne County LSA grant awarded last year for the project which is in the design phase. It is expected to be put out for bid this fall.

‘These funds are critical to the Arts Center project, which will serve as an anchor and catalyst for revitalization of the whole block,” said Krista Schneider, Executive Director of The Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress.

“The award could not have come at a better time, as we can expand the scope of the renovations and open the building up to the new park property. Our organization and the Art League–who will relocate to the building

once complete–are very much looking forward to getting this project underway.”

“It is exciting to see the Alliance’s plans become reality with the help of this state funding,” said Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne). “These projects are important to the success of the revitalization now underway in downtown Hazleton,

which is so critical to the entire region’s economic future. The new arts center and other facade improvements will help attract more people and businesses, and increase interest and participation in the business district’s continued rebirth.”

”This is a further step in the Revitalization of our city. The progress that has been made over the past several years downtown will serve as the springboard for dramatic improvements throughout our great city,” said Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat.

Carbon County Safety Day 2016 Honors Junior Firefighters and Youth Volunteers

Jim Thorpe, May 7, 2016 – For the fourth consecutive year Carbon County Safety Day has kicked off the summer season promoting safety and offering area families a free day of fun at Mauch Chunk Lake Park.

The event is hosted by state Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), the Carbon County commissioners, Kid Zone Blue Mountain Health System, Carbon Masonic Lodge No. 242 and the Nolan Ritchie Staying Afloat Foundation.

This year the day included special recognition for Carbon County’s junior firefighters and youth volunteers of area fire departments who were given certificates for their service.

“At a time when the number of volunteers is dropping, it is a pleasure to honor these young men and women who see the need and are giving their time to help local fire companies in a variety of ways,” said Senator Yudichak.

A number of agencies set up displays in the park to educate area families about water safety, animal safety, fire safety, bicycle safety, poison control and more.

Participating agencies included state Rep. Doyle Heffley’s office, SHINE(Students and Home In Education) , Pathstone Head Start, Blue Mountain Health System, Right From The Start, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, the County Animal Response Team, CERT, Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol Commission, Family Promise, Carbon County Children’s Team, Pennsylvania State Police, American Red Cross, Penn State Master Gardeners, New York Life, the Nolan Ritchie Staying Afloat Foundation, St. Luke’s, Radio Station WMGH, the PA Fish and Boat Commission, Pre-K Counts, Carbon County Amateur Radio Club, the Pyramid, Carbon County Action Committee, Friends of Beltzville State Park, CareNet of Carbon County and Turn To Us.

Approximately a dozen area volunteer fire companies and medical helicopters from St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network allowed attendees to see their equipment up close.

Prizes included bicycles and a wagon that were raffled off in a free giveaway. The bicycle team, The Jim Thorpers, through the Masons, donated one-thousand dollars worth of bicycles and an additional dozen bikes were purchased and given away.

Refreshment donations came from Aetna, Redner’s Warehouse Markets, Stroehmann’s Bakery, Hatfield Quality Meats, McDonald’s, Hazle Park, Herr’s, Zimmerman’s Iced Tea and Dale Ott.

Major sponsors for the event included: State Senator John Yudichak, Carbon County, Carbon Lodge No. 242 Free & Accepted Masons, Jim Thorpe National Bank, Mauch Chunk Trust Company, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Blue Mountain Health System, Nolan Ritchie Staying Afloat Foundation, SHINE, Carbon County Lions/Lioness Fair Association, WMGH/WLSH Radio, and Walmart.

Senator Yudichak and Rep. Mullery Announce Growing Greener Grant for Earth Conservancy Project

Nanticoke, May 6, 2016 – State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119th) today announced a $734,600 Growing Greener grant for the Earth Conservancy Bliss Bank Project in Nanticoke.

The money will be used for Bliss Bank Phase II a 54 acre reclamation project that is part of a larger 200 acre tract known as Bliss Bank Phase I. The land is located on Prospect Street in Nanticoke across the street from Luzerne County Community College.  The goal of the project is to make the land available for development.

“Creating economic opportunities while cleaning up the environment is a great use of state resources,” said Senator John Yudichak. “The Earth Conservancy has proven it has the ability to effectively manage grant dollars to reclaim mine scarred land and make it available for development.”

“The Earth Conservancy thanks the State of Pennsylvania for having the Growing Greener Program,” said Michael Dziak, President/ CEO of the Earth Conservancy.

“And with this grant Earth Conservancy will continue a second phase of restoring mine scarred land in the Bliss area across from Luzerne County Community College.  This will provide land for future development and save our green area for conservation and open space.”

“The environmental benefits of the cleanup are important, but it will also have an economic benefit. The project will allow the property to be used for mixed use development that could someday support economic initiatives,” said Rep. Gerald Mullery who worked with Senator Yudichak to secure the grant.

Growing Greener grants are used for a variety of projects that include helping communities address land use; and provide new and upgraded water and sewer systems.

 

Statement From Senator Yudichak on the Acquisition of Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corporation by REV Group

Harrisburg, April 11, 2016 − Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following the statement after learning of the pending acquisition of Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corporation by REV Group, Inc.

“I want to extend a warm Carbon County welcome to REV Group, Inc. an industry leading specialty manufacturer, who is acquiring the Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corporation,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“Sonny Kovatch and the Kovatch family built a remarkable company from the ground up, and with REV Group’s decision to retain its primary operations in Nesquehoning, the legacy of highly-skilled manufacturing in Carbon County will continue for years to come.”

“REV Group, a $2 billion privately-owned company, is a proven job creator and their expansion into Carbon County will certainly add great value to the manufacturing landscape in Pennsylvania,” said Senator John Yudichak.