Senator Argall E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • White Haven, Panther Valley Awarded Revitalization Initiative
  • State Grants to Improve Local Roads, Bridges, Downtowns
  • From the Bavarian Festival of the 70s to the Catalpa Grove of Today
  • St. Luke’s Breaks Ground on New Psychiatric Offices
  • Supporting Firefighters, Community Safety
  • Voter Registration Deadline is April 8
  • Free Tax Resource for Pennsylvanians
  • Safely View the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8
  • Happy Easter to You and Your Family

White Haven, Panther Valley Awarded Revitalization Initiative

Last year, shortly after I became the new state senator for Carbon and Luzerne Counties, I hosted a summit in Jim Thorpe focused upon how we can work together, regardless of political party or town and county boundaries, to breathe new life into more of our small towns. This week, we celebrated some real progress on that front when White Haven and the communities that make up the Panther Valley (Coaldale, Lansford, Summit Hill, and Nesquehoning) were accepted into the statewide Blueprint Communities program.

Blueprint Communities has proven success in our area – I previously encouraged Tamaqua and Hamburg Boroughs to apply for this program. When you drive down the street in both boroughs now, it’s impossible to miss the difference!

From left to right: Amy Michelli, Rep. Mike Cabell’s Office; Christine Verdier, my Chief of Staff; me; Linda Miller, White Haven Blueprint Team Member; Chuck Stoffa, White Haven Blueprint Team Member.

White Haven has made significant progress to revitalize their small town, thanks in part to the new entrance to the D+L Trail from Lehigh Gorge State Park and Reading, Blue Mountain, and Northern Railroad passenger train excursions from Jim Thorpe and other communities. This program will help them take their plans to the next level. Rep. Mike Cabell’s office and I joined Borough Council and other volunteer community leaders in White Haven to announce that they were joining the program on Monday.

The Panther Valley Blueprint Communities Team

Similarly, Coaldale, Lansford, Summit Hill, and Nesquehoning have begun efforts to build upon some recent progress at the No. 9 Coal Mine tour, Lansford’s historic train station, and some major infrastructure work which will once allow new construction in the valley. Nesquehoning’s new Narrow Valley Sports Complex and the new platform for passenger railroad excursions to Jim Thorpe, Tunkhannock, and Pittston, combined with this new Blueprint Communities effort, are very positive next steps.

State Grants to Improve Local Roads, Bridges, Downtowns

This week, over $3.7 million in state grants were awarded to projects to upgrade roads, bridges, and downtowns in the communities I represent in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties.

This highly competitive state funding will be a significant boost to local efforts to breathe new life into our older downtowns. Safer roads and bridges improve our lives here, every day. Here’s the entire list of new state infrastructure projects which will receive funding:

  • Barry Township – $425,858 to replace the bridge on Hill Road over Hansyost Creek.
  • Bowmanstown Borough – $187,000 for the reconstruction of Lincoln Avenue, the borough’s wastewater treatment plant access road.
  • East Brunswick Township – $125,000 to replace the culvert on Pine Creek Road.
  • Frackville Borough – $420,000 to repair sections of sidewalks throughout the borough.
  • Frailey Township – $100,000 to replace the Clark Street Bridge over Good Spring Creek.
  • Hazleton City – $300,000 to upgrade streetscapes on Alter Street, between Second and Sixth streets.
  • I-81 Logistics, LLC – $200,000 to make improvements to State Route 61 in West Mahanoy Township.
  • Lansford Borough – $313,000 to reconstruct the wall and roadway along Brimble Road.
  • Mahanoy City Borough – $415,000 to upgrade streetscapes on Main Street, between Market and Spruce streets.
  • Orwigsburg Borough – $500,000 to replace sidewalks throughout the borough.
  • Schuylkill Haven Borough – $300,000 to make streetscape improvements along the Parkway section of State Route 443.

From the Bavarian Festival of the 70s to the Catalpa Grove of Today

I visited Lakewood Park Campground last week to meet with local campground owners from our area.

One of my first jobs was on that site in the 1970s, working at the Bavarian Festival, in the kitchen of a small German restaurant and cleaning tables. At its peak, the festival drew tens of thousands of people to this region. The Mahanoy Area Historical Society has gathered considerable information regarding the festival, which you can view here.

The site in Ryan Township was vacant for many years, until the Roth Family took over the property and transformed it into a campground with over 110 sites and the Catalpa Grove event venue, which hosts one of my personal favorites every year: Lithuanian Days.

St. Luke’s Breaks Ground on New Psychiatric Offices

St. Luke’s Miners recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for their new outpatient psychiatric services in Tamaqua. This is the first facility of this kind in Pennsylvania and will train psychiatrists to focus specifically on rural areas. It also brings much needed mental health services here.

Pictured here are Rep. Jamie Barton, Schuylkill County Commissioners Boots Hetherington, Larry Padora, and Gary Hess, and Tamaqua Borough officials.

Supporting Firefighters, Community Safety

Applications for the federal Fire Prevention and Safety Grant and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs will be accepted until Friday, April 12. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering webinars to assist in the process.

The Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Grants support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. The primary goal is to reduce injury and prevent death among high-risk populations.

SAFER Grants were created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, front-line firefighters available in their communities. SAFER’s goal is to enhance the local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards.

Voter Registration Deadline is April 8

The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania’s April 23 primary election is Monday, April 8. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot by Tuesday, April 16, at 5 p.m.

To legally register, individuals must be a citizen of the United States, reside in their local voting precincts at least 30 days prior to the election and be at least age 18 on Election Day, Tuesday, April 23. Once registered to vote, you are not required to register again unless you change your residence, name or political party affiliation.

Voter registration forms, mail-in ballot applications and absentee ballot applications are available here or from your local county’s Board of Elections. You can also use the site to check your registration status.

Free Tax Resource for Pennsylvanians

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue myPATH site is a free resource all Pennsylvanians can use.

Using the website, residents can file their PA personal income taxes, make a payment and check the status of their refund. There is also an option to verify your tax refund to expedite processing.

Anyone who needs some extra help using myPATH can access video tutorials explaining how to create a profile, file a personal income tax return and use a smart device to access myPATH.

Safely View the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8

On Monday, April 8, the continental United States will experience its last total solar eclipse until 2044. As it travels from the southwest to the northeast, the eclipse will cross through a portion of northwest Pennsylvania, including Erie, Crawford, Warren and Mercer counties. For nearly four minutes around 2:30 p.m., the afternoon sky will go dark. The sun will slowly reemerge, and by 4:30 p.m., it will be as if nothing happened.

You must be in the path to see the sun totally eclipsed by the moon. Most of Pennsylvania lies within the 90% coverage range, so there will be excellent viewing across the state, weather permitting, even outside the path of totality. Before the total solar eclipse, many state parks have free eclipse educational programs.

To safely view the eclipse, do not look directly at the sun with the naked eye, through an unfiltered camera lens or with any kind of standard sunglasses. Find more information about safety and what to expect here.

Happy Easter to You and Your Family

Warmest wishes for you and your family as we prepare to celebrate the holy holiday of Easter. While we reflect on the hope and love the day symbolizes, may you enjoy time surrounded by loved ones. Happy Easter!


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