In this update:
The Long Battle Against Blight
An ongoing demolition in Mahanoy City
Blighted and decaying buildings have plagued many of our neighborhoods for decades, from Pottsville to Hazleton to Palmerton and far beyond. These eyesores can be very dangerous, chase away potential employers from coming here, and drag down the value of other nearby properties.
I saw this in my own neighborhood, growing up in a “half a double” in Tamaqua built in 1917. Finding creative ways to fight back against this scourge is one of my top priorities.
Sometimes, these buildings can be renovated and returned to productive use. There’s no better example of this in our area than historic Jim Thorpe, the Tamaqua Railroad Station, and the No. 9 Mine and Museum in Lansford.
Last year’s budget process saw bipartisan agreement on a new effort I cosponsored, the Whole Home Repairs Program. Thanks to this new initiative, $1.04 million will soon be coming to Carbon County, $1.62 million to Schuylkill County, and $3.28 million to Luzerne County to assist many low to moderate income homeowners—including many of our seniors— in making needed repairs to their homes.
There are many challenges to addressing these issues, but by ALL of us working together – local, county, state, and federal government officials; community leaders and volunteers – we can make real progress in transforming our neighborhoods, step by step.
Read my full column here.
Rep. Twardzik to Host Property Tax/Rent Rebate Workshop
Rep. Tim Twardzik and his staff will be hosting a Property Tax/Rent Rebate Workshop on Wednesday, April 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Minersville Library, 220 S. 4th St. in Minersville.
The program is open to seniors 65 or older, widows/widowers 50 or older, and permanently disabled individuals. I would recommend anyone who is struggling under the burden of our archaic, unfair property tax system to explore whether they are eligible for this relief.
My district offices in Pottsville (570-621-3400), Hazleton (570-521-9441), Weissport (610-377-6363) and Mahanoy City (570-773-0891) are also available to assist with any questions you may have about this program.
Preparing Students for the 21st Century Workforce
Photo by David McKeown, Staff Photographer for the Republican Herald
This week, I joined business and education leaders from Blue Mountain School District at a summit discussing how best to prepare today’s students for the realities of the 21st century workforce. As the new chair of the Senate Education Committee, I spoke about the dramatic increase in demand for technical and vocational programs in the area and ways we can encourage better connections between the classroom and the workplace.
Johnson College of Technology recently announced they will be opening a new satellite campus in Hazle Township, bringing more opportunities to earn two-year technical degrees to the people in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties.
Welcome to the Team, Seth!
I recently hired Seth Hubler of the Minersville area, who served as my intern for two years, to join our staff as he prepares to graduate from Penn State-Schuylkill. Last week, he participated in the Schuylkill County Youth Summit, an event encouraging young people to start their careers here in the coal region.
Welcome to the team, Seth!
Complete an Annual Renewal to Maintain Insurance Coverage
All Medical Assistance (MA) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients must complete an annual renewal to keep coverage. Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-affiliated health insurance marketplace, offers financial assistance to lower the cost of health and dental coverage. It can help ensure continuous coverage for Pennsylvanians who have lost or are losing MA benefits.
Approximately 30-45 days before Medicaid recipients’ renewal date, they will receive their renewal packet in the mail. This must be completed and returned as soon as possible. They can also complete their renewal online via COMPASS or over the phone.
People who are no longer eligible for Medicaid may have options for coverage available through Pennie and CHIP.
New Military Themed License Plates Now Available
Because of legislation passed by the General Assembly, new military themed license plates will be available throughout the commonwealth. Two of these new plates – the Air Medal license plate and the Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans license plate – recognize veterans’ special contributions during their service. The third is the Blue Star Family license plate for family members of an active-duty, Reserve or National Guard service member.
All three are available for passenger cars or trucks with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds for a fee of $23.
More information, including eligibility requirements and images of license plates, is available here.
Happy Easter and Passover to You and Your Family
This week, we celebrate two holy holidays: Easter and Passover. No matter what or how you celebrate, may you and your family enjoy happy, heartwarming time together. Warmest wishes for many blessings.
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