Senator Argall E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Local Afterschool Programs Facing Possible Closure Due to PA Department of Education Decisions
  • May 3: FREE Community Shredding Event
  • Congrats to State Champion Wrestler Brenda Banks!
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant in Tamaqua Awarded State Funding for Modernization
  • Atlantic Carbon Group Tour Highlights Booming Anthracite Coal Demand
  • Protecting Outdoor Recreation at Frog Hollow Nature Area
  • 75 Years of Little League Baseball in Tamaqua
  • Thank You, Porcupine Pat!
  • Dual Enrollment Students at Pottsville High School Earning College Credits
  • Celebrating Girls’ Basketball Champions
  • April is National Donate Life Month

Local Afterschool Programs Facing Possible Closure Due to PA Department of Education Decisions

Some SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) and Schuylkill ACHIEVE after school programs in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne counties may be shuttered in June after being denied funding by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Both programs introduce students in grades K-8 to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) concepts.

SHINE and ACHIEVE are exactly the sort of efforts we should be encouraging and expanding, not killing. The ripple effects on our communities from the closing of these centers cannot be ignored. It will harm students and their parents’ efforts to stay on the job.

Yesterday, I joined Reps. Dane Watro, Doyle Heffley, and Jamie Barton to announce our strong support for the continued funding of these programs at a bipartisan press conference in Hazleton. 

May 3: FREE Community Shredding Event

Do you need to dispose of important documents without worrying about the serious threat of identity theft?

Rep. Tim Twardzik and I are hosting a FREE community shredding event on Friday, May 3 at the Fairlane Village Mall Parking Lot from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring up to three bags or boxes of papers and they will be shredded on site.

Congrats to State Champion Wreslter Brenda Banks!

I congratulated Brenda Banks for winning her second consecutive girls wrestling state championship! She’s a sophomore at Panther Valley High School and has certainly made the community VERY proud.

Brenda has earned her spot in Pennsylvania’s girls wrestling history, with a combined record of over 50 wins and just 1 loss. This year was the first year of PIAA recognition for the sport.

When I told Brenda that she won more wrestling matches in one year than I did in my entire high school wrestling career – I wasn’t joking!

Wastewater Treatment Plant in Tamaqua Awarded State Funding for Modernization

Rep. Barton and I announced this week that Tamaqua Borough was awarded $20 million in highly competitive state funding to make significant upgrades to their wastewater treatment plant.

This massive investment in Tamaqua’s infrastructure is not just a win for the thousands of residents who are served by the Tamaqua Borough Authority. It will support local efforts to breathe new life into the area and keep local waterways clean.

Brian Connely, Tamaqua Borough Council President, celebrated this funding today, saying, “We have been working hard over the last few years to secure this type of grant to reduce the cost to our taxpayers and bring our operations up to date.”

Atlantic Carbon Group Tour Highlights Booming Anthracite Coal Demand

Rep. Barton and I visited an Atlantic Carbon Group mining site in Hazleton yesterday, where we were given a tour by Eric Martin, Chief Executive Officer, and David McCarthy, Chief Commercial Officer. They are one of the largest anthracite producers in the world and operate mines in both Luzerne and Carbon counties.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the demand for Pennsylvania-produced anthracite coal dramatically increased. Pennsylvania anthracite companies are no longer competing with subsidized Russian imports into the US and many other nations.

Because of this increased demand, they are now remining long-abandoned areas. When they have completed their mining efforts, they are required to restore the landscape.

They offer some of the highest paying careers in the region, employing 180 people – and they are looking for more!

Protecting Outdoor Recreation at Frog Hollow Nature Area

Frog Hollow Nature Area was dedicated as the second county park in Schuylkill County last weekend. Located in Wayne Township, it’s a beautiful place to hike or enjoy a relaxing day. Thanks to the work of Schuylkill County Conservancy, it will remain open to the public for many years to come.

Joining me at the dedication were Reps. Twardzik and JoAnne Stehr, Schuylkill County Commissioner Gary Hess, and a VERY special guest – Watson Twardzik!

75 Years of Little League Baseball in Tamaqua

Last Saturday was Opening Day for Tamaqua Little League. It was an extra-special occasion this year – this is their 75th season!

During a recent public hearing I hosted as the chair of the Senate Education Committee, the PIAA shared three main things that we learn from participating in youth sports:

1) A stronger sense of self-confidence in building relationships with others and having an expanded capacity for empathy.

2) Developing a better understanding of self and in so doing understanding how our actions affect others.

3) Building foundations for lifelong fitness habits.

I’m proud that my hometown has such a strong and thriving Little League program, established long before I was growing up in my family’s half-a-double on Arlington Street.

Rep. Barton, Mayor Nathan Gerace, Police Chief Michael Hobbs, and I were all on-hand to wish all the players and volunteers good luck this season!

Thank You, Porcupine Pat!

Porcupine Pat McKinney is stepping down from his full-time role after more than 30 years as Schuylkill County’s much-loved Environmental Education Coordinator. Many of you have joined me in learning more about our world from Porcupine Pat – through the scouts, at school, at church, or when visiting one of our local parks.

Reps. Barton, Stehr, Twardzik, Watro, and I all joined forces at my downtown Pottsville office to congratulate him and thank him for his lifelong efforts to teach us all to better appreciate the natural beauty of Schuylkill County. The good news: He’ll still be serving in a part-time capacity, to give him a bit more time to relax and enjoy his hobbies of biking and helping others to repair their homes!

Dual Enrollment Students at Pottsville High School Earning College Credits

I was invited to visit Pottsville Area High School to speak with students in Dr. Ali Hobbs’ Perspective on American Education class. This class is part of a dual enrollment program with Kutztown University, which allows students to earn credits towards a college degree before they graduate high school. I spoke to them about my role as the Chair of the Senate Education Committee.

We were also joined by AP Government students, who asked some great questions about how they can get involved with the political process.

I’ve known Dr. Hobbs for many years – she is the daughter of Senator Jim Rhoades, who represented Schuylkill County well in the Senate for 28 years.

Celebrating Girls’ Basketball Champions

I visited two local schools this week to congratulate their girls’ basketball teams on successful seasons.

Reps. Barton, Twardzik, Stehr, Watro, and I visited Nativity BVM High School to celebrate their team for winning the 2023-24 District 11 Class A Championship. Led by head coach Scott Forney, the team won the championship game thanks to an exciting fourth quarter comeback.

Rep. Twardzik and I visited Minersville Area Junior/Senior High School to celebrate their team for winning the 2023-24 District 11 Class AA Championship. Led by head coach Jared Homa, the team had an excellent season, finishing with a record of 22-4.

April is National Donate Life Month

Making a difference in the lives of others might be easier than you think. With nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians awaiting organ transplants, donors can save up to eight lives. People donating tissue can enhance the lives of 75 others by helping them recover from trauma, spinal injuries, burns and vision loss.

If you aren’t an organ or tissue donor yet but would like to be, there’s no need to wait until you get or renew your driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. It’s easy to register online to donate.

Misconceptions about organ and tissue donation can discourage people from taking the important step to save lives. Find myths and facts here.


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