Senator Argall E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Rt. 61 Widening Project Begins – Finally!
  • Downtown Hazleton Walking Tour Highlights Revitalization
  • How Do We Better Prepare Students for the Workforce?
  • May Argall Report: Defending Local Childcare Centers
  • Supporting Long-Term Care Employees
  • Schuylkill Technology Centers Signing Day Celebrates Student Success
  • Congrats to Eagle Scouts Anthony Odorizzi and Dylan Zullo!
  • Dr. Ali Hobbs Honored with Educator of the Year Award
  • Greater Hazleton, White Haven Chambers of Commerce AND Blueprint Communities Teams Visit State Capitol
  • Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

Rt. 61 Widening Project Begins – Finally!

The long-awaited widening of a dangerous stretch of Rt. 61 from Frackville to St. Clair has begun. For anyone who travels along these roads frequently as I do, this is cause for celebration.

My PA Dutch grandparents in St. Clair taught me the perfect word to sum up this historic day. Endlich! Finally!

This massive, $115 million undertaking has been one of my top funding priorities. Once completed, this stretch of Rt. 61 will be safer for all.

My thanks to everyone who assisted us in this effort, including Congressman Dan Meuser, the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce and its Infrastructure Task Force, Rep. Tim Twardzik, and former Rep. Neal Goodman.

Downtown Hazleton Walking Tour Highlights Revitalization

Yesterday, representatives from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development visited Hazleton for a walking tour. We stopped by the Hayden Family Center for the Arts to see their shared kitchen incubator, as well as Carmen’s Bakery and Restaurant, Hazleton Food Market, and Jimmy’s Quick Lunch.

It’s good to see some of the positive attention downtown Hazleton is receiving. Since I became the new state senator for the area, I’ve worked with many to continue the ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.

Joining the tour was Rep. Dane Watro; Romilda Crocamo, Luzerne County Manager; Joseph Lettiere, CEO, Hazleton Can Do; Mary Malone, President, Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce; and Neil DeAngelo, President, Board of Directors, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress.

How Do We Better Prepare Students for the Workforce?

Grow PA focuses on what should be our top priority: preparing more college students to work in the job fields that Pennsylvania needs today.

The Senate Education Committee advanced six bills from the Grow PA plan this week. The plan promotes career and technical education and dual enrollment, which allows high school students to take college classes. It will also encourage more students from Pennsylvania and other states to study here and stay here after graduation.

Pennsylvania is facing a series of connected challenges: a struggling workforce, rising education costs, declining enrollments, all perpetuated by our demographic decline.

By taking strong action now, we’re setting our colleges and universities on a path to long-term success. And most importantly, we’re preparing the next generation of Pennsylvanians for productive, fulfilling, family-sustaining careers.

May Argall Report: Defending Local Childcare Centers

Quality childcare is a necessity not just for families in our area, but across Pennsylvania.

The May edition of my monthly tv program highlights a bipartisan public hearing about the serious issues facing rural childcare providers in Pennsylvania.

This issue came to the forefront recently when local afterschool directors of the SHINE and Schuylkill ACHIEVE programs were denied funding by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the first time in many years.

If we do not receive concrete assurances from Education Secretary Dr. Khalid Mumin or the Governor’s office that these programs will be funded, I have a gavel as the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and I know how to use it. Public hearings will be convened to demand a solution.

The thousands of children who will soon lose access to these proven educational programs deserve nothing less.

Supporting Long-Term Care Employees

Too many of our families, including mine, have faced the difficult decision of moving a parent or grandparent into a long-term care center. Unfortunately, the important professionals who make sure they are cared for and respected are facing increasing challenges because of workforce shortages.

The Senate Education Committee advanced two bills I introduced this week to update training procedures and remove employment barriers so more people can join this workforce.

Schuylkill Technology Centers Signing Day Celebrates Student Success

Schuylkill Technology Center hosted their SkillsUSA Signing Day event yesterday, honoring their students who will be employed in their field of study, enrolled in a technical training program, or joining the military.

We need more trade workers desperately. Thanks to the work of everyone at STC, these students have been directly connected to productive careers with local employers who are ready to get them on the job ASAP. As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I am committed to supporting and expanding career and technical education programs across Pennsylvania, so more young people can take advantage of the career-defining skills they teach.

Best of luck and congratulations to all!

Joining me at the event were Reps. Jamie Barton, Twardzik, and Watro, and Schuylkill County Commissioners Larry Padora, Boots Hetherington, and Gary Hess.

Congrats to Eagle Scouts Anthony Odorizzi and Dylan Zullo!

Congratulations to Anthony Odorizzi, Jr. of Troop 777, Tamaqua and Dylan Zullo of Troop 790, Hazle Township for earning the rank of Eagle Scout!

Anthony created a directory for the Tamaqua Civil War Monument at the Odd Fellows Cemetery for his service project, listing the names of the soldiers and their locations on the monument. Rep. Barton and I both attended his Court of Honor.

Dylan installed the McAdoo Borough Little Library at two playgrounds in McAdoo for his service project. He constructed two wooden library boxes which contain books, allowing children to have access to reading. Rep. Watro, Schuylkill County Commissioner Boots Hetherington and I were on hand to celebrate his accomplishment.

Dr. Ali Hobbs Honored with Educator of the Year Award

Rep. Twardzik and I joined educators and friends of Scouting at Pottsville Area High School to honor Dr. Ali Hobbs with the 2024 Elbert K. Fretwell Outstanding Educator award, sponsored by Hawk Mountain Council, BSA. Dr. Hobbs currently teaches English and publication courses at Pottsville.

Last week, I visited her Perspective on American Education class, 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’ve known Dr. Hobbs for many years – she is one of my former students at Penn State Schuylkill and the daughter of Senator Jim Rhoades, who represented us well in the Senate for 28 years. Her husband, Judge Chris Hobbs, also joined us.

Congrats on this well-deserved award!

Greater Hazleton, White Haven Chambers of Commerce AND Blueprint Communities Teams Visit State Capitol

I welcomed many visitors to the State Capitol this week.

On Tuesday, Senator Lynda Culver, Rep. Watro and I welcomed over 40 members of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce and the Greater White Haven Chamber of Commerce and Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat to Harrisburg.

While here, they received a tour of the historic building, met with Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll, and were introduced on the floor of the Senate.

Also joining me on Tuesday was Evan Polanco. He’s an eighth-grade student at MMI Preparatory School who reached out to me after I visited the school earlier this year to discuss his strong interest in how our state government operates. Evan is very active at MMI as a member of the student council, baseball team, basketball team, drama club, concert band, AND chorus.

Watch me introduce them all on the floor of the Senate here.

State legislators and local leaders from across Pennsylvania gathered on Monday to celebrate ten new communities that were accepted into the Blueprint Communities program this year. Both White Haven and the communities that make up the Panther Valley (Coaldale, Lansford, Summit Hill, and Nesquehoning) were among the ten.

This is a VERY important next step for local revitalization efforts. I look forward to working with you all! Read more about the power of the Blueprint Communities program to breathe new life into older neighborhoods here.

Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

One year ago, a first-of-its-kind in the nation comprehensive breast cancer screening bill was signed into law as Act 1 of 2023. Senate Republicans supported the bill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women at high risk.

High-risk conditions covered by the law include dense breast tissue, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025. Learn more.

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