In this update:
Carbon, Luzerne County Grants Support Community Development
Over $2.3 million was awarded to important community and economic development projects in Carbon and Luzerne County this week. Thank you to State Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski, Doyle Heffley, Mike Cabell, and Dane Watro, and ALL our local partners for working with me to bring these important grants home.
Highlights include: the first phase of breathing new life into the former Lehigh and New England Railroad Station in Lansford; the purchase and renovation of a new building for La Casa Dominicana de Hazleton; the continuing renovation of the historic Asa Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe; and the updating of the Hazleton One Community Center, which is run by 3-time MLB Manager of the Year Joe Maddon’s foundation, the Hazleton Integration Project.
Local Employers Support School Choice for Struggling Students
This week, my staff joined Rep. Tim Twardzik and Rep. Jamie Barton at an event by the Bridge Foundation at St. Joseph’s Center for Special Learning recognizing local employers who donated to the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program this year.
The EITC program was created to provide families with financial support to attend a school of their choosing. The program can be a lifeline for students that are struggling in their current school yet cannot afford to choose a better option for their education.
Governor Shapiro did not include any additional funding in his budget proposal for EITC programs. As the chair of the Senate Education Committee, I will support this important funding to ensure students can receive an education that’s best suited to their needs.
Saturday: Kielbasi Festival in Shenandoah
Visit Shenandoah on Saturday for one of my favorite annual events in Schuylkill County – the Kielbasi Festival and Heritage Day! The Parade of Nations, the live music, the many food, beverage, and arts vendors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this celebration of the cultural heritage of our area.
This year’s festival runs from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
61 Charged with Public Assistance Fraud in March
The Office of the State Inspector General charged 61 Pennsylvanians with public assistance fraud, totaling over $250,965 during the month of March.
To curb these instances in the future, the Senate passed three bills I sponsored to protect the taxpayer dollars we provide our public assistance programs earlier this month. These bills will ensure that taxpayer dollars are going to those in genuine need, not to bad actors trying to game the system.
Welcome to Summer Intern Tony Merchlinsky
Tony and his mother, Suzanne Merchlinsky
Tony Merchlinsky started working in my Mahanoy City office this week as my summer legislative intern. Tony grew up in Mahanoy Township and is a lifelong Schuylkill County resident. He currently attends Muhlenberg College, where he’s majoring in Political Economy and Public Policy and Business Administration AND plays for the football team.
Welcome to the team, Tony!
New Education Center Coming to Eckley Miners’ Village
Eckley Miners’ Village Museum was awarded a grant this week to create a new research and learning center in the restored home of the cofounder of the village, Asa Foster. K-12 students, local educators, and visitors will be able to learn more about the history of the village and the anthracite coal region through the educational programs that will be offered.
This grant is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize Eckley by reusing some of the historic structures to expand the exhibits and activities offered at the village. I look forward to continuing to support their expansion plans!
Hearing Explores Workforce Challenges in Rural Pennsylvania
The Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing in Williamsport to explore workforce challenges in rural Pennsylvania.
The hearing focused on population decline and labor and housing shortages, and their economic impact on communities and businesses. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania submitted data that showed the stagnation of Pennsylvania’s rural population, primarily due to more deaths than births, and a steady rural labor force decline, which predates the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional testifiers included Acting Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Nancy Walker, area business leaders and others. You can view the hearing and written testimony here.
May Argall Report: Local Music in the State Capitol Building
The May edition of my local TV program features recent performances from three local schools at the State Capitol Building.
As part of “Music in our Schools Month”, the Schuylkill Haven Area Middle School Chorus, the North Schuylkill High School Wind Ensemble, and the Shenandoah Valley High School Band all performed. I even dusted off my tenor saxophone and joined the North Schuylkill High School Wind Ensemble for a performance of Eternal Father, Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn).
The students also joined me, Rep. Dane Watro, Rep. Tim Twardzik and Rep. Jamie Barton for a question-and-answer session to discuss our every-day work in state government.