In this update:
Transforming Blighted Buildings into New Housing
I was honored to receive an award for transforming blighted buildings into housing yesterday from the Association of Community Development Corporations.
I could not have received it without the bipartisan work of governments AND local volunteers to breathe new life into their hometowns. One of the biggest issues we face is the need to transform more blighted properties into new housing in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties.
Big Dreams in White Haven
I joined Governor Josh Shapiro to celebrate the opening of a new park access point at Lehigh Gorge State Park in White Haven this week.
White Haven is a small town with a lot of big dreams, many of them focused on the D+L Trail and the Lehigh Gorge – I look forward to working with partners like Governor Shapiro, Rep. Cabell, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the White Haven Strategic Work Group and the Greater White Haven Chamber of Commerce to make them happen.
Thanks to the newly reopened sections of the D+L Trail near White Haven, the trail now stretches almost 60 connected miles. New passenger trains rides by the Reading and Northern Railroad will also soon be travelling from Jim Thorpe to Pittston, passing through White Haven, starting this weekend.
How Do We Find More Teachers and Fix Old Schools?
I chaired a public hearing of the Senate Education Committee this week reviewing potential legislative solutions to the teacher shortages impacting many different PA school districts.
When my father retired after many years as a school librarian at Tamaqua Area, my mother gave him this plaque. It now hangs in my home in their memory and reminds me every day why we must address these shortages by finding well-prepared teachers for the future.
I also chaired a public hearing about repairing outdated and deteriorating schools.
Too many of our students are forced to get their education in outmoded conditions. We need to take a hard look at how to upgrade our existing schools that can still be used and build new schools where the current buildings don’t cut it anymore.
Slow Progress on Reconstructing Route 61
I shared my frustration about the slow progress of a project to reconstruct part of Route 61 from St. Clair to Frackville with the Republican Herald. While relocating the sewer and water lines and telephone poles has finally started, we’re quickly approaching the original completion date that was first announced in 2018 with no end in sight.
Without the help of Rep. Dan Meuser, who worked to secure $21 million in federal grants to match the state investment which our State Representatives and I have obtained for this highway, the project would be even further behind!
Issues with State Government? Join me at Eckley Miners’ Village or Hazle Township
I will be hosting two coffee and conversation events next week to hear directly from you about your concerns with our state government. Join us to share any questions or concerns you may have, including our unfair school property tax system, welfare reform, or blighted properties.
Join Rep. Mike Cabell and me on Wednesday, May 31st from 8-9 a.m. at the Eckley Miners’ Village Auditorium. Call my Hazleton office at 570-521-9411 or Rep. Cabell’s office at 570-675-6000 to RSVP.
Join Rep. Dane Watro and me on Thursday, June 1st from 8-9 a.m. at the Hazle Township Municipal Building. Call my Hazleton office at 570-521-9411 or Rep. Watro’s office at 570-453-1344 to RSVP.
Another Busy Week Around the District
I joined Rep. Tim Twardzik, Rep. Watro, and Commissioner Gary Hess in a bipartisan walk through downtown Shenandoah at this year’s Kielbasi Festival. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of Downtown Shenandoah, Inc.—and handed out more than a few dog bones to some very friendly pups along the parade route.
We presented certificates to this year’s Parade of Nation Grand Marshalls: JP Dombrosky & Al Matakonis of Shenandoah Midget Football, Sandra Dombrosky of Cheer, David Bench of the Shenandoah Little League, John and Megan Burke of Shenandoah Youth Soccer, and Melissa and Vince Troutman of Shenandoah Softball.
I walked in the Weissport Armed Forces Parade with Rep. Doyle Heffley to honor local graduates of the United States Military academies and all of our USA Armed forces from yesterday, today, and tomorrow!
Congrats to the Marian Catholic High School girl’s basketball team for winning the District XI championship this year! Rep. Jamie Barton, Rep. Watro and I were invited to present citations to the Fillies on Sunday evening to celebrate their successful season.
I also visited Marian to congratulate their first-ever “Distinguished Alumnus Awards,” former Marian Principal (and volunteer!) John P. Malarkey and Bill Bonenberger, a long-time business leader and major supporter of Marian’s students. In my brief comments, I congratulated all of Marian’s new hall of fame recipients, with a special focus on Mr. Malarkey (I still can’t call him Jack!) and Bill, whom I have known since we were all Arlington Street neighbors in Tamaqua in the 1960s and 70s, on their many decades of service to their alma mater.
I joined Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and Zion UCC Lehighton to celebrate their 150th anniversaries on Saturday evening. Thank you for inviting us to join your celebration.
I visited the Blue Mountain Resort – where I first learned to ski –to celebrate the retirement of Barb Green, their longtime President. Under Barb’s leadership, Blue Mountain has become a destination for year-round outdoor recreation and created many new jobs for Palmerton and Carbon County. Many of her long-term employees were there to congratulate her on this happy occasion.
To honor her for her service to the community over the years, “Barb’s Way” will be the newest trail on the mountain starting next year!
License Plate Helps PA Women Veterans
In addition to recognizing the importance of women who served, purchasing an Honoring Our Women Veterans License Plate supports programs assisting women veterans in Pennsylvania.
Each plate costs $37, with $15 going directly to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF). The VTF regularly issues grants to statewide charitable organizations assisting veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs. The grants are used to aid veterans in need of shelter, essential goods and other services. The license plate is available for passenger cars or trucks with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds.
Additionally, Honoring Our Veterans license plates for passenger cars, trucks with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds and motorcycles are available for $38 each, with $15 from each plate also going to the VTF.
Learn more or apply for either license plate here.
Honoring the Sacrifice of Our Fallen Heroes
Monday marks the solemn occasion of Memorial Day, when we honor the men and women who gave their lives serving our nation with dignity, bravery and distinction.
Today and every day, remember the valuable contributions and tremendous sacrifices members of our Armed Forces have made on behalf of our country and the freedoms we so deeply cherish. The legacy of the veteran cannot be lost.
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