Indiana County Projects Receive a Combined $4 Million in RACP Funding

HARRISBURG – Two Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants, totaling $3 million, have been awarded to the Indiana County Development Corporation (ICDC) for economic development projects within the county, while a third grant of $1 million will be going to one of the county’s airports, according to Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) and Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-62).

A $2.5 million grant was awarded for a collaborative effort between the ICDC, the Indiana County Commissioners and targeted municipalities to deliver all development and construction phases and related improvements for the Indiana County Multi-Municipal Economic Development projects.

Those projects will include, in Phase I, the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park in White Township; Phase II will be in Burrell Township at the Corporate Campus Business Park; and, in Phase III, the 119 Business Park in Center Township, which today received a $500,000 RACP grant to make additional improvements to get it ready for future development. 

These business park land developments in preparation for future building construction projects would include all development phases, including site work, utility extensions, such as dual electric service, natural gas, water, sewage, telecommunications, stormwater management, access roads, parking lots, etc.

According to the ICDC, economic development trends indicate that businesses that are looking to establish themselves in new locations – especially those seeking larger building footprints – have become more interested in pad-ready sites and/or ready-to-occupy buildings. Having sites that are ready-to-go and buildings that are ready-to-occupy improves the county’s and region’s competitive edge, said the ICDC.

Additionally, Indiana County was awarded a $1 million grant for the construction of a new corporate hanger and related site improvements that would house multiple aircraft at Jimmy Stewart Airport, located in Indiana, PA.

“This will help create the airport’s future growth, expand services and opportunities and strengthen Indiana County’s business and economic potential,” said Struzzi. “I have been personally working to get this for a long time so I am very happy to see this grant money come through for the airport.”   

“Rep. Struzzi and I are committed to making sure we have the resources necessary to grow our economy,” Pittman said. “The funding awarded today will open new opportunities throughout Indiana County to bring economic and community development to the region and I am confident we will see tangible results in the near future.”

RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act. They must have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.

 

Contacts:         Jeremy Dias (Sen. Pittman)                jdias@pasen.gov

                        Scott Little (Rep. Struzzi)                   Slittle@pahousegop.com

Armstrong County Projects Receive $4 Million in Funding

RACP, ARPA dollars to advance key projects

HARRISBURG – Two Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants have been awarded to Armstrong County projects, according to Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) and Rep. Abby Major (R-60).

A $1.5 million grant was awarded to the Armstrong Conservation District (ACD) for a project to construct a new building, to be used as the Agricultural and Conservation Service Center, along with supporting infrastructure in Rayburn Township.

“Over the past several years, the Armstrong Conservation District Board of Directors has felt that a ‘one stop shop’ for the agricultural producers of Armstrong County would increase convenience and efficiency in the agricultural community,” said ACD chairman Andrew Kimmel.

In 2019, the Armstrong County commissioners provided the foundation for this center with the donation of over 14 acres of land dedicated for the construction of the future Armsdale Center for Agriculture and Conservation.

Since that time, the conservation district has raised and committed nearly $1.4 million toward the establishment of the center. With the announcement of the RACP funding, Kimmel said the center for agriculture and conservation is one step closer to reality.

Added ACD manager Holly Laird: “The Conservation District will be working with our partners and funders over the next 18 months to make the Armsdale Center for Agriculture and Conservation a reality to better serve our constituents.”

The RACP funding was also applauded by the only Armstrong County animal shelter, Orphans of the Storm, which is part of the ACD project. The shelter assists approximately 1,000 animals a year within the county through rescue, adoption, spaying and neutering services. However, the current facility has experienced frequent flooding from a nearby pond and creek putting the facility’s animals, volunteers, equipment and records at risk. A new shelter will be built on higher ground behind the ACD property on an additional 17.35-acre lot donated by the county.

“Orphans of the Storm is grateful to Sen. Pittman for helping it receive RACP funding for this construction, to the county for donating the property, and to all of the individuals in this community who are making donations for this worthy project,” said Orphans of the Storm board member Liz White.

The Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) of Southwestern PA received a $1 million grant for speculative office development within the RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park, formerly known as Northpointe Industrial Park, in South Buffalo Township.

In addition to the RACP funding announced today for RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park, Pittman and Major noted that a $1 million RACP grant was awarded to the Armstrong County Industrial Development Council last year for the acquisition of additional acreage and extension of utilities to support an expansion of the industrial park across the State Route 28 interchange corridor. The 29-acre parcel adjacent to the park and on the opposite side of SR28 is for water and sewage to accommodate future development. Another $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds were approved to pay for sewage plant upgrades at the industrial park, said Pittman and Major.

Said Pittman of the projects to get grant funding: “Today we are advancing several significant economic and community development projects in Armstrong County. Both the Conservation District and Orphans of the Storm shelter are in need of new facilities and this partnership will help them both achieve their goals. Additionally, we are making major investments in the Route 28 corridor to bring economic opportunity to the Northpointe Industrial Park and Slate Lick Interchange along Route 28. These investments will bring new jobs and development to Armstrong County. This is a big day for Armstrong County.”

“Agriculture plays an important role in Armstrong County’s economy and must not be discounted,” Major said. “I’m happy to support this project, which has been in the pipeline for a number of years. In addition, we must also grow our economy for the future. The RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park just off Route 28 will play a key role in the jobs of the future and make the area an attractive place for businesses to locate.”

“We thank both Sen. Pittman and Rep. Major for their continued assistance with the economic development efforts of Armstrong County,” said Armstrong County Commissioners Don Myers, Jason Renshaw and Pat Fabian, reacting to the RACP funding. “This money will help to bring more business and industry to the county, which means more jobs and a brighter economic future for all county residents.”

RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act. They must have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.

 

Contacts:             Jeremy Dias (Sen. Pittman)                          jdias@pasen.gov

                             Tracy Polovick (Rep. Major)                         Tpolovick@pahousegop.com

Kittanning Suburban Joint Water Authority Receives $3.42 million in PENNVEST Funding for System Upgrades

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) today awarded a $3.42 million loan to the Kittanning Suburban Joint Water Authority, in Armstrong County, to make various improvements to its water system, according to Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) and state Rep. Abby Major (R-60).

“The reliability of the treatment plant needs to be improved, and the system needs other enhancements as well,” said Pittman, a member of the PENNVEST Board. “The funding will ensure these upgrades can be made.”

“I’m pleased to work with Sen. Pittman to support this worthwhile project,” Major said. “Clean, safe and reliable water is essential for daily life. These upgrades will ensure that area residents continue to have this service for many years to come.”

The project intends to update the water treatment plant’s controls as well as add an air scour to the plant’s filters to better wash the filter media. Additionally, a portion of the funding will be used to replace a 300,000-gallon water tank, paint two other tanks and install mixers on all six of the system’s water tanks.  

PENNVEST is not supported by the state’s General Fund budget, which covers the daily operations and services of the Commonwealth. Financing is provided through the use of federal funding and prior bond issues by the state as well as proceeds from the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee legislation, Act 13 of 2012.

 

Contacts:      Jeremy Dias (Sen. Pittman)                jdias@pasen.gov

                        Tracy Polovick (Rep. Major)              tpolovick@pahousegop.com

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Thursday, April 14 – Public Hearing on Housing Issues

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee will hold a public hearing on April 14, 2022, in Kittanning, Armstrong County, to collect testimony from local community members about housing issues, blight, deferred maintenance and land banks, according to Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) who chairs the committee.

This hearing follows a public hearing held by the committee on April 7 in Philadelphia, during which the committee heard testimony from two panels of representatives of local organizations focused on blight prevention and response; property repair and maintenance; and greenspace, community gardens, land banks and property development.

Those scheduled to speak to the committee during the April 14 hearing include Andrew Laddusaw,  Senior Pastor of the Living Water Church; Julie Fitzpatrick, executive director of Pennsylvania Downtown Center; Jason Tigano, executive director of LEVEL; Marc Little, president of Emery Construction Services; LuAnn Zak – assistant director of the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development; Brigid Beatty, program manager of the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development; Brian Lawrence, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland (RACW) and Westmoreland County Land Bank.

WHAT: Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee public hearing on housing issues.

WHEN: 10 a.m., Thursday, April 14, 2022

WHERE: Living Water Church, located at 629 Woodward Avenue, Kittanning, PA 16201

HEARING LIVESTREAM: https://urbanaffairs.pasenategop.com/urban-041422/

 

Contacts:          Sarah Stauffer               sstauffer@pasen.gov

Public hearing on housing issues

Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee

Thursday, April 14, 2022 | 10 a.m.

Living Water Church, Kittanning, Armstrong County


Agenda

Public hearing on housing issues

Schedule

10:00 am: Opening Remarks
• Senator Joe Pittman, Chair – Urban Affairs and Housing Committee
• Senator Nikil Saval, Minority Chair

10:15 am: Panel #1: Community Organizations Blight Prevention and Response
• Andrew Laddusaw – Senior Pastor of the Living Water Church – Testimony
• Julie Fitzpatrick – Executive Director of Pennsylvania Downtown Center – Testimony
• LEVEL: Equity Buildings 
         o Jason Tigano – Executive Director of LEVEL – Testimony
         o Marc Little – President of Emery Construction Services

11:00 am: Panel #2: County Agencies Blight Prevention and Response
• LuAnn Zak – Assistant Director of the Indiana County Office of Planning and
Development – Testimony
• Brigid Beatty – Program Manager of the Armstrong County Department of Planning and
Development – Testimony
• Brian Lawrence – Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority of the County of
Westmoreland (RACW) and Westmoreland County Land Bank – Testimony

11:45 am: Closing Remarks and Adjournment

Senate Republicans Comment on Court Pausing Wolf’s Unconstitutional Carbon Tax Plan

HARRISBURG – Senate Republican leaders praised the Commonwealth Court today for preventing the Wolf Administration from moving forward with its unconstitutional entry into a multi-state carbon tax agreement that would hurt Pennsylvania’s economy.

The Wolf Administration is attempting to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) through the regulatory process without the approval of the legislature. Every other participating state entered RGGI through the legislative process – not unilateral executive action. A bipartisan majority of legislators have consistently voted against RGGI when the issue has been brought to the floor for a vote.

Senate Republicans – including Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chair Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) – had previously requested a preliminary injunction to halt publication of the regulation during litigation. The request was granted, and a hearing was scheduled for May 4 on that request.

The court’s order prevents publication of the regulation during the interim, barring any further action of the court.

The Senators issued the following statement today:

“The governor’s attempt to unilaterally enter Pennsylvania into RGGI would put even more financial pressure on Pennsylvania families with increased electric bills at a time when they are already struggling due to inflation and the anti-energy policies of Governor Wolf and President Biden. We need an energy strategy that makes the best use of our natural resources and unleashes the full potential to our economy – not cripple it for the sake of political ideology.

“Governor Wolf’s approach on this issue runs contrary to the Constitution by attempting to usurp powers that are vested in the General Assembly. We cannot allow him to change the rules just because he may not like the outcome. We appreciate the court putting the brakes on this troubled policy until all of the legal issues can be considered on their merits.”

 

CONTACT:            Jason Thompson (Corman)

                                Erica Clayton Wright (Ward)

                                Matt Moyer (Browne)

                                Nick Troutman (Yaw)

                               Jeremy Dias (Pittman)

 

Senate Recognizes April 8, 2022 as “Drugs Kill Dreams Day” in PA

 

HARRISBURG – Substance abuse and the opioid crisis continue to worsen in Pennsylvania.

To assist in getting out the message of drug use prevention to young people across the commonwealth, the state Senate recognized April 8, 2022, as “Drugs Kill Dreams Day” in Pennsylvania, said Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41), sponsor of a resolution creating the day.

The Drugs Kill Dreams (DKD) program was launched in 1994 by Armstrong County District Judge J. Gary DeComo, with the program’s name coming in 2000 courtesy of a local area student (then a fourth grader) who used the slogan “Drugs Kill Dreams” in an anti-drug poster contest.

“Judge DeComo sought to increase drug and alcohol prevention awareness in schools and communities throughout western Pennsylvania, with the DKD program based on the strong belief that if we increase prevention efforts, we will decrease addiction and crimes committed by individuals with an addiction,” Sen. Pittman said. 

Published research illustrates that a proactive approach works to reduce substance abuse among young adults if they are part of a community-based prevention effort while still in middle school, with observed significant reduction rates for methamphetamine, prescription drug misuse, marijuana, alcohol, cigarette and inhalant use.

“In partnership with the ACMH Hospital Foundation, DKD is one of several programs throughout the state that partner with schools, churches and other community organizations to share educational materials and prevention messages to young people, sending a critical and clear message to our youth: drugs will kill your dreams,” said Sen. Pittman.

Sen. Pittman added that the objective of these programs is to stop drug and alcohol addiction and abuse before it begins, encouraging adolescents to live healthy, respectful, safe and responsible lifestyles – a goal worth statewide recognition.

“I’m honored to continue the tradition set by my predecessor, Sen. Don White, in recognizing the continued impact of the work the Drugs Kill Dreams program has on youth throughout the commonwealth,” said Sen. Pittman.

 

Contact:            Jeremy Dias                  jdias@pasen.gov

Meeting to consider SB 297, SB 811 and HB 581

Urban Affairs and Housing Committee

Wednesday, March 30, 2022 | 10:00 a.m.

Room 461, Main Capitol Building

Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 297, SB 811 and HB 581

Schedule

  • SB 297 – Argall – Amends Title 53 to eliminate spot appeals of property assessments.
  • SB 811 – Fontana – Amends the Municipal Claim and Tax Lien Law (MCTLL) to grant Cities and Counties of the Second Class the ability to acquire property at sheriff sales.
  • HB 581 – Solomon – Creates the Affordable Housing Unit Tax Exemption Act to allow local governments the option of abating property taxes to encourage the development of affordable housing.
    • A03763 – Pittman – Technical amendment to correct section numbering and
      requires all local taxing authorities to participate in one of the program options
      before the program can be implemented.

Armstrong, Indiana County Projects Receive Broadband Grants

HARRISBURG – The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) has approved more than $270,000 in grants for three projects that will improve broadband access in certain municipalities of Armstrong and Indiana counties, said Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) and Reps. Jim Struzzi (R-62), Donna Oberlander (R63) and Brian Smith (R-66). Plumcreek Township in Armstrong County, along with Smicksburg Borough and Armstrong, Washington and West Mahoning townships in Indiana County, will all see improvements to broadband access.

“Getting the fiberoptic cable run to unserved areas in Armstrong and Indiana counties will go a long way toward addressing what continues to be a digital divide for the residents of rural regions,” said Sen. Pittman. “Connecting more households and businesses to reliable high-speed internet will aid in the ongoing economic, educational and social development of our communities.”  

Windstream Services, LLC received all three Unserved High-speed Broadband Funding grants, with the largest of the three being $204,134 to install 21 miles of fiberoptic cable to bring high-speed broadband service to as many as 189 residential and 3 business properties in Indiana County’s Smicksburg Borough and West Mahoning Township. The total project cost is $776,210, with $194,052 committed by Windstream Services, LLC and $378,024 secured from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“Once again, broadband infrastructure has proven to be every bit as critical to our rural communities and our regional economy as our utilities and transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. Smith. “Moving forward, my door is always open to work together with all District 66 borough and township officials to secure this extremely competitive state funding and expand broadband access in the most rural areas of Northwestern Pennsylvania.”

A $32,885 grant awarded to Windstream will be used to install roughly 6.67 miles of fiberoptic cable to serve as many as 90 residential and 2 business properties in unserved areas in Plumcreek Township, Armstrong County. The total project cost is $186,290, with $46,573 committed by Windstream and $106,832 secured from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“Our rural communities depend upon accessible and reliable broadband for a wealth of necessary services: education, health care, business, agriculture and so much more,” Rep. Oberlander said about the grant for Plumcreek Township. “Increasing accessibility and affordability to higher broadband speeds in this portion of the 63rd District in Armstrong County will lead to enhanced and increased economic activity.”

Windstream also received a $36,840 grant to install 7.2 miles of fiberoptic cable to serve as many as 89 residential and 3 business properties in unserved areas in Indiana County’s Armstrong and Washington townships. The total project cost is $195,768, with $48,942 committed by Windstream and $109,986 secured from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“The need for access to quality and sustainable broadband service is integral to communities in these rural portions of the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Struzzi, who represents both Armstrong and Washington townships. “Students need it to learn, the agriculture community uses it to support their livelihood and help put food on our tables, and emergency responders require it to connect with medical colleagues in sometimes life-saving situations. Broadband access has become so much more than the ability to download a movie or stream a television show. It is critical to our way of life.”

An unserved area is defined as a designated geographic area in which households or businesses do not have access to at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream speeds and 3 Mbps upstream speeds. The new infrastructure in all three locations will provide broadband speeds of at least 50 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload and will have maximum speeds of 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps), which is 1,000 Mbps, for both download and upload.

The Unserved High-speed Broadband Funding Program was made possible by Act 132 of 2020, formerly Senate Bill 835, and is administered by the CFA. The program provides grants to deploy middle-mile and last-mile high-speed broadband infrastructure to unserved areas in Pennsylvania.

Contacts:         Jeremy Dias (Sen. Pittman)                               jdias@pasen.gov

                           Jennifer Algoe Keaton (Rep. Oberlander)      717.705.2094

                           Ty McCauslin (Rep. Smith)                                  717.772.9979

                           Scott Little (Rep. Struzzi)                                     717.260.6137