Senator Joe Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Grants Awarded for Projects in the 41st Senatorial District
  • Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Teacher First Amendment Rights
  • 2023 Pennsylvania Farm Show Recap
  • Senate Acts to Help Farmers Meet Rising Demand for Home Delivery
  • Measure to Boost Volunteer Fire Company Membership Approved
  • PennDOT Job Openings Posted for College Students
  • Veterans: Now is a Good Time to Review and Update Benefits
  • Blood Donation is Easy and Safe

Grants Awarded for Projects in the 41st Senatorial District

I’m pleased to share the good news that organizations and local governments across the district have been selected to receive state funding for a variety of projects to benefit our region.

Three projects in Indiana and Armstrong counties received funding through Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener Plus Program, for ongoing environmental conservation efforts.

  • In Indiana County, the Indiana County Conservation District received $164,466 for the Lower Two Lick Creek Watershed Assessment.
  • In Armstrong County, The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy received $89,286 for the Patterson Run Instream Habitat Improvement and $129,995 for the Buffalo Creek Stream Restoration, and The Armstrong Conservation District received $103,990 for the Glade Run Streambank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Project and $104,555 for the Buffalo Creek Streambank Stabilization and Fish Habitat Schwickrath Project.

In addition, two recreation projects in Westmoreland County have received grant funding focused on underserved and small communities, and partnerships with recreation and conservation efforts.

  • East Vandergrift Borough received $303,400 for the rehabilitation and further development of East Vandergrift Borough Park. The project work will include renovation of a basketball court and comfort station; construction of pickleball courts, a concessions facility, a boat ramp, horseshoe pits, pedestrian walkways, an access drive, a parking area and stormwater management measures; installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing, fencing, lighting and utilities; ADA access; landscaping; a project sign and other related site improvements.
  • Ligonier Township was awarded $50,000 to prepare a master site development plan and a swimming pool feasibility study for the approximately 8-acre Ligonier Beach.

Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Teacher First Amendment Rights

Following the swearing in of the governor and lieutenant governor on Tuesday, the Senate began the new legislative session in earnest Wednesday by passing several pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 84.

The measure would eliminate the prohibition on teachers from wearing any dress, mark, emblem or insignia reflecting their faith or denomination.

It would align Pennsylvania with every other state in the nation in preserving and protecting First Amendment rights for educators. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

2023 Pennsylvania Farm Show Recap

The 107th Pennsylvania Farm Show has come to a close. Thousands of families, farmers, exhibitors, and vendors traveled to the Farm Show Complex to be part of this annual agricultural showcase on January 7-14. The Pennsylvania Farm Show showcases the importance of our rich agricultural history, the Commonwealth’s number one industry, and the many folks who make it thrive. 

It was great to visit and celebrate with several youth exhibitors from the district last week, and enjoy a farm show milk shake! My congratulations to Elizabeth Bruner on being awarded a PA Farm Show Scholarship and to Paisley Mumford whose lamb, Steve won Reserve Grand Champion – well done ladies!

Senate Acts to Help Farmers Meet Rising Demand for Home Delivery

Legislation to help farmers meet the rising demand for farm products delivered to homes was approved by the Senate.

The current vehicle code allows for home deliveries via a commercial vehicle registration, but prevents the commercial vehicle from being registered as a farm vehicle. As a result, a farmer needs to purchase, register and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for at-home delivery, while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver agricultural commodities to places of business.

Senate Bill 95 would remove this duplicative, unnecessary and overburdensome requirement. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.

Measure to Boost Volunteer Fire Company Membership Approved

To address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania, the Senate passed legislation to create a pilot program giving interested high school students training in firefighting.

Senate Bill 114 would award grants to one higher education school each in eastern, central and western Pennsylvania to establish fire training programs for students in high school, with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.

The number of Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters has plummeted from 300,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 37,000. Senate Bill 114 was sent to the House of Representatives.

PennDOT Job Openings Posted for College Students

Summer PennDOT jobs are available to full-time college students registered for the Fall 2023 semester. 

Jobs include assisting in seasonal maintenance work, crash system input and analysis, and maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities. Many students also perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and at highway worksites. The pay is $15.49 per hour.

Students majoring in engineering or a related scientific or technical field might be interested in engineering internship opportunities at PennDOT’s Central Office (Harrisburg) or at one of its statewide engineering district offices.

Veterans: Now is a Good Time to Review and Update Benefits

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) says that the start of the year is a good time for veterans to meet with an accredited veteran service officer to ensure they are receiving or maximizing the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice while in uniform.

Safeguarding military paperwork – especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service – is an important first step for securing benefits. Filing these documents for free at the county courthouse is an easy way to secure them until needed, which can often be decades into the future. Anyone needing assistance locating their military documentation can call the DMVA at 800-547-2838 or e-mail RA-REQ@pa.gov.

A complete list of accredited county directors of veterans affairs and their contact information can be found here. Contact information for accredited veteran service officers can be found here.

Blood Donation is Easy and Safe

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs donated blood. Blood donors help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, those battling cancer and others.

Please take the occasion of National Blood Donor Month to consider providing this lifesaving gift. You can find the nearest blood drive here, and learn more about the process here.

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